Collection MG68 - Whale Cove Weir Co. collection

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Whale Cove Weir Co. collection

General material designation

  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents.

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  • 2006 - ? (Creation)
  • 1888-1898 (Creation)
    Whale Cove Weir Co.

Physical description

1.5 cm of textual records

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Name of creator

([ca. 1888] - n.d.)

Administrative history

In the last years of its existence, the Whale Cove Weir (built c. 1888) was located off the shore of Wood Island in the Grand Manan Archipeligo, Grand Manan, New Brunswick. A weir is a fish trap that is made of long wooden stakes that have been pounded into the ocean floor near a shore, usually forming the shape of a kidney with a straight line of stakes leading toward the land. Starting in early summer, nets are attached to the stakes, so that the straight line of stakes acts as a barrier to fish swimming up the shore and channels them into the opening of the weir, where they are trapped but are still able to swim until they are ready for harvesting. When they caught enough fish or had a market to sell them in, the fishermen would cast a net inside the wear and pull the catch onto waiting boats or scows.

The catch had several different possible uses. Herring catches were often salted and smoked, while Sardines were sent to the cannery, where workers removed the heads and tails and packed the fish into cans. These products were then sold to markets in the West Indies and around the world. Some fish were also sold to local lobster fishermen for use in traps. Additionally, fish scales, which were collected by special slits in the fishermen’s scows, were sold to manufacturers of “pearl essence”—the silvery white substance sometimes used to give cosmetic products such as lipstick their pearly shine. Since this last product is no longer economical, this usage of fish scales is—at least for Grand Manan’s fisheries—a thing of the past.

The original location of the Whale Cove Weir is unknown, since it was moved from Whale Cove to Hardwood Cove, where it was better sheltered from harsh weather. It was thereafter called Hardwood Cove Weir, though its name never officially changed. The Whale Cove Weir did well in its new location, and it was easier to maintain. The Little Wood Island Weir, which the fishermen called the Holiness Movement Weir, was moved to its former location at Whale Cove, and accordingly adopted the Whale Cove name. It, too, did well in its new location, at least until everyone fell on hard times in the Depression. It is not known when the Whale Cove Weir was dismantled .

Custodial history

This fonds was donated to the Executive Board of the Grand Manan Museum. The museum record book for donations has been lost so the original donor and date are unknown. The Museum deposited the records at the Grand Manan Archives in 1986, the year the Archives were established. The records were accessioned in 1987. The interview was conducted by Nat Urquhart and donated to the archives.

Scope and content

This fonds contains one account book, receipts and notes from an interview regarding the company Whale Cove Weir Company on Wood Island. The ledger records expenses incurred in the operating of a fish weir from 1888 to 1889 - the labor costs, nets repair costs, purchase of stakes, and dividing of profits to owners. The individual responsible for the ledger was not recorded

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The materials were deposited by the Grand Manan Museum at the Grand Manan Archives in 1986, and were accessioned by the archives in 1987. It had been donated to the museum, but records of that source and of previous custodians have been lost.

Interview notes were donated by Nat Urquhart.


In 2006, the fonds was redescribed as a part of a RAD redescription project.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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No restrictions

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Associated materials

See MG113 Whale Cove Weir Co. Oral History

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Physical description

The book is 20.5 cm x 34 cm x 1.5 cm. It is a hard covered black textured book with wine colored paper trim on spine and wine colored triangles at the corners. The first part of the book is a lettered address book then it changes to a ledger.

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