Oak Island, Nova Scotia
|Location||Nova Scotia, Canada|
|Area||57 ha (140 acres)|
|Highest elevation||11 m (36 ft)|
Oak Island is a 57-hectare (140-acre) privately owned island in Lunenburg County on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The tree-covered island is one of about 360 small islands in Mahone Bay and rises to a maximum of 11 meters (36 feet) above sea level. The island is located 200 meters (660 feet) from shore and connected to the mainland by a causeway and gate. The island is best known for various theories about possible buried treasure or historical artifacts, and the associated exploration.
The nearest community is the village of Chester. The earliest European residents of the area were French fishermen who, by the 1750s, had built a few houses on the future site of Chester. During the French and Indian War, the British government of Nova Scotia enacted a series of measures to encourage settlement of the area by the European-descended New Englanders. Land was made available to settlers in 1759 through the Shorham grant. Chester was officially founded that same year.
A large part of Oak Island was granted to the Monro, Lynch, Seacombe and Young families around the same time as the establishment of Chester. The first major group of settlers arrived in the Chester area from Massachusetts in 1761. The following year, Oak Island was officially surveyed and divided into 32 four-acre lots. In the early days of British settlement, the Island was known locally as "Smith's Island," after an early settler of the area named Edward Smith. Cartographer J.F.K. DesBarres renamed the Island to "Gloucester Isle" in 1778. Shortly thereafter, the locally used name "Oak Island" was officially adopted for the Island. Early residents included Edward Smith in the 1760s and Anthony Vaughn Sr. in the early 1770s. In 1784, the government made additional land grants, this time to former soldiers, which included parts of Oak Island.
In 1965, Robert Dunfield constructed a causeway from the western end of the island to Crandall's Point on the mainland.
Oak Island Tours now owns 78% of the island. The remaining 22% of the island is owned by private parties. There are two permanent homes and two cottages occupied part-time on the island.
The Oak Island mystery
For more than a century and a half, there have been treasure hunts, investigations and excavations on Oak Island. There are many theories about what, if anything, might be buried or concealed there. Areas of interest on the island with regard to treasure hunters include a location known as the Money Pit, a formation of boulders called Nolan's Cross, the beach at Smith's Cove, and a triangle-shaped swamp. The Money Pit area has been repeatedly excavated; critics argue that there is no treasure and that the Money Pit is a natural phenomenon.
In popular culture
Oak Island has been a staple of treasure literature with the first published account appearing in 1863 and new books appearing on regular basis. More than fifty books have been published recounting the island's history and exploring competing theories. Several works of fiction have been based upon the Money Pit, including The Money Pit Mystery, Riptide, The Hand of Robin Squires, and Betrayed: The Legend of Oak Island.
On January 5, 2014, the History Channel began airing The Curse of Oak Island, a documentary series about a group of modern treasure hunters led and funded by two brothers, Rick and Marty Lagina, who purchased the majority of Oak Island in 2006.
- DesBrisay, Mather Byles. "History of the county of Lunenburg". Internet Archive. Toronto : W. Briggs.
- Sora, Steven. The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar (Inner Traditions/Destiny, 1999). ISBN 0-89281-710-0
- "Chester Municipal Heritage Society - Oak Island". Chester Municipal Heritage Society.
- Whipps, Heather. "For Sale: Island with Mysterious Money Pit". Retrieved 5 December 2005.
- Nickell, Joe (March 2000). "The Secrets of Oak Island". Skeptical Inquirer.
- Conlin, Dan Pirates of the Atlantic: Robbery, Murder and Mayhem off the Canadian East Coast, Halifax: Formac Publishing (2009), p. 86