PEI

An elephant, a teacup and a hippo: P.E.I.'s fabulous rock formations

Prince Edward Island has some spectacular scenery but it is the rocky shoreline that has generated some of the biggest buzz. Erosion carves the sandstone into recognizable shapes that are given names and become destinations for locals and visitors. 

'I think it's just the uniqueness of how it's created, in this really cool unbelievable shape'

Teacup Rock at Thunder Cove Beach is one of the Island's most photographed rock formations. (Twin Shores Camping Area)

Prince Edward Island has some spectacular scenery but it is the rocky shoreline that has generated some of the biggest buzz.

Erosion carves the sandstone into recognizable shapes that are given names and become destinations for locals and visitors. 

Elephant Rock

At the height of its popularity, more than 5,000 people a year would visit Elephant Rock in Norway, P.E.I. (CBC)

For a couple of decades, Elephant Rock was a major tourist attraction at Norway, P.E.I. — drawing more than 5,000 people per year to have a look.

Freelance photographer Aggie Gaudet is credited with discovering the rock in the 1970s and bringing it to public attention with her many photos.

Freelance photographer Aggie Gaudet is credited with discovering the rock in the 1970s and bringing it to public attention with her many photos. (Aggie Gaudet)

"It got some attention, not just Island-wide. We had interest in the formation from all across the country," said Scott Harper, who worked for the West Prince Tourism Association.

"I think it was quite unique and locals took advantage of that a little bit and directed some people there and tried to capitalize on it."

Aggie Gaudet was interviewed by the CBC shortly after the damage was discovered in January 1999. (CBC)

Trunk falls off

But erosion eventually took its toll and a storm damaged the trunk, which fell off in January 1999, and the rock was an elephant no more.

Erosion eventually took its toll and a storm damaged the trunk which fell off in January 1999 and the rock was an elephant no more. (CBC)

"Erosion caused it and erosion was going to continue to do its thing," Harper said. 

"It happened, life goes on."

Harper now manages a wind farm next to the former rock formation and sees people coming to take a look. 

"We do see people out there, frankly it's unknown whether they're coming out to look for Elephant Rock or they're just looking for a scenic vista," Harper said.

"It comes up now and again, you still see people posting memories on Facebook."

Teacup Rock

Teacup Rock at Thunder Cove Beach is one of the Island's most photographed rock formations.

It, too, has been around for decades.

Grace Worth is one of the many Twin Shores campers who have shared photos of Teacup Rock over the years. (Grace Worth)

"It's been around for a long time so it's a generational thing," said Nicole Wilson, marketing development officer at the nearby Twin Shores Camping Area.

"I think it's just the uniqueness of how it's created, in this really cool unbelievable shape."

Wilson said people are constantly stopping at the campground looking for directions to Teacup Rock.

She recommends that people park at Thunder Cove Beach and then walk to the left for about 15 minutes.

But access to the rock formation is dependent on the tide.

Wilson says Teacup Rock is frequently featured in submissions to the Twin Shores photo contest. (Twin Shores Camping Area)

Wilson admits there have been concerns raised about the future of the formation, because of the ongoing erosion of the shoreline.

"I have heard that from some people, every year it erodes a little bit," Wilson said. 

"Right now it still looks to be in pretty good shape but it's something to consider because down the road, it's going to happen."

Hippo Rock and a new Elephant Rock

Now there are a couple of new rock formations in western P.E.I. that are attracting attention.

There is one that looks like an elephant, and another like a hippo.

The new Hippo Rock can't be accessed by land because the access is on private property but it can be seen from water. (Brian McInnis)

The two new formations can only be seen by water, as there is no public access from shore. 

'Pretty spectacular'

The rock formations are interesting but Harper argues that P.E.I. may not need another Elephant Rock.

The new Elephant Rock is also in western Prince Edward Island. (Brian McInnis)

"Perhaps, I mean it always brings attention," Harper said.

"I think these unique rock formations are really cool but at the end of the day, with or without, the coastline is pretty spectacular."

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About the Author

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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