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 – Winter Preparation for Sable Island


Hello again Friends of Sable Island,


Rebecca here. This week I was again reminded of both the isolation and the power of Sable Island.

Here is what I found:


Sable Island, June 28th, 1899:



“I have again to refer to the scarcity of wood for fuel and am compelled to ask for more coal & put in another coal stove permanently. We would have been short of coal last winter but that we got 120 bags out of the “Crofton Hall”. Iron vessels make very little wood and our three largest wrecks lately have been iron. I am asking for 500 bags coal additional.”


-R.J. Boutilier, Superintendent


It is pretty neat how R.J. had to be so well organized and good at planning to be able to figure out how much coal he would need. If he didn’t estimate almost perfectly, his men and their families could be cold or hungry until the steamer came with the next load of supplies. The amount of coal he ordered this time was presumably more than usual because, as R.J. explains, they hadn’t had many wrecks of wooden ships. He notes that the three biggest wrecks in the year were of metal ships, which of course don’t break up to bring wood onshore. The driftwood from wrecks would be used for both fuel and if of good enough quality for repairs.

The reason they relied on driftwood for fuel was because as aforementioned, the steamer only came to the Island with supplies every few months. The supply steamer was absolutely necessary when the vessels being wrecked were more frequently made from metal than from wood, especially since there were no trees they could use instead.

There weren’t any trees native to Sable Island, and it was very difficult to try to grow them. In fact in 1901 there was a huge tree planting attempt made which didn’t turn out very well. The government brought in 69,000 evergreens, 12,500 deciduous plants, 1,000 willow cuttings, 600 fruit trees and bushes, a collection of rhubarb roots and about 25 kg of Maritime pine seed to plant from the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. By 1927 however, the last tree had died on Sable Island.


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Happy weekend Friends of Sable Island,