The Whitehead Canal is located between Whitehead Harbour and Witch Cove. Prior to its construction, fishermen had to haul their
boats over a narrow beach between Whitehead and Molasses Harbour (now Port Felix) at a spot known as "The Haulover". Residents
petitioned for the construction of the original structure which was twelve feet wide and one thousand feet in length. Construction
began in 1875 and originally it was deep enough to be used at half-tide or above. The canal served as a shortcut for local fishermen,
saving the four miles of sailing or rowing between Port Felix and Whitehead.
"To the Honorable Members of the legislature of Nova Scotia in session assembly:
The Humble Petitioners of... Tor Bay, Cole Harbour, Molasses Harbour and adjoining settlements most humbly sheweth... having always been under the necessity of getting a great portion of their living by the Fishery; and have at different times through the season
to remove to places to the Eastward or Westward before the end of the fishing season; and that your petitioners have long laboured
under a great disadvantage... [and]... have had to detain in some Harbour for some days before they could pass the Flying Point.
Your undersigned... have agreed to come forward... to make an attempt to remove these difficulties... we
intend, cutting a Canal
through from Molasses Harbour into the Harbour of Whitehaven... It is an objective worthy your attention... Your undersigned... all agree to pay one dollar per man either in labour with their own hand or provide a substitute that will perform the labour."
The first petition was signed Nov. 28, 1854 asking for £50, signed by many fishermen from Molasses Harbour, Tor Bay communities
and Whitehead. The residents had to follow this up with a 2nd petition in
February 1859, begging for the completion of the Canal, asking
another £30. Quote from Patrick Boudreau (as told to him by his
grandfather)."The Whitehead people dug
on the eastern side, and the
ones from Port Felix was digging on the western side, so they dug from
both sides and they met in the middle. They would build with a pick and
shovel and they hauled the clay away, and then they cut small little Vars
[sticks] with branches on. They made the walls with rocks, but they used
to put them small trees between the rocks so they wouldn't slide. Now
they had a hard time, right in the centre of the canal... there used to be a
ledge there. They used to bore holes and blow it up, they couldn't blow
up much at the time, but anyway they managed to get it."
Source: Patrick Boudreau (1915-2006)