Mt. Hanley Schoolhouse Museum, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, Canada
Joshua Slocum was born at the family’s farm house on February 20, 1844, in Mount Hanley (officially recorded as Wilmot Station), Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, a community on the North Mountain within sight of the Bay of Fundy. The fifth of eleven children of John Slocombe and Sarah Jane Slocombe née Southern, Joshua descended, on his father’s side, from a Quaker, known as “John the Exile” who left the United States shortly after 1780 because of his opposition to the American War for Independence. Part of the Loyalist migration to Nova Scotia, the Slocombes were granted 500 acres of farmland in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis County. Joshua learned to read and write at the nearby Mount Hanley School. His childhood school is now the Mount Hanley Schoolhouse Museum. His earliest ventures on the water were made on coastal schooners operating out of the small ports such as Port George and Cottage Cove near Mount Hanley along the Bay of Fundy. When Joshua was eight years old, the Slocombe family moved from Mount Hanley to Brier Island in Digby County, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Slocum’s maternal grandfather was the keeper of the lighthouse at Southwest Point there. His father, a stern man and strict disciplinarian, took up making leather boots for the local fishermen, and Joshua helped in the shop. However, the boy found the scent of salt air much more alluring than the smell of shoe leather. He yearned for a life of adventure at sea, away from his demanding father and his increasingly chaotic life at home among so many brothers and sisters. He became the first man to sail single-handedly around the world and a noted writer. In 1900 he wrote a book about his journey Sailing Alone Around the World, which became an international best-seller. He disappeared on or shortly after November 14, 1909, while aboard his boat, the Spray.