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The History Of The Village Of Riverport
by Martin Wentzell (abt. 1964)
revised by Jean Mosher (abt. 1985)
contributed by Malcolm Uhlman
edited by site
The village of Riverport is beautifully situated at the mouth of the
LaHave River. The harbour, free from shoals, and in which marine craft are
safe from every wind, is one of the finest in North America.
This picturesque village has a population of about 350. The
Riverport District is made up of the communities of Lower LaHave, East and
Middle LaHave, Upper and Lower Rose Bay, Upper and Lower Kingsburg, Bayport
and Feltzen South has a population of about 1850. The first settlers were German immigrants, coming from
the district of Lunenburg, South West Palatinate, Montbeliard, near the
Rhine River and adjacent parts of Switzerland.
Foremost among these Germans were the families known as "Henericies".
One of the first settlers, Johann Phillip Henericie, settled in this
community in 1754, near where the present monument is erected in his honor.
Over the years the name "Henericie" became known as "Ritcey"
and the settlement became known as "Ritcey's Cove." As years
passed the settlement grew in importance and people of other names such as
Creaser, Smith, Oxner, Himmelman, Conrad, Mosher and Zinck settled here so
it was thought advisable to change the name. In 1902, the citizens met at
a public metting. Simon Ritcey, direct decendant of Johann Phillip
Henericie, chaired the meeting. Two names were suggested, "Riverport"
and "Fairhaven." It was a tie vote and the chairman cast the
deciding ballot for the name "Riverport".
A Fitting Memorial
A large block of granite as a fitting memorial to the first settler of
Riverport was erected near the head of the cove, on the exact site of his
early residence which was a rude log cabin.
The huge block of black granite, weighing approximately 5 tons, bears the
following inscription - "Erected to the memory of the first settler
of this commuity, Johann Phillip Henerici (John Phillip Ritcey), born in
Germany in 1731, settled on this site 1784."
Riverport originally bore the name of Ritcey's Cove in honour of
this first settlement.
The idea of this memorial was conceived by S.D.Ritcey, a former
resident of this community, now of Lynn, Mass.,USA, who on one of his
annual visits to his native town, contacted the Women's Institute from
which a committee was named to gather subscriptions and formulate plans. Mr. Ritcey headed the list with a generous subscription and Ritcey
residents as well as those bearing the name and residing elsewhere were contacted
until the required amount was collected. Much remains yet to be done to make the surroundings attractive, and
further help is anticipated.
From The Progress Enterprise - 1947
Riverport District Land Distribution
- Chris Young, source -
Five Houses, Kingsburg,
Lower LaHave, Middle
& East LaHave, Ritcey's
Cove, Rose Bay, Oxner's
Head, 30 & 300 Acre
Land Grants, 30 Acre Lot
Ship Building & Fishing
From its location, ship building became an important industry in the
early 1800's. In 1820, the settlers engaged in Labrador fishing and the
first two vessels built for bank fishing were the "Valiant" and
the "Caucasia." In 1910 there was a fleet of 18 salt fishing
vessels. This eventually increased to 28. The salt fishing industry was
prominent throughout the district. The green cod was removed from the
"Salt Bankers," and delivered to patrons who dried them on
structures, made of poles, covered with spruce brush, called "fish
flakes." People who did this work called them, "Back
Breakers." The drying of salt cod could be seen in all parts of the
district during the summer months. Boats called "shollops" were
built to carry produce to Halifax, which was traded for household goods.
In 1893, the S. S. Trusty was built to carry passengers and freight
between Ritcey's Cove/Riverport and Bridgewater. Later, the S. S. Mascott carried
passengers and freight from Bayport to Lunenburg. In a blinding snow storm
on the night of December 7, 1907, the S.S. Mount Temple coming from
England to Saint John, N.B., ran ashore of Kingsburg on the east side of
LaHave Ironbound. A dramatic rescue was performed by the lightkeeper
Charles Wolfe and his family. A heavy cable was tied from the ship to a
tree and crew and passengers were taken by baskets from the ship to safety
onshore. There was no loss of life. It is said interested people removed
part of the general cargo and articles are still evident today in peoples
homes. Potatoes removed from the ship are cultivated in the Kingsburg area
and are known as "Mount Temples," to this day. One of the
largest fishing vessels built at Smith & Rhuland's Shipyards in
Lunenburg was the schooner "Sally Irene", 149 ft. overall,
launched in 1947 for Ritcey Bros. Fisheries Ltd, was skippered by Capt.
