Explore Oak Island Display  Chester Train Station, 20 Smith Road,
© Chester Municipal Heritage Society 2013
Articles and stories about the island and its treasure
  The Mader’s Cove Pit    By: Danny Hennigar        There are many stories from across this province spoken in hushed tones of buried treasure, mayhem, war, mysteries, ghosts and piracy. Stories abound that speak of places like Hobsen’s Nose off Lunenburg, the wild beauty of the eastern shore, the swamps of Louisburg and one of my favourite places in this great province, Seal Island.    This very remote island off Nova Scotia’s south shore hosts tales of trickery and even a confrontation between the two great solitudes, the English and French while at war over what eventually became Canada.  The tale goes that a French ship was grounded on the shores of the Island, when an English ship came along and discovered the helpless, vulnerable vessel. Worse for the French, they had a party of English prisoners on board and after negotiations, the prisoners were released. The French were required to throw all their arms into the swamp resulting in a great predicament, being at war but unarmed. As was often the case, a gentlemanly agreement between officers was established and the French were permitted to go free, or so the story goes.      Another story originates out of the Isthmus of Chignecto area near Amherst which separates New Brunswick from Nova Scotia.  In my opinion the tale is influenced by the well publicized history of the famous Money Pit of Oak Island, it is known as the Jollicure Mystery Pit.  The story was chronicled by prodigious Nova Scotia writer William R. Bird who was very familiar with Oak Island and even wrote an article about it in June of 1947 for the now extinct Mayfair Magazine.  For me, one telltale sign that a story is concocted and lacks veracity is when there is a total exclusion of real names, actual dates and no way to verify the story with any accuracy, just like the Seal Island affair.       Lunenburg County has a tale that is true and tells of a long forgotten mystery pit. I verified this myself by a firsthand interview with the son of one of the discoverers, the late Dr. George Dixon*.  I contacted Dr. Dixon’s son John regarding the pit discovered by his father back in 1949.  Dr. Dixon and friend, Paul Hill*, each purchased a one acre plot of land on which to build summer cabins near the water in Mader’s Cove just outside picturesque Mahone Bay.  Consideration was given to the location for a well and a soft damp spot in a small depression was chosen for its location. A hand dug well was started and at approximately three feet a layer of fitted rocks was discovered.  The diggers removed the rocks and found they were in a very wet swampy area. Some bits of wood floated to the top of the water which was quickly forming.  This wood was later identified as either Pine or Spruce with some Oak.    The wood samples were later sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. whose experts identified the wood and reported that as one piece of Oak was almost fossilized, it may be as old as 6000 years.  They also said the Pine and Spruce included in the sample was probably 600 years old.   A limited company was formed and stock was offered to the public.  At no time was the word “treasure” mentioned by Hill and or Dixon. Despite this they sold quite a number of stocks in the venture under the understanding it was a mystery being explored. Everyone wanted to know what was there and everyone knew money had to be raised if they were to figure out the mystery.  Some people purchased as much as $1000 worth of stock which sold in increments of $100 per share. Mr. Dixon says his father and Mr Hill bought no stock in the venture.      The hole was pushed to 90 feet deep, was circular in shape and lined with cribbing financed by the sale of stocks.  It was described as being ten feet in diameter. At 96 feet; they found a “bump” on the side of the shaft which was composed of very hard clay.  When they removed the clay bump a gush of water the width of a man’s arm came from the uncovered area and eventually flooded the shaft.  They did not try to pump out the incoming water. This was in the summer and fall of 1949.  Prior to the flooding, an iron bar was pushed down another ten feet without striking anything of interest.    Eventually, the hapless investigators lost interest in the hole so they decided to dynamite and fill it in. They eventually created the well they were after in the first place in the same location. The water from the well the Dixons made was plentiful and fresh, but they could not drink it as it tasted odd, not salty, but odd, as John recalls.     John Dixon told me it had been about 25 years since someone called him about this “well” but his memories about the tale were easily recalled and sharp.  Our conversation was long and filled with stories shared by two curious minds. This story is part of Lunenburg County’s ever growing list of very interesting tales of buried treasure, mayhem, war, mysteries, ghosts and those who toil on the sea.       * Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the parties involved.