Most of the young, and the not so young, people of this part of the country, think of us as a have not area. This was not always the case.
In the age of sail, in the 19th century, we were a rich and prosperous people. Canada was the fourth largest sailing nation in the world. In Nova Scotia, we had more ships registered, per capita, than any where in the world.
We were a builder of wooden ships and thousands were built in many coves and sheltered harbours. We are all familiar with Lunenburg, because of the Bluenose, but did you know that Tatamagouche built as many as 311 ships, and the W.D Lawrence launched in 1874 from Maitland, was the largest wooden full-rigger ever built in Canada?
There were also ships built in Belliveau cove, in Clare county and the square-rigger Canada, was launched in Kingsport. Pugwash was another area.
I am sure there are other places as well where shipbuilding was practiced and was a mainstay of their communities.
In Nova Scotia, we are known for building schooners and in their day they were the workhorse of the sea. Construction was underway in Lunenburg alone for 18 vessels in 1899. We joined Confederation and after the signing of the British North America Act, in London in 1876 , we were on our way down.
The political power went to central Canada and the railway signed our demise, as did the fact that wooden sailing ships were being replaced by steel ships with engines to drive them.
We were a powerhouse in our time and something to be proud of and we can be again. More of that in another article.
A little trivia to end this piece. Did you know that the polydactyl cats (cats with extra toes) are pretty well all on the east coast. In Florida, they call them Hemmingway cats, since he collected them.
They were established on the coast in the Age of Sail, where they were carried aboard to look after the rodents. Now it seems that the sailors of that time thought that polydactyl cats were lucky and of course they had to be male cats. Females were considered unlucky on board ships. So they made a great effort to find these special cats and since the sailing vessels put in at all the ports along the east coast to trade and as the sailors received shore leave, so did the tom cats. Tomcats being what they are, breed all along the east coast. So we have plenty of polydactyl offspring to this day.
Walt's World appears periodically in the Amherst News.