Eatonville, Nova Scotia
Eatonville is a former lumber and shipbuilding village in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. It includes a large tidal harbour at the mouth of the Eatonville Brook beside several dramatic sea stacks known as the "Three Sisters". It was founded in 1864 and abandoned in the 1940s. The site of the village is now part of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.
At first known as "Three Sisters", the village was founded by the Eaton family who built the community as a sawmill settlement for their extensive timber holdings across Cape Chignecto. A shipyard at the harbour produced over 20 large vessels beginning with the 1000 ton barque Chignecto in 1874 and finishing with the tern schooner J. L. Ralston in 1919. Eatonville ships were noteworthy enough to attract coverage from Harpers Weekly Magazine which published an illustrated feature article on the launch of the barque Argenta at the Eaton's yard in 1890. A notable example was the large ship Joseph H. Scammell built at Eatonville in 1884 which became a famous shipwreck in Australia when she sank in 1891. Eatonville Harbour attracted considerable shipping for the timber export trade. Two small tugs were based at the harbour to assist in docking ships and moving timber rafts and the volume of shipping led to the construction of the Eatonville Lighthouses on the beach south of the wharf which operated from 1909 to 1923. The harbour witnessed several shipwrecks including the spectacular wreck of the three masted schooner Marjorie J. Sumner which was severely damaged in the harbour in 1906 when it toppled over at low tide and was crushed by its large deckload of timber. The shipyard and large sawmill were located at the harbour while the main village, known as "the Old Town" was located 1 mile (2 km) inland. The two were connected by a "tramway", a horse-drawn pole railway. The Eatonville Mill was a large steam-powered operation which could produce 60,000 board feet (100 m3) of lumber a day, but the Eatons "preferred to cut less, waste nothing and strive for quality." This allowed them to make the most sustainable use of their Cape Chignecto timber holdings which also had the advantage of very few forest fires because the "fog forests" of Cape Chignecto are constantly damp from Bay of Fundy fogs. A network of logging camps across Cape Chignecto connected by trails and log driving streams fed the Eatonville Mills while the adjacent settlement of New Yarmouth provided supplies, horse teams and workers.
The village had a population of 350 people in its peak years. The Eatons sold their holdings to the Elderkin family in 1897. The population dwindled after World War One as timber stands were exhausted and wooden shipbuilding collapsed. The village was largely abandoned by the 1930s. The last year-round resident left in 1943, although the descendants of several Eatonville families maintain cabins in the area. The surrounding forests were logged by various Cumberland County Mills but especially for pulpwood by the Scott Paper Company until the 1980s. A seasonal wilderness public road for off road vehicles named the "Eatonville Road" is maintained by volunteers and leads from Advocate to Eatonville and through to Spicers Cove. In 1989, the Eatonville site became part of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. The old village site is crossed by the park's main backpacking trail which follows the former tramway for several kilometres and connects to a bunkhouse and wilderness campsites at Eatonville's "Old Town" site. An seasonal interpretation centre accessible by car from Spicers Cove opened at Eatonville in July 2009, providing lookoffs and short walking trails.
- Chignecto registry Parks Canada Ship Information Database
- Stanley Spicer Sails of Fundy: The Schooners and Square-riggers of the Parrsboro Shore (Hantsport, NS: Lancelot Press, 1984), pp.64-65
- "Shipbuilding in Nova Scotia", Harpers Weekly Magazine, April 25, 1891, p. 309.
- Spicer, p. 64
- List of Lights, Canadian Department of Marine and Fisheries, 1910, 1924
- "Marjorie J. Sumner-1906", On the Rocks Shipwreck Database Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
- Roger David Brown, Historic Cumberland County South, (Halifax: Nimbus, 2002) p. 120
- Eatonville Interpretation Centre, Cape Chignecto Provincial Park
- Barbara Robertson, Sawpower: Making Lumber in the Sawmills of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nimbus Publishing and the Nova Scotia Museum (1986), pages 99–100.
- Tom McCoag, "Cash for Cape Chignecto", Halifax Chronicle Herald, July 16, 2008, p. B4.