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Pictou to celebrate its Gaelic heritage and Hector

The Hector, as it can be found at the Hector Heritage Quay, at the Pictou waterfront.
The Hector, as it can be found at the Hector Heritage Quay, at the Pictou waterfront.

The community of Pictou plans to celebrate a pivotal historical milestone as this weekend marks the anniversary of the original iconic Ship Hector landing on its shores.

This weekend will also mark the 17th annual celebration of the launch of the Hector in 2000 – and the 244th anniversary of the original arrival of the ship, carrying Scottish immigrants to Nova Scotia.

“We always take time in September, around the anniversary of the Ship Hector to celebrate the Celtic heritage that is part of this community,” said Mary-Beth Moriarty, minister at Pictou United Church.

The church plans to celebrate the occasion through worship services, with a focus on the Gaelic immigrants who came to Nova Scotia, and their cultural legacy, which lives on today.

The United Church is one of the only churches in the Pictou area that consistently does something to mark the date of the Hector’s arrival, Moriarty noted.

“We celebrate the Ship Hector, its passengers, their descendants and their contributions to life to the community in Pictou – and the wider Nova Scotian community,” said Moriarty. “We gather together, and through music and storytelling, we remember the Ship Hector and its passengers.”

To help in the process of remembrance, Lewis MacKinnon will be in attendance, and will use his talents to help with the historical Gaelic aspect of the celebration. MacKinnon is a singer, poet and storyteller – all in Gaelic, a language in which he is fluent.

The worship service, which will begin at 10:30 a.m., will entail music, dancing, Gaelic speaking and storytelling – in addition to a religious worship service.

The auspicious celebration will include a retelling of the historical tale of the Hector, and performances by bagpipers, fiddlers and highland dancers.
“This is an uplifting and inspiring worship, and our hope is that by reminding ourselves of the story, it will continue to inspire us today,” said Moriarty. “We think of the people who boarded the Hector in search of new land, safety, security and new beginnings.

She added, “We think, this day, of immigrants and refugees who come and do the same thing. They’re embarking on a journey – and we hope we can be as welcoming to them as the First Nations were to the people who landed on the shores of Pictou.”


Hector voyage


– The Ship Hector set out from Greenock and Lochbroom.

– The ship set sail on July 1, 1773, landing in Nova Scotia on Sept. 5.
– Its 1773 voyage was not actually its first. The Hector had previously transported Scottish emigrants to Boston.

– Settlers to Nova Scotia were offered free passage, free provisions for one year and land to farm. However, there was no cleared land for the emigrants, nor was there shelter or provisions offered upon their arrival.

– Most of the settlers who arrived in 1773 boarded the Hector in Lochbroom – only five single men and three families boarded at Greenock.

– During its 11-week voyage, portions of the Hector had begun to rot.

– A gale off the Newfoundland coast delayed the voyage by 14 days.



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