Deadman’s Island is a site here in Halifax of historical significance. During The War of 1812, 195 captured invading American soldiers died while imprisoned and were buried at the island. Additionally, it is believed that a large number of Chesapeake black refugees, Irish refugees and French and Spanish prisoners also rest beneath the soil of the island.
Deadman’s Island is actually a peninsula that juts out from what is now a residental area near my home. It is covered in gnarly trees and is rather rugged off the main paths. Walking along its shore and climbing up between its trees, I was contemplating the transient nature of beauty. The wonder of this place would be entirely altered if I stood there as bodies were lowered, but that afternoon it was beautiful and mysterious.
I wondered for a time about my affinity for cemeteries and other burial sites. I think my peace with death stems from that enjoyment and also informs it. There’s a beauty to endings and things that have ended that can’t be grasped amid their living moments. Whether it’s nostalgia, romanticizing the past or just an appreciation for the unfolding of time, death in the broadest of senses instills meaning and beauty in our perceptions that might otherwise be lacking. It also, perhaps more importantly, given me appreciation for every dying moment.
I took some video footage as I explored, but the sound didn’t turn out very well. I decided to edit in a piece of music I found today that matches my Blair Witch Project-quality footage well enough. The track you’ll hear is “Serpents” from French artist Philippe Mangold‘s beautiful album IGAPO. The album is released under a Creative Commons license that allows me to distribute any derivative works (this video) so long as I apply the same license to it. So this video is under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Commons Deed.