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Marine Trades

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Cranberry Island is readily accessible by water, and is on the main trade route between Nova Scotia and the Eastern Seaboard.  So in the early years when roads were bad, all sorts of goods were transported by ship: lumber from Canada and inland Maine, granite for construction in the large cities, and fresh and cured fish for city markets, with return loads full of the many household items necessary for an expanding population.

Fish were plentiful, as was wood for building ships, so it was inevitable that the marine trades flourished here.  The Gloucester fishing fleet would arrive in our area with dozens of sailing vessels, joining the sizable fleet from Southwest Harbor and the Cranberries.

In the late 1800s Morse began building his Friendship sailboats.  This design soon became attractive as a work boat for lobstermen as well as a summer sailboat for the newly arrived Rusticators.  Since many ships were lost every year in shipwrecks, there was a steady demand for new schooners and sailboats to be built.  Boat building became a lively occupation on Great Cranberry Island, as well as on Sutton Island.

Fishing was the largest industry after the decline of shipping, and many Islanders were involved with some phase of it, or lobstering, depending on the season.

In the 1900’s, as the wealthy summer visitors arrived, many men would trade lobster traps for Captain’s hats. This became the way of life for many.