Stories from the Archives – Life-saving Technologies

Hello Friends of Sable Island,

Rebecca here. This week I considered the important impact technology had on the life saving operation on the Island. The installation of telephones meant that the workers no longer had to spend hours relaying news of a wreck to all the stations before getting to the work of saving lives. Telephones meant that more people could be saved quicker by just ringing the other stations to let them know where the wreck was and when they first saw the vessel. R.J. Boutilier was very pleased to have fully functioning telephones on the Island, as expressed by his clear excitement in the passage below:

Sable Island, Sept. 28th, 1885:


I am pleased to inform you that the five telephones sent were placed in position on the 21st and had complete communication from East End Station to West Light.

    The Stations now report twice each day & [more often] if necessary, and during the gales of the 23rd & 24th many vessels sighted on the South side were reported from station to station until out of sight of the Island.”

-R.J. Boutilier

Thinking of the impact this technology had on the life saving station on the Island, as basic as we now consider telephones to be, makes me think about how much our perspective on the Island has changed due to the huge advances in technology since telephones. With the advances in sonar technology, we no longer need a life saving station on Sable Island, as ships are able to see what they could never have seen before its invention. We still see a need for a human presence on the Island, though. We now understand that we can not only use our technology for saving human lives, but also for saving the ecosystem and history of the Island. It is important that we pass this understanding on to the next generation because as technology develops it could be beneficial or harmful to Sable Island, and we need to make sure the next generation knows to use their technology to its benefit.

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Enjoy the benefits of technology by not forgetting to wear your sunscreen this weekend,