Atlantic Canada rose with the tide of history. Founded, in part, by resilient leaders who had an idea for what this place could be, these past visionaries carried the Queen’s Letter of Marque, Her Majesty’s authority to legally claim the bounty of this land and establish settlements on it, in her name. Privateers who held the Queen’s Letter of Marque would seek out their bounty and make their own good fortune. Centuries on, this determined nature still prevails in Nova Scotia, in a way of life that has taken root here. The impression the Queen’s Marque has left on us remains indelible, as we greet a new era of growth and prosperity in Atlantic Canada.
Letter of Marque
The Middle Battery
To walk the grounds of the Middle Battery is to walk in the footsteps of adventurers, explorers and royalty. The Command of the British Forces in North America by Prince Edward was based out of the Middle Battery – the launching point into the New World and the heart of our growing City.
Steeped in rich military history, Queen’s Landing, the site of Queen’s Marque, is a testament to the fierce independence that defines our spirit. The intimidating fortifications in Halifax Harbour, including The Middle Battery at Queen’s Landing, served to deter many who sought to conquer our vast harbour and take its bounty as their own. Though the extensive fortifications inside the Harbour were thought by some to be folly, folly can lead to fortuitous consequences. During the American Revolution, when the quest for territory was burgeoning in North America and resistance to all things British was at a high, there were American spies in our midst. Returning spies cautioned George Washington that an attack on the heavily fortified port of Halifax was not advisable. The Queen’s Battery, through folly or fate, played its part in preventing Nova Scotia from becoming a 14th state.
The Capture of the USS Chesapeake
Like the ocean that crashes on our coast, the history with our neighbours to the south has been dictated by periods of great turbulence and tremendous calm. Some of the most turbulent times occurred during the War of 1812.
Halifax as a home to a strong naval fleet echoes through time. In 1812 The HMS Shannon and her highly trained crew were anchored in Halifax and willing to venture out on the seas to secure a prosperous future. High stakes battles with decorated and trusted vessels like the USS Chesapeake tested our mettle and found proof of our tenacity. Though the battle with the Chesapeake was constructed as a defining moment in the War of 1812, for the men of the Shannon, it proved to be a brief game. A short 15 minutes after it commenced as the mortally wounded Chesapeake’s Captain was brought below, he was heard to exclaim “Don’t give up the ship!” The crew of the Shannon had no intent to give up their bounty, and embracing this rallying cry as their own, returned with great ovation, Chesapeake in tow, to Queen’s Landing.
The story may end there, but the legacy of the Chesapeake is a relationship built on mutual respect. The Chesapeake’s Captain, who died from injuries sustained during the battle, was interned with full military honors by the people of Halifax.
Every mundane boat shed that dots our rugged coast is home to a great story, and Prince Edward’s boat shed that stood at Queen’s Landing until 1930 is no exception. During prohibition the boat shed served as the base for patrol ships on the hunt for rum runners, resilient fishermen who understood the risk and reward of the illicit trade. With over 500 vessels involved in running spirit produced in Nova Scotia to the dry States to the south, rum running was busy work on both sides of the law. Queen’s Landing proved to be the ideal location for government officials to launch their patrols in response to the new high-seas traffic prohibition created.
Captured vessels, their operators and their cargo were returned to Prince Edward’s boat shed, where the speedy rum runners’ vessels were redeployed to complement the patrol fleet. Though some may have preferred whisky in their cups rather than in the drains of the boat shed, the crew of the patrol fleet sacrificed life and limb as stewards of our coast.
Atlantic Fisheries Experimental Station
Born of this place, our City’s residents understood that innovation and evolution were key to survival and prosperity. In response to the ever-changing demands of maritime life, 1924 saw the Fisheries Experiential Station take root at Queen’s Landing. From this base, technology was created that allowed Nova Scotians’ to share the bounty of our seas with landlocked markets. Through hard work, we improved our own lot.
Early work at the Station laid the foundation for a new kind of ocean exploration, wherein we learned that the challenges presented by our location and resources were veiled opportunities. The scientists at the Experimental Station have been credited with advances that saved the fishery in the Maritimes, showing that with resilience and resourcefulness, we can Rise Again.