In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, January 12, 2009

McNutt's geography: Des Barres navigational charts

These beautiful navigational charts of Port Campbell, as it was then known, were made by J.F.W. Des Barres in 1776. They show what the area was like before the Loyalists arrived in 1783 and 1784.  The larger area map shows nothing at all where the Town of Shelburne now stands, in the northeastern corner of the inner harbour.  Gunning Cove was already a settlement, though.  And you can see a few more pale blue plots of occupied land scattered along the western shore of the harbour. 

The early settlers were New Englanders who moved up from Cape Cod in the 1760s, and possibly Ulstermen who arrived under the auspices of Alexander McNutt's New Jerusalem scheme. The New Englanders were experienced fishermen who knew this area well before they moved here. They had been fishing cod in these waters for many generations. The area map gives a sense of how isolated and remote this part of Nova Scotia was then.   

A sea captain recently explained to me that many places in the world are called False Passage, so that ships will know not to go there.  This False Passage is too shallow for large vessels, though it's okay for lobster boats.  A couple of weeks ago, though, a very experienced lobsterman got his boat stuck on the low tide in the passage and had to bide his time until the tide came up again. Which it always does.  

The detailed map of Roseneath Island gives an accurate picture of the coast line and shows the higher elevations on the eastern side and the extent of forest.  You can see the McNutt settlement on the north end of the island, near Carolina Beach.  It looks like the McNutts had the island all to themselves.  

J.F.W. Des Barres published four volumes of his maps of the North American coastline in The Atlantic Neptune  c. 1781.  Thanks to Terry Deveau for sharing these maps with me. They are in the public domain.

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