Set­ting sail

Port Wil­liams his­to­rian crafts Age of Sail cal­en­dar for United Bap­tist church’s 150th an­niver­sary


Age of sail is fea­tured in spe­cial cal­en­dar fundraiser.

A Port Wil­liams man has put his pas­sion for im­agery and com­mu­nity her­itage to work in cre­at­ing a unique cal­en­dar fea­tur­ing a pic­to­rial his­tory of the age of sail.

His­to­rian and Coun­try Barn An­tiques pro­pri­etor Ken Bezan­son la­bored over the de­tails of “The Golden Age of Sail”, a his­toric cal­en­dar for 2019, for sev­eral hours a day dur­ing the past cou­ple of months. He said it’s the first cal­en­dar of its kind fea­tur­ing the his­tory of Port Wil­liams and it’s com­pletely lo­cally pro­duced. Bezan­son hopes it will be a trea­sured keep­sake for ev­ery­one as­so­ci­ated with the vil­lage.

“The nos­tal­gia is all the for­mer sons and daugh­ters of the vil­lage that have moved away will all want this cal­en­dar be­cause this is the port they re­mem­ber,” he said.

Bezan­son said hope­fully newer Port Wil­liams res­i­dents would also ap­pre­ci­ate the cal­en­dar as a way to learn more about the com­mu­nity’s past.

He uses care­fully se­lected pho­tos – in­clud­ing sev­eral from post­cards by A.L. Hardy taken on the same day in 1895 – lyri­cal lan­guage and po­etry to paint a pic­ture of what his home com­mu­nity was like dur­ing the age of sail. The im­ages are strik­ing, all in sepia or colour, and the pages ap­pear to have the tex­ture of parch­ment.

“This is not just an­other cal­en­dar,” Bezan­son said. “Sev­eral peo­ple have said, ‘Kenny, this is the cadil­lac of cal­en­dars.’”

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, and some­what un­for­tu­nately, he said, his­tory is of­ten pre­sented as bare facts and some find this rather dry or flat. Bezan­son was mind­ful of tak­ing a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, one that would present the com­mu­nity’s rich his­tory of sail in an ex­cit­ing, ro­man­tic way.

There is an in­tro­duc­tion as to why the in­land port vil­lage be­came a ship­ping des­ti­na­tion, be­cause of the ideal com­bi­na­tion of nearby or­chards, farm­land and the Corn­wal­lis River. Bezan­son as­signed ti­tles to the im­ages for each month and a dif­fer­ent Port Wil­liams or Starrs Point busi­ness spon­sored the print­ing of the var­i­ous pages. He said the busi­nesses were quick to “jump on board.”

Copies of the cal­en­dar are be­ing sold as a fundraiser for the 150th an­niver­sary of the Port Wil­liams United Bap­tist Church. Bezan­son said copies are avail­able from the church for $10 and he points out that they make great Christ­mas gifts. If the project gains enough mo­men­tum, he said the cal­en­dar could be the first in a se­ries, with the pos­si­bil­ity of sub­se­quent edi­tions pro­gress­ing through the steam ship era and be­yond.

He said he’s been en­cour­aged to use his pas­sion for vil­lage his­tory and his col­lec­tion of vin­tage pho­to­graphs and Port Wil­liams ar­ti­facts to write a book. Bezan­son said he loves books but ev­ery­body seems to be do­ing them. He thought about do­ing a cal­en­dar in­stead, with the gen­e­sis of the idea be­ing his tra­di­tion of send­ing Christ­mas cards fea­tur­ing his­toric im­ages.

Bezan­son re­cently held a spe­cial launch event at the church that com­bined mu­sic, the­atre and im­agery in a mul­ti­me­dia pre­sen­ta­tion. Larger prints of the im­ages from the cal­en­dar were dis­played on easels.

He pointed out that you don’t usu­ally launch a cal­en­dar but you do launch a ship, so it seemed ap­pro­pri­ate to hold an event to launch a cal­en­dar fea­tur­ing ships. He took the op­por­tu­nity to present a lot of the back­ground de­tail that couldn’t fit into the cal­en­dar and to give se­lected im­ages deeper con­text.

Bezan­son cred­its De­laine Carl­son for bring­ing his vi­sion to life with the cal­en­dar de­sign and Lucky Dol­lar Ltd. for the qual­ity print­ing.


Ken Bezan­son at a spe­cial launch event for the his­toric 2019 Port Wil­liams cal­en­dar The Golden Age of Sail held re­cently at the Port Wil­liams United Bap­tist Church.


Ken Bezan­son with the his­toric 2019 Port Wil­liams cal­en­dar The Golden Age of Sail.

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