Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cleaning up McNab's Island

McNab's Island is an amazing 370 hectare, island of forests, beaches and pastures, lying in the mouth of Halifax Harbour, a short ferry ride from both Eastern Passage and Halifax.  

Scenic trails meander from one end of the island to the other, leading to abandoned farmhouses, gardens, isolated beaches and forts at both ends of the island.

The place is lousy with history.  It was a popular fishing and hunting area for the Mi'kmaq (Micmac) First Nations people.  Later, settled by Europeans, its strategic location in the harbour mouth was a natural spot for defensive fortifications.

With regular ferry runs, the island became a favourite weekend destination for Haligonians in the late 1800's.
Competing "Pleasure Grounds" vied for the attention of summer visitors, offering a dance pavilion, picnic grounds, canteens and even a steam-powered merry-go-round.  

Not an old ruin but a closed tea house built in the 1980's .

Sadly, McNab's Island faded as a summer destination of choice in the 1900's. 

Now a Provincial park, it offers a natural escape, just minutes from a bustling, metropolitan city.

Though there is no regular ferry service, transport to the island can easily be arranged. Last year, my cousin Carol and I hired a boat to take us from Eastern Passage and pick us up again for only $10 each.  Amazingly enough, most Haligonians have never visited this marvellous island that lies right at their doorstep.

Last Sunday it was even cheaper than that.  The ferry ride was free.  And rather than having the place to myself, I was one of perhaps 200 people who came with a single purpose in mind.  It was island clean-up day.

The Friends of McNab's Island Society had arranged for ferries to bring volunteers from the City and from the Passage.   Adults, school children, girl guides, oldsters and young families were all there to help with the clean up.


It was a lovely day -- breezy, mild and occasionally even sunny.  We split into groups heading for different areas of the island to clear beaches of  litter.

Hundreds of bags of garbage were collected. 

Staff with a cart collected the many garbage bags left
along the edges of paths.
We were on the island all day.  Brought in shifts and picked up in shifts.  After cleaning up, many folk enjoyed exploring the island -- sometimes for the the first time.  

Our ferry took us back to the Passage at 4:30 where we found that a barge loaded with garbage had just arrived and help was needed to transfer the waste to a waiting garbage truck.

I was impressed that our local M.P.* (in yellow T-shirt), Peter Stoffer,
joined us for the day-long clean up.

I'm sorry I didn't get a shot of my missed throw.  I accidentally chucked
a bag of garbage onto the top of the garbage truck !
Here is the most interesting item that was picked up.  Ya gotta admit -- it certainly is "interesting" !

All-in-all, it was a wonderful day.

Care to join me for next year's clean-up ?

* M.P. = Federal Member of Parliament.  


  1. Sybil, I never realised quite how good you are! Cleaning up litter. Very commendable. Glad you got it done before I arrive. Make sure it's the same in Halifax too will you please xxx

  2. Geez, I guess we'll have to call you "chucker" from now on. Yes, I'll come and help you next year, if you can stand me for that long. Just let me know a month or two in advance. Glad you got the "bombs" cleared away first!

  3. Too cool that you did this Sybs.. you rock.. :)
    xo j.

  4. No worries Lynne. I've cleaned up the entire city for you.

    ITC - Do come. I love McNab's

    J. -- Wish I could take you there.

  5. I'm always amazed at the amount of litter I find - doesn't anyone use garbage cans? I admire you for doing this. If I ever get out east I'll have this intriquing Island on my to-see list. However,I hope by then humanity in general will have learned to not only dispose of waste properly, but also that we will have begun to simply create less.

  6. Missusk76,

    I should have said that the litter was not dropped by visitors. The clean up is along the shores of the island. Stuff that gets washed up. Lots and lots of stuff that gets washed up.


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