BOOT ISLAND – A NATURAL CURIOSITY (July 8/05)

I’m sure that if someone had the ambition and inclination, they could write a history of the little island that time and the Minas Basin tides created in eastern Kings County.

People would read this history and future generations treasure it. Given that not too far in the future, Boot island will have succumbed to the Minas Basin tides and will exist only in memory, that little history would be a valuable glimpse of Kings County’s past.

Writing that history might be too much of a chore, however since there are few written records about the Boot. Most of what is known about the island exists solely as folklore. There have been tragedies but no great battles were fought on the island. The Acadians may have farmed what is now Boot Island when it was part of the mainland but it had no role in the expulsion other than being near Grand Pre. And as far as we know, no famous politicians, doctors or scientists were born there.

So why would it be worthwhile for someone to pen an island account? Well, I could argue that the Boot is one of the few remaining place names in Kings County of Acadian origin. I could suggest that the Boot is interesting because as prominent evidence of the power of the Minas tides it’s a natural curiosity. Take a look at the maps in the Blomidon Naturalists Society‘s book on the natural history of Kings County and see what has happened to the Boot in the last few centuries. The changes wrought by the tides are astounding.

If a history of Boot Island was ever written, it would simply be a pastoral chronicle about people who farm the land. Perhaps this means that the Boot doesn’t qualify as a place to be written about in depth since no great history-changing events occurred there, and there are no tales of buried treasure and skulduggery.

The Boot was briefly sketched in a book about island life in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Historian Edith Mosher hinted that there is a Boot Island mystery and a few notable historians mention the Boot in passing. But other than a couple of columns I’ve written about the island, that’s it. Little Boot Island deserves more, however.

Closing on that note, here’s a P.S.

After my “Born On The Boot” column appeared on June 24, William (Buzz) Pineo of Wolfville called to correct a typographical error in the obituary I mentioned. This was the death notice of Bessie A. Mitchell and the obit stated that she was the daughter of the “late John and Sara (Davis) Tineo.”

That should have read Pineo, not Tineo, Buzz Pineo said. Bessie Mitchell was his aunt, Buzz tells me, and John and Sara were his grandparents. John and Sara farmed on the Boot until their first child reached school age; then they left the island.

Based on Bessie Mitchell’s age on her death in 1982 – she was 98 – this means that John and Sara Pineo farmed on Boot Island late in the 19th century, until about 1890.

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