SI2019-B-3: … /.. A Hundred Miles from Anywhere – Jill Martin

Jill Martin writes with authority about Sable Island. Her family connections to the island served as inspiration for her first novel, Return to Sable (2015) and her award winning, Sable Island in Black and White, (Nimbus 2016) which chronicle the communication challenges of this minute crescent of sand rising, at its highest, a mere 70 metres above the surrounding sea. Both a navigational hazard and a place of succour to those unfortunate souls hoodwinked by its shifting sands, Sable Island has unequivocally earned the nickname, Graveyard of the Atlantic. As part of the research for her writing, she consulted the logs of the island’s superintendents’ held in the NS Archives; the Marconi records held in the National Archives in Ottawa and the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, as well as personal letters and artefacts in her possession. This research unearthed a wealth of information on the history of communication on and to the island: lighthouses, fog alarms, cannons, pigeons, telephone, and wireless. She connected with family members descended from two of the early wireless engineers who worked call sign, SD (Sable Island) and who went on to shape the direction of radio in Canada and the United States. Just out of wireless school, these intrepid young men landed on the spit of sand and went about their work in three piece suits, jaunty hats and riding boots.