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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter XI - Port Hawkesbury

This is the most Southerly section of Inverness County, striking the Richmond boundary at Point Tupper. It is a clean, healthy looking town, built upon an amphitheater of hills overlooking an elegant harbor. Right opposite, on the other side of the Strait, is the town of Port Mulgrave, formerly called "McNair's Cove." These two sister towns of the sea peer into each other's faces across the water, like "Duart's Dhunnolah a coighaid e cheille."

Port Hawkesbury was formerly called "Ship Harbour", presumably because it has the best Harbour on the Strait of Canso. Indeed, it is the only port along that interesting passage of water entitled to be called a harbour. This harbour is a boon not only to Hawkesbury but to all the Island of Cape Breton. When the Intercolonial Railway was extended Eastwardly to the Strait and thence to Sydney, and the Inverness road was built to Inverness, this place took on a new importance as a centre of travel and traffic. When the Counties of this Province were incorporated in 1879 this was a municipal district of Inverness County, represented in the Municipal Council by the late Alexander McIntosh, Merchant, deceased. Now, Port Hawkesbury is a neat incorporated town, governed by a Mayor, Clerk and Council. It has an important Customs House, Post-Office, telegraph and telephone service, a large and well-conducted cold storage establishment, an efficient branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, a spacious Town Hall, its pleasant and comfortable hotels, chief of which is the old reliable "The Farquhar House", its creditable schools and school buildings, and its fine array of Christian churches, standing like dutiful sentinels on the everlasting hills.

In early times a leading feature of the business here was the supplying of men, materials, vital necessaries and repairs, to the fishing fleet frequenting the Gulf of St. Lawrence and adjacent waters. The larger part of that fleet came from Gloucester, the remainder from different parts of this Province. Each of these vessels carried a crew of from fifteen to twenty men. In the course of a season such a fleet would call for a large volume of supplies. Many of the hands were natives of Inverness and other parts of this Island, and were taken on at Ship Harbour. All this fleet was engaged in mackerel fishing, all of which was then done by handlines. The men were hired on half-line, meaning that each man was to get the proceeds of one-half of the fish caught by him. The American craft carried their fish to Gloucester, and all the hands were required to follow, in order to get their money when the fish was sold. In this way it became the lot of our brave boys, Big Duncan, Wild Archie, John the Weasel, Big Donald from Bras D'Or and others, to contribute a vast amount of terror and revenue to the lively town of Gloucester. It is said that "Wild Archie" alone, paid $10,000 in fines into the coffers of that maritime town, and Archie was not the only generous giver in this respect.

It was at this time that a certain jovial genius, who had been, himself, an "old salt", perpetrated -that piece of sailor doggerel of which. the following is a specimen:

"Tis of two husky Scotchmen a long story I will tell,
"Their names were MacDonalds. I suppose you know them well;
"Two bulky bags of oatmeal they took with them away,
"They went unto Ship Harbour to get into the Bay".
"Big Donald from Bras D'Or &c., &c., &c.

"When Donald got into Cape Ann, he bought a suit of clothes,
"He threw away his homespun, like wise his crooked "broags";
"He donned a pair of gaiters, I'm sure they were sixteens,
"He loves the Yankee women, for they cook the bully beans.

"Big Donald from Bras D'Or,
"Big Donald from Bras D'Or,
"Wild, mad and crazy was
"Big Donald from Bras D'Or."

It is amazing to witness the influence which a certain mode of living exercises over human conduct. Before these Cape Breton fisherfolk took to the sea and to heartless surroundings, they were as quiet and peaceable as the inmates of a cloister. "When they went down to the sea in ships", to live in the merciless storms, to snatch a precarious livelihood from the unfeeling bosom of the deep, to associate with the irresponsible and excited mobs ashore, and to quarrel with the breeders of quarrels, they became as "roaring lions seeking whom they might devour." When again, they returned to the primitive pastoral life, ,and settled down into homes of love and good works, they became the friends of peace and order, the lovers of home and family, which God intended they should be. "Thy mercy on thy people, Lord."

