In the town of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia is a statue of "Evangeline" looking mournfully into the distance as though searching for her fiancé Gabriel Lajeunesse from whom she was separated on the day they were to be married. Every year, thousands of visitors from throughout North America journey to Grand Pre to pay tribute to an emotional chapter in Canada's history.
In the year of the big fire, when the gentle Mi'kmaq roamed this land, long before the strangers came to trade, it was told that Nova Scotia became the adopted home of Gitche Manitou, the Creator of all things and
the Giver of Life. Gitche Manitou decreed that these grounds shall forever remain magnificent as he first created them when time began and shall be for all time unspoiled by man. And it is so...
Nearly one million people call Nova Scotia their home.
Nova Scotia is Canada's second smallest province but
regarding the founding and the history of Canada, the
province ranks first.
The Mi'Kmaq First Nation People were the original
inhabitants of Nova Scotia. In 1497, John Cabot
sailed from Bristol, England, to North America
landing at both coasts of Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland.
The Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island was
named after him.
The French were the first permanent European
settlers in Nova Scotia. They lived in Acadia until
they were expelled by the British in 1755.
After the American War of Independence ended in 1782 extending to the middle of the 1800s, thousands of former slaves left the United States to settle in Nova Scotia. Today, almost sixteen thousand Afro-Canadian residents living in Nova Scotia can boast of their African origins and their fore bearer's rich contribution to the heritage of Nova Scotia.
The first Scottish settlers came to Nova Scotia landing
in 1773 at the port of Pictou on the ship Hector.
(Pictou is recognized as the birthplace of New Scotland. Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.) Tens of thousands Scottish Highlanders followed to Nova Scotia arriving at the ports of Pictou, Sydney, and Halifax.
Each year, on the Saturday nearest April 16, (Battle of Culloden was fought on April 16, 1746), the Heritage Society of Antigonish together with St. Mary's Church celebrate what is called The Culloden Cairn.
The Culloden Cairn pays tribute to three Scottish soldiers (Angus MacDonald, Hugh MacDonald and John McPherson) who fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, Scotland, to decide who would sit on the throne of England…Bonnie Prince Charles of the House of Stuart or George 2nd, the second Hanoverian English King. The three Highland soldiers were able to flee from British reprisals carried out against the Scots after the Battle of Culloden by immigrating to Nova Scotia.
The mainland of Nova Scotia embraces a five hundred and eighty kilometer long peninsula connected to the Province of New Brunswick by a narrow strip of land called the Isthmus of Chignecto. The island of Cape Breton, also part of Nova Scotia, extends one hundred and sixty-one kilometers (one hundred miles) north/south and one hundred and twelve kilometers (seventy miles) east/west.
Nova Scotia is recognized as Canada's Ocean Playground. The Atlantic Ocean rims the province eastern shoreline. The ocean water of the Bay of Fundy surges on the north shores directly across from New Brunswick. The ocean tides in the Bay of Fundy, located between mainland Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are the world's highest tides often reaching heights to sixteen meters (fifty feet) during high tides. The Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Northumberland Straight lay north of the province. The Northumberland beaches claim the warmest ocean temperatures north of the Carolinas.
Nova Scotia is home to over five thousand four hundred lakes with the inland Bras d'Or Lake (Cape Breton Island) being the largest.
The climate is temperate. The Annapolis Valley, stretching though the mainland of Nova Scotia, provides an one hundred and sixty-five kilometer vast garden of plush orchards and lush vine yards.
The people of Nova Scotia are commonly called "Blue Nosers." This is because fishermen often had blue smudges on their noses caused by the blue mitts they wore on their hands during cold weather.
Nova Scotia, without question, has the richest cultural, recreational and natural environments. But the land and sea are not the only outstanding geological wonders blessing this province.
There are an estimated one hundred thousand galaxies in the universe. In each galaxy there are thousands of millions of stars. Our planet is one of infinite billions. In Nova Scotia, on a cloudless night, one can see infinity when looking toward the heavens.
The stars are an unknown entity for many people living on our planet. So many people have never seen the
bright stars shining in the sky at night or a blue sky during the day. They know the sky colour as steel grey. They never saw the marvels of the setting sun or the brilliance of the full moon which is ten times
bright brighter compared to the moon when it is in a quarter phase. The North Star is only a figment of their imagination.
Pollution is rare in Nova Scotia. The atmosphere is undamaged. People who call Nova Scotia home take for granted their pristine earth, clear water and pure environment that their province possesses.
Gitche Manitou decreed that Nova Scotia shall remain magnificent as when he first created this land when time began...and this beautiful corner of earth shall be for all time unspoiled by man. And it is so...
BENEATH THE EARTH
Two neighbours leave their homes early morning before the sun peeks over the horizon. The place could be almost any one of the hundreds of towns and hamlets relaxing throughout Nova Scotia. The time may be any time during the 18 and 19th centuries and the greater part of the 20th century.
One man, a coal miner, is walking to a mine "cage" which is an iron bar cubicle attached to steel cables that lowers coal miners below ground to where the coal seams are rich. Once the miner is underground, when he reaches the coal face, he will loosen coal from the coal wall with a pick and then shovel the coal into wooden box cars. In the later part of the 1900s technology was different. The use of pick and shovel was replaced by heavy machinery.
The wood box cars have steel wheels attached on steel axels allowing cables to pull the cars on iron rail tracks through underground tunnels so as to convey coal to the land surface above. The box cars are called "rakes" as the moving boxes on underground rails are similar to the forward and backward motion when one is raking a garden rake.
The other neighbour, who also left his home the same morning, is a fisherman.
Often, the vertical distance separating the two neighbours (miner and fisherman) can be measured in just hundreds of meters. The fisherman is working in a boat on the ocean surface while the miner might be digging coal directly below him beneath the ocean bottom. In some coal mines in Nova Scotia, the mine tunnels follow the rich coal veins below the
ocean floor to distances measuring up to eight kilometers from the shore line.
Although it may be considered quaint by some people, fishing villages and towns bordering the ocean's edge are painted with bright florescent colours. The village settings are deliberately painted bright so that they can to be seen on the ocean far from land. The strong colours provide a road map to safe harbours for both the voyager and the fishermen out at sea.
It's evening later the same day the two neighbours left their homes before dawn. The sea and the earth are often cruel to the trespasser. It is not uncommon that when two neighbours leave their homes before dawn to work on the sea or beneath the ground, only one will return that evening.
Miners and fishermen always face danger. Yet they carry on. Their family's economic survival depends on their courage. In 1873, there were eight coal mines operating on Cape Breton Island. Men were paid eighty to one dollar fifty cents a day and boys working in the mines were paid sixty-five cents for each day worked. William Blakey, my grandfather, began working full time in the coal mines when he was twelve years old. He was not uncommon. The rich legacy these people gave Nova Scotia is one that every coal miner's family is proud.
Coal mining was the most dangerous peace-time industry in Canada's history. In the year 1873, seventy-one miners were killed working in the coal mines in Nova Scotia with the greatest number killed at the Drummond Colliery, Westville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
On May 13, 1873, in the town of Westville, an horrendous explosion took the lives of the sixty men and boys working underground at the Drummond Colliery. The cause for the explosion was accumulation of foul air or Fire Damp. (For more information about Fire Damp, please refer to chapter 17.)
The underground explosion was so tremendous that debris was thrown from the mine deep below ground to heights of two to three hundred meters above the town of Westville before returning to earth falling through the roofs of buildings and homes in the town.
THE GENTLE MI'KMAQ.
Mi'kmaq Camp, Sydney, Cape Breton Island, 1857. Photograph by Paul-Émile Miot.
The Mi'kmaq First Nation People were the first inhabitants who settled Nova Scotia dating back approximate ten thousand years.
(The first Europeans to settle the Canadian Maritime area and North America were Norse explorers who founded a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland. The characteristics of structures and artifacts found at L'Anse aux Meadows site tell us that the Vikings arrived at Newfoundland around A.D. 1000. This was six hundred years before the French came and settled in Arcadia. The Vikings abandoned the L'Anse aux Meadows settlement less than two years after their arrival to Newfoundland.)
The Mi'kmaq First Nation People called themselves L'nu'k, meaning "the people." The name Mi'kmaq comes from the Mi'kmaq word"nikmak," which means "my kin-friends." The name truly expresses the gentle nature of the Mi'kmaq people.
The social order of Mi'kmaq society was communal. The same beloved care the Mi'kmaq held for each tribe member was extended to the European strangers when they came to the Mi'kmaq lands.
The Mi'kmaq language is Míkmawísimk, a derivative of the Algonquian language and the language is still spoken by some Mi'kmaq people in the Maritime Provinces.
The Mi'kmaq allied themselves with the French in the struggle between France and England for European colonization of North America.
The French never massacred or dislodged the Mi'kmaq from their settlements and hunting grounds. When the French populace of Acadia was expelled from Nova Scotia in 1755, the Mi'kmaq gave refuge and protection to those Acadians able to flee from British pursuit.
After 1713, when France ceded Acadia to Britain, (Treaty of Utrecht), many Mi'kmaq lands were seized by the British without payment or compensation. Some Mi'kmaq families left Nova Scotia to settle in Newfoundland where the Beothuk Native People lived long before the Europeans settled the island.
The Beothuk Native People lived in Newfoundland for thousands of years before the Vikings came to Newfoundland circa 1000 A.D. The main source of food was the meat of the caribou estimated at the time to exceed one hundred thousand animals grazing on the Newfoundland island. Today, the caribou a central symbol of Newfoundland.
After the Vikings left Newfoundland (less than two years after their arrival) the Beothuk had no further contact with Europeans for another five hundred years.
