Caught in a storm

In August 1926 and August 1927 the Lunenburg fishing fleet was caught in ferocious storms off Sable Island. In all, 138 fishermen were lost. Many came from the same small Nova Scotia fishing villages. The impact on their communities was devastating.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Here are a few of the Nova Scotians lost to the August Gales. They were the crew of the fishing schooner Columbia, which sank off Sable in August 1927.
Here are a few of the Nova Scotians lost to the August Gales. They were the crew of the fishing schooner Columbia, which sank off Sable in August 1927.

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved

George Mayo with Sister

George Mayo and his sister, during their brothers wedding. George, 28, died along with his brother Ab and his father Joseph. Another brother, Bert, survived aboard an engine-powered trawler. The story is told that, at the height of the storm, Bert was startled by an apparition of George in the wheelhouse. George said "Bert, we're all gone" and vanished.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


James McLeod

James McLeod, 65, was from Liverpool, Queens County. He had retired from the sea but decided to make this one last trip. He was survived by his widow and family.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Allister Firth

Allister Firth and his father, Arthur, were from Shelburne County. Allister was 17. He didn't want to go on this trip and had tried several times to escape. Just before the schooner was to sail, he hid at his friend's house, but his father found him and forced him on board.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Columbia Crew

Some of the crew just before their last trip. In the back row are Allister Firth, Arthur Firth and Captain Lewis Wharton. In the front are Clayton Johnson, Enos Belong, and Frank Dedrick.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Halifax Herald Article

Halifax Herald Article.

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Sable Island Preservation Trust

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2001. All Rights Reserved


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the August gales and the consequences of the storms
  • Recognize that travelling or working on ships can be lifethreatening, and that many people throughout history have lost their lives

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