A historic, century-old fish-brining shed has become the subject of an international incident after it rode a winter storm surge from Lubec, Maine, to the shores of New Brunswick’s Campobello Island.
The shed’s remains -- significant portions of its roof, flooring and fireplace plus some side walls -- made an improbable journey during a blizzard Jan. 3 and 4, perfectly sailing between the pilings of the Roosevelt Bridge that links the two communities before beaching on the Canadian island.
“Last week, we had that big storm and we also had astronomically high tides at the same time as the storm surge,” said Campobello Island resident Moira Brown.
“It slipped under the bridge and didn’t touch a thing, which was a concern for us who live on the island because that’s our only link to the mainland. And it fetched up here.”
"It is just a miracle that it didn't hit the bridge. It just sailed right through the pilings," said Lubec town administrator Renee Gray.
The structure is among five buildings that comprise the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the United States and holds special significance, says Rachel Rubeor, president of Lubec Landmarks, an organization that has worked almost 25 years to preserve it.
The building is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and had been moored at McCurdy’s Smokehouse.
“It was, in fact, this past year voted one of the 10 most endangered places in the United States.”
What’s left of the structure is not holding up well.
“As you can see with the debris on the beach, every tide that comes in is taking a little bit more of this building apart. The sea is reclaiming it,” said Brown.
There were rumours that Canadian scavengers were cutting up the shed and salvaging souvenirs -- but that turned out to be false.
Rubeor says she has contacted officials in New Brunswick and Maine and the plan is to take the shed apart and truck it back to Lubec. That is expected to happen early next week.
“We’ll try to salvage everything that is possible and reconstruct it, probably smaller but reconstruct it exactly as it is was,” she said. She’s hopeful the relationship between the two border communities can be rebuilt, too.
“I am hoping we can get past this and we can renew our friendship.”
The matter has become something of an international incident on social media. There is even a new Facebook page for the brining shed, on which it’s described as being “retired and travelling the world by sea” and pleads not to be forgotten.
With a report from CTV’s Todd Battis and files from The Associated Press