News release

Restoring a Part of N.S. History

Two cannons that helped a British warship win a famous naval battle in the War of 1812 are being restored for all to see at Province House.

The cannons came from HMS Shannon, which captured the American warship Chesapeake in a bloody one-on-one cannon battle in 1813. The Shannon towed the Chesapeake to Halifax as war booty.

The two cannons will have their platforms restored, announced Ronald Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

One cannon is currently in place on the side of Province House facing Hollis Street near the statue of Joseph Howe. The second one is in storage and will be re-installed by July 3.

"These cannons will stand in tribute to what was thought of as a much weaker British warship that overcame the odds and defeated a better-equipped American warship," said Mr. Russell. "Nova Scotians witnessed the end of this epic battle and now the province can restore part of it so the famous battle will always remain part of our history."

The cannons were placed at Province House at different times to commemorate the capture of the Chesapeake. Current research suggests that one cannon was placed at the building around 1829 and was used to protect the Hollis Street entrance to the building during the Crimean War.

Before the cannon in storage was installed at Province House, research suggests that it acted as the noon and evening gun in Halifax from 1882 to 1905 and was placed at Province House in 1906. A plaque states that both cannons were placed at Province House to commemorate the fabled battle.

On June 1, 1813, Capt. Philip Broke, commanding officer of the Shannon, lay in wait at the approaches of Boston Harbor. He sent a letter of challenge to the Chesapeake, which was getting ready for sea in Boston.

Before that letter could reach port, at 1 p.m., Capt. Broke observed the Chesapeake rounding the lighthouse. At 3:40 p.m. the Shannon came alongside and fired the first shot.

The battle was short and easily won by the Shannon. At 6:02 p.m., Capt. Broke and his men stepped from the gangway onto the deck of the Chesapeake. They took command of the ship despite resistance from a few American sailors who fired muskets at them as they assessed the damage on the Chesapeake''s deck.

The Chesapeake was severely battered, especially in her hull. It is estimated that of the 386 men and boys on the ship, 170 were killed or wounded. On the Shannon, 83 were killed or wounded from a crew of about 352.

Nova Scotia was Capt. Broke''s destination after the battle. On an otherwise quiet Sunday, he brought the Shannon into Halifax Harbour, with the Chesapeake in tow. Both ships docked at Her Majesty''s Dockyards, which gave Haligonians something to talk about. Many credit these types of daring exploits with the fact that Halifax merchants were able to amass huge fortunes during wartime.

The project will see the platforms restored and the cannons placed on top at either end of the legislature. The platforms are made of sandstone from Wallace Quarry in Cumberland County, with a reinforced concrete slab underneath.

This project has been tendered out to Permacrete Restoration Services of Dartmouth, for just over $85,000. The work is expected to be completed by July 3. The most recent refurbishing of these cannons took place during the general renovations of Province House in 1948.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Two cannons that helped a British warship win a famous naval battle in the War of 1812 are being restored for all to see at Province House.

The cannons came from HMS Shannon, which captured the American warship Chesapeake in a bloody one-on-one cannon battle in 1813. The Shannon towed the Chesapeake to Halifax as war booty.

Ronald Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works announced that the two cannons will have their platforms restored and then the cannons will be re-installed.

One cannon was placed at Province House at 1829 to protect the building during the Crimean War. The other cannon was placed at 1906 after being the noon and evening gun from 1882 to 1905. Both cannons were placed in tribute to the HMS Shannon.

The project will see the platforms restored and the cannons placed on top at either end of the legislature. The platforms are made of sandstone from Wallace Quarry in Cumberland County, with a reinforced concrete slab underneath.

The project has been tendered out to Permacrete Restoration Services of Dartmouth for just over $85,000. The work is expected to be completed by July 3.

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Contact:

Lindsay Miller
Communications Nova Scotia 902-424-1720 E-mail:
Ross McLaren
Transportation and Public Works 902-424-8687 E-mail:
kjd            April 27, 2001      11:10 A.M.