local history and folklore

There are 29 communities that make up the greater Sheet Harbour area.

Students at Duncan MacMillan High School were tasked with an assignment that opened their eyes to their community. They interviewed their relatives and neighbours about what life was like in the early years of the Eastern Shore, followed by research and designing an illustration depicting their community.

Find these banners on lamp posts as you drive through Sheet Harbour during the summer months.

Ecum Secum

Ecum Secum, a community along the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia first became populated in the 1770s by Loyalists from Europe. It used to be known as Ekemsagen, and Ecum Secum derived from the Mikmaq language, which means Red House or Red Bank. Schools and churches began opening in the mid-late eighteen-hundreds, and gold was discovered there in the 1860s. The total gold recovered was 1276 ounces, and mining work was stopped in 1907, although after that, surface work and prospecting continued. A popular geological formation in Ecum Secum, is the rock beach. The community is strongly tied to the fishing industry, especially lobsters and crabs. - Katherine Levy

Mitchell Bay

Mitchell Bay is located on the west side of Ecum Secum. It was probably named after the early settlers. Henry Pye was settled on 200 acres of land at “Ekemsigam” by 1817, at which time he asked for a grant. He received a grant for 200 acres at what became Mitchell Bay on August 12, 1834. Samuel Bernard and Thomas Worthey also received 100 acre grants here in 1857. An interesting story about Mitchell Bay is one that tells of the bell and the stained glass windows at the Anglican Church in Mitchell Bay. They were gifts from a parish in west London and the shipping cost to bring them over from England to Mitchell Bay was only $20. Fishing is the primary industry in Mitchell Bay. - Mitchell Jewers

Necum Teuch

Necum Teuch (pronounced nee-comm-taw), is a Mi’Kmaq name for Moose River. John Smith, Sr. purchased 900 acres of land here in 1803 from John George Dunn and immediately settled thereon. His sons, John, George, and Jacob received grants of land here in 1824. In 1827 there were eight families here. Mr. Burnett was schoolmaster in two school-houses in this district in July. 1843. A Postal Way Office was established in 1855. Fishing and limited farming are the basic industries. The population in 1956 was 98.

Moser River

Moser River was once called Necum Teuch River, but was changed after the Moser family received land grants and settled there. The Native name was Noogoomkeak, meaning soft, sand place. Henry Moser Sr. and his wife, Hannah, came to Nova Scotia from Luxemburg and Holland, about 1751 and were settled on the river by 1809. He received grants of land there n 1809 or 1813. He was a direct descendant of the Protestants who settled in Lunenburg county in the mid – 1700’s. Moser River was mainly a fishing, farming and shipbuilding community in the early and mid-nineteenth century. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, several lumber and sawmills such as Moser River Lumber Company, Albion Lumber Company, and Necum Teuch Lumber Company were built in the Moser River area. - Morgan Cameron

Moose Head

Moosehead got its name because there is a rock in the water that looks like a moose head. Gold was discovered at Moosehead in 1872. The mine operated at the turn of the century, in 1910 and the last half of the 1930’s yielding only 471 ounces of gold. At Moosehead Beach is a moss that only can be found in one other part of the world – the African Coast. Moosehead Moss, rich in nutrients, has been used here for centuries as a natural organic fertilizer. Moosehead is the location of another abandoned gold mine, where walking can be treacherous. Watch for old shafts in the small quartz beach area at the end of Moosehead Road. - Daniel Rutledge

Harrigan Cove

The village was originally known for fishing. There were two lobster factories in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. One was on Shiers Cove Point and there was one on Turner’s Island. This area on charts is known as the Bay of Islands. "My Grandfather told me a story of some of the very first settlers that had received a land grant, such as many others as well. Their family name was Atkins. They landed here by boat in the fall at an island in the east end of the community known as Atkins Island. The first winter they lived under their sailboat in a cove on the west side of the island. The following spring they bought property on the main land, known today as Atkins Point, from another grantee. This land was much more suitable for their needs of fishing and farming. There is a monument of the original Atkins to this very day on the property. - Kelsey Levy


Noodakwade – Mi’kmaq for “the seal hunting place”

