Master boat builder’s craft first artifact to grace new museum

Published on August 1, 2014
Tyler MacDonald, a summer student with the Northumberland Fisheries Museum, sits on the Silver Bullet, which was delivered to the new museum on Caladh Avenue this past week. The antique racing boat is the first exhibit to be moved from the original museum site at the CN Station to the new site on Pictou’s waterfront. It was moved first so decking could be built around the boat for display purposes. Sueann Musick – The News

PICTOU – The first exhibit has been moved from the Northumberland Fisheries Museum at the CN Station to its new location on Pictou’s waterfront.

The Silver Bullet, a racing boat made by Sam MacMaster in 1934, was hauled from the CN Station earlier this week and placed in the first building of the new museum on Caladh Avenue.

“We needed to have it moved first so that we could put some decking around it,” said Ruby MacCallum-Roberts, museum manager. “It will be one of three stationary exhibits in the new museum. The rest of the exhibits will be able to be interchanged so people will see something new from time to time.”

The Silver Bullet is an example of an “open” fishing boat that didn’t provide any protection from the weather. The boats were used in the early 1900s to the 1960s.

According to archive records at the Northumberland Fisheries Museum, MacMaster took “great pride” in building boats and had an ability to make them successful racing boats.

The boats were long and narrow and sailed with ease and speed across the water, stated an article at the museum. The Silver Bullet want the Pictou Lobster Carnival races for three times and the trophy was eventually renamed the Silver Trophy in the Bullet’s honour.

MacMaster moved to the United States in the early 1950s where he designed and built pleasure crafts and yachts, but he also dreamed of returning to Nova Scotia again to race the Silver Bullet.

Unfortunately this never happened because MacMaster’s health failed him and he died in 1969. However, he would always be known as the “master boat builder.”

MacCallum-Roberts said the ice boat and the bunker will be the next two larger items to move to the new museum.

The ice boat was used to transport people and mail from the mainland of Nova Scotia to Pictou Island during the 1800s and 1900s. Iceboats are constructed of wood and built similar to an oversized dory.

The bunker house was used from the 1930 to 1950s by fishermen during the fishing season who wanted to stay close to their boats.  According to the museum, the men would mend clothes as well as fishing gear in the evenings along with playing cards or playing the fiddle or guitar.

MacCallum-Roberts said there isn’t a set date for the new museum on Caladh Avenue to open, but it is expected to be in full operation by next tourist season.