Status: Former Quarantine Station; Former Military Base; Illegal to Enter
The island itself is over 300 million years old and was formed by deposits of ash from a long gone volcano.
Aboriginal legend says it was built by beavers; beavers much much larger than the beavers we have today.
In 1785 this island in St John harbour was turned into a quarantine station by Royal Decree. It was also put aside for possible other uses including a navigation aid and a military base.
In 1791 a lighthouse was built on the island. It was only the third lighthouse to be built in what was called British North America (now Canada).
A hospital was built on the island in 1830.
The station was at it’s busiest from 1840 to 1900 when thousands of immigrants were processed here. A number of them died here – especially during the typhus epidemic in 1847 – and there are 6 graveyards on the island.
Numerous memorials have also been set up for the many who died; the most famous is the Celtic cross for the Irish.
From 1800 until 1947 the island was also fortified and it’s guns served as the only defense for St John in the War of 1812, World War I and World War II. The ruins of these fortifications are still on the island.
The once small but thriving community on the island has long since left. There were even boat tours and a museum there until 1995.
The island is only accessible now via a breakwater made of broken concrete and rocks now. It is illegal to cross the breakwater – mainly due to the dangerous conditions – but has also become a rite of passage for teens in the local area.
Numerous people have had to be airlifted both off of the breakwater and the island due to injuries – the majority being broken bones – so the danger is real.
The Provincial and Federal governments have done studies on the cost of turning the island into a tourist attraction, but no work has began as of yet.
The island is said to be haunted by the thousands of pandemic victims buried here as well as a soldier said to have killed himself in the tunnels below the military fortifications.
The ghosts of people lost in the same tunnels are said to haunt the island.
Unexplained lights – not from the lighthouse – are reported by people on the mainland.
Disembodied voices, screams and sounds of battle are frequently heard by visitors.
One occurrence of a man yelling for help heard by both the nearby ferries and by people on the mainland resulted in a lot of wasted by the St John’s first responders on a foggy day. Although they did find 8 people trespassing on the island none of them had been yelling – certainly not for help – and no one has ever discovered where the cries came from to this day.