This paper will provide an overview of the settlement and human occupation on Sable Island which can be divided into two distinct periods, the pre-1801 human occupation on the Island and the post-1801 Humane Establishment Period, which initiated the continued settlement on the Island to the present day.
In addition to the huts occupied by seasonal fishermen and sealers, there were many attempts to colonize the Island before the 19th century including those initiated by Baron De Levy, Marquis de La Roche-Mesgouez, Andrew LeMercier, Jesse Lawrence and Andrew and William Miller.
Further known and suspected human occupation on Sable Island prior to the 19th century includes the shipwreck survivors and associated encampments connected to the wrecks of Sir Humphry Gilbert’s expedition in 1583, the Mary and Jane in 1634, Saint Jerome in 1714, Cathrine in 1737, the wrecked vessel associated with the voyage under Major Robert Elliot in 1760 and the occupation on the island by the survivors of the wrecked Princess Amelia in 1797.
Since the initiation of the Humane Establishment in 1801, Sable Island continues to be occupied to the present day. Discussion of the Humane Establishment Period will focus on the variety of structures and buildings constructed during the 19th and 20th centuries including those occupied by the Humane Establishment employees and their families, structures affiliated with the lifesaving establishment such as lighthouses, fog whistles and lookout towers and various temporary structures and survival huts built to provide shelter to shipwreck victims.