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Panel unveiling Saturday to honour local shipbuilder

There’s a story Clyde Macdonald likes to tell of Captain George McKenzie and a trip to Scotland that would highlight the ship builder’s ingenuity and compassion.

Clyde Macdonald, right, and Philip MacKenzie hold a copy of the information that will appear on an interpretive panel to be unveiled Saturday across from the TD Bank in New Glasgow, honouring Captain George R. McKenzie. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

On July 12, 1845, McKenzie’s ship the Sesostres, which he built in 1841, left Pictou harbour bound for Greenock, Scotland. On board was McKenzie’s wife as well as the captain’s brother John McKenzie and his wife.

During the return trip tragedy happened and McKenzie’s brother died.

Not wanting to throw his brother overboard, George McKenzie instructed a carpenter to build a wood coffin and line it with lead. It was then filled with rum to preserve the body for proper burial in the Pioneer Cemetery in New Glasgow.

This Saturday at 2 p.m. an interpretive panel will be unveiled honouring George McKenzie and his contributions to the region as a shipbuilder. The panel will be located across from the TD Bank which sits near where his house once was.

“Prominent and foremost among shipbuilders of New Glasgow was George McKenzie, who not only built the largest vessels of the day, but commanded several of them,” said Sunny Brae native Rev. John Peter MacPhie in 1914.”

Macdonald actually wrote about George McKenzie in one of his recent books, Stories From Pictou County’s Past. In the chapter he details how a young McKenzie cut down trees with a friend and fashioned his first ship at Boat Harbour, and the subsequent growth of his business.

“This man in my opinion did more to start the town of New Glasgow than anybody else,” Macdonald said.

He encourages residents to come out to the unveiling on Saturday. Peter McKay, federal minister of Justice and Philip MacKenzie, a member of the Roots Society of Pictou County executive, will be the guest speakers at the event. Town crier George Dooley will open the ceremony.

This is the third interpretive panel that Macdonald and MacKenzie have brought to fruition. The first two are on the West side of town. One tells about the Arthur Carriage Shop and the other about the coal industry.

Macdonald said it’s been great to work with MacKenzie and designer John Ashton to create the interpretive panels.

“The panels have all been funded in full by the Pictou County Roots Society. If it wasn’t for Philip, these interpretive panels would never be a reality.”

MacKenzie in turn credits the sale of Macdonald’s historical books for enabling the Roots Society to give donations of this type.

Both believe in the importance of preserving local history.

“After Clyde and myself are gone if there’s no interest there then it’s just going to be completely forgotten about,” MacKenzie said.




Ships built by Capt. George McKenzie

Schooner James William – 1821

Schooner Almon – 1830

Barque Sally – 1830

Schooner Bee – 1840

Brig John – 1840

Ship Sesostres – 1841

Barque Cleostratus – 1841

Ship John MacKenzie – 1846

Ship Rover – 1847

Barque Ann Black – 1849

Brigantine Ripole – 1850

Ship Hamilton, Campbell Kidston – 1851

Ship Catherine Glen – 1852

Brigantine Caroline – 1852

Brigantine Henry Poole – 1853

Brigantine South Boston – 1853

Ship W.H. Davies – 1853

Ship Alma – 1854

Barque Voltigeur – 1854

Ship Magna Charta – 1854

Barque Meteor Flag – 1854

Barque Isabelle Hamilton – 1855

Ship Blach Watch –1855

Ship Sabastool – 1855

Brigantine Beaulieu – 1856

Ship Disraeli – 1856

Brigantine Annie Laurie – 1857

Ship William Kidston – 1857

Brigantine Alkmarr- 1857

Brigantine Couquette- 1857

Ship Lord Clyde – 1864

Ship County of Pictou – 1865

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