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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Old gun and gun carriage at McNutt's Island

Clara Dennis NSARM accession no. 1981-541
This is a photograph taken by Clara Dennis when she visited Cape Roseway Lighthouse in the early 1930s. In her book Down in Nova Scotia,* Clara Dennis describes her visit to McNutt's Island and mentions the gun:

Just outside the lighthouse lay an old "twenty-four pounder."

"Have you ever run afoul of one of these?" the lightkeeper asked me. "This was the first fog alarm system here. In the fog, a vessel would blow their horn and the lightkeeper would answer with this cannon. Here's the touch-hole where the charge was ignited. A flannel bag of powder was put in the chamber and the powder in the touch-hole lit with a lighted brand. Don't you remember in the old schoolbook?

By each gun a loaded brand
In a bold determined hand."

The gun was mounted on a wooden carriage of wheels and bore the date 1831. The roar of the cannon is silent now. The god of Science has spoken and his voice, through the diaphone, sounds in the ghostly fog.

This photograph is not in the book Clara Dennis wrote, but it is in the collection of her photographs, at NSARM. It's likely that the photograph records her encounter with the cannon as she describes it in the book. I am just putting the two back together here. So this is probably a picture of the cannon that was used as the fog alarm before the new fog alarm building, with its diaphone, was built in 1916. I have heard that this old cannon got thrown down under the rocks in front of the lighthouse, maybe in the 1980s. Nobody seemed to know what to do with it.

You can find this photograph and many others at NSARM's Virtual Exhibit of Clara Dennis.

*Clara Dennis, Down in Nova Scotia: my own, my native land (Toronto, The Ryerson Press, 1934), 341-342.

Image courtesy of NSARM.

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