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The History 
- An account of Riverport and area over the centuries from the LaHave french founding to Foreign Protestants and the origins of the Ritcey's name.


Businesses 
- Speak with one of our local businesses. They are highly motivated with qualified people and years of experience in their respective fields. 


Organizations  
- Supporting and serving the community with the community centre, fire services and churches and choir.


Event and Activities  
- Fishing derbies, dances, spirits, duathlons, folk festivals, geocaching, live music, come and enjoy your time down by the river.

 
Please email development@riverport.org with details on businesses, fishing, rum running, vessel names, organizations, historical documents or details which you would like to add to the site.

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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.

 First Settlers
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 -
Bayport, Feltzen South, Five Houses, Kingsburg, Lower LaHave, Middle & East LaHave, Ritcey's Cove, Rose Bay, Oxner's Head, 30 & 300 Acre Land Grants, 30 Acre Lot Grantees

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. Joe Wentzell.

Vessels At Home
Attached is a partial list of vessels calling Riverport their homeport over the years.

Valiant
Caucasia
Mona Marie
Jean Frances 
Sally Irene
Charles Ritcey
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
Mary R
Mike R
Victoria R
Catherine Louise
Frances Geraldine
The Edmont
Venture
Gulf Gun
Atlantic Destiny
OSC Mariner
Pasadena
 Irene 
Mary 
Judith 
Irene 
R.D. Evans 
Arelle/Erelle?? 
Arthur J. 
Lynne 
Jane R. 
Judith R. 
Alberta R. 
Catherine 
Louise R. 
Jean N. 
Harry N. 
Vair 
Judith G. 
Suzanne P. 
Primo 
Excello 
Triano 
Zebroid
Atkinson 
W.R. Ritcey 
Esther Boyd 
J.E. Kenney (Sunk at the dock) 
M.V. Clyde valley 
Alice Nicole/Nichol 
Marjorie Colbourne 
East Pack 
Georgetown





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.




Religious Denominations
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 1897.

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)




Cemeteries
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 1908.

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  Cemetery.


Education
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.

 A modern 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 Riverport. 

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. 



Temperance Society
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.


Business
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 Garments).
At Middle LaHave:
C.H. Walters.
At Lower LaHave:
Mrs. Annie B. Smith, Egerton Ritcey Store and Post Office.
At Bayport:
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
 The 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. 



Post Office

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..


Telephone Company
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 Supply
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 surrounding areas.


Local Media
In 1905, 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 community. 

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 sales.


Bank
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.




Transportation
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. 


Accommodations
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

Landmarks
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.

Our Heritage
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 Area 

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 Mirligueche". 

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.


Interesting Links
Lunenburg County Historical Society
South Shore Genealogical Society
Chris Young - Lunenburg
History Of The County Of Lunenburg - Mather Byles DesBrisay






You'll Love Our Nature
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