Shipbuilding

It’s hard to figure out the impact that Cambridge’s shipyards had in lot 64, because we don’t know all of the details. We know he built ships in Murray Harbour and Murray River, but he also built in at least eighteen other island communities. As far as we can tell, Murray River and Murray Harbour were among his most frequently used shipyards; out of over 60 ships the Cambridge family built between 1786 and 1849, 13 were built in the Murray River/Murray Harbour area. And in addition to those, there are many that are listed as being of Island origin, but of no particular community.33. There are many questions: How many people did he employ at any given time? Did he bring workers over to build, and if so, did they stay in the area? Did he employ locals? Did he ever have indentured servants who he used for shipbuilding labour? It seems that his main shipbuilding port may have been Souris, as he brought a contingent of 30 shipwrights and their families over on his ship, the King David in 1824, although in truth, this may have been his son, Lemuel’s project.34. So did he ever solve his labour shortage problem in Murray Harbour, and if so how? 

But while Cambridge was the most prominent commercial builder in the area, he wasn’t the only one in lot 64 building boats. A quick look at early vessel registration records35. reveals many local names; Roberts, Machon, Hugh, Richards, Hawkins, White… and the list goes on. It seems that many people in the area had at least a modest boat, perhaps to supplement their family diet with fish, to trade with other communities, or maybe for getting around at a time when roads were hardly passable. It’s impossible to know exactly what these boats were for, since no records exist that detail their use, but some of those boats were much too large to be a family dingy. At that time, people often had to do many things to survive; you may have been listed as a farmer on the census, but that didn’t mean that you didn’t fish for a part of the year and work in the woods for another part of the year! It was all just a part of subsistence living.

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