Tuesday, August 31, 2010

McNab's Island at last ...

Just off the shore from Eastern Passage and a short 20 minute boat ride from downtown Halifax,  lie Lawlor's and McNab's Islands. 

McNab's is lousy with history extending back to its purchase in 1782 by Peter McNab.  On it,  are two forts, pioneer homes, a beach where executed sailors were hung in gibets, and the McNab family cemetary. Nothing remains of the fair grounds where turn of the century Halegonians came to spend a fun afternoon.  Nor could I find any sign of the soda pop factory that once was there.  No outward signs remain of the poor folk who were interred in two remote locations after succumbing to Cholora in 1866.

Lawlor's Island was home to a quarantine station.  It is a sad sign of the times that there were in fact three buildings for 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers since those being quarentined had arrived by ship. 

During her vitis my cousin Carol and I took the McNab's Island Ferry from Fisherman's Cove to Wreck Cove on McNab's and arranged to be picked up at the same location five hours later.

 It was a weekend and a delightfully sunny day and yet surprisingly we only encountered for or five other visitors while there.  Typically of Nova Scotia this treasure lying on the doorstep of a major city is little known or appreciated.


The island is large and not well signed. Oh heck, there are no signs. Apparently there were road signs once but they were stolen. There are maps but without signs it's easy to get off  track and so while Carol and I thought we were on one path heading one way we ended up in a completely different location.  We'd stumbled across Fort Ives (above) which, sadly, is in a state of disrepair.  

The paths on the island were wide and scenic and we always ended up somewhere interesting which made it hard to get too frustrated about being constantly "lost". 

Among the many houses that remain is Conrad House - the home of Gladys Conrad, the last permanent resident of McNab's Island

This small building had a roof thick with moss and and one crumbling wall.  I don't know what the building was and I am determined on my next visit to orient myself better and find out.

The wreck of an old bardge can be found on the shore at the north end of the island.  In the distance you can glimpse downtown halifax.

I can't wait to go back and explore McNab's again.


  1. I'd love to go back there too. It really is a wonder that such a place exists so close to the city.

  2. Sounds like an interesting trip. I've been thinking about going there to explore a little bit, but haven't looked into it very much yet.

    I'm wondering if you found the Horn family cemetery while you were there? I read in some articles published in 1901 by H.W. Hewitt that the Horns are buried on the opposite side of the road to the McNab family cemetery, but apparently many of the headstones of the older generation had disappeared. The main reason I wanted to go to the island was to go on a graveyard hunt and find some of my Horn ancestors, but I have no idea what to expect when I get there.

  3. Hi Tessie, I wished we'd had more time to explore as there were many things I wanted to see and didn't -- the abandoned gardens and the site of the fair grounds.

    I'm afraid I didn't see any cemetaries while there but the island is well worth the visit.

    Good luck with your search,



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