Sunday, January 31, 2010

Down on Deck - Part 2

In an earlier post I wrote about an archival image in the Annapolis Heritage Society's collection of a woman standing on the deck of ship. Until fairly recently I had thought that image to be solitary photograph. While it was a very interesting image, I was not expecting to find a mate. Because of this, I was thrilled to see today's image when I was looking through a collection which we have recently digitized. While taken from a different perspective, this is clearly the same vessel and the same woman on deck. This photograph was taken bu Samuel Newton Weare circa 1900.

Unlike many of the vessels which made the Annapolis Royal region their home, this one was not for fishing. Looking toward the bow we can see that this is a square rigger. Since the other masts are not visible it is difficult to tell whether this is a bark, a brig or a ship. Despite the style of the vessel, we know that it would be used to carry cargo to ports around the globe. Most likely it was a part of the triangular trade which existed between Nova Scotia, the Caribbean and Europe. By the time this image was taken around 1900 Nova Scotia would have been exporting lumber, salt fish and some fruit. From the Caribbean, the main products which were imported were sugar and rum. The European market provided a wide range of products including textiles, furniture and porcelain. Sadly, inexpensive salt fish from what is now Atlantic Canada propped up slavery in parts of the Caribbean. This inexpensive source of protein meant that slaves could be kept and fed the worst the fish caught and salted on our shores. Of course, slaves were given the poorest quality of salt fish available.

What I like about this image is the scale of the vessel. Everything is so large that the three people standing on the deck are almost an afterthought. The size is actually not actually that grand when you consider that this would be their home for months or years at a time. Here they would fight storms, ice and doldrums. Sailors could expect to experience both the sadness of losing crew members as well as the joy of finally passing through the Digby Gut and making for home.

All for now,
RGS

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