In 1497, in England, John Cabot received the support he was denied by Spain and Portugal in the quest to reach Asia by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. But instead of reaching the Far East, John Cabot landed on the coasts of Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. His arrival triggered the invasion of tremendous numbers of fishing vessels from Britain, France, Spain and Portugal to fish the bountiful ocean water called the Grand Banks off the coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
When the Europeans first arrived at Newfoundland they saw that the Beothuk people adorned themselves with a red ochre paint (mixture of ochre clay mixed with bear or seal fat) which offered them protection from the elements and insects. Because of the red colour, the Europeans called the Beothuk "Red Indians" which to this day is a pejorative term used by some to disparage the First Nations' Peoples.
After the Europeans settled in Newfoundland, they wantonly hunted and slaughtered the Beothuk people. Some Beothuk captives were taken back to Europe as slaves. Beothuk settlements were pillaged and Beothuk men, women and children were murdered on sight. (It was accepted common practice for settlers to hunt and kill the Beothuk people as a recreational sport.)
It's difficult to think of any nation in history where an entire people were obliterated for no reason as were the Beothuk First Nation People. The following excerpt is from an article written by Reverend Moses Harvey which was printed in the June, 1875 issue of the Maritime Monthly Magazine.
"The rude fishermen, hunters and trappers of those days were a rough lawless order of men, little disposed to try conciliation or kindness on a tribe of savages whose presence in the country was felt to be an annoyance. That they treated the poor Beothuks with brutal cruelty admits of no doubt. In fact, for two hundred years they seem to have regarded the red men as vermin to be hunted down and destroyed...
In such a conflict the weak must go to the wall. Bows, arrows and clubs could avail little against the fire-arms of the white man; and gradually their numbers were thinned; they were driven from the best hunting ground --grounds where for centuries their forefathers had trapped the beaver and pursued the reindeer; war, disease and hunger thinned their ranks; and now not a single representative of the red race of Newfoundland is known to be in existence..."
Little would be known about the Beothuk First Nation People except for two young Beothuk women the European settlers abducted from their villages. The names of the two Beothuk women were Demasduit, (she was renamed Mary Marsh after the month she was abducted) and Shanawdithit, (renamed Nancy April).
Boyd's Cove Beothuk Site, Newfoundland.
Shanawdithit was the last surviving member of the Beothuk Nation. Shanawdithit's father was killed when he fell through thin ice crossing a lake while attempting to escape from a group of settlers who were hunting him for recreational sport.
In 1823, Shanawdithit, her mother and sister were near death suffering sickness and starvation. (During this time the settlers forced the Beothuk to flee inland from the Newfoundland coast making it almost impossible for the Beothuk people to sustain life without access to the sea.) The three women ventured near the Newfoundland coast in search of food. The three were abducted by English settlers when they ventured too near the coast. Shanawdithit's mother and sister died soon afterward. Shanawdithit died from Tuberculosis six years later in 1829.
Demasduwit (Mary March) was abducted by settlers in March, 1819. The settlers killed her husband, Chief Nonosasut, when he attempted to defend and protect his wife and infant son. After killing the father and abducting the mother the settlers abandoned the child who was believed to have died four or five days later from exposure to cold temperatures. Demasduwit died in captivity the following year in 1820,
Portrait of Demasduwit
by Lady_Henrietta Hamilton.
Library and Archives Canada.
Both Shanawdithit and Demasduit learned to speak a little English during their captivity. It is through these two young women that we learned what little we know about the Beothuk people and their history.
There were an estimated five thousand Beothuk people living in Newfoundland when the Vikings arrived in the 11th century. In the early 1800s, after the European invasion and the genocide that followed, the Beothuk people were no longer.
The story of the genocide of the Beothuk First Nation People in Newfoundland is the saddest chapter in our history. It's a chronicle that too few people are aware. The wrong has no measure. Their story is yet to be fully told.
Chapel Island, Cape Breton Island.
In Nova Scotia, the cause for the decline of the Mi,kmaq population was basically one of disease...not genocide. It's estimated that the Mi,kmaq First Nation people numbered approximate twenty thousand when the Europeans first came to North America in the 1600s. Small pox and other European diseases reduced the Mi'kmaq numbers to approximate three thousand within just one hundred years after the commencement of the European invasion.
Today, Canadian census records list the Mi'kmaq population to be slightly above 16,000. Another approximate nine thousand Mi'kmaq live in the United States.
Chapel Island, located in the Bras d'Or Lake of Cape Breton Island, is the site of the Saint Anne Mission where many Mi'kmaq people return each summer. (Saint Anne is reputed to be the grandmother of Jesus Christ and patron saint of all housekeepers.)
Every year (in the week containing the day of July 26) the history, culture and heritage of the Mi'kmaq people are commemorated and celebrated on Chapel Island. Mi'kmaq marriages, baptisms, communions and burials are also performed on this venerated island.
Chapel Island and the Saint Anne Mission was designated a Canadian National Historical Site in 2005.
For more information concerning Chapel Island and the celebrations associated with the Mi'kmaq people First Nation: Unama'ki, Route 216, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. B0A 1J0., contact: Eskasoni
Port Royal, (The Habitation), was the first permanent European settlement in North America. Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal after The Treaty of Utrecht was signed in April 1713 in which France ceded Nova Scotia to Britain.
From the beginning of the 16th century, fishing fleets from almost every European maritime country sailed on a regular basis to North America to fish on the Grand Banks ocean water.
The Grand Banks is the section of the Atlantic Ocean extending above the North American Continental Shelf off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. The Atlantic Ocean above the Continental Shelf has a relatively shallow depth ranging from twenty-five to one hundred meters. The mixing of the cold Labrador water currents with the warm Gulf Stream waters combined with the particular contour of the ocean bottom on the shelf causes nutrients to float upward towards the ocean surface. These conditions create the richest fishing waters in the world.
Atlantic cod, haddock, capelin, scallop and lobster thrive in the Grand Banks waters. Regardless, the dangers for the fishermen are many. Thick fog is almost constant and the storms are often times furious.
During the 17th century European fishermen gradually extended their fishing enterprise in North America to include the traffic in furs. In England, new technology was invented to process animal furs. Beaver hats became the fashion craze as so did fur clothing during this period.
On December 18th, 1603, Henry IV, King of France, issued royal letters proclaiming "French Right" to all territories in North America between 40° latitude (approximately present day Philadelphia) and 46° latitude (northern Nova Scotia). He named the territory New France.
The following year, in 1604, the first French settlement in New France was established at Port Royal (today Annapolis Royal). In the same year, Henry 1V also granted the French fur monopoly in New France to Pierre du Guast, sieur de Monts, who in turn founded a colony on an island located on the St. Croix River. (The St Croix River is now located on the international boundary separating the United States and Canada between Maine and New Brunswick.)
The St. Croix colony was founded three years before the British settled at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 and sixteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.
The first arrival of Africans slaves to North America was when the Pilgrims came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1620 giving Jamestown the unsavory reputation of being the birthplace of American slavery.)
In the year 1605, Samuel de Champlain, a lieutenant of Pierre du Guast sieur de Monts, relocated the St. Croix settlement to Acadia (Nova Scotia). Although Champlain called the new settlement The Habitation, its formal name was Port Royal. As said earlier, Port Royal was the first permanent European settlement in North America.
The Treaty of Utrecht was signed in April 1713 by England and France. The treaty ceded to Britain all French claims to the Hudson Bay Company territories called Rupert's Land together with the island of Newfoundland and Acadia.
(On May 2, 1670, Charles 2 of England granted monopoly and complete control over to the Hudson Bay Company of all present day northern Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, a portion of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The King named the territory Rupert's Land. Rupert's Land, as the name suggests as it's described in the possessive case, was a gift to Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of Charles 2nd. Prince Rupert became the first Governor of the Hudson Bay Company.)
After The Treaty of Utrecht was ratified, the British renamed Port Royal to Annapolis Royal after the English Queen Anne. Annapolis Royal was the capital of Nova Scotia until Halifax was designated the provincial capital in 1749 - the year Halifax was founded.
The following was taken from the internet website of the Historical Association of Annapolis Royal.
A view of Digby Harbour, Nova Scotia, when the tide is high.
home of the Bluenose.
A tall ship anchored in Lunenburg harbour.
German immigrants were the first Europeans to settle the town of Lunenburg. Merligash was the original name of the settlement. In 1753 (the year Merligash was founded) the town was renamed Lunenburg after George 2nd, King of England, and the Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.
George 2nd was the second German Hanoverian monarch to ascend to the English throne. His son, George 3rd, was the first Hanoverian monarch born in England.
George 1st (1660 - 1727) was 52nd in line to the English Throne when he became King. He was the nearest Protestant in line to the throne in compliance with the terms of The Act of Settlement.
The Act of Settlement, 1701, was an Act of the English Parliament restricting succession or access to the English Crown to Protestant heirs.
(In 1917, the name of the British Royal British family, (House of Hanover or Saxe-Coberg-Gotta), was changed to The House of Windsor. Britain was at war with Germany during the time and the British Royal Family did not want a German name. The name Windsor was the name of the country home of the Royal Family's Windsor Castle, located in Windsor, English county of Berkshire.)
The Bluenose - Queen of the North Atlantic fishing fleet.
The fishing schooner Bluenose was designed and constructed in Lunenburg by craftsmen having origins extending back to the Rhineland in Germany.
(The Grand Banks Dory was also constructed in Lunenburg. The dory's design (a lightweight boat) is copied throughout the world for its ability to navigate the turbulent ocean waters on the Grand Banks. The boat is constructed so that its central focus of gravity is directed to the point of the boat's bottom sloop extending low below the ocean surface so as to maintain greater stability on unruly ocean waters. Because of the unique design the Grand Banks Dory is able to cover many miles on ocean waters with ease by oar and/or sail as compared to other small boats its size.)
