Coleoptera from three late-glacial sites on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, provide proxy climate data from 12 600 to 10 400 BP. Samples older than about 11 800 BP contain tundra to tree-line species. Between 11 800 and about 10 800 BP, beetle assemblages become typical of the modern boreal forest. Beetles younger than 10 800 BP responded to climatic deterioration during the Younger Dryas. Although coleopteran evidence for the Younger Dryas is not as strong as that presented by palynological and stratigraphic studies, the appearance of Olophrum boreale and other species found today in the northern boreal forest and on tundra or coastal tundra corresponds with the decline of shrub birch and the rise in willow and alder pollen. Beetles responded just as likely to changes in vegetation and ground cover as to changes in temperature. The extent to which Coleoptera were affected may lie somewhere between a moderated continental response seen in the Great Lakes region in North America and more extreme changes recorded in Europe. This response is consistent with shifts in the North Atlantic oceanic Polar Front in the Ruddiman and McIntyre model.