Friday, November 26, 2010

Devil's Island- previously Woods Island.

Devil's Island before the last storm.
Devil’s Island isn’t actually owned by the Devil. At least his name doesn’t appear on the public record as being the owner of this wind swept piece of rock situated at the mouth of Halifax harbour. 
I’m not opposed to the Devil owning an island. Real estate is a legitimate investment strategy, especially in these uncertain times. Although, I am sure that with his vast resources he would be more interested in warmer climes. Having spent some time in Haiti, I think the Devil has a time share there. 
Devil’s island didn’t always have this name. It was originally called Woods Island, after the vast forest that was there. Unfortunately, the forest burned down, and the island went through a quick succession of names- Fire Island, Smoke Island, Cinders Island and finally Write Off Island.
The island was inhabited from the 1830s to the mid 1940s. The fear of a German invasion scared the local residents and forced them to move to Eastern Passage. I don’t mean to second guess the residents’ decision making, but I’m pretty sure if the Nazis invaded Devil’s Island they weren’t going to stop until they reached at least Lower Sackville. 
My best guess of what a Viking Hippie may look like.
 I invite your suggestions
Since then, the island has had to endure the wind and waves of the Atlantic alone. There was a brief period when an inspired Norwegian artist tried to live and paint there. It was a brief period. I wonder how bad it must have been to drive him off. I can’t imagine a better definition of tenacity and idealism than a viking hippie.
The owner of the island, Mr. Bill Mont, has tried to find someone to live there free of charge and look after the island. In 2007, he was interviewed by the Chronicle Herald about his hope to find a caretaker. Mr. Mont said there’s no electricity, no running water, and any resident would need a boat or a helicopter to get off the largest private island in the harbour, although he may be willing to supply a boat to the person who takes up his offer.

Too, the rundown house, once the home of the lighthouse’s caretaker, needs shingles and more, he said, adding that someone handy with tools might be ideal.

"It’s not a place you can get on and off any time you want to, the water can get pretty rough at times. You may be stuck there two or three days at a time. If you’ve got to go to work every day, got to go to a job, got to go shopping, it’s not for you. It’s a different life, it’s almost like a Survivor thing," he said, referring to the popular TV series.

And then there are the ghosts. 
The Devil is my neighbour.
But he said he’s also thinking about trying to find someone to lease the island for the long term.

"There’s still a lot of people out there who have a lot of money who are looking for unusual places to build their mansions," he said. "Somebody with a lot of money who either owns a helicopter or who has access to (one) – we’re talking about megabucks – and they want to have a place different, they could put a mansion up there."

I have access to helicopter, but I don’t have a lot of money. I am not handy with a hammer and I enjoy running water. I have a job and my wife enjoys shopping. I also am not a big fan of ghosts, so obviously I don’t qualify.  Looking at the requirements to live there, I understand why the Devil may be the only possible choice.

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