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…

(Read More)

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…

(Read More)

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…

(Read More)

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…

(Read More)
1 2 3 13

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…

Stories from the Archives – Cranberry Farming on Sable Island


Hello Friends of Sable Island,

    Rebecca here. This week I thought I would share something with you that I found very interesting. Something I hadn’t realized before working on R.J.’s letterbook and doing more research on Sable Island is that there was quite an extensive cranberry farming operation going on. This was a little surprising to me, because often Sable Island is portrayed as a tiny spit of Sand, mostly hostile to life, so it never really crossed my mind that the people of Sable Island had enough space to produce anything more than what was absolutely necessary to survival. I found it quite interesting as I researched further that growing cranberries was a major financial benefit to the lifesaving station and the residents of Sable Island, helping to provide the means necessary to continue the operation of the Island. It wasn’t always easy to keep up the production of cranberries, however. There are certain conditions necessary to easily produce the maximum amount of cranberries, and several times in the letters R.J. talks about how these conditions can not always be met. Here is what he says about it:


Sable Island, March 1st, 1894:

“There is no doubt that while the cranberry grows here without cultivation, it is that the bogs are near the sea level and the meteorological conditions are as a rule favorable. When unusual weather prevails, i.e. absence of the usual fogs which generally prevail in June & July and scant rainfall, the crop must suffer.

    I quote from the U.S. agricultural report for 1869: “Experience has proved that for the successful cultivation of this fruit- the following are requisites:

First a peat or muck soil free from loam or clay

Second clean beach sand for covering the peat

Third a dam of water to overflow the vines when necessary

Fourth thorough drainage”.”


The few times that R.J. has mentioned the cranberry farming, I always find myself more excited to keep reading than when I read about other day-to-day things. I love all of it, but the cranberry farming especially. Sable Island was certainly difficult to live on, and probably still is today, so the fact that the residents were not struggling but were in fact able to profit from living on this little Island demonstrates the ability of humans being able to not only adapt to their environments but thrive.

What makes it so interesting is that it is the same power of ambition that made people see that we could turn Sable Island from a graveyard to a refuge that drove the production of cranberries. I say this because the cranberries transformed the view of the Island again, from being a place of survival to a place of profit, again showing the transformative power of human ambition.

Could we not with that same ambition transform the way future generations perceive Sable Island? Could we not use our ambition to make sure that Sable Island remains protected and preserved?

I think we can if we work together to accomplish it, which is why the work of the Friends of Sable Island is so incredibly important.


Make sure to follow the Friends of Sable Island Facebook page: Friends of Sable Island

Also follow the Twitter: @FriendsofSable

And Tumblr:


May your ambitions become reality,