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Page 7 - Torquil MacLean & the Englishtown Ferry

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1973/1/1 (2222 reads)
 

the Englishtown Ferry and a capstan was used to pull it out of the water. The capstan consisted of a heavy piece of log about six feet long with four holes bored into it about two feet from the top. Poles were inserted into these holes. A long piece of rope ran from the bow of the bow to the log post, and one or more men would grip the poles and walk in a cir? cle, wrapping the rope around the log and drawing the Scow up the launch-way a few inches with each turn. When the tide was low this was a long, slow process but the boat had to be hauled above high water mark. And when a storm was threatening it had to be hauled right up to the bank. Torquil had several smaller rowboats built on the North Shore by Kenneth Morrison and his son Sandy Kenny. These rowboats were . used for passengers and mail during the Winter, after the Harbour had frozen. Dur? ing 1919 and 1920 the rural mail came to Englishtown from Baddeck at midnight. It was sorted at the Englishtown Post Office, then taken to the ferry on a two-wheeled carriage or rickshaw. There would only be one or two bags. They were rowed across and transferred to a horse and carriage for the ride to Wreck Cove. The Old Scow was hauled and turned bottom- up to dry out, and the ice itself was used to transport teams. The crossing was tested by some reliable person and if a good re? port was given, the way was marked from the Englishtown shore to Raymond's Beach with about 125 seven-foot spruce trees. I used to help my father "Bush the Ice." Ice Bush? ing gave the traveler a safe crossing in a snowstorm. He had only to keep between the two rows of trees. I have heard of horses and sleds driving into open water and the horses drowning, but the drivers somehow always managed to reach shore. In early March Torquil would start to re? pair the Old Scow. There was no paint used on this type of boat. He would wait for a clear sunny day. A fire would be built of driftwood and a tar pot containing a good? ly amount of pitch for hardener would be held by a crane over the fire. The crane would permit the tar pot to swing clear of the fire. Sometimes the tar would boil over and there would be a rush for the wet bur? lap that was always kept on hand. The hot tar was applied to the bottom of the Scow with a tar mop on a four-foot stick. The

CONTINUED ON PAGE 20 The Late Torquil MacLean Written by One "As I knew him for a quarter of a century" Physically Torquil MacLean is dead, but if we are to judge men by the character of their livesj Torquil MacLean's efforts and means of living will live for ages among the people who had the benefits of close intimacy with him. Tis true that his was a humble position in life, but in past ages, let us noticej that humble men were always called to lead in heroic acts of service to God and man, for half a century this sturdy, ho? nest Scotchman carried on a public ferry service. With every attention to detail, and with very little recognition or recom? pense from his fellow man, as ferry man connecting the north and south of Victoria Co., his was a position that called for the hourly attention to a service that meant the solace of a clergyman for the dying or medical attendance to the suffer? er. Let the weather conditions with wind and ice be ever so dangerous, this bold intrepid man for God, for duty and for his fellow man, was ever at his post. Personally I have known this man to risk his very life to avert an hour's pain from an neighbor. And all this done in that spirit of service we so seldom see today
Cape Breton's Magazine
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