Grand Manan Museum

The new exhibition space for Dark Harbour Hermits and Dulsing on Grand Manan Exhibits are thanks to a 2014 Grant from the local and District Rotary Clubs.

The Dark Harbour Hermits, Lucy and Darby Greene were two bachelor brothers who summered and harvested dulse at Dark Harbour.  During the 1920-1930s they were themselves a major Grand Manan tourist attraction.

Dulse, along with other sea vegetable and dulse products, remains a mainstay of the Grand Manan economy. The Dulse Exhibit becomes permanent next year, and will share a newly renovated space next to the Dark Harbour Hermit display

Dark Harbour Hermits
Dark Harbour Hermits Exhibit.

The Dark Harbour Hermits:
Lewis “Lucy” Greene
b. 1863, d. Dec 24, 1940

William “Darby” Greene
b. 1861, d. Sept 5, 1937

Lucy and Darby Greene were two bachelor brothers who summered and harvested dulse at Dark Harbour.  During the 1920-1930s they were themselves a major Grand Manan tourist attraction. Visitors from as far away as New York City, Boston, Montreal and South Africa would make the long trek out to Dark Harbour where the Hermits would entertain them with songs and poetic recitations, and show off Lucy’s skillfully created folk artifacts (a guest book from May 1931-Jan 1932 records over 300 visitors to “The Bat”, the name of Darby’s camp).   

An expert craftsmen, Lucy created unique dioramas showing the life of real and imaginary fishing communities, carved elaborate gun stocks inlaid with hand tooled silver and brass imagery, and modified existing cabinets and knifes so that they became unique works of art.  The largest gun stock in our display is fashioned of wood salvaged from the Wreck of the Lord Ashburton, another exhibit found in the Shipwrecks Gallery.

Lucy & Darby
Hermit detail
Hermit detail
Hermits Detail

Dulsing on Grand Manan:

A Brief History of Dulse & Grand Manan’s First Harvester
The history of man’s use of dulse dates back to ancient times in northern Europe, where it was used for human consumption, as well as for livestock fodder.

Dulse is only one of about seven different sea vegetables harvested today in the cold, clean waters around Grand Manan.  It was first harvested as a commercial crop on Grand Manan when James MacDonald moved to Dark Harbour in 1875 and became involved with dulsing because fish were scarce.  He and his men picked the dulse, which grows in the lower section of the inter-tidal zone, and dried it on the seawall beach rocks above the water mark.

The unusual taste and texture of dulse, as well as its high nutritional value, have assured a ready market which has expanded yearly since James MacDonald’s first efforts over 135 years ago.  Grand Manan dulse is now considered world-class quality, and Dark Harbour dulse grows the best island dulse.  Today there are a number of thriving sea vegetable businesses exporting dulse and other seaweeds, such as nori and sea lettuce, to world markets.

In the Display:
Tea Chests from Africa used to export dried dulse; Black Ash Baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Indians to carry harvested dulse; Dulse canning machine
Dulsing License Plates; Samples of sea vegetables, including dulse flakes; Dulse and other sea vegetable soap and beauty products produced locally; Historic photos of dulsing, a few major dulsing families and businesses; Historic photo of Dark Harbour Seawall and outlet; Twine used on spreading grounds
Shipping boxes used by past dulse business exporters; Dulse recipe booklet, nutritional information and analysis of dulse; Dulse facts and stories of individual businesses and families; and Magazine & Newspaper articles on the Grand Manan Dulse Industry from Canadian Geographic, Harrowsmith, and others.