The Grand Manan Museum collects, preserves, and displays items that represent the human and natural history of the Village of Grand Manan, and the Islands of the Grand Manan Archipelago. It promotes education and appreciation of the community heritage, culture, and physical environment through public programs and exhibits.
L. Keith Ingersoll along with other interested residents of Grand Manan formed the Gerrish House Society in 1961. On the 18th of June, 1974, the name was changed to the Grand Manan Museum.
Moses Gerrish’s loyalty to the British cause was constant. Forced to leave his home in Massachusetts during the American revolution, he found shelter under British protection in the District of Maine. When at the end of the war that territory was ceded to the United States, he was again forced to relocate. He settled on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. For three decades it was uncertain to which of the former combatants, Great Britain or the United States, the Fundy islands belonged.
On 30 Dec. 1783 Governor John Parr of Nova Scotia issued a licence to John Jones, Thomas Oxnard, Thomas Ross, Peter Jones, and Moses Gerrish “to occupy during pleasure the Island of Grand Manan and the small Islands adjacent in the fishery, with liberty of cutting frame Stuff and timber for building.” Hoping to obtain a grant of Grand Manan, the licensees undertook to settle a certain number of families there, but they were to be unsuccessful in attracting the required quota and the original plan would not be realized. Gerrish and his colleagues arrived at the island on 6 May 1784, in the same year that New Brunswick became a separate province, and a permanent settlement was begun. Thomas Oxnard and Peter Jones never exercised their share in the licence of occupation, and in 1786 John Jones sold his interests to others. Ross was a sea captain, maintaining a commercial link to the mainland with his vessels and carrying on a shipping business in his own interests. Though his family was established on the island, he was away from home much of the time. Gerrish was left to manage the civil affairs of the young community.
Gerrish was appointed a justice of the peace. Among other initiatives, Gerrish purchased a pair of moose in 1784 and brought them to the island, where they soon multiplied. In 1810, when they were in danger of extermination, the provincial legislature passed a law for their protection, one of the earliest game conservation acts on record in British North America. An unusual feature allowed only Gerrish, or those permitted by him, to hunt and kill these big game animals. The law was later allowed to lapse and by 1835, only five years following Gerrish’s death, they had become extinct.
Gerrish’s house was located on Ross Island, next adjacent to the main island. In 1830, when he was returning home from the performance of a marriage ceremony at Seal Cove village, about four miles distant by water, his boat capsized and he was drowned. His body was recovered and he was buried in what is now an unmarked grave on Ross Island. His wife, Ruth, died in Massachusetts five years later.
Forty-six years of Gerrish’s life had been devoted to obtaining settlers for Grand Manan and helping to build what is today a healthy fishing community.
The Grand Manan Museum preserves local Island history and is permanent home to the three hundred birds in the Allan Moses Bird Collection. This Collection was given to the children of Grand Manan in 1951.
A 1967 centennial project, the original museum building was constructed through donations and with funds from the provincial and federal government.
In 1967, the Gannet Light house Fresnell lens was moved beside the Museum and in 1997 the new Gallery was built around it.
In 2013 the Museum became a Member of the United States Lighthouse Society, and visitors can now purchase a Lighthouse Passport in the gift shop and have their passport stamped for visiting the Gannet Rock Light, one of over 400 member lighthouses in North America, only a handful of which are in Canada.
In 1979, the historic Deep Cove One-Room School House was also moved to the grounds behind the museum.
In 1997, the Museum was doubled in size in order to store the many artifacts and the Archives.
Islanders and island industries of Grand Manan have always been generous in keeping the Museum alive and vibrant, and its operation depends on volunteers, gifts, and donations.
The Grand Manan Museum is located in the heart of Grand Harbour, halfway down the island from the ferry landing, at 1141 Route 776 across from the Community School.
Grand Manan Museum
Dictionary of Canadian Biography
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