By Ed Coleman
"The Canard River is holding on to her secrets for now,” says Kelly Bourassa. At least one of its secrets: the exact site of a long-ago shipwreck in the Canard River.
Bourassa is referring to recent efforts to determine where the brigantine Montague went aground in the Canard River late in 1760. Bourassa is the chairman of a Kings Historical Society committee formed to locate the Montague and to produce a historical documentary on the shipwreck, but he’s concluded that the search was only partially successful.
The documentary is another story. The video on the shipwreck has been completed. I’ll tell you more about that shortly, but first, more on the search for the Montague and some historical nuggets the research unearthed.
While the place where the Montague capsized on the Canard was never found, at least not with any certainty, the research revealed some little-known glimpses of early Planter life. The Montague committee spent months digging into records in the archives in Halifax, delving into out-of-print books written around the time period relevant to the Montague’s sinking, looking at shipwreck records and interviewing people with an intimate knowledge of sailing ship history and the Canard dykes.
Among the marine experts interviewed for the video was Dan Conlin, curator of the Marine Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. Interviews with former dyke warden Jim Borden, Kentville, also are featured in the video, along with ships of sail historian and author Joey Patterson of Hantsport.
I participated in some of the research and took part as a bit player in the filming of the video. What I found interesting was the court case resulting when locals attempted to illegally salvage the Montague after it went down in the Canard River. The case involved a few influential Planters, some of whom made the history books.
The storied career of the Montague’s captain, Jeremiah Rogers, who was a privateer and later a settler in Kings County, was also discovered during the research. Rogers, it could be said, was a hard luck skipper who was involved in more than one shipwreck while a captain.
But you can discover all of this for yourself and you don’t have to wait until the video is shown on the history channel. The premiere of the video will take place this spring in Wolfville as a fundraiser for the Kings Historical Society. Miss it and you miss out on glimpsing one of the most fascinating periods, the early Planter period, in the history of Kings County. It will be held May 2, 7:30 p.m., at the Al Whittle Theatre.