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Evidence of shipwrecks on Sable IslandRoss Mason is one of those intense, involved people you meet perhaps once in a lifetime. Adventurer, explorer, outdoorsman, prospector, conservationist and by his own account, a gentleman -- Ross Mason is all of these things and more.

In his youth, he was stationed for three years in Germany with the Canadian Army where he learned to speak and write fluent German. When he returned, he spent nine years with the Halifax Police Department.

Ross Mason is a also a treasure hunter. He was involved with commercial diving for many years, exploring more than 50 shipwrecks off the coast of Nova Scotia, finding artifacts such as coins and bits of relics, but no great wealth. At least not yet.

For 17 years, he was also an active prospector, travelling at times with a mule and saddlebags. Mason still has several claims staked in the province. He is reluctant to let them expire, as though he clings to the memory of the long years of work and effort he put into 'fiinding the motherlode'.

It never happened. Today, Mason lives modestly on the Eastern Shore. His experience enables him to teach prospecting and conduct field trips for groups of hopeful treasure hunters. In the winter, he does research and plans the opening of his gold museum and in summer, he works as a park supervisor with the province.

In a land where the woods and the sea served up a meagre wage for men on the shore and adventure was all in a day's work, Mason is still an enigma and still thirsts for adventure, if not riches.

Seals on Sable IslandSable Island, a windswept snake of sand off the coast, is famous throughout history for its shipwrecks, and now for its vast reserves of offshore oil. It is one of the few places in Canada that is restricted to visitors.

Ross Mason has been there - been there, and spent a lifetime in a few short years, working as a handyman, a jack of all trades. He ran the diesel generating plant, the water treatment plant and the sewage treatment plant. He did the carpentry work, the plumbing, painting, welding, cutting, burning and sandblasting. He did the mechanical work on all the vehicles and was in charge of fueling the island.

In spite of his busy schedule which he shared with two other men, Mason's restlessness and quest for knowledge took him to the isolated parts of Sable -- to study, to observe and to record what he learned. Today, Ross Mason has some of the most hauntingly beautiful photographs of mysterious Sable Island ever taken, which he guards closely. He'll do a book someday, he says.

But for now, he's happy to reflect on his days on Sable Island, that mysterious drift of sand that has so imprinted itself on history. Sable is only a bit more enigmatic than Ross Mason himself.

Following is Ross Mason's account of life on Sable Island.

Part 2 - Ross Mason on Sable Island

More on Sable Island

This article has been adapted from an original 1997 interview by Elisabeth Schwartzer. - G. Martin

Hatch Media.
Photos © Ross Mason
© 2001 Highway 7

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All contents © 1995 - 2017 Highway7.com unless otherwise attributed
Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
Last Change: 01-Feb-2017