The Blue Nose was built at the Smith and Rhuland Yard in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and was christened on March 26, 1921.
In October, 1921, there were two exciting ocean races held between United States and Canadian fishing schooners. Both races were won by the Bluenose awarding the International Fishermen's' Trophy to Canada.
The following year, 1922, the Bluenose won the Trophy again when she crossed the finish line ahead of the American schooner the Henry Ford.
In 1923, the Bluenose won the International Fishermen's Trophy for the third time in three straight years but was disqualified because she passed the American boat Columbia on the wrong side of a buoy.
There was a delay of seven years before the Bluenose raced again when the Canadians agreed to a race challenge in Gloucester, U.S.A., competing against the American schooner, Gertrude L. Thebaud. The competition was the best of three races and the Bluenose lost the first two of the scheduled three races.
Buoyed by success of the two victories over the Bluenose the Americans called for the resumption of the International Fishermen's' Race series. In the autumn of 1931 the Bluenose and the American schooner Thebaud competed in the best two of two races on ocean waters off Halifax. The Bluenose surged ahead of the Thebaud in the first two races regaining for the Bluenose the title Queen of the North Atlantic fishing fleet.
Afterward, in 1932, the Bluenose became a showboat touring the Great Lakes between the United States and Canada. The Bluenose also crossed the Atlantic Ocean where it was featured in England on display.
In 1938, the last International Fishermen's Cup was held on ocean water off Gloucester, New York state. It was scheduled to be the best three of five races.
The Bluenose lost the first race to the Thebaud by two minutes, fifty-six seconds.
The second race, on October 13, 1938, was won by the Bluenose by a twelve minute margin.
The Bluenose prevailed in the third race finishing six minutes ahead of the Thebaud.
The fourth race extended thirty-five nautical miles with the American schooner being the victor.
With both schooners (Bluenose and Thebaud) each having triumphed in two races the final and deciding race was scheduled October 26, 1938. The race became one of national pride for both the United States and Canada. Millions of people throughout North American waited by radios to learn which schooner would cross the finish line first?
The Bluenose crossed the line just under three minutes before the Thebaud. Excitement and celebrations were country-wide throughout Canada.
In the 1940s diesel powered fishing vessels replaced the sailing schooners fishing on the Grand Banks. The Bluenose was sold to new owners but in January, 1946, the schooner struck a reef in waters off Haiti and was damaged beyond repair.
Bluenose 2, a replica of the original Bluenose, was built in the Lunenburg shipyards and launched on July 24, 1963. In Lunenburg, one can travel back in time by booking an afternoon sailing on board the Bluenose 2.
An outline of the original Bluenose is emblazoned on the Canadian ten cent coin. In 1928, the Bluenose was commemorated on a Canadian fifty cent stamp.
RISE AND FALL OF LOUISBURG.
Queen Anne of England and King Louis XIV of France signed the Treaty of Utrecht, April, 1713. France gave up claim to Newfoundland and Acadia except for the islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence including Cape Breton Island and Isle St Jean (Prince Edward Island). After the treaty was ratified, France changed the ancient name of Cape Breton Island to Isle Royale.
France also renamed the small settlement Hâvre à l'Anglois on Isle Royale to Louisburg where France began construction of a massive fortress so as to protect French fishing interests and territories in North America. The hardships encountered the first years during construction of the Fortress were massive. In 1717 fifty percent of the Louisburg garrison was transferred inland to Quebec as there was not ample food at Louisburg to feed all the soldiers throughout the winter.
In England, during this time, the British developed a three-fold strategy devised to expel all French settlers from Acadia; capture the Louisburg Fortress and to conquer the City of Quebec. Doing so would provide sole British control of all North America territory while guaranteeing British fishing monopoly on the Grand Banks.
FIRST SIEGE OF LOUISBURG, 1745.
The British attacked the Fortress of Louisburg for the first time in 1745. At the time, the Fortress had just seventy-five cannon fixed in place. Louisburg also had a battery of thirty-six guns positioned on a small island in the Louisburg harbour. The French garrison desperately defended Louisburg but their resistance could not withstand British overwhelming superior fire power and larger numbers of troops. Louisburg surrendered to the British after a six week siege.
The final hours leading to the surrender of Louisburg were graphically described by William Shirley, the then British Governor of Massachusetts, who also was the commander of the New England British forces attacking Louisburg.
"And now the Grand Battery being in the possession of the New England men, the Island Battery (esteemed by the French the Palladium of Louisburg) so much annoyed from the Lighthouse Battery, that they could not entertain hopes of keeping it much longer; the Northeast Battery damaged, and so much exposed. When the attack came, re from the new advanced battery, that they could not stand to their guns ; the circular battery ruined, and all its cannon but three dismounted, whereby the harbour was disarmed of all its principal batteries; the West Gate of the City being demolished, and a breach made in. the adjoining wall; the West flank of the King's bastion almost destroyed, and most of their other guns which had been dismounted, during the time of the siege, being silenced ; all the houses and other buildings within the City (some of which were quite demolished), so damaged that but one among them was left unhurt; the enemy extremely harassed by their long confinement within their casemates, and their stock of ammunition being almost exhausted, Duchambon sent a flag of truce to the camp on the 15th day of June in the afternoon."
Isle Royale and the Fortress of Louisburg (but not Acadia) was returned to France in 1749 under the terms of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. In 1755, six years later, the British expelled all French people from Acadia. The number of French Acadians expelled was estimated by the English to be slightly over fifteen thousand men, women and children although most historical accounts incorrectly list the number to be around ten thousand.
A time of sorrow.
Painting depicting the expulsion of the French population from Acadia. Circa 1870. The name of the artist, C. W. Jefferys, is signed at the right bottom corner.
In the right foreground stands an armed British guard about to separate a husband and wife from each other.
To the left, another guard is watching with sword in hand in menacing gesture.
In the mid-area of the painting, another man and wife are bidding their final farewells to each other. Next to them, to the left, a woman is praying for Devine Intervention.
In the background there's a long line of Acadians forced-marched under armed guard to ships moored in the harbour waiting to deport them from their homeland separating them from each other.
The painting invokes sorrowful emotions.
If you go to Grand Pre, and it's worth the trip, take some extra time and visit the very site where the expulsion took place on the ocean edge. It's located about two kilometers from where the statue of Evangeline stands. And observe that the coast line in the painting above depicting the expulsion of French men and women is identical to the shore's topography.
The expulsion of the entire Acadian population from Nova Scotia ranks as an historical crime against humanity.
In Africa, during the same period, men, women and children were kidnapped from their homes and then forced through the "door of no return" onto slave ships which conveyed them to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Once in the Americas, they were condemned to a life-time of slavery labouring in cotton and sugar plantations.
The vast majority of slave ships that carried the Africans across the Atlantic Ocean sailed under the British flag. Almost one of every three kidnapped Africans who began the voyage in Africa did not survive to reach journey's end in America. The capture and enslavement of a people based solely on the colour of their skin continued for almost three hundred years.
In 1755, in somewhat similar to what was happening in Africa during this period, all Acadian people living in Nova Scotia were driven from their homeland. There were no exceptions granted. Even those Acadians who swore allegiance to the British Crown were expelled from Acadia. Husbands, wives and children were forever separated from each other.
A tiny number of Acadians were able to hide among the Mi'kmaq First Nation Tribes where the Mi'kmaq provided food, shelter and protection. Others were able to flee to Isle Royale. (Cape Breton Island).
Chedicamp, a small town located on the spectacular Cabot Trail of Cape Breton Island, is predominantly inhabited by Acadians who can trace their origins back to 1755. In Chedicamp, the rich Acadian culture withstood passage of time for over two hundred and fifty years.
Few people would be familiar with the Acadian expulsion were it not for the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In 1847, Longfellow published his epic saga "Evangeline" basing the classic on the Acadian expulsion from Nova Scotia.
Evangeline Bellefontaine (the heroine in Longfellow's epic) is separated from her fiancé Gabriel Lajeunesse by the British on the day they were to be married. After Evangeline and Gabriel were separated and both expelled from Acadia, Evangeline searched for Gabriel in Louisiana only to learn that Gabriel arrived there before she did and had already departed for the Ozarks.
Evangeline continued her life-long search for Gabriel finding him only by chance years later as he lay dying in a Philadelphia house for the homeless. Gabriel died in her arms. Evangeline died afterward. They were both interred in a nameless grave for the poor in a Philadelphia cemetery. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Evangeline:"
"Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from its shadow,
Side by side, in their nameless graves, the lovers are sleeping.
Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard,
In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and unnoticed;
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them,
Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at rest and forever,"
There's a sorrowful figurine statue of Evangeline standing in the Nova Scotia town of Grand Pre near Wolfville. The figurine is on the site believed to be where the church of Saint Charles des Mines stood before the church was burnt to the ground in 1755 by the British. Every year, thousands of visitors from all parts of North America journey to Grand Pre to pay tribute to a sad chapter in Canada's history. The statue of Evangeline portrays a young woman in obvious distress, looking mournfully into the distance as though searching for someone. The image brings uncontrollable tears to the gentle of heart.
On September 5th, 1755 in Grand Pre, the British Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow summoned all Acadians over the age of ten years living in the surrounding area to attend the church of Saint Charles des Mines at 3 p.m.. Four hundred and nineteen Acadians came to the church where they were placed under arrest and told that their farms, homes, buildings, livestock and/or all property owned by
them was now the property of the British Crown. They were also told they were to be deported immediately from Nova Scotia. A sorrowful short excerpt taken from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Evangeline:"
"Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors
Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession
Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers.
Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country,
Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn,
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices, sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions-
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!..."
