© Submitted photo
A Maine man has offered his schooner, the Sherman Zwicker, to P.E.I. as a way to celebrate its shipbuilding past.
Local historian George Dalton is advocating for Prince Edward Island to invest in a tall ship in an effort to preserve Island history and boost tourism.
Dalton recently took the idea to Summerside city council to gauge interest on the idea.
"Mayor Basil Stewart and council all seemed to feel this is a great idea. This is something reasonable we could do to increase our tourism," said Dalton.
Tall ships were a method of transportation and exporting for Islanders until the railway began to take over in the late 1800s.
"You always got to keep your mind open and look at possibilities. It could be a tourist attraction," said Stewart.
Summerside's mayor added the council would be looking into the suggestion in the coming months as they prepare the 2011 budget.
The executive director of Downtown Summerside Inc., Ron Casey, said he fully supports the tall ship initiative.
"I think it's a great idea," Casey said. "Anytime there's anything at the waterfront it attracts traffic. Anytime we've had a tall ship come in the past people gather to watch it come in."
Where would Summerside acquire a tall ship?
Dalton already has that covered. A ship has been offered free of charge to a "good home" on the Island by Dave Barber of Bath, Maine. Barber visited P.E.I. last summer and participated in a historical tour of Summerside hosted by Dalton.
During discussion with Barber, Dalton mentioned the lack of tall ship history displayed on P.E.I. As it turned out, Barber is a liaison for the Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust.
"I was very much impressed with the effort that (Dalton) and other residents of Summerside have put into the preservation of historical landmarks and artifacts," Barber wrote in an email to Dalton.
Included in the email was a formal offering of the ship, made on behalf of its owner John McEvoy.
The 142-foot vessel up for grabs is the Grand Banks schooner Sherman Zwicker, a wooden, auxiliary fishing schooner built in 1942 at the Smith and Rhuland Shipyard in Lunenburg, N.S.
"There would be quite a few details that would have to be worked out so we'll just have to see what it involves and have the council have a look at it," Stewart said, about the offer.