THE “MYSTERY ROCK” OF BOOT ISLAND (September 9/05)

In a letter describing a tragic airplane crash in her area during the last war, Hants shore historian Edith Mosher mentioned Boot Island. “There is a Boot Island mystery, by the way,” she said without telling me what it was.

Unfortunately, Ms. Mosher passed away before I could ask for details on the Boot Island mystery. I mentioned her comment several times in columns about the island, hoping that a reader might be aware of what Mosher was referring to. There was no feedback and I assumed that any knowledge of a Boot Island mystery died with Ms. Mosher.

A few days ago, however, Ted Sanford of Woodville called to ask if I’d be interested in reading an account about Boot Island and its mystery rock. The account was written in 1985 by George Spencer of Summerville. A copy of the account was found in the papers of Mr. Sanford’s late wife.

In the account, Mr. Spencer describes an unusual rock that lies on a ledge just off Boot Island. The rock is unusual in that it is granite and normally wouldn’t be found on the Minas Basin mudflats. It’s also unusual in that it has markings that are either in an unknown language or are markings typical of those created by the Mi’kmaq. Embedded in the rock is a large metal ring, which Mr. Spencer refers to as “horseshoe shaped.” Accompanying the account are photographs of the rock showing the ring embedded in it.

Mr. Spencer writes that the rock can be found off the south-easterly tip of the Boot, “about three-quarters of the distance from the (bell) buoy. I’m not familiar with marine navigation in this area but apparently the bell buoy, and what Mr. Spencer calls the red buoy, mark the channel in the approach to the Avon River.

The first thought that comes to mind is that the huge rock described by Mr. Spencer – which has what appears to be a mooring ring and is described as such by Spencer – is simply a discarded buoy anchor. It appears to be fairly close to two buoys marking the channel leading to the Avon River.

However, some sort of inscriptions are on the rock and attempts to have them deciphered by Spencer and his brother were unsuccessful. Spencer’s brother Charles copied the inscription and took it to Kings College in Windsor. “No one there could interpret it,” Spencer writes, adding that the “faculty at Kings sent it away to someone they thought might be able to (translate) it,” but nothing came of it and interest died down.

Later Mr. Spencer said he saw a newspaper account of unusual markings on rocks on an island off Shelburne Harbour, which are believed to be of Mi’kmaq origin. Spencer said in effect that the markings on the Boot Island rock were similar.

Mr. Spencer mentions that the rock can only be seen at extreme low tides. Near the rock, about 100 yards away in the mud is another curiosity described by Spencer as a “large millstone.”

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