The Canadian Coast Guard uncovered a mystery earlier this month while trawling the waters off Nova Scotia. Several large wooden fragments of a ship, believed to date back to the 19th century, were pulled from the ocean floor off the coast south of Yarmouth.
According to David Jennings, with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the CCGS Alfred Needler was conducting dragging operations on Georges Bank as part of the annual fish survey conducted for the DFO. But instead of fish, their nets hauled in parts of a shipwreck.
The coast guard vessel brought the fragments to be unloaded in Dartmouth, where Katie Cottreau-Robins, curator of archeology for the Nova Scotia Museum, and her team were waiting to inspect the pieces.
“It’s exciting to see something of that antiquity and to have a chance to view it up close and try to understand what it is and what it represents,” Cottreau-Robins said.
She says while some parts had suffered from being exposed to ocean elements for so long, other sections were quite well-preserved.
“A couple of these pieces were quite significant — one approximately 20 feet [six metres] long and two tonnes. We have a section of the hull where there’s copper sheathing on the outside and we could see that very clearly, and all the rivets holding the copper onto the frame,” she said.
Nova Scotia maintains a shipwreck database and preliminary research done by the Nova Scotia Museum found a couple of records Cottreau-Robins says are good potential matches for what the coast guard pulled from the ocean — a later 19th century wooden-framed vessel.
“This is preliminary research and we like to take out time and we’ll continue to look at other resources and references and try to tell the story,” she said.
The fragments are currently being held at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and Cottreau-Robins says her team will continue their research while trying to determine what will come of the fragments.
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