Betsey 250 celebrations ramping up

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While history may be made every day, it’s not every day that 250 years of history can be celebrated.

This year — this June 10 in fact — will mark 250 years since the arrival of the Betsey, which kick-started British immigration to the northern shore of Nova Scotia.

Unlike the Hector, the Betsey and its chapter of history isn’t all that well known outside of Lyons Brook, the devoted community it was instrumental in shaping.

The Betsey carried just six families — none of whom, notably, bore the family name Lyon — and arrived six years prior to the Hector. Of British origin, these settlers came from Philadelphia as part of the Philadelphia land grant, which covered lands west of where the Ultramar gas station now stands. The Harrises and the Pattersons — both later to play a large role in shaping Pictou — were among these families, as were the Rogers, McCabes and the Cumseys, who would later be known as Cummingers.

The ship also carried two individuals of African heritage, however, information regarding them is limited.

Following this arrival, Lyons Brook sprung up as an industrious little community with a ship building industry, a tannery, a saw mill, a stone quarry and a sizable boarding house. The tannery made shoe soles for many, while stone from the area found a home in the Confederation Centre as well as Province House.

Some 25 years ago, a model of the Betsey was installed and displayed in the community. This year’s milestone will be marked with the installation of five sets of a series of four flags which celebrate the arrival of the Betsey and three historically rich locations in the community. These flags will be displayed from around Piper’s Landing to the fork in the road towards Durham.

The occasion will also see the ribbon-cutting for and unveiling of the Lyons Brook historical kiosk panels, a pancake breakfast, traditional crafts and historical items will be on display and genealogical information will be on hand. A luncheon will be held at Piper’s Landing prior to speeches, and a variety concert.

June 11, meanwhile, will see a special church service and a lecture hosted by the McCulloch Heritage Centre.

It’s all designed to not only celebrate, but to educate.

“This ship came first,” saidLynn MacLean, Betsey 250 chairperson “and that’s the unknown fact if you will. We’re not trying to steal any of the Hector’s thunder, but make them understand — there was another ship that came first.

“(The) story of the Betsey needs to be told.”

These celebrations came together under the sponsorship of the Lyons Brook Women’s Institute and a volunteer committee from the community.

From the left: Karen Corbin Hughes, Lynn Langille, Kevin Hayhurst, Betsey 250 chair Lynn MacLean, and Women’s Institute president Christine MacKenzie with the newly created Betsey 250 emblem. The symbol, as well as images of notable Lyons Brook locations, will be displayed on flags throughout Lyons Brook during the upcoming Betsey 250 celebrations. (Cameron photo)

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