Merchants and Mariners
True to the code of merchant-mariners, Parker-Eakins & Co. saw their mission as an endeavor "to facilitate the production, distribution and exchange of goods and services for mutual profit and advantage".
To achieve this goal, the company recognized and took advantage of the many new commercial opportunities that came their way. With their fleet of trading vessels Parker-Eakins & Co. carried lumber, fish and farm produce to the West Indies, bringing back sugar, molasses and rum. Company-owned vessels carried Nova Scotia products such as lumber, cured fish and potatoes to Great Britain and other European destinations. They returned with manufactured goods and raw materials, including salt, which was also imported in abundance from the West Indies.
Over the years Parker-Eakins & Co. has been a producer of raw materials, a manufacturer, an importing and exporting house, a shipowner and operator, a trading house, a fish processor, packer, and shipper, and an outfitter for farmers, fishermen, and lumbermen. The success of the company has been marked by its longevity and commercial impact on the Yarmouth area.
Goods for Sale · Ships for Hire
Parker-Eakins & Co. was founded in 1874 by Arthur White Eakins and Edward F. Parker. Later that year Abel Cutler
Robbins joined the fledgling company as a partner, bringing with him fresh capital to help finance the new venture.
In the early days of its development the company occupied property known as Young's Wharf. Built by John Young in 1867-68, the wharf had been used by the firm of Young, Kinney and Corning, fish-exporters and shipowners. The wharf proved eminently suitable to the needs of Parker-Eakins & Co. and in 1877, it was purchased to meet the demands of rapidly growing markets. It was not long before the property was added to and rail lines laid to connect the wharf with the lines of the Dominion Atlantic Railroad, thereby expediting the loading and unloading of vessels at the wharf - a task previously undertaken by ox-cart.
Yarmouth at the Centre of Trade
The mid-nineteenth century was a time of growth and prosperity for Yarmouth. Strengthened by the entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by companies such as Parker-Eakins & Co., Yarmouth's commercial reputation increased as rapidly as the vast array of goods which moved in and out of the harbor.
Yarmouth was fortunate in having an abundance of raw materials for shipbuilding in the immediate vicinity. Vessels built in Yarmouth and the surrounding area were directly involved in world trade, bringing both fame and fortune to the little seaport on the southern tip of Nova Scotia. In 1840,
there were 5,500 tons of shipping on registry at Yarmouth; less than forty years later, this figure had swelled dramatically to nearly 200,000 tons, or one-quarter of the tonnage of the Maritimes. In the same period, the rate of growth of tonnage registered at Yarmouth exceeded that of the Maritimes and the British Empire.
As a seaport and shipbuilding centre, Yarmouth was truly at the hub of trade and commerce for most of the nineteenth century.
To the Sea in Ships
To those that earned their livelihood on the tall ships owned by Parker-Eakins & Co., and other Maritime companies, the sea was not always kind and gentle. At times, life itself depended on the outcome of the struggle between sailors and their watery environment. As Yarmouth's commercial fleet continued to grow, so did the loss of ships at sea. Vessels owned by Parker-Eakins & Co. were not immune to tragedy as the following examples testify:
"Schooner LIZZIE M. STEWART, 74 tons... sailed from Yarmouth... for Barbados, with a cargo of fish, lumber, etc., and was not heard from again....
Schooner GLADIATOR, 115 tons, sailed from Yarmouth... for Antigua, with a cargo of Fish and Lumber, and her wreck was fallen in with bottom up... in lat. 41.42, long. 63.64, by the brig Lottie. She was again fallen in with by the New York pilot boat Pet, No. 9, which was sent at boat with two men alongside. The body of the captain... was found hanging by the bowspirit, entangled in the rigging. A large hole was cut in the vessel's side at the waterline, and she doubtlessly foundered that night, as no trace of her was afterwards found...".
[Image captions, from left to right, read]
· Parker-Eakins Wharf surrounded by unidentified barques & barquentines
· Interior of Parker-Eakins Sail Loft
· Fishing schooners at Parker-Eakins Wharf. Note the split fish drying on roof structure.
· Newspaper advertisement for Parker-Eakins & Co.
· Invoice for produce purchased from the Parker-Eakins Co. Limited, March 18, 1915
· An early photograph of Parker-Eakins staff.
· Mr. Edward F. Parker
· Parker-Eakins Wharf with fishing boats in foreground
· Aerial view of Parker-Eakins Wharf
· The Parker-Eakins & Co. building
· Parker-Eakins Wharf with fishing boats alongside.
· Parker-Eakins Wharf buildings, including sail loft
· Yarmouth waterfront, 1871, with Parker-Eakins building in centre