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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My initial introduction to the subject of Oak Island occurred 16 years prior when by happenstance I signed out a copy of D'Arcy O’Conner’s book “The Money Pit” from the local library. I was so captivated by the tale D'Arcy spun that I planned a vacation to Nova Scotia in the summer of 1980 to scope out this treasure island first-hand. 

What I discovered on that road trip was both how beautiful the province of Nova Scotia is and that Oak Island was indeed the real deal. I still remember Jane Blankenship's fervent tutorial at the Oak Island Visitor Centre as if it were yesterday and when finished, how she kindly allowed me to walk the island at my leisure.  

On that moody, overcast day I set about on my walk, alone but for thoughts of all things Oak Island and merrily snapping pictures of anything that caught my attention (these images are in the Picture Gallery). I did notice clear activity at Borehole 10X in the form of noise and pumping but did not encounter another soul as I wandered around the island. Having worked for several years in the Alberta oil patch as a roughneck/motorman I was primed to appreciate the type of work Triton Alliance was doing but was somewhat taken aback by the contrast in scale of operations and the general level of acumen that was on display. With my heart's content satisfied, I eventually departed the island feeling I had experienced something rather unfamiliar, like a melange of surreal imagery mashed with visceral sensory overload. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this remarkable inaugural visit to Oak Island would prove a harbinger of events yet to be. 

Upon my return back home to Ontario any further thoughts of Oak Island were benched in my consciousness as I dealt with the realities of everyday life and the task of earning a living. I was busy with my new company Chase Of Toronto and for the next 14 years my attention was focused on designing/building custom solid wood furniture along with teaching apprenticeships in conjunction with a local community college and writing for the publication Canadian Workshop Magazine.

Eventually, by 1994 I was feeling played out by that situation and looking to move onto something completely different. Serendipity knocked on my door when for Christmas 1994 my sister Susan gave me a copy of William S. Crooker’s book “Oak Island Gold” which upon reading impressed me with all the new discoveries. I decided to write the author to inquire if there may be possible investment opportunities and Bill kindly responded, suggesting that I contact Fred Nolan. Over the next 6 months Fred and I corresponded and in the summer of 1995 I came out to Nova Scotia for an upfront and  personal tour. Some have wondered how I ended up owning part of world famous Oak Island - the simple truth is that after meeting with Fred and sizing up the situation I then asked if he would sell me Lot Five to which he replied in the affirmative.  

It would take me just under a year to wrap things up in Ontario and follow through on my obligations as per our hand written, two paragraph agreement but Fred was patient and in June 1996 Lot Five's deed was finally transferred to my name, official for all the world to see - my new life in Nova Scotia had commenced in earnest.

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 it was denied. 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 in a very literal sense have had to deal with Oak Island as an island and never, ever as a peninsula - an audacious fraternity and heady company indeed.


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. 

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 many. 

For good reason and with unabashed pride 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.