Sometimes you don’t have to travel very far to be blown away by your own history. We took a little drive. About 2 hours south. To the town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
Here, we wandered along Historic Dock Street.
Shelburne has an interesting history. During the American Revolution pro-British refugees (Loyalists) gathered in New York. The wealthier classes went to England while others sought refuge here, in Nova Scotia.
In 1783, four hundred such families associated to form the Town of Shelburne (named after the British Prime Minister). Within a year the population of the town mushroomed to 10,000.
The fledging town was not prepared and could not support so large a settlement. Most of the refugees moved on to other parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, or on to England. Some returned to the United States.
But of those who stayed, many focused their entrepreneurial spirit into this Nova Scotia town, infusing it with a distinctly New England flavour.
This door takes you into what maybe the last remaining commercial barrel factory in Canada. Traditionally, barrels were used to store and transport fish, food and other items and the staves and hoops were from this factory were exported in huge quantities. Today, are used to store salt bait for the lobster industry.
Across the street is The Coopers Inn. The house was originally built for George Gracie, a blind Loyalist who started the first whaling company in Shelburne.
Next door is a lovely example of a Greek Revival building. I love the storm doors.
The next building was, during the 1780’s, the home and tavern of Patrick McDonough – who was also the customs officer.
On the water side of the street, is a dory shop where the wooden boats are still built to order. It’s part of the Shelburne Historical Society complex.
A glance up Charlotte Lane.
This impressive structure (with a relatively modest door) was the store and warehouse of George A. Cox, an (obviously) prominent merchant. He constructed his own vessels and carried on an extensive world trade.
A former store front on Ann Street.
This former mill is under restoration. That’s good news as it looks like most of the foundation is missing!
The mill is part of the Muir-Cox shipyard which was in almost continuous operation from the 1800’s to 1984. The property launched everything from square riggers and schooners to motorized rum runners, minesweepers and luxury yachts.
The shipyards of Shelburne produced whale boats, life boats, row boats and canoes which were exported to Newfoundland, Bermuda, Ontario, Quebec, the Arctic and the United States. In 1928-29 one boat shop shipped 29 rail cars of boats to Northern Ontario and Quebec in what is believed to be the largest shipment of boats in Canada. Seriously? I had no idea! This waterfront must have been booming.
It was a short visit. But we’ll be back again to visit pretty little Shelburne (pop. 1743) and her intriguing Doors. It seems that she has more stories to tell.