December 2020

A Season Like No Other

The Heritage Park closed on the Thanksgiving weekend after a short season. We opened on July 28 and closed on October 11. Because of COVID requirements, we had to have multiple staff on duty, so we could only manage a seven day week in August. In September we went to five days per week and to three in October. We got about one tenth of the visitors we normally get, but we had the privilege of introducing many Nova Scotians to the sad story of the worst shipwreck in the province's history.
The challenges of the season motivated us to go online with the Atlantic story, via Facebook. Many readers of our posts responded. Here are a few snippets:
  • Edmund Ryan and Elizabeth Hearn are my great great grandparents on my maternal side - so pleased to see this post and will certainly be sharing with my relatives!
  • I’m grateful to the people of Terence Bay, Nova Scotia and the volunteers at SS Atlantic Heritage Park for keeping memories and artifacts of this disaster. My great-great grandparents and one of their sons died in the wreck.
  • It is a shame that so few people even know about this tragic event in our history. A visit to the information centre is certainly worthwhile.
  • More Nova Scotians should know about this. Thank you for the enlightenment I think more people know about the Halifax Explosion but the SS Atlantic is an important event in Nova Scotian history.
  • I've enjoyed a few visits to your museum and a walk down through the site and along the boardwalk. Thanks to you and your community volunteers.
  • There’s so much history in that area. The park is a gem for relaxing & contemplating.
  • Nice spot out there along the wooden walkway by the sea and lots of benches to take in the view. The little museum is quite interesting also.
  • This should be taught in schools.
  • I remember doing a sketch of this when I was in Terence Bay Elementary.
  • I don't remember ever hearing of this before. Very interesting!
  • Thank you for sharing this important story!

Along with the other challenges we face this Christmas,
you may not be surprised to learn that we must
cancel our Christmas concert this year.

We wish you all a very merry and safe holiday season.

A Visit to Ryan's Island

The late afternoon November sun above Norris Island. Ryan's Island and the Hill of Death are to the right. 

Even though Meagher's Island, on which the Atlantic wrecked, was home to only one family, the island next door, Ryan's Island, had been inhabited for decades. There were at least five families living there in the 1850s.
Ryan's Island figured prominently during the SS Atlantic wreck and in the days and weeks afterwards. Edmund Ryan, Justice of the Peace for Lower Prospect and Terence Bay, lived on the island and was at the wreck site before daylight. He and his brother Dennis and cousins Stephen and Francis were prominent in the rescue. Today, the island is owned by the Halliburton family of Halifax.
As bodies were recovered from the wreck, they were deposited on Ryan's Island in an area that the press dubbed the Hill of Death. They were taken from there for burial in the Roman Catholic and Anglican cemeteries in Lower Prospect and Terence Bay. A dozen or so were taken to Halifax and then shipped to family in the United States.

 Society President John Corbett flanked by Ryan's Island owners Bill and Ross Halliburton.

On a beautiful November afternoon, the president of the Society, John Corbett, and Society historian, Bob Chaulk, toured the Island as guests of Bill and Ross Halliburton. Bill is an enthusiastic explorer of the island and has uncovered lots of evidence of human habitation, including vegetable cellars and stone foundations of several buildings nestled in the heavy overgrowth. Not visible from the water is a large salt marsh where the Ryans would have collected hay for their animals and may have had vegetable gardens. While we walked on the marsh, Bill picked up a bottle from the time of the Atlantic loss. It had contained a patent medicine called Burdock Blood Bitters, made in Toronto. Perhaps Edmund drank it to settle his stomach; heaven knows he had enough stress in his life.
In the Centre, there is a picture of a house that was moved from Ryan's Island to Terence Bay in 1898. It's still in its new location not far from the government wharf.

Society Membership

To assist in supporting the work of the Society, please consider a Society Membership.
To do so, complete the following form, click here.
The $10 Membership fee can be forwarded to the Society through any of the following:
By Mail to: SS Atlantic Heritage Park Society,178 Sandy Cove Rd, 
Terence Bay, NS, B3T 1Y5:

By Interac eTransfer from your bank to
By PayPal from the Society webpage -  
The Annual General Meeting for the Society is scheduled for March 6. Keep an eye on the website & Facebook page for updates and venue—and mark it on your new 2021 calendar!

Thank you for your support.

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Copyright © 2020 • S.S. Atlantic Heritage Park Society. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
178 Sandy Cove Road, Terence Bay, Nova Scotia  B3T 1Y5

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