SI2023 – B-9 – An Archaeologist Reflects on the Fragility of Sable Island’s Cultural Heritage – Charles Burke

Parks Canada has surveyed and recorded evidence of in situ archaeological resources on Sable Island
National Park Reserve since 2015. While most of the evidence is fragile, either buried or exposed in the
Island`s sand, it represents the Island’s known heritage from 16th century settlement to the 19th
century life-saving stations and lighthouses. These sites and artifacts are the backdrop and inspiration
for an archaeologist’s reflection on the nature and narrative of Sable Island’s unique history. Since the
opportunity to experience Sable’s ruins firsthand is limited and even impossible for most, it is important
these frail and threatened resources become a meaningful part of the public’s perception of Sable

Charles A. Burke spent four decades as a professional archaeologist with Parks Canada, retiring in 2019 to begin a second round of archaeological field work with Boreas Heritage Consulting Inc. His work has taken him across Canada, to every corner of the Atlantic Provinces, and includes three short survey and research projects on Sable Island. His most recent trip to Sable was during the storms of February in 2023. Charles completed a Master of Arts in Anthropology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and has been the recipient of two Parks Canada CEO Awards of Excellence, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to archaeology and public education.