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…

Stories from the Archives – Sable Island Community Gossip


Happy weekend Friends of Sable Island!

Rebecca again.

This week I found something pretty interesting. Reading it felt almost like reading the script of a soap opera, and I couldn’t help but giggle quietly as I worked in the archives. Here it is:


April 2nd, 1888:



I am compelled to report to you a truly awful affair which happened 22nd March.

I needed the three outpost teams to the East Light to haul wood on the 20th March. Mrs Sellars went down with the team to visit Mrs. Tobin apparently in reality to have a row with the Donaldsons. The second day after arriving at the East Light, she went into Donaldson’s house and after some high words with Mrs Patton (Donaldson’s mother in-law) struck her in the face. Mrs Donaldson then appeared on the scene when a triangular clinch ensued. The men hearing the noise went in and separated them. It ended in a jawing match in which all three were fairly well matched and the fastest language used.

The following day Mrs Sellars again visited the house when threats of boiling water were freely made but ended in talks.”


-R.J. Boutilier, Superintendent


And that’s just the beginning of the letter! R.J. goes on to write the backstory of this scuffle, which involves some gossip about Mr Donaldson’s wife, which Mrs Tobin and Mrs Sellars refuse to stop spreading around the Island.


This bit of drama got me thinking about the isolation of the Island. Of course, less people being around means that there is more chance of drama coming up, with few mouths being able to spread gossip quickly. But what it really got me thinking about was the fact that while Sable Island was incredibly isolated from the mainland, there were still enough people on the Island to make it feel crowded at times. On the last census of the Island that I transcribed, there were 45 people, a lot for a small island. That many people plus whatever wrecked sailors they rescued could certainly add up. New workers and their families were coming and going at a fairly frequent rate, probably a new one each year. I think in this way the Island wasn’t entirely as isolated as I had thought before. With so many new people and so many people to get close to, the residents of Sable Island really formed a community out there.


    Also, if you’re wondering, R.J. suggested that the two families involved be removed from the Island. Later on though, they appear in my transcriptions so I think it is safe to assume that everything got worked out.


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I hope you enjoy the weekend with your community,