This year, this past Saturday in fact, marks the 249-year anniversary of the Ship Hector arriving in Pictou.
The Hector Heritage Quay marked the occasion by opening its gates and holding an open house Saturday for the Highland Homecoming. Festivities began with an outdoor sausage and pancake breakfast, tours of the Quay, live entertainment throughout the day followed by a ceilidh in the evening.
Volunteers were very pleased with the number of people that came by and noted that it was definitely a larger crowd than on a normal Saturday.
“The thing about this is it’s not a festival situation where you come and spend the entire weekend or day,” said Darlene MacDonald of the Hector Heritage Quay.
“There have been people roaming back and forth all day long. It’s really been a good day for the whole town.”
MacDonald says the day may have been very different if the Quay was not able to repair the facility’s seawall this summer.
“The biggest issue that we had this summer was to get the seawall back. Because if we didn’t have a seawall it’s like a house without a foundation – there’s nothing to sit on. Everything was starting to erode underneath. It was actually starting to come under, where the wharf was. Eventually everything could have just floated down the harbour.”
The next things on the agenda are to repair the ship’s bowsprit and to overhaul below decks to make it look more authentic to the original ship. But these are things for next year and for the moment the volunteers are happy enough just to see folks enjoying the Quay.
“It’s been a really good day,” said MacDonald.
“The whole point of Highland Homecoming is we’re commemorating the arrival. That’s why we wanted to keep the focus on the ship, with focus on the interpretation centre, on the Celtic culture that was brought here instead of on parades and pageants, all the things that a lot of festivals do. Next year is the 250th anniversary so next year we’ll have to be a little more spectacular.”