About Sable Island

“The unforgiving manner in which the island has treated people is a stark contrast to the beauty of the flora and fauna that continue to flourish on the island, and that stands testament to the idea the island is meant to be left wild and free.”

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Located 300 kilometres (200 miles) off the coast of Nova Scotia, this sliver of sand reaches 42km (26 miles) long and roughly 1.4 km (1 mile) wide. The island is part of the Halifax Regional Municipality of Nova Scotia, and is protected through the National Park Reserve of Canada.

Its storms and shifting sands has devoured over 350 ships since the fifteen hundreds. A life-saving station was established on Sable Island by governor of Nova Scotia, John Wentworth, in 1801. The rescue station was the spark of the continuous human presence on the island, although throughout the years the population has rapidly declined to only a handful of permanent residents. James Morris, a veteran of the Royal Navy was appointed the first superintendent of Sable Island. Morris died in 1809, leaving behind many accomplishments on Sable. Morris built up the humanitarian settlement with a central station, two rescue boat stations, and lookout posts. Improvements in navigation led to a dramatic drop in shipwrecks by the mid 20th century. The rescue station on Sable was eventually closed in 1958.

Sable Island landscape

Sable Island is most famously known for its wild horses. Descended from horses of the 1700’s, around 500 of them roam freely without any human interference or fear of predators. The population fluctuates year to year depending on forge, weather condition, and herd dynamics.

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The island is restricted due to its National Park status and isolating location, leaving it relatively untouched by mankind. With the exception of a handful of permanent residents and about 50 to 250 annual visitors, few will ever experience the beauty of Sable Island.

On October 17, 2011, the Nova Scotia government entered into an agreement with the Federal Government to protect the Island as a national park. Sable Island is Canada’s 43rd National Park as of June 20, 2013.