By Shelley Bellefontaine
If you Google the words "Cape Antrim", you'll likely find yourself browsing through information about the Antrim Villa - a quaint eco-friendly lodge in South Africa. But as a child, the Cape Antrim I knew was a strong Nova Scotia land mass that arched bravely into this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Cape Antrim was once well known to the local fleet of inshore fishermen. Lying at the southern most end of Grand Desert Beach, it graced the entrance to Chezzetcook Harbour. (This landmark’s importance to fishermen show up on some old charts under another name entirely, Cape Entry.)
I speak of Cape Antrim in the past tense because the head bank known as Cape Antrim no longer exists, its cliff edge eroded over time not only by the menacing friction of the Atlantic Ocean, but in large part by its other claim to fame, that of the DND-sanctioned air-to-surface target practice site known as the Chezzetcook Weapons Range.
Intended as a year-round location for practice in gunnery, rocketry and light bombing, recordings from a pilot log book indicate the Chezzetcook Weapons Range began operation in January, 1951. In the post-WWII era, the outbursts of wailing sirens found atop electricity poles along the Grand Desert Road gave warning that bombing exercises would soon commence.
It was a commonplace to see (and hear) post WWII-era aircraft fly a north-to-south racetrack pattern over Grand Desert Beach, aiming bombs and rockets seaward at a large target painted in the grassy field on Cape Antrim. Active target-bombing practice spanned twenty years; a large variety of weaponry exploded against the Cape, greatly accelerating coastal erosion.
Time and tide finally claimed the remnants of Cape Antrim. My last memory of the Cape was in the mid-1970’s when my father and I observed it as but a tiny knoll, no larger than an imposing sand dune. Shortly after, a strong coastal storm took the last of the Cape, and the Grand Desert Beach shoreline began a transformation that moved the sea inland by several hundred feet.
Coastal dwellers know all too well that the strength of the sea is very powerful. Knowledge too, is very powerful. I chose to call my business “Cape Antrim Knowledge Marketing” as a testament to the towering beacon that Cape Antrim once was. I like to think of my company as a beacon of a different sort, offering businesses software training and e-Commerce website solutions.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to both Kenneth Ervanowitz and Michael LaPierre for sharing the aerial photographs of Grand Desert from the 1950's.
Note: If you’re looking for the remains of Cape Antrim, they’re at:
Latitude: 44° 41' 0.4" (44.6835°) north
Longitude: 63° 13' 55.1" (63.232°) west