Fridays before a long-weekend tend to be slow days – everyone’s already into the long weekend mindset. Ann and I decided to re-visit Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage (on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour) to enjoy a light lunch, plus a walk on the nearby boardwalk.
The Fisherman’s Cove Development Association runs the Cove and is a non-profit, volunteer run organization with the goal of promoting the cultural heritage of Eastern Passage and other ecotourism initiatives, which was founded in 1996. What sets it apart is the location – chosen to conserve an authentic fishing community set in beautiful, natural scenery. Fisherman’s Cove is both frozen in time yet is constantly evolving. It’s home to a unique collection of gift shops, museums and art galleries, delicious restaurants, coffee and bake shops, ice cream canteens, and wonderful fish n’ chip shacks, living side by each with traditional fishermen’s shacks.
We choose Boondocks for our lunch and, it proved to be an excellent choice. The new chef has created a menu full of choices including those Maritime staples, seafood chowder and fishcakes.
After lunch we took a stroll on the boardwalk, with its spectacular views of McNab’s Island, and looking north towards the city of Halifax. The temperature was mild, with a bit of wind coming off the Atlantic. This is a popular spot to come for a pleasant walk and often people with dogs or small children take advantage of the well laid out boardwalk.
Later, we stopped by Clyde T. Henneberry room, and were very pleasantly surprised by the unique exhibits, especially the exclusive gallery of original paintings by this internationally recognized local artist. My eyes were drawn to his painting of the Titanic: a Royal Navy sea-battle scene BUT I was amazed to gaze upon his painting of the CSS Tallahassee, a first for me. I have to give a big thank you, to Angela Maclean, the chairperson of the Fisherman’s Cove Development Association, for showing Ann and I around, it was eye-opening experience.
On our Gold Coast Excursion and our Nova Scotia tours, we visit Fisherman’s Cove and talk about CSS Tallahassee’s connection to Eastern Passage. It was a twin-screw steamer and cruiser in the Confederate States Navy, purchased in 1864, and used for raiding commercial vessels off the Atlantic coast.
Tallahassee was named after the Confederate state capital of Tallahassee, Florida and was built on the River Thames in England, ostensibly for the Chinese opium trade. She was previously known as the blockade runner Atalanta and made the Dover to Calais crossing in 77 minutes, on an even keel. She had made several blockade runs between Bermuda and Wilmington, N.C. before the Confederates bought her.
John Taylor Wood
After Tallahassee was commissioned and prepared for sea, she was placed under the command of Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN. Wood was a grandson of President Zachary Taylor and nephew of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America. The officers and crew were all volunteers from Confederate gunboats on the James River and in North Carolina waters.
The Tallahassee went through the blockade on August 6, 1864 from her home port of Wilmington, North Carolina. On her first day out, four cruisers chased theTallahassee without incident.
She made a spectacular 19-day raid off the Atlantic coast, sailing as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. She destroyed 26 vessels and captured seven others that were bonded or released. Wood sailed Tallahassee into Halifax on August 18, 1864 to take on bunker coal and water. Neutrality laws limited her stay in Halifax to 24 hours but Tallahassee was granted an extra 12 hours to fix a broken mast. The deal – she was only allowed to load enough coal to take her to the nearest Confederate port. Two Federal war ships, USS Nansemond and USS Huron, had chased her north and were waiting for Tallahassee at the harbour’s entrance.
Wood hired a legendary Halifax harbour pilot John “Jock” Fleming, who guided the warship through the narrow and shallow Eastern Passage between the Dartmouth side of the harbour and McNab’s Island, a route with constantly shifting sandbars, suited only for small fishing vessels and yachts. By carefully taking soundings, and advantage of a higher full moon tide, Fleming successfully negotiated Tallahassee through the passage out of the harbour and past the waiting Federal warships in the dead of night.
As he was unable to procure enough coal to continue, Wood was forced to return to Wilmington where he arrived safely on August 26. At the end of the Civil War, Wood returned to Halifax to live and he is buried in Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax.
Over time the Tallahassee was renamed, first CSS Olustee, later CSS Chameleon, and ended its career by being interned by the British Government and handed over the United States authorities. Fleming’s piloting Tallahassee through the Passage is commemorated in the name of the local school.
Fisherman’s Cove has proven to be both a very interesting and worthwhile stop for Blue Diamond Tours’ excursions and trips. The Clyde T Henneberry Room has been added to our itinerary so visitors can see this renowned painter’s work.
As we offer customized trips and excursions, we can make Fisherman’s Cove, the focus of your trip, if you so desire.