Photostory #450B: Fabled Atlantic Isle
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Over the centuries the fog-shrouded, gently curved crescent of sand 110 miles off Canada's Atlantic coast has remained mostly a maritime mystery - carefully avoided by generations of seafarers of all nations when fate was still theirs to guide. But for many of their breed it was here, on Sable Island, that the gods of good chance forsook them, to cast them up in storm and fury upon the treacherous shores. Five hundred known wrecks have been entrapped along its ever-changing, 30-odd-mile strand. Barely more than a mile wide along its visible length, the low-lying so-called "graveyard of the Atlantic" extends its smooth fingers of destruction far out under the shoal waters with deadly, gentle inflexibility. As feared today by seamen as it ever was, Sable Island has nevertheless gone hungry for fresh victims for two decades. Radar and other new electronic devices for aiding navigation through fog and foul weather have perhaps helped keep strong and watchful those gods who look kindly at men of the sea. Or perhaps the spirits of Sable have turned benign with the modern age. Few seamen would chance to test such thoughts. Fabled lessons taught in nature's unrelenting classroom are not easily forgotten.