PORT GEORGE Map
Port George is a village on the Bay of Fundy, seven miles north of Middleton, N.S., near where I grew up on a farm at Mosher's Corner. This is a partial history of a place that once was a popular sea port. The articles included on this page are written just as they were during those times.
Port George is the only place along the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy where you can drive for several kilometres along the water's edge. The drive ends at Cottage Cove, where there is a small Provincial Picnic Park, the ideal spot to get away from it all, and to enjoy magnificent sunsets
Here's a perfect example by our friend Brian Harvey with a tour by drone from Cottage Cove to Port George and return.
Some pictures from the early 1900's are included. (I see some other sites are using these pictures. Thankyou for giving this site credit.)
For additional aerial shots of the Fundy villages and the Annapolis Valley, see Paul Illsley's site.
Some pictures of the Port George shore line 2001. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world.
European fishermen and traders no doubt visited the Bay of Fundy, remarkable for its high tides, in the 16th century, as it is marked on maps of that period.
Researchers have proved that the name of Bay of Fundy comes from an early French word "fender" meaning split, applied on the map to the cape now called Cape Split at the entrance to Minas Basin. There it was extended to the whole basin and thence to the entire Bay of Fundy. To the end of the sixteenth century it was known as Fundy Bay.
Many of these European fishermen settled at Port George, some families living in the village now can trace their ancestors back to the British Isles. Some of these family names are Barteaux, Roach, Douglas, Brown, Fritz, etc.
Two Douglas brothers came from Scotland. Two Fritz brothers came from England to Saint John on a vessel. One remained in Saint John and the other Jacob came across the Bay of Fundy in an open boat and landed on the Port George shore in 1783. Children of the brothers went to Boston and they and several descendants are buried in the Mount Vernon Cemetery, Arlington, Mass.
The Indian name given to the small village was Goolevagopskooch meaning the flaunt of the Hooded Seal.
Stephen Gates came from England and settled in Cambridge, Mass. He passed away in 1662.
Captain Oldham Gates, his great grandson who was born in Cambridge Mass. 1716, came to Nova Scotia in 1760. At that time what we know as Annapolis County was the Wilmot Township and Granville Township. Gates was given a grant of land in the Wilmot Township. His son Oldham and three grandsons, sons of John Gates settled on the North Mountain, north of what is now known as Middleton. They gave the name of "Gates Ferry" to the Corners, the town of Middleton and Gates Breakwater or Landing on the shore at Port George.
Mosher's Corner was known as "Gates Mountain". The name of Gates Breakwater was changed to Port George in 1812. The Gates' were really the founders of Port George as far as business was concerned. The name was given in honour of George III of England.
The Gates brothers with Charlie Dodge built the first vessel that was launched at Port George. She was built for a privateer, but was captured by her enemy (United States) during the War of 1812 while she was on her way for armament at Halifax.
The first breakwater was built by the fishermen (1825) at the site where the weir has been operated for several years. This wharf was not constructed to stand the force of the tides and was soon washed away. The shipyard was west of this wharf.
Other prominent shipbuilders were G.R. Reed and John Anderson. Thomas Anderson was an artilleryman in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. After the war he was given a tract of land in Dalhousie. In 1820 he was recommended by the Earl of Dalhousie to become the first carpenter of all building projects. He had at least two sons, Thomas Jr. And John. When the shipbuilding industry began on the Bay of Fundy John came and became a Master shipbuilder. Thomas Jr. Went to Port Lorne worked as a carpenter and fisherman.
The following page is a copy of a contract between John Anderson and Joseph Elliott. John Anderson being Elma Fritz's great grandfather.
PORT GEORGE, ANNAPOLIS COUNTY
It is approximately two miles north east of Cottage Cove on the Fundy Shore of Nova Scotia. The Indian name was "Goolwagopskooch" "Haunt of the Hooded Seal". The English name was given for King George III. The settlement was founded by members of the Gates family prior to 1812.
A Methodist meeting house was under construction for about six years, was opened September 17, 1871.
A school was built in 1871 and it became a community center in 1964. A new lighthouse was put in operation April 1, 1889.
A Postal Way Office was established in 1856.
At one time Port George had a shipyard and carried on a good volume of trade with Boston and Saint John. More recently its industries were fishing, lumbering and agriculture.
Population in 1956 was 84.
Port George Fire April 13, 1864
Two stores were destroyed by fire, that of G.B. Reed, Esquire and one belonging to the estate of the late Edward Cropley, who had died the day before. His coffin was destroyed in the flames. Mr. Macintosh’s barn was also lost.
