The Parrsborough Shore Historical Society has compiled this timeline of the history of our Parrsboro Shore area.
June 11, 1397
Prince Henry Sinclair Sets Sail For Nova Scotia
Prince Henry Sinclair, Baron of Roslin, Earl of Orkney, and Lord of Shetland, set sail for Nova Scotia. He is reputed to have “discovered” that land in June of 1398, almost a hundred years before Columbus. Legend abounds with Henry Sinclair. He has been associated with the Templars and its supposed lost treasure. He is supposed to have decided to build a settlement in this new land, however, war in Scotland took his time and ultimately his life. The knowledge of their secret land was passed from father to son. When the English threatened their Roslin castle, the Sinclairs supposedly brought their treasure to Nova Scotia. The Oak Island pit was excavated in 1436. For the next hundred years, it was improved upon until the head of the Clan Sinclair left Scotland forever, disappearing from history.
July 6, 1607
Samuel De Champlain
Samuel De Champlain was the first officially recognized European visitor. He found here an iron cross, covered in moss, thus proving he was not the first Christian in the region.
March 13, 1670
Acadian settlement in the Minas Basin region.
July 20, 1730
John Bourg & Francis Arseneau
John Bourg and Francis Arseneau, two Acadian boatmen, operated a ferry service across the Bay of Fundy from Partridge Island.
July 21, 1744
Du Vivier, undertook to capture all Acadia, marched a small force from Chignecto to Partridge Island, where they were embarked for Minas.
July 21, 1745
Mavin, a Quebec officer
Mavin, a Quebec officer, used the Partridge Island route on his way to Annapolis. That same year, a small force from New England captured Louisburg. A 1959 historical novel, “The Young Titan” by F. Van Wyk Mason recounts this siege and capture.
December 1, 1747
In December, Coulon DeVilliers, one of Ramesay’s Officers, on his way to dislodge the garrison at Minas, came to Partridge Island with 300 troops, but were unable to cross because of ice. They then walked the long way around.
July 22, 1750
James Noble Shannon
James Noble Shannon, born in Boston.
July 23, 1755
July 23, 1760
New England Planters Arrive
Between 1760 and 1766, New England Planters arrived in the area. Records show marriage of one of the original families descendants, of whom still reside in the area.
July 24, 1764
An inn, tavern, store…
An inn, tavern, store, blockhouse, school, and church were built at Partridge Island in February of 1764. Military records reveal that with permission from Governor Wilmot through Major Hamilton, a local British commander, Acadians Francois Arsenault and Jean Bourg, were allowed to continue operating a shallop as a ferryboat. (yes, the same ones who were operating it in 1730. So, not all Acadians were expelled).
July 24, 1768
Oldest Dated Timber
Oldest dated timber in Ottawa House construction.
July 24, 1770
First Permanent Residents Of Partridge Island
Jonathon Crane and James Noble Shannon became the first permanent residents of Partridge Island.
July 25, 1776
The Partridge Island Grant
The Partridge Island Grant was awarded to John Avery, John Lockhart, and Jacob Bacon, on condition that they operate a ferry from Partridge Island to Windsor, mainly for the benefit of the military. The Lockhart Family History states that John Lockhart did so. Later in the year, Asa and Abijiah Scott, along with Jacob Hurd, bought John Avery’s half of the Grant and operated the ferry. A New England privateer seized the schooner used as a ferry in November of the same year. Later at Advocate, Colonel Michael Francklin recaptured Scott’s schooner, but the privateer, described as an 8-gun schooner full of men, escaped!
November 9, 1776
First Land Grants Given In Parrsboro Area
First land grants given in Parrsboro area. Two Thousand acres to John Avery, Jacob, Jr., and John Lockhart. Col. Eddy leads rebellion at Fort Cumberland (Amherst area) and blocks Parrsboro Pass with troops. November 9th – Rebels capture ferryboat, together with Partridge Island, with privateer vessel of eight guns and full of men. November 15th – Ratchford’s sloop of 80 tons moved 300 men from Windsor to Fort Cumberland, and Eddy’s Rebellion was put down. Commodore, Sir George Collier, says he does not think Halifax is in danger, unless more support comes from New England, because the road (from Windsor) is too bad to carry cannons and the English are in control of the sea. He sends the warship Vulture to Partridge Island to put the run to the rebels.
March 21, 1777
Rebel Privateer At Spencer’s Island
Report to Governor: “It is reported that a Rebel Privateer is now at Spencer’s Island, perhaps waiting for transports bound from Windsor to Halifax. Capt Camplote tells me in consequence of prospect, can escort be sent to Annapolis, that an armed vessel is there to protect them.”Horton, March 21st – Petition asking for armed naval vessels in the Basin for protection. Signed Silas Crane. Armed Schooners, “Loyal Nova Scotia” and “Rainbow”, patrol in Bay of Fundy regions. Silas Crane Jr., bought lots #1 and 1A, at Partridge Island from Jacob Bacon. Another historian states that he also bought John Lockhart’s town lot. Silas began a new ferry service using a forty-two ton sloop, as a packet, and continued this service until his death in April 1792. Note: A sloop is a shallow draft, schooner-like vessel with open holds and often, no cabins.