The early settlers of Ship Harbour would seem to have come from many climes.

Allan Grant and John Grant, who located and lived at Grant's Point, came from Ballendallich, Scotland. They were sturdy and intelligent sons of the heather. Not a man of their name now resides in Hawkesbury. Many of our older people remember their descendents, Cowan D. Grant, Angus Grant and Peter Grant. These were for decades progressive and patriotic citizens of Hawkesbury. Peter Grant was the Nestor of Journalists in Inverness, he having published the first newspaper produced in this County. We think that publication was called "The News of the Week." On account of it being the first venture of that kind, and, also, on account of some real merit, it attracted considerable patronage. But the Grants left Hawkesbury for British Columbia, whence they have not returned. The next newspaper published at Hawkesbury was "The Eastern Beacon" whose span of life was somewhat short. Then came "The Eastern Journal" and "The Bulletin". For years those last two named papers espoused and represented opposite sides of politics. Eventually, the two were merged into one-the present Journal-Bulletin-which, we assume, is the survival of the fittest.

Nicholas Paint and sons came from the Island of Guernsey. Like many of their enterprising countrymen, they found the reward of their labours in the bounty of the sea. For generations the firm of Peter Paint & Sons was a leading business concern in Hawkesbury. After Peter, the father and founder of the firm died, his sons William and Fred continued the business with energy and success, under the old name and title. They were good business men, careful, active, honest and industrious. Fred died from an injury to his knee received while riding a bicycle. He was unmarried. Some years afterwards William, who was married to Ida, a daughter of the late Wm. Cutler, Barrister, of Arichat, and had a family, sold out the business and removed to Victoria, British Columbia. The business is still conducted under the original firm name. Bonus nomen est bonus omen. There was another of the Paints who is well remembered in Nova Scotia. namely, Henry N. Paint, Esquire. In his palmy days he did business in Halifax for many years. Subsequently, he entered the political arena and represented Richmond County for several terms in the House of Commons of Canada. He was a good loyal representative, apparently preferring the welfare of his people to his own. Another of the Paints was Little Peter. He was not a brother, but a more distant kinsman of Big Peter. He, also, carried on a mercantile business for quite a period. His business was well attended to, and he was well liked. We are not aware that he left any family.

The Embrees, a very respectable element in Port Hawkesbury, were United Empire Loyalists, who came East at the time of the American Revolution. Many of them were shipbuilders and master mariners, and made a valuable contribution to the progress of their adopted port. The Hennesseys were, also shipowners, and followed the sea for a long time. The Philpots were English of an excellent type. They have always been among the most useful and industrious citizens here.

The Bailleuls came from Germany, and always exercised the care and thrift of their Teuton ancestors.

P. J. Brouard came from Guernsey, was a famous shipbuilder, and the father-in-law of the venerable Alexander Bain, now "the grand old man" of Hawkesbury. He came there from the County of Victoria, as an accountant for Hart and Ingraham. When that firm dissolved he commenced business for himself, married Miss Brouard, and has ever since enriched the social life of Hawkesbury. For many years he was the trusted American Consul at his Port. He spends the sunset of life alone, with an only daughter, a lesson in good living for us who are a little younger.

This Mr. P. J. Brouard built a beautiful ship in Hawkesbury, on the upper side of the street, at the Southwestern corner of what is now Mr. Bain's store. An elegant wall-picture of this ship is preserved by Mr. Bain in his parlor. This picture was taken on the ship's maiden voyage to Europe, while entering the port of Trieste. Looking at that splendid vessel, with all its wealth of canvas spread, recalls more vividly than anything else could do a glorious era that is past. No wonder the picture should be cherished as a valued heirloom.

A great many of the pioneers of Hawkesbury sailed the seven seas in their own vessels, before the application of steam-power took the wind out of their sails. But they made hay while the sun shone, and
the most of them returned to the land well prepared for the winter.