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices,
Sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions-
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!..."
Lieutenant-Colonel John Winslow then ordered the all Acadian homes and buildings near Grand Pre be burned to the ground including the church of Saint Charles des Mines. The statute of Evangeline now stands on the sacred ground where the church of Saint Charles des Mines is believed to have once stood.
After their expulsion from Nova Scotia, many Acadians settled in Louisiana in the Southern United States where they are called "Cajuns," a derivative from the term "Acadian."
Painting depicting the Acadian expulsion. In the foreground are women and children who were separated from their husbands and fathers. The mothers are crying as children gather close to them. To the left of the painting are two men (presumably a grandfather and father) embracing grand children and wives for the final time. In the background, the Acadians are herded onto small boats which will carry them to waiting ships anchored further out in the harbour.
It is difficult to decipher the name of the artist at bottom right corner.
CAPTURE of LOUISBURG - 1758.
The Seven Years War, 1756-63, was the first global war. The war involved the armed struggle of all major European countries including France, Austria, Saxony, Sweden and Russia on one side that were aligned against Prussia, Hanover and Great Britain.
Britain, being an island, was protected by the surrounding ocean and because of such, did not commit its main military force in Europe but rather challenged the French in North America so as to expand British territory in North America by the conquering all French colonies in New France.
France, on the other hand, having land borders in Europe, could not commit its full military might to North America. Its main army was seized with defending the home-country in Europe leaving all French colonies in North America vulnerable to British attack.
The British fleet assigned to capture and demolish Louisburg was under the command of British General Jeffrey Amherst. When the fleet reached Louisburg on June 2, 1758 the British Army had approximate fourteen thousand soldiers and sailors, thirty-nine men-of-war ships and one hundred and fifty transport ships.
The defense of the Fortress was under command of Governor Chevalier de Drucour. The French at Louisburg had four battalions of regular troops, two companies of artillery and twenty-four companies of colonial troops. In total, the defending soldiers at Louisburg numbered 3,000. The Louisburg naval force consisted of just five war ships supplemented by six smaller vessels. There was also a small undetermined number of First Native Warriors and two hundred Louisburg militia civilian volunteers who fought defending Louisburg.
Chevalier de Drucour knew the capture of Louisburg was almost inevitable when he saw the overwhelming size of the British forces. Regardless, the French strategy was to delay the British at Louisburg by protracting the siege as long as possible and to inflict maximum possible damage to British forces. The French correctly believed that once Louisburg fell, the British fleet would afterward sail up the St. Lawrence River to attack Quebec city.
Dracut stationed two-thirds of his troops in open trenches along the ocean shore outside the Fortress so as to engage the British troops as they were landing in small ocean craft. This tactic would give advantage to the French defenders being that the attacking troops would be confined and cramped in the landing craft. But during this time, (June 2nd to June 8, 1758), a fierce gale delayed the British attack and landing.
The French troops, waiting in open trenches for the British attack, became exhausted caused by lack of food and exposure to the cold weather from which they had little or no garment protection. The fierce gale ended on June 8, 1758 and when the British attack finally came, the French soldiers in the open trenches were unable to offer any effective resistance to the British troop landing.
The British launched their attack against the Fortress with three divisions of troops rowing towards the shore in small landing crafts.
One British Division, under command of Major-General James Wolfe, was assigned to assault the French entrenchments west of the Fortress. This position was protected by French troops who had concealed fixed guns camouflaged behind fresh-cut fir and spruce trees. But while the British boats was still on ocean water and before the British actually landed their small landing craft, the French commander ordered removal of the tree camouflage and ordered the defending guns to fire on the British landing boats.
(The decision to fire the French guns prematurely is thought to be the defining and decisive moment involving the Battle for Louisburg. Had the French commander waited until Wolfe and his troops landed on shore, the decimation of British troops would have been considerable and might have changed the outcome of the battle.)
With French guns firing on his troops huddled in the small boats on the water Wolfe ordered the landing boats to retreat further out to sea beyond the range of the French guns. During this time, in a sea cove on the east side of the Fortress, three British boats had already landed on a narrow opening behind a wall of rocks which provided protection from French guns. Wolfe ordered his forces to join them.
Unlike what happened earlier on the west side of the Fortress when the French commander acted prematurely, Lieutenant-Colonel de St Julien, the French commander protecting the east cove of the Fortress, waited and responded too late. When Commander de St Julien finally gave the order to attack, the British troops had already landed in the eastern cove behind the rock shield which protected them from French guns.
As the British forces grew larger in number with more reinforcements landing they were able to drive de St Julien and his defending soldiers back into the town of Louisburg in total disarray. It was then that Wolfe led troops to Lighthouse Point where they captured the island battery, the chief defense post of the Fortress.
Louisburg, 1758, Wolfe landed his troops behind the large rock wall in the centre where he secured protection from French guns.
The Light House to the left is where Wolfe's troops captured the fortress battery.
Drawn by British Captain Charles Ince.
The French defenders protracted the defense of Louisburg for as long as possible but inevitably, the Fortress was doomed. Chevalier de Drucour, the Louisburg governor, surrendered Louisburg to the British on July 26, 1758.
The British ordered the Fortress destroyed and leveled after they captured Louisburg. The British had no need of Louisburg as Halifax was the primary British naval base in North America. Nor did they want the Fortress ever again to fall into French possession in the future.
During a five month period in 1760 all ramparts and buildings of Louisburg were demolished leaving only a few houses and fishing huts standing next to heaps of stones and rubble of what was once the biggest artificial fortress ever constructed in North America.
Major-General James Wolfe,
James Wolfe was born in Westerham, Kent, England in 1727. His military career began at the time of the Jacobite Scotland insurrection in 1746.
Scotland insurrection in 1746.
After the fall of Louisburg, for which
Wolfe is often credited, Wolfe led a British war expedition consisting of about nine thousand troops up the Saint Lawrence River into Canada's heart-land so as to attack Quebec City.
On July 31, 1759, the first British attack against Quebec City was repulsed. Six weeks later, during the night of September 12, 1759, Wolfe led five thousand troops down the St. Lawrence River to a landing point about two kilometers south-west of the city. The British troops scaled up the cliffs above the river leading to the Plains of Abraham. This gave the British advantage on open field in the ensuing Battle for Quebec as opposed to mounting a frontal attack against the city's protective embankments. The following day, (September 13), French defenders were forced to vacate the city so as to engage the British troops on the Plains of Abraham.
Wolfe was killed during the battle when a French sniper's bullet found his body. Later, Wolfe's body was conveyed to Greenwich, London, England, his final resting place.
Marquis Louis Josept de Montcalm, the French commander at Quebec, was also fatally wounded during the Battle for Quebec. Quebec City surrendered to the British on September 18, 1759.
So ended the quest and the dream for a New France in North America.
REBIRTH OF LOUISBURG, 1661.
In 1961, the reconstruction of the Fortress of Louisburg began taking almost two decades to restore the Fortress to the spectacular structure it was over two hundred years before. If you go to Louisburg, and everyone should if they are able, take time to explore the topography and harbour contour and try to imagine the Battle for Louisburg as it took place in 1758. To do so is spellbinding.
FOUNDING OF NOVA SCOTIA,
Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland) was named such in 1621 by James I of England who was also James VI of Scotland.
The Battle of Culloden (April 16, 1746) was the last land battle fought in Britain. On one side were the Jacobites who were Highland Scots supporting the claim of James Francis Edward Stuart (The Old Pretender) as the rightful heir to the British Crown.
The Battle of Culloden was fought on Drumossie Moor, north east of Inverness. The term Jacobite comes from the name 'Jacobe', which is Latin for James. James Francis Edward Stuart was the son of the deposed James 2nd of England, (also known as James VII of Scotland). Had James 2nd renounced his Roman Catholic faith, he might have succeeded his half-sister Anne to the English throne. He refused to renounce Catholicism resulting in a German Protestant (George 1 of Great Britain) to become the first Hanoverian King of England.
Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) commanded the Jacobite Army at Culloden. Charles was the son of James Francis Edward Stuart and the grandson of the deposed king James 2nd.
The English Army at Culloden was commanded by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of George 2nd, the second Hanoverian English King.
The English army defeated the Scottish Jacobites at Culloden ending any hope of the House of Stuart to ever again ascend to the British Throne. Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to Rome never to return to Britain after the battle was lost. Charles died in Rome on January 31 1788. He was first buried in The Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter Apostl, Frascati, Italy, but later Charles's remains were moved to a crypt at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican where he was entombed next to the remains of his father, mother and his brother.
The battle field at Culloden was the worst possible terrain for the Scottish Highlanders who were armed mainly with swords and axes. The most advantageous terrain for the Highlander battle charge was hilly and broken ground causing the charge to zigzag to and fro so as to make enemy gun fire less effective. When the Highlanders attacked the English on a moor near Culloden, they advanced in straight lines over wet and soft ground which slowed their charge allowing British infantry guns to effectively decimate the advancing Scottish Highlanders.
The Jacobite army at Culloden numbered five thousand Highlanders while the English had seven to eight thousand troops. One thousand Jacobites were estimated killed and wounded during the battle. A higher number were slaughtered after the battle ended when the Duke of Cumberland's army combed the surrounding region butchering those Scots who escaped the English carnage at Culloden.
The reprisals meted against the Scots after their defeat at Culloden were ferocious. Genocide of the Scottish male population was sanctioned by the Duke of Cumberland. The Highland clan system and Highland dress were outlawed. Scots were forbidden to speak Gaelic, their ancient language.
Twenty-seven years after the Battle of Culloden Scottish Highlanders began immigrating to Nova Scotia so as to escape unremitting English punishment.
