Caribou Harbour is part of the estuarial system created by the tributaries of the Caribou River flowing into the Northumberland Straight. The harbour is situated on the northern coast of Nova Scotia, near the Town of Pictou. It is the closest point to eastern Prince Edward Island, only 26 kilometers away. For that reason a ferry connecting the two provinces was established in Caribou Harbour in 1941.
Two islands define Caribou Harbour: Caribou Island to the west and Monroe’s Island to the east. Both islands are joined to the mainland: Caribou Island by a short causeway, Munroe’s Island by a thin sandbar. The body of water separating the two islands is sometimes called the Big Entrance to Caribou Harbour.
Historically, the area was rich in seafood, birds and wildlife. According to the early histories written about the area dating from the early 19th c., the harbour was named after caribou seen in the late 1700’s. In the days before European contact, the area was a summer camping and food gathering area favored by Aboriginal people who knew it for its abundant shellfish. The coastal salt marshes attract ducks and shore birds. Munroe’s Island is a nature sanctuary and an important nesting area for the endangered Piping Plover. Blue Heron, Bald Eagles and Kingfishers are commonly seen.
Caribou Harbour is home to inshore fishermen though the harbour itself is no longer fished. There is a large wharf is located at the ferry terminal, another at North Nova Seafood’s and another small wharf at the eastern end of the harbour. From here fishers in 25 foot Cape Islanders ply the waters of Northumberland Strait seeking lobster, herring, mackerel, rock crab and snow crab.