Riverview, New Brunswick
August 11, 2004
The Philadelphia Company had acquired considerable holdings in the Maritime Provinces… the grants were contingent on the company bringing settlers. For their 200,000 acres in the Pictou area, they looked to Scotland. After some inauspicious attempts at settlement, a new agent promised free passage, a farm lot and a year’s provisions to those willing to risk the adventure. Soon, the small ship, Hector, sailed from Scotland to Pictou with 189 passengers… thirty-three families and twenty-five single men. After a terrible, twelve-week, storm-tossed voyage, the survivors landed on September 15, 1773. They were too late to plant a crop, and the land had to be cleared of its tall pines… did I mention that these people came from the fairly treeless Highlands where they had built their houses of stone? It was all new and very difficult. Regardless, many more Scots would follow.
Just over two hundred years later, Pictou found itself with a somewhat depressed economy. While an annual festival celebrated the landing of the Hector, the harbour was no longer full of ships. Gradually, the idea took root to beautify the harbour and build a reconstruction of the Hector… the fruits of the planning are obvious... a clean, attractive waterfront at the center of which is the ship, Hector. The visitor will find an interpretive center ($5.00 adult admission) through which you to pass three floors of exhibits. The exhibits begin with the Battle of Culloden and the rationale for the Scots’ exodus and take you through the land grants and the voyage of the Hector. The exhibits use mannequins and a few artifacts, but mostly, this is for readers. There is a lot to learn, and as a consequence, a lot to read.
Having ascended the stairs through the three floors, the visitor exits to the exterior and descends to the pier holding the Hector. It is a small boat, only 85 feet of deck and 22 feet wide, a ship-rigged three-master based on a Dutch design. After that, you are free to visit the blacksmith’s shop, the carpenter’s shop, a workshop and of course, the ship’s store. All of the workshops are in operation and the ship’s store carries an eclectic array of Nova Scotia souvenirs.
The visit is well-worthwhile, particularly if you are a Scot. You will see two tales of perseverance… the trials faced by the early settlers, and the dream brought to reality by the modern people of Pictou. For more, see the town’s website, pictou.
From journal The Neck of Nova Scotia