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.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dock Street, Shelburne on an autumn afternoon

I was waiting for the Shelburne Museum to re-open one afternoon last week, so I walked down Dock Street and took some pictures. Shelburne really does have a lovely Historic District. Dock Street is several blocks long, and runs parallel to the harbour.
Shelburne didn't even exist until ten thousand or so refugees arrived here in 1783/1784. There was nothing at Port Roseway before then except a few settlers here and there, eking out a living in this wilderness.
A decade after it was founded, Shelburne's population had fallen from more than ten thousand to three or four hundred people. There are several good explanations for Shelburne's rapid decline, and it isn't necessary to choose just one of them. They all played their part.*
Visitors in the early 1800s told of grass and stumps left in the streets and livestock wandering through the remains of empty houses.
The people who stayed, though, made a life for themselves. They grew vegetables in their garden plots.
They built ships. They fished.
It's hard to realize how quickly Shelburne was built, from nothing, in a few years, and then how quickly the town emptied out.
It became a village, in the midst of the forlorn remnants of its brief glory.
What remains today is a serene beauty.

* You can read the story in Stephen Kimber's Loyalists and Layabouts: The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia 1783-1792 (Doubleday Canada, 2008).

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