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Walk around Parrsboro during the 1930s

The old coal wharf in WhitehallThe old coal wharf in WhitehallThe following is a reminiscent walk around Parrsboro Harbour with Charles Tupper who was a young man at the time. The information is gathered from his recollections when Parrsboro was a bustling harbour. Charles also makes the following observation:

"This writing is not a one day walk around the harbour. It is spread over a period of ten years from 1930 to 1940. At one time or another each item is true. It is taken strictly from the memory and bare a few mistakes here and there. I have tried to be as exact as possible. I know a lot of people's names have been omitted, who took a major part in the shipping, such as E.C. McDade, the Parrsboro Lumber Company and Huntley's Lumber Company. While it is not too late in time, I would like to see someone in the Historical Society write something similar between 1910 and 1920, also 1920 to 1930 for record sake.

I trust some have found this good reading especially among the older people and some of the younger ones who have an interest in Parrsboro's past. Walk with Charles as he explains the scene in front of you, listen to the sounds and smells of the harbour and enjoy."


In 1985, the biggest fossil find in North America was unearthed on the North Shore of the Minas Basin near Parrsboro. This discovery consisted of more than 100,000 pieces of 200 million year old fossils, the largest single collection of fossils, the first such collection found in North America and the first fossils in a series of dinosaur footprints, each the size of a penny, which are the smallest ever discovered.

Partridge IslandPartridge IslandAs early as 1776, Parrsboro, then known as Partridge Island, was a relatively important settlement. In 1784, the present name was given in honor of Lieut. Col. John Parr, then Governor of Nova Scotia.

The Minas Basin is one of the locations of the world's highest tides, and their dramatic effect on shipping can be seen from the Parrsboro wharf when fishing boats and pleasure vessels are left stranded high and dry by the low tide. At high tide, water fills the harbour and reaches the mouth of the small creek that runs under the main street.

The Fundy Geological Museum is located just off the main business district. The Fundy Geological Museum features a fascinating collection of semi-precious gems and minerals that are found on the Parrsboro shore. Tools and methods used to turn the gems into jewelry are also displayed. Ask for a tour.

The Tourist Information Centre is located at the Fundy Geological Museum.

Around the corner from the former Town Hall, now known as the Parrsboro Service Centre, is a giant statue of Glooscap, the mythical Mi'kmaq warrior who, legend says, created the Fundy tides and scattered the gems (his grandmother's jewelry) along the Minas Shore.

Ottawa House By-The-Sea Museum, located just 3 miles from downtown Parrsboro, was once owned by Sir Charles Tupper, MD, a distinguished Nova Scotian Politician who was Prime Minister of Canada for 16 days in 1896. Ottawa House is open as a Museum and has displays on shipbuilding, early education and the Victorian era. From the veranda of Ottawa House you see Partridge Island, which is now joined to the mainland. In 1869, during a ferocious storm known as the Saxby Gale, storm waters drove the beach inland, creating a large bar that connected the island to the mainland.


The Handley Page

The Handley Page landed in Parrsboro, Nova ScotiaThe Handley Page landed in Parrsboro, Nova ScotiaOn July 5th, 1919 the Handley Page aircraft made a forced landing in Parrsboro. At that point began a period commonly referred to as the "Summer of the Handley Page". The aircraft remained in Parrsboro until repaired and finally departed for New York on October 9th. The Handley Page was an aircraft of many firsts including the longest flying wireless radio used in flight; first international flight into Canada; first airmail into Eastern Canada; first airmail between Canada and USA; world's record for most people aloft in a single aircraft to date, October 4th, 1919; and first aerial photographs of Nova Scotia taken over Parrsboro.

A cairn with a plaque was erected several years ago to commemorate the flight of the Handley Page and emergency landing.

The following is an article from Aeroplane magazine about the Handley Page and its historic flight written by Herbert M. Friedman and Ada Kera Friedman reproduced with their generous permission.

pdf Early Long Distance Flights Article (1.02 MB) (1.02 MB)