Hi All! I hope you’re all having a great week so far. For this week’s “Over the Waves” we’re heading to the waters around Nova Scotia. I know I’ve covered Coast Guard ships before (usually ones that have been in the St. John’s Harbour), but I decided to look a bit further back, to when they were considered Canadian Government Ship (or Dominion Government Steamer). And, not surprisingly, I found a ship that caught my interest. This week I bring you all the story of the CGS Aberdeen.
Weight: 674 tonnes
Speed: 13 knots
The Canadian Government Ship (CGS) Aberdeen was built in Paisley, Scotland in 1894 for the Canadian Government. Picked up by a crew from where she rested on the shores of the river Clyde, she left Scotland on August 26th and arrived in Halifax on September 7th.
Originally intended to be an Atlantic service vessel, she was obtained by the Quebec branch of the Coast Guard and became a lighthouse supply and buoy inspection vessel. Being built right at the turn of the century gave her a couple of interesting design features. For one, even though she was a hand-fire coal burning ship, she still had sails on her fore and aft to be used in case of emergencies. This meant that she maintained some charm of the old sailing ships while embracing new technology. The downside to this was that when the sails were in use, or even stored on deck, it was difficult to protect them from damage caused by the red embers drifting from the stack.
This, and the changing steam technologies, resulted in her being put in for refit in the spring of 1905. It should have been the winter of 1904, but while sailing to Toronto to be put into dry dock, the Aberdeen was trapped in the ice off of Soulanges, QC. She spent her winter in Quebec until the St. Lawrence thawed in the spring, allowing her to complete her trek. She came out of her refit with all new boilers, and a high forecastle deck (her previous layout had been flush with the main deck). Her sails and masts were removed, and on the bow a new heavy crane was installed.
She set back out a few months later to resume her duties throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence. With her crew of 45, she had a successful and seemingly uneventful career. That is until the afternoon of October 13, 1923.
That morning, the Aberdeen, under command of Captain Loran A. Kenney, had left Yarmouth, NS in heavy fog on an inspection tour. It should have been a routine trip – they had some buoys to check on, depth soundings to take, and a delivery of 500 bags of cement for Cape Sable lighthouse. On board was also the Superintendent of Lighthouses John Kelley, Marine Agent J.C. Chelsea, and Engineer P.F. Morrison.
As the Aberdeen neared Seal Island, NS, it came upon an area called the “Black Ledge”. Here, the captain slowed the engines in preparation for depth sounding check. As they came within almost 2.5km of Seal Island, the lookout spotted an obstruction in the water. The order was given to throw the engines full astern, but it was too late. The Aberdeen struck the sunken wreck of the trawler Snipe, which had run aground in the area earlier that year. The collision ripped a 7.6m hole in the side of the ship, causing her to fill and settle on the ledge in 15 minutes.
The crew sent out a mayday, which was picked up by the CGS Laurentian (Aberdeen‘s sister ship) from Saint John, NB, as well as the Acadian from Halifax and Arieux from Brier Island, NS. The crew of the Aberdeen were actually fortunate that she sank where she did – had she slid off the shelf, there would have likely been a complete loss of life. Because she settled in shallow water, not a single life was lost.
There was one more complication to deal with, however. In addition to her 500 bags of cement, the Aberdeen was carrying drums of calcium carbide. This made everyone very nervous because when this mixes with water, it forms the flammable gas acetylene. So while 25 of the crew took the ships boats and made it to the Seal Island Light Station, the rest of the crew stayed behind to salvage as much off the wreck as they could. They successfully managed to clear out the Aberdeen with no injuries.
William “Billy” Thurston
- – 1892
Found dead on Emerald Isle and suspected of being murdered.
He was the servant of Mrs. Alice Wrayton, widow of Arthur. Mrs. Wrayton was accused of murdering
her servant, William “Billy” Thurston. The trial began on June 20,1893 and finished three days later on June 23rd. It was concluded that there were not sufficient grounds to merit the charge of murder, and Mrs. Wrayton was declared not guilty. Despite this non-guilty verdict, there is still much wonder about what truly happened between Dec. 22-24,1892.
***more can be read on this in the “Stories of Shag Harbour”…”Murder?”, found on this site.
1870 – 1918
The death took place at her home in Shag Harbour. She was the widow of Captain Isaac A. Nickerson, who died in 1910. She was always interested in the work of the United Baptist Church being a prominent member in the Sabbath School and the Missionary Society. Outside the church, she was an active member of Guiding Star Division, Sons of Temperance for over 60 years: also, she was always employed making things for others, which found their way into the Red Cross.
Today’s pie-making is much easier than it was for our ancestors who did not have the advantage of regulated heat in their ovens. One rule that guided them was “If you can hold your hand in the heated oven while you count to twenty” the oven was the right temperature for baking pastry.
The best pastry was made in the “cold room” where not only the ingredients but the board, the rolling pin, and even the hands, were cold enough to ensure that the
shortening would not soften until it was popped into the oven, resulting in the desired flakiness that was the measure of good pastry.
The above taken from: Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale
Pastry (Christine Shand)
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening ( Crisco or Tenderflake )
Bit of salt
8 Tbsp. very cold water
Measure flour and salt . Cut in shortening with pastry cutter. Add cold water all at once and mix.. Makes two or three pie shells according to size.
Bake in 350 degree oven until starting to brown.
Date Pie (Edith Shand)
Cook 1/2 – 1 package dates ( add 2 or 3 Tbsp. Sugar and a piece of butter and salt before cooking)
Cover the above with water and cook until dates are soft.
Add vanilla, 2 egg yolks (beaten) and enough milk for one pie. (about 1&1/2 cups.)
Bake until set.
Put meringue or whipped cream on top.
Bake in 350 degree oven for approx. 35-40 minutes.
For more than 100 years in England, mince pies were the center of theological discussion and Puritanical
clergymen preached to their flocks to abstain from this unholy fare. We are happy to say that by the time the
English arrived in Nova Scotia, the mince pie had been cleansed of all sin and was able to take a place of
honour on the pie shelf.
The above taken from: Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale
Mincemeat ( Edith Shand)
Use deer meat or rabbit meat)
5 cups ground meat (pre-cooked)
5 cups brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 pounds seedless raisins
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
7 cups apples, peeled and ground
2 oranges, 1 lemon (ground)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 pound suet or shortening
1 (16 oz. can apple juice)
Note: Add more apple juice as it cooks to keep it from sticking and becoming too thick.
Cook about 3 hours on low heat. Use a heavy pan to prevent sticking.
It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the hearth with its bake oven was sealed off and the monstrous iron stove took its place in the kitchen.
For the wise mother who still insists that home-made bread is a necessity to her family’s health and enjoyment, bread-making is an easy task as compared to that of earlier days. Today we begin with prepared yeast, either in cake or granular form, but in the old days the yeast had first to be made before thought could be given to making bread.
Making the yeast starter from hops and potatoes was a process that involved days, so care had to be taken to keep a supply always on hand. Kept tightly corked in stone jars and stored in a cool place, the yeast would stay sweet and fresh for a couple of months.