Vessels At Home
Attached is a partial list of vessels calling Riverport their homeport
over the years.
Hillsborough - built 1968
Begeque - built 1968
Edmont - built 1968
G.S. Mersey - built 1978
L.P McDonald - built 1978
Clouston - built 1979
Ruby Elaine - built 1979
J.E. Kenney (Sunk at the dock)
M.V. Clyde valley
Gold At The Ovens
Gold was discovered in the district at the Ovens and this brought an
influx of people to the area. In July 1861, about 100 gold seekers
arrived. The next spring a crusher along with passengers arrived by boat
from Boston. In that year 600 people were at work mining gold. The Ovens
became a town in itself. Shanties were erected everywhere, and on June 9,
1862, the Lieutenant Governor, the Earl of Mulgrave, landed at the Ovens
from a gun boat and visited the site of the mines. For over five decades the Ovens
has been Natural Park and well known summer resort. In 1987 the
Chapin Family of New Jersey purchased the park. Ever since that time the
there has been gold found on the shores and the great lyrical performances
of debuting talent daily in the summer.
The original religious denomination in the district were Methodist,
Presbyterian and Lutheran. The Methodist formed the largest body and the
first church was located near where Ritcey Bros. Store now stands. The
Lutherans and Presbyterians built a Union Church at Rose Bay in 1843. The
Methodist moved their church to Rose Bay in 1870. In 1879, the Ritcey's
Cove Circuit was formed with the communities of Riverport District,
separating from the Lunenburg circuit. In 1890, the Lutheran church
creased to be part of the Lunenburg mission. The present Presbyterian
Church was built in 1890. The United and Lutheran churches were built in
Church Locations - Church
locations in Riverport and District are on the Activities Map.
Churches included are St. John's United Church (Middle LaHave), St.
Bartholomew's Anglican Church (Middle LaHave), St. Mark's Lutheran Church
(Middle LaHave), Wesley's United Church (Feltzen South), St. Matthew's
Luther Church (Rose Bay), St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church (Rose Bay),
Trinity United Church (Rose Bay)
The first cemetery is located at Five Houses, to the east of the former
James Romkey property, the second one at Riverport, near the property of
St. Clair Conrad. The present cemetery, Shepherds Hill, was constructed in
Cemetery Locations - Cemetery
locations in Riverport and District are on the Activities Map.
Cemeteries included are Middle LaHave Cemetery, Middle LaHave
Settler's Cemetery, Riverside Cemetery, Creek Hill
Cemetery, Feltzen South Cemetery, Harbour View Cemetery, Rose Bay
Pioneer Cemetery, Seaside Pioneer Cemetery, Lake View
Cemetery, Upper Kingsburg Cemetery, Upper Kingsburg Pioneer
Cemetery, Riverport / Ritcey's Cove Pioneer Cemetery, Sheppard's Hill
Cemetery, Lower LaHave Cemetery and Five Houses Pioneer
The early settlers, no doubt, received their education from teachers who
came from Lunenburg. The first one-room school was built in 1820. A second
in 1866, and a two-room school in 1886. A four-room school was built in
1905 and three teachers were employed with grades from primary to Grade
11. The fourth room was occupied by the I.O.F.F. Lodge. This building now
stands renovated as the Riverport and District Community Centre.
Consolidated Elementary School was built at Bayport in 1967 initially
educating over 230 students. Since 1999, a long drawn-out public battle occurred
to keep the school open. The argument to close the school was dwindling enrolment
though other school exhibited similar enrolment levels. After a decade of
battling the Riverport District Elementary School closed in June 2011. The students of the
area are now consolidated and shipped to a much larger school combining Centre, Lunenburg and
November 29, 2011, the Nova Scotia education minister Ramona
Jennex fires the entire South Shore Regional School board due to conflicts
of interest and violations of bylaws.
In 1875, a Temperance Society was organized and a hall was built. This was
located across from the present Community Centre. There were 132 members
called the "Cheerful Workers". In later years this hall became
the entertainment centre. Early silent movies were shown, with the
traditional piano player. School Christmas concerts were also held here
and travelling shows entertained. Later the building was sold to Eldred
and Lemuel Ritcey. In 1917, it was leased to J. F. Creaser for the
manufacture of oil clothing. It was torn down and moved to LaHave in 1930.
