Planter Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia Townships
There were three clearly defined groups of “pre-loyalists” in Nova Scotia, with the Planters being the third, the latest, and the largest (Conrad 120). This group of “pre-loyalists”, established various townships throughout Nova Scotia’s peninsular area, and trans-border area between 1759, and 1764. With access to most waterways, and the Minas Basin, these Planter communities were in key locations for fishery and shipping developments (121).
The concept of a “township” was a fundamental institution of government in New England, however, these newly emerging communities were dependent on official correspondence, and assistance from higher officials, leading them to develop as diverse regional centres without regular guidance. Records of these townships were kept in “township books”, and included general census information, as well as the beginnings of settlements, and from where these settlers came. Yet, something interesting to note is that very few records were kept depicting the beginnings of what would soon become one of Nova Scotia’s most important industries—shipbuilding.
Rural communities, such as Annapolis and Amherst, would often keep accounts of lumber used for shipbuilding, as well as shipping records, but these records did not necessarily contain information about what purpose the vessels would serve. In the few resources I have recovered, sources depict ships being used primarily for naval, shipping/trade, and fishing purposes (Henderson108). Some records list particular details about people who served in shipyards, such as ship’s masters, sailors, fishermen and boat builders. Whereas other records list what materials/livestock were being shipped, for example, barrels of salmon, surplus livestock (107).
In Liverpool, the constant threat of privateer attacks led to the expansion of the local navy fleet in order to defend ports, and protect the few resources the township had from being stolen (Mancke 94). Shipping local goods was a lifeline for many townships, and with the growing demand of goods, soon followed the demand for larger fleets, leading to an expansion in both industries.
Henderson, T. Stephen. The Nova Scotia Planters in the Atlantic World, 1760-1830. Fredericton, N.B.: Acadiensis Press, 2012.
Mancke, Elizabeth. The Fault Lines of Empire: Political Differentiation in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, ca. 1760-1830. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005.