Shipbuilding on the Parrsboro Shore: The Golden Age of Sail
The area of Nova Scotia we call the Parrsboro Shore stretches from the harbor of the town of Parrsboro to the edge of the Chignecto Bay, approximately 60 kms of coastline. Once home to Mikmaq, Acadians and Loyalists its roots run deep but it is the shipbuilding industry that shaped so much of its history. From the first registered sailing vessel built in Parrsboro in 1812 to the last built in Fox River in 1927 the shore turned out over 700 vessels. These vessels were built as cargo ships and sailed the oceans of the world transporting goods and people to foreign soil. This industry shaped the people and communities and touched the lives of everyone along the shore. From the merchant who received supplies by ship to the lumberman who sawed the wood to fill and build them, to the wives looking after the homestead waiting to hear if her loved ones were safe at sea not a home was untouched by the industry. Building were raised by shipbuilders, businesses flourished and communities grew because of the logging and shipbuilding work available. Of those 700 vessels over 100 of them were built between 1860-1870, our Golden Age of Sail, but the desire and need for these well-built vessels and the cargo they carried, carried on past the time that many areas had quit building sailing ships into the early part of the 1900’s.
Today only a faint visage of these once budding communities remain. Buildings have come and gone with only a few magnificent members of those years standing sentinel, often in ill repair. Tides and time have erased all but the odd old piling of great wharves and docks and only the odd artifact tossed up by a passing storm remains to tell the story of a once prosperous area. Where once proud vessels sailed under full sail there is naught but the occasional fishing boat, the bustling communities are now home to mainly retirees and businesses rely on summer tourists to pad the winter months.
Thanks to the generosity of the communities, the Age of Sail Heritage Museum and Archives holds collections of this once vibrant area to keep the history alive. With 6 display buildings, an archive and research room as well as a café and gift shop we are pleased to acquire, conserve, communicate and exhibit to the public for the purpose of study education and enjoyment, material which represents the heritage of our Parrsboro Shore from its early settlements to our present communities.
For more information, visit the Age of Sail Heritage Museum website.