Shipbuilding, its effect on the economy

All of this activity was central to the economy of the Cardigan area. The farmers who brought logs to the site would be paid and the wages paid to the laborers provided livelihood for their families. Many of these workers needed accommodations and would pay for room and board. Of the $48, 406 it cost to build the Victory Chimes in 1918, the labor account was $20, 663 and the lumber account was $6, 120. This would be a considerable sum to put into the economy of this region at this time.

Once this ship was completed, in the early days of shipbuilding, the vessel would be loaded with lumber, sailed to the U.K. and sold. In some instances the builder / owner would retain ownership and use the vessel in shipping for himself. The ship would be loaded with hay, produce, livestock, etc. And sailed to St. Johns, St. Pierre, Halifax or down the Eastern seaboard. Farmers of the area would have an outlet for their crops and extra livestock. Income from these transactions would be spent in local stores thus providing work for those employees. These ships would also bring back necessary supplies to these stores. Coal, sugar, tea, molasses, etc. that could not be made on the farm would be brought in on the return trip. Many of these ships sailed across the Atlantic, to Australia and other ports around the world. Shipbuilding was a risky venture. The ship owner may sell his vessel at a profit and then do it all over again. L. C. Owen seemed to have good luck selling his ships, whereas James E. Macdonald and his cousins from Georgetown did not fare so well. Or the ship, cargo and sometimes the crew may be lost in a storm or some mishap at sea e.g. the Barbara Macdonald was lost on her maiden voyage off Cape Pine, Nfld. In 1919.

The owner and crew except the Captain who had been washed overboard, survived several hours clinging to the side of the ship and a harrowing climb up a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff were the remnants of a $30,000 ship and a $15,000 cargo. Also, there was the risk that there would be no cargo for the return voyage and the owner had the choice of coming back with an empty vessel (and no commission) or have the Captain and crew wait to see if they could secure a cargo. This could be months and the owner would have to pay wages during this time while having no money coming in. Sometimes Captains and / or crew would get into trouble in these ports and the owner would have to go to great lengths to resolve the matter. Sen. John A. Macdonald had to send Capt. Dan. Macdonald to Cadiz, Spain o get the Victory Chimes as there was some dispute with the port Authorities.



All of the information on this page was given to us courtesy of the
Cardigan River Heritage Center which is Located at
4537 Wharf Road
Cardigan, P.E.I.


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