On September 15, 1773 the Ship Hector landed at Brown’s Point in Pictou Harbour. On board were 189 Scottish Highlanders who had left their homes with the promise of land and a better life in the New World. 

The Hector, a three-masted cargo vessel, was the first ship to directly transport passengers from Scotland to Nova Scotia. This historic voyage marked the beginning of a massive wave of immigration that would shape the future of North America and gave Pictou the honour of being called “the birthplace of New Scotland”.

The replica Ship Hector and the Hector Heritage Quay re-tells the story of those first settlers. The Museum delves into why the Scottish settlers left their homeland beginning with the battle of Culloden. It looks at the voyage over through the great unknown and what it was like for the settlers once they arrived.

The site offers guided or self directed tours, daily events such as workshops and demonstrations, and you never know when a bagpiper may appear! New to the site just last year are audio guides which are available in both French and English. Upon request there is also a binder with a french translation of the displays. There is also a smaller pamphlet in German that will give some background information about the site and the ship.



Construction on the replica ship Hector began in 1990.  The keel of the ship was laid on August 19. American white Oak was procured from Virginia and the Carolina’s for the ships’ structural components. The “Rib Raising” ceremony took place in December.

A blacksmith shop and carpenter shop were re-located to the Quay site, a gift shop constructed and preparations started on the wharf soon after.

The three storey post and beam interpretation centre was opened in July 1992.


The deck beams were fitted and the ship’s longboat—used for re-enactments—was constructed in 1993. 

Work continued on the hull planking and the lower main mast, constructed in Lunenburg, was shipped to the site in 1994. 


In 1995 deck planking was started using native Nova Scotia pine. Once the main deck planking was completed work started on caulking.


Deck planking on the lower flat and poop deck was installed and all exposed structure painted white in 1996. 


An application was submitted for federal funding under the Millennium Program to assist with the necessary funds to complete the ship and launch the Hector.


The decision was made to attempt a sideways launch so that the launch-ways could be modified to construct the wharf. Hull planking was completed using Nova Scotia red oak.

By 2000, the hull was caulked, sanded, and painted and the decks varnished. Everything was ready for the anticipated launch, but heavy rain, high winds and lightning forced the cancellation of the launch—originally scheduled for September 16. The following day the trippers were released and the ship Hector started down the ways. Twelve seconds later it was afloat in Pictou Harbour, a spectacular launch watched by over 20,000 cheering participants.

Construction of the Wharf was completed and the Hector was taken over from its dry dock.  In September of 2001 all three of the lower masts were raised and stepped in one day and work commenced on the rigging.

Top sections of masts were constructed and installed and work continued on the Captain’s Quarters in 2002.

Finishing work continued as well as major repairs following the damage after Hurricane Juan in 2007.  Planking was replaced, all seams re-puttied and painted and new rigging installed.

Ongoing maintenance continues aboard the Hector, as is necessary with all wooden ships.  

The Ship Hector and Hector Quay site was purchased in late 2010 by the non-profit Hector Quay Society. On December 23, 2010 The Hector was towed to the Aecon Fabco shipyard for dry dock, winter storage and necessary maintenance.  It returned to its home wharf in the spring of 2011 and is now operated and owned by volunteers from across Pictou County.









Ship Hector Specifications

Ship Dimensions


Deck Length

85 ft.

Keel Length

71 ft.

Overall Length

123 ft.


22 ft.

How Much Can She Carry?

200 tons


8 ft


Masts and Sails


Main Mast (middle) From Keel

93 ft.

Fore Mast From Keel

84 ft.

Mizzen Mast From Keel

62 ft.

# of Square Sails


# of Fore Sails and Aft Sails