In 1773, the first Scottish settlers arrived on the ship Hector at Pictou, Nova Scotia. (Pictou is recognized as the birthplace of New Scotland.) These first settlers were followed by shipload after shipload of other Scottish immigrants landing at the ports of Pictou, Sydney and Halifax.
Today, almost one in three people living in Nova Scotia can boast of their Scottish origins. The official flag of Nova Scotia is the Scottish Saltier having the Royal Scotland Standard (House of Stuart) positioned in the centre.
The official flag of Nova Scotia.
(Flag of Scotland)
Royal Standard of Scotland.
(House of Stuart)
"Ciad mile failte".
(Gaelic language meaning one hundred thousand welcomes.)
Battle of Culloden Memorial site, Knoydart, Nova Scotia.
Inscribed in the base of the monument is the following:
Every spring, held on the nearest Saturday to April 16, (the Battle of Culloden was fought on April 16, 1746) the Heritage Society of Antigonish together with St. Mary's Church in nearby Lismore hosts an annual Culloden celebration commentating the Battle of Culloden.
The Culloden Cairn, as it is called, pays tribute to three Scottish soldiers (Angus MacDonald, Hugh MacDonald and John McPherson) who fought at Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charles and afterwards immigrated to Nova Scotia.
The observance at the Memorial is followed by Scottish music, food and "drink" at the local community centre. The yearly event draws many visitors from across the Maritimes.
The Culloden Cairn is held at Knoydart. Route 245, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. For more information:
British Loyalists were those American colonists who remained loyal to Britain throughout and after the American Revolution or War of Independence. It is because of them we have the political term "Tory" as the Loyalists were referred to as Tories and Royalists by the American rebels.
After the American War of Independence, (1775-1783), approximately forty-six thousand British Empire Loyalists immigrated to Canada. The vast majority, an estimated 30,000, settled north of the Bay of Fundy which was then part of Nova Scotia at this time. Because of their large numbers, the region separated from Nova Scotia in 1784 forming the province of New Brunswick. Notwithstanding, there are tens of thousands descendents of Empire Loyalists still living in Nova Scotia. Their contribution to the culture and heritage of Nova Scotia is substantial.
THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC.
The huge luxury ship Titanic, sailing from South Hampton, England, to New York, struck a massive iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912.
Fourteen hundred and ninety passengers and crew perished two and one half hours later at 2.10 a.m. the following morning when the Titanic sank four kilometers to the North Atlantic Ocean bottom.
When help arrived, the bodies of the passengers and crew still floating on ocean surface were recovered and transported to Halifax, the nearest major sea port to the disaster. In Halifax, most of the bodies were interred in city cemeteries. In addition to the bodies recovered, one thousand, one hundred and fifty-three people went down to ocean bottom to their final resting place with the Titanic
When an iceberg ripped open the Titania's hull below the waterline causing the ship to sink, the California, another ship, was less than ten miles from the Titanic. The ships were so near to each other that the lights of both ships could be seen by the crews of either ship. The crew on the Titanic fired thousands of distress rockets into the night sky for the California to come to its rescue. To no avail.
The crew on the California misunderstood the purpose of the rockets believing they were part of a celebration on board of the Titanic. At the same time that the Titanic was frantically radioing distress signals for help the wireless operator on the California was sleeping and had shut off the ship's wireless radio so that it wouldn't disturb his sleeping.
When the radio operator on the California was finally awakened it was too late. The wireless radio apparatus on the Titanic was out of commission. The California continued full steam to Boston not realizing what was happening on board the Titanic,
The Carpathia, a ship approximately fifty miles from where the Titanic struck the iceberg immediately responded to its radioed "May Day" calls for help. When the Carpathia arrived to where the Titanic was struck by the iceberg the Titanic had already gone to ocean bottom. The Carpathia was able only to rescue the survivors stranded in the Titania's life boats and gather the dead bodies floating on the ocean surface.
A first class fare on the Titanic cost $4,500.00 while a third class ticket (steerage) cost only $30.00. The following chart gives a break-down of the number of passengers in each class traveling on the Titanic and the number of each class who survived in the life boats. (Also, the crew breakdown.)
It appears that the first class Titanic passengers had secured preferential access to the life boats. Almost two of every three first class passengers (62.5%) survived in the life boats compared to only one in four third class passengers (25.2%). The numbers suggest that there was a 37.3% advantage for the first class passengers over the third class.
Originally, the Titanic was designed to carry thirty-two life boats but that number was reduced to twenty for aesthetic purposes because it was thought thirty-two life boats would appear as clutter on the decks. The twenty life boats were able to carry one thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight people, but only seven hundred and eleven survivors were in the life boats after the Titanic sank. (Four hundred and sixty-six below capacity or, conversely, four hundred and sixty-six additional people who might have survived if the life boats were fully occupied.)
After their rescue, some survivors said that the life boats on board the Titanic were launched before they were filled to capacity. Once they were on the water, people in the life boats refused to rescue any additional persons floating in the cold ocean despite their cry for help which was denied. Mrs. Washington Dodge, a survivor, cited the refusal to take on more people in the life boats as follows:
"The most terrible part of the experience was that awful crying after the ship went down. We were a mile away, but we heard it-oh, how we heard it. It seemed to last about an hour, although it may have been only a short time, for some say a man could not have lived in that water over fifteen minutes. At last it died down.
Our officer and the members of the crew wanted to go back and pick up those whom they could, but the women in the boat would not let them. They told them if they attempted to turn back their husbands would take the oars from them, and the other men outnumbered the crew. I told them I could not see how they could forbid turning back in the face of those awful cries. I will remember it until I die, as it is. I told them: 'How do I know, you have your husbands with you, but my husband may be one of those who is crying.' "
They argued that if we go back where the people were struggling, some of the steerage passengers, crazed with fear and the cold, might capsize the boat struggling to get in, or might force the officers to overload so we would all go down."
The first inclination one experiences is to condemn the people in the life boats for not returning to rescue more survivors. But, if they did return, there was the probability that all may have perished because of the large number of desperate people still alive floating on the ocean who would have attempted to climb into the life boats causing the boats to capsize. The moral dilemma for those in the life boats as to whether to return or not to take on more survivors terrifies the mind.
Above are photographs of seven members of the band 'Home City' that continued to perform until the final plunge of the Titanic below water surface. They are Fred Clark; P.C. Taylor, G. Kinns; Wallace Harley; Theodore Brailey; John Law Hume and J. W. Woodward. (Order of names may be different than arrangement of photographs.). Roger Bricoux's photograph, the eighth member of the band, is not included.
The eight member band played music that was cheerful, gay and mostly rag time during the final two hours before the Titanic went to the ocean floor. The eight musicians are to be revered for their courage and concern for the people trapped on board the Titanic. They could have chosen to try to save themselves by attempting to get into the life boats.
Some people criticized the band members for playing music during this time claiming it gave the impression of false security to the passengers. The reality was that there was a dire lack of sufficient numbers of life boats and the majority of passengers were doomed whether the band played music or not.
There were three hundred and thirty-seven Titanic dead recovered from the ocean of which one hundred and fifty were interred in three Halifax city cemeteries, (Fairview Lawn, Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch).
One hundred and nineteen of the recovered bodies were buried at sea and fifty-nine bodies were claimed by relatives or friends and returned and interred in their home communities.
(Numbers cited in the preceding paragraph suggest a discrepancy of nine unaccounted victims. In various official reports concerning the Titanic sinking, each report lists differing numbers of passengers and survivors. Notwithstanding, the above figures appear to be as accurate as possible under the circumstances.)
In Halifax, on May 3rd, 1912, after memorial services were held at St. Mary's Cathedral and at the Brunswick Street Methodist Church, fifty bodies recovered from the ocean after the Titanic sank were interred at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax.
The following Friday and Monday, (May 4 and 7), thirty-two unidentified bodies were taken to Fairview Lawn Cemetery for burial. The remaining corpses were later interred in three Halifax cemeteries, Fairview Lawn, Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch. Of the three hundred and twenty-seven bodies claimed from the sea and interred in Halifax after the Titanic sank, there are one hundred and eighteen graves in which the occupants are still unknown.
December 6, 1917.
Explosion cloud, 15-20 seconds after the explosion.
Halifax was founded by the British in 1749. The Halifax harbour is one of the great deep ocean harbours in the world.
During the first world war, 1914-17, the population of Halifax was approximate fifty thousand people. The Halifax harbour offered safe heaven in the North Atlantic Ocean for Allied war and merchant sea ships which crossed the Atlantic Ocean on frequent regularity.
In 1917 radar was not yet developed able to detect German submarine activity operating in ocean waters. German submarines prowled and waited near the Halifax harbour for opportunity to attack Allied ship convoys and war ships on voyage to Europe. Anti-submarine nets were installed across the Halifax harbour entrance to prevent German submarines from actually entering the harbour. The nets would be opened only to permit Allied ships to enter or leave the harbour.
On December 1, 1917, the French ship Mont-Blanc left New York to sail to Halifax transporting its deadly cargo of lethal explosives: 226,797 kg of TNT, 1,602,519 kg of wet picric acid, 544,311 kg of dry picric acid, 56,301 kg of guncotton and 223,188 kg of benzyl totaling 2653,115 kg of explosives. (Data provided by Ground Zero: Reassessment of the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbour.)
The Mont-Blanc did not fly flags warning of its explosive cargo as this would have alerted German sub-marine commanders that the Mont-Banc was a prime target for attack.
December 5 - 4.00 p.m. - The Mont-Blanc arrived outside Halifax but could not enter the harbour until the following morning because the anti-submarine nets were closed.
December 6 - 7:30 a.m. - The anti-submarine nets were opened allowing the Mont-Blanc to enter Halifax harbour. At the same time, in the harbour, the Imo, a Norwegian relief ship, lifted anchor and was proceeding to the harbour narrows toward the Mont-Blanc.