It is an interesting fact of geography that Nova Scotia lays half way between the Equator and the North Pole. The 45th parallel of latitude divides the province along a line, which extends from Port George on the Bay of Fundy shore to Liscomb on the Eastern Shore. It passes near Kingston, through Falmouth and in the vicinity of Stewiacke on highway 102.
A contract between John Anderson and Joseph Elliott, who owned a store in Clarence, was to build him a vessel of a burden of 140 tons. The vessel was built and called the "Clarence". It carried farm produce and wood to Boston and returned carrying supplies for the Elliott Store. It sailed from the pier at Gates Breakwater (Port George), which was a very active Port in the early I800's.
The Clarence had rather a tragic ending. She was lost off Turks Island. She was on her way there with a load of salt. She was too good a vessel to keep in the wood and supply trade.
The Elliotts owned another vessel the "Alert" bought in Boston and sailed from Port George.
Other vessels sailing to and from Port George were the A.M. Stone, Alice Maud, E. Bowlby, Prospect, Nell, Bess Grenada, Hattie, Mizpah, and Bear River, Oscar F. They carried freight from the farmers and wood from the Valley to Saint John and Maine.
Some of the captains were James Slocomb, Henry Fritz, John Brown, Alex Parks, James Parks, and Elias Woodworth. Captain Brown and Captain Woodworth lost their lives on the Bear River in 1902.
The first steamship between Saint John and Annapolis crossed the Bay of Fundy in 1826. The Henreitta was placed on this route in 1831 and was succeeded in a few years by the Maid of the Mist. She gave way to the Nova Scotia built in Annapolis and owned by a stock company.
In the early 1900's steamers replaced these vessels. The chief ones were The Ruby L 1st, Ruby L 2nd and Nova. They were built in Margaretville to deliver freight along the Fundy Shore from Saint John.
The last vessel sailing out of Port George was The Champion. This boat was owned by L.F. Weaver and operated by his son Robert who had just returned from World War I 1918.
The Gates brothers and Charles Dodge built the first vessel on the Bay Shore, Wilmot Township at Gates Settlement (Port George) in 1812. It was intended for privateering in the War of 1812. On her maiden voyage to Halifax for armament, she was lost to the enemy.
The first breakwater lasted about twenty years, buffeted by tides and weather. It was decided to construct a pier or long wharf and the citizens petitioned the government in 1839, where upon an Act to incorporate the Wilmot pier company was passed on the 3Oth day of March 1839. First shareholders and founders were: Samuel Dodge, David Lauders, Jacob Gates, Joshua Morgan, Isaac Saunders, Granville Reed, John B. Longley, James Gates, James Parker, John Dodge and Ambrose Dodge. Their aim: “to build and erect a Pier or Wharf on the South Shore at Gates Mountain in Township open and free for use of all ships and vessels."
The company constructed a long wharf.
Written By the late John Anderson
Port George when I was a kid was a bustling community with three general stores, three wharves, two churches, a post office, a customs house and school.
One of the stores contained the Post Office and was run by Ainslee Elliott, father of Frank Elliott and Mrs. George Reagh and grandfather of Roy Elliott and Jack and Harold Reagh. Captain Elias Woodworth owned one of the other stores. Captain Woodworth also operated a fleet of sailing vessels carrying freight to Saint John, New Brunswick and cordwood to the Rockland, Maine lime kilns.
Captain Alex Parks owned the other store and he and his young son Ross perished in the Mt. Pelee volcanic eruption in Martinque.
In the early days a large percentage of apples grown in the valley were brought over the mountain by horse team or oxen to Port George and shipped to Saint John. Sometimes a storm would come up and the whole deck load would be swept overboard and lost.
On return trips from Saint John to Port George a large part of the goods for the Middleton merchants were brought back.
Both sides of the road from what was called Willets Comer to Cottage Cove was piled high with cordwood to be shipped to Maine. Cordwood was also loaded at Caton Sand Beach by piling it in small dories or boats and taken to a vessel anchored off shore. A good deal of shipbuilding was also done at Port George.
PORT GEORGE AN OUTLINE OF ITS HISTORY, JUNE 28, 1895
This article appeared in the Outlook.
Today at this time (1987) there is no breakwater or pier at Port George. High tides having destroyed the last one.
