Firsts of Shag Harbour

***The first schoolhouse in Shag Harbour was built across the road from the old Sons of Temperance Hall. It was, according to local history, a log school.

***The first school teacher here was Samuel Kimball; he boarded in the village and it is said that the only children who attended school were those who had parents paying the teacher for his (her) work.

***Another school was built of timber and was located near Dayson Kendrick’s house (later Sidney and Edith Shand’s house). It was later moved to the south of the first school.

***A larger school was built on an embankment near the main road and near the property division line between Roger Shand’s and Wallace Crowell’s. Later, it was demolished.

***The fourth school was built near the main road almost across from the post office; it was built in the 1890’s, and later became a church.

***The main road through Shag Harbour was first paved in 1936.

***Chapel Hill Museum stands on the site of the first trading post in western Nova Scotia. The post and site were known as “Vieux Logis” meaning “Old House” and was marked on Champlain’s map of the area of 1612.

***This building has been and continues to be an impressive landmark. It has served as a guide for mariner’s for many years due to its imposing position at the crest of Chapel Hill.

**According to local and oral history, the first church was built to the west of Ernest Nickerson’s store, across the main road from the government wharf on property owned by Avery Shand.

***Later, a more modern church was built further east on the hill, where the “Chapel Hill” church stands.

***The first (old) church was once used as a barn when the more modern church was built.

***The Baptist Church, now the Chapel Hill Museum, was built in 1856-57.

***The old Methodist Church, also called the Providence United Church, was built in 1881-82 on land donated by Leonard Kenney.

***One of Shag Harbour’s schools was renovated and now serves as the United Baptist Church.

***In 1855, the first post office was established in Shag Harbour and is still open for business today.

***The most southerly point in mainland Nova Scotia is located in Shag Harbour village.

***Dr. Israel was the first medical doctor here.

***The first railroad train passed over the rails here in November 1899; in 1901, trains ran from Yarmouth to Barrington Passage.

***The first lobster factory was built at the shore on land owned at that time by Ashton Shand about the year 1857. It was operated by Solomon Kendrick, a sea captain. About the year 1900, another lobster factory was constructed by John Shand Sr. Which operated for a few years.

***The first dry goods store was built by Isaac Nickerson, grandfather to Percy Banks and was located where Henry and Edna Kendrick’s house was later built. It was moved to the post office location.

***The old hearse house stood in the area where Viola and Moyle Crowell’s house stands today.

***A Meeting a House, possibly the first, stood near the shop of Warren Crowell, later owned by Morton Smith.

***According to local history, the first house was built by Zara Smith (1768-1843), son of David and Thankful (Reynolds) Smith.

***David Kendrick (1770-1819), son of Warren Anson Kendrick owned and operated the first blacksmith shop near the shoreline.

***The first road running through Shag Harbour was laid over higher land by a French person whose surname was D’Entremont.

From the research and writings of Trudy D. Atkinson

Cheesy Cod or Haddock

Cheesy Cod or Haddock

1 pound cod or haddock fillets, cut into cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
Bit of pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Place fish in greased baking dish.
In heavy saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour until smooth and remove from heat.
Gradually stir in half the milk; return to heat and beat until smooth. Gradually add remaining milk, salt, pepper and onion. Cook, stirring until smooth and thickened.
Pour sauce over fish and sprinkle with crumbs and cheese.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 15-30 minutes until sauce bubbles and fish is cooked.

Years ago, Cheesy Cod or Haddock was not the cheesy dish which we know today. A certain hotel originally served the dish garnished only with breadcrumbs. One fateful night, the kitchen ran out of breadcrumbs, and cheese was used as a substitute. The diners obviously enjoyed this version… for when they returned the following week and were served the original breadcrumb dish, they sent it back, requesting the cheese topping. It became an instant hit, and cod au gratin with grated cheese has since gone on to national and international fame.

Recalls “Ghost on Bon Portage Island”

Bon Portage Light, made famous by Evelyn Richardson’s Governor General Award winning novel “We Keep a Light”, once had the reputation of being haunted. But due to the efforts of the fact finding lightkeeper, the ghost was exposed as a fraud.

The story of “The Haunted Lighthouse” was recalled by Mrs. Maurice Nickerson of Rockville, Yarmouth Co., making her first visit to the lighthouse since she and her husband tended the light back in the early years of World War I.

In taking over from the returning lightkeeper, the Nickersons were told that the place was haunted. There were knockings in the walls of the building at night, while strange moaning noises as if a person was suffering great agony came from the beach.

Unlike his predecessors, Maurice Nickerson, who also pursed the calling of the fisherman, was not in the least superstitious, neither was he a timid soul. There must be some explanation for the ghosts on Bon Portage Island and he was determined to find out what this was.

First, according to Mrs. Nickerson, the source of all the knockings within the walls of the building were found to be caused by the heavy weights used to operate the light in those days. The weights went right down through the building from the light, 50ft above sea level – to the basement of the structure and often in ascending or descending, the weights would knock against the walls.

But that awful moaning noise which used to sometimes keep them awake at night was the real puzzler. Night after night, Mr. Nickerson visited the beach, trying to find out the source of the noises.

“It did sound like some person suffering great agony,” Mrs. Nickerson recalled during her recent visit to the island.

Then one wild and stormy night, when the moaning sounds were at the highest pitch the Nickerson family had ever heard, Maurice donned his rubber boots and oil skins and ventured out into the night.

Proceeding slowly down the beach, struggling against the heavy winds and blinding rainstorm, he edged closer to the awful sounding noises. They were enough to make a strong man be led to wits end indeed. But the lightkeeper was determined to solve the mystery at all costs.

Finally, after what seemed to be endless hours of searching and not knowing what he was going to come up against at any given moment, Nickerson finally stumbled on the source of the noises, it was the wind blowing through the wreckage of an old steamer the “Express” wrecked on Bon Portage in 1898.

Today the source of the haunted howling noises has disappeared, but still remaining on the beach are two old steamship boilers from the same wreck. And when the winds are in the right direction, the water will still run up through the boilers and sprout out through the top into the air.

Coming back to scenes where she helped tend the light from 1914-1917, Mrs. Nickerson says it was all too much of a lonely island to suit her tastes. Many days when her husband was absent fishing, she was on the island all alone with only a dog for companionship.

“It’s alright for those who can adopt themselves for a life of isolation,” she declared, adding that she never regretted for one moment the day her husband decided to quit his lighthouse job and reside on the mainland. She was very happy about the success of the Richardson’s, congratulate Mrs. Richardson, author of “We Keep a Light”, on her success, but added she would never be envious of the lighters life on the island.