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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Big Wooden Ship - "Kings County"

From Conrad Byers Collection

From Conrad Byers Collection

From Wikipedia:

“Kings County was a four masted barque built at Kingsport, Nova Scotia on the Minas Basin.  She was named to commemorate Kings County, Nova Scotia (Launched June 2nd, 1890) and represented the peak of the county’s ship building era.  (A much smaller barque also named Kings County had been built in 1871.)  Kings County was one of the largest wooden sailing vessels ever built in Canada and only one of only two Canadian four-masted barques. (The other was the slightly smaller John. M. Blaikie of Great Village, Nova Scotia.)  At first registered as a four masted full rigged ship, she was quickly changed to a barque after her June 2nd launch.  More than three thousand people from Kings and Hants counties attended the launch.  She survived a collision with an iceberg on an 1893 voyage to Swansea, Wales.  Like many of the large merchant ships built in Atlantic Canada, she spent most of her career far from home on trading voyages around the world.  In 1909, she returned to the Minas Basin for a refit at Hantsport and loaded a large cargo of lumber.  In 1911 she became the largest wooden ship to enter Havana Harbor when she delivered a cargo of lumber and was briefly stranded.  She was lost a few months later on a voyage to Montevideo, Uruguay when she ran aground in the River Plate.  Too damaged to repair, she was scrapped in Montevideo where her massive timbers were visible for many years.”

Kings County was built by C.R. (Rufus) Burgess who owned and built the 'Blomidon Inn' as a private residence.  The Kings County was 255 ft. in length, 45' ft in beam, 25' ft in depth and 2061 tons in weight.


  1. Sea-Fever

    I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

    By John Masefield (1878-1967), English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967

  2. Love Karin's response to your blog post today! My dad recited it to anyone, usually me, who would listen to him. Something her remembered from English 8. He also had a grandfather and great uncle who sailed on a wooden ship towing logs and barges along the west coast. Such history.
    I wonder why no one thought to save the wood from Kings Country? Just imagine the interior wood!
    How are you coping with winter? Your poor east coast keeps getting hammered. Take care, Carole

    1. I think I first heard this poem in Grade 8 English, too, come to think of it! I come from tall ship seafaring-stock on both sides of the family - one side a captain of a clipper ship in the tea trade, another Danish great-grandfather who owned & captained a 3 masted schooner and a 3 masted barquentine. His wife ran the business while he was at sea, and her name flew on the ship's flag. Definitely on the bucket list to sail on a tall ship!

  3. Karin all of those purple sandpiper photos were taken "in the wind of a whetted knife." I can assure you. So cold in fact, my description was: "a wind that would peel the skin right off of you." Thank you to my good friends Karin and Carole, "laughing fellow-rovers" for checking up on me from time to time. I am very thankful for life and for all of the wonder around us in every waking minute! And Karin, although I cannot say whether the purple sandpipers hear or move to the sounds of Rachael Lander's version of 'Get Lucky' when the whetted knife is cutting me and my camera clicks - this is what I hear!

    1. Mark, I believe most things in life are better with music and when a piece of music slides into a perfect fit with the way an animal moves, or the beat of a bird's wings, or anything else for that matter, it is as if the world just had another beautiful layer added. Personally, when I drive into the mountains, I always hear (and often play) the "Flying Over Africa" music from the movie Out of Africa. Nothing else matches the way I feel in their presence. Best wishes from a laughing fellow-rover!

  4. one of my fondest memories is watching the men make a dory when it was small. such care was taken even in the smallest of boats. the boat building history of the province is wonderful.