Ferry Update – Meeting Notes

These notes were recorded by Ann Westhaver who attended the meeting about the new car ferry held in Blandford  on July 25.
Government Representatives:
Danielle Barkhouse – MLA, Chester St. Margarets
Dan Leopold – Director, Fleet Management
John Majchrowicz – Manager, Marine Services
Jason Keddy – Captain In Charge, Tancook/LaHave Ferries
Keith Boddy – Highway Design Engineer
Troy Webb – Acting Executive Director, Maintenance and Operations
Chris Dyke – Tancook Infrastructure Project Manager (COWI Engineering)
Annabelle Singleton – Environmental Analyst (Singleton Environmental Consulting)
14 passengers maximum upper deck
36 below covered
Decibal ratings very low – noise of a car
35 metres long – Ernst only 23 metres
Speed 8 knots
They will not rent out the house on Blandford property it will be for the province’s use.
Low impact on traffic in the Blandford area
Complete round trip 1 hour or less
One way 25 to 30 minutes
Intersection in Blandford will be straightened out a bit – no roundabout.
Still in the process with DFO about the site going forward due to lush eel grass
2 hectares of eelgrass found at site 1
1800 square meters of eelgrass at site 2 but only 500 meters affected.
Still waiting for DFO to sign off on Environmental study that is why no tenders have gone out.
Environmental study should be signed off any day now.
All Mi’kmaq groups have been contacted and all their concerns have been met. Drafting final decision letter to Mi’kmaq groups to sign.
Danielle has reached out to MODL and MODC regarding dry hydrants in Blandford and Tancook
Coastal Engineering did a wave study
Winds higher then 35 knots the ferry will not run.
Roads will be busy in Blandford during construction
It will be up to the company that wins the bid if they want to hire locals during the construction phase.
Because of wait for approval from DFO they do not expect construction to start until Spring of 2023
Ernst is in good shape and crossing fingers it will last 3 more years.
Lion share of residents understand the benefits of this new ferry.
Ferry makes sense
It will be a safe, reliable service
Monday to Thursday 6am first out of Tancook to 6 pm last out of Blandford
Friday 6:00 am first out of Tancook to 11:30 pm last out of Blandford
Saturday 9:00 am first out of Tancook to 7:30 pm last out of Blandford
Sunday 9:00 am first out of Tancook to 6:30 pm last out of Blandford
Little Tancook
Wharf is being turned over to the province
Majority of the wharf will become a breakwater and consideration has been taken for rising sea levels over 50 years
Working through the landowners to acquire land necessary for landing ferry
No environmental concerns
No place for any private boat to dock
Little Tancook construction will not start until Blandford and Big are completed.
Province will provide some type of service to Little during construction phase.
Will only be an on call service
Concerns about bikes on the 329, Danielle is hoping to get a blue route in the 5 year plan.
Zoning on the island will be important. Will be something MODL will need to look at.
Chester was not an option for ferry route. Blandford was the only option.
Blandford resident stated that there needs to be compassion for the residents of Tancook. We should have an understanding that this new service is important.
Blandford area will prosper. Everyone agreed progress is necessary..
If everything goes along without any hiccups then the ferry should be in operation earliest at Fall of 2024 or Spring 2025
Cost of ferry is 10.6 million

Car Ferry Update

Please find the minutes from today’s Tancook Island Ferry Infrastructure Project Meeting. If there is something I am missing please do not hesitate to contact me. If anyone would like a pdf copy of the minutes please send me a message through email at annmwesthaver@gmail.com

