Fishing and the challenges of the sea are no strangers to Canso and the surrounding fishing communities in Eastern Nova Scotia. The history of fishing and its role, in the early settlement in Nova Scotia has earned Canso the title as one of the oldest fishing ports in Nova Scotia.
During the past 400 years Canso, like many Nova Scotia fishing ports, has experienced the bounty of the sea as well as the hardships and cost associated with the fishery. The Seamen’s Memorial in Canso is the host site for the annual Provincial Seamen’s Service held the second Sunday in August which is Seamen’s Memorial Day in Nova Scotia. The Seamen’s Memorial Day Act was promoted by former Mayor Ray White, the Town of Canso and the Canso Lions Club and proclaimed in 1989.
Under threating skies, residents from the Canso area and from around Nova Scotia gathered Aug. 13 at the Seamen’s Memorial to remember fishermen and fisherwoman who have lost their lives while engaged in the fishery. The large crowd participated in the scriptures reading and songs presented by area churches. The leader of the 5th Canso Scout troop and an RCMP member lowered the flag during the moment of silence, followed the Pipers Lament played by Sandra MacIsaac and Aird MacIsaac.
Guysborough Eastern Shore Tracadie MLA Lloyd Hines brought greetings from the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and highlighted the importance of the fishery to Nova Scotia and the efforts to promote safety on the sea. Municipality of the District of Guysborough Deputy Warden Janet Peitzche congratulated the Canso Lions Club who are celebrating their 50th anniversary and reflected on the importance of the fishery in Guysborough County. District of St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher mentioned several fishing communities as well as the search and rescue unit at Port Bickerton, noting the memorial service reflected the challenges facing residents from his area engaged in the fishery. Mulgrave Mayor Ralph Hadley brought greetings from the Town of Mulgrave which also has a history associated with the sea.
Following the speeches, the guests laid their wreaths on the Seamen’s Memorial. Juanita Dort and King Lion Janet Delorey read the names from the memorial and the in-memory list. Family and friends placed wreaths, or plaques, on the memorial as the names were read. A special honour guard stood by the memorial with representatives from the RCMP, 5th Canso Scouts, Cubs and Beavers and Canso /Hazel Hill Volunteer Fire Department. Members of the Canso Lions Club assisted the public during the memorial service.
DeLorey welcomed everyone to the Provincial Seamen’s Memorial Service, while master of ceremonies, Lion Ray White, reflected on the personal attachment for families and friends to the service, community pride and the significance of the memorial to the area and the province. White thanked the community and Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell for their continued support. The public were invited to the Lions Club for refreshments prepared by members of the Canso Lions Club.
Sunday, Aug. 20, the wreaths were taken to Whitman’s Wharf to be picked up by boats for the blessing of the fleet. The wreaths were taken to sea and placed on the water as a tribute.