Discover Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia: A Blend of Scenic Beauty and Rich History
Introduction to Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
Sheet Harbour is a charming rural community nestled in the eastern part of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia, Canada. Approximately 117 km northeast of the bustling urban area of Downtown Halifax and Dartmouth, this community is a serene escape along the scenic Marine Drive route on Trunk 7. The community, named after the branched harbour it surrounds, is home to about 800 residents, while the larger census tract, which includes sizable amounts of land around the community, has a population of 3,478 as per the 2011 Census. Two rivers, the West River and East River, flow through the community and into the Northwest and Northeast Arms of the harbour respectively. The region is characterized by a heavily eroded coastline, an abundance of lakes, and a humid continental climate, typical of most of Nova Scotia, with the ocean significantly influencing the temperature.
Geography of Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
Sheet Harbour is a small rural community located on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, in the eastern area of the Halifax Regional Municipality. The community is located along the shores of the harbour of the same name, a branched saltwater harbour. The area around Sheet Harbour is heavily forested and rich in lakes. The shore is very rocky and eroded, as is commonplace on the Eastern Shore. Sheet Harbour has an average tidal range of about 1.2 to 1.5 m (4 to 5 ft).
Several rivers and small streams empty into the arms of the harbour. West River begins near Beaver Dam. The main branch of the river is about 30 km (19 mi) long. The river has two secondary branches, the Killag River, which is 27 kilometres (17 mi) long, and Little River, which is 16.5 kilometres (10.3 mi) long. East River, formally East River Sheet Harbour, is the other main river that discharges into the harbour. Originating in the Marshall Flowage, the river flows southward past the Ruth Falls Power Plant, a hydropower generating station.
The closest weather station to Sheet Harbour is in Malay Falls, about 8 km (5.0 mi) northeast of the community. As with most of the province, Sheet Harbour has a humid continental climate, and the temperature is heavily influenced by the ocean.
History of Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia
18th and 19th centuries
The Miꞌkmaq name for the area around where Sheet Harbour is today was Weijooik, which translates to "flowing wildly". Almost all of the present land area of Sheet Harbour was granted in 1773, and the settlement was established around 1784, by Loyalist refugees and British veterans of the American Revolution and became a prosperous centre for the lumber industry. Sheet Harbour was named "Port North" on the Royal Navy Chart that was published in 1778. In January 1805, the ship Salisbury was wrecked off of Sheet Harbour and nine of the crew were lost. The settlement was referred to as Port North until 1807. Alternate names for the settlement were Campbelltown and Manchester. Campbelltown would have been named after Lord William Campbell, who was a Captain General as well as a Governor-in-Chief from 1776 to 1773. It was decided that "Port North" was not descriptive enough, so the name was changed to Sheet Harbour, starting in 1818 because of a white, flat rock at the entrance to the harbour that looks like a sheet, named Sheet Rock. The population of the settlement in 1818 was 156.
A school was built at West River in 1903 to replace its predecessor which was destroyed in a fire. A new Freemasons hall was built in the same year, and its predecessor became a Sunday school. The first bank in Sheet Harbour, a branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia, was opened in 1921. The branch still exists, however it is operated from a different building than the original. The second location of the bank, a two-storey building, was built in 1929. The present location of the bank was built in 1959.
Sidewalks were built through the main downtown area of Sheet Harbour in 2010. They cost approximately $2.9 million (US$2.4 million). Watts Wind Energy, Inc. built a wind turbine in Watt Section, a small community east of Sheet Harbour. It was the outcome of favourable wind data that was obtained by a meteorological tower near the future site of the wind turbine. It was constructed in 2010 and was producing power by October 2011. It stands 85 metres (279 ft) tall and produces about 1.5 MW of electricity, powering 375 households.
The East River Bridge was built from 2014 through 2015 to replace its predecessor of the same name. The Nova Scotia Government had proposed minor repairs, but they decided that an entirely new bridge would be more cost-effective. The new bridge was designed, unlike its predecessor, without large, overhead steel arches, because it would have been twice as expensive to build. The new bridge was constructed on the same site as the old bridge's predecessor which was constructed just south of the East River Bridge in 1907. The bridge cost $19,000,000 (US$14,671,644) to build and construction began in September 2014. The contractor, Dexter Construction, poured 2,260 cubic metres (80,000 cu ft) of concrete over 650,000 kg (1,430,000 lb) of rebar. The new bridge relies on two pillars set in the granite below the Northeast Arm. A deck, along with railings and sidewalks, were laid when it was nearing completion. The bridge was officially opened on December 17, 2015, to pedestrians and opened the next day to traffic. Road adjustments were made on the Sheet Harbour side of the bridge to accommodate it. Trunk 7 was aligned with what was formerly Riverside Drive, Church Point Road and Pool Road were slightly modified and the access road to Duncan MacMillan High School was slightly modified as well. Sprott Lane, a minor loop, was extended along a part of the old Trunk 7 for a few households. Shortly after the new bridge was opened, the old East River Bridge was closed and was demolished through 2016.