Originally linked to Granville Ferry by the Mills mountain Road, Hillsburn was at one time an alternate shipbuilding locale for the Granville Ferry firm of Mills, Johnson and Weatherspoon. This firm built at least three good-sized barques at Anderson's Cove in the early 1870s, one of them being the 836 ton S.J. Bogart. Newspapers of the day made occasional reference to Granville Ferry, Bayside, while MacAlpine's Directory of 1886 lists Foster and Marvin Farnsworth as seamen of Granville Ferry, Bayside.
Hillsburn, in its own right, has long traditions of shipbuilding and shipowning based chiefly upon the fishing industry. Lovell's Directory of 1871 lists the following Hillsburn residents associated with maritime activities:
Stephen Anderson, master mariner; Jacob Foster, fisherman; Cyrus Hardy, fisherman; John Milner; shipwright; Eli Smale, fisherman; John Weatherspoon, ship carpenter, and William Wilson, fisherman.
Hiram Longmire was building vessels such as the 43 ton schooner Ivica in the 1870s. Henry Longmire is listed on Church's Map of 1876 as ship carpenter and farmer. A family source says that Henry Longmire built the schooner Everett in 1901, while Captain Arthur W. Longmire built the fishing schooner Quickstep at Hillsburn in the same year. The Digby Weekly Courier of April 6, 1906, reported that the schooner Quickstep, Captain Longmire, had been towed out of the Racquette at Digby by the tug George L., and was en route to the North Shore for bait. The Quickstep had a crew of 23 men, a brand new coat of paint and "presented a pretty appearance in her full summer rig."
Captain A.W. Longmire was master of the Dorothy M. Smart in 1912, and in 1913 was operating the packet schooner Exenia between Hillsburn and Saint John. Items such as the following from the Bridgetown Monitor indicate the versatility of the trade:
Hillsburn, June 10 - Captain Arthur Longmire has arrived home from Saint John in his new packet Exenia with a cargo of salt.
Hillsburn, June 17 - The packet Exenia arrived here with another cargo of freight from Saint John, and will now get ready for fishing.
Hillsburn, Oct. 6 - The schooner Exenia took a cargo of dry fish to Annapolis Royal on Oct. 3rd, belonging to Captains A. and B. Longmire.
One of the last vessels built by Captain Longmire was the A.W. Longmire, a sail and twin screw auxiliary schooner of 65 tons gross, for use in the deep-water fisheries. Built in 1919, the A.W. Longmire was stranded off West Head near Lockport on January 15, 1934, and became a total loss.
Other Longmire seafarers included Captain Roy Longmire, Captain Bernard Longmire, Esteen Longmire, William Longmire and Alfred Longmire. Captain Roy Longmire was owner and master of the schooner Myrtle L. in 1913. In 1914, Alfred Longmire left Hillsburn to join the Arthur Gibson, a tern schooner of 296 tons net, which operated out of Saint John.
Captain Bernard Longmire lived at Anderson's Cove where he kept a grocery store, operated a steam mill, traded in fish, lumber and cordwood, and was involved in shipbuilding enterprises. The late Gladys Furdon, a daughter of Captain Longmire, said that it was her father who pioneered the Digby scallop fleet. The concept of a scallop fleet originated around 1927, when Captain Bernard Longmire and others petitioned the government for funds to create a port at Hillsburn for that purpose. The authorities agreed, with the proviso that the Bay Shore scallopers use the wharf facilities at Digby for a period of one year. What ultimately emerged out of this promise was not a wharf at Hillsburn, but a paradoxical situation whereby the famous Digby scallop fleet was comprised largely of vessels owned and skippered by residents of Hillsburn, Parker's Cove and environs.
The last sailing vessels built at Hillsburn were the tern schooners Kathleen Crowe and Ononette. Built by J. Willard Smith of Saint John, both vessels were drawn from the same mold and designed as cargo carriers. The Kathleen Crowe, of 431 tons net, was built in 1917 and bought on the stocks by Ira Crowe, a lumberman from Windsor, Nova Scotia. She was placed in the southern timber trade and eventually ended her days under Portuguese ownership.