The pleasant seashore village situated on the Bay of Fundy, now known as Port George was formerly called Gates' Breakwater. After about 20 years service the breakwater was destroyed by the action of the fierce tides of the bay. By this time Gates Breakwater was becoming an important shipping point for the surrounding country, so it was decided to build a pier.
PORT GEORGE Wharves
The wharf built in 1825 was not sturdy enough to withstand the strong tides and the fishermen applied to the government for a new pier. This was built in 1839. A few years later a shorter wharf was built just east of the Long wharf. This formed a better harbor for the boats. To guide the captains a pole light had been erected. In 1889 a real lighthouse was built, at the end of the shorter wharf.
The government provided money for a breakwater (wharf) across the entrance of the other two. This was known as the East Pier.
In the course of time this breakwater deteriorated to the extent, that it was not much protection, and finally washed away.
By this time the railroad had gone through the Valley and the Port was not used for trading vessels as in past years. The government did not deem it wise to spend money for repairs.
The lighthouse wharf started to deteriorate, and the lighthouse was moved up to the road in the early 1930's.
The long wharf was kept in repair for many years, but in the early 1940's it too succumbed to the ravage of the sea. Then a skid way was built and an engine installed in a small building to pull the boats up and down. Then in 1981 a short wharf was built at Cottage Cove to serve Port George fishermen, as well.
Built by William MacKenzie 1882. The shop was on the site of the former home of Leigh Fritzs' grandfather, before the building of the present Fritz house a few rods west. The shop was a structure of four walls, floor and roof with windows on all sides and a huge double door in front.
The windows were blackened with soot, so really, didn't do much to lighten the place and of course there was no electricity. A sign over the door proclaimed E. MacKenzie and the roof had a yellow horse weathervane.
The west wall was hung with all kinds of tools, wire, metal, etc. and a high counter like shelf ran the length of the wall for a work bench as a blacksmith did all kinds of repair work when there were no horses to be shod.
The forge was on the north wall and the smell of coal smoke mingled with burnt horsehair and whiffs of smoke from the men's old tobacco pipes. The northeast corner of the shop held the ox slings.
The day of horseshoeing was over when the tractor arrived.
Port George First Store JUNE 28, 1895
The first store in Port George was erected and occupied by David Landers, father of D.C. Landers, the customs officer at Port George.
A few years later a second store was built by G.R. Reed. Another early businessman was James Slocomb who also opened a general store.
The growing village had a fire, which destroyed most of the business portion of the place. Among the stores burned were owned by James Slocomb, James Grimes and Edward Cropley.
From 1860 to 1875 Port George was the acme of prosperity. Previous to the building of the railway, much of the trade of the adjoining Valley went to Port George and all traffic of the Nictaux iron Works came to the same point.
At that time Port George could boast a home built fleet. Fishing was the lucrative occupation and the abundant supplies of cordwood brought $8.00 instead of $3.00 as at present.
The general progress did not add to the prosperity of Port George. The opening of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway diverted much of the trade of this place. In the matter of shipping the people near the shore have an advantage over those of the Valley.
All produce can be shipped direct to Saint John in schooners sailing to that point or in Captain B. Woodworth' 5 pocket which makes weekly trips For example the merchants of Middleton buying goods from Saint John must pay freight to the railway company from Annapolis or truckage from Port George (seven miles). As a result flour, oil and other goods are selling lower at Port George than Middleton.
(Late 1800's The canning factory was built by Rupert Anderson (son of John Anderson, the ship builder). It was operated by a man named Pendleton, for several years, and then taken over by Captain Elias Woodworth. He was lost at sea. The factory was purchased by O.A. Isnor and used as a cooper shop where apple barrels were made. It was finally sold and taken away and used for a barn.
Rick MacKa Rick Mackay, Albany has a can from the canning factory, which had contained kipper Haddies. It was found in an old fireplace in Albany, which had been closed up and reopened. The label is scorched on one end but the words Port George Canning Factory are very clear.
PORT GEORGE MILL
Another industry, which gave some employment, was a saw and gristmill, built and operated by Rupert Anderson (son of John Anderson, the boat builder).
This mill was situated up the brook from the weir, between the canning factory and McGinnis Road.
Rupert was injured in the mill by getting his arm caught in the saw. A doctor, who drove a horse and buggy over the mountain, removed the arm. No drugs or hospital was available such as we have today and blood poison set in which caused his death at age 38. After his death the mill was operated by O.A. Eisnor and later by William Hunt. Both families lived in the house opposite the mill, which was later the Baptist Parsonage for 50 years and is now owned by Richard Lee.
