White Point Resort, Parks Canada team up to showcase Sable Island – virtually
Sable Island may be one of Canada’s newest national parks, but few will ever visit the long, narrow, crescent-shaped piece of land emerging from the North Atlantic about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax.
But this weekend, White Point Beach Resort, in partnership with Parks Canada and the Green Horse Society, is offering people the chance to experience elements of this island, which has long captured imaginations.
Called a Salute to Sable Island, visitors to the resort will learn about the island’s future, its biodiversity and its magic through a series of free special presentations, as well as a fundraising dinner for the Green Horse Society.
“So many folks are interested in Sable but most will not have the opportunity to visit it,” says Donna Hatt, White Point’s marketing manager. “We want to make Sable a bit more real for folks.”
One of Canada’s furthest offshore islands, it not only has a rich biodiversity but is an important part of Nova Scotia’s maritime history. With more than 350 vessels having been wrecked due to rough seas, fog and sandbars around the island, it earned the title “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” In 1801, the country’s first life-saving station was built on the island.
Made up largely of sand dunes and grasses, the island is home to more than 190 plant species and 350 species of birds, including the endangered roseate tern. It also boasts the world’s biggest breeding colony of grey seals. But the island’s most famous inhabitants are its wild horses; about 500 roam freely.
In 2013, it became a national park reserve and this year Parks Canada is undertaking a management plan for the island, which will include public consultations.
Julie Tompa, Parks Canada’s field unit superintendent for mainland Nova Scotia, will speak on Saturday afternoon about how the island came to be a national park reserve and she will review Parks Canada’s priorities for the island. She’ll be joined by colleague Charles Burke, Parks Canada’s senior archaeologist. He will highlight Sable’s cultural and marine heritage and share documented evidence of human settlement efforts from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
“There’s a lot of work to do on Sable Island,” says Zoe Lucas, who since 1974 has lived on the island for much of each year.
A research associate with the Nova Scotia Museum, Lucas is also the founder of the Green Horse Society. Started in 2004 to raise money for biodiversity research projects, the society has helped fund several studies on the island, including an ongoing invertebrate study.
Last summer, Lucas focused much of her attention on the island’s five species of bees. One of them, called the Sable Island Sweat Bee, is only found there, she says.
“I spent most of my time last summer sitting amongst the clover,” says Lucas. “The bees led me around Sable Island.”
On Sunday morning, Andy Horn, a research adjunct with Dalhousie University’s Department of Biology, will delve further into the island’s rich birdlife, including those at risk. The weekend’s final presentation will offer a glimpse of life on Sable through the eyes of writers, artists, photographers and adventurers. Speakers include writer Janet Barkhouse, watercolour artist Roger Savage, photographer Len Wagg and outdoor enthusiasts Chris Surette and Jan-Sebastian LaPierre.
Wanting to share her love of the island, Darlene Norman, White Point’s director of recreation and special events, had the idea of hosting this weekend’s event as part of White Point’s Canada 150 celebrations. Each month throughout the year, the resort has special occasions planned to celebrate the nation’s anniversary.
About five years ago, Norman visited Sable Island with friends. She can still recall the surreal feeling of stepping off the small airplane and onto the remote place.
“It is such a magical spot. What a wonderful opportunity to share some of the magic of the island.”
Through photos, sounds, maps, and the voices of those who know the island and its ecology intimately, a Salute to Sable Island is designed to enable visitors to virtually experience the wonder of the country’s small park reserve.
“They will transform us and take us to the island with them,” says Donna. “The island really will come to life through the presenters.”
For more information about Salute to Sable Island, visit
or contact White Point at 1-800-565-5068. https://www.whitepoint.com/events/salute-to-sable-island-green-horse-soci…