8.45 a.m. - The Imo and the Mont-Blanc collided in the harbour narrows causing fire to ignite on the Mont-Blanc.
9.04 a.m. - The Mont-Blanc drifted to the harbour docks where its deadly cargo exploded.
It was estimated that one thousand and fifty people were killed because of the explosion and an additional nine thousand people were seriously injured.
The explosion displaced water from the harbour which was followed by a wall of water having a height of eighteen meters rushing back from the ocean into the harbour causing more damage to docks and buildings.
WHAT CAUSED THE DISASTER?
The two primary international navigational rules regarding two vessels approaching and passing each other on water are.
1. Keep to the right of the other ship, (starboard).
2. Always signal your intentions to the other ship.
On December 6, at 7:30 a.m., the Canadian Navy opened the gate in the anti-submarine nets allowing the Mont-Blanc to enter the harbour. At the same time the Imo had already lifted anchor and was proceeding to leave the harbour toward open sea. The two ships approached each other in the harbour narrows where confined navigational space made both ships difficult to maneuver.
The French ship Mont-Blanc and the Norwegian relief ship Imo were coming toward each other on the left (port) side of each other contrary to international rules regulating navigational traffic.
Halifax harbour-pilot William Hayes was on the bridge of the Imo. Harbour-pilot Francis MacKay was steering the Mont-Blanc. The Mont-Blanc blew its whistle once signaling it had the "right of way." The Imo blew its whistle twice in reply signaling that it was not changing course or direction.
After a series of whistle blowing from both ships signaling that neither intended to alter course, the Mont-Blanc Harbour-pilot, Francis MacKay, abruptly changed course to hard port, (left), so as to steer the Mont-Blanc safely pass the Imo. As the Mont-Blanc was passing, the Imo reversed its engines to decrease the ship's speed or to stop the ship's forward motion.
The reversing effect of the Imo's propellers caused the Imo's forward to suddenly spin right in a clock-wise direction as compared to hands rotating on a clock. The Imo' prow (bow or forward part of a ship's hull) crashed into the starboard side of the Mont-Blanc when it was abreast of the Imo.
The steel hulls of the two ships scraped against each other creating a fury of sparks which ignited the barrels of benzyl fuel stored on the deck of the Mont-Blanc.
The crew of the Mont-Blanc, aware that the cargo on board was highly explosive, abandoned ship when the fire grew out of control. The fire on deck of the Mont-Blanc continued to rage for twenty minutes as the ship slowly drifted toward Pier 6 in the harbour.
People near Pier 6, unaware of the ship's deadly cargo, rushed to the pier to watch the spectacle. When the Mont-Blanc struck Pier 6, its lethal freight exploded reducing to rubble the surrounding area extending beyond two kilometers from the pier.
The official records estimate approximate one thousand, nine hundred and fifty people were killed by the Halifax explosion. (Sixteen hundred died immediately and another three hundred and fifty died afterward from injury). Also, six thousand people suffered severe permanent injury. One thousand, six hundred and thirty homes were destroyed with an additional twelve thousand homes damaged.
The massive Memorial Bell, hanging in the Fort Needham Memorial Bell Tower overlooking the Halifax harbour, rings in cheerless fashion at 9 a.m. on December 6 of every year. A tribute to a catastrophic disaster that should never have happened.
Almost seventy percent of the surface of the earth is covered by water. The rotation of the moon around our planet alters the moon's gravitational pull on the earth's oceans causing the level of ocean waters to rise and fall twice slightly each day. In some parts of the planet, such as the Indian Ocean and some areas of the Pacific Ocean, there's one tide change daily.
Bay of Fundy.
The Bay of Fundy is the vast ocean basin between the western leg of mainland Nova Scotia and the province of New Brunswick. The ocean basin is "V" shaped causing it to trap ocean water flowing into the giant bay when the tide is "coming in," forcing the ocean level to rise significantly as the "V" layout of the basin decreases. When the tides recede the ocean level drops. Nowhere in the world are the tides as high as they are in the Bay of Fundy basin located between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
During the "full moon" phase the ocean tides are the highest because the moon's gravitational pull on the ocean water is greatest at this time. The water level in the Bay of Fundy often fluctuates up and down to between 15.24 meters (50 feet) between high and low ocean tides. The changing shoreline effects are stunning. In some areas of Nova Scotia, when the tide is "in," (high), the ocean travels several kilometers inland from where the shore line was just hours before. Six hours later, when the tide is "out," (low), the land reappears.
Some fishermen reckon that fishing under the "full moon" is more productive. But few fishermen will venture on the ocean if there is any hint of an impending storm during a full moon, particularly so if the wind is blowing hard from the northeast. "Nor'easters" (as these strong winds are called) are caused by polar region cold air fronts passing over the warm ocean currents flowing from the Gulf Stream. Some North Atlantic storms off the coasts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are the most terrifying on earth except for those storms off the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
Low tide in the Bay of Fundy. Six hours later only the trees are visible above the ocean surface.
The Black Loyalists -
Their contribution to Nova Scotia.
The Underground Railroad. William Still, 1872.
Courtesy of Toronto Public Library,
"When the sun comes back and the first quail calls,
Follow the drinking gourd.
For the old man is waiting for to carry you to freedom,
If you follow the drinking gourd..."
From the Negro spiritual "Follow the Drinking Gourd."
From the 1700s to the middle of the 1800s runaway slaves from the Southern United States followed the "Drinking Gourd," or that small cluster of stars called the "Big Dipper" positioned in the northern sky.
One cannot imagine the hopelessness of the runaway slaves who desperately attempted to escape north in pursuit of freedom. The courage and the terror they felt were beyond measure. The price of failure was often death or physical dismemberment if they were captured and returned to the slave owners and slave plantations in the southern United States.
Their ordeal can be described, without contradiction, as one the most horrific crimes against humanity in history. Kidnapped from their homes in Africa, the innocents were locked in chains and shackles about their ankles and necks, branded by hot irons or otherwise marked before being forced to march to Goree Island, Senegal, on the west coast of Africa, or other ports of departure. On Goree Island, the Africans were forced through the "Door of No Return" onto the slave vessels conveying them to the Americas on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In Africa, they were sold to the future owners before being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and Americas where they would toil as slaves in sugar plantations and cotton fields for their remaining days.
The process was called The Middle Passage signifying the middle stage of trade regarding the sale and transfer of human cargo between the abductors in Africa and the "owners" across the ocean. Their cries of anguish from the crowed bowels of the slave ships went unheard.
The slave quarters of the ships were purposely crammed with human cargo with the awareness that only the strong would live till voyage end ensuring delivery of maximum value of those who survived to the slave owners.
On voyage, the Africans were subdued by terror, brutality, rape, the flesh penetrating lash of the overseer's whip and execution. Families were torn asunder, children were separated from their parents and the weak were condemned to death. Those who perished from malnourishment or mistreatment were cast into the ocean without ceremony or care. Since a low sale value was placed on frail and infirm slaves, the ship crews threw them overboard to drown in the ocean water.
As with all horrific mass crimes in history, records are rarely complied. Although we cannot be certain, at least fifteen to twenty million Africans were kidnapped during the approximate three centuries involving the slave trade. One in three people who were kidnapped from Africa did not survive to reach the destinations awaiting them.
Slavery was practiced almost everywhere throughout the United States. Massachusetts was the only state in the Union to register the number of its slave population as zero as reported in the national census taken in 1790. Gradually, other northern states followed Massachusetts in disallowing slavery but this offered little respite or hope for those Africans still enslaved in the southern states of the country. And if, somehow, they were able to escape to the north, their freedom was often short lived.
In the United States, the Fugitive Slave Act of September 18, 1850, made lawful the forced return from the northern "free states" to their southern "owners" of all captured runaway slaves.
The United States Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott Decision in 1857 seven years after the Fugitive Slave Act became the law of the country. The decision decreed that slavery was legal in all areas of the United States and that only a federal state could make slavery unlawful within its state borders...not Federal Congress. The Court ruled slaves were deemed to be property and slave owners were guaranteed their property rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
(The United States Bill of Rights consists of ten amendments added to the Constitution in 1791. The Bill of Rights originally protected the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory, except slaves.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868 which overruled Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) decision which had excluded slaves and their descendants from possessing Constitutional rights.)
As slaves were legally declared private property by the United States Supreme court even if they did escape, slave hunters for a "finder's fee brutally hunted down runaway slaves everywhere throughout the United States. Tens of thousands of former slaves in the United States fled to Canada and safe haven to avoid capture. Many came to Nova Scotia.
During the American War of Independence, 1775 -1782, the British offered freedom to those runaway American slaves who joined the British army. Many slaves did escape their "owners" and fought on the British side in the war so as to "gain their own independence and freedom" from the Americans who were fighting for their independence from Britain.
After the American War of Independence ended the Americans demanded return of all American property including the runaway slaves who joined the British army. Sir Guy Carleton, the acting commander of British forces at the time, refused American demands that former slaves who fought with the British be returned to the slave owners.
In the summer of 1783 British Navy ships and some chartered private ships provided passage for almost four thousand former slaves to Nova Scotia where they were promised a life as a free people.
The former slaves who came to Nova Scotia were called "Black Loyalists." They founded various settlements. Birchtown, located six miles outside the town of Shelburne, was the largest.
The town of Birchtown, Nova Scotia, was named after Brigadier General Samuel Birch who was the British commandant of the City of New York. Brigadier General Birch issued a list citing names of the freed slaves who were immune to American demands they be returned to the former "owners." The list or "The Book of Negroes" cited two thousand seven hundred names of freed slaves. Each was given a certificate granting permission to go to Nova Scotia or wherever he/she may think proper. Regrettably, the same offer for freedom was not extended to the slaves of the White Loyalists who supported the British during the war and afterward came to Canada.
"AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER.."
Reproduction taken from an abolitionist pamphlet. Circa 1837.
After the War of Independence ended, for some of the Black Loyalists their freedom was short-lived. A number of British Officers enriched themselves through betrayal. Once some the ships carrying former slaves to Nova Scotia reached the high seas the ships changed course and sailed south to the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. One cannot imagine the horror experienced by those who were betrayed when they discovered that instead of Nova Scotia they were again sentenced to a life of slavery and suffering.
Regardless, the majority of the former slaves who did fight in the British army during the War of Independence were given passage to Nova Scotia and freedom.
Two plaques standing in the Black Loyalist Heritage Park in Birchtown, Nova Scotia, dedicated to the Slave Loyalists who fought with the British during the American Revolutionary War and afterward choose to live in Nova Scotia.
The number of White Loyalists who left the United States after the War of Independence and resettled in Nova Scotia was 30,000. They brought with them an estimated two thousand, five hundred slaves to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. In 1784 the number of African slaves in the town of Shelburne alone numbered one thousand, two hundred and sixty-nine (as reported by a Lieutenant Colonel Morse listing those receiving government rations of which slaves were included).
During this time the number of freed Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia was approximate 3,000. The first race riot in North America took place in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in 1782. Former white soldiers in Shelburne attacked black settlers believing the blacks were taking work away from the "whites."
The ongoing racial conflict had its toll. In 1790 many Black Loyalists were offered opportunity by the Sierra Leone Company (a British anti-slavery organization) to leave Nova Scotia. The anti-slave company, or organization, financed and arranged for the Black Loyalists to resettle in Freetown, West Africa. The offer was accepted by one thousand, one hundred and ninety-six former slaves living in Nova Scotia. The freedom ships carrying the former slaves to Freetown, West Africa sailed from the Port of Halifax on January 15, 1792.
Almost fifty years before the Underground Railroad fully developed in Upper Canada, (Ontario), its forerunner had roots in Nova Scotia. Many black slaves "belonging" to the White Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia escaped and melted into the free black population in the black communities scattered throughout Nova Scotia.
On August 28, 1833, the British Parliament passed The Bill for the Abolition of Slavery. The Bill became law eleven months later on August 1, 1834. On August 1, 1834, all slaves throughout the British Empire were considered free with the following provisions:
All slaves under the age of six (five years and under) were freed immediately.
All slaves six years of age and over would remain partial slaves for a further four years (the "apprenticeship period"). Those slaves were to receive partial compensation for their labour during the four year apprenticeship period.
The Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was opened to the public on September 17, 1983. A visit to Nova Scotia should include visiting the centre. Awareness of past injustice ensures a society where racial distinction is found only in history books.
Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia.
The address of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia:
1149 Main Street,
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Telephone (902) 434-6233.
Toll free: 1-800-465-0767.
Facsimile (902) 434-2306.
BENEATH THE EARTH.
The place was New Waterford, a small coal mining town on the east coast of Cape Breton Island. The year 1925. Miners were earning $3.65 for each day they worked beneath ground extracting coal in the coal mines. The appalling working conditions in the mines had no equal. The miners finally struck for better working and living conditions after long and fruitless negotiations. Many miners' families were beginning to experience starvation as the strike extended over months. Electricity and water supply to the miners' homes was cut off by the company.
On June 11, 1925, company police (British Empire Steel and Coal Company) charged on horseback down New Waterford's Plummer Avenue trampling all who happened in their path. On the same day, the leadership of the United Mine Workers of America (Union) organized a miners' march to the company stores and the New Waterford Lake Power Plant with the intention of securing food and restoring electricity and water services to their homes. Company police on horses confronted the miners as they marched to the plant. They charged their horses into their ranks firing their guns wantonly so as to disperse the marching miners.
Gilbert Watson received a bullet fired from a police gun which he carried in his body until his death in 1958.
Michael O'Hanlon, another miner, was shot by the company police before he was trampled under charging police horses. He survived the bullet wound but the injury caused by charging horses was permanent.
One miner, William Davis, was fatally shot in the heart. He began working in a coal mine in 1905. He was the father of nine children. His wife was pregnant carrying their tenth child when he was killed by company police.
Some miners carried their wounded and the dead William Davis back to their homes; the others continued to march to the company stores to secure food for their families. There the miners set afire the company stores burning the store buildings to ground.
June 11 is still commemorated as Davis Day. Never again did any Cape Breton miner dig coal in the coal mines on Davis Day. So too, did many commercial shops and schools throughout Cape Breton Island close on Davis Day.
THE BEGINNING OF COAL MINING IN
The first coal mine on Cape Breton Island began operation two hundred and fifty years ago when coal was needed by the French for the construction of the Fortress of Louisburg. By the year 1873 there were eight coal mines operating on Cape Breton Island. Men were paid from eighty cents to one dollar fifty cents a day depending on their particular job under the ground. Boys who worked in the coal mines were paid sixty-five cents a day
By 1912, the number of operating coal mines on Cape Breton Island doubled to sixteen collieries. At the time Cape Breton's coal production accounted for forty percent of Canada's total coal output.
Each coal colliery was numbered: "Number 1," "Number 2," "Number 3" and so forth. People would identify the area where they were lived by citing the number of the coal mine they lived near. The writer was born in a small village near the "Number 6" mine.
The place of birth on the writer's birth certificate issued by the Nova Scotia government is "Dominion Number 6" referencing the village where I was born near Number 6 Coal Mine. The village is now called Donkin. When I was nine years old my family moved from Dominion Number 6 to Glace Bay, a town five kilometers further up the ocean coast.
The writer recalls attending Glace Bay Caledonia Holy Cross Primary School near the "Number 3 Coal Mine." (Number 3 Mine is no longer. Where it was is now an empty field.) During class we sometimes heard the mine's "buzzer" sounding for long periods. When the buzzer continued sounding without stopping all activity in the class room ceased instantly. The long blowing of the mine's buzzer conveyed there was an accident underground in Number 3 Mine.
The children whose fathers were working underground in the mine that particular day would quickly leave the class room going directly home to their mothers. Mothers would gather their children and the family hurried to the main shaft at Number 3 Mine. There they waited for the cage to carry injured miners, or the dead miners, up to the surface from below ground.
When I was a boy, I've watched mothers waiting with their children clinging to them near the mine's cage for news regarding their husbands. I've seen the terror and despair in their faces as grim miners wheeled the injured husbands on gurneys to waiting ambulances. I shall always remember.
From the years 1863 to 1958 there were six hundred and forty-seven miners killed in the coal mines operating in Nova Scotia.
The three main dangers to a miner's life were cave-ins, explosions caused by coal dust accumulation and flooding.
The danger of water flooding in coal mines was always present. The water pumps never stopped pumping water from mine tunnels whether the coal mine was operating or down. If the water pumps malfunctioned or otherwise stopped pumping water the surrounding area was evacuated before any one was trapped by water flooding.
(The water pumps never stopped pumping water even during the first week of August of each year when the mines "shut down" for the miners' vacation. The Men of the Deeps, the world known chorus of retired miners, never perform concerts in Glace Bay during the first week of August as that week was always recognized as the miners' vacation week.)
The two deadly types of gases in the coal mines were Black Damp and Firedamp. Black Damp was the name the miners gave carbon dioxide gas and was also called Choke Damp. Choke Damp (as the name suggests) made breathing difficult and sometimes impossible.
When methane and oxygen mix the result is an inert gas with a molar ratio of methane to oxygen designated as CH4:O2. The deadly mix was called "Fire Damp."
There was always the danger of explosion caused from Fire Damp. Fire Damp is associated with dense accumulation of tiny particles of coal dust which are highly explosive in that the smallest spark could ignite explosion.
In 1815, Sir Humphry Davy, England, invented the safe light (an oil lamp in which the flame was isolated by a gauze seal). Later, in the mid-1800s, batteries were attached to the miners' safety helmets to provide light as they worked. Gradually, electricity was installed in the mines replacing candles.
One early method of detecting methane and carbon monoxide gases in coal mines was to bring caged canaries into the areas of new coal seams. If the canaries kept chirping and singing it signaled the air supply was safe. If the canaries stopped chirping or singing it conveyed warning that the air was unsafe. When a canary died the area was immediately evacuated until the air was declared safe to breath.
The greatest killer of the coal miner was the silent and dreaded Black Lung Disease. The disease, pneumoconiosis (CWP) or anthracosis, affected all coal miners. (Anthracosis is a lung disease having the name anthracite coal as its derivative). Most photographs of coal miners show their faces black with coal dust. Their lungs were blacker caused by inhalation of coal dust. Miners severely infected with Black Lung Disease most always died prematurely.
Regrettable, records involving the life-spans of coal miners were rarely complied. Still, it is safe to assume coal miners lived the shortest life spans compared with any other peace-time industry except for miners working in asbestos mining.
Research by the Canadian Paraplegic Association - CPA - Nova Scotia, found that in Canada, "a coal miner injured in the 1930's had the life expectancy of about eighteen months."
The Westray Coal Mine Disaster.
Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
At 5:18am on 9 May 1992
The Westray coal mine exploded
killing 26 miners.
The following article was printed in the Chronicle Herald, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, May 15, 1992.
26 MINERS TRAPPED IN DEATH...
5:18 A.M., May 9, 1992
On cold wet Saturday morning after less than eight months of operation, a methane explosion, fueled by coal dust, ripped through the Westray Mine in Plymouth, killing all miners who were underground at the time - an entire shift.
