By Doug Crowell and Kel Hancock, Blockhouse Investigations
Oak Island has attracted tourists to the island since the day knowledge of the treasure hunt became public in 1857. Thousands of curious individuals have found their way to Nova Scotia's Treasure Island to experience firsthand the lure of this enduring mystery. Since Robert Dunfield and Mel Chappell built the causeway to the island in 1965, visitors have been able to walk or drive onto the island to partake in guided tours. Before the causeway, visitors journeyed to Oak Island by boat, whether hired or in their own.
"Any boat seen to land parties above high tide mark will be treated as pirates and shot on sight."
We recently found a notice about Oak Island visitors permits from days gone by, shown in the above photo, in the R.V. Harris papers housed at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. The undated handwritten permit, likely written sometime between 1888 and 1935, reads as follows:
to land on Sellers farm, Oak Island to picnic, may be purchased at 25 cents per person from this date.
Parties of less than six may obtain a guide by paying $1 extra.
Any boat seen to land parties above high tide mark will be treated as pirates and shot on sight.
Landing must be made at North Cove stone wharf!
Season permit for 5 persons $10 in advance.
All boats permitted to come and go must have name on bow and stern in white letters on black ground at
least 2 inches high and one inch apart.
These permits do not allow trespass in meadowland.
$50 fine to be imposed if permits are forged. <undecipherable signature>"
As you can see, visitor's were welcome on the island for a small fee, but pirates would receive a much less friendly greeting.
We believe that this notice was likely issued between 1888 and 1935 because it mentions the Seller's Farm.
After John Smith, one of the co-discoverers of the Money Pit and owner of Lot 18 upon which the Money Pit is located, died in 1857, Anthony Graves bought up Smith's island lots. When Graves passed away in 1888, he left his island lots to his daughters Sophia and Rachel. Sophia was married to Henry Sellers, and the land became known as the Seller's Farm. Sophia died in 1931, but the land stayed in the Seller's family until Gilbert Hedden bought them out in 1935.
We suspect that sometime between 1931 and 1935 is the most probable date for this notice as the notice states "Farm Rentee". The most likely time for the farm to have been rented would have been after Sophia's death, but that is uncertain.
I can recall "Trespassers will be shot" signs posted in the Nova Scotia countryside back in the early 1970, but no later. You will not encounter such a notice these days, but remember, Oak Island is a privately owned island and under Canada's Trespass to Property Act, you can only be there with permission from the land owners.
Today, you can visit Oak Island under a much friendlier atmosphere. There are twice daily tours on weekends, typically running between late June and early September. These tours are most often led by Charles Barkhouse, of the Curse of Oak Island TV show. A Visitor Centre containing museum displays and a gift shop is staffed by friendly and welcoming faces.
You can visit their website by clicking here:
Thanks for reading.
Goodnight from The Blockhouse!
From The Blockhouse
is published by Blockhouse Investigations and oakislandcompendium.ca
in Nova Scotia, Canada
Editors and Chief Correspondents
Kelly W. Hancock, CD
John Wonnacott, P. Eng.
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