The Ononette, a tern of 483 tons net, was launched in 1919 and was operated for a time by her builder. After a series of mishaps, she was sold to Moncton interests for the token sum of $1,500.00 and used as a trader between New York and Nova Scotia ports. Under Captain Pike, the Ononette went aground at Advocate Harbour on November 7, 1930, and was condemned by the marine insurance adjustors.
Lovell's Directory of 1871 lists several mariners and fishermen living in "Leitchfield". They included: Benjamin McCall, John McNeal, Edward Roop, Albert Turner, Wesley Turner, C.W. Woodworth, and Stephen Woodworth. James Anderson is listed as master mariner, and John Clark as shipwright.
Delap's Cove had a shipyard where Laurence Delap built at least two vessels prior to 1873. The late Ewart McCaul said that his grandfather, Stephen McCaul, worked in the Delap shipyard which was located "just west of the hollow or brook at Stevenson's Cove." Unfortunately, very little information is available about activity in this yard.
A memo found among the Mills family papers makes reference to the Ouida, a schooner built at Delap's Cove in 1989 by Cary Woodworth. The vessel was designed by Lowell Oliver of Digby and was owned by Ernest Mills of Annapolis Royal.
The Bridgetown Monitor reported that the schooner Georgia was launched at Delap's Cove on August 11, 1900. "A large number attended the launching and enjoyed a picnic on the grounds of Reverend J.A. Woodworth. After the launch, she was towed to the wharf and rigged under supervision of Daniel Parker." A search through shipping registers has failed to turn up any specifics of the vessel.
Sketch of Fundy Shore
(Courtesy of Agnes (Mills) Fletcher)
BUSY ANNAPOLIS RIVER
Railway wharf showing a barquentine, side-wheel S.S. Empress, and Granville Ferry shore in the background with boats anchored at wharves there.
Optimism at the port of Annapolis reached new heights in 1873 when Laurence Delap transferred his shipbuilding operations from Granville Ferry to Hog Island, a barren sandy knoll at the northeastern part of the town. With 17 years of building experience and a long list of vessels to his credit, Laurence Delap had set his sights on a new goal - to build world class clipper ships either for his own account or by specific order for outside interests. To this end, he established the firm of Delap & Company, and with banker Thomas S. Whitman as silent partner lost no time in getting his first vessel on the stocks.
A Bridgetown Monitor of May 1873 brought readers up-to-date on the activities of Delap & Company:
They now have on the stocks one vessel of 1,000 tons to be launched September next. To connect this Island with the main street of the town, a causeway 700 feet long and 24 feet wide has been constructed. They now have in an advanced state a steam saw mill 96 x 30, 2½ stories high, an engine of 75 H.P. is now being manufactured by Messrs. Flemming of St. John. The timber pond will have eight million feet of lumber. They pay cash for all logs brought to them.
Other sources say that the Hog Island yard or Bay View Island as it was known during the Delap regime, contained a blacksmith shop, yard wharves, cook house, and bunk house, and was considered one of the largest and best equipped in Western Nova Scotia. When working at full capacity, the yard of Delap & Company employed approximately 70 men and boys. Among regular employees were mill foreman Rufus Hardwick; riggers D. Parker, I. Robinson; shipsmiths James Buckler, Wm. Buckler, Rupert Eaton and Stillman Purdy; teamsters S. Pomp and J. Lewis. Supervisor of caulking was Thomas Buckler.
The first vessel to go down the ways of Delap & Company was the 914 ton barque Annapolis (174 x 33 x 20.8) with the launching slated for "dead high water" on October 29, 1873. A launching attracted a crowd as no other event could, and because the Annapolis was one of the largest vessels ever built on the river, hundreds of people jammed into the Hog Island yard to celebrate her grand debut. The Annapolis, however, was not in a celebratory mood.
