Trixie Boutillier

Hello, I'm Trixie Boutilliers. I grew up on Sable. My father was superintendent of the lifesaving station from 1885 to 1912. I was only 5 years old when we came. I'd like to tell you what it was like to live there.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Homes at Sable

People thought it was terrible to live on Sable, that we were savages But Sable was special to all of us. Once you left the island, your greatest desire was to go back again.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Boutillier family

My family - I 'm holding my brother Jim's hand.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Main Lifesaving Station

Our home at the main lifesaving station.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Lifesaving is why we were there, of course. 33 ships wrecked while father was superintendent. Some people drowned but we saved most of them. They stayed next door in the Sailor’s Home until the steamer came and took them to Halifax.
Lifesaving is why we were there, of course. 33 ships wrecked while father was superintendent. Some people drowned but we saved most of them. They stayed next door in the Sailor’s Home until the steamer came and took them to Halifax.

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

The Sailor’s Home

The rescued sailors stayed next door in the Sailor's Home until the steamer came and took them to Halifax.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Father and his crew had lifesaving drill every week. The crew kept the lifesaving equipment ready for the next emergency.

The crew salvaged as much of the cargo and wrecked ships as they could. The Government sold the salvage in Halifax to help pay for the lifesaving station.
Father and his crew had lifesaving drill every week. The crew kept the lifesaving equipment ready for the next emergency.

The crew salvaged as much of the cargo and wrecked ships as they could. The Government sold the salvage in Halifax to help pay for the lifesaving station.

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

William Henry Horne

William Henry Horne was the lighthouse keeper on Sable Island.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Doll cradle

Sometimes we made things out of wood from the wrecks. William Henry Horne, the lighthouse keeper, made this doll's cradle.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Weathered shingle

Wind and sand were hard on everything, especially the buildings. The men spent a lot of time replacing shingles and whitewashing.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


A steamer brought supplies a few times each year. We brought them ashore in surfboats - barrels of salt pork, split peas, rice, brown sugar, navy beans, a big cask of molasses and cases of tea.

We were pretty healthy, until the steamer came. If someone on the ship had a cold or flu, we’d all get It. "Steamer cold", we called it. Father kept some opium pills and other medicines for emergencies.
A steamer brought supplies a few times each year. We brought them ashore in surfboats - barrels of salt pork, split peas, rice, brown sugar, navy beans, a big cask of molasses and cases of tea.

We were pretty healthy, until the steamer came. If someone on the ship had a cold or flu, we’d all get It. "Steamer cold", we called it. Father kept some opium pills and other medicines for emergencies.

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

Getting provisions

All the staff would ride up and get their provisions. They'd travel when the tide was falling, on a nice hard beach. If they missed the tide they'd have to wait for the next.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Mostly, we made do with what we had. Vegetables grew very well with horse manure in the sand, but for 3 years the grasshoppers ate everything. I wore underwear with an elastic because they were all up your arms and down your neck.

We made wild hay and we put 5 acres of Timothy beside the house for the cattle. Everybody pitched in.

The men hunted ducks in autumn for fresh meat, and seals in winter for oil. We would raise a litter of pigs so everyone had a pig to put down for winter meat.
Mostly, we made do with what we had. Vegetables grew very well with horse manure in the sand, but for 3 years the grasshoppers ate everything. I wore underwear with an elastic because they were all up your arms and down your neck.

We made wild hay and we put 5 acres of Timothy beside the house for the cattle. Everybody pitched in.

The men hunted ducks in autumn for fresh meat, and seals in winter for oil. We would raise a litter of pigs so everyone had a pig to put down for winter meat.

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

Island vegetables

Vegetables grew very well with horse manure in the sand.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Bailing hay

We made wild hay.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Hunting

The men hunted ducks.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


The island gave us lots of berries - cranberries, strawberries, blueberries. Every October we all turned out for the cranberry picking, even the lifesaving crew. One year we picked 400 barrels of No. 1 cranberries and I made 48 quarts of jelly. I wished I had never seen a cranberry.

Scoops were faster than hand-picking, but it was still hard work.

The Government sold them for $5 a barrel. The money helped pay to run the lifesaving station.
The island gave us lots of berries - cranberries, strawberries, blueberries. Every October we all turned out for the cranberry picking, even the lifesaving crew. One year we picked 400 barrels of No. 1 cranberries and I made 48 quarts of jelly. I wished I had never seen a cranberry.

Scoops were faster than hand-picking, but it was still hard work.

The Government sold them for $5 a barrel. The money helped pay to run the lifesaving station.

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

Berry scoop

Scoops were faster than hand-picking, but it was still hard work.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


the Blue Room

A musical evening in the Blue Room. I played piano and we'd all sing. Getting that piano out of the surfboat and up the beach was hard, but it was worth it.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Sailing on Lake Wallace

We sailed the dinghy on Lake Wallace. The men salvaged it from a wreck and named it "Trixie''.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Winter skating

In very cold winters we could skate.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Horseback Riding

We all had our own horses and we rode a lot.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


School on Sable Island

We had school sometimes, with Miss Ancient.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Sable Island Preservation Trust, Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic,

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


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe what life was like on Sable Island for Trixie Boutillier
  • Describe the activities Trixie Boutillier took part in while she lived on Sable Island
  • Describe the job of a lifesaver on Sable Island

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