DesBarres and the Atlantic Neptune

Posted Nov 21, 2014

Risking his life and that of his surveying crew, JFW DesBarres found himself on a sand bar in the storm-tossed North Atlantic off Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore in 1766. His mission from the Lords of the Admiralty was to chart this deadly obstruction to navigation that gained the dubious reputation of Graveyard of the Atlantic. It became a two year ordeal.

DesBarres was the first to accurately chart Sable Island, at a time when new instruments to determine longitude at sea, were just being invented. His Sable Island charts were part of much grander endeavour – to chart the coastline of British North America, from Montreal to the Gulf of Mexico. It would take him 20 years and culminated in his publication of the four volume Atlantic Neptune, considered to be the most impressive hydrological atlas ever created. His charts contained information vital to the British navy at a time of enormous change to the political landscape of British North America leading to the American War of Independence.

DesBarres’ contribution was hard won. Seeing action with General James Wolfe at the capture of Louisbourg (1758) and the fall of Quebec (1759), DesBarres then worked to prepare the defences of Halifax (1760) and St. John’s (1762).   James Cook, the first European to visit Australia and Hawaii, assisted DesBarres in his survey of the St. Lawrence and the approaches to Quebec in preparation of its siege.

DesBarres served as Governor of Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. He settled in the Tatamagouche area of Nova Scotia and lived to the age of 102. He is buried in Halifax.

DesBarres’ legacy lives today through the city he founded, Sydney, Nova Scotia, and of course, is celebrated at the DesBarres Manor Inn, built in 1837 by his grandson, JWF DesBarres, who became a supreme court judge, settling in Guysborough.

In the finest British naval tradition of the daily rum ration or tot of half a pint, that kept out the cold and fortified the spirit for the adventures ahead, we toast DesBarres with Sea Fever Premium Rum.

Sea Fever Premium Rum celebrates those determined pioneers and adventurers who share our passion for the sea and the history and traditions of those who live on the authentic seacoast. Distinct, bold and full of flavour, Sea Fever Premium Rum speaks to the adventurer in all of us.

It’s never too late to take a chance, to chase a dream, to embrace the unknown…