The first general store in the village was opened by Thomas Ritcey in
1852. It was located in the vicinity of the Ritcey Monument, on the former
property of Roland Ritcey, one of the oldest homes in the community. Later
a second store was operated by Lewis Ritcey. It was located between the
former property of Asaph Conrad and Malcolm Ritcey. The former Lewis
Ritcey store was moved to the site of the Maritime Tel & Tel building
in 1870. It was first operated by Adelaide Seaboyer who ran a general
store and did sewing and trimming hats. Jash Ritcey and his wife Ada were
the next proprietors followed by Jacob Gaetz. It was later used as a
dwelling and this building stood until 1943. The A. L. MacGregor store
opened in 1879, J. F. Risser General Store opened in 1885, the C.A.
Heckman Boot & Shoe store in 1890, and the Samuel Ritcey General Store
in 1892. Gabriel Seaboyer operated a shoestore, on the present property of
Lowell Smith. When he retired from this buisness the store became the
Customs Office, which he managed. Another shoemaker shop was located on
the former property of Arnold Ritcey operated by Elijah Ritcey. A
tinsmith's shop was located near Samuel Ritcey's store. A hat shop and ice
cream parlor was operated on the "cosy corner," this later
became Martin Wentzell's Shoe store. A hay scales stood opposite the
bridge entrance. A small hat shop stood near the property of Milton
Gerhardt. The Frank Zinck house in Rose Bay, used to be a dry goods store
operated by Henry Wentzell. A fur salesman came there periodically and had
a grand display of furs for sale. Other stores operating the the district
in the early days in the area were:
At Riverport / Ritcey's Cove:
Earl Wentzell's Bicycle Shop, Martin Wentzell Shoe Store, Romkey's Sales
and Service, Asaph Conrad Tea Room, Benjamin Wentzell Butcher Shop, Arthur
Conrad Shoe Repair.
At Rose Bay:
Rufus Himmelman Store, Ali Conrad Store and Barber Shop, Daniel Deal Store
and Post Office, Obediah Wentzell Blacksmith, Solomon Zinck Blacksmith,
Lennox Conrad Blacksmith.
At Lower Rose Bay:
Arthur Lohnes General Store, John and Forman Riser, Warren Mosher's, Titus
Zinck Shoe Store.
At East LaHave:
C. B. Conrad Store, Conrad and Wolfe Cothing Factory (later Nauss
At Middle LaHave:
At Lower LaHave:
Mrs. Annie B. Smith, Egerton Ritcey Store and Post Office.
Freeman Spindler Store, D. Colp Store.
At Feltzen South:
Charles Zeller's Store, Arthur Corkum Shoe Maker.
At Lower Kingsburg:
Rufus Mossman Store, Obediah Mossman Store,
At Upper Kingsburg:
Henry Romkey Blacksmith, Albert Mossman Post Office,
One of the main business establishments, Ritcey Bros. Ltd., was organized
in 1915, when Charles and St. Clair Ritcey took over the former MacGregor
store. This business was sold in 1945 to W. R. Ritcey, who also organized
Ritcey Bros. Fisheries which included fish drying plants at Riverport and
a cold storage at Kraut Point. He operated salt fishing schooners and
engaged in longlining. In 1965, H. B. Nickerson Ltd. purchased the former
Ritcey Bros. Fisheries. Riverport Seafoods, a modern fresh fish processing
plant was built on the site at Kraut Point. After operating in
the area for 16 years and employing over 600 people, once again fire
brought disaster to the community. Riverport Seafoods was destroyed by
fire on September 27, 1981. The main building and Government Wharf were
destroyed. The Federal Government funded a new concrete Government
Wharf that was rebuilt early in 1983.
