Pirates, Not of the Caribbean
by D.T. Hennigar – (This appeared in No Quarter Given Magazine out of California)
The cold waters off Nova Scotia, Canada, are not the first place you
think of when you consider piracy and pirates, that’s a given. I would
be among the first to agree with you that Blackbeard and William Kidd
never sailed these waters, but, pirates and privateers were plentiful
off the placid shores of Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, that is a fact.
Mahone Bay is a large Atlantic alcove populated by as many as 300
islands on Nova Scotia’s south shore, about an hour drive west from the
capital city of Halifax. One of it’s most famous islands is the
mysterious Oak Island, site of a 212-year old treasure hunt that began
in 1795 with the discovery of the Money Pit by a new resident to the
area, Donald Daniel McInnis.
McInnis came to live in Nova Scotia and in no time likely heard the
many tales of piracy and buried treasure the region is so well known
for. Even the very name Mahone comes from an old French word, mahonne,
describing a low sailing vessel, often powered by sweeps and frequently
used by pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Mahone Bay is crowded
with modern day sailors as they tack to windward and leeward across the
bay mindful of the possibilities of who masterminded Oak Island’s deeply
buried engineering marvel.
For many years, the name Captain Kidd was on the lips of every new
treasure hunter who became enthralled with the stories of buried
treasure under Oak Island. It was not until the 20th century that men
began to doubt Kidd and his followers completed the work known to exist
deep in Oak Island’s belly. One thing was for certain, whoever did the
original work had to come by sea.
Oak Island began to see a steady stream of tourists to view the
workings and talk to the treasure hunters from the 1930’s onwards.
Dozens, then hundreds and finally thousands of tourists from all over
the world began to hear of this place with it’s mysterious flood
tunnels, tantalizing artifacts and man’s struggle against it, including
as many as six deaths directly attributed to active treasure hunting.
Formal tours of Oak Island commenced in 1973 but after a fitful start,
an ending, and a start again, organized tours ceased in 1995 and Oak
Island was off limits to the world.
In 2001 an organization of interested locals incorporated the Oak
Island Tourism Society. They thought Oak Island should not only be a
tourism attraction again, but that artifacts and the history and culture
of Oak Island should be displayed in an attractive manner in a really
well done interpretive centre in conjunction with walking tours of the
famous island. While the Society wrestles with bureaucratic stumbling
blocks, they decided that if Oak Island can’t have an interpretive
centre at the moment, then the least they could do is create more
interest and celebrate the island’s history that has people wondering
about the mystery all from around the world. Thus, Explore Oak Island
Days were born.
Now entering its fifth year of celebration, Explore Oak Island Days
continues to grow into a very unique weekend festival that becomes more
fun each year. In conjunction with guided walking tours of the island,
top shelf guest speakers, artifacts and displays, dressing up like
pirates has become part of the annual festivities. Even the kids are
encouraged to join in the fun.
This August 10 – 12/07 the Oak Island Tourism Society will host the
fifth annual Explore Oak Island. There will be walking tours of Oak
Island, re enactments, guest speakers, rare displays of artifacts, a
costumed dinner and dance, an on site psychic channeling of the spirits
of Oak Island and much more. You don’t have to be a member of the
Society to do any of it, but you will definitely realize benefits if you
Oak Island is legendary for tales of pirates, the supernatural and of
course, buried treasure. Next August, why don’t you throw caution to
the wind and come to Nova Scotia for Explore Oak Island Days and join
the Society in celebration of this mystery. Whatever you do, don’t
forget to bring your pirate costume as this will be a part of the 2007
festivities. And as we say up this way, “Keep yer powder dry ‘n yer one
good eye cocked for her Majesties ships.”