WAS IT THE FIRST SHIPWRECK IN KINGS COUNTY? (June 5/07)

It’s late in 1760 and several shiploads of settlers out of New England have reached Kings County to take up Acadian land and are busy settling in. In December of that year, a brigantine arrives. Sailing up the Canard River for about two miles, the brigantine docks and unloads troops and provisions for the settlers of Horton and Cornwallis.

Once its offloading is completed, the brig retraces its course back down the Canard River. Unfortunately, it’s low tide. The brig strikes a sandbar, topples over, is stranded, and eventually is demolished by the high tide.

James Martell records this event in his 1933 paper on early settlements around Minas Basin, citing government records as his source of information. While this may only have been a minor catastrophe, this could qualify as the first recorded shipwreck in Kings County waters. Unfortunately, Martell doesn’t give the name of the brigantine but maybe one of you history buffs can come up with it.

You could call it a shipwreck record of sorts and it’s mentioned by David Fairbank White in his book Bitter Ocean, the Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1945. White writes that a Canadian steamer built in Pictou was the final merchant ship to die in the last battle of the Atlantic. This was the Avondale Park. She almost made it to harbour, White says, going down on the last day of the war.

Here’s another shipwreck, one also in Kings County, involving a ship with an unusual name. Under the heading “A Marine Mishap,” the late Leon Barron found this record in the April 26, 1889, issue of the Wolfville Acadian:

“The schnr. Sparkling Billow, Capt. L. R. Morris, left this port (Wolfville) on Tuesday evening in ballast for Cornwallis and missed her course (and) ran upon the flats on the north side of the Cornwallis River.”

As a result, the 25 ton Sparkling Billow “tipped over and split in two from stem to stern, and now lies a wreck just north of this village.” The news story concludes by informing readers that the ship “has been stripped of her sails and rigging and abandoned.”

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