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Ice: A historic link for Pictou Islanders. The story of the Ice boat during the early 1900s.
Northumberland Fisheries Museum & Heritage Association
Pictou , Nova Scotia


   Ice boats were an
essential link to mainland
Canada for residents of tiny
Pictou Island during the
winter months when sea ice
made passage by regular boats
impossible. Using ice for
survival, a cold isolated
time of year for Islanders
ice became an essential role

for transportation,
communication, and survival.
   Iceboats were constructed
of wood and built similar to
an oversized dory. These
boats were used extensively
for winter travel between
Prince Edward Island, New
Brunswick, and Nova Scotia
during the 1800s and 1900s.

   Many dangers lurked for
the ice boats and their crew
upon the Northumberland
Strait. The greatest danger
was not the stretches of open
water, nor the sea ice, but
rather the heavy slush, which
would pool in areas of open
water. Ice boats would mire
in the slush and oars were

often broken while trying to
break free. Many men would
fall through the slush,
thinking it to be solid ice.
   The strong tides and
currents in the
Northumberland Strait caused
ice floes to move quickly and
the ice boat could easily be
capsized or even crushed.

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