Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Robinson's Island

     I found this story and photograph on the net a few years ago and printed it off.  It was on isn.net (Island Services Network) web provider, however, it seems to be gone.
Kevin S. Robinson 1998
The History of Robinson’s Island
Robinson's Island
by Isabel (Woolner) Beaton
c. 1948
School writing project, North Rustico, P.E.I.
            We get a very good view of the west end of Robinson’s Island from our front yard and I have always been very interested in it and asked innumerable questions about it.  The mere fact that it is an island holds a particular magic for me.  In this way I have learned many things about it, so that I feel I can describe it as fully as anybody expecting the few who have actually lived on it.
            This island reaches across the mouth of Rustico Bay and is separated from North Rustico by a rough stretch of water, locally called “Big Harbour”, and from Brackley Point by a shallow stretch, called "Little Harbour".  It is approximately three miles long from west to east and its greatest width is about one mile.  There is almost two hundred acres of upland which used to be mostly cultivated.  Then there is considerable swamp land and a wide expanse of sand dunes on which cranberries grow in great abundance.
            This island is a very charming soot.  To truly appreciate its beauty you need to view it from the air, preferably on some sunny day in June.  Then you will see a blending if gorgeous colours, the dark green of the evergreens, surrounded by the lighter green of the eel grass, stretching into to the brilliant sand dunes, and all set in blue crystal water.  It is a picture you will remember as long as you live.
            Quite early in the 1800s a settlement was established on this picturesque island by the Robinson’s and the MacAusland’s who were followed by other families.  Fishing was done extensively from here in the days of the sailing boats.  A fish factory was in operation, a school was built and Robinson’s Island was thriving.
            Gradually this changed.  The fishermen went elsewhere.   The factory ceased to operate, the schoolhouse long since closed and very early only one family of Robinson’s was left on the island.
            Many tales could be told about this family.  The nine children all were educated in Barkley Point School.  They walked about a mile over sand dunes, then by boat across the harbour and two and a half miles farther to the school.  Other times they tell of swimming cattle and horses across to the mainland, of taking wagons and produce by scow, and there always was the unending number of times when the crossing was impossible on account if streams and ice in the spring and fall.  These varying accounts are what have thrilled me the most.  Yet this family described them quite an ordinary time, as just the usual events in the run of a year.
            After most of the family had married and left home the father had sold his holdings, in 1929, to Percy MacAusland (a descendant of the original settler).  Since then nobody has lived on the Island though farming was still carried out until 1937 when the whole island was bought by the Federal Government to become a part of the National Park.  The authorities done nothing to develop the island and now all the upland is completely overgrown with Spruce and Fir.  The last building has fallen down and the island possibly appears very much as it did to those first settlers over a century ago.
            However Parks officials are planning a big change for the island.  Surveying was done this summer and plans are being laid to bridge from North Rustico to the island, build a road across it and a causeway to Brackley Point.
            When these plans materialize the forgotten little Island will again flourish, it will become a haven for tourists and possibly the most loved part of our national park.
            Perhaps you noticed that I called it Robinson’s Island and not Rustico Island as some maps do.  I have several reasons for this.  Rustico explains its situation, but it also gives the impression that it was part of the Acadian settlement.  This was never so.  The Island was settled from Brackley Point largely by Robinson’s and all the whole history of this settlement was something of the personality of this family and very few would ever call it by any other name.

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