The Big Fire
On June 19, 1920, a disasterous fire broke out in the business
district and all the buildings on the waterfront were destroyed. At that
time the only means of fighting fire was the bucket brigade. Among the
buildings destroyed were: Samuel Ritcey general store, Robert Creaser Sail
Loft, L. A. Ritcey Hardward and Furniture, Charles Ritcey Restaurant,
Ritcey Bros. Store, the Masonic Quarters, Beecham Ritcey Storage,
MacGregor Barn, J. F. Risser Store and house and Gabriel Zinck Barber
Shop. After the "Big Fire", the citizens began to rebuild the
business district. The former Samuel Ritcey Store was rebuilt and renamed
Ritcey and Creaser. It was operated by Russell Ritcey and Robie Creaser
until September 1968, when it was purchased by D. W. Craig Enterprises
Ltd., the present owner. The Ritcey Bros. buildings were rebuilt, as were
L.A. Ritcey's, the Sail Loft and Gabriel Zinck's Barber Shop.
Riverport and District Fire Department
Riverport and District Fire Department was organized in 1945. The Fire
Hall was built in 1951 and the extension added in 1976. Despite a modern
department, fire caused the total destruction of Riverport Seafoods in
1981. Mutual aid assisted putting the flames out at Kraut Point, but took
several days to do.
The first Post Office was opened in 1888. It was located in
the former Beecham Ritcey house, then a general store run by Josiah Ritcey,
and he was the postmaster. Mail was delivered weekly until 1903, when the
daily delivery began. Later, a Post Office was located in the Sail Loft
building. In 1948, a Post Office building was constructed by the
postmaster, Lehman Wentzell. This was later operated by Malcolm Ritcey
until the present building was constructed by the Federal Government in
1966. Following the postmaster was Ernest Ritcey for many years..
The Riverport Telephone Co., was organized in 1893. Telephone lines were
put through the district and three battery operated telephones were
installed. One in Samuel Ritcey's general store, Riverport, at Isaac
Heckman's shoe store, Rose Bay, and another at Rufus Mossman's store in
Lower Kingsburg. Dial telephones came into the area in 1938. A telephone
exchange was operated from the home of Asaph Conrad.
Water for seafood processing was always a concern for the fishing
community. Many studies were completed in the 1950's to develop an
adequate source to increase source reliability and quality. Eventually a
series of wells were drilled in close proximity to Rhyhardt Lake to
faciliate ground water filtering. In addition a dam was constructed to
ensure the level of the water supply could be maintain to ensure adequate
water for full processing capabilities at the Kraut Point fishing plant.
During the peak of processing the Ritcey Brothers Fishery was one of Nova
Scotia largest producing companies in Nova Scotia from its Kraut Point
facility in Riverport. Today these resources are little understood and
value to potential development of the future of Riverport and
Riverport published its own newpaper, "The Riverport Times."
This was a weekly publication put out by J. F. Risser and H. W. McGregor
and was printed by Frank Morehead of Lunenburg. Copies of this newspaper
are still in existence and are prized possessions of several people in the
Between 1999 and 2002, Riverport published its own newsletter,
"The Riverport Review". In 2010 the community website
Riverport.org began taking shape under the guidance of the Riverport
District Board of Trade and Community Development Committee. This year
also marked a new initiative where the Riverport & District Community
Calendars where produced and sold. They were very well received as the
initial order was more then double to supply demand. This trend continued
into 2011 with 120% growth in the website and ample growth in calendar
In March 1914, the Bank of Montreal was opened in a building owned by J.
F. Riser, located across from the current lobster pound and former Ritcey
Bros. buildings. The Bank of Montreal closed its doors May 14, 1999.
Horse carriages were a popular mode of travel in the 1890's. Livery
stables were operated at the Myrtle Hotel, and Irvin and Arthur Nowe ran
one near their home. Motor cars came into the area around 1908, the first
was owned by Hector McGregor. In 1914, John Risser operated a small bus to
Lunenburg several times a week. Much later in the 1940's a bus service
operated from Riverport to Bridgewater and Lunenburg. The MacKenzie bus
also came through for a number of years. The highway from Lunenburg to
Riverport was paved in 1947. The road from Rose Bay to Lower Kingsburg was
paved in 1956 and the river road from East LaHave to Upper LaHave was
paved in 1960. The first ferry to operate between East LaHave and LaHave
began in 1918. This was a Cape Island boat and a barge-type ferry, with a
capacity of six cars. This was replaced in 1979 by the modern cable ferry
LaHave Ferry II with 12 car capacity. In 1982 Brady E. Himmelman retired
after 35 years of service being the longest serving captain of LaHave
ferries. In 2010 the LaHave Ferry II was replaced by a 14 car
capacity ferry named in the honor of Brady E Himmelman.
