Creator(s): Northumberland Fisheries Museum & Heritage Association
Ice boats were an essential link to mainland Canada for residents of tiny Pictou Island during the winter months when sea ice made passage by regular boats impossible. Using ice for survival, a cold isolated time of year for Islanders - ice became an essential role for transportation, communication, and survival.
The Dangers of Iceboating
Many dangers lurked for the ice boats and their crew upon the Northumberland Strait. The greatest danger was not the stretches of open water, nor the sea ice, but rather the heavy slush, which would pool in areas of open water. Ice boats would mire in the slush and oars were often broken while trying to break free. The strong tides and currents in the Northumberland Strait caused ice floes to move quickly and the ice boat could easily be capsized or even crushed. There had been times when harsh conditions resulted in crews spending a night under the over turned iceboat for shelter, and there have been cases where entire crews have drowned when making crossing on the Strait ice.