McNab's Island – Halifax, Nova Scotia - Atlas Obscura

McNab's Island

This Canadian island is a veritable garden of decay with countless abandoned structures dotting the landscape. 


Laying off the coast of Nova Scotia, McNab’s Island is a wonderland of abandoned structures and modern ruins ranging from military installations to private homes to a soda factory. 

McNab’s Island in Halifax harbor was settled by Peter McNab in the 1780s after the large island had been used by fishermen in the decades previous. McNab and his family, and descendants occupied the island until 1934, after which no large settlements were established on the island.

In fact McNab Island has lain mostly abandoned since World War II and is now mainly an impressive collection of abandoned structures of all sort. Packed into the island’s 980 acres are the following; three abandoned military forts, a cholera quarantine epidemic potters field, ruins of old family homes from the islands few inhabitants, a family burial plot, a former soda pop factory that ran bootleg booze during prohibition, a shipwreck cove, a beach where English redcoats hung navy deserters during the Napoleonic Wars, a forgotten lighthouse, a former Edwardian fairground, and the remnants of a cultivated Victorian botanical garden.

Unfortunately no tour groups go to McNab Island and no public transport will take you. However a call to local sailor Captain Mike in nearby Fisherman’s Cove and he’ll sail you there for $20 and give you a map. After that, much like the mouldering buildings on the site, you’re on your own. 

Know Before You Go

Guided tours and better access are available through two boat services.

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