Had an awesome day walking around McNabs Island. I’m going to start volunteering with the Friends of McNabs Island Society and they weren’t at all upset when I said I’d never been. They just said, okay, let’s get you over there.
My tour guide’s name was Dylan and he did an amazing job explaining all the little trails and 200 year old buildings. Most of the island is a mystery since there has been evidence of people living on the island up to 5000 years ago.
Being at the mouth of the Halifax Harbour, McNabs was a perfect place for forts, munitions batteries and lookout posts going back to the War of 1812. None of the military outposts ever saw action in any wars but, if you know your 1812 and WW history, Halifax was an important naval port with ships and resources for the British and Canadians army departing from Halifax. It was just an obvious port to protect. With such strong outposts, no one ever tried to attack Canada through Nova Scotia.
During World Wars 1 and 2, the batteries and forts were fortified and a lot of them rebuilt and strengthened. McNabs and Point Pleasant was the lookouts for submarines trying to enter the harbour.
Along with military establishments, there was also lots of people living and visiting the island for the last 200 years. Evidence of picnic sites and fair grounds can still be found on the island and newspaper clippings from the times notes many large societal events taking place on McNabs.
Along with Lawlor Island right beside it, there is also a dark history to the area. During the Cholera breakout in the late 19th century, McNabs island became a place of quarantine for those infected. The HMS England had over 400 people coming from England and infected with Cholera and were directed to McNabs. Two mass graves are on the island from the 200 people who died. Because of erosion, many think one of the grave sites has been washed into the ocean.
After four hours of hiking, I’ve still only seen about half the island.