Robert S. Young

In June 1996 the stars above aligned and I purchased Lot Five of Oak Island from Frederick G. Nolan. I still recall my first steps on the property as its proud owner feeling destined to have arrived and that together with my new friend and cohort Fred we were slated for the adventures of a lifetime. 

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Lot Five's property lines have been embellished in modern times by 40' wide cleared swaths running along the length of each side that were cut entirely on the adjoining Lot Four and Lot Six. These were created by Dan Blankenship in response to the protracted legal battles of the 1980's in which the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia resoundingly dismissed Triton Alliance's arguments and ruled in Fred Nolan's favor. (Triton not once but twice contested his rightful ownership of Lot Five and Lots Nine through Fourteen in the courts)  As Dan would confirmed to me years later, the purpose of these clear cuts was to keep track of Fred to make sure he wasn't trespassing but this action failed to cause Fred any bother and did no harm or foul to his properties. Indeed, these clearings only served to highlight Fred's lots and explains why when viewed from above, the boundaries of Lot Five, the western property line of Lot Nine and the eastern property line of Lot Fourteen are all so easily discerned. In Oak Island parlance they are referred to as the "spite lines" and that is very apropos.

Long before I acquired Lot Five and perhaps in part a consequence of these contentious court cases, Fred was being denied road access to his properties by the other land owners. The Island is connected to the mainland via a single lane, non-vented 600' causeway which was constructed during Robert Dunfield's tenure in the 1960's to get his 70 ton drag line crane on and off the island. Although unambiguously stipulated to be a temporary structure and with flagrant defiance of critical thought, it remains in place as it was originally built, continuing to perpetuate several degrees of consternation amongst its neighbors in Western Shore including it should be mentioned the indigenous salmon of nearby Gold River. That said, the causeway is controlled by the Nova Scotia Government and as such Fred could have reached an agreement for its use. Of still further relevance, since part of Fred's properties contributed to the making of the island's Centre Road the court awarded him an easement permitting full use of that road. However, the private section of road that connects the causeway to the Centre Road was gated and declared off limits to him by his fellow land owners. An easement would have been granted had Fred's lots been technically land locked but since each had water frontage an easement was denied by the courts. That succinctly answers the question "how" they can restrict access but to address the question "why" you'll need to press upon them to enunciate their rationale. 

These are the conditions under which I purchased Lot Five and despite sincere effort on my part to remedy the situation are those by which I must still abide. For the record, in my 23 years of land ownership at Oak Island I have never once been permitted to drive to my property because of this quirk in the law that, by their sole discretion, my neighbors continue to enforce. Consequentially by my calculation since 1996 I have taken over 4,500 round trips by boat to the island, all by means of my beloved 16.5' LUND runabout "Relic" and her sidekick tender "Bubbles". (named in deference to characters on the Canadian TV shows "The Beachcombers" and "Trailer Park Boys")

On a positive note, I am the last member standing of a motley band of Oak Island land owners and adventurers who have in a very literal sense had to deal with Oak Island as an island and never, ever as a peninsula - an audacious fraternity and heady company indeed.


Having never been plowed, dug or built upon Lot Five remains as close to an undisturbed and unmolested site as can be found on the island. I've always considered this state of originality to be a treasure in and of itself, well worth taking the extra time required for measured "do no harm" strategies when working the land - alas a lesson well lost on some who've involved themselves with Oak Island. 

Lot Five has a wonderfully diverse mix of hardwoods and softwoods with a smattering of old growth oak, pine, and maple trees that all combine to compliment my interests in the ecological sciences. I heartily espouse the practice of silviculture and today Lot Five stands as a testament to the benefits of responsible forest management. 

For good reason I've come to regard Lot Five as Oak Island's de facto scientific control that exemplifies the before 1795 era - it survives and thrives to this day as an unsullied reflection of days now long past. 

Robert S. Young  -  January 1, 2019