Some Shipwrecks of Brier Island, Nova Scotia

Compiled by Art MacKay for a Parks Canada Study

Brier Island

The Brier Island area has claimed many ships. The heavy and frequent swell, the shoals and the rugged coastline virtually ensured difficulty for vessels which wander off course. Powell (1963) has summarized some of the local wrecks as follows: When increased sea traffic came to the Bay of Fundy it was realized that Brier Island was a sea hazard to shipping, So, in 1809, the second lighthouse between Halifax and Saint John was constructed on the western side of Brier Island. It is possible that Brier Island holds the record for lighthouses on the Atlantic Coast, averaging one per mile as its total length is only three miles. From the lists of wrecks at or near this Island there is evidently a need for the operation of these lighthouses. Following is an account of most of these recorded. The Jennie B. Thomas was wrecked at Peters Island December 30, 1897. The schooner Shaffner Brothers was wrecked on Gull Rock Bar, January 11, 1906. The Lennie Burrill grounded on Peters Island Shoal, February 12, 1900. She was later floated but the crew deserted ship and refused to rejoin the vessel when she was refloated. The barque Aurora was wrecked on Brier Island November27, 1908. She was loaded with lumber and much of her cargo was washed up on the shore. The IOOF Hall was constructed from some of this lumber. The schooner Mina German went ashore at Southern Point Febraury 8, 1912. The steamer Cobequid was wrecked at Trinity Rock January 13, 1914. The S.S. Westport III, commanded by Captain Edgar MacKinnon went to the assistance of the stranded ship. The crew of the Cobequid, through the efforts of the complement of the Westport, were heroically saved. But Captain MacKinnon, while effecting the rescue, received injuries which compelled him to give up his active seafaring career. Each received an engraved watch for his part in saving the lives of the men on the Cobequid. The Corinthian, a large ocean-going ship, was wrecked on North-West Ledge, December, 1918. She had cleared from St. John with a full cargo of hams, bacons and other food products for the British Isles. The ship was a total loss and her cargo found its way to every port in Western Nova Scotia.

In February 1944 bodies of the crew from the Greek freighter Arkterini were washed ashore on Brier Island and Long Island. The ship was carrying a cargo of coal for St John. No definite details are available but it is assumed that she struck in the vicinity of Brier Island. In February, 1877, the full-rigged ship, General Wolsley, was lost on the coast of Brier Island. She was loaded with supplies for Bath, Maine. Her cargo consisted of household furniture, sleighs, equipment of various kinds and provisions, and it was strewn along the coast, some of which was salvaged by the people of Westport and Freeport The story is told that in the winter of 1846 twenty-five vessels of various sizes sailed down the Bay of Fundy bound for New England and Southern ports with cargoes of lumber. Of the twenty-flve which started only nine were able to complete the trip. A strong southwest wind accompanied by snow struck the area and those that were fortunate enough made harbour. Only nine were able to continue the trip unharmed. The Thomas Green, a two-masted schooner, struck Cow Ledge and broke up. Her cargo was carried by the tide along the shores and much of it was salvaged by the fishermen. For More Information about Nova Scotia shipwrecks, visit On The Rocks at http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mma/ wrecks/default.asp

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