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Excerpts from 'A History of Canoe Cove'
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More extracts will be added in time
This history was written as a project for Canoe Cove Women's Institute, and its aim was to gather information on the early settlers of Canoe Cove; who they were; their roots and how they laid the foundation of our community.
Because much of it is hearsay there will be inaccuracies and omissions. Information has been obtained from various minute books, a school register, a church history, scrapbooks, clippings, Cove family histories and various other writings.
The early settlers were almost all Scots and if one goes back a few generations one would find that Gaelic (pronounce Gal-lic by our people) was spoken more often than not. At that time the church service was in English and Gaelic. This practise of having a service in English and Gaelic continued in some areas until 1910 and I would suppose that the same would be true of the Cove.
It is hoped that this history will give you some idea of our first settlers, and how the community evolved. If your roots are here you can be proud of your community and your heritage.
The Naming of Canoe Cove
The story has been passed down that during the hostilities between
The cove was named Allen Cove by
In Micmac Kweduna Walna 'Canoe Cove.'
In the Cove and surrounding districts, Canoe Cove was often known as 'Canna Cove.' Where the local pronunciation came from is not clear, it may have been a Gaelic influence.
No matter how you pronounce it, if you were born here you will hear the surf pound and smell the salt water in your dreams for the rest of your life. Even your descendants will feel the pull of the Cove and its proud Scots heritage calling them back to its beauty and tranquility.
Written by the Rev. Murdoch MacKinnon of Canoe Cove
Published in The Patriot, August 1933
Tis said in legend tale
That long ago
An Indian tribe came here
In flight from ancient foe
And landed in this very cove
With their canoes
And thus the name
Is Canoe Cove
It may be true
And likely is
And that thy friendly shore
Good shelter gave to those who came of old
But this I know beyond dispute
That I have come to thee
Full many a time
In flight from care
And I have found in thee
A sheltering cove of rest
From storms of life.
Thy rocks and garden green above
Give resting pleasure to the eye
Thine acres broad
Of clean unsoiling sand
With gullies interspersed and warm
Give sportive play a chance.
Thy waves and tide
With ebb and flow
Lend music, change and rest
Unto the mind and heart
And from thy soothing, buoyant,
Bracing summer waters come
When'er I swim and sun in thee
A sparkling sense of health
And so to me thou art indeed
A gladdening, strengthening, sheltering
Cove of life
Crops were sown initially using very simple implements. One implement used in the Highlands before settlers came to
Before we look any further at the early days of our Cove, let us think about why the first settlers left their beloved native
The landowners found they could make more money raising sheep than renting to crofters so they evicted their tenants in the cruellest way imaginable. The factors (agents) would come to the croft usually through the day when the men were at work, put out the hearth fire which was burned all day and night using the precious milk that was needed for the family. Then they would set fire to the croft which, with its thatch roof, would burn easily. The crofters would have to leave carrying everything. That could be a sick child or old person, along with their scanty belongings. Perhaps even the roof tree and the lintel would have to be carried as they were not allowed to cut trees down when and where they wished. Their crofts were almost entirely of stone but their boards where the two sides of the roof met, the roof tree, had to be of wood.
The top of the door casing, the lintel, also had to be made of wood. They must have thought they were in heaven when they came to the forests of
After they landed on our
The clearing out of the crofters by the landowners to make way for the sheep was called 'The Clearances' and a more vivid example of man's inhumanity to man' cannot be found anywhere in the history of mankind.
The Scots, hard working and thrifty because they had to be to survive, were a God-fearing lot and thrived in the New World even though their hearts were breaking with loneliness and bitter memories of how they were treated in their homeland. It says a lot for their character that even though the English King treated them so brutally the Scots in
Stories abound about 'the Scot' that was chased out of
Note: The above information on the crofters was taken from On the Crofters Trail by David Craig
The early settlers we mostly Scottish Presbyterians. It is said that the more they suffered the ubiquitous 'Clearances' the more devout they became and that being so, they gathered regularly for worship from the time of their arrival. Many of the ministers in
Reverend Donald McDonald was sent from the Free Church of Scotland, as a missionary to
An early church secretary's minute book exists dating back to 1894. Charles MacNeill of St Catherines was the first secretary and his beautiful copper-plate script is a pleasure to read. The charge at that time consisted of
Reverend James MacCall was our first minister after Mr McDonald remaining for three years before returning to
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not held in Canoe Cove until the ministry of Rev. Donald Lamont, apparently because there was no communion table, so that all could sit around it to take communion. The first communion table was built by Bateman MacFadyen, son of John K., and the communion linen made by Mrs John K MacFadyen.
