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Nova Scotia man finds possible historic Killick anchor on beach

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John Benoit of West Jeddore, N.S., says he has been beachcombing for over 50 years, but his most recent discovery is by far his most memorable.

“It’s one of the coolest things I've had the pleasure of finding,” said Benoit. “It’s not anything that I would have expected to find.”

Benoit was out for a walk on Cape St. Mary’s beach in western Nova Scotia when he noticed something unusual buried beneath the rocks.

“I kept digging and eventually I pulled out an anchor,” Benoit explained.

Standing almost four feet high and two feet across is what Benoit believes is a historic Killick anchor. The anchor is made entirely of wood and doesn’t contain any metal parts.

“It wasn’t far from the old wharf at Cape St. Mary, so it could have been buried there for hundreds of years,” said Benoit. “The possibility is definitely there.”

Roger Marsters, curator of marine history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, says Killick anchors were commonly used in our waters from the mid-18th century up until the Second World War.

“Killicks are a very old form of anchor,” said Marsters. “They are the characteristic of inshore fishing communities, certainly in North America, but also around the world. They are basically an elaboration of the simplest anchor which is essentially a rock on a string.”

While reports of Killicks being found are rare, Marsters says it is possible for them to be preserved under the right conditions.

“If they’re on a beach and get covered up by sand and mud and are protected from the air, then the wood parts can be preserved for a very long time,” said Marsters.

Marsters encourages anyone who makes a discovery on the shore or in the intertidal zone to contact the museum to help with verification.

Whether ancient or not, Benoit hopes to share it with others and believes it may be of interest to a local museum in the region.

“I really think that it has some importance to Nova Scotia, to Clare, Cape St. Mary and Acadian history,” said Benoit.

A find that’s making waves in the community while anchoring the past.

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