Robert Delap, uncle of the builder, recorded in his diary of October 29, 1873: "At the time of dead high water when all was ready, the last block was split and the last shore knocked away. She moved, but only a few inches and stopped…" Needless to say, the crowd went home disappointed. In the long week that followed, the same pattern was repeated again and again. Business in the twin ports of Annapolis and Granville Ferry came to a virtual standstill as men left their own affairs to go to the launching site and work around the clock. At low tide on Sunday, November 2, workmen ran ropes across the narrows in a vain attempt to pull the stubborn vessel off the ways. Another launching effort on the evening tide met with little success. The Annapolis, true to form, moved slowly for 80 feet and stopped.
By this time, the dilemma in the Delap shipyard had become the prime topic of conversation on both sides of the river. Seasoned mariners deemed the Annapolis an unlucky ship, one that would bring only grief to her owners and all who manned her. Others claimed that Hog Island, once the scene of the public gallows, was governed by restless spirits who took great exception to this violation of their turf. The two men most deeply affected by the launching failure were those who had the most at stake - Laurence Delap, the owner, and his 24-year-old cousin, Captain Albert Delap. As Albert listened to speculations about the "unlucky ship", he began to have grave misgivings that this, his first command, would be as unlucky at sea as she was on land.
The seventh launching attempt succeeded and Captain Albert's reservations would soon be put to the test. The entry of November 4 in Robert Delap's diary tells this story:
She commenced to move at 9 a.m. Continued moving about one inch for twelve hours and stopped, but when the tide came up high she moved off and was got to the wharf that night. All night the wind blowing a fearful gale. I reached home about 2 a.m. [And on November 22, there was this brief anticlimactic entry:] Albert sailed from here in the new ship Annapolis, anchored above the Island (Goat Island).
Although most vessels built on the Annapolis River were launched without sails and towed to Saint John to be rigged, the Annapolis was fully rigged when she set out on her maiden voyage. The Annapolis soon established a reputation as a speedy craft. Contrary to his misgivings, Captain Albert remained in command for seven years and took her to many parts of the world. During that period, the barque Annapolis did not have a single accident nor did she cost her underwriters one red cent.
Local newspapers diligently followed the movements of the Annapolis. On September 9, 1874, the Halifax Chronicle carried this item:
The barque Annapolis of Annapolis, N.S. sailed from the Mirimachi on the 29th of August last, arrived in Queenstown, Ireland on September 9, thus making the passage in eleven days, the quickest ever made from a Gulf port to Ireland by a sailing vessel across the Atlantic.
The Nova Scotia Farmer and Annapolis County Times, in the issue of May 12, 1875, reported the Annapolis at the "west coast loading guano for the Mediterranean. She has proved herself from Captain Delap's reports equal to all expectations." The Annapolis arrived at Pabillon de Pica on May 27, 1875, only to find that port crowded with hundreds of other vessels waiting to take on cargo. She was stuck there for 10 months. The long delay reaped unexpected dividends for Captain Albert. Another Maritimer, Captain John Rutherford of Dorchester, New Brunswick, was also playing the waiting game on the barque Sarah Chambers and with him, as passenger, was his sister, Jennie Rutherford. Romance blossomed between Captain Albert and Miss Jennie, and they were married at Valparaiso on December 30, 1875.
On February 1, 1876, with his bride on board and 1390 tons of guano in the hold, Captain Albert finally cleared port at Guano Island, Port Lobos for Valencia, Spain. Out of the large fleet from Pabillon de Pica, the Annapolis was considered the vessel to beat in the race down to Cape Horn. It must have been with great chagrin that Captain Albert wrote in his Log of February 18: "Angelique passed us, also another ship coming up astern. Don't know what this thing means. Annapolis must be out of trim. Never saw anything pass us before."
Shipping registers of 1873 listed Laurence Delap as registered owner of the barque Annapolis, with shares also owned by Thomas Whitman, Annapolis; John Mott, Edmond Twining, George Troop, William Lewis, and R.J. Hart, Halifax; Howard Douglas Troop and James Dunn, Saint John; and John Barter, New York. The Annapolis eventually passed into other hands and after 15 years of service was wrecked on an Orinoco River bar in March 1888. The Registry closed April 23, 1888.
