Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feeling Hectored on the Way Home

When I was driving back to Annapolis Royal from the Association of Nova Scotia Museums conference on Cape Breton Island, I decided to make a short side trip. One of the dominant stories in the Nova Scotia media over the past month has been the uncertain future of the ship Hector in Pictou. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that I am enchanted by stories and images from the age of sail. Not being able to predict the future, I decided that I should stop to see the Hector while it was still available to be seen. Thankfully my travelling companion, Sherry Griffin from the Macdonald Museum in Middleton, agreed to a quick stop to stretch our legs and take some pictures. We were both glad that we did since Pictou is home to some fascinating heritage architecture in addition to a tall ship on the waterfront.

I have seen the Hector a number of times before, but I still enjoy stopping to have a look at it. It is a beautiful replica which tells an important story about Scottish settlement in Nova Scotia. The original Hector, a Dutch built fluyt, was launched sometime around 1750. In 1773, this vessel arrived with a load of Highland Scots immigrants in Pictou. This was the first of many shiploads of Scots who would make their way to Nova Scotia during the Highland clearances. Many of Nova Scotia's current residents are descended from this wave of Scottish immigration. I include myself in these descendants.

The modern images of the Hector replica (launched in 2000) show the vessel in better condition than it would have been in at the time of the original's arrival in Nova Scotia in 1773. A 23 year old vessel would have been nearing the end of its active service. When the ship arrived it had suffered through storms, dysentery, small pox and death. This version of the ship is probably more emblematic of how it looked shortly after it was launched.

Currently there is some question as to the future operations of the ship as a museum and tourist attraction. The Town of Pictou has decided that it does not have the financial ability to operate the ship. Requests and pleas have been made to various levels of government to determine if there is a source of ongoing operational funds for the Hector. I have also seen a call for tenders for potential site operators in my email in the past week. Hopefully an arrangement will be found and the replica of the Hector will continue to teach people about Scottish immigration to Nova Scotia and generate revenue for the businesses on the Pictou waterfront. If the offer would help, I would be happy to see the ship tied up in Annapolis Royal for a few months in the summer.

All for now,
RGS

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