Sunday, June 21, 2009

Launching the Beechland

When the Beechland was launched in 1917, Nova Scotia’s Golden Age of Sail was quickly coming to its end. The provincial economy which had thrived on shipbuilding, and the export and import of goods was about to enter a period of extended economic stagnation. Propeller driven vessels made of steel were quickly relegating wooden sailing ships to the pages of history. This was especially hard on the large, square rigged, sailing vessels. As a result, many of the small shipyards around the province were closing.

In 1916 the Annapolis Shipping Company was formed by Frank W. Pickels. Building on a family legacy in the shipping and shipbuilding industry, Pickels decided to make an attempt at building wooden vessels. Making use of the former Delap Shipyard on Hog Island, Pickels and his master builder L.D. Shafner, built some of the last sailing vessels to be launched in Annapolis Royal. The shipyard itself was located on the Annapolis Royal waterfront beyond the Land’s End corner of St. George Street.

Included in the vessels built by the Annapolis Shipping Company were the sister ships Peaceland, Beechland and Mapleland. All three of these vessels were three masted or tern schooners. This style of ship had its peak of popularity around the turn of the twentieth century since it was ideally suited to the inshore fishery. Loaded with a crew of dory fishermen, tern schooners could make their way to the fishing banks, quickly fill their hold and make for the nearest port with their catch. These vessels were also very useful in packet service, a sideline which proved useful between fishing trips. A schooner could be loaded with a cargo and quickly make its way between ports along the Atlantic coast. From coal oil and lumber to fish and salt, these boats were quite useful.

Today’s image shows the launch of the Beechland, 419 tons, in 1917. This vessel was sold to Thomas Hartling of Montreal with the plan to send the ship to business associates in Spain. Renamed the Klosofi and later Club Nautico, she was kept in service until 1947.

All for now,
RGS

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