© Lunenburg County Historical Society 2012
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As time went on the fur trade dwindled in value, but the importance of the fishery increased and with it the rivalry between various French factions and the British, whose fishery was based in New England. Their vessels plied the waters off Acadia throughout the17th century despite French efforts to repel them. It was the ocean that attracted the New Englanders, and they had become familiar with the fishing grounds off the mouth of the LaHave river. It was some time after Nova Scotia passed into the hands of the British that a number of entrepreneurs received permission to develop fishing lots on the islands and the beaches in the LaHave area before the formal establishment of the Township of New Dublin.
The Mi’kmaq, who had befriended the French and intermarried with them, were understandably hostile to the new arrivals, who in their turn treated them less sympathetically than the French had done. Bad feeling between the races continued for a long time after the arrival of the English.
After several false starts, development of the area began under Joseph Pernette’s leadership. Pernette received an enormous grant extending from the falls (Bridgewater) down almost to the town plot of New Dublin (the present village of LaHave). He also owned property below the town, including the Fort site. As well as establishing his own family at what is now West LaHave, he subdivided his grant and brought in settlers who formed the nucleus of the population on the west side of the river. Some of them came from Lunenburg, others from farther afield. Many of their descendants still live there, as do descendants of Pernette himself. Two of Joseph’s daughters, who died before the establishment of St. Peter’s church and graveyard, are buried in Fort Point cemetery. Other family members lie in St. Peter’s cemetery.
Pernette established a gristmill and a sawmill on the brook that ran by his house, and brought in skilled workmen to build ships. The forests provided ample timber and his was the first of many shipyards to spring up along both sides of he river. He oversaw the construction of the road from Lunenburg to the LaHave river, and his son John ran a ferry service from there to West LaHave which was to become a vital link in the road along the South Shore.
From the end of the eighteenth century onwards, the LaHave became an active commercial shipping area, with both construction and trading forming important parts of the economy. Fishing, too, was a major industry, and the salting and drying of fish took place along both banks of the river. Lighthouses were established at Fort Point and other places on the river mouth. Lumbering and farming also provided occupations for many inhabitants during the following centuries.
More recently, many of the local industries have given way to tourism, but there are still boatyards on the river, fish is still caught in the ocean and wood is still cut in the forest.