© JOHN BRANNEN - THE NEWS
A group of American tourists step aboard the Ship Hector at the Hector Heritage Quay today.
PICTOU - While it was a busy weekend at the Hector Heritage Quay, the weather will determine if more visitors will stop by.
That’s according to Anne Emmett, president of the Hector Quay Society, who said that overall, there have been fewer visitors to the Ship Hector this summer.
“It’s down a bit from last year,” said Emmett. “The bus tour industry is down in general, probably due to the high cost of transportation. It’s made a dent.”
She estimates that the number of tourists could be down as much as 25 per cent compared to last summer.
“We’ve had an even split of bus tours and people traveling on their own,” she said.
She noted that because the Ship Hector isn’t at full rigging, people may feel they’re not getting an authentic experience.
“People’s perception of the ship without the masts, spars and rigging might be a factor in actually getting people on the quay and ship,” she said. “But people who went on the de-rigged ship liked it and got to see the mast and other parts up close.”
On Saturday, two tour busses full of tourists stopped at the quay. One of them was chartered by Grand Circle Travel and featured an educational journey through Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes.
Saturday’s stop in Pictou was a first for tourist Mary Greenwald from Boulder, Colo.
“It’s an educational tour, learning the history of the early Scottish settlers,” said Greenwald. “It’s been eye opening to learn what these people went through in search of a new life.”
It was also the first time that Nancy Erne, a native of Boston, Mass. had been to Pictou as well.
“I’ve taken about 20 of these educational tours,” said Erne, who just turned 92-years-old. “I’m very impressed with the building and how the story of the Hector is told.”
The New England native likened the story of the Hector to the famous Mayflower, the ship that in 1620 transported 102 English Pilgrims to New England.
Another tourist, Marty Wohlford from the Bahamas, said she was glad that the tour stopped in Pictou.
“It was unplanned,” she said. “We just happened to have enough time to make this stop. I’m glad we did because I love small communities and the smell of the sea air.”
Wohlford said that she was an amateur photographer and the dramatic images the Ship Hector provided will be fond memories for her.
Looking to next summer, Emmett hopes that there will be more visitors to the Hector as her masts are returned to their proper place.
“Hopefully more when the re-rigging of the ship takes place,” she said. “I think people will be more interested in seeing the ship then than the current de-rigged state.”
Repairs and renovations to the Ship Hector are going well according to Emmett, who said an update to the community should be promulgated soon.
The society’s major fundraiser is the Ship Hector Classic, which is a two-day celebration of Scottish Heritage. Sept. 12 and 13, 2013 will see Scottish refreshments onboard the Hector. The following day, another Scottish tradition will be played at the Abercrombie Golf and Country Club.
To register a team, contact Laurie MacDonald by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictou United Church will hold ‘Worship with a Celtic Flair’, celebrating the 240th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Ship Hector on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m. featuring storytelling, highland dancing, Celtic music, bagpipes and Gaelic singing
On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn