Ship Hector Society

Ship Hector Society chairman Wes Surett, from left, is joined by Charting Our Course fundraising campaign council co-chairmen Dave Sobey and John Oliver, along with Ralph Heighton and Gerry Pettipas, who represent the board on the campaign council.

(Goodwin photo)

It has been a long time coming, but the financial campaign has begun to restore the Ship Hector.

Ship Hector Society chairman Wes Surett said he’s glad the official campaign launch is on. He said the campaign faced a headwind from the past and current pandemic restrictions.

“I’m really excited,” he said during the launch that took place on Monday at the Hector Heritage Quay. “The pandemic really stalled us, but it’s really exciting. (The Ship Hector) is an icon that impacts the Northumberland Shore. It drives people here and keeps people here.”

Surett opened the event by introducing Dave Sobey and John Oliver, who co-chair what is being called the Charting Our Course fundraising campaign council.

“We are honoured and grateful to work with an impressive group of campaign committee members,” Oliver said.

He read the other cabinet members that include former Central Nova MP Peter MacKay, Lee Harwood and Bobbi Morrison, associate professor at St. Francis Xavier University.

Ralph Heighton, the society’s community liaison, and society vice-chairman Gerry Pettipas, are representing the society on the cabinet.

Current MP Sean Fraser, Premier Tim Houston and Chief Andrea Paul are ambassadors for the campaign.

Oliver challenges Canadians to find “new and better ways to share the story of the Ship Hector for current and future generations.

“This historic voyage does not simply highlight a critical event in Canadian history, heritage and development, but it also highlights what has helped shape our country and our diverse culture,” he said. “Understanding the lengths newcomers would go in hopes of a better life is something we can still appreciate today.”

Surett described the corporate sponsorships being sought followed by a “community push” in order to raise $2.5 million directed toward restoring the ship. There is also federal and provincial support being proposed for improving the interpretative centre that will include an Indigenous component.

For those interested in supporting the restoration project, a GoFundMe campaign has been created and donations can be made online at https://ca.gofundme.com/f/ship-hector-restorationcharting-our-course.

A pamphlet has been completed that shows a total cost of more than $5 million for the ship restoration and interpretive centre costs.

It also breaks down the work and materials required for the restoration.