Bald Dune Near No3
Sable Island
Photo: Zoe Lucas
Seaside Goldenrod in autumn
Sable Island
Photo: Zoe Lucas
Susan Tooke, Summer on Sable
30" x 60" acrylic on canvas
Iris Pond
Sable Island
Photo: Zoe Lucas

Sable Island Institute

The Sable Island Institute’s mission is to support and promote the protection and conservation of the natural and cultural values of Sable Island through research, collaboration, and education. The Institute is a multidisciplinary not-for-profit organization based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sable Island is an isolated and unique landform located far off the east coast of Canada—the nearest landfall is 156 km away. Surrounded by the waters of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, the Island is exposed to winds, storms, waves and swell coming from every direction. It is home to a population of wild horses, and supports colonies of breeding seals and nesting seabirds. Throughout the year there are four to five people working and living on the island. The human population increases periodically with the arrival of researchers, artists, and other visitors. In 2013, the island was designated as the Sable Island National Park Reserve.
Read more…

Become a Member of the Sable Island Institute!


Welcome to Our Website

Our website has the benefit of an enthusiastic group of contributors who are sharing memoirs, personal perspectives, and images. As this site continues to develop, featured articles, reviews and posts will present resources and information on the island’s natural history, research and monitoring programs, arts and culture, management and operations, community, visitors, and general goings-on. In addition to new content, some items that were originally published in the Green Horse Society’s website are being updated and moved into the Institute’s site.

We thank the Halifax Regional Municipality for funding (through a Program Grant in the Cultural Communities Sector), and the Friends of the Green Horse Society for funding and expertise, in support of our website project. The Institute’s logo was designed by Rand Gaynor, Halifax.

Exploring Sable Island

A StoryMap experience presented by the Sable Island Institute and the Centre of Geographic Sciences.


The Beginning of a Memorable Partnership – Bob Dykes, 2017

In 1971, Bob Dykes flew to Sable Island to meet Henry James and his research team conducting behavioural studies of the island’s Harbour Seal population. Bob worked with the crew as they collected data on seals who were crossing the wide and featureless Sandy Plain, and spent lively evenings in the Aframe (a field camp constructed by the James Gang) discussing data and theories of animal navigation.

Read More »

David Millar, 1967-1969

In May 1967, David Millar, fresh out of training in Toronto and Ottawa, arrived at his first posting, Sable Island. Outside of work at the weather station, David took an interest in the island’s environment and spent a lot of time walking and exploring, and developed two hobbies which he still enjoys – bird watching and photography. During his two summers, David occasionally assisted Dalhousie University’s Ian McLaren and his students in their studies of the Ipswich Sparrow.

Read More »

Full Circle

In December 1963, Gordon LeBlanc began a one-year posting on Sable Island as a meteorological technician with MSC’s aerology program. The work was largely routine, with twice-daily launches of the upper air balloon and making detailed observations and measurements around the clock. On work days, there was little time to explore the island, so on a day off, station personnel might pack a sandwich and go for a long walk, or in the spring and summer ride their dependable horses, Rawin and Trigger.

Read More »

Merlin MacAulay 1955-1956

In May 1955, after completing the 16-week course at the Upper Air Training School in Toronto, and then serving a few months in Sept-Îles, Quebec, Merlin MacAulay travelled to Sable Island on the government ship Lady Laurier to work as an upper air technician for the MSC. During Merlin’s stay, Fred Davis and a National Film Board of Canada crew visited to made a short documentary about Sable Island.

Read More »

Read and see more

The four items shown above are only the most recent posts. Many other articles and images, on a wide range of Sable Island topics, are available in the Notes, Connections, PhotoBlog, Memoir, and Facebook Post pages.

Notes. A collection of updates and reports on Sable-related events and activities, and short accounts about selected features of the island’s natural and human history, operations, and cultural life. (49 items)

Connections. A series of lasting impressions and perspectives shared by people who have experienced Sable Island first-hand or have a distant, but enduring, relationship with the island. (38 items)

PhotoBlogs. Images of Sable Island’s landscape features, flora and fauna, beachcast curiosities, and weather, collected as encountered and presented in chronological order, some with notes. (7 items)

Memoirs. Longer accounts of Sable Island experiences—including those of children who lived on the island while a parent worked for one of the government agencies, and of individuals working with the met service or in research programs. (6 items)

Facebook Posts. Images and notes posted on Facebook—observations about natural history and human activities on the island. This collection serves as an archive, but also makes these brief contributions available to people who do not use Facebook. (4 items)