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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

McNutt's geography: Captain Holland's navigational chart of 1798

Here is a particularly beautiful old navigational chart showing Roseneath Island and its location in Port Roseway Harbour. 

Descriptive text gives crucial information to the sailor entering Port Roseway. It says: "Cape Roseway is a High Cliff of white Rocks the Top of which is partly without wood; the West side of Roseneath Island is Low." It gives the descriptions and locations of the Jigg, "a Rocky Reef with no more than 6 feet water" lying south of Cape Roseway, and the Bell,  "a Rock always visible and bold," located between Sundridge Point and Cape Roseway. It describes the eastern channel as "clear within a Cables length of both shores, up to the Anchoring Ground, in good water, and Mud Bottom. It adds that "Between Roseneath Island and the Western shore, is quite shoal." Consistently with the 1776 Des Barres map it shows the western channel as a False Passage.

The island's coastline is fairly accurately delineated. The upper arm of the island's western cove is labelled Carolina Beach, as Des Barres did earlier. Today it is known as the Horseshoe. The lower arm (now called the Point) is not named on this map. The shallow area between the island and the western shore that is labelled as a depth of 6 feet lies a bit to the north of the current Seal Ledge.  A small island appears in the western cove; if it ever was an island, today that body joins the main part of the McNutt's as Indian Point, creating two coves where there may have been only one in former times. Buildings indicate "Nutt's Settlement" in the vicinity of the remaining old cellar. 

The mapping of McNutt's was not current when it was published in 1798, since it does not show Cape Roseway Lighthouse, first lit in 1792. But it does render the rocks below the lighthouse, along the island's Atlantic coast.
The map also details the communities and place names of Port Roseway Harbour, though the harbour had been renamed in honour of the Earl of Shelburne in 1783.  Of particular interest are Gunning Cove and the Pilots Settlement there, Carleton Point (now Fort Point), Burch Town (Birchtown) and Black Town. By 1798 many of the area's black refugees had sailed to Sierra Leone. The Town of Shelburne itself had quickly declined as well, to a small coastal outpost. Alexander McNutt had left his brother Benjamin's home on the island and returned to Virginia, where he died around 1811. 

"Plan of Port Roseway Harbour" from  A New Chart of the Coast of Nova Scotia with the South Coast of New Brunswick," by Capt. Holland, 1798, courtesy of NSARM

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