Bertin, J. 2006. Sable Island: Tales of Tragedy and Survival from the Graveyard of the Atlantic. True Canadian Amazing Stories. Altitude Publishing Canada Ltd. 144 pages.
Note (ZL): This book is a collection of eighteen stories arranged in chapters and based on historical characters and events. It begins with Sir Humphrey Gilbert and the loss of his ship Delight near Sable Island in 1583, and continues with stories of the experiences and contributions of individual men and women who had a significant role in the history and cultural legacy of Sable Island. The book ends with a chapter about the Sable Island horses and the controversy that was finally resolved with the horses being granted protection under the Sable Island Regulations of the Canada Shipping Act. Each chapter, ranging from four to eleven pages in length, ends with a neat segue to the next, and the storytelling has an inviting flow and rhythm. It is easy to open this book and not want to close it until it’s been read cover to cover. The book is illustrated with nine black-&-white photographs.
Some readers, particularly those who worked on the island in the 1960s and 1970s, may be perplexed by the caption for the photograph on page 92. The photo, taken by ZL, shows the old residence at East Light, half-buried in windblown sand. The caption reads: “The light keeper’s house, East Light, 1990. When storms filled the ground floor with sand, the light keeper and his family moved into the upper story, until it too was taken over by sand.” This is not what happened to the house. The ground floor did not fill with sand forcing anyone to move to the second floor. Indeed, for several decades after the light was automated and the light keeper had moved on, both floors of the house continued to accommodate people working on the island. During the 1960s and 1970s the building was used as a field station by teams of researchers studying seals, birds and horses. The house was finally abandoned in the early 1980s when Fisheries & Oceans Canada constructed a new base camp nearby. At that time, the windows and doors were removed to permit the sand to enter. Then, and not before, did sand begin to fill the ground floor. The source of this misunderstanding was likely the 1989 Sable Island exhibit at the Nova Scotia Museum, Summer Street, Halifax.