January, 1999

"Elephant Rock is now but a rock, a large clump of sandstone standing alone near the sandstone cliffs that rim the North Cape landscape. The forces of nature which created the elephant have reclaimed it. The elephant's trunk crumbled into the sea, succumbing to the constant pounding from the waves, waves which fiercely smashed into it during storms. A     $15,000 infusion of special concrete a few years ago temporarily halted the erosion at the base of the trunk but the forces of nature eroded the trunk where it was connected to the head.

A memorial to the elephant will be part of the interpretive display which is being constructed at North Cape. It will include a photography of Elephant Rock in its glory and information on how it formed and the interest it generated.  
Elephant Rock was created and six years later destroyed by the relentless winds and pounding ocean waves of the Northumberland Strait. The bright red rock, in the shape of an elephant, was the vocal point of West Prince tourism being featured on the front page of the region's tourism guide, on the provincial map and on the cover of a pictorial of the region. Elephant Rock was big business on Prince Edward Island. A survey  indicated that more than 5,300 people visited the site in a single week making it, by far, the most sought after tourist attractions in West Prince. There was no shortage of effort to try and protect the rock after tourism officials realized erosion was eating away at their precious rock. In 1995, the Western Development Corporation shelled out $10,000 to cover the arch of the trunk with wire mesh and concrete. While that may have extended the rock's life, it was only a matter of time before the elephant had to say good-bye."


Geology of North Cape

From a point of view of how the earth is made up, North
Cape is a fascinating place. There you can see ancient
sandstone bedrock going back about 300 million years,
signs of volcanic activity bursting through this rock and also
many signs of glacial activity from around 12,000 years ago.

Millions of years ago, because of volcanic activity in the
Gulf of Saint Lawrence, cracks appeared in the bedrock
through which hot volcanic mud was injected in the surface.
There is still a great deal of evidence of this in the area,
especially near the Cape itself.

The whole area has been covered over several times by
glaciers. The last one retreated about 12,000 years ago and
left its scars on the red sandstone bedrock in the form of
gouged-out ponds (one of which is filled with peat moss
and became the Black Marsh) and also ancient river beds
formed by the melting ice. The river beds are very common
near North Cape and can be identified by their make-up
which consists of many pebbles and cobbles bound
together with a weak natural cement. The geological name
for this is conglomerate. This is a weak substrate and
anybody who owns land with this type of support will find
that it erodes very quickly.