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Little School Museum

The Little School Museum in the Town of Lockeport came into being as the Centennial Project of the Lockeport Garden Club.  The club saw an opportunity to make the former school an historic site so that the children of the area might learn more of their past.  Through donations from former Lockeport students, the school was purchsed by the Garden Club in 1967.  Club members undertook to care for the gardens, the town agreed to mow the lawns and the Ragged Island IODE donated a Nova Scotian flag to be flown during open hours.  The Nova Scotia Museum helps with the cost of operation. 

The museum is open ever day, from Canada Day to Labour Day with special visits arranged in the Fall for children from the Elementary School.  The reports they write on these visits are kept as one of the treasures of the museum.

The little house was used as a school from 1845 to about 1880 when it was succeeeded by a recently demolished elementary school whose bell was marked with that date.  The little school then became a dwelling and a front porch and back room were added.

A new building, the marine annex, was added in the mid 1990's to house the Visitor Information Centre.  When the Crescent Beach Centre was built, the VIC was relocated to that building. The marine annex building was built with the same architecture as the old school house.



Maggie was one of the ten children born to Asa and Margaret Ann (Orchard) Hupman in the nearby village of Allendale on April 30, 1888.  She was a normal size baby born to normal size parent.  Her increase in growth was steady but extremely slow, until she finally attained the full height of 39 inches and a maximum weight of 60 pounds.  Everything about her in a physical way was "mini" and in perfect proportion.

There was one other little person in the family - a brother Edward, nicknamed Ned, who was a true midget.  He was 36 inches tall and weighed 38 pounds.  "I could pick him up and carry him around under my arm," Maggie said.

Both Maggie and Ned had a normal happy childhood.  They attended Allendale School and participated in the same games and sports as the other children of the village.  "I couldn't skate though," she said, "because my parents were unable to find skates small enough to fit me - I wear 5 1/2 or 6 child's size shoes."

In 1906, Maggie and Ned boarded the coastal steamer "Senlac" at Lockeport and went to Halifax where the public paid ten cents admission to see them at the Provincial Exhibition.  One day a lady observer was heard to remark:  "She's a doll!  She's not real!"   With a twinkle in her eye, Maggie said, "Just for fun, I thought I would fool her so I stood perfectly still and never blinked an eyelash.  After a few minutes I stepped forward and shook her hand.  The surprised woman almost fainted."  Later on they attended exhibitions in various other Provincial towns.  An American company chanced to hear about the Hupman duo and wanted them to go to the United States.  However, Mr. Hupman did not want his children to go with traveling carnivals so he refused the offer.

Ned used to be timekeeper for the Department of Highways crews when they worked in the local area.  It was not an uncommon sight to see one of the workmen carrying Ned home on his shoulders when the day's work was over.  Ned loved music and he delighted many by step dancing on the bottom of an overturned pie plate.  He died in 1910 at the age of 38 years.  In reply to the question as to the cause of his death, Maggie said, "He was sick and the doctor gave him medicine suited to a man of his age, instead of administering a dose for a person of his weight.  We always thought that this probably caused his death."

Maggie was a devoted Baptist.  She was baptized at the Allendale shore by Reverend Ernest Mason.  For many years she was the church treasurer and she acted on various chruch committees.  She was also a member of the Independent Rebekah Lodge of Lockeport.

The year 1958 was a memorable year for her as she spent five weeks in England visiting relatives.  "I had a wonderful trip and thoroughly enoyed every minute of it.  I loved the boat ride", she said, "and would I ever love to go again!"  When it was suggested that perhaps she would like to fly across the Atlantic she exclaimed:  "No! No! Never!"

Another highlight of her life was when the late Lloyd McInnis, a popular CBC television interviewer from Halifax, visited her in 1960 and taped an interview, which was seen by television viewers throughout the province.

If Maggie was not doing intricate jigsaw puzzles or writing letters she was sewing.  At an early age Maggie had become adept with the needle and earned her livelihood by dressmaking.  It was difficult for her to reach the treadle for the sewing machine but by sitting on the very edge of a chair she could work it with her toe.  She sewed and made all her own clothes but it was easier for her when she acquired an electric machine.  She always had some kind of handcraft on the go; if it wasn't tatting or knitting, then it was chrocheting; and her finished products were those of an expert craftsperson.  "Nobody could beat me at hooking," she was quoted as boasting, "My finished mats looked just like tapestry.  I used every hole in the canvas."

Maggie was very friendly, and she loved people and everybody loved her.  She always had time to talk and she never forgot a person's name.  She was such a happy, busy little person.

Maggie Hupman died February 27, 1975 at Surf Lodge Nursing Home in Lockeport.  She was 87 years old. 


Frank Rudolph Huskins was born July 27, 1879.  He was the sixth in a family of eight boys to Nathan and Catherine (Hagan) Huskins at East Side of Ragged Islands, Nova Scotia.  He wa an average size baby at birth but not quite as large as his brothers, but gave no indication he would not grow to a normal size.

