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The Ship Hector

Mar 1, 2011

The Hector, a replica of a three-masted sailing ship that plied the seas between Scotland and Canada, has a new temporary home at Aecon Fabco’s facility in Pictou.

In 1773, The Hector arrived at Pictou with 189 passengers from Scotland. It had been a difficult voyage. A fierce gale off the coast of Newfoundland blew the ship off course adding two weeks to the journey and an outbreak of smallpox resulted in the death of eighteen on board. But when the ship landed at what is now Pictou, the thirty-three families and twenty-five single men on board became the first Scottish settlement in Nova Scotia. It was the start of a massive wave of Scottish immigration through the port of Pictou over the next century.

Launched in 2000, the Ship Hector is a replica of the original three-masted sailing ship built in the Netherlands in the mid 18th century and now an icon in Nova Scotia’s history. Built in Pictou by local craftspeople and volunteers, the replica is permanently moored at the Hector Heritage Quay and has become the town’s main tourist attraction. It is owned by the Hector Quay Society, which bought the ship from the Town of Pictou last November for the nominal sum of nine dollars.

Wooden ships require a lot of maintenance and so even though it was built only a few years ago, the Ship Hector needs to be hauled out of the water regularly and thoroughly inspected to see if any repairs are needed. Fortunately, the ideal location to do the inspection was just across the harbour, less than a kilometre away.

On December 30, a tug towed the Ship Hector across the harbour to Aecon Fabco’s dock. The ship was hauled out on the marine railway and then side transferred to dry land where it will remain for the winter. After the ship has dried out, it will be inspected and local ship builders with experience in wooden marine construction will decide what maintenance work needs to be done.

“Our only concern was the height of the mast and some potential wind problems but the transfer went very smoothly,” says Joe Struthers, Aecon Fabco’s project manager. “It is an important reminder of Nova Scotia’s roots so Aecon Fabco is happy to support the Hector Quay Society’s efforts to preserve this ship as part of our maritime heritage.”

After the inspection and repairs are finished, Aecon Fabco will return the ship to the Heritage Quay in time for the tourist season.