| In Nova Scotia shipbuilding boomed in the 1840s,
fell off in the 1850s, resurged in the 1860s then, in the late 1870s, began
a gradual decline. This decline continued to the end of the century until
the building of wooden ships all but died out.
As the nineteenth century progressed the large native stands of timber required for building the larger size vessels, which were in demand for the shipping trade, were becoming scarce. By the 1880s and 1890s there was an overall decline in the fish, coal and timber trades in maritime Canada. With less cargo, there was less need for shipping. There were more ships available than there was a need for. As a result, freight rates fell, leaving very little money to be made in the business of shipping. No one wanted to buy new ships. Canada became a country in 1867 and shortly afterwards Prime Minister John A. MacDonald instituted his "National Policy" which encouraged Canadian industry. This meant there would be more trading between different areas of Canada and less importing and exporting. Also, improved roads and the laying of the railroad made land transportation more efficient than sailing vessels. Ship-building families saw there was more money to be made in land-based industries and stopped investing in ships. What shipping business there was, was done more and more by steam vessels which were stronger, faster and more reliable than sailing vessels. The age of sail was over.