Country Harbour was settled by Loyalists from the King’s Carolina Rangers and the South Carolina Royalists under the leadership of Captain John Legett. They left Florida on October 10, 1783 and landed in Halifax November 3, 1783. From there the bulk of the settlers went on to Country Harbour with six months provisions, many members on the King’s Carolina Rangers did not arrive until the week of Christmas, possibly even Christmas Day.
323 men, 27 women, and 14 children were listed as having settled at Country Harbour. In May 1874 it was reported that there were only 275 settlers left and the number of men had deceased to 210.
As settlers were not used to winter conditions they roofed their log cabins with mounds of brush thinking it sufficient to keep away the snow but not expecting the long drenching rains that come in late winter. As a result, rain soaked into cabins so that colds combined with scurvy carried off one third of the settlement. The reason for the makeshift shelters was attributed to having a deck load of lumber washed into the ocean in a storm. Arriving after the onset of snow and without lumber the settlers had to throw together whatever shelter they could.
In the spring of 1784 a fresh supply of provisions arrived and the settlement began in earnest. In 1785 the population was 289 - 201 men, 26 women, 21 children, and 41 servants.
The site was established in 1983 to acknowledge the Loyalists who settled the area in 1783.
The walking trail to the site is approx. 2.2km, along the trail you will find listings of the names of people who were granted lands in 1783, the names of various plants and trees, and distance markers.
Inside the building, located on site, you will find information regarding the Loyalists, the celebrations held in 1983, as well as current information.
United Epire Loyalist Site
This site sits at Legett’s Point - the northern top of the Stormont site, the remains of Captain Legett’s wharf are still visible at the water’s edge where the complex consisting of the Captain’s store and house formed the most prominent feature of Country Harbour at the time.
The settlement site, called Stormont, was laid out as a town with lots of one-third acre each on a slope overlooking the water. Hopes for the town were based on its potential as a fishing, shipping, and lumber centre. At the end of their first year there Captain Legett reported that 2 schooners had been built. Also six boats, from 20 to 30 feet in the keel as well as 12 small boats for inshore fishing were completed. The catch for 1784 was between 8,000 and 10,000 pound of cod and 3,000 pounds of salmon. 50,000 feet of shipping lumber had been produced, 50,000 feet of shingles and 30,000 feet of clapboads.
In September 1811 a gale devastated much of the coast of Nova Scotia. In the words of one of the settlers: “I was busily engaged in preparing writings, [when,] feeling the house shake rather violently, I raised my eyes to the windows in front of my Seat, and perceived that the parish church...was totally prostrate, and its lighter materials, were flying about like so many feathers. I hastily secured some bundles of my papers in my pockets, and partly for person Safety...went out of the house but Soon found that I could not keep my feet without some Kind of support, and therefore got hold of a young willow Sapling, which, though it was constantly bending near to the ground, was sufficient to prevent my being blown down. While in that Situation, I Saw a vessel which was lying at Anchor in the harbour, her sails down, and under the partial shelter of a line of beach, completely turned over, and in about five Minutes, no part of her could I see...Some on the land also I heard were killed, and others seriously injured in the destruction of their dwellings...The flocks of geese were blown from the land into the water, as their own feathers would have been by any ordinary Wind. A large part of the roof of a dwelling house near to the one in which I was lodging was carried into a field Several hundred yards off like a plough share into the Soil.”
Legett returned home from Guysborough as soon as he could. He was 69 at the time and the journey was a rough one. He was devastated by what he found there. Everything he owned was flattened and ruined. He Moved in with his daughter and died the next year. He was buried at Country Harbour.
United Empire Loyalist Site
For the officers who could afford them, slaves and hired laborers were employed in clearing land and sawing lumber. Black Loyalists - that is, free blacks - and blacks brought as slaves were part of the initial settlement but the black Loyalists were not granted land at the time of the settlement. Of the 41 servants at Country Harbour only 5 had surnames recorded.
One black Loyalist who came willingly to Nova Scotia even though he received no land in the Wright Grant was George Webb. Webb was born in South Carolina and joined the British at Charleston. He and his wife, Nelly, were employed by Lieutenant James Boisseau of the South Carolina Royalists, but he left George, Nelly and their three children on his land in Country Harbour in 1784. Webb remained in Country Harbour and eventually bought 700 acres at the Tip of Isaacs Harbour. His wife died in 1802 and he remarried Phoebe Roberts in 1803. He raised 14 children. Finally in 1819 he was granted 200 additional acres of land.
Legett also officiated at the marriage of Mortin Clyght to Elsa Webb. They were granted 200 acres in 1821, 11 years after their marriage. In the late 19th century blacks had become scarce in Country Harbour. The 1817 census enumerated 31 blacks; the 1871 census recorded only 5 for Stormont but 27 at Isaacs Harbour where the Webbs lived, 10 near Salmon River where the Clyghts had moved.
Address: Highway 316, Stormont, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
Season: Year Round depending on trail access during the winter