Volunteers, who have spent years working on restoring an historic ship, hope to impress Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on their visit to Pictou.

Prince Charles and Camilla will visit Hector, a three-masted, fully-rigged replica of the ship that brought the first Scottish settlers directly to Nova Scotia. The stop is part of their hour-long visit to Pictou on Monday.

The Hector Quay Society fundraised in order to build the full-size replica, using copies of the original ship's plans.

The Hector's attachment to this small community dates back to 1773 when a group of Scottish settlers made the first direct voyage to Nova Scotia —187 people crammed into the old Dutch cargo ship.


This fully-rigged replica of the Hector can be found at the Hector Heritage Quay in Pictou. (CBC)

“It wasn't that sturdy. It was probably 45 to 50 years old by the time it came over here,” said John Meir, vice-chair of the society. “There were rumours it was pretty rotten. You could poke your finger through the sides and actually this was its last journey.”

Disaster struck twice during the journey. Once, when a storm pushed the Hector halfway back to Scotland — and then when illness spread through the ship.

Meir said when smallpox hit, 18 people died, most of whom were children. 

“That's the sad part of the voyage. The good part was most made it and most stayed.”

Almost 250 years later, scores of volunteers in Pictou have almost completed the Hector. 

All that's left is to finish the masts.

“There's two more sections to go,” said Darlene MacDonald, a member of the society. “It gives us a better idea that it looks like a ship. Last year it looked like a floating bath tub with no masts or anything.”

The Hector Quay Society will be standing by as Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit the ship Monday at 4 p.m. AT.