Four of his brothers were over 6 feet, and one died at the age of four years.  When Frank was 12 years old, he could stand upright under the kitchen table; when he was 17 years old, he weighed 24 pounds and was 32 inches tall.  As he grew older, he became much heavier but not any taller.

Frank was very intelligent.  He attended Matthews Point School.  He was carried there by his brothers on their shoulders as it was too far for him to walk.

Frank and his father traveled extensively in the later 1890's and early 1900's when he was between the ages of 15 to 25 years.  The company, managed by J.H. Moore, was called the "Traveling Troupe", and Frank was billed as the midget.  Frank's father was over 6 feet tall and when they traveled together, this accentuated Frankie's small stature.  In Canada they visited all towns and cities in the Maritime Provinces plus Toronto and Ottawa.  In the USA, they went from Calais, Maine to Norfolk, Virginia on the Eastern Seaboard and from Buffalo to Milwaukee around the Great Lakes and down as far as Cincinnati and Louisville inland.

They stopped traveling in 1904 because Frank's father was not very well and Frank began to tire very easily.  Failing health and his parents' death ended Frankie's traveling days.

Frank was an avid reader and saved everything that interested him.  He was also a professional checker player and was called the world's best; he said he had never lost a game.  He played anyone who would schedule a match and men came from as far as Halifax and Montreal to put their skills against him.  He would meet them by appointment either at his home or at Lockeport.  During the winter months when Frank did not have any opponents, his entertainment was studying the checkerboard and making moves against himself.

In 1928 Frank became ill and died at the age of 49.  Maggie Hupman & Frank Huskins were cousins.


In the early days salt fish was the business of Lockeport, the men spending six months on the fishing grounds, to come home every three months to discharge their catches and go out to sea again.  When the men put out to sea, only the old, the feeble, the women and the children were left behind, and it made an easy prey for the raiders that came often.

When the American Revolution swept over the 13 colonies, the sympathies of the people of Lockeport, New Englanders themselves, were with the rebels whom they aided on many occasions.  Their feelings changed very quickly in 1779 when some American privateers came ashore and looted their houses.  An indignant protest, signed by W. Peterfield, John Matthews, Thomas Hayden & Jonathan Locke was sent to Massachusetts.

It started off talking about things that were taken - which happened to be the town's winter provisions.  Then it continues:

"These things are very surprising that we in this harbour have done so much for America, that we have helped three or four hundred prisoners up along to America and have given part of our living to them and have concealed privateers and prizes too from the British cruisers in this harbour.  All this done for America, and if this be the way we are to be paid I desire to see no more of you with you come in another manner."

The year 1780, the men of Lockeport set sail for the fishing grounds, leaving the women and children to carry on until they returned with their catch of fish.  The day after the Lockeport boats had gone hull down on the horizon, a strange vesel was seen making toward the town.  The anxious women of Lockeport hurried to Cranberry Hill to watch with fearful eyes the strange sail.  The children were dispatched to carrying into hiding the winter supplies of the town.  Soon it was evident to the watchers that the vessel was an American.  The women remembered the previous raids, and so they prepared for the incoming raiders.

The women gathered up brooms, shovels, and pitchforks and had lined the shore to point the handles of the domestic implements at the raider.  Behind, those who had muskets fired them while others beat upon tubs and buckets to produce the sound of drums.  They had dug out every red piece of clothing in town, and draped them on bushes, stones, and trees, to produce the effect of many red-coated soldiers.  In addition women marched up and down in their red petticoats along the promontory of Cranberry Hill.  When the Americans were near enough to view the doings on Cranberry Hill they altered their course and went over the horizon to try their luck on some other coastal town not so heavily guarded.  The American raider had seen many red things that appeared to be the coat of a British soldier.  From that day forward the little fishing village of Lockeport was never to know another raid, and even today the people of Lockeport will tell the story of how the town was saved by red petticoats.


Saturday was the day of the big decision at Lockeport, N.S., - to go fishing or stay at home until Monday.

When it came to a vote the "ayes" won by a slim margin.  Lockeport men usually do not head for the fishing grounds on a weekend.  They prefer to spend that time with their families and friends.  But the early months of 1961 had been poor fishing months.  Storms had plagued the coast and the men who voted "aye" for this fishing trip did so because they desperately needed at least one good catch - to help pay household bills, to pay something on their mortgaged boats.

So at 12:45 p.m., Saturday March 18, the Muriel Eileen, Marjorie Byrl and the Gertrude and Ronald - all small 53 - foot long liners carrying five or six-man crews - ignored the gray and ominous skies and pointed for Emerald Bank, 110 miles to the east in the treacherous Atlantic.