April 16, 1778
Silas & Mary Crane
April 16th – Silas and Mary Crane establish a home and ferry service at Partridge Island. August 9th & 10th – Privateers came up the Cornwallis River and burned and looted homes.
July 25, 1779
Philadelphia Grant of 1779
Philadelphia Grant of 1779, made by Governor Francis Legge, names the following on the site map of the grant: Silas Crane, Jr., (originally No. 1 to Jacob Bacon), James N. Shannon (originally No. 2 to John Lockhart), and James Ratchford, Sr., (originally No. 3 Jacob Bacon), as the principal holders with one parcel (originally No. 4 John Avery) being ceded (sold?) by Jonathon Crane to James Rathford, and three very small parcels from the original grant being retained (apparently) by John Avery and Jacob Bacon. Three other adjoining parcels of land are listed on the grant map, inland of those bordering the shoreline, all of which were granted to John Lockhart. The precise measurements are difficult to determine, as some of the distances are listed as “174 perches” or “171 perches”, an Anglo Saxon unit of measurement, which was cited in a law known as the Composition of Yards and Perches (Compositio ulnarum et perticarum), some time between 1266 and 1303, but has not survived to today. No precise equivalent of distance has, as yet, been determined. Note: The name Philadelphia survives to this date as Philadelphia Street in the current town of Parrsboro.
July 26, 1780
Privateers Attempt Raids
In June, a privateer from Machias, Maine, attempts raid on Shannon Store at Partridge Island Settlement. Three of the raiders were killed, and remainder captured, along with their vessel. Later in the same month, another privateer made a raid. Fortunately this was a small one, and as the landing party of 8 men was busy looting a home, they were surrounded by a small group of soldiers under a Lieutenant Wheaton. Three of the privateer’s men, including their Captain, were killed and the rest on land were captured. Their vessel escaped, although British naval ships sought it.
May 21, 1781
Battle of Blomidon
May 21st – Battle of Blomidon – This is the raid that contains an element of humour. Initially, the privateer entering the area in a shallop, described as “bristling with guns”, and towing two whale boats, captured a small schooner loaded with goods for British posts on the Saint John River. Lt. Colonel Jonathan Crane and Captain William Bishop confronted this group with about 30 militiamen in an old schooner armed with a single six-pound brass cannon. Unfortunately, they had set out in such a rush, that they had not checked their powder supply, and it was the schooner that ran out of gunpowder, and with her rigging in tatters, was forced to surrender. Fortunately, Lt. Belcher soon arrived in the armed sloop Success, and in a spirited battle off Cape Split, he defeated the raider whose crew escaped ashore in the whaleboats. Lt. Belcher captured five of them the next day. Belcher now pursued and recaptured the schooner and that night Colonel Crane was able to free his men and retake his ship. This was a feat that was to be of enormous help to him in his later political career. This same year, Captain Thomas Wm. Moore arrived at Partridge Island. He had purchased lot No. 6 from Jacob Hurd and there he built his home, the interior of which he had plastered with “plaster of Paris” obtained at Windsor, thus earning it the name of “Whitehall”. The name survives today as Whitehall Road. He also purchased lot No. 9 from Jacob Bacon, a large portion of which he later turned over to the Church of England. It was here that our first actual church was erected.
Note: There may have been an error made when the old cemetery was laid off, as a portion of it was later found to be across the Cumberland Road when surveyed many years later by Crown Land surveyor Charles Harrison.
July 26, 1784
Governor Parr’s Visit
Governor Parr visited area and township later named in his honour.
July 11, 1786
James Ratchford & New Church
July 11th – First official reference to James Ratchford at Partridge Island. July 20th – Parrsborough declared a Parish and construction of new church began.
July 26, 1788
William Moore & James Ratchford
William Moore and James Ratchford take over original land grant at Partridge Island. James Ratchford gets official control over ferry service.
July 27, 1789
Bishop Inglis Visits
Bishop Inglis uses ferry to visit church at Partridge Island.
July 27, 1792
Silas Crane Jr., Dies.
Silas Crane Jr., ferry captain, dies.
July 28, 1800
Mill Village (former name of Parrsboro town site) began after a gristmill was built there by Josiah Davison. Note: Descendants of the Davison family still reside in Parrsboro.