Port Dufferin

Port Dufferin was originally named Salmon River, but later changed its name to Port Dufferin by an act of Parliament for the Marquis of Dufferin in 1899. It was also a port for a ship called the S.S. Dufferin in the early 1900s. Port Dufferin was mostly known for their port for the S.S. Dufferin. Today, it’s a small village mostly known for its pizzeria. A distinctive landmark in Port Dufferin would be the old gold mine on Dufferin Road. There is a story about an old ship called the Strathacona that had caught fire and sunk off Smileys Point Road in Port Dufferin. Although the ship sunk, nobody perished. - Nick Harris

Barkhouse Settlement

Barkhouse Settlement is close to Dufferin Mines. Dufferin Mines, back in the day, was a thriving place where men used to work in the gold mine. Back then there was a little school and some houses. - Hilary Ackert

Dufferin Mines

Men worked in the gold mine in the 1920’s to 1930’s. Back then there was a little school and some houses. The main landmark and what Dufferin Mines is known for is the gold mine. - Hilary Ackert

Beaver Harbour

Kobetawemoode meaning “beaver harbour” in Mi’kmaq there is a myth that Gloosecap threw one of the large rocks at a beaver. The French named it “Havre du Caster” meaning beaver harbour. In 1846, a lighthouse was erected that was 35 feet high with a lantern on the roof, it is gone now. There is a lighthouse still standing on an island in Beaver Harbour. In 1974, a cable station was built and a cable connects Beaver Harbour to Cornwall, England. There is a wind turbine there now. In 1826, the first ship was built named the Regatta. There was farming in Beaver Harbour as well as a school and a church which was demolished in 1973. At the government wharf the O.K. Service ship would pick up the lobsters.

Sheet Harbour Passage

“I interviewed my parents Penny and Parker Stevens. They live in Sheet Harbour. They said that the greenhouse has been up since the 1970’s. It is the oldest greenhouse in Nova Scotia, maybe even in Canada. Also, there is a lighthouse in Sheet Harbour Passage. It is pretty old. In the ocean in front of my house, ships used to go through the ocean. The ships still come through sometimes and go to the wharf in Sheet Harbour. They don’t know anything else about it.” - Kaleigh Stevens

Sober Island

“Q: How did the Village get its name? A: The Island got its name because everyone that lived on the Island was always drunk. The only thing that was sober about the Island was the Island itself. Q: What is the village known for? A: The Island is well known for fishing. Also, there was quite a bit of hunting. There’s actually, also, an oyster farm still on it. Q: Are there any distinctive landmarks or geological formations that make the village distinct? A: I think the fact that it’s an island is quite distinct. Q: Are there any stories passed down about the village? A: Well, one Halloween night there was a bunch of kids playing on the bridge. They decided to take rope and tie it to each side of the bridge and watch the cars drive by and break it. But this one night, a man driving a motorcycle drove over the bridge. When he drove over it he drove through the rope, the rope cut his head off and his head tumbled off of the bridge into the water. Nobody ever found it. Now they say that some nights when you go to the bridge, if you look over into the water you can see his eyes staring at you.” - LindsayLevy

Watt Section

"Watt Section got its name by the Watt family. They were one of the first settlers to claim this land a couple of hundred years ago. It was was known for ship building, the sawmill, boot legging, rum running and salmon and regular fishing. Fishermen salted some of their catches and used it as bait for the next set, or exported to other nearby ports as food. Most common fish were mackerel, herring, cod, haddock, and halibut; fishermen also fished for lobster and crab. During the summer, fishermen started working around 4:30 am – 5:00 am. They’d row or sail to their fishing ground and handline cod, haddock and halibut, set nets for mackerel and herring, and set pots for lobster and crab, plus whatever nets and traps were out there before they’d have to bring them in and take whatever’s in them out. Later, when they’d return home, they’d have to clean nets and traps, bait handlines, and clean and put away their catch. In the winter time, fishermen would either go offshore on the larger fishing boats or go into the woods as fur trappers or woodsmen. Some of them stayed away for weeks or months from home leaving the women and children to look after the household. - Brooklyn Connors

