“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sheet Harbour in Halifax Region, Nova Scotia — The Atlantic Provinces (North America)

Shipbuilding & Shipping

— Sheet Harbour —

Shipbuilding & Shipping Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 23, 2019
1. Shipbuilding & Shipping Marker
Inscription.  With few existing roads along the Eastern Shore in the eighteenth century, the only reliable route to Halifax was by sea. During this period, Sheet Harbour’s isolated inhabitants relied on boats and ships for fishing, trade, and travel along the coast.

Boats were constructed at Sheet Harbour as early as 1787, when John Stairs received two bounties from the Nova Scotia government for the construction of the sloops Joanna and Hope. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, small inshore fishing schooners and coastal vessels were built to carry Sheet Harbour fish and cordwood to Halifax. The masters of these vessels were referred to as “coasters”.

By the 1830s, shipbuilding became a prosperous industry. Barques, brigs, brigantines, schooners, and scows were built at shipyards owned by William Hall in West River, Edward Rutledge at Watts Section, as well as the yards of James and John Fraser. The work was seasonal, as most of these shipbuilders were probably engaged in farming, lumbering, and business at other times of the year. Sections of land along the shore or rivers
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served as shipyards, where the hulls and frames were constructed before being towed to Halifax to be rigged.

The period of 1846-1867 has been designated as the Golden Age of Sail in the Maritime Provinces. As in other parts of the province, some of the ships built in Sheet Harbour during this period were larger, faster, and probably used to ship lumber and fish as far away as Europe and South America. Some of the ships built at Sheet Harbour were the brig Emma Adelaide, at 126 tons in 1847, and a barque, Stag, at 334 tons.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, saw a decline in Nova Scotia shipbuilding, as steel steamers were slowly replacing wooden vessels on the sea, and roads connecting communities were being built on land. However, Sheet Harbour continued to build small fishing schooners for the prosperous fishing trade.

The successful lumber trade encouraged a few larger ships to be built at Sheet Harbour. In 1917 and 1918, the Lewis shipyard, located on the site of the old East River sulphite pulp mill, built two 4-masted schooners, Lewis Brothers and Cashier. Each weighing over 650 tons, these ships were involved in the hard pine trade, carrying timber and other cargoes to the Southern United States, South America, and South Africa.

Lumber and fish were not the only cargoes transported from Sheet
Marker detail: <i>Herbert L. Rawding</i>, loading lumber at East River Wharf, c. 1938 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Richard Walsh Collection
2. Marker detail: Herbert L. Rawding, loading lumber at East River Wharf, c. 1938
Harbour. Communities along the Eastern Shore relied on regular steamship service to carry passengers, mail, and other goods, along the coast and to Halifax until the 1940s.

In the late 1800s, travel from Sheet Harbour to Halifax, by road, took up to thirty-six hours, where a steamship could reach Halifax in about eight hours.

Coastal steamers such as The City of Ghent, S.S. Margaret, Chebucto, Strathcona, and Dufferin became a regular part of life for Sheet Harbour residents, making stops between Halifax and Canso, Nova Scotia. Many on the Eastern Shore, who remember traveling by steamship, look back on the experience with fondness.

Although the age of wooden ships has long passed, and complex highways carry many exportable goods to various markets, Sheet Harbour still serves as an active shipping port. Steel, fish, and wood chips are shipped to Dartmouth, the United States, and Japan respectively.

(photo captions)
• Unknown schooner, c. 1888. [Maritime Museum of the Atlantic]
• Sheet Harbour boatbuilding. [Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management]
• Two-masted schooner with cargo of lumber. [Maritime Museum of the Atlantic]
• Three-masted schooner docked at East River Wharf, c. 1940. [Courtesy Richard Walsh Collection]
• Three-masted
Marker detail: <i>S. S. Dufferin</i> image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Burns Collection, Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management
3. Marker detail: S. S. Dufferin
vessel at West River, Sheet Harbor [History Collection, Nova Scotia Musem]
• Schooner plan. [Howard I. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooner, New York
City of Ghent, coaster. [Maritime Museum of the Atlantic]
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1787.
Location. 44° 55.057′ N, 62° 31.787′ W. Marker is in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia, in Halifax Region. Marker is on Marine Drive (Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7), 0.1 kilometers west of Church Point Road, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located in a small interpretive plaza on the south side of the highway, overlooking the Northwest Arm of Sheet Harbour. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 22746 Nova Scotia Trunk Highway 7, Sheet Harbour NS B0J 3B0, Canada. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 19 kilometers of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hydroelectric Power (here, next to this marker); Early Settlement (a few steps from this marker); Sheet Harbour (approx. 1.5 kilometers away); The Pulp & Paper Industry (approx. 1.5 kilometers away); Lumbering & Sawmills (approx. 1.5 kilometers away); The Community (approx. 1.6 kilometers
Marker detail: <i>Cashier</i> image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Elwood Owen Collection
4. Marker detail: Cashier
away); Salmon (approx. 1.6 kilometers away); Prince Alfred Arch / L'Arche Prince Alfred (approx. 18.2 kilometers away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sheet Harbour.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
Also see . . .  Golden Age of Sail (Wikipedia). The period between the mid-18th century and the early 19th century, when sailing vessels reached their peak of size and complexity is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age of Sail". During this time, the efficiency and use of commercial sailing vessels was at its peak—immediately before steamboats started to take trade away from sail. (Submitted on March 5, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Marker detail: Sheet Harbour East image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Public Works Album, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
5. Marker detail: Sheet Harbour East
Shipbuilding & Shipping Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 23, 2019
6. Shipbuilding & Shipping Marker (wide view)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on March 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 257 times since then and 102 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on March 3, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 5, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Dec. 9, 2023