In later years a sawmill was operated on Douglas Road by Lewis Naugler.
In 1864 a new act providing Free Schools under certain conditions throughout Nova Scotia was passed. Some districts accepted the regulations, which meant the setting up of school districts with trustees, agreeing to set up assessment rates and to provide acceptable school buildings in order to receive grants of money from the government.
February 22, 1865, Melvern Square, Margaretsville, Nictaux adopted the assessment.
February 23, 1865. In reference to Port George the opposition became organized and tried to stop the school but failed. Window sashes and panes of glass were broken etc. The school lasted a fortnight, and then was burned to the ground. Seventy children were deprived of classes.
The first record of a school is of one that was built on the hill opposite the United Church on land presently owned by Mr. Lockerby. This building burned and the children walked to the Douglas Road School then known as Cropley Road until a new school was built at the Port in 1871.
This was a two-room school and continued as such for about twenty years when one end was used for the school, other end for community hall. An old register shows an enrollment of 44 pupils with grades from I to IX.
This school operated until 1964 when amalgamation of the rural schools. The children have been transported by bus to Margaretville and Middleton. The building was taken over by the community, with the aid of an L.I.P Grant is a well-equipped hall.
Hallie Baker & Jennie Martin
James Slocomb & Georgia Armstrong
?? Roy & Hazel Wright S
Abbie Parker & Elsie Hinds 1913 - 1914
Lottie Parker & Muriel Lantz 1914 - 1915
Laura Baker & Muriel Lantz 1915 - 1916
Etta Snow & Pauline Smith 1916 - 1917
Delma Snow & Annie Fales 1917 - 1918 S
Elsie Hinds 1918-1919
Dorothy Lantz 1919-1920 S
Addie Fritz 1920 - 1921
Margaret Lantz 1921 - 1922
Tillman Tibert 1922 1923
Jennie Bolivar 1923 - 1924
Mildred Robbins 1924 1925
Mamie Landers 1924 - 1925
Lillian Durling 1925 - 1926
Elma MacKenzie 1926 -1928
Ella Stoddart 1928 -1929
Thelma Messenger 1929- 1930
Greta Walker 1930 -1931
Joy Cox 1931 - 1932
Lucille Johnson 1932 - 1933
Thelma Messenger 1933 - 1934
Doris Fisher 1934 - 1935
Eileen Skidmore 1935 - 1936
Lauretta Graham 1936 - 1938
Nina Davidson 1938 - 1939
Ruby Merritt 1939 - 1940
Vivian Thorne 1940 - 1941
Lorraine Dondale 1941 - 1942
Eileen Daniels 1942 - 1943
Eleanor Embree 1943 - 1944
Addie Armstrong 1944 - 1945
Elma Fritz 1945 - 1946
SadieBaker 1946- 1948
Eleanor Donnelly 1948 - 1950
Myrtle Baltzer 1950 - 1952
Isabella Fletcher 1952 - 1953
Mrs Bert Hersey 1952 - 1953
Elma Fritz 1953 - 1964
School closed in September 1964.
PORT GEORGE TELEPHONES
1912 J. N. Hines General Merchant 88-11
1913 J.C. Anderson 88-4 (four short)
G.A. Fader 88-13 (1 long3 short)
W. B. Mosher 88-21 (2 long 1 short)
J.E. Smith 88-12 (1 long2 short)
1914 L.F.Weaver 88-11
1919 Stanley Mosher 88-31
George Bent 88-5
Wilbert Rafuse (merchant) 88-14
1920 January to June L.F. Weaver & John Anderson 88-11
In June changed to L.F. Weaver & Son
1923 Rev M.W. Brown (parsonage) 88-23
1923 Leslie Lewis 88-22
1924 Mrs S.E. Spurr
1927 JohnClarke 88-34
PORT GEORGE HOTEL
When visitors pass the summer home of Paul Roop in Port George today there is little indication that this building was the hub of activity during the first half of this century.
Many changes have taken place. This was once a busy hotel. It was a two-story building known as Bay View House and operated as a hotel until 1925, owned by Mr. & Mrs. George Fader
The property boasted a large barn where travelers stabled their horses after the long carriage drive over the North Mountain.
It was sold in 1925 to Mr. & Mrs. Odber Ellis. It was sold to Paul Roop in 1951. The building was then changed to a one-story home.
In the 1800's this hotel was known as the Klondyke and run by Mr. Coleman, later owned by Gilbert Bent and George Fader.
