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Lunenburg Seamen’s Thanksgiving Service

Every year, the community pauses to give thanks for its seafaring residents returning safely to land, and to remember those who did not. Lunenburg’s seafaring heritage has seen generations of people going to sea, whether for fishing, carrying cargo, even rum running during Prohibition. Picton Castle is proud to call Lunenburg one of our homes and the base of our operations, the crew carrying on the tradition of putting to sea from Lunenburg.

We often pass the Fishermens’ Memorial on Bluenose Drive, just down the street from our wharf and office. It’s made up of eight triangular columns of black granite arranged as a compass rose, inscribed with names of ships and seamen who never made it home. In years of bad weather, like the August gales of 1926 and 1927, the lists are long and many of the last names are repeated, some families lost fathers, brothers, uncles and nephews.

While the Fishermens’ Memorial is always available for people to visit, as is the memorial room in the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, time has been set aside every year for more than 80 years to remember those who were lost and to be thankful for those who returned safely. The Seaman’s Thanksgiving Service was held this year at the Central United Church on Sunday September 11. Many of our crew were in attendance while Mayor Laurence Mawhinney and local clergy led the assembled group in words and music.

After the part of the service in the church, beautiful floral wreaths were presented, some in memory of all seafarers lost from the local area and some to honour a specific lost loved one, and carried down the street to the Adams & Knickle scallop fishing vessel Cachalot I. The sun was shining and there was a fresh breeze, the perfect day to reminisce about being on the water. The Captain and crew of the Picton Castle presented a beautiful floral wreath with pink lilies, gerbera daisies and lush green leaves in memory of all lost seafarers, especially Laura Gainey. Once we arrived on the wharf, wreaths were then passed to the crew at the end of the gangway, who gently carried them to the bow and attached them with string to the rail around the bow of the ship. The vessels of the inshore fishing fleet motored past the end of the wharf and were each individually blessed, then Cachalot I slipped off the dock and went out to sea, carrying her cargo of wreaths and memories. Just past Cross Island, the wreaths were cut away to float atop the Atlantic, marking the graves of so many seafarers who lay below.

CACHALOT I with wreaths on the bow, photo by Ollie Campbell
CACHALOT leaves the dock with wreaths
parade of wreaths to the waterfront, photo by Ollie Campbell
ready to receive wreaths at the gangway of CACHALOT I

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