Nova Scotia

Partridge Island, called 'heaven' by Mi'kmaq, protected for generations to come

Nova Scotia Nature Trust protects Partridge Island, known as Glooscap's grandmother's island, according to Mi'kmaq legend.

Nova Scotia Nature Trust protects Partridge Island near Parrsboro on the Bay of Fundy

Partridge Island, just south of Parrsboro, is now protected. (CBC)

A Mi'kmaq storyteller is celebrating the preservation of Partridge Island in the Bay of Fundy near Parrsboro, N.S. — called Wa'so'q, or heaven, in Mi'kmaq — saying the Nova Scotia Nature Trust has helped protect an area of cultural significance.

The site is now preserved for generations to come, thanks to a conservation easement agreement with the island's owners: Acadia University, Dalhousie University, Sharon Taylor and an anonymous owner.

Gerald Gloade, with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, said the island is known as Glooscap's grandmother's traditional campsite. According to Mi'kmaq legend, Glooscap was the first human, created out of a bolt of lightning in the sand.

Mi'kmaq storyteller Gerald Gloade says Partridge Island is known as Glooscap's grandmother's traditional campground. (CBC)

Partridge Island (not to be confused with an island of the same name near Saint John) overlooks Cape Split, "where Glooscap actually turned his two pet wolves into stone to watch out over his grandmother after he left here," Gloade said.

Magic cooking pot

Legend has it that Glooscap's grandmother had a magic cooking pot, which was never empty, he said. "You cut off a piece of meat it would just grow back. That way, she was always ready to receive company."

At certain times of day, Gloade said, you can see the water around the shoreline boiling and bubbling like a cooking pot. That's the tide pushing air out of holes in the volcanic rock surrounding Partridge Island, he said.

Partridge Island water bubbling along shoreline

5 years ago
According to Mi'kmaq legend, Glooscap's grandmother had a magic cooking pot. At certain times of day you can still see the water around Partridge Island bubbling and boiling as the tide pushes air through volcanic rock. 0:25

Useful materials

Traditionally, Gloade said, the island was valuable to the Mi'kmaq because of the materials found there. 

Glass-like volcanic basalts were used in fireplaces and sweat lodges because they wouldn't split or explode, he said.

A beach now connects Partridge Island to the mainland. It was created by the Saxby Gale of 1869. (CBC)

Semi-precious stones such as amethyst and jasper were useful for making tools such as "projectile points for hunting, knife blades for working, edge-scrapers for preparing hides," Gloade said. 

The stones were "a gift from the Creator," he said. 

Ecologically significant

Partridge Island provides a diversity of habitats for a variety of species, some of which are endangered, said Bonnie Sutherland, executive director of the Nova Scotia Nature Trust.

Hardwood trees, tidal flats, salt marshes, and cliffs provide a diversity of habitats for a variety of species on Partridge Island, some of which are endangered. (CBC)

It's "a really spectacular piece of land with fifty foot cliffs surrounding it," she said. It's forested with hardwood trees —which she said is rare for an island — and there are tidal flats and salt marshes.

With files from Information Morning