Accession number: 1994.001
Object type: Ferry
Date: 1950 – 1994
Materials: Wood, Metal
Measurements: 38 cm L x 21 cm W x 0.5 cm Thick x 5.5 cm DepthAttached to the length are 2 lift ramps measuring 11cm each, and attached to the left side is the housing adding 9cm.
Marks/Label: The name of the ferry 'Spray' is printed on each end of ferry deck, adjacent to the ramps.
Vessel Name: Spray
Narrative: This model of the ferry boat Spray was built by Harold Thompson, of Westport, N.S. He built models of many of the ferries that operated in Grand Passage, Brier Island. Often the models he made were given to local children to use as toys.
Description: This model ferry has a large red rectangular base with raised sides along the top surface. On the left side there are three white blocks that create the wheel house/ housing. The middle block is rectangular and has a smaller square block on top of it with a black top surfacd. There are two smaller white blocks that bracket the rectangular block. All blocks have windows painted onto either side. On both ends of the ferry there is a red loading ramp off centered towards the back side. These ramps are moveable and can be tied in an upright position to posts that are on either side of the ramps.
History of Use: The ferry was displayed at the Westport library before it was brought to the museum. The donor built many ferry models for kids to use as toys when he retired from his job as a fisherman and ferryman. This ferry boat was named after Joshua Slocum’s sloop, the Spray. There have been many boats built as replications of Slocum’s sloop, and also boats that have been named after the Spray. Slocum rebuilt an oyster sloop that was given to him, with the ambition to sail around the world solo. He was fifty-one when he departed Boston in 1895, Massachusetts, in his renovated sloop, named the Spray. The Spray was thirty-six feet and nine inches long, fourteen-feet and two inches wide, four feet and two inches deep, and it had a gross weight of thirteen tonnes. Slocum was the first person to sail around the world solo, a distance of 46,000 miles, with a return docking in Newport, Rhode Island in 1898. Slocum was born in Wilmot, Annapolis, Nova Scotia, on February 20, 1844. He grew up in Westport on Brier Island in Nova Scotia. Slocum was lost at sea, in his sloop the Spray, sometime during 1909-1910 and did not return. Brier Island, which is two miles wide and three miles long, had a reputation with ship crews and passenger ships because there were many shipwrecks around the island; in the summer the island is known to be sometimes immersed in fog and in the winter in snow. It was known as the ‘graveyard’ of Fundy Shipping.
In 1605 Samuel de Champlain warned other voyagers about the island. Brier Island’s first settlers are said to come from the coast of Maine and were blown into Grand Passage-- the passage that separates Long Island from Brier Island. It was in Grand Passage that they found fish, cod, and pollock, which they salted and dried to sell. The first permanent settler from New England was a fisherman named Welch. The original structures on the island were fishing post camps at the harbours. After the American Revolution, in 1783, eleven loyalist families landed on Brier Island. Settlers also came from England and Wales via the West Indies. The main town of Westport developed, and it is the most western port of the province. Lobsters were very abundant when the island was first settled, so much that the women used to bury them in their gardens to fertilize the soil. Westport was involved with the extensive shipping that took place, from the end of the Bay of Fundy to the West Indies, and it saw the changes in ships, the trade industry, and the fishing industry. Lumber and fish was transported up and down the Bay of Fundy. Rum, molasses, and salt came from the West Indies, while the North American colonies sent down fish and lumber to the Caribbean. When the American colonies won independence from the British, they did not trade with the British colonies of the West Indies; Nova Scotia then became the most extensive distributor of salt cod, smoked herring, mackerel, and wood products. Nova Scotia would also import machinery and finished goods from Boston, the states, and Europe. When slavery was abolished in the British colonies of the West Indies in 1834, the colonies didn’t have enough labour to produce goods. The French and Spanish colonies in the West Indies did still have slave economies and traded with Nova Scotia. Sugar from Cuba was imported to the province and also was re-exported to the United Kingdom. This extensive trading began to dwindle at the beginning of the twentieth century; Brier Island was, for the most part, finished as a port of foreign trade. The fully rigged ships, barques, and brigs with square rigs, were replaced by fore-and-aft rigged schooners and steamships.
At the turn of the century the island was at its peak with almost 1,000 people living on it. There were fishermen, farmers, merchants, house joiners, coopers, blacksmiths master mariners, ship owners, lighthouse keepers, innkeepers, painters, and glaziers. This is the era in which Slocum set sail. Westport named one of the ferries, between Westport and Freeport, the Spray, in honour and admiration for Slocum. The town of Westport and the Slocum society also built a memorial in his honour. The sister ferry to the Spray, was named the Joshua Slocum, and it was built in 1974. Both ferries are now retired. The ferry that runs between Westport and Freeport is now the Joe Casey. And the ferry that runs between Long Island and East Ferry it the Petit Princess. In total, the province has seven operating ferries and two spares. Four are cable ferries.