Sable Island Connections
A series of special moments and lasting impressions shared by people who have experienced the island first-hand or have a distant, but enduring, relationship with the island. These perspectives represent some of the many connections between people and Sable Island, and also, connections among people through Sable Island.
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Joyce Barkhouse, Author of Pit Pony, 1913-2012
The writings of Joyce Barkhouse have been described as reflecting a love of Nova Scotia and an interest in the “forgotten”. Stories about shipwrecked horses cast ashore on Sable Island led to a conversation with Barbara Christie about the history of the island’s horses. Joyce’s love of horses, her interest in Sable Island, and her compassion for the young boys working in coal mines in the early 1900s, converged in the children’s book Pit Pony. In 2007, Joyce was awarded the Order of Nova Scotia, and in 2009, she was named a Member of the Order of Canada for “her contributions to children’s literature and the Canadian literary community”.
Elsie’s Story, a Child’s Life on Sable Island in the Early 1900s
In 1916, Walter Blank, his wife Blanche, and their five children moved to Sable Island where Walter joined the staff of the Sable Island Humane Establishment. Elsie was then two years old. The family lived on the island for about 14 years, and Elsie’s memories of life on Sable.
Merlin MacAulay, Fifteen Months on Sable Island, 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 make a short documentary about Sable Island.
Sid Forward and Family on Sable Island, 1961-1963
In the early 1960s my father, Sid Forward, was employed as an electrician on Sable Island. He was responsible for maintaining the lights and diesel power station. I celebrated my 4th birthday on the island. Sable was a wonderful adventure for a child. We lived in a huge sandbox with dunes to roll down and horses to ride. We were surrounded by amazing wildlife and even got to “check out” the occasional helicopter or airplane.
Full Circle, a Year as a Met Tech on Sable Island, 1963-1964
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.
A Personal History with Sable Island, 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.
The Beginning of a Memorable Partnership, 1971
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.
Gina's Sable Island PhotoBlog
Gina Little is a technologist with the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC). She joined the MSC’s Sable Island team in February 2007, and during the past twelve years has spent six to seven months annually on the island – a total of about 75 months thus far. In her Sable Island PhotoBlog, Gina shares a few of the many patterns, small details, and scenes that catch her attention as she walks during her off-duty hours.
PhotoBlog, October 2016 – January 2017
PhotoBlog, April – July 2017
PhotoBlog, October 2017 – January 2018
PhotoBlog, April – June 2018
PhotoBlog, October 2018 – January 2019
PhotoBlog, April – June 2019
PhotoBlog, July 2019