Malay Falls

Q: “What is your name and how old are you?” A: “My name is Phyllis Martin and I’m 77 years old.” Q: “How did the village get its name?” A: “The power plant was built in 1922. People from Lewiston moved here and their names were Malay. There were already falls here, so they combined the name Malay with falls to get Malay Falls.” Q: “What is the village known for?” A: “Malay Falls is known for the power plant.” Q: “Are there any distinctive landmarks or geological formations that make the village distinctive?” A: “Besides the power plant, there’s the gold mines that were in Lochaber Mines, and the big clothespin factory that was in Lewiston.” Q: “Are there any stories about the place or person that have been passed down that are memorable?” A: “No, there are no stories that I know of.” - Chelsea Josey

Lochaber Mines

Lewiston peg factory was close by and it produced clothes pegs, shoe pegs and wooden bottle caps 1825 a sawmill was built one of the oldest gold districts in NS, the mines ran from 1867 to the early 1900’s

Sheet Harbour

"My Grandfather didn’t remember too much, but when I asked him, he told me that around 1945-1950, there was a big forest fire; it burnt all the way to Watt Section where he lived, causing him to move out. The fire burned down the saw mill, located by where the camp ground is today. In 1971, the West River falls flooded, and the big pulp mill that was there was washed away. Now, there’s a museum and he’s pretty sure it was washed out as well. Between 1952 and 1955, they built the East River Bridge, just before the green one was there; there was an older smaller one underneath. There used to be old phones that you had to crank before you called and talked to the operator. When you called, there were party lines, so other people in other houses could pick up and listen to what you were talking about. Back then, not everyone had a car, so they delivered the groceries in trucks, house to house. You could get candy 3 for a penny, or 5 cent chocolate bars. The better ones were 10 cents. There used to be a school there, but the tank is there now. The theatre stopped in the late 60’s, the police station was across the street from the liquor store, and when his dad was a kid, you didn’t have to drive for your driving test, you just got it." - Daniel Kenney



“A school teacher from Marinette, Wisconsin names the community after his hometown in the U.S. while teaching in the one room school house that was here. Marinette is known for its black flies, bears, deer, and coyotes. They’re everywhere! Many generations also worked in forestry, fishing, trapping and hunting which were used in supporting families. This is the highest elevation in the area. It is almost 700 feet above sea level. There is a church bell and commemorative stone marking St. Joan of Arc Roman Catholic Church, which was established in 1948, and then demolished in 1988. The community also had a one room school house from approximately the early 1900s to 1963. Marinette has a fire tower that has been here for over 50 years and is still in use today. Also, there is a weather station and communications tower that exists next to the fire tower. Years ago, the Currie homestead was a Native trading post. I live in a 200 year old home with my family and my daughters are the sixth generation, on the Currie side, to live in this house. My Grandfather’s generation often spoke of having to hide the young children in the attic of the house from the Gypsies, who would reportedly take children to use as performers/labourers in their troupes when they were traveling through the community.” - Leah MacBain

Beaver Dam

Interview with Carla Asprey: “Back in the day, most of Beaver Dam was all farm land that was farmed by the Natives. Their last name was Paul and they had a son who passed away from Pneumonia. His body had to be taken all the way to Sheet Harbour by horse and buggy and it took hours to get there. These people, by the way, would be ancestors of yours.” - Jamie Dorey


“My interview was for Mushaboom, and I interviewed a lady named Rosemary Boutilier. She is 79 years of age, born in Mushaboom among 11 other children. Her parents were Reuben and Myrene Power. She was the middle child. Rosemary was a teacher and lived away from Mushaboom for 33 years teaching in Alberta, Ukraine, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia and even Mushaboom, 1953-1954. She was married with no children. Her husband died 5 years ago. She is now living in Mushaboom. Mushaboom is an Indian name for a pile of hair. Before that Mushaboom was called Wind Chelsea Bay. It is known for fishing. Mushaboom used to have a store called Carl Field’s Store. There also used to be a post office and a school. St. Paul’s Church was built with wood from Mushaboom. The stories that are told about Mushaboom are ghost stories. The fishermen didn’t wear any colour gloves, only white. The coloured ones were bad luck.” - Janay Power

Spry Bay

“An Anglican church was opened in 1868. It was named St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. There was also a school built in 1851, but it was burned down in 1860. The school was then replaced in 1864, but that school was burnt in the 1900s. After that, the East Ship Harbour School was opened in 1954. The post office was established in Spry Bay in 1860. The population in 1956 was 124. Interview The name of the person I interviewed is Sherry-Lee Holley. She is 49 years old. She lives in Spry Bay. She does not know how does Spry Bay got its name. The village is known for fishing. The distinctive land mark is Taylor’s Head Beach.” - Courtney Cameron