Draegermen (rescue crews) worked feverishly from 6:30 a.m., May 9th, to locate the miners until 2:10 p.m., May 14th, when Westray officials announced there was no likelihood of survivors.
Fifteen bodies were brought to the mine surface, while eleven still lie entombed 350 meters (1300feet) underground...
The names of the twenty-six miners who lost their lives May 9, 1992 are chiselled in a granite monument in the Memorial Park in New Glasgow, Pictou County. The Westray Mine is no longer but memory of those who died that fateful May 9, 1992 day will be with us always. A disaster that never should have occurred.
The Museum of Industry in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, is Atlantic Canada's largest museum. Inside the impressive building are artifacts and exhibits dating back from the Industrial revolution to the present. Retired coal miners at the museum fascinate visitors with their personal knowledge of coal mining.
The Museum of Industry is located at:
147 North Foord Street,
Stellarton, Nova Scotia, B0K 1S0,
Telephone: (902) 755-5425,
Fax: 902-755-7045. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cape Breton Miners' Museum, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
In Glace Bay, a coal mining town on Cape Breton Island, visitors can venture underground into an actual coal mine located directly below the Cape Breton Miners' Museum. By doing so they can
relive the experience of the men and boys who worked in the earth below ground digging coal.
Inside the museum is the home theatre of The Men of the Deeps, the world famous chorus of retired coal miners. The Men of the Deeps perform and sing songs of the coal mines and reminisce about the times when they worked below ground.
They are a national treasure.
For information contact:
Cape Breton Miners' Museum
42 Birkley Street
Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada
P.O Box 310
Glace Bay, NS
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL,
BADDECK, CAPE BRETON ISLAND.
Alexander Graham Bell (1847 - 1922) was awarded the first United States patent in 1876 for the invention of the telephone.
Alexander Bell was called "father of the deaf." His mother and wife were deaf which profoundly influenced Bell's work regarding experiments relating to sound transmission which eventually lead to the telephone's invention.
Alexander and his wife Mabel Hubbard Bell visited Baddeck for the first time in 1885. (Baddeck is a small town nestled on the edge of the wondrous Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island.) The Bells returned to Baddeck the following year and build a vacation home at Beietun Bhreagh. (Gaelic for beautiful mountain.)
Alexander Graham Bell's National Historic Site was dedicated by the Federal Government in 1980 as much of Bell's scientific work and experimentation were conducted in Baddeck.
The complex houses a collection of Bell's inventions and artifacts including a full scale model of the HD-4 hydrofoil experimental craft that Bell developed. In 1919, Bell's hydrofoil craft achieved a world marine speed record of 114.01 kilometers per hour, (70.86 miles per hour). Impressive at the time.
Someone once asked Alexander Bell why he and his wife Mabel Hubbard choose Cape Breton as their summer home. He replied:
"I have traveled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton out rival them all."
THE CABOT TRAIL
Gateway to Heaven.
THE CABOT TRAIL FOLLOWING THE COAST LINE BELOW AND ABOVE THE HIGHLANDS OF CAPE BRETON ISLAND PROVIDES THE MOST BREATHTAKING NATURAL SCENERY IN THIS WORLD.
Traveling the two hundred and fifty-nine kilometers on Highway 19 from Baddeck to Englishtown over the Cabot Trail is awe-inspiring. Words cannot describe the marvelous scenery. The green Atlantic Ocean water lashes against rocky cliffs to the left. Gentle waves stroke the many sandy beaches resting below the mountains.
On the right are green mountains waiting to be ascended before dipping into the low valleys providing the thrilling sensation as if riding on a mountain roller coaster.
It is believed that when the world was created the first lands Gitche Manitou designed were the Highlands on Cape Breton Island. Then Gitche Manitou gave the task of completing the world to others. They could not duplicate the spectacular landscape Gitche Manitou gave Nova Scotia and the Cape Breton Highlands.
While "going over" the Cabot Trail there are two extraordinary places just a short distance off the highway one would normally miss if not aware of their existence.
On a mountain side just a bit outside Pleasant Bay is the serene Tibetan Buddhist Assemblage known as the Gampo Abbey. The Abbey was originally an old farmhouse and barn which the Buddhists transformed into an impressive monastery. The entire complex oozes tranquility and spiritual comfort.
The "Stupa of Enlightment" is standing on the clay road outside the monastery. One could spend hours studying the words of wisdom chiseled into the granite base of the "Stupa." Inside the monastery, the monks who make the monastery home year round welcome all visitors.
The monastery is about a fifteen minute auto trip from the highway. Ask anyone in Pleasant Bay for direction and they will be glad to direct you. The address and contact information is:
The address of the museum is: Angus McAskill and Tom Thumb.
Angus McAskill (1825-1863) lived just thirty-eight years. He was seven feet nine inches tall and weighed four hundred and twenty-five pounds. His shoulders spread forty-four inches across. Angus traveled throughout the world and was known as the gentle ambassador for Cape Breton Island. He joined P.T. Barnum's circus in 1849 where he and General Tom Thumb were billed as the biggest and smallest men on earth. (Photograph above).
When Queen Victoria heard of Angus McAskill's amazing size and strength she invited the Cape Breton Giant to Windsor Castle where she presented him with two gold rings.
Almost everyone living on Cape Breton Island knows of The Gentle Giant. At Englishtown (the end or beginning of the Cabot Trial depending where one begins the journey over the trail) there is a small museum dedicated to this gentle man. The museum houses Angus McAskill's personal effects and belongings including his clothes, chair, bed, walking sticks, etc. The museum (his home) and the legacy he gave us are part of the magic of Nova Scotia.
The address of the museum is:
Route 31, approximately 2.5 km off Highway #105.
Box 41, Englishtown,
NS B0C 1H0.
THE GAELIC MOD.
The Reverend A. W. R. MacKenzie founded the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts in 1938 which he dedicated to the preservation of the Scottish culture and language in Nova Scotia. The college was a small log cabin serving as a school teaching the Gaelic language. The college has come a long way since its beginning.
Today, there are three dormitory residences, fourteen class rooms, four large meeting rooms, a cafeteria, a craft centre and the Great Hall of the Clans' Museum.
The Gaelic College of Celtic Arts overlooks the beautiful waters of St. Ann's Harbour and St. Ann's Beach. Every year in August, thousands of visitors come to the college to participate and enjoy the Gaelic Mod which features exhibitions and contests in Scottish dancing, piping (Scottish bag pipes) and folk songs. The Gaelic Mod is worth a trip to beautiful Cape Breton just for itself.
Liquid water is essential for survival of all biological systems including human life. The search for life involves the search for liquid water and conditions which allow life to form be it on earth or in our solar system.
Life abounds throughout the universe. In the universe there are an estimated one hundred thousand galaxies. In each galaxy there are thousands of millions of stars. Our planet is one of infinite billions. Seventy percent of the earth's surface is covered with water. Bacteria were the first forms of life. Amino acids, carbon, iron, water and other compounds are the providers of life given by the sea.
Our hearts begin beating eighteen days after conception and will continue beating one billion times through a normal lifespan before our biological clock stops. To ensure continuation of the life process, millions of life forms and thousands of human beings will be born on the same second any one of us departs from this life.
All life is beautiful, it matters not the life form. Life began in the sea one hundred million years ago. Fifty million years later the first migrant from the ocean crawled from the water on land and was able to continue living.
Sea water is ninety-eight percent identical to human blood. To survive, we can receive direct life saving transfusions of ocean water in lieu of blood.
We accomplish only a fraction of what we are able to accomplish finding ourselves strangers to the purpose of life. Ultimately, the answer is within ourselves but first we must we must learn to trust our intuition. Each of us has an instinctive sense of direction but the vast majority fails to understand where it leads. A life without a purpose is a life wasted.
Humans have come a long way regarding their journey from the sea. Most have failed to understand their intuitions and do what other people want them to do searching for gratification rather than happiness…both of which have little in common.
There are three groups of people:
1. The Individuals: Those who make things happen.
2. The Few: Those who watch things happening.
3. The Many: Those who never understand the things happening.
The first group is the pure of heart, the peacemakers.
The second group is the users, the opportunists.
The third is the programmed, the followers.
Knowledge brings freedom restricted only by reality. Everyday is an experiment providing lessons to be learned. There will be failures and success will come if we learn from our failings. If we do not learn, our failures will likely be repeated.
The pursuit of knowledge has no ending. When understanding is known, the next experiment will be presented to us in a higher form. The challenges become less complex as the path toward higher awareness is traveled. The answers become more obvious.
The next lesson is always presented to be learned. As we learn, the world will become more humane. We will learn to love, dream and laugh more. Each day will become a day of optimism.
Green is the colour of life and green is the colour of the seas. The sea is the mother of all life and only the mother can provide serenity in the acceptance that life has a beginning, a journey and an ending.
The sea beckons us. We must always strive to return to our origin and return to the sea. When we do go back, listen from the shore for the sorrowful voices calling to us from across the waves. If our lives have purpose, we will hear the voices.
The African slave; the motherless child; the sailor who became lost at sea and never again will feel land beneath his feet.
The two ships that passed each other in the night, not understanding one of ships was doomed, not hearing "that awful crying after the ship went down." Not seeing the tears that never dried.
The Beothuk father who drowned when trying to escape from the hunters when he was searching for food for his starving family. The Beothuk infant who died from hunger and cold four days after his father was killed by hunters when he tried to protect his wife and child. The infant child crying for the mother who never returned after she was taken from him by her abductors.
No one is alone when they possess pure of heart. The greatest gift you have is love. Love the world more and when you do, the world will return love to you.
Even though you will never get out of this world alive, you shall return. So then shall your voice be heard with the others bringing comfort to they who mourn. And the world will be a better place because you were here...