MAITLAND - Gwen Frankton looked into the water and smiled as she thought about how important it was to honour the past during a special launching of a model ship in the Bay of Fundy yesterday afternoon.
The launching of a 17-foot replica ship commemorated the launching of the W.D. Lawrence ship, which was built by its namesake in 1874 and was the largest wooden-hulled, full-rigged vessel built in Canada. The original ship was 244 feet and weighed 2,459 tons.
The event was an annual nod to Maitland's shipbuilding history.
"This gives us an understanding of the community's history. If we lose track of the past then we can't learn from it and the values such as diligence and acts of courage that W.D. Lawrence had," said Frankton moments before the ceremony began.
About 60 people gathered for the Sunday afternoon event that took place in the bay across from the Lawrence House Museum. People donned period costume, children skipped to the shoreline to get a close look at the model ship about to be temporarily launched and readings from the original launching of Lawrence's ship were read before the replica was gently pushed into the water.
Nettah Burry, one of the event's co-ordinators, said there were many highlights of the Maitland Launch Festival in addition to the ship launching, including a parade, car show, entertainment and meals. She said the attendance, however, was down from last year because of periods of rain throughout the weekend.
"It's lower by a couple hundred people," throughout the weekend, she said, estimating there were still "a few hundred" people participating throughout the entire festival.
One special aspect even returned after an absence.
"We have created a myth there is a sea serpent in the Bay of Fundy," said Burry. "We will follow up this event with getting people to write about it and we may do a booklet with their writings."
In addition, there were sea serpents in the community parade on Sunday and the story of how the myth came to life years ago was shared.
"It dates back to the (early) 1900s," said Maitland resident Sharon Laska, of the reported sighting in the Bay of Fundy.
Then about six years ago during launch days Laska saw a shape among some dead head logs that reminded her of a sea serpent.
"We thought we should build a sea serpent and make it part of the launch days," Laska said.
Throughout that winter a 16-foot long creation was brought to life using bicycle wheels, chicken wire, CDs, fabric and more. It debuted five years ago but due to weather and upgrades was not part of the festival for the past two years. Not only did it reappear this summer, but three others have been made in the community and were part of the launch weekend festivities.