Lighthouses

Keeping the light shining meant having a lighthouse keeper awake to watch it during all the hours of darkness, without fail. The light, the lens and the rest of the mechanism all needed tending.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


The West Light

The West Light was first built in 1873. As the island's west end eroded, the lighthouse was moved in 1883, 1888, 1917, 1940 and again in 1951. Left: The West Light, 1890 Right: The West Light, 1917

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


The East Light

Left: The East Light, built in 1903 Top Right: East Light Station Bottom Right: The East Light, built in 1873

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Lifesaving Crew, 1890

Look at these men. They are ordinary folk. That's Bungay, Morash and Noonan in the back row and Robinson, Bob Cleary and Sid Mosher in the front. They brought skill and courage to a tough job on an island that was sometimes very beautiful, but more often cold, damp and uncomfortable. They were remarkably successful at saving lives.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Lifesaving Stations

The entire coast of Sable could not be patrolled from a single station. By 1895 there were 5 stations along the island's 44 km length.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


"Wrecker's Den"

Before the Humane Establishment, "wreckers" gathered salvage from the island's wrecks. Rumours of ships deliberately lured onto the sand and passengers murdered eventually led to government action.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


House of Refuge

The Humane Establishment brought help in many ways. These shelters for shipwreck survivors were scattered along the island. Inside, the cold, wet survivor found firewood, food (suspended beyond the reach of rats) and directions to the nearest lifesaving station.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe how people on Sable Island tried to prevent shipwrecks and helped sailors who became shipwrecked on Sable Island
  • Explain how technology was used to help prevent shipwrecks and prevent deaths
  • Describe how some people on Sable Island benefited from shipwrecks, at others’ expense

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