Great Big Lift

Our Journey

September 15, 2023 will be celebrated as one of our country’s most historic events.


It marks the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Ship Hector to the shores of Pictou, Nova Scotia from Scotland. The 189 passengers endured a harrowing 11-week voyage to start a new life in a new land. This voyage was the beginning of an incredible journey that cannot be forgotten. These early emigrants made enormous cultural, political, intellectual, and industrial contributions that helped shape Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada. In 2000, the replica Ship Hector was launched. The ship, the replica site, and the Hector Heritage Quay Interpretive Centre allows visitors to experience the life of the passengers throughout the Quay’s displays and onboard the ship. The site preserves the history that represents the Ship Hector and the relationship with the Mi’kmaq, the Scottish, and the community.

The Ship Hector Society plans to have the Hector fully restored and rigged for this national historic milestone event.

Preserving Our History

The Ship Hector Society, a not-for-profit organization made up of community volunteers, has created the Charting Our Course campaign to restore the tourism icon to a fully rigged tall ship. The Hector Heritage Quay is home to the Ship Hector, an Interpretive Centre, Blacksmith Shop, Carpentry Shop, and Rigging Room.

This campaign will ensure our Scottish heritage lives on and the indigenous connection is shared and celebrated. The Ship Hector is an important piece of our history and plays a key role in the economic impact of the region.

The restoration provides exciting opportunities to use new materials, green technologies, and innovative digital exhibits. With this restoration, we have an opportunity to ensure history is preserved and our story lives on for future generations to cherish.

Our Path Forward

Once fully renovated, the Ship Hector and the Hector Heritage Quay will have an enhanced tourism appeal attracting visitors from around the globe while maintaining a functional, authentic, interactive experience.

The Restoration

Vern Shea,
Project Manager,
Ship Hector Restoration Project

Ensuring the survival and best use of the Ship Hector along with preserving the original design intent of the vessel is paramount and is ultimately the goals of the Ship Hector Society . The society utilized advisors and consultants in the marine industry to look at alternative and cost-effective ways to restore the ship, and safeguard that its long-term maintenance and viability are guaranteed. By using composites and fiberglass along with traditional materials in innovative ways, we will safeguard that the Ship Hector maintains her historic appearance and feel of an 18th century “Bootschip”.

Charting Our Course

As Canadians, we must ensure we find new and better ways to share the story of the Ship Hector for current and future generations. This historic voyage does not simply highlight a critical event in Canadian history, heritage, and development but it also highlights what has helped shape our country and our diverse culture. Understanding the lengths newcomers would go in hopes of a better life is something we can still appreciate today, and it has become part of our identity, values, and future prosperity. By discovering and sharing this story interactively with our community and indigenous partners, we are not only supporting economic sustainability in the region through experiential tourism but highlighting the importance of advancement and resiliency in our communities across Canada which is an important part of our growth and development.

Foundation, Corporate
and Community Campaign

The Ship Hector is a recognized tourism icon for the Northumberland Shore and Nova Scotia and the campaign team is committed to preserving this important piece of our rich heritage.

All contributions made to the Charting Our Course Campaign will be used to restore the Ship Hector. Our goal is to have the Hector fully rigged and operational in time for the 250th anniversary of the Landing of the Ship Hector on September 15, 2023.

Our Plan

On numerous historic vessels, substituting materials may be desirable for these projects especially if the original materials require considerable maintenance costs, and as stated, preserving the original design intent.

In some instances, it seems to not affect their allure. HMS Bounty was longer than the original and all her hanging and lodging knees were fiberglass reproductions. Her rigging was a mismatch of different time periods and materials. Bluenose II utilized composite materials extensively and El Galeon is a completely composite vessel and named The Hit of 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

Discussions with Captain Watson and crew members of Bluenose II regarding firefighting, lifesaving, ship-operating equipment, and their effect on the overall experience, appears to be minimal. As stated by them, there is just too much going on between the sea, the sky, the sails, and the ship itself.