Located in Lower LaHave, operated in what was known as the "Oxner Big
House." This house stood near the end of the Lower LaHave Road, near
the present property of Irvin Himmelman. It was a hugh four-story
building, operated as an Inn, with a spacious dining room and bar, a large
ballroom and a wine cellar. It is said this was the centre of social
activity in the area. This house was torn down in 1936. A well-known
landmark, the Myrtle Hotel, present home of Lorne Romkey, was the center
of activity at the turn of the century. It was here that the Board of
Trade was organized in 1908, with Dr. W. H. MacDonald as president, Daniel
H. Ritcey vice-president and Samuel Ritcey as secretary. Another well-know
accommodation, the Riverside Inn, owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Bert
Kempton, advertising sailing and tennis as an added attraction.
Donated by: Peter Matthews
The first bridge, which spans the upper end of the community, was a wooden
one built in 1865. This was replaced by a one-lane iron structure in 1897
and a two-lane causeway crossing was constructed in 1977.
It is generally thought that with our heritage of strong-willed ancestry,
a determination to survive in spite of hardships, this community of
Riverport will continue to make history for many years into the future.
Early Settlement In The Riverport
Contributed by Joan Dawson (2004)
Forward by Jane Durnford
With the celebrations in the year 2004 of Champlain's arrival
in LaHave/Green Bay, a lot of attention was been directed toward the
French/Acadian history in our area. Joan Dawson, a local historian
provided the following brief account of the early French /Acadian
connection to Riverport.
The earliest inhabitants of the area now known as Riverport were the
aboriginal people. In his 1604 map of the "Port of Lahave",
Champlain shows settlements - teepees and longhouses - on the eastern side
of the mouth of the LaHave River. These were traditional native summer
camp grounds, long established in this area.
The first permanent French
settlement in the Lahave area was set up in 1632. During the period of
Isaac de Razilly's governorship, we know that the native people were
employed as guides and in other capacities. Razilly reports that there was
a very good relationship between the aboriginal people and the settlers.
They were not displaced by the French, and indeed some of the French
settlers are known to have married native women. A number of these
families remained in the area after the departure of the majority of the
settlers for Port Royal.
When Isaac de Razilly established his settlement, he built his fort and
centred the colony on the west side of the river at Fort Sainte-Mariede-
Grace on Fort Point. But during the period of French occupation, the name
LaHave was applied not only to the present village of LaHave, but to the
entire area, including both sides of the river and the islands. The
settlers moved freely from one side of the river to the other.
An import feature of Razilly's settlement was the meadow on the eastern
side of the river that appears on Jacques- Nicolas Bellin's map of the
Port of LaHave as La Vacherie, below Five Houses and behind Oxner Beach.
This was the pasture and salt marsh where the cattle that had been brought
over with the settlers grazed. In Razilly's day it was known as the
Governor's Farm. Also on Bellin's 1744 map of LaHave, Ritceys Cove was
called "l'Anse aux huitres," or "Oyster Cove" which
suggests that in the early days there was an oyster fishery there.
Also on this side of the river was the residence of Nicolas Denys, an
entrepreneur who had accompanied Razilly in 1632. He started up a
lumbering business, cutting the red oaks that grew on the eastern side of
the LaHave River and sending dressed lumber back to France with the
returning supply vessels. His description of the location of his house is
a little ambiguous, but it seems to have been at the head of Ritcey Cove
(or possibly on Parks Creek.) The lumbering operation was on the Lunenburg
side. When he conducted a tour of his operation for Isaac de Razilly, they
sailed round to Lunenburg Bay in order to reach the site. Denys continued
to send lumber to France until the death of Isaac de Razilly in 1636,
after which Charles de Menou d'Aulnay terminated the arrangement.
In early days, travel to Mirligueche (Lunenburg) was commonly done
by the portage route established by the aboriginal inhabitants. This is
reflected by the name Indian Path, and Parks Creek is described on
Bellin's map as "the river where there is the portage that leads to
Although less well known than LaHave, the history of the Riverport area
goes back just as far, and the area played an important role in the early
development of Acadia.
Lunenburg County Historical
South Shore Genealogical Society
Chris Young - Lunenburg
Of The County Of Lunenburg - Mather Byles DesBrisay
You'll Love Our Nature
© Riverport District
Board of Trade