The Halifax home of the Sable Island Institute is currently an historic treasure that has stood at the entrance to Point Pleasant Park for more than 120 years.
Construction of the Superintendent’s Lodge near the Young Avenue gates was completed in 1897 at a cost of approximately $3,500.00. Slates used in the building were quarried in the Park. It was built as a replica of the gatehouse of Hughenden Manor in England, the estate of Lord Beaconsfield, the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881).
The lodge had few modern conveniences in its early days, and its plumbing could only be described as rustic. Twenty years on, however, modernization was precipitated by a local disaster. Despite its considerable distance from the site of the Halifax Explosion, on December 6, 1917, the lodge suffered hundreds of dollars in damage. Much to the relief of its occupants, extensive repairs included new plumbing, and by 1925, the welcome addition of electricity. The installation of a telephone soon followed.
With a large forested playground complete with fortress ruins nearby, a pond suitable for winter skating or summer swimming, and visits from wandering wildlife, the children who lived here were the envy of their friends. The lodge was home to the Superintendents and their families until 1996, when the reorganization of government agencies brought tenancy to an end.
Superintendents were: Samuel Venner (1897-1906); John Kline (1906-1930); Thomas Fripps (1930-1959); Jim Nickerson (1959-1980); James Grant (1980-1983); Hap Sawler (1983-1988, non-resident); and Arthur Samson (1988-1996).
Prepared for the Sable Island Institute, March 2018
Note: Author and historian, Dianne Marshall is well known as a history columnist for CBC Radio’s Information Morning. Her books include Georges Island: The Keep of Halifax Harbour (2003); Heroes of the Acadian Resistance, The Story of Joseph (Beausoleil) Broussard and Pierre Surette 1702-1765 (2011); and True Stories from Nova Scotia’s Past, The Best of Dianne Marshall on CBC Radio’s Information Morning (2012). Heroes of the Acadian Resistance was nominated for the 2012 Dartmouth Book Award. For several years, beginning in 2009, Dianne and Margot Brunelle were a regular feature on CBC’s Information Morning. Dianne, a native Haligonian, finds ideas for some of her stories in military and court records, and brief mentions in newspapers from the 1700s and 1800s.