PORT GEORGE, APRIL 18th, 1975
For many years over the last century, Port George, Annapolis County on the Bay of Fundy was one of the most active ports on the bay shore. When the last of the wharves of this port finally were destroyed by neglect and heavy seas about twenty five years ago, action was taken by the Federal Government to replace the wharf with a skid way. Gradually the skid way deteriorated.
In 1975 a $10,000 L.LP. was granted to rebuild the skid way. Five men undertook the job: Frank Bent Jr., Louis Specht, Doug North, Stewart Drew and Donnie Muise.
PORT GEORGE POST OFFICE
The first post office in Port George was established in 1856 and was usually at one of the stores. The mail was brought from the Middleton, Post Office three times a week. In a few years it was changed to a daily service. The first carrier was Rupert Anderson.
PORT GEORGE CUSTOMS OFFICE
A customs office was needed to keep records in clearing the vessels, also a record of their cargoes. The building was erected at the head of the Long Wharf
Colonel Robert Stone, was the customs officer at the "Breakwater" (by which Port George was known). He held this position when he died 1877. It was taken over by G.R. Reed and after his death in 1881, the position was filled by D.C. Lauders, son of David Lauders, who built the first store.
A customs officer after that was Charles Elliott. Later this building was used as a storeroom for fertilizer which was brought in by steamer from Saint John.
MAGGIE OF THE PORT GEORGE GENERAL STORE
Margaret Oliver was born at Port George in May 5, 1894. She attended the village school and spent all her life here, except for a short time in the States. She died October 19, 1971
Early in life Maggie worked as an assistant mail driver to Bill Mosher, driving a horse to the Middleton Post Office. Later she was given the full time job and is well remembered for her cheery disposition and kindness.
Hard work never scared Maggie. She also cared for her invalid mother. She married Wilbert Rafuse, February 28th, 1926. She moved into a home that contained her husband's general store. Early village history names other owners as N.F. Marshall, Ainslie Elliott, his son Frank and Israel Kilpatrick.
Wilbert drove the mail and Maggie tended the store and did her housework. She for many years made and sold gallons and gallons of ice cream.
Her husband died after a long illness and Maggie carried on the store business until her death.
It was in the summer of 1943 and the place was the little village of Port George, Nova Scotia. It had been at one time fishing and shipping port on the Bay of Fundy. In 1948 there were not more than two hundred people there. Years before Port George had boasted of its shipping goods from Halifax and Saint John coming in and apples, lumber and vegetables going out.
Two churches and one school carried on. The United Church of Canada, whose predecessor was the Methodist Church, had service two or three times a month. In winter, the snowdrifts made it impossible for the preacher to get through from Lawrencetown.
The United Church sat up on a high hill away from the beach, its cemetery in a shady grove directly opposite. The Baptist Church was larger and located on the shore road. Its minister came from Margaretville.
There were always amiable relations between the two churches. Their services never conflicted. So amiable were the relations that the one choir, made up of housewives, farmers and trades people, served both churches, usually with the same organist.
A great stimulus for the seaside village came in 1947 when the Valley Utility Company was going to bring electricity in from the Valley. The dwellers in every home signed up. In a few months the work was done and the lights turned on. Soon radios and refrigerators were in demand.
One family, “the Darlings," who lived in Boston spent the summer in their home at Port George. The Joseph Neily family spent the summer of 1948 as occupants of a part of the Darling house (on the top of the hill). The summer of 1948 was really warm in Port George.
The Neily family went to the little church on the hill for the Sunday morning service. As the congregation rose to sing a hymn Joe had difficulty getting up, as the pew seemed to cling to him. Joe found that all the pews were sticky. He called a friend aside who said it must be the varnish. It has been like that for forty years.
Joe vowed to have the situation corrected. Joe felt that former residents would support his plan. Letters were sent to about sixty old friends who had attended church there years before. The appeal for financial help to restore the little church went out to them. Cheques and money orders were received. Soon $1800.00 was realized.
Twelve or fourteen men volunteered to help Joe. They tried several brands of varnish remover but to no avail. Letters were sent to Halifax and Montreal seeking advice. After further testing it was found that anti-freeze was the most effective remover. In a few days the painters were through and the pews were dry and inviting.
In the meantime, poles had been set and wires strung to the church. In a few days the fixtures were in place. The switch was thrown. Soon lights inside and out were turned on.
The church closed in 1968, and was sold in 1978.