On November 20, 2022, the communities of Sandy Point and Jordan Bay, near Shelburne, N.S., came together for the first ever Blessing of the Fleet held in the St. Peter’s by the Sea historical church in Sandy Point.
St. Peter’s by the Sea is a historical landmark in the community and is under the last stages of a restoration project which Michael Holmes has been overseeing. The church is 134 years old and sits overlooking Shelburne Harbour.
“The local fishermen have been strong supporters of this project since it began a few years ago. I was approached last summer by a fisherman asking if a blessing of the fleet could be arranged since the restoration is nearing completion. I started planning the event mid-summer and in the end it was amazing. It started out simple and kept growing. The first thought was having a minister and a gathering, but it quickly grew to include Jordan Bay fishermen as well. Now we have two communities coming together,” Holmes explained.
On November 20 at 3 p.m., everyone gathered with Pastor Phil Williams, Pastor Roger Smith, the Sound of Men gospel singers and about 150 people in attendance. It was a pretty large gathering for the first blessing of the fleet.
“However, as my thought grew on this event, I thought why not take it a little farther and recognize some of the pillars of our community that have retired from the fishing industry. I called our local MLA Nolan Young and asked if he could attend and recognize these fishermen, which he happily agreed to. Then I decided to take it up another notch and have a supper at the Sandy Point Community Centre. We planned a simple fish chowder, a humble meal but a staple of our community and tradition for years. At the supper, three well-known fishermen and a fish dealer were recognized for their long-standing careers in the industry. I was the Master of Ceremonies along with Gary Dedrick, another long-standing fisherman from Shelburne.”
Those recognized at the event included:
- Roger Smith: internationally known salt fish dealer with more than 50 years in the industry.
- Capt. Bill Acker: retired Jordan Bay fisherman with 60 years in the industry.
- Capt. Lemual Locke: retired Sandy Point fisherman with more than 70 years in the industry.
- Capt. Harry Rennehan: still active at 85 years old and 70 years in the industry.
- The local MLA also acknowledged this event in the House of Assembly on March 28, 2023.