The society, trades persons, crew, and staff will strive to ensure an authentic representation and sailing experience while aboard the Ship Hector.

Use of composites and fibreglass on the hull above and below the waterline when completed will give the appearance of a wooden vessel. Seam and butt lines as well as fastening plugs will be added, and thick wales will add depth and texture. Use of composites and fibreglass on the hull above and below the waterline when completed will give the appearance of a wooden vessel. Seam and butt lines as well as fastening plugs will be added, and thick wales will add depth and texture.

All salvageable existing decks will be prepared, fibreglassed and sheathed in Douglas Fir, and all deck equipment will be as per the original ship. 

Masts, yards, and their associated components will be as per the original, as most can be re-used. Existing standing and running will be supplemented with new as per the original. All are synthetic but have the look and feel of hemp coming from the same rope loft that manufactured the rigging for H.M.S. Victory. 

New raised decks fore and aft will be composite-over-wood deck beams and overlaid with Douglas Fir planking. Two new partial bulkheads fore and aft under raised decks will conceal and facilitate installation of ship systems such as vents, fills, ventilation, and miscellaneous equipment.

Firefighting and lifesaving equipment as required by Transport Canada will be strategically placed on board so as not to take away from the vessel’s historic appearance.

In conjunction with the Master Rigger, the vessel will be outfitted with synthetic sails that look and feel like canvas. In addition, the ship will be rigged to safely and efficiently be operated by the mandated crew as well as allow the passengers to assist if desired.

Below decks, three new watertight bulkheads will be installed as per Transport Canada Sub-Division Regulations. A Captain’s cabin and washroom will be outfitted below the upper deck.

Eight-person crew accommodations below the main deck will be refurbished. The engine room will be located aft, below the main deck as will the reception area. The existing passenger display area will be located forward, below the main deck and will be refurbished as per the original.


Campaign Goals Investment


Campaign cabinet

John Oliver
Co- Chair, Corporate Director
Dave Sobey
Co-Chair, Director Support Services, Atlantic, Sobeys
Lee Harwood
VP, BMO Private Wealth
Ralph Heighton
Community Liaison, Hector Quay Society Director
The Honourable Peter MacKay
PC QC, Strategic Advisor, Deloitte LLP
Bobbi Morrison
PhD, Associate Professor, St FX University
Gerry Pettipas
Vice Chair, Hector Quay Society

Campaign Administration

Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores Association
Cindy MacKinnon
Managing Director


"I was delighted to hear about the redesign of the Ship Hector and was so happy to hear that the Mi’kmaq would be able to share their stories and be a part of this history that will be on display. Not Many know or are aware of the connection between our people and the Ship Hector. I look forward to working to share this story and seeing all that we discover."
— Chief Andrea Paul
Pictou Landing First Nations

"The Ship Hector is an important part of our Country’s history and our community’s Celtic heritage. The facility draws visitors to the area and serves as an anchor for our local tourism sector. With the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Hector’s arrival and the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Town of Pictou, the proposed improvements to the vessel and interpretive centre could not be better timed.”
— Sean Fraser
Member of Parliament, Central Nova

"The Ship Hector is an important piece of our Nova Scotia heritage and an integral economic driver for the tourism industry along the Northumberland Shore. September 15, 2023 will be an important milestone for our province to celebrate and I look forward to being a part of this special occasion."
— The Honourable Tim Houston
Premier, Province of Nova Scotia

"The Town of Pictou is proud to be the home of the Ship Hector as a signature tourism icon on the Northumberland shore. The Ship Hector replica and Interpretive Centre add to the appeal of our beautiful waterfront and help to drive economic activity in the region. In 2023 the Town of Pictou and the Ship Hector Society will acknowledge two significant milestones; the 250th Anniversary of the Hector arrival and the 150th Anniversary of the Town’s Incorporation. We look forward to the celebration of our past while looking forward to our future."
— Jim Ryan
Mayor, Town of Pictou