MYSTERIOUS NOVA SCOTIA (June 14/96)

Except for a handful of dubious, far-fetched ghost stories, I once heard a lecturer say, in effect, that Nova Scotia is too young a land to have any true mysteries.

The comeback, of course, is “hogwash.” One could immediately point to the widely known “Money Pit” at Oak Island, which has baffled people since it was discovered two centuries ago. At least 15 separate expeditions have failed in attempts to solve the Oak Island mystery and the final chapter is yet to be written.

When he spoke at the service club meeting, the lecturer to whom I referred may not have known the connection Nova Scotia may have with ancient civilizations. It is unproven, but there is speculation that the Carthaginians traded with the Micmacs in ancient times. This speculation comes from markings found on a rock near Shelburne – which a Harvard professor said was proof that by 410 A.D., Carthaginians were crossing the Atlantic and trading with the Micmacs.

Along the same line is the Yarmouth Stone, a 400-pound boulder with markings that appear to be ancient writing. The Yarmouth Stone was found in 1812: Over the year, the “inscriptions” on it have defied the efforts of translators and interpreters. Over the years, the markings have been said to be of Norse, Japanese, Mycenian, Micmac and Basque origin, and the natural product of erosion.

There is speculation that Nova Scotia was visited by various ancient civilizations hundreds of years before Columbus. Frederick Pohl discusses this speculation in his book, Atlantic Crossings Before Columbus (1961). The 1976 book by Barry Fell, America B.C.: Ancient Settlers in the New World, also mentions ancient visits to Nova Scotia. Closer to home, Lunenburg County author, George Young, writes about the same subject in his 1980 booklet, Ancient Peoples and Modern Ghosts.

Some historians and folklore students have speculated that the Micmac god, Glooscap, was an early European visitor. Glooscap’s origin remains a mystery, but attempts have been made to prove he was an ancient visitor to these shores. Frederick Pohl presented evidence that Sinclair explored Nova Scotia around the year 1398 and spent a year with the Micmacs. Glooscap, Pohl said, may be the memory of an amazing man who, to the Micmacs, would have indeed appeared to be godlike.

There is also a local mystery that may never be explained. When he explored the area around the Minas Basin in 1606, Champlain made a baffling discovery. In a harbour near Cape Split, Champlain found what he described as a “very old cross.” Champlain wrote that this was evidence of Christian visitors to the area before the French arrived.

Also baffling and very much a Nova Scotia mystery is the reference on old maps of a community called “The Cross.” In his book, Holy Grail across the Atlantic, Michael Bradley mentions this mysterious community and says it is the site of ancient ruins.

The community is described as being situated almost midway between Mahone Bay and the Bay of Fundy. Where would that put it? Around New Ross or the Forties or perhaps around East Dalhousie?

Who says Nova Scotia is a dull little province with no mysteries?

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