Historic Chignecto Ship Railway Lands Purchased - February 2012

A hiking trail and a history tale.

The province is protecting both for Nova Scotians by buying a long, narrow strip of land that was the site of a historic ship-railway project in Cumberland County.

"Government is acting to preserve the historical, recreational, and natural value of this unique piece of land," said Charlie Parker, Minister of Natural Resources. "We are getting a great return for Nova Scotians, for a very reasonable investment."

The land is the site of an 1880's plan to transport ships across land by rail, from the Northumberland Strait to the Bay of Fundy. The innovative engineering project was developed by Henry Ketchum to lift a wooden vessel from the water, place it on a rail car for transport, then return it to the water at the end of the rail line using a special hoist and lock system.

"Protecting places that tell stories of our Nova Scotia heritage is important for all of us, so acquiring this land is a smart step," said Dave Wilson, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

The ship-railway history is preserved in books and archival records.

"My family has held this land for two generations to protect the Nova Scotia heritage it represents and I am pleased to provide it now to the province so its historic nature will continue to be protected from development," said, Bill Casey, president of Chignecto Ship Railway Company Ltd. which owns the land. Mr. Casey is also Nova Scotia's senior representative and Agent General for Nova Scotia in Ottawa.

The property is 142 hectares (350 acres), 27 kilometres long and ranges from 47 metres to 276 metres wide. It runs across the Chignecto Isthmus, between Fort Lawrence and Tidnish and includes a popular hiking trail. The purchase includes old granite locks on the Fundy end.

The purchase price of $357,000 is well below the appraised market value and was arrived at through negotiation. The Department of Natural Resources annually identifies the best lands to acquire. This property was on the list and was assessed with the departments of Communities, Culture and Heritage, and Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

Click image for a larger PDF version YouTube Video of how the Ship Railway worked
Bowater Lands YouTube
PDF of Subject lands Video created by Mark Erickson and fellow architecture
classmates at Dalhousie University