The Place: Pictou, Nova Scotia
The Treasure: The Ship Hector
This weekend we took off for Pictou and went for a walk along waterfront after stopping in on their weekend market (but that’s another story 😉 ).
We’ve been to Pictou a number of times but hadn’t had a chance to look in on the Hector or tour the building with it’s history and artifacts.
The story of the Hector and the people that came across from Scotland on it a tale of hardship, to say the least. In a nut shell you take 189 people and some crew and put them on a cargo ship:
Only you really don’t have that much space. You have about half of that and it’s below deck. Half of it is cargo, other half is people.
Then you are told by the captain, who was told the trip would be 6 weeks or so. Then it turns out to be 12ish, but hey that’s just.. not even close. After the first couple of weeks cargo.. err.. passengers basically had to stay below deck and out of the way of the crew – coming up to bathe in the rain and dump bedpans and bodies over the side.
Eventually you end up in Pictou, which is great, but the land you thought you were getting isn’t water side it’s in that forest over yonder *motions vaguely* and the provisions you were expecting aren’t actually here. But the Hector’s leaking carcass is going to go get them while you get to settling your land.
The people said heck no, pitched lean-to’s right on the water front and waited for supplies. Which did show up, but they weren’t allowed to have them until they fulfilled their contract and settled the land.
I’m pretty sure all this went down with a lot of smiling and good natured joking around. Or like, the opposite – either or.
The history is quite fascinating and well worth talking to the guides about.
Just outside the main building is a functional blacksmith and carpentry shop. Although there was no one working at the time we went there were a few blacksmithed items for sale.
The main building has a complete list of original passengers, plans for the ship, statues depicting the crew, captain, passengers and more. One section has some mastheads in progress, tools used to do some of the work on the Hector and during the settling. There’s also a bell commemorating the launch of the Hector (replica) in Pictou:
The Heritage Hector Quay is itself a beautiful building and well laid out museum. The ship gives you a good feel for the living conditions of the people on board, the staff is very knowledgeable and friendly. As with most museums and historical venues it basically requires you to go back a few times because there’s always something more to see and learn. If you’re of Scottish descent it may hold a special interest for you, but everyone should take the time to see what the settlers had to contend with because without their perseverance we may not have the Pictou we know now.
And a word from Treasure Bear:
The Heritage Hector Quay is staffed entirely by volunteers and students. That means they don’t get paid for what they do, they are there because the know and believe in the importance of history and the sacrifices people made to settle our province. When you see the donation boxes keep this in mind and drop a little something in there.
Here is the weather and a map to help plan your trip:
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