An important fact of history remains to be told. In 1828 a ship load of emigrants from Scotland landed at Ship Harbour. There are but few traces of that large body of immigrants now remaining in Port Hawkesbury. Evidently they dispersed into the district of Port Hastings and other interior sections. The following is the record of that event :

In the Port of Greenock:
"Know ye that Jonathan Cram hath here entered certain passengers' luggage free. In the Saint Lawrence, Jonathan Cram, Master, for Ship Harbour in Cape Breton.
Dated this 12th July 1828 in the ninth year of King George the Fourth.
P.C. Office.

Two hundred and fifty chests.
Twenty trunks,
Fifty barrels.
Forty bags.
"Port of Leith:

"List of passengers going in the Ship "Saint Lawrence" of New Castile, Burthen per register--tons. Navigated with men including Jonathan Cram, the Master, Bound for "Ship Harbor" Cape Breton."

If Port Hawkesbury never did anything else but distribute in this county that fine body of Scottish immigrants, it would not lack a claim to immortality. Here we have a large portion of the whole Island of Rum in the inner Hebrides landed at Ship Harbour in one promiscuous lump. Careful guidance and directions must have been sought and found. We are not able to trace all the descendants, of those valuable immigrants. We think we recognize quite a few of them in the district of Port Hastings and elsewhere. It would give us immense pleasure to know them all. Some day we may know them. In the meantime, we can only ask those descendants to examine carefully the foregoing list, and embrace their ancestors.


This family has been, through six generations, a distinctive force in the life of Port Hawkesbury. William, the progenitor of all the Hawkesbury Philpotts, was born in Swimbridge, England in 1783. He was married in England to Elizabeth Shave of Hampshire, with issue: one son and three daughters, and came to Port Hawkesbury in 1822. Both himself and his wife died in 1857 and 1861 respectively, and are buried in the Church of England cemetery at Port Hawkesbury.

The son, William, who was married to a Scottish lady by the name of Margaret MacLean, came with his wife to join his parents at Hawkesbury in 1824. He was a shipbuilder and farmer, and was notably industrious. He had the following family, namely: William, Angus, James, Jeremiah, Catherine, Elizabeth, Susan, Charlotte and Martha.

Charlotte was married to Nicholas Martin and had a family; Susan to John Lamey; Elizabeth to John Mills; Catherine to Captain Thomas H. Williams, the father of J. J. Williams, who had been for many years the successful Editor of the Bulletin, and later of the Journal-Bulletin.

Jeremiah Philpott was married without issue to Miss Chipman of Wolfville, a sister to the lovable late Rev. Dr. Chipman of the Methodist clergy.

James Philpott married Margaret Embree, with issue: three sons and four daughters. A daughter of this marriage is the estimable second wife of John C. Bourniot, Esquire, M.P.P.

Angus Philpott was married to Mary Jane Grant, a daughter of Allan Grant, and a sister of Peter Grant who started The News of the Week,-the first newspaper published in Inverness County. By this marriage he had three sons and three daughters. He was married again to Catherine MacColl of West Bay, and had nine children, one of whom is the wife of Mr. Kerr, Manager of the Royal Bank of Canada at Antigonish. A son of this second marriage is at present on the Highway Construction staff of this province.

Thus we see how one sturdy English family of Philpotts grew, branched out and' prospered, in the lucky land of their adoption. It is just such families that deserve to be embalmed in history, and there were many such families in Hawkesbury whose individual history, we regret to say, we have not been able to make available. "From one learn all."


Daniel White Hennessey was born at Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland, in 1818, and died at Port Hawkesbury on the 1st day of April 1908, aged 90 years.

At the age of thirteen he crossed over from "the Emerald Isle", and landed at the Port of St. John, N.B., where his brother John was then living. In St. John he learned the trade of Blockmaking.

On May 23rd 1838 he was married in St. John to an Irish girl from Kilkenny by the name of Martha Brown. They were married in St. Andrews" Church by a Church of Scotland clergyman. Mrs. Hennessey died in 1873, leaving a family of seven, five sons and two daughters.

