A SHIP LAUNCHING IN CANNING, 1918 (September 26/03)

“Saturday will be a great day in Canning, it being a day memorable of the return of former shipbuilding,” read a notice in The Advertiser‘s August 20, 1918, edition.

“The launching of the 400-ton three masted schooner now being completed will take place on that day Sept. 21st., at high tide early in the afternoon. The Canning ladies are making preparations for serving refreshments for those coming in on that day.”

The schooner was the General George C. Hogg and launching day at the Bigelow shipyard was a memorable event. Canning, which at the time was one of the area’s major commercial centres, was inundated with people on launch day. They arrived by rail, automobile, horse and wagon and on foot, straining the resources of the town and creating a traffic jam along the village’s main thoroughfare.

It was to be a non-event, however. From the very first day the General George C. Hogg ran into difficulties; which with hindsight could be looked upon as a portent, an omen of things to come for what was to be a hard luck schooner. High tides and “boisterous winds” caused a freak accident and delayed the launching. But despite the setback, Canning enjoyed a memorable day. Here’s The Advertiser‘s report on the event in its September 24th issue:

“Despite the rainy weather a great crowd gathered at Canning on Saturday to witness the launching of the staunch three masted schooner…. The railway brought in about 400 people mostly from Kentville and the North Mountain section; and by estimation there was fully 200 autos on the Main Street and in different yards in the village, which brought in fully 1,200 people. With the teams from the vicinity, including the citizens, the (crowd) must have reached nearly 3,500 people, probably the largest number ever gathered in that town.”

The Advertiser reported that the “great crowd” taxed Canning’s “hotel and restaurant accommodations to the utmost.” However, said the newspaper, the ladies of the village reaped an award by serving “excellent meals and lunches to a jolly and hungry crowd,” realising $200 in cash for the Red Cross.

The General George C. Hogg never made it down the ways that stormy September day some 85 years ago. And, said The Advertiser, perhaps it was fortunate that it didn’t:

“The tide was high and the wind boisterous when at 1:30 o’clock the ship was ready for the water. The swell of the water caused the weights on one of the launchways to go overboard and the launchway floated to the surface. In five minutes more the vessel would have been sliding to the water. This accident made necessary a delay in the launching and the props were again put in place and the launching postponed until Monday.”

With conditions not quite right it seemed fortunate that the accident with the launchway weights occurred, The Advertiser concluded, since “the vessel propelled by the wind might have reached a bank before being placed under control and been damaged.”

Was this a prophetic beginning of the schooner’s career? The General George C. Hogg ran aground several times before being destroyed on a reef off Maine a few years after being launched.

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