Criteria for taking communion, or sacrament, were very strict. By the way, a peculiarity of the area was that sacrament one must be 'under conviction' that is, aware of deeply remorseful for one's sin. Then one was 'set free' which meant that one realised that because of the crucifixion and resurrection one's sins were forgiven and one was 'saved.' Then one could take sacrament. Many Scottish settlers, especially in Pictou county,
Even after Communion tables were provided so that members could sit around a common table and drink out of a common cup, people still travelled to Churchill, Stanchel or DeSable to Sacrament. It was common for the people to go as far as Brae or Birch Hill for the annual Sacrament service which began on Thursday night with a preparatory service, and ended Monday morning with a thanksgiving service. These services were held once a year in each year as the Minister would not be able to arrange them more often for all churches. Perhaps it was the custom. Many romances which started at these services resulted in marriage. Of course, a new gown and a new hat were 'a must' for the ladies, especially the unmarried ones for the Sacrament season.
In 1938 application was made by Canoe Cove, Churchill and Nine Mile Creek to be received into the Presbyterian Church of Canada. (Prior to this they were Free Church of Scotland.) This was granted by the General Assembly and these congregations joined with
After Mr Goodwill retired because of ill-health, students and supply took care of the needs of the congregation until Rev. Donald Nicholson accepted a call to our church in 1950 and stayed until 1956. While he was with us the church was wired for electricity in 1950.
The Cemetery was started down by the shore before the present church was built. The first person to be buried there was David Potts, an English sailor whose body washed ashore. There is a gravestone at his grave but it states only that he was the son of John Potts from
The Cemetery was used for the Nine Mile Creek area as well as the Cove. Some from the St. Catherine’s area used it even though there is a
At first all cemeteries had rounded graves which were not precisely aligned whether they had stones or not. This would make the cemetery difficult to care for. In the late 1920s the graves were levelled and the stones aligned so that a lawn mower could b used. Our cemetery is one of the more attractive ones, as the grass is kept mowed and extra flowers are planted to enhance its appearance.
Communication & Transport
When Indians came from the mainland they would have to carry their canoes to the
After shipping began in earnest and wharves were built, ferries crossed the waterways at several places but the largest and most accessible was Rocky Point. The first Rocky Point ferry was operated by Captain Hubbard in 1840. This service, which continued until 1960 ferried vehicles to and from
For about a hundred years our people used horses or walked, usually many miles to ferry or church or wherever they wanted to go, especially on a Sunday in busy farm seasons as the horses had to rest. Then in the early 1900s the car was beginning to be used on the
After a hundred years of narrow, winding, dusty but beautiful roads with bushes on both sides giving privacy and shelter the roads were widened and ditched. This doubtful mark of progress sliced huge pieces off front yards and some house lots almost disappeared. In 1960 our road was paved and there is no doubt that it improved life in the Cove. During the same period a causeway was built across
Electricity came to the Cove in 1950. At first, residents had basic wiring with few appliances, but farmers quickly began to take advantage of this tireless servant. Next came heavy wiring with every necessity and convenience following it to make the hard toil of farmers and others easier.
Our telephone line, now so ubiquitous, had its beginning as a local line taking in the
In 1820 the ' Children generally entered the school between seven and eight years of age, and seldom remained past thirteen or fourteen. In fact, it is not long since 'school leaving' exams at Grade Eight were abolished. Attendance was irregular from May to October when children helped on the farm. School started with prayer and reading of the Scriptures and ended in the same manner. Subjects taught included Gaelic, map-reading, orthography, grammar and arithmetic. The superintendant, also know as the Visitor made periodic visits to examine the children’s' knowledge as well as the condition of the schoolhouse. Teachers were boarded with residents of the community. Women teachers were considered inferior to male teachers in the role of disciplinarian and consequently received lower salaries. The Free Education Act was instituted in 1953 bringing a means of education within reach of every family. Before this time small grants of money were provided to aid the erection of public schools and in payment of teachers. Pupil's fees made up most of the money earned by the teacher. Under such a weak system, the teachers practically ran their own schools and the education gained depended on the teacher's knowledge or lack of it. Poorer parents could not afford to pay and illiteracy was prevalent. A Canoe Cove teachers register dated July 2, 1884 still exists. The teacher at the time was Jack MacNevin and the Visitor was John Balderston. Mr Balderston's note stated that '38(out of 64) pupils were present, a map of It was a formidable task for Mr MacNevin to teach fifteen subjects to 64 pupils, especially when those subjects included Latin, French, music and physical culture.