July 28, 1803
J. Ratchford & J. Shannon
J. Ratchford and J. Shannon given license to “Inspect and Search” American vessels in the Minas Basin.
June 18, 1812
June – War declared between Great Britain and the United States. Col. James Ratchford calls out Militia at Partridge Island. Blockhouses at Fort Edward (Windsor) and Partridge Island were improved and provisioned for war. Two brass naval cannons were brought as part of the armament for Partridge Island Fort. Brig “Parrsboro” built at Partridge Island. Records of this vessel are the earliest yet found of any ship building on the North side of the Minas Basin.
July 29, 1813
New Ferry Service
New ferry “Friends” begins Minas Basin service.
July 30, 1815
Capt. Stickney, known to be master of rival ferry between Parrsboro, Windsor, and Horton.
July 30, 1819
First Petition Of Parrsborough
First Petition of Parrsborough residents to join Cumberland County, or form its own county.
July 30, 1820
Col. Jonathan Crane
Col. Jonathan Crane died.
July 30, 1822
Founding Merchant Of Partridge Island Died
James Noble Shannon, founding merchant of Partridge Island, died. Note: James Shannon lies buried in the old Partridge Island burying ground. A decaying cairn marks the site of the old Partridge Island Burying Ground, a few minutes walk from Ottawa House. The only grave left visible is James Shannon’s.
July 31, 1826
First Store In Mill Village
James DeWolfe began a store in Mill Village. At that time, there were only five houses in present town site.
August 1, 1833
Maid of the Mist & Western Stage Coach Company
Maid of the Mist, (nicknamed Fundy Fog), was the first steamer to enter the Minas Basin. Western Stage Coach Company advertises for connecting service with steamboat ferry from Windsor, Parrsborough, and Saint John.
August 1, 1834
Petition Of John Fisher
Petition of John Fisher for license to operate Stage Coach from Parrsboro to Amherst.
August 1, 1836
Founder Of Parrsboro Dies
James Ratchford, Esq., considered founder of Parrsboro, dies.
August 1, 1840
The Parrsborough Shore & Ferry In Operation
The Parrsborough Shore becomes part of Cumberland County. Packet “Amethyst”, Ratchford & Company ferry, in operation on Minas Basin service.
August 2, 1848
Drought And Weevil Infestation
Parrsboro experienced a devastating drought and weevil infestation. It snowed in every month that year.
May 31, 1851
Joseph Howe Elected
Joseph Howe elected to represent Cumberland County. May 31st – Joseph Howe appoints a Mr. Roop to be lighthouse keeper at Parrsboro.
August 3, 1854
Capt. James Merriam
Jack Easy, operated by Capt. James Merriam, one of several sailing ferries operating on the Basin. Note: The Merriam name will resurface, some say in infamy, many years later in the time line of Parrsboro.
August 3, 1855
Charles Tupper Defeats Joseph Howe
Charles Tupper defeats Joseph Howe in Cumberland. Note: Charles Tupper and Joseph Howe were both present at the Ottawa House on election night.
August 3, 1856
Charles Tupper gets money for steamboat wharf at Partridge Island. Note: Referred to at the time as “Tupper’s Folly”, the remains of this pier are still visible at low tide.
August 3, 1857
Maid of Erin
Maid of Erin, running as steam packet, from Windsor, Partridge Island, and Saint John.
August 4, 1860
Postmaster’s salary for Parrsboro set at $127.18. Government offers $1600 per year for 4 years to operate a steamboat service three times per week between Parrsboro, Hantsport, Five Islands, Londonderry, Maitland, Petite, Kempt, and Windsor.
August 4, 1861
Government offers $4000 per year for steamboat service from Windsor to Saint John and Annapolis, and $3000 per year for the Minas Basin. Population of Cumberland County was 20,000, while that of King’s County was 17,460.
August 4, 1864
Charles Tupper Becomes Premier
Charles Tupper becomes Premier of Nova Scotia. Free schools established in Nova Scotia.
October 5, 1869
The Saxby Gale
October 4th & 5th – The “Saxby Gale”, which by local oral tradition, was the storm that created the bar that now connects Partridge Island with the mainland. Note: Named after Lt. Stephen Martin Saxby, a naval instructor who predicted unusually high tides and a storm surge. It also breached dykes and flooded large portions of the Tantramar Marsh.
August 5, 1871
Sir Charles Tupper Buys Ottawa House
Sir Charles Tupper buys Ottawa House property as a summer home and commences renovations. He names the building Ottawa House By-the-Sea in honour of Confederation.
July 26, 1872
Abijah Scott claimed ferryboat destroyed by American privateers.
August 5, 1872
Amazon Found Abandoned
The Spencer’s Island brig Amazon, renamed the Mary Celeste, was found abandoned at sea for no apparent reason.