Spry Harbour

The village of Spry Harbour is known for a lobster factory, the location being where my Great Uncle Stuart Hawes along the harbour, there was also a government wharf down behind where Reg Mason lives, with a building on it for Ship Margaret to store the supplies. Over 200 years ago, there was an Indian village by the Bay Bridges. Many years ago, there was a road from down by the Bay Bridges called the “Branch Road” that people travelled on with horses to deliver mail as far as Mooseland on horseback. The trail “Branch Road” is still used today for 4-wheeling mostly. People that lived in the village of Spry Harbour years ago made a living by fishing, farm work and woods work. Another important piece of Spry Harbour would be that the Billy Bilong Memorial Park. In dedication of Billy Bilong and the Atom’s Hall/Atom’s Club, there was a baseball field constructed in the year of 1961. The men used to have a team in the 1960’s – 1970’s, and the park is still used today for Women’s League in Orthodox, and as a community baseball park. There once was Spry Harbour Atom’s Club, the club hosted dances and events in the 1970’s. - Janine Hawes

Popes Harbour

For my interview, I interviewed my father, Scott Cunningham. Although he has not lived here his whole life, he still had quite a bit of information on Pope’s Harbour that he shared with me. First, I asked him why it was named Pope’s Harbour. He said that many people believe it was named Pope’s Harbour because when there were boats sailing in the harbour, they saw a rock from the water that resembled a pope’s hat. I asked him what other interesting things he could tell me about Pope’s Harbour. He said that on Gerrard’s Island in 1922, there used to be 30 people living there. There was also a car and a small road going from one end of the island to the other. - Sadie Cunningham


Mooseland is a little rural community in the Musqudoboit area of the Halifax Regional Municipality, in Nova Scotia, on the Mooseland Road, 68km east of Halifax. The area is known to have deposits of gold and is the site of the first gold discovery in Nova Scotia. Mooseland consists of 99 people for the small area. Total land area in Mooseland is 326.57 km2 . The founders of Mooseland were the Icelandic Memorials in 1875. The first two families that settled in Mooseland were the Erlendsonns and the Gudbrandeurs. The people were the ones that created the log cabins and made them able to survive the winter time weather. The name was founded because of the over population of the moose! Another person who was important was Brynjólfur Brynjólfsson - Reuben Palm


Interview with Parker Cooper: "“How did the village get its name?” A: ”Tangier either got its name from a ship wreck or after the Moroccan seaport of Tangiers. Q: “What is the village known for?” A: “Gold and gold mining.” Q: “Is there a distinctive landmark?” A: “There is Prince Alfred Arch.” Q: “Are there any stories about Tangier?” A: “At Coastal Adventures, there is a “bottomless lake”. There is a story that, a long time ago, there was an old man that went across the lake called Bullrush Lake. He was taking his horses across in the winter. They were working horses. They went across the lake and the horses went through to the very bottom of the lake. They could not see them, so that’s why they called it a bottomless lake.” - Jacob Boutilier

Pleasant Harbour

Murphys Cove

East Ship Harbour

George Lewis Monk was born December 17, 1876 in Ship Harbour, Nova Scotia. He was the son of lumberman James Richard Monk and Sabina (Weeks) Monk. As a young man he worked for Hill & French Lumber Company in Ship Harbour and subsequently opened his own store in Ship Harbour around 1896. The Marine Highway Historical Society’s compilation, The Gull’s Cry, references an 1899 news article mentioning George Monk as clearing away a site for a new store. He married Mary Edith Robertson on January 2, 1901 at Christ Church in Dartmouth and together they had a daughter, Marcia, in 1903. In addition to a general store, George L. Monk also operated three lumber camps, a mill, and a cookhouse. In the 1930s and 1940s, when there was a demand for pulpwood, he sold pulp to various foreign buyers including the United States, Germany, and Norway. He worked as a lumber and general merchant for over fifty years, however, business declined after the war and the store was closed in the early 1950s. George L. Monk died January 24, 1959 and is buried at St. Stephen’s cemetery, Ship Harbour.



Our top 3 favourite things about this place? The ocean, the quietness, the wildlife! 

Stephen and Bobbie Mildenberger