In 1820 the '
Children generally entered the school between seven and eight years of age, and seldom remained past thirteen or fourteen. In fact, it is not long since 'school leaving' exams at Grade Eight were abolished. Attendance was irregular from May to October when children helped on the farm.
School started with prayer and reading of the Scriptures and ended in the same manner. Subjects taught included Gaelic, map-reading, orthography, grammar and arithmetic. The superintendant, also know as the Visitor made periodic visits to examine the children’s' knowledge as well as the condition of the schoolhouse.
Teachers were boarded with residents of the community. Women teachers were considered inferior to male teachers in the role of disciplinarian and consequently received lower salaries.
The Free Education Act was instituted in 1953 bringing a means of education within reach of every family. Before this time small grants of money were provided to aid the erection of public schools and in payment of teachers. Pupil's fees made up most of the money earned by the teacher. Under such a weak system, the teachers practically ran their own schools and the education gained depended on the teacher's knowledge or lack of it. Poorer parents could not afford to pay and illiteracy was prevalent.
A Canoe Cove teachers register dated July 2, 1884 still exists. The teacher at the time was Jack MacNevin and the Visitor was John Balderston. Mr Balderston's note stated that '38(out of 64) pupils were present, a map of
It was a formidable task for Mr MacNevin to teach fifteen subjects to 64 pupils, especially when those subjects included Latin, French, music and physical culture.
Canoe Cove Hall
Around the turn of last century a part of a house was moved to the School and remodelled to make a hall. Later on an upper storey was added to provide a meeting place for the Orange Lodge. The hall committee's minute book is available dating back to 1927 which shows that in earlier years the hall was well used for social, political meetings, fiddlers contest and other entertainment.
The minutes of 1935 indicate that it was being used for 'moving pictures.' Movies were shown until the 1950s with good attendance. Then came television which effected attendance at all local entertainments. The hall deteriorated badly during the 1960s and 70s and in the late 70s it was sold to Perley Shaw who tore it down and hauled it away.
Canoe Cove Rink
Open air rinks as well as covered were a source of recreation in May of the
A lot of the young men had enlisted in the Armed Forces and after the war was over moved to larger centers to find work.
The Canoe Cove hockey team was called 'The Lucky Strikes' but the Nine Mile Creek 'Bulldogs' were the team usually won and got the applause. Apparently, a goalie from
The Post Office
Canoe Cove would not have been settled when the first mail service was inaugurated by General Patterson. In 1786 the first post office for the island was built in
By 1900 the government were establishing post offices in different communities, by 1893 in Canoe Cove. One early post office was located at the home of Neil MacFadyen, who was also a blacksmith. Later the post office was moved to the Corner where it was operated by the storekeeper. It was closed around 1960 and directed through
The General Stores
There were several general stores in our Cove at different times. The one that lasted the longest was at the Corner across from the School.
Factories, Mills & Other Businesses
Fishing and farming were the main means of earning a living but related businesses also sprung up. Lobsters were plentiful, so plentiful that a man could go out in a small boat a short distance and take them in by the cartload, but the fishermen only got from a cent to three cents piece for them. Several factories were built in the cove. They were Dean's, Farquarson's, Henneberry's and The Portland Packing Company.
The Portland Packing Company was located where the
There were many fishermen in those days and ne can picture the Cove full of sail boats and dories with the men busily running around getting ready to go to the fishing grounds.
We can see that fishing was a subsistence occupation because of the low prices but lobsters could be had in abundance. Prices increased very slowly and stocks decreased, which led to drastic measures having to be taken in the industry. Trap limits had to be imposed as well as a limit on the number of licenses issues.
