The village of St. Martins is trying to raise the money to buy back a significant piece of its history.

They have obtained the first right of refusal on an original figurehead from the Prince Victor, one of roughly 700 ships built in St. Martins in the late 1800s.

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The restored figurehead from the Prince Victor, built in St. Martins. (CBC)

St. Martins, with its population of 1,000 at the time, was third in shipbuilding to Halifax and Saint John, and the village produced the most master mariners, per capita, in the world.

The seven-foot-tall figurehead currently resides in England, but the village would like to bring it back home.

Rob Moran, a descendant of the famed Moran family of shipbuilders, first heard about the figurehead when the Hunter Figurehead Archives in England contacted him, looking for information on the piece they'd recently acquired.

The Prince Victor hit a sandbar on the Severn River and capsized. The figurehead spent about 60 years as a lawn ornament before being acquired by the figurehead archives three years ago.

Moran did some research, and took a little trip over to the UK to see the piece for himself.

The figurehead is carved from pine and weighs a hefty 800 lbs. It is being painstakingly preserved by filling cracks, sealing, and painting, to bring it to its original splendour.

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Prince Victor before the restoration. (CBC)

"In our conversations, I said, 'when this is all said and done, what are you going to do with this?' And he said, 'it'll be put up for sale,' so it got me thinking," said Moran.

Eric Bartlett, the manager of the Quaco Museum, instantly recognised the value of adding Prince Victor to their collection.

"One of the problems we have in our museum is that although we have a lot of artifacts, we have a lot of history, we do not have any object that we can say 'this item was off of a ship that was built in St. Martins,' so the history of it is very very important," Bartlett said. 

The Quaco Historical Society needs to raise about $50,000 to purchase the piece. They are hoping to have it in St. Martins by July.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated the Prince Victor hit a sandbar off the coast of England and sank. In fact, it hit a sandbar in the Severn River and sank.
    Mar 10, 2016 3:11 PM AT