Canadian National Parks: Sable Island, Nova Scotia

by Cie McCullough Buschle on April 27, 2012. Updated May 9, 2012

in Outdoors with Kids, Travel Ideas

Canada’s newest National Park is a crescent shaped sandbar less than a mile wide, but 26 miles long. Sable Island is in the North Atlantic Ocean, 100 miles southeast of Canso, Nova Scotia,

Sable Island has often been referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”; since 1583 there have been over 350 shipwrecks on or near the island. In 1873 lighthouses were constructed on both ends of the island, but it is still in a major shipping route and many fall victim to thick fogs and treacherous currents. Wrecks are crushed by the waves, and then buried in sand.

Sable Island Ponies

Sable Island Ponies

Human habitation of the island has been little. The French briefly attempted to use it as a penal colony in the late 16th century. Occasionally sealers, salvagers and even shipwreck survivors have made Sable Island home, but the first permanent inhabitants of the island arrived in 1801, when the Nova Scotia government established a life-saving station there. Although the lighthouses are now decommissioned, there is now a permanently occupied weather station, valued because of Sable Island’s unique position in the Atlantic.

There is only a single tree on the island, but it does have an abundance of low-growing grasses and other vegetation. This, as well the fresh water ponds, sustain the population of Sable Island Ponies. There is debate as to the origin of these horses, but they did arrive after Sable Island was first discovered by Western Man. Besides the ponies, Sable Island is inhabited by harbour and grey seals, Arctic terns, and the Ipswich sparrow, which breeds only on the Island.

| Cie McCullough Buschle lives with her dog Einstein and a cat named Burton Guster Took. She enjoys researching history through holidays, toys, and everyday objects. Cie is a sculptor and clay hand builder and spends her time traveling back in time to the Middle Ages as part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

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