The factory, the cookhouse and the accommodations for fishermen are long gone; only three boats in recent years were anchored off the Cove. A nostalgic era is gone and becoming a dimmer memory as time goes by.
The well known Harris family owned a lobster cannery at Canoe Cove and was the subject of a Robert Harris painting.
So you see our Cove had successful business men and not one penny of government money was used. When times changed and a particular operation ceased the owner gathered his resources and talents together and made a success somewhere else.
Let us not forget the women in all of this. Long ago the women were expert in spinning, weaving, knitting, candle making, soap making, and in whatever else was needed for everyday life.
Another more mundane task that was sometimes done by the women was the knotting of heads (netting) for lobster traps.
The Phantom Ship
While we are dwelling on the activities in and around the shore we should think about The Phantom Ship. This phenomenon has been sighted many times over the years and not just by our Cove people. It has been seen on both sides of the
This seems like a good time to tell you of some of the superstitions of the people.
Every Scot knows that on New Year's Eve the first visitor should be dark haired and he should bring something to eat to ensure that those whom he visits will have plenty to eat throughout the year. He should bring something for the fire, to ensure that there will be something to burn throughout the next year.
Never put the right shoe on before the left and always work from left to right. To do otherwise would be to do it 'widdershins.'
Never start a new piece of work on a Friday
If you put a piece of clothing on inside out such as a sock, do not change it until the normal time for taking it off.
Never look at a new moon on its first night through glass
Do not put three burning lamps on a table at the same time - it is a sign of death.
Do not seat thirteen at the table - it is another sign of death.
If you drop a glove, get someone else to pick it up for you.
It's bad luck to turn back if you start a journey.
If you give a sharp present to someone, such as a knife, give a penny with it, otherwise it is bad luck.
camps for over 70 years. In the 1920s the Canadian Girls in Training had their camps in a field at the shore and for many years the Young Men's Christian Association held their camps at the same site.
The first permanent camp was built by the
The presbyterian had their camp,
The Orange Lodge was the first organization that met in the Cove. The Orangemen had previously met at Long Creek but moved to Canoe Cove after the Hall was built. Later in the 1920s a Ladies Lodge was organized. These Lodges flourished for over 50 years then lapsed during the 1970s at the Cove for lack of members. The Lodges were an excellent forum for learning public speaking, as well as providing a social outlet. The 12th July
Another organization that was active many, many years ago was Division which was a chapter of the Sons of Temperance.
The Women's Missionary Society (Presbyterian)
The Presbyterian Women's Missionary Society formed at
Canoe Cove Women's Institute
Community-minded women had been meeting fairly regularly in Canoe Cove primarily to meet the needs of the school, a type of Home and School club. This was due mostly to the efforts of an aspiring teacher in the district. This group led to the organization of the Canoe Cove Women's Institute, which was effected on September 15, 1950.
The WI ran well for many years, but waned as some members moved away, some began working outside the home. In addition, the closing of the school took away some of the focus of the Institute and perhaps the interest of the members.
The general needs of the community were still fulfilled by caring women who met as a community group, and the young people were cared for by another group. These groups joined in 1988 to reactivate the Women's Institute. The new group started meeting monthly in the fall of 1988 and have accomplished much since then.
The Women's Institute bought the school from the government in 1973 which was a wise decision as it gave a centre to the district for meetings and social gatherings. Although the school was kept in fairly good repair, by 1989 the interior shabbiness was so noticeable that something had to be done. The women held bake and yard sales to raise money and consequently the interior was redecorated.
People from the district have worked for the Red Cross for a long time for many purposes, starting with knitting for soldiers during the wars. Schools also used to have the Red Cross meetings on Friday afternoons. The aim of the meetings was to teach pupils the basics of good health. One of the rules was that we should bath once a week, another was that we should wash our hair every two weeks.
Illustrated Historical Atlas of the
On the Banks of the Eliot - Violet MacEachern & Arlene MacDougall, 1973
Brae History - Eva MacNevin, 1973
Cradle of Confederation - Lorne Callbeck, 1964
On the Crofter's Trail - David Craig,
'The Minister' The Reverend Donald MacDonald - The