In the fall of 1844 Daniel W. Hennessey came from St. John to Port Hawkesbury to visit his brother Charlie, who was a Boatmaker by trade. Finding that vessel trade was then brisk at Hawkesbury, he decided to remain there. Such was the scarcity of available house room in Hawkesbury at that time that Mr. Hennessey was obliged to rent from a certain Mrs. Davis a bed room in which to set up his Lathe. Later on his oldest daughter Katie was married to a nephew of this Mrs. Davis.

Mr. Hennessey followed his trade of Blockmaking for several years at Port Hawkesbury. Later on he built and owned several fine vessels. Among those vessels were the Brigt. "W. D. Hennessey" landed in 1871, the Barque "Journal" which was burnt at sea on a voyage from the West Indies, the Brigt. "Minnie Louise" lost on the Newfoundland coast, the schooner "Rech Newcomb" sold to Newfoundland parties, the schooner "Scylla" sold to parties at Gaspe, and the schooner "Flora Temple" sold in Newfoundland.
Daniel W. Hennessey by his wife Martha Brown had the following family, namely; Kate, John and Robert born at St. John, and George, William Sarah and Daniel, born at Port Hawkesbury.

The son John learned navigation and sailed his father's vessels until 1896 when he retired from the sea. He was appointed Collector of Customs and Registrar of Shipping in 1898, which positions he continued to fill till his death in February 1920 at the age, of seventy-eight. He was married to Bridget Proctor on July 23rd 1881 by whom he had a large and clever family.

John's oldest son, Howard, served for several years as Purser in one of Pickford and Black's ships in the West Indies Trade. Afterwards he was employed as. Secretary-Treasurer of the firm of Granville's Ltd. of Calgary, Alberta, Later still he went into the Dry goods business -for himself at Lethbridge, where he got married and died.

Fred the next oldest son. was with the Plant Line at Hawkesbury and is now residing on the homestead with some younger brothers and sisters. He went overseas with the 25th Batn. was wounded twice in action, and, returning home, was appointed Collector of Customs at Port Hawkesbury.

Beatrice, daughter of John, was married to Frank Whitehead. Her husband went overseas and died in hospital at Bramshott, England. All the rest of John's sons and daughters occupy honourable positions of trust at home and abroad.

Robert, son of Daniel W. is mate at present of the "S. S. Scotia."

George, son of D. W., also, learned navigation and sailed his fathers' vessels for many years. He was married twice and left one daughter, Margaret, who is now living and married at the Pass, Manitoba.

Daniel was not married, and was drowned off one of their own vessels in Pictou Harbor.

Sarah was married to Daniel Hennessey, son of Charles, without issue.

Charles Hennessey, the brother of Daniel, left the following family, namely; George, Patrick, Daniel, James, Joanna and Mary Jane.

The Hennesseys were a very respectable and enterprising family, as were the most of Hawkesbury's old families.


The Embrees, were originally French Huguenots, moved from the North of France to England early in the 17th Century and in the later part of the same Century or shortly before the American Revolution two families moved to Westchester Mass. U.S.A. After the war was over Capt. Thomas Embree, a retired British Officer with his family moved to Lahave N.S. Adolphus, his brother moved to Amherst N.S. his descendants are now settled in Amherst and Oxford. Capt. Thomas died in Lahave about the year 1809, leaving a widow four sons and three daughters. The sons took up ship building and fishing about the year 1826 they moved to the Strait of Canso. Then Thomas, Samuel and Charles settled in Inverness County, Adolphus settled in Richmond. Thomas started and carried on a tannery with some success, at one time he had about 30 men employed. Samuel and Charles both did a good share of Farming and were successful to a degree. Thomas had four sons viz. Thomas who went to London, Eng. and remained there. Isaiah settled in Hawkesbury, he run the Ferry to Mulgrave. Nelson, who married and moved to Ontario with his family. William, who settled in Linn, Mass. he is still living. Samuel had five sons, George Gasper, David, Daniel and Henry. George settled in Hawkesbury on what is now called Embree Island So did Gasper and Henry; Daniel went to the United States and enlisted in the war of 64, fought through it and was pensioned off, came home and died shortly after. David settled in Richmond County.

