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Copied Nov 3, 2001 from: Pre-1900 Heritage Houses - Wine Harbour
(Sherbrooke Branch Eastern Counties Regional Library – OFY 1975)

BRIEF HISTORY OF WINE HARBOUR

Wine Harbour is a rural area located on the east side of the harbour of the same name on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. It was so named on account of a Portuguese vessel loaded with wine being wrecked here and the wine flowed into the harbour establishing the name. The Indian name was "Pebumkeegunech" which when translated to English means "fish spawning place" or "an outlet cut through the sand". In 1818, one family consisting of five persons settled here and cleared 10 acres. This was probably the family of John Walters, a native of North Carolina and a veteran of the American Revolutionary War who settled in Nova Scotia around 1811 or 1812.

By 1862, Wine Harbour was thriving rapidly. The main reason for its vigorous growth was the discovery of gold in July 1861 by Katie Doody and Joseph Smith, Sr. which was the beginning of a great gold boom which lasted until 1905. The first crusher used was called the Victoria Crusher and it was run by water power. The procedure began when the rocks were hoisted out of the ground by horses, put on wooden scowls and brought across the harbour, if the wind was favorable, to the Victoria Crusher which was on the then Thomas Cooper property. The surveyor for the mining company at this time was D. W. Crockett. At the peak of this gold boom there were ten crushers run by steam power using coal, which was brought from vessels from Sydney. Because of the gold mining in 1862, Wine Harbour was one of the first settlements in Guysborough County to have electricity.

After 1905 the gold mining industry lay desolate until 1936 when C. Irving supervised the opening of the once prosperous gold mines. It died the following year and Wine Harbour lost its once booming industry forever. At the time of the gold mining industry Wine Harbour was also growing in other aspects. Thomas Lucas had a hotel and store and the Irwin family had a number of general stores throughout the area. A lobster factory was located in the area whose foreman was John Ballantyne and a blacksmith shop and a bank were also in the area. Postmaster at this time was John Gilles. St. Patrick’s Mission Church was built in 1857 to replace a larger church that had been destroyed by a hurricane. A Union Church was dedicated to Baptists, Anglicans and Presbyterians in 1897, and is no longer in existence. St. Patrick’s Mission Church has been vacant since 1955. * The first schoolhouse was built in 1869 and 85 pupils were registered at this time. Before this it was believed that the original Catholic Church was used during the week as a schoolroom for the children.

After 1905, limited farming and fishing were the main industries and the 1956 population decreased to 50. Today the population of the community is about 25. Wine Harbour has lost its gold mines, its factories, most of its fishing, a church and the majority of its people. Its history will remain.

*Church was torn down in 1980


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