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Tancook Schooners

Tancook Schooners: An Island and Its Boats

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Tancook Schooners
    Book Description:

    Wayne O'Leary provides detailed descriptions of how the schooners were conceived and perfected, and paints a vivid picture of life on Tancook from the late eighteenth century into the twentieth century. He shows how national and international developments affected the lives of the Tancook Islanders and the character and uses of the vessel for which they became famous. He also includes many stories about individual builders and a wealth of photographs and drawings.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6462-6
    Subjects: Transportation Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures, Photographs, and Maps
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Prologue Little Bluenoses
    (pp. 3-5)

    In the period beginning just prior to World War I and ending roughly with the start of World War II, a span of only three decades, a small island off the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia created and perfected a remarkable working watercraft the like of which had never been seen before and will never, in its pure form, be seen again. The short life of the Tancook schooner was, nevertheless, long enough to imprint its image indelibly on the counsciousness of Atlantic Canadians and fix its memory in the minds of sailing boat admirers everywhere. For over thirty years,...

  6. 1 The Setting
    (pp. 6-16)

    Tancook Island - or, more properly, Great or Big Tancook Island - is situated at the outer edge of Mahone Bay about midway between the Aspotogan and Lunenburg peninsulas that form the bay’s mouth. It lies roughly six miles southeast of Chester, ten miles east of Mahone Bay township, and thirteen miles northeast of Lunenburg, the nearest mainland settlements of any size. By sea, it is approximately fortyfive miles southwest of the city of Halifax, population center of Nova Scotia and the province’s economic hub.¹

    Tancook is the largest by far of Mahone Bay’s numerous islands - 365 according to...

  7. 2 The Boats
    (pp. 17-110)

    There is no record of the very first boats built at Tancook, but it is certain that the initial settlers needed some form of watercraft, if only for occasional fishing close to shore or for periodic visits to the nearby mainland. The late Howard I. Chapelle speculated that these early craft were probably open skiffs of a double-ended design and lapstrake construction that were taken out to the island from around Lunenburg and later copied by the islanders themselves.¹ Be that as it may, there is no doubt that some rudimentary boatbuilding skills had developed at Tancook by 1827, when...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 111-118)
  9. 3 The Economy
    (pp. 119-174)

    The Tancook fishing industry began soon after the island was populated, though for some time it was subordinated to the primary activity of farming. Fishermen did not have far to go for a catch. Blunt’sAmerican Coast Pilotdescribed Nova Scotia’s South Shore in 1850 as teeming with cod, haddock, halibut, and mackerel within three to ten miles of the coastline, as well as herring and Atlantic salmon that schooled in as far as the immediate bays and harbour entrances.¹ Island fishing started close to shore. Locally tended floating weirs or “traps” were a standard item of equipment from the...

  10. 4 Last Years
    (pp. 175-181)

    With the coming of the Second World War, two developments conspired to put an end to the Tancook schooner and the way of life it represented. Chief of these was the decline of the generations-old Halifax coasting trade, which owed its demise to several interrelated factors. The first blow was the withdrawal from service of the CNS Lady Boats beginning in 1939-40, which severely disrupted produce exports to the Caribbean. Several of the old steamers were lost to submarines in the course of wartime duty as troop and hospital ships, and when peace came in 1945, an insufficient number remained...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 182-182)

    The Tancook islands were truly a microcosm of coastal Nova Scotia in the decades leading up to the Second World War. Their economy of inshore fishing and subsistence farming was duplicated in numerous outports from Yarmouth to Canso, and their coasting trade with urban Halifax was, products excepted, not very different from that of any number of other isolated rural communities along the Atlantic shore. Similarly, their constant struggle to survive difficult times in a harsh environment in many ways reflected the hard-scrabble Maritime way of life of the period - albeit magnified by their sea-girt geography.

    What set these...

  12. Figures
    (pp. 183-210)
  13. Appendices
    (pp. 211-236)
  14. Reference Abbreviations
    (pp. 237-240)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 241-266)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-276)
  17. Index
    (pp. 277-290)