Charles had five sons, Thomas, Samuel, Angus, Alexander and John. John is the only one of that family living. George Samuel oldest son carried on shipbuilding in the days of wooden ships, he built from the year 1850 to 1865, no less than five schooners, six Brigenteen and 1 Barque. He had four sons, David, E. C., Henry and Benjamin. David was lost at sea. He was Capt of a square reger on foreign voyages when he was 21 years old. E. C. is a building contractor and lives on the old place he was mayor of the town for three successive terms. Henry moved to Dorchester, Mass. and in now living there.. Benjamin was Capt. of a great lake Boat for several years he died in St. Louis, M. O.

Gasper had four sons, John, Daniel, Fred and Herbert: the last three named died young. John owns a vessel and does a timber trade.

Henry had two sons living, Leonard, who lives in Boston and Freeman, who now is Manager of the famous boat building concern here.

Isaiah had two sons, James and George. James is now running the Ferry to Mulgrave he has two sons home. Nelson settled here and Ormand, who runs the ferry with his father.

E. C. had five sons, his oldest Thornton who left the Royal Bank at Halifax and enlisted in the 40 Batt. went into active Service in the 52nd Batt. was promoted to Lieut. and was killed in Action at Ypres.

George his second son also volunteered and went over with the 25th Batt. he also gave his life in the battle field. His other three sons are now at home, Chandler, Wilmot, Peter and Robert of the Embree tribe now living in Inverness County are descendants of Adolphus who settled in Richmond. They were all strong hardy men and very energetic. Thomas and Samuel were twin brothers, stood over 6ft. and weighed over 200 lbs. they both lived over 90 years, their decendants, though not so heavy keep, up their record for hard workers very well.


The Paint family is closely identified with the early history and commercial life of Port Hawkesbury.

Of ancient lineage and Norman-French ancestry they trace their descent from one William Paen, who was granted lands in Guernsey by William the Conqueror on giving up his estate in Normandy: this fact being stated in an old History of Guernsey. The name "Paen" was subsequently anglicized to "Pain", the "t" being added during the 17th century.

Sir Gaspard Le Marchant, Governor of Nova Scotia in 1852, was a connection of -the family, his grandmother having been a Miss Paint.

Nicholas Paint came to Cape Breton from Guernsey, British Channel Islands, and was born at St. Peter's Port, in 1790. He was educated at Mr. Legais' school in London. In 1816 his father sent him to Buenos Ayres where he remained five years in a commercial house, and returned in a ship, paying 90 guineas for his passage.

He then offered himself for military service to the Duke of Wellington, who, owing to Mr. Paint's ability to speak English, French and Spanish, sent him to France to obtain information of Napoleon's movements.
In 1814 he married Mary Le Messurier of St. Peter's Port.

Appointed representative of the firm of Janvrin and Company of Jersey and London, Mr. Paint landed at Arichat, C.B. in 1816, having authority over their several agencies in America. Returning to Guernsey later on he formed with his father as one of the members, the firm of Thomas Moullin and Co. As manager of this firm, he sailed with a staff of clerks for the strait of Canso, where he did a large West India business for several years, afterwards carrying it on in his own name.

In 1820 Mr. Paint was appointed Justice of the Peace for the Island of Cape Breton by Sir James Kempt.

In 1822 he brought out his wife and three children, Mary, Rachel and Peter, a large and commodious stone house having been built for the family in what is now the northern part of Hawkesbury but at that time known as Belle Vue. Here three other children were born,, John, Eliza and Henry.

In addition to his commercial business, Mr. Paint built several large vessels, in one of which he went with his son John to Philadelphia, where both died of Cholera in 1832. After his decease, Peter Paint, Senior, a distant cousin who had come out in 1822 managed the estate for Mrs. Nicholas Paint till 1855, when Peter Paint, Junior and Henry N. Paint formed a partnership and Peter Paint Sr. started in business for himself futher south. The brothers soon drew apart, Henry going to Halifax where he married Miss McVean of Halifax and resided till 1887; but never losing interest in his native place. The building of the Dominion Warehouse and Wharf, now the site of Leonard's Fisheries, and the Strait of Canso Marine Railway, being due to his efforts, and enterprise; besides being instrumental in securing other public works in different parts of Cape Breton. Also the first crossing of the mails at Port Hawkesbury, the first Steam Ferry across the Strait, and the line of steamers from Boston. From 1887 to 1891 he represented the County of Richmond at Ottaws. Later he returned to Halifax where he died in 1921, aged 92 years.