Even the destination was part of the economic gamble.  Fifty-three-foot long liners, generally speaking, have no business that far away from home port; not in the chancy month of March and not in the even more chancy Atlantic.  Usually these fishing grounds are left to bigger boats.  As Gordon Taylor, father of Mitchell and Lawrence Taylor put it, "It's all right with a 75 - 80 - footer - then you have something solid under you if a storm comes."  But the men, or at least a slim majority of them, figured that if the needed catch was to be made, the destination should be Emerald Bank.  So the trio of little boats sailed.

A few hours later, a larger vessel, the 81 - foot Felix and Florence Hickey, followed them out to sea.  The same afternoon, from Halifax and Liverpool, N.S., two other Lockeport long liners, the Pat and Judy and the Jimmy and Sisters, also sailed for Emerald Bank.

By Saturday night the cream of Lockeport's tiny fishing fleet, the prime industry in the town of 1,207, was well out to sea; the vessels sliding up and down the sides of the never-ending dark waves.

Wives of fishermen are not nervous types.  They can't afford to be.  But it is common practice for them to turn on their radios and pick up the conversations going on between ships equipped with radio-telephones.  It is the only way they have of keeping in touch with husbands who are at sea.

The first inkling that something was wrong came at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.  Mrs. Edward Stewart, mother of seven, overheard a conversation from the Marjorie Byrl, in which her husband was a crewmember.  It was Capt. Mitchell Taylor's voice and he was talking about stormy weather with another skipper in the area.

"I'm keeping my vessel heading nor'-east to save my dories," she heard Taylor - father of seven - say.

At 3:30 o'clock the same afternoon, listeners ashore heard Capt. Emmanuel Currie of the Jimmy and Sisters talking with Capt. Taylor of the Marjorie Byrl.  It was plain that they were in trouble.

"We're here and there's nothing we can do about it - we've just got to stay," Mrs. Currie heard her husband say to Capt. Taylor.  Capt. Currie had sailed from Halifax on that fateful Saturday and just before leaving phoned to tell his wife he would be back in a week.  He said goodbye to the family his vessel was named after:  Jimmy, four, and his sisters, Joanne, ten, Lily Ann, five and Yvonne, two.

At 5 p.m. that day - the time scheduled for the skippers to call one another again - the wives were listening.  But there was no sound except the crackling of static.

The night was a restless one for Lockeport.  But the wives tried to take comfort from the fact that their husbands had been out in storms before and survived.  Then on Wednesday morning Mrs. Alfred Anderson tuned in her radio and heard two dragger skippers talking about the storms.

"That was a rough night," one captain said.  "I wonder how the little fellows made out?"

She and her neighbor, Mrs. Arnold Chetwynd, both had husbands aboard "the little fellows" - the 53 - foot long liners - and "That's when we bagan to worry."

As tension spread, Mrs. Lawrence Taylor jumped into her car and sped to the Lockeport dock.  She was plainly alarmed as she tried to find out some word about the fleet.  A veteran fisherman consoled her:

"I don't know what you're worried about.  Mitch and Lawrence have been through some bad storms before."

At 11 a.m. the fears of Mrs. Taylor and all the other wives were fanned almost to the breaking point.  Over the radio came an SOS from the Felix and Florence Hickey.

If this vessel, the largest in the fleet, was in danger of sinking, what about the little long liners?  There was no way of finding out.  The wives could  only wait - and pray.

They knew that the R.C.A.F. was organizing the largest search and rescue missions ever known in the area.  But this was little comfort as the wives sat beside radios, which refused to emit a sound.  They refused to give up hope.

But at 3:55 p.m., hope began to fade.  The fishing vessel Adventure II, which had joined the search, radioed:

"We've found the wreckage of the Muriel Eileen.  The vessel is awash, her deckhouse is gone and there is no sign of life."

The vessel carried a five-man crew, Capt. Lawrence Taylor, George Hamilton, Murray Lovelace, Freeman Poole and Arnold Chetwynd.  All were married and among them they had a total of 18 children.

Few, except the children, slept in Lockeport that long and lonely Wednesday night.  The thoughts of everyone were with the men out on the Atlantic; an Atlantic whipped by glaciers and by snow.  Were any others gone?

The grim reports began to filter back Thursday morning.  At 9:10 a.m. the destroyer H.M.C.S. Haida reported she had picked up a deckhouse.  At 9:35 the R.C.A.F. Canso redioed that it had spotted a brown, oblong object tossing in the mountainous sea.

The Felix and Florence Hickey were saved by the air-and-sea rescue teams.  The one small long liner to come through the storm under its own power was the Pat and Judy.  The Gertrude and Ronald, which had started out with the missing Muriel Eileen and Marjorie Byrl, had turned back to Lockeport because of engine trouble before the storm struck.

Seventeen of the men and three of the ships, the Jimmy and Sisters, the Marjorie Byrl and the Muriel Eileen, would not come back.  Sixty-five children would never again see their fathers.

Ragged Islands Historical Society