PEI

Ice boat replica to make historic journey Saturday on P.E.I.

An ice boat will ply the waters in Cape Traverse, P.E.I., on Saturday for the first time in five decades.

'It really is an untold Canadian history story'

Local MLA Jamie Fox and CBC P.E.I. meteorologist Jay Scotland were among the passengers on a test voyage of the ice boat replica Friday. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

An ice boat will ply the waters in Cape Traverse, P.E.I., on Saturday for the first time in decades.

Until 1917 the boats carried mail, supplies and passengers between Cape Traverse and Cape Tormentine, N.B., linking the Island with the mainland in wintertime.

"It really is an untold Canadian history story. The ice boats travelled for 90 years ... so it's a piece of history we're really proud of here in Cape Traverse,"  said Robyn MacKay, media coordinator for the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee.

The committee has been working with Parks Canada and Holland College for two years to build a new one, MacKay said.

'It is seaworthy'

The boat's maiden voyage at 1 p.m. will see eight people row from Bell's Point, P.E.I., to the Cape Traverse wharf. The boat was tested in Dalvay, P.E.I., two weeks ago.

"It is seaworthy," MacKay said.

There were situations in past centuries where the ice boats were stranded on the ice for days at a time. (Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee/Facebook)

A previous re-enactment was done in 1967. Two years ago, the committee members and local MLA Jamie Fox met with Parks Canada and decided to build a new ice boat.

"For everyone in Cape Traverse, the ice boat history is kind of a cornerstone of our community. It's just a way to bring everyone together."

'To get community involvement'

The day will have an early 1900s theme with stilt walkers, a bagpiper and an "old-fashioned" parade to follow.

'The ice boat history is kind of a cornerstone of our community,' says Robyn MacKay. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

The boat will be hauled from the wharf to the Parks Canada national monument, MacKay said.

Then the ice cream social, a few words of dedication and "an afternoon of old-fashioned family fun" are planned. 

As a side project, the committee scattered 101 heart-shaped rocks on local beaches with anchors painted on them to represent the number of years since the last ice boat sailed, said committee member Jim Glennie.

"[It's] to get community involvement, just so the kids and adults have some beachcombing to do. They can actually find these rocks."

Finders are encouraged to share photos on Twitter with the hashtag #CapeTraverse.

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With files from Jay Scotland

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