His second wife was Miss Cowdray of New York. He had five children by his first wife, three of whom are living. One daughter is the wife of Sir Charles Mander, Baronet, of Wolverhampton, England.

On the dissolution of the partnership between the brothers, Peter Paint Jr. moved in 1856 from Belle Vue to the more thickly populated part of the town where he did an extensive mercantile business until his death in 1891. He married Miss Campbell of Sydney. He was the first Mayor of Port Hawkesbury.

Mary, eldest daughter of Nicholas Paint, married Peter Paint, Senior. Three of their children are living; two were lost in the "S. S. City of Boston." William and Frederick were associated with their father as Peter Paint and Sons, till the death of the latter in 1885, and continued until Frederick's death in 1898, when William carried it on till his removal to Victoria, B. C. in 1921, when he disposed of the business which is being conducted under the name of Peter Paint & Sons, Limited.

Louise, wife of G. Ormond Forsyth, K.C. and Annie, wife of Andrew Strong are the surviving daughters. William Paint married Miss Cutler, daughter of W. R. Cutler K.C.

Rachel, the second daughter of Nicholas Paint, married William Dennison, M.D.; of her children four remain. Gertrude, widow of Judge Hutchinson; Laura, wife of Hon. G. E. Faulkner, Clara, wife of E. E. Williams, M.D. and Hope, wife of William Jones.

Eliza the third daughter of Nicholas Paint, died unmarried.

Deeply interested in the importance of the religious and educational welfare of the town, the Paints have done what they could for its advancement. In 1855 and 1856, respectively, Peter Paint Jr. secured the services of two of his college class-mates, Zenas Freeman, and Frank Higgins, afterwards Professor of Mathematices in Acadia University, to teach the public school in Port Hawkesbury. In 1867 Peter Paint, Senior provided a new school house, renting it for several years to the town and then transferring it to the Trustees. In 1898 Mrs. Peter Paint Senior presented the site for a Temperance Hall; this having been expropriated for railway purposes, William Paint then gave the site upon which Life Buoy Temperance Hall now stands.

Originally the Paints were Anglicans, but there being no Anglican Church at the strait of Canso, they became members of the Baptist denomination and assisted financially in the erection of a church at Belle Vue, Mrs. Nicholas Paint giving the land for the church and cemetery and at her death in 1864 left funds for its completion. For over forty years Peter Paint Junior was the Superintendent of the Baptist Sunday School. He also gave a site for, and contributed half the cost of the erection of a new Church building in the centre of the town.

Those old men from Jersey who came to, Cape Breton, appear to have been men of push and substance. The Huberts, the Vescontes, 'Grunchies and De Carterets of Arichat, and Senator Bourinot of Sydney Ate well remembered by our older readers in Inverness. Senator Bourinot was among the first batch of appointees to the Canadian Senate. His son, the late Sir John Bourinot, was Clerk of the House of Commons for many years, and also, an author of distinction within and beyond Canada. Cape Breton owes Sir John a valuable work of Iocai history. The late Hon. Isaac Le-Visconte represented, with force and credit, the County of Richmond for several terms in both the House of Assembly and the House of Commons. His uncommon strength was shown by his defeat in Richmond County, at a Dominion Election, of such a gladiator on the hustings as William A. Henry, aft-erward a Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada. Two grandsons of Senator Bourinot, John C. Bourinot, M. P. P., and Bertram Bourinot, of Arichat, are natives of Port Hawkesbury. Both of these will be remember in Inverness and Richmond for their zea and success in Journalism under divers difficulties. Marshall Bourinot father of these two grandsons was married to Laura Fixott of Arichat and for years Collector of Customs at Port Hawkesbury.

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