In 1881, 11 vessels had followed the Annapolis down the ways in the yard of Delap & Company:
|(June)||1874-Ship||Isabell Mott||1153 tons|
|(Dec. 20)||1874-Barque||Carrie Delap||1116 tons|
|(June 18)||1875-Barque||Sokoto||988 tons|
|(Nov.20)||1875-Barque||E.D. Bigelow||661 tons|
|1877-Ship||Louisa Whitman||1220 tons|
|(Aug.21)||1878-Ship||Laurence Delap||1409 tons|
|(Aug.23)||1879-Barque||James Stafford||1137 tons|
|(June 22)||1880-Ship||J.W. Parker||1200 tons|
|(June 16)||1881-Barque||Zebina Goudey||1087 tons|
(The dates in brackets are the actual launching dates gleaned from various newspapers and from the diary of Robert Delap.)
The Delap-built vessels were known and respected in shipping circles everywhere for their speed and versatility. On the home front, local newspapers lost no opportunity to extol the virtues of both the vessels and their builder. On May 12, 1875, the editor of the Nova Scotia Farmer and Annapolis County Times went all out in this respect:
Mr. L. Delap has another barque in the stocks to be launched next month for Captain John Killam of Yarmouth. Our old town is reviving and should when we consider that Mr. Delap is contributing $1,000.00 weekly to workmen and in the purchase of timber materials alone. We say, hold up his hands, give him ships to build, and through him and skilled master builder, Mr. H.K. Richards, we can plainly see a busy future for Annapolis.
The Carrie Delap had a good long life, remaining under local ownership until 1891 when she was sold to Norwegians and renamed Norma. Her sister ship, the Isabell Mott was not so fortunate. After only six years in the ocean carrying trade, she was abandoned at sea while on a run from New York to Antwerp. The good news was that all hands were rescued. The Isabell Mott at that time was owned by J.P. Mott, Black Brothers & Company, and S.A. White, Halifax. The ship was insured for $15,000.00 and her freight for $6,000.00.
The Record of American & Foreign Shipping (Vol. 1879) lists Laurence Delap as managing owner of the Carrie Delap, E.D. Bigelow, and the barque Annapolis, while Thomas S. Whitman appeared in the registers as owner of the Isabell Mott, and the "elegant ship" Louisa Whitman, which was named after his wife (née Louisa Tobias).
The barques Sokoto, and Zebina Goudey were built to order for Yarmouth interests, the former for Captain John Killam and the latter for Captain Zebina Goudey. Registered owner of the barque James Stafford was local Captain S.J. Bogart, who had previously commanded the Revello for Delap interests. The ship J.W. Parker sailed under the Diamond T House flag of the Troop Fleet, while the Drumadoon was built to order for the firm of Goodwin & Hogarth in Ardrossan, Scotland. It is interesting to note that the 250 ton brig Fearless, built in 1861 at Lower Granville by James Delap III, was sold in 1868 to the same firm.
The Drumadoon (172 x 33.6 x 20) was rigged in Saint John, and classed A1 for eight years in Bureau Veritas. When the firm of Goodwin & Hogarth dissolved in 1878, Hugh Hogarth retained, among other vessels, the Drumadoon. She was employed chiefly in the North Atlantic trade until 1887 when she was abandoned and lost at sea. The Zebina Goudey also fell prey to the stormy Atlantic. In 1896, on a voyage from Mobile, Alabama to Sharpness, England with a cargo of lumber, she sprang a leak and was abandoned. Captain George O'Brien and all hands were rescued by the Italian barque, Terisina.
The James Stafford, launched on August 23, 1879, was destined for a long life. In 1903 she was still afloat and appeared in the registers as the Italian barque Paolo Angelo ex Ragnar. The Digby Weekly Courier of March 26, 1886, reports a tragic incident in the career of this vessel: "Annapolis barque Stafford, from Havre experienced very severe weather, split and lost sails and Adolph Klive, Charles Moody, Joseph Cullen and Hector MacLean were washed overboard, and drowned."
~~~ narrative ends here ~~~