Thanks Ann

Tancook Island Ferry Infrastructure Project

Information Meeting – Monday, March 21, 2022

63 Islanders from Big and Little Tancooks
Danielle Barkhouse, MLA Chester St. Margaret
Nicole Mosher – Constituency Assistant to Danielle Barkhouse
Meredith Murray, Special Advisor, NS Public Works
Daniel Leopold, Director, Fleet Management, NS Public Works
Mark Peachey, Chief Engineer (Acting), NS Public Works
John Majchrowicz, Marine Manager, NS Public Works
Chasidy Veinotte, Councillor, District 10 Municipality of the District of Lunenburg
18 car ferry
Bike racks
Upper open viewing deck – 12 seats
Inside seats – 50
Being built by AF Theriau and the ferry is in the process of being built
E.Y.E. Marine drafted the plans
Mirror of the Margaret Justice – Freeport, Long Island and Westport, Brier Island
Like the other ferries they will use the Community and the children in our school to name the new vessel. Proposed name will go to the Minister for approval.
The ferry will land off of Shoals Cove in Blandford
Province of Nova Scotia bought 22 acres for the Blandford Terminal
They found lush eelgrass in Blandford so the plans had to be altered to avoid this protected area.
They also found lush eelgrass off of Big Tancook so those plans also had to be altered slightly.
There will be a parking lot in Blandford for 75 cars.
They will encourage those visiting the islands to still travel on foot or with bicycles.
Blanford will have heated washroom facilities.
The parking lot in Blandford will have lighting but not security cameras
There will be no charge for parking or time limit someone is able to park.
Everything went through stringent environmental studies.
The new ferry will be significantly quieter than the Ernst.
The entrance to the new ferry terminal is also the road to an operational fish plant; the
road is rated for commercial traffic.
Ferry will not be handling Freight of any kind.
The tenders will be ready to go out in the next couple of weeks
Hoping work will begin in Blandford and Big Tancook late summer or early fall.
Little Tancook
Existing wharf will be cut off below waterline and will be used as a breakwater
There will be a certain length from the shore that will be used for the ferry to come in against.
The road may be realigned slightly.
When a car arrives in Blandford to go to Little there will be a separate little Tancook line and those people will be dropped off first. If a car then gets on Little going too big the car will essentially go in the opposite direction, however, the ferry can easily turn around to ensure all cars are facing the correct direction.
If there is no one on for Little or no one to be picked up the ferry will not stop there.
Little Tancooks infrastructure will be done after Blandford and Big. It will be 1 year longer for completion of Little Tancook slipways.
Once the Ernst is no longer able to dock at Little or the new ferry is put in service and construction begins on Little there will have to be an arrangement of some other type of boat/small vessel that will service Little Tancook until their infrastructure is completed.
They will look into a little shelter area on Little Tancook where walkers can wait for the ferry.
Little Tancooks project timeline puts the new service in place by Fall of 2024 or Spring of 2025. (1 year after Big Tancook and Blandford)
If something happens to the Little Tancook Wharf prior to this time it was stated that the Federal Government owns that wharf so it would be their jurisdiction regarding the wharf structure.
Big Tancook
There will be a waiting shelter built for those waiting for the next ferry.
There will be a cue area that will hold 20 cars to wait for the ferry and there is a separate exit road for those exiting the ferry.
Big vehicles, trailers, trucks etc. will be able to cross on this ferry – there will have to be an education piece as depending on level of tide there could be issues entering and exiting the ramps.
It will be first come first serve. Island residents will not be able to butt in front of non residents.
Government wants to ensure they are being honest, open and transparent with this whole process.
Each shift requires 4 crew members.
Mark Peachy says yes our roads will be fixed once the service is up and ready.
At this time the schedule for start and stop times will not change. They will look at the schedule but no commitment will be made to change the time. But they will listen to the residents and welcome your opinions on scheduling. Schedule has not yet been decided.
Big Tancook and Blandford expected time to start construction is late summer or early fall.
Completion of Big Tancook and Blandford will be Fall of 2023 or Spring 2024.
Ernst is still fit to run for another two years.
This service will be much better for the islanders.
Question was asked about our mail service, it was suggested we contact our MP ( I popped a message off to Rick Perkins and he will have his team look into this.)
Public Wifi on the ferry – There is currently no service to offer this option.
How will the new service affect our children that go off island to school. I have sent an email off to Paul Ash asking this question. (Stay tuned)
Walls will not be higher on the ferry. Essentially the vessel will be a mirror of the Margaret Justice.
The ferry can run up to sea winds of 35 – 45 knots.