August 5, 1873
First Run Of The Railway
July 1st – First run of the Springhill & Parrsboro Railway. This is also the first surviving written record of the Parrsboro Cornet Band. It was mentioned in the newspaper article as being on hand to greet the train as it arrived. In this first year of railroad operations to Parrsboro, there were 900 ships loaded with coal.
August 6, 1878
Skating Rink Built
Skating rink built at a cost of $1,500. One third of the tonnage shipped from Nova Scotia, shipped from Parrsboro.
March 28, 1879
March 28th – First telegraph from Parrsboro sent.
August 7, 1884
Ottawa House Sold
Sir Charles Tupper sells Ottawa House to the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company.
July 15, 1889
Town Of Parrsboro Incorporated
July 15th – Town Of Parrsboro incorporated. September 7th – First Town Council met.
August 7, 1891
First telephone service in Parrsboro.
August 7, 1892
Parrsboro’s Census & Boat Works
Parrsboro’s census was 1909 with 347 families. Records indicate that the birth rate was astonishing. Parrsboro Boat Works build the three largest tern schooners ever launched in N.S.
August 8, 1897
Electric Light Plant
Parrsboro became first town to operate its own electric light plant. Population: 2,000
August 10, 1910
Ottawa House Bought
Dominion Steel Company buys Ottawa House.
August 8, 1900
Parrsboro 2nd For Tonnage Shipped
Parrsboro was 2nd only to Halifax for tonnage shipped.
August 10, 1913
Post Office Moved
Post Office moved from Howard Lane building to new brick building on Main Street.
August 10, 1916
Schooner “Minas Queen” was launched.
July 5, 1919
Atlantic Makes Forced Landing
July 5th – Handley-Page aircraft Atlantic made forced landing at Parrsboro, crashing as it attempted to land on the race track. October 9th – During “the summer of the Handley-Page”, the Atlantic was repaired and left for New York. Due to the crash of the Handley-Page, Parrsboro is now a sister community to Greenport, NY. Many aviation records were set during these flights, e.g., first Airmail between Canada and U.S.A. Note: The navigator’s seat from the Atlantic is on display at the Museum.
August 11, 1920
Last Large Sailing Vessel Launched
Whitebelle is the last large sailing vessel launched in Parrsboro.
August 11, 1923
Ottawa House, A Fine Hotel
Capt. Carl Merriam buys Ottawa House, running it as a fine hotel. He erects a dance hall beside Ottawa House, which some of the material is still in use as the floor of the dining room of the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum today. Note: Be sure to see and learn more of Capt Merriam in “Our Stories”.
April 1, 1926
M.V. Kipawo First Arrived
April 1st – M.V. Kipawo first arrived in Parrsboro to begin her long career as ferryboat between Parrsboro and Annapolis Valley. The Seaman family buys Ottawa House and continues running it as a hotel.
August 13, 1942
An Unexpected Stop
A Hudson bomber, on a training mission out of Debert, makes an unexpected stop on top of the aboiteau* in Parrsboro. *A labor-intensive method in which earthen dykes are constructed to stop high tides from inundating marshland.
August 14, 1948
James and Lottie Wheaton
James and Lottie Wheaton buy Ottawa House, building its reputation as a hotel to new heights. Lottie’s interest in the history of the area prompts her to start a museum in the old adjacent schoolhouse, and is still commemorated in the schoolhouse display in today’s museum.
August 15, 1956
Partridge Island School
Partridge Island School recognized as the oldest school in Canada. Note: It was demolished less than two years later, as the Department of Roads widened West Bay Rd.
June 14, 1958
Parrsboro Train Makes Last Trip
June 14th – Parrsboro train makes last trip. No celebration by citizens, or band on hand to mark the occasion.
August 16, 1962
Mr. Kitchener Tracey
Mr. Kitchener Tracey buys Ottawa House and continues to run it as a hotel.
August 17, 1974
Peter & Winnie McCaig
Peter & Winnie McCaig buy Ottawa House. They continue the hotel tradition for six years.
August 17, 1977
Parrsborough Shore Historical Society
Parrsborough Shore Historical Society founded.
August 18, 1980
Department of Lands & Forests
Department Of Lands & Forests buy Ottawa House.
August 18, 1981
Ottawa House-By-the-Sea Museum
The Parrsborough Shore Historical Society begins Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum.
August 18, 1982
M.V. Kipawo Comes Home
M.V. Kipawo comes home after nearly a 40 year absence.
August 18, 1984
M.V. Kipawo Moved
M.V. Kipawo moved to present site at Lower Main Street and becomes a permanent theater.
August 18, 1986
Dinosaur Fossils Found
World’s smallest dinosaur fossils found near Parrsboro.
August 19, 1989
100th Anniversary Of Incorporation
Town celebrates 100th Anniversary of Incorporation.
December 19, 1993
Fundy Geological Museum Opens
December – Fundy Geological Museum opens.