Description of Historic Place
The Ballast Heaps consist of two small islands in Richibucto Harbour that were created by the unloading of ballast from ships that frequented the port of Richibucto. The north island is located across York Point and the south island is located near the mouth of Weldon’s Creek.
The Ballast Heaps are designated as a Local Historic Places for their association with the port of Richibucto and its maritime commerce.
At the time of sailing ships, when boats were traveling with little or no cargo, it was necessary to partly fill their holds with ballast. This ballast could consist of stones, sand and gravel as well as pieces of iron and bricks. Once the ship arrived at destination, the hold would be emptied of its ballast and refilled with cargo. In the case of Richibucto, the ballast was dumped into the harbour.
The size of these ballast heaps reflect not only the length of time of Richibucto’s shipping days, but also the degree of cultural and commercial influence its maritime enterprises had on the community. The origins of Richibucto’s ballast heaps date back to the late 18th century with the arrival of the first Anglo-European settlers and merchants. In those early days, the exports consisted of some gaspereau and lumber bound for the West Indies. From around 1810 began the export of squared timber. Richibucto soon became the point of export of lumber from the several mills of the region and destined for the European market. The present ballast heaps are depicted on maps as early as 1827, 1829 and 1839.
After the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the commerce of lumber and shipbuilding saw unprecedented growth in the Richibucto region as well as in New Brunswick. In the 1820's and 1830's, great quantities of lumber were exported from Richibucto. As well, numerous immigrants, mostly from Ireland and Scotland, arrived on ships that went to Richibucto to load up with lumber. This resulted in the creation of an immigration society to assist the newcomers. In 1832, for example, some 65 passengers came aboard the Isabella from the Irish port of Carlisle.
In addition to the timber commerce and shipbuilding, Richibucto exported large quantities of fish. Numerous fishplants and canning factories for lobster and sea products, such as those of Samuel and Levy, Noble, the O’Learys and Loggie, contributed to this growth.
All these maritime commercial activities made Richibucto the third most important port in the Province of New Brunswick.
Sources : Richibucto Town Hall - Richibucto Historic Places files; Centre d'études acadiennes Anselme-Chiasson, Université de Moncton
The character-defining elements of the Ballast Heaps include:
- two man-made islands in the harbour of Richibucto;
- ballast from ships from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries;
- foreign plants carried over in the ballast.