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, November 16, 2010

smuggler's landing

A letter from Shelburne merchant George Ross to the captain of his schooner, about to return to Shelburne from Philadelphia:

You will endeavour to enter this harbour in the Evening and should you have goods not fit to be brought up to the Town you will put them on shore at our store on McNutt's Island taking care to be gone from thence before daylight.

Anything with high duties attached to it would have been "not fit" to be brought into Shelburne, where customs officers awaited each ship's arrival.

So it may be that, in the dark of night, George Ross's schooner entered Shelburne Harbour's eastern passage, rounded the Horseshoe and silently made for Ross's Landing. Quietly she dropped her anchor in the cove, and quietly a crew member rowed from schooner to land. Asleep in his house close to the shore, Ross's tenant Andrew Lightbody awoke to quiet knocking at his door. It would be a few hours' work to unload the ship's cargo of goods not fit to be brought into town --West Indian rum, perhaps -- and to hide it in the well-made cellar below the store-house. Well before early light the schooner would have resumed its journey, to land innocently at Shelburne Town an hour or so later.

Remember that McNutt's Island -- sitting way off in the outer harbour -- can't be seen from Shelburne. It's an invisible island, really. How handy is that.

Letter Book, G & R Ross, privately owned, quoted in Marian Robertson, King's Bounty: a history of early Shelburne Nova Scotia (Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1983), p. 238. So, I'm hopeful I can track down this Letter Book and see what else it says about the McNutt's Island branch of the Ross business.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I just finished "Island Year"...a very nice read!