Greetings, ferry passengers!

The new car ferry will come with many benefits:

  • a new shorter route, landing in Blandford instead of Chester
  • more frequent trips
  • access for transport trucks and emergency response vehicles

To accommodate the larger car ferry, the province is building a new wharf on Big Tancook Island. The wharf is on land leased from the federal government. Therefore, we must complete a federal government regulatory approval process.

Your part in this approval process is to complete an online survey. The survey assesses the impact of the ferry on your daily life. It asks questions like why you take the ferry and how often. Answers should be easy.

The survey will go live tomorrow morning. (Friday. Nov. 12) and will be available for a few weeks.

We encourage you to complete it.

Online Socio-economic Impact Assessment Survey:



Car Ferry Tender Awarded

We have just heard that the tender for a new car ferry for the Tancook Islands was officially awarded today to A. F. Theriault and Son Ltd. in Meteghan, N.S.
It is our understanding that our new car ferry will be similar to “Margaret’s Justice,” the new ferry servicing Long Island and Brier Island.
(photo credit A. F. Theriault and Son Ltd.)

Car Ferry for the Tancook Islands Announced

Press Release: Car Ferry for the Tancook Islands

News release

New Tancook Islands Ferry, Shorter Route Announced

Residents of Little and Big Tancook Islands will benefit from a new car ferry, the province announced today, Nov. 4.

The new vessel will provide shorter, more frequent trips and allow transport trucks and emergency response vehicles to access the islands.

The province and the Government of Canada are each investing $4.9 million for a new 18-car ferry. The new vessel will replace the existing 38-year-old foot passenger ferry.

The Tancook Islands ferry departure route is also changing to accommodate a car ferry. The landing will move to Blandford, Lunenburg Co. from Chester. Travel time on the new route will drop from 50 to 30 minutes. The number of daily crossings will increase from four to about 11.

“The new ferry will help ensure a safe and reliable service to residents and visitors of Tancook Islands,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines. “It will also improve access to essential services such as ambulances, as well as economic and tourism opportunities.”

Construction of the new car ferry is expected to start this winter with an estimated completion date of Spring 2022.


Strong and modern infrastructure is an essential building block for healthy and prosperous rural communities. The Tancook Island ferry replacement will improve access to essential services for residents, while opening the community to new tourism and business opportunities.Bernadette JordanMinister of FisheriesOceans and Canadian Coast Guard, on behalf of Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Not only will a new car ferry bring better services to the islands from all levels of government and create economic opportunities, it shows commitment to rural Nova Scotia. It means a safe, reliable service for the residents of these islands and makes living here more attractive to future residents, ensuring the viability of these Islands for years to come.Jason KeddyCaptain of the Tancook Islands ferry

Quick Facts:

  • about 200 people live on the Tancook Islands
  • the Tancook Islands ferry is currently a passenger-only ferry that makes four return trips daily, seven days a week from Chester
  • the existing ferry is 39 years old
  • Chester is not able to accommodate the new 18-car ferry
  • Tancook Island ferry is one of three provincial ferries being replaced. Others include the Country Harbour ferry in Guysborough County and the Little Narrows ferry in Victoria County


Media Contact:

Steve Warburton
Cell: 902-943-7681

Notice from the Ferry Crew re Covid-19

Due to the increase in traffic, it is harder than ever to social distance onboard. On the advice of public health, we are recommending passengers wear facemasks while onboard.  This recommendation does not apply to kids under two and those who cannot wear one due to health issues

We also ask passengers to please respect the crew while they are carrying out their duties by giving them 6 ft of clearance. Don’t crowd the after deck and stairs while waiting to get to the upper deck, clear a path when the crew needs to get by and wear a mask if you can.

Special Gas Run

The NS Ferry Service has announced that tomorrow (Sept 11) and each following day (until power is restored) there will be a daily gas run.
The 6:00 am ferry will transport you and your empty gas containers to Chester. Full gas containers will be delivered back to Tancook at 9:00 am.  Passengers can then return to Tancook on the 10:20 ferry.

The 8 am ferry will run as usual.