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Shipwrecks of Brier Island area highlighted in new book

This painting by Rodney Stark has been used as the book cover for, ‘The Shipwreck Ledger of Benj H Ruggles’ CONTRIBUTED
This painting by Rodney Stark has been used as the book cover for, ‘The Shipwreck Ledger of Benj H Ruggles’ CONTRIBUTED

Book launch being held Dec. 16 by Islands Historical Society

FREEPORT, N.S. - 

Accounts of more than 60 shipwrecks near Brier Island have been compiled into a book.

On Dec. 16, the Islands Historical Society will hold a book launch for ‘The Shipwreck Ledger of Benj H Ruggles’. Dorothy Outhouse, archivist for the society, said the book contains verbatim accounts from captains and crews of ships wrecked around Brier and Long Islands, as well as the East Ferry area of Digby County.

“Brier Island is known for the number of shipwrecks around the island, but, until this book was transcribed, there was no way to know about what happened to those boasts, what happened to the cargo? It also shines a light on the number of places that our boats were sailing to and coming from,” she said.

Outhouse said the book takes accounts of factual information compiled by Ruggles between the years 1867 and 1929.

In 1867, the federal government appointed Benjamin Ruggles of Brier Island. Ever time a ship was wrecked Brier or Long Island and carried insurance, they would go to Benjamin Ruggles and…tell him the circumstances of the ship’s losses.”

Outhouse explained that Ruggles recorded all conversations verbatim and compiled records, but his work also went further than that.  

“He would be responsible for passing them along to the people who had valued interest in the ships. He would also hire ship carpenters as well as master mariners to look at the boats and see what their opinions would be – whether the boats could be salvaged or not. And he would recommend what happened to the cargo or the boat.”

Outhouse said the Islands Historical Society obtained the records of Ruggles and transcribed the information for a book. Outhouse said it took about five years to prepare the book. She said Rodney and Leta Stark logged approximately 3,000 volunteer hours to transcribe the information and put it into digital format.

The 307-page book costs $35 and 60 prints were made through Seeblick Printing in Lockeport. Outhouse said nearly half of the copies have already been sold, or accounted for.

She said the book is an interesting read because it reflects a way of life in rural Nova Scotia back in those days.

“There was a large number of people within our area employed in the shipbuilding and fishing industry. Also, the effect that the wrecks had on the people within the islands because as much as these wrecks were a disadvantage for the people on the boat, the people within the community always went forward and help the people, help rescue the boats, if they could, they would help take the cargos off and they weren’t above picking up a bit of cargo that had washed ashore as well.”

The book launch will be held at 2 p.m. at the Freeport Community Development Centre. If you’re unable to attend the Dec. 16 book launch, copies can be ordered through email: islandshistorical@gmail.com

 

 

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