Thursday, August 21, 1913
From Harborville to Port Greville is nineteen and a half miles as the crow files; but who'd want to be a crow? There was an excursion from Harborville to Port Greville on Saturday, August 16th, under the auspices of Bay View Lodge and every one of the excursionists felt for a time that the two ports might as well be a thousand miles apart instead of in sight of each other - on a clear day and with a good glass.
The Steamship Brunswick was the means of transportation and that good ship was not designed as a racer. She is, however, staunch and strong and seaworthy. Had she not these qualities it would never do to risk the carrying of two hundred and fifty lives while the ship's total lifeboat capacity is twenty-seven.
With two hundred passengers the Brunswick sailed from Harborville shortly after ten in the morning. She called at Canada Creek and took on about fifty more. There was a fresh breeze from the westward and a swift-running flood tide. Ripples grew into crested waves topped with glistening white caps which occasionally came over the weather side in a sprinkling spray. It was such a morning as made one feel that it was good to be alive - provided one had not a sea-sickish disposition. It had been advertised that a call would be made at Hall's Harbor, but the tide was so far advanced that it was decided to keep straight away for Port Greville so as to be sure of sufficient water to enter the harbor. The run was made in a little over two hours.
Captain Moore was not familiar with the narrow channel at Port Greville and the nose of the Brunswick slid up on the shore quite a distance below where a landing should have been made. The gang plank was lowered and a hungry crowd rushed for the only hotel. Mine Host Joshua Welsh was well prepared but the seating capacity of his dining room was but thirty-five and everybody wanted to be served first. It was a good dinner at a moderate price. About half of the crowd had well filled lunch baskets and little picnic groups soon could be seen over the beach and the hillsides.
A baseball game on the school grounds, visits to the two shipyards, and auto trips to Parrsboro, twelve miles to the eastward, were among the diversions of the afternoon. Ninety-two per cent of the excursionists were total abstainers and the remaining eight per cent managed to procure extra exhilaration from Parrsboro, for Port Greville is a dry town. In spite of this there was no rowdyism and not more than a half dozen reached the stage where they might be called "full." Of this half dozen at least three were of the crew and not of the passenger list.
A hearty supper to all the guests quite depleted the provision stores of the hotel. Had Mine Host known that the hungry crowd would be back for breakfast there might have been smaller helpings for supper.
It was nearly midnight and within an hour of high water when the Brunswick floated. Captain Moore, in consultation with Captain Bloomfield Morris, of Harborville, decided not to attempt the return trip until the following tide. They reasoned in this way: The tide is earlier at Harborville. When it is full high water at Port Greville there is considerable ebb at Harborville and even had a start been made at the time of floating it would have been impossible to reach Harborville wharf. A boat landing would have been necessary. There was a breeze blowing which would have made such landing difficult and dangerous and, furthermore, the crew were not in the right condition for such work. The steamer was taken into the channel and moored at the wharf.
When the decision was announced there was considerable consternation among the excursionists. The decision placed many a one in a queer predicament. I shall give but one instance:
Mr. Meisner, who is so acceptably looking after the interests of the Baptist congregation at Burlington this summer, was among the excursionists. Never a shadow of a doubt had entered his mind about getting home Saturday night. He had arranged with the Rev. P. S. McGregor, of Wolfville, to be at Victoria Sunday afternoon to baptize a number of candidates and these candidates were also on the excursion. To stay over for another tide meant that the service would be missed, but there was no help for it. I understand Rev. Mr. McGregor kept his appointment but he will have to come back.
Every available sleeping corner of the hotel was soon taken and several private families took in guests for the night, but over one hundred had to remain aboard the Brunswick where the sleeping accommodation is limited to fourteen berths, besides those of officers and crew.
Right here I want to say a good word for the Brunswick's cook: About 2 a.m. on Sunday two Harborville ladies and a man from Black Rock made a cautious raid on the galley and in the oven discovered a large crock filled with big, brown, juicy, well-baked beans. The man who can prepare such beans is an artist in the profession. In the sheltered deck astern a party of ten had just about finished the contents of the bean crock when the Brunswick quivered and then gave a quick list off shore, overhanging the channel. It was not far from being on beam-ends. Sleepers on various parts of the deck and in the cabins were rolled to leeward; there was the crashing sound of breaking dishes and lunch baskets and the remaining supplies went with the rush. The crock was saved with beans enough for the captain's breakfast. The party had figured out that the crew would not have much appetite in the morning anyway.
The position of the listed vessel was such that it was not improbable she would slip further towards the channel and go completely over, so nearly everybody went ashore to seek shelter in the mills and lumber piles. At the time it was not pleasant but once past it was one of those experiences that one will take pleasure in recalling in the days to come.
By six o'clock there was a line-up at the hotel's dining room door. The demand for eggs was stronger than the Port Greville hens could supply, but there was something for everybody. Mine Host Welsh did the best he could and no man can do better.
At about eleven o'clock the Brunswick was righted by the incoming tide but it was noon before it was possible to turn in the channel and head out, homeward bound. The captain announced that he would make the run direct to Harborville and return to Canada Creek but when we got farther down shore it was seen that the tide had fallen so far that it would be impossible to reach Harborville in time to land at the wharf, so the steamer was put in at Canada Creek where the fifty went ashore. Harborville was reached before three o'clock and it was nearly six before the last boat load of passengers was beached.
Despite the unanticipated delay and inconveniences there can be found few amongst the excursionists who regret the trip. It was impossible to get telephone or telegraph connection with Kings County on Saturday night or Sunday morning and in consequence there was much worry on this side of the bay and the resulting crop of disquieting rumors were afloat. - P.F.L.