PORT WILLIAMS, NS - A Port Williams man has put his passion for imagery and community heritage to work in creating a unique calendar featuring a pictorial history of the age of sail.
Historian and Country Barn Antiques proprietor Ken Bezanson labored over the details of “The Golden Age of Sail”, a historic calendar for 2019, for several hours a day over the past couple of months. He said it’s the first calendar of its kind featuring the history of Port Williams and it’s completely locally produced. Bezanson hopes it will be a treasured keepsake for everyone associated with the village.
“The nostalgia is all the former sons and daughters of the village that have moved away will all want this calendar because this is the port they remember,” he said.
Bezanson said hopefully newer Port Williams residents would also appreciate the calendar as a way to learn more about the community’s past.
He uses carefully selected photos – including several from postcards by A.L. Hardy taken on the same day in 1895 – lyrical language and poetry to paint a picture of what his home community was like during the age of sail. The images are striking, all in sepia or colour, and the pages appear to have the texture of parchment.
“This is not just another calendar,” Bezanson said. “Several people have said, ‘Kenny, this is the Cadillac of calendars.’”
Generally speaking and somewhat unfortunately, he said, history is often presented as bare facts and some find this rather dry or flat. Bezanson was mindful of taking a different approach, one that would present the community’s rich history of sail in an exciting, romantic way.
There is an introduction as to why the inland port village became a shipping destination, because of the ideal combination of nearby orchards, farmland and the Cornwallis River. Bezanson assigned titles to the images for each month and a different Port Williams or Starrs Point business sponsored the printing of the various pages. He said the businesses were quick to “jump on board.”
Copies of the calendar are being sold as a fundraiser for the 150th anniversary of the Port Williams United Baptist Church. Bezanson said copies are available from the church for $10 each and he points out that they make great Christmas gifts. If the project gains enough momentum, he said the calendar could be the first in a series, with the possibility of subsequent editions progressing through the steam ship era and beyond.
He said people have been after him to use his passion for village history and his collection of vintage photographs and Port Williams artifacts to write a book. Bezanson said he loves books but everybody seems to be doing them. He thought about doing a calendar instead, with the genesis of the idea being his tradition of sending Christmas cards featuring historic images.
Bezanson recently held a special launch event at the church that combined music, theatre and imagery in a multimedia presentation. Larger prints of the images from the calendar were displayed on easels.
He pointed out that you don’t usually launch a calendar but you do launch a ship, so it seemed appropriate to hold an event to launch a calendar featuring ships. He took the opportunity to present a lot of the background detail that couldn’t fit into the calendar and to give selected images deeper context.
Bezanson credits Delaine Carlson for bringing his vision to life with the calendar design and Lucky Dollar Ltd. for the quality printing.
Did you know?
Copies of the historic Port Williams Golden Age of Sail calendar are also available from the Box of Delights Book Store in Wolfville; the Kings County Museum in Kentville and from several Port Williams and Starrs Point businesses, including: The Port Pub and Bistro, Barrelling Tide Distillery, Country Barn Antiques, Down to Earth Gardening and Landscaping, Lucky Dollar Printing, Sea Level Brewing, Wayfarers’ Ale Society Craft Brewery and Planters Ridge Winery.