OAK ISLAND ADVENTURE: DAY 1-Miramichi

In preparation for what may lie on Oak Island, one must know the history of the East Coast, and its past inhabitants and visitors.

The Mi’kmaq are a First Nations people indigenous to Canada’s Atlantic provinces, and their territory was the first portion of North America that Europeans exploited at length for resource extraction.

Mi'Kmaq_Women_Selling_Baskets,_Halifax,_Nova_Scotia

An image from the 1800s depicting the Mi’kmaq of the time. (image: Wikipedia)

Reports by John Cabot, Jacques Cartier, and Portuguese explorers about conditions there encouraged visits by Portuguese, Spanish, Basque, French, and English fishermen and whalers, beginning in the early years of the 16th century, but before that it was likely the area called “Vinland” by Greenlandic Norse explorers 500 years earlier.

The stories of these Norse explorers are called “sagas” and they describe that in 985AD while sailing from Iceland to Greenland with a migration fleet consisting of 400–700 settlers and 25 ships (14 of which completed the journey) a merchant named Bjarni Herjólfsson was blown off course, and after three days’ sailing he spotted a land west of the fleet, the coast of Canada. Bjarni was only interested in getting to Greenland, but he described his discovery of this new land to Leif Erikson, who took on the adventure of finding this place and explored the area in more detail and planted a small settlement fifteen years later, which puts Europeans in North America in 1000AD.

Skálholt-Karte

A 15th century map of the Norse sagas depicting the land where they settled south west of Greenland. 

The sagas describe three separate areas discovered during this exploration: Helluland, which means “land of the flat stones”; Markland, “the land of forests” and Vinland, “the land of wine”, found somewhere south of Markland. It was in Vinland that the settlement described in the sagas was founded, and which is thought to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, although the main settlement has yet to be found.

What was discovered in 1960 was a temporary Norse encampment at L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland, as butternuts were found there that are not, and never were, native to Newfoundland where the ruins were unearthed. This means that the inhabitants of this camp ventured further south, likely into New Brunswick, but no new evidence has yet been found, nor has any expedition been ignited to find the true Vinland of the Norse sagas.

In 1347, it has been recorded that a ship arrived in Iceland, after being blown off course on its way home from Canada to Greenland with a load of timber. The implication is that the Greenlanders had continued to use Canada as a source of timber over several centuries, which means people were travelling and talking about the east coast of Canada in Europe between the first visit in 1000AD and what the history books tell us was the next visit by John Cabot in 1497. There were definitely people coming to the east coast from Europe in between, and they be a prime suspect as to who built what is on Oak Island in Nova Scotia.

MIRAMICHI

I recently read the Vinland Sagas, The Vinland Sagas as translated by Keneva Kunz
and the description the Norse give in their account of Vinland matches an area I think is in Miramichi, New Brunswick. the only confirmed spot in Canada the Norse visited is L’Anse Au Meadows but that was simply a temporary settlement, as that camp contained items from areas further south, such as in New Brunswick.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 5.02.18 AM

The Miramichi region that matches the Norse saga description of their settlement area called “Hop”. Two rivers that meet, an inland lake with sandbars to the ocean. 

The saga notes describe a large inland lake past a sandbar from the ocean, with islands and countryside abounding with natural wheat, salmon, and timber. This where they settled for at least a few years, calling it “Hop” before things got too dicey with the locals and their own in-fighting that they later headed back to Greenland and Iceland.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 5.03.40 AM

Studying Google Earth maps and Streetview to scope out the east coast of New Brunswick, the Miramichi area fits this description very well, and it would make sense that this area would be where they settled. Birgitta Wallace, the archaeologist who studied the Norse settlement at L’Anse Aux Meadows thinks so too, as noted in her interview with CBC where she asserts that Miramichi, NB is where Hop was located.

So we will go here on our first leg of the journey and see what we can find and if there can be any possible links found to another place south of it, Oak Island.

Andrew King, May 24th, 2018

 

2 comments

  1. Awesome! I’m fascinated by all pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contacts. Good luck! Farly Mowat wrote a great historical/fiction book called Farfarers, that you might enjoy.

  2. Looking forward to reading of your investigations as always, Andrew. Oak Island is about as intriguing a mystery as there is in this or any part of the world. Next time we’re near it, we’re definitely going. Good luck!

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