Sable Island Connections

(May 2009, Updated September 2012)

The Sable Island community is comprised of a wide range of agencies and individuals, personalities and concerns. Interest in the island is keen, and the community members range in their involvement from attentive to passionate. The annual Sable Island meetings held in Halifax continue to draw a core group of supporters as well as many new faces. The meetings end with a reception, and during the socializing and conversation people share their personal connections with the island. Some accounts are family history—a relative who recently or long ago lived and worked on the island. For others, the connection was made with a book, a film, a news report, or a school project. A few have actually set foot on Sable sand, and their reasons for having been there vary greatly.

Some people have turned up on Sable involuntarily, because of unanticipated events such as marine and aviation emergencies. Centuries of shipwrecks produced a legacy of loss and legend. The fishermen’s memorial in Lunenburg, for example, lists the names of those lost at sea and includes many who were aboard fishing schooners that went down off Sable Island. More recently, offshore industry personnel have, with immense relief, landed safely on Sable after their helicopter diverted to the island’s emergency landing/refueling facility following a mechanical failure or engine fire alarm.

Other people—researchers, journalists, technicians, artists—have arrived for work. Scientists have studied a wide range of subjects on the island, either as graduate students or fully-fledged researchers, and a few of those who conducted their graduate work on Sable Island, returned in later years with scientific teams. Television documentary filmmakers with groups such as the National Film Board of Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, and Arcadia Entertainment Inc., as well as numerous print and radio journalists, have spent time on Sable gathering material for their projects.

Some of the visitors have stayed only a few hours on the island, on official business, most often for a “familiarization” tour. These include Paul Celluci, the US Ambassador (2001-2005), and several Lieutenant Governors of Nova Scotia, most recently Myra Freeman (2000-2006). Among the active politicians who have visited the island, Geoff Regan, as Minister of Fisheries & Oceans in the Martin administration, came to Sable in October 2005. Minister Regan had worked with Environment Minister Stéphane Dion to secure funding for the Sable Island Station, and earlier in that year (January 2005) had announced that the Government of Canada had a long-term commitment to maintaining the human presence on Sable Island.

Particularly fortunate people are those who have visited Sable Island to fulfill a long-held desire to see for themselves, to experience it firsthand. Certainly the most celebrated of such visitors was Canada’s 15th Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau who visited with a party of friends, including author Mordecai Richler, on July 4 1994. This was 10 years after Trudeau retired from politics.

These people—celebrities, scientists, artists, industry personnel, government employees, and private citizens who have been to the island—comprise the Sable Island community. But this community would be rather small if it weren’t for the interest and participation of all the others who have not visited the island but care deeply about it. This page presents perspectives from some of the people who have experienced the island, and through these perspectives will explore the “connections” between people and Sable Island, and the connections between people through Sable Island.

Click on thumbnails for more information
Remembering Acadian
Krista McAllister 2003
Trip of a Lifetime
Grace Beazley 2009
Fifty Years Ago
Janet Barkhouse 2009

Perseid Showers
Richard Rudnicki 2009
The Sable Effect
Susan Tooke 2009
Early Days
Ian McLaren 2009

Occasion of the Soul
Shar Irving-Kennedy 2009
Evidence of Change
David Coltman 2009
Face to Face
Liza Hageraats 2009

Plein Air Painting
Roger Savage 2009
Sable Memories
Cathy Coopman 2009
Boys and Seals
Andrew McLaren 2009

A Lasting Impression
Catherine Dale 2009
Tousled Manes
Mary Filbee 2009
A Legacy
Cindy Clancey 2009

Briefly Met
Don Pentz 2009
Mind's Eye Memories
George-Anne Merrill 2010
To Dream of Sable Island
Larry Meikle 2012 image 1
Jane Dunlop-Stevenson 2012 Painting
Lonely at times ...
Brent Kempton 2012 Balloon launch


All text and images in this web site were created by Zoe Lucas, with contributions from other
individuals as indicated. Zoe Lucas holds copyright on her materials, and the other contributors
hold copyright on their materials. If you wish to use any of them for private, non-profit,
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Zoe Lucas is represented by CARCC (Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective).