Ice boat replica launch and festival set for June 30 in Cape Traverse
Anyone present along the waterfront of Cape Traverse on June 30 will be privy to a sight not seen on Prince Edward Island in more than 50 years. An ice boat, painstakingly recreated by staff and students of the Holland College heritage retrofit carpentry program using original blueprints, will be launched and rowed across Cape Traverse Cove. Once its short but historic voyage is complete, it will be loaded onto a horse-drawn wagon by locals in early 20th century dress and paraded to its new home at the Ice Boat Service Memorial on Route 10.
It’s going to be quite the sight, promised Andrew MacKay, a member of the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee and one of the people scheduled to be on the boat. The sailing of the ice boat, the parade to its new home and the community get-together scheduled for the dedication when it arrives at its destination are part of the second Cape Traverse Ice Boat Festival. MacKay said they are hoping to attract lots of Islanders to participate in the festivities and to help commemorate an important piece of P.E.I. history. “Ultimately that is the goal of our committee, to bring the community together and recognize the strong history here … of the ice boats and all the hardships that those community members endured over the years 1827 to 1917 (while the boats were in service),” he said. The ice boat service, which operated from Cape Traverse during its nine decades of existence, was at one time the only means of communication and transportation to and from P.E.I. during the winter. There had been a replica ice boat in Cape Traverse memorial for many years but it was removed a few years ago due to its deteriorating condition. A group from Cape Traverse and the other communities in the area banded together to form a committee to restore the monument. The class at Holland College was contracted by Parks Canada to build a replica of an original ice boat and this year’s festival will serve as its introduction to the community. The organizing committee really wanted to make an event of the boat’s delivery and not just pull off a curtain or something, said Nanci MacDonald, one of committee members. “It sounded like a whole lot more fun,” she said. The committee is hoping to continue the festival as an annual event. Last year was the inaugural year and they had a good turnout and are hoping for a repeat this year. “it’s an incredible untold story in Canada. Just having a small monument there with a boat – it doesn’t get that message across. To get people excited about that, you have to start in the community and grow,” said Jim Glennie, another committee member. Anyone interested in watching the sailing of the ice boat can congregate at the old Cape Traverse Wharf, at the end of Wharf Road. It will be going in the water at 1 p.m. and the festivities are scheduled to conclude around 3 p.m. More information is available on the group’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/capetraverseiceboatcommitee/
Andrew MacKay, a member of the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee, will be one of several people who intend to sail a newly completed replica ice boat from one point in the community to another to celebrate the second Cape Traverse ice Boat Festival on June 30.
The replica ice boat being installed in the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Memorial was constructed by the Holland College heritage retrofit carpentry program in Charlottetown.