It is a long thin channel approximately 27 kilometres long and averaging 3 kilometers wide (1 km at its narrowest). The strait connects the North Atlantic Ocean to the Northumberland Strait in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The strait is extremely deep (200+ feet) with two major communities at Port Hawkesbury on the eastern side facing Mulgrave on the western side, both ports. The strait is crossed by the Canso Causeway for vehicular and rail traffic, opened in 1955, although large ships may pass through the Canso Canal.
Plans have been announced for Melford International Terminal a 1,500,000 TEU container terminal on the Strait of Canso with an expected opening date of 2010.
An interesting account of early settlement in the area is given in the letters of local resident Henry Nicholas Paint (1830-1921), Member of Parliament for Richmond county and merchant, whose father Nicholas secured valuable land grants and settled in a stone-built house at Belle Vue in 1817.