Friday, March 24, 2023

Sable island by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


Sable Island

I am a Canadian writer and all my mystery, historical, romance, and young adult novels are set in Canada. According to Statistics Canada, Canada has 52,455 islands and ranks fourth in the world for number of islands. However, it is a long ways behind Sweden that has 267,570 islands, Norway with its 239,057 islands, and Finland with 178,947.

Canada has three of the top ten largest islands in the world and all are in the northern territory of Nunavut. Baffin is Canada’s largest island at 507,451 sq km (195,928 sq mi) and the world’s fifth largest. Victoria comes in second in Canada at 217,291 sq km (83,897 sq mi). It is the world’s eighth largest. Ellesmere is third in Canada and tenth in the world at 196,236 sq km (75,767 sq mi). It is slightly smaller than Great Britain.

Canada also has the world’s largest fresh water island. Manitoulin Island is located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario on Lake Huron, one of the Five Great Lakes. The island is so large that it has over one hundred lakes on it.

One of the most famous Canadian islands is the crescent-shaped Sable Island, off the southeast coast of the province of Nova Scotia. It is believed to have been discovered by Portuguese explorer Joao Alvares Fagundes in 1520-1521. In 1598, a French nobleman, Troilus de la Roche de Mesgouz, tried to colonize the new world with convicts but they mutinied and, in punishment were put on the tree-less, stone-less Sable Island. A few managed to survive in mud huts until 1603, when they were returned to France.

Sable Island has over 350 bird species and 190 different plants but it is best known for its feral horses. The ancestors of the present day horses were seized by the British from the Acadians, a French-speaking group who settled in the New France colony of Arcadia. They were expelled between 1755 and 1764 after the English took over the colony. Their horses were purchased and some were taken to Sable Island in 1760 for grazing.

The Sable Island horses number between 400 and 550 and due to limited food supply on the island are small and stocky in stature. Although in the past, some of them were rounded up and taken to Nova Scotia for sale, today they are unmanaged and left to live their lives as wild animals.

In 2008, the Sable Island Horse became the official horse of Nova Scotia and in 2011, the Sable Island National park reserve was created to protect the horses and the island.


  1. Thanks for telling me something new. glad horses are protected

  2. Yay for the wild horses! In France, there is also an island (at the delta of the River Rhone) called Camargue, where wild horses roam free. Thanks for sharing.


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