So just who was Peggy and where did she come from?
Was Peggy’s Cove actually named after her?
Illustration by Ivan Fraser.
Illustrations by Ivan Fraser and David Preston Smith.
Illustration by David Preston Smith,
Dreamcatcher by Lynn Henry.
The first is perhaps rather obvious, the cove known as Margaret’s Cove is because of its location at the entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay. When abbreviated, it becomes Peggy’s Cove, an area known the world-over for its scenic beauty, enticing tourists and visitors from near and far.
But is there more behind the name other than because of its location? Is there more of a romantic story that has been widely accepted but forgotten, such as a legend that has never been brought to life?
The simple answer is yes!
The second account of how Peggy’s Cove was named comes from a book ‘This is Peggy’s Cove,’ by local artist and sculptor William deGarthe who writes about a Schooner that was shipwrecked on Halibut Rock, off the Lighthouse Point in a terrible storm of sleet and fog on a very dark October night in the 1800’s. He tells that the ship ran hard aground and with high waves washing her decks everyone on board was lost except for a young woman, who managed to survive the turbulent seas, swam ashore and was finally rescued by the people on shore.
Her name was Margaret. After the tragedy she stayed in the area and went on to marry one of the men of the local area. People from near-by places used to say, “Let’s go see Peggy of the Cove,” and before long they began to call the place Peggy’s Cove.
A local author Bruce Nunn interviewed Maxine Roeper who’s full name was Margaret Maxine Roeper and he wrote about the interview in his book ‘Nova Scotia History with a Twist.’ Bruce describes how Maxine shares with him the story of Peggy and Peggy’s Cove, a story that has been passed down through her family for two generations.
Peggy was her great-grandmother, at the time she was only a little girl and she was on her way from England with her family, when suddenly one cold, foggy and stormy October night in the 1800’s she was shipwrecked, everyone on board apart from little Peggy died that night. She was found on the shores by a family named the Weavers. Too young, too traumatized and without anyone knowing her identity they took her in and called her Peggy. Peggy lived with them at Peggy’s Cove until she became of age and got married to one of the Weaver boys before moving to North Dakota.
Maxine shared with Bruce what she called her proof of Peggy and who she was, it was a high school essay that she had written back in the late 1930’s. The opening description matches the Nova Scotia folk legend and oral history published by William deGarthe in his book in 1954. It referred to the ship-wreck, her survival and subsequent marriage in Nova Scotia.
When writing her essay Maxine wanted to check that all her details were correct, so she called her aunt in North Dakota and she told her the story of Peggy. Maxine knew her aunt was telling the truth because she had first-hand access to the Peggy in question, as Peggy eventually settled in North Dakota. Maxine read Bruce the opening paragraph of her testimonial and it amounts to a quick sketch of the original Peggy’s family tree.
Intrigued by the story but being skeptical about its authenticity, Bruce decided to see if he could do a bit more digging to find out if the story was true, or if it was simply a lovely family legend that this lady now in her 80’s had always been told was true. So Bruce decided to call Maxine’s older sister in California who confirmed all the details he had just been told by Maxine.
Now, given that both these ladies are well into their 80’s, with almost no difference in their stories, the fact that Maxine wrote about Peggy in 1930 well before William deGarthe wrote and published his book, and the fact that neither Maxine or her sister are seeking anything other than wanting to find out more about one of their ancestors, it’s hard not to believe that their story is really true.
What do you think? Is the story true or is it simply a legend? Come and visit the museum, take a trip to the Cove and decide for yourself!