TREASURE: Pirate Ned Low, Captain Kidd and the Treasure of Isle Haute, NS

by Art MacKay, October 14th, 2015

Isle-Haute-Bay-of-Fundy-–-Long-awaited-island-exploration-_-Ryan-Barry-Travels3-233x300THE STORY: Many of us believe that a mystery unexplained remains a mystery and this seems to be true for Isle Haute, a particularly isolated and rugged island lying off Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy. While the professionals that study and oversee the island believe that there is no evidence that pirates ever buried treasure there and go so far as to state that “no one has ever discovered any genuine pirate treasure in Nova Scotia”, people still continue the search for treasure left by vicious pirate Edward “Ned” Low or perhaps it was the ubiquitous Captain Kidd as some stories suggest. Whatever the truth, stories abound and treasure hunters have, apparently, pockmarked the island with holes in their quest to discover the treasure. One story places the treasure in a unique pond at one end of the island and it is claimed that there was even an attempt to drain the pond. Islands seem to attract attention as great places to buy and hid ill-gotten booty and Isle Haute is one of the best. Early stories suggest the Acadians hid their valuables there during the expulsion and then there is Captain Kidd. But the established history of Captain  Ned Low places him in the Fundy area. “Outrunning his pursuers following a raid on the New England coast, Pirate Ned and his crew arrived in the Minas Channel in 1722. Supposedly, Ned not only buried his booty on Isle Haute, he also sacrificed one of his crew, whose ghost would guard the treasure until Ned’s return. Ned never made it back, however, as he was captured, imprisoned and ended his career at the gallows, taking the secret location with him.” (

In 1929 B.C. treasure hunter Douglas Carmichael made several trips to the island and reported his discovery of “jewels and coins”. His claims were never supported however and the truth of his discover remains unproven. While many years have passed and the individual is long past away, Edward Rowe Snow, an American adventurer and writer learned about the treasure of Isle Haute. He researched the subject and somehow, somewhere, obtained a map that was reputed to have been created by Ned Low himself. The map image clearly resembled Isle Haute and, equipped with his research and a professional metal detector, Snow arrived on the island in 1952 as a guest of the lighthouse keeper, John Fullerton and began his search.   It apparently wasn’t long before he unearthed a human skeleton and in the same area a cash of silver and gold coins some dating back to 1710. His discovery was quickly seized by the authorities but a later application to the appropriate authorities resulted in the return of his coins. The world press picked up the story and he and Isle Haute became famous for a brief time. But the interest still remains.  According to the official publication of the Nova Scotia government research team …

Isle-Haute-Bay-of-Fundy-–-Long-awaited-island-exploration-_-Ryan-Barry-Travels-300x207He published photos of his find in Life magazine, although it is open to question whether what he claimed to have found was treasure, shipwreck gold or merely a plant. Snow was candid in admitting that the real money in treasure hunting came not from finding anything but rather from writing about it and selling books.(see McLellan, 1955; Trueman, 1970; Snow, 1952). Unfortunately, Snow’s efforts and those of other treasure hunters have led to the pointless and frenzied digging on Isle Haute, which hold tragic consequences for the island’s history. The spot most favoured by Snow and other treasure hunters at one end of the pond also happens to be one of the more important archeological sites on the island.

Is It Worth A Visit? Beautiful, rugged, remote and inaccessible aptly describe Isle Haute. Originally managed by the Canadian Coast Guard, the lighthouse is long gone and only a tower serviced by a helicopter, guide the ships at night. Today, there is some confusion about who manages the island and Provincial professionals seem to think a permit is required. But at this time, it is uncertain how you apply. That said, a boat tour can be arranged and there are many, many other interesting places to explore, making the trip worthwhile and one that should be on your list. How to Get there: There is only one way really and that is by boat. We recommend you contact Advocate Boat tours for more information

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