Conference 2017 – Expedition Cruising

AH18 October 16, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Creating Ambassadors: Expedition Cruising Helps Secure the Future of Sable Island” Allow us to introduce Cedar Swan, an adventurer and passionate outdoor enthusiast. The CEO of Adventure Canada—as well as an expedition planner…

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Conference 2017 – Seeking Sable’s Lost Wrecks:

AH18 October 15, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Seeking Sable’s Lost Wrecks: Following a Digital Paper Trail” With some 350 ships thought to have wrecked on Sable Island, it’s sometimes called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”. At our conference, Bill…

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Conference 2017 – Marine Debris and Micro Plastics

AH18 October 14, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Atlantic Canada Microplastics Research Project” Marine debris and micro plastics. Unpleasant for sure, but what does the research tell us? Ariel Smith, MEnv, is the Marine Debris Project Coordinator at Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation…

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Conference 2017 – Sable Island Horse Research

AH18 October 13, 2017

Confirmed presentation for Saturday October 21st: “Population Ecology of the Sable Island Horses”  Sable Island’s most famous inhabitants are its horses. And here’s the man who may understand them the best.Philip D. McLoughlin is an Associate Professor…

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Thank You Bill Freedman

October 28, 2015

It was sad to hear of the passing of Bill Freedman in late September 2015.…

AGM 2015 Recap

June 25, 2015

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2015 Annual General Meeting on June 24th at the…

Conference Thanks

June 2, 2015

One month ago today we opened the first Sable Island Conference. It was exciting to…

D-5: “How Many Vessels Have Wrecked at Sable Island” – Aaron Mior


Partially due to its alluring environment and cultural history, Sable Island has found a place within the Canadian psyche. Stories and tales of shipwreck lore have been told and re-told since the 16th century with the Island gaining the well-deserved moniker “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

A significant amount of literature is available detailing the variety of cultural events on Sable Island, especially during the years of the Humane Establishment in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although written for a variety of audiences, these historical sources provide invaluable insight into the details and circumstances of specific maritime events and disasters occurring at the Island. In an effort to quantify the level of maritime disasters on the Island, some sources have attempted to determine the number of shipwrecks at Sable Island, with estimates ranging from 185 to over 500, although the estimate most commonly published in recent times is “over 350 wrecks since 1583”.

Having consulted over 300 primary source documents and more than 50 published secondary sources, this paper will critically assess the historical sources documenting Sable Island shipwrecks and will evaluate the ability to determine just how many vessels actually wrecked at Sable Island.