On the 19th of December, 1792, a grant was passed which gave to John Henry Fleiger, and George Grant, the two Tancooks and Star Island, adjacent, as follows: To Mr. Fleiger the western part of Great Tancook, bounded as in the grant described, and comprising 279 acres; also the north-eastern half of Little Tancook, as described, 280 acres, and the south-western half of Little Tancook, fifty acres- in all, 330 acres: "the whole of the said islands being wilderness lands, and now granted agreeable to a former promise made by the late Lieutenant-Governor".
A memorandum as follows, dated June 11th, 1788, is annexed to the original plan of the islands:
"Great Tancook Island contains 550 acres of land. It is in general good hardwood land, beech, birch, and maple, and some oak and ash. There are several small rivulets and springs, which afford good water. It has no harbor, and water is shoal on the Mahone Bay side, so that there is no anchorage within two hundred yards, even for small schooners."
"Upon a moderate calculation, there may be about ten thousand cords of woods, and some timber trees for building".
In 1821, the bay was frozen from Chester to Tancook, and loaded teams passed between the two places. Frederick Clattenburg, who lived at East Chester, left Chester late in the afternoon, and was found the next day lying dead between the Tancooks. It is supposed that he became fatigued, and was unable to reach the island.
During the winter persons skated from Zink's Point, near Chester to Tancook; and thence to Murder's Point, Winter's Island, and Young's landing near Lunenburg. The ice is described by one of the skaters as having been very thick and as smooth as glass. Vessels belonging to the county were at anchor outside Green Island. This happened on Friday, and on the following Tuesday the bay was free from ice.
Puncheons of molasses and barrels of flour were hauled in 1846 from Aspotogon to Blanford, and thence on the ice to Chester. Lot Church went to Tancook, March 28th, and to Blanford, April 7th with a horse and sleigh. In Febraury, Charles Lordly, Esq., had good hauled from Shoal Cove by three pairs of oxen and two horses. The ice was cut with axes to a depth of two feet without finding water. In March, John Corkum hauled hay with oxen from Tancook to Chester. Once since then, persons left Tancook intending to go to Chester, but when they reached Mark Island, near the latter place, they were obliged to return owing to an opening in the ice. On the 17th of February, 1875, John Pearl and sixteen others walked over the ice-bound bay from Tancook to Chester in one hour and forty minutes. Of late lears the winters have been much less severe, and the ice has not been sufficiently strong to admit of travelling over it, except for short distances.
Haliburton wrote in, 1829, "The great Tancook is settled, and contains thirty families, who derive their subsistence wholly from tilling the land."
The population in 1845 was 310; in 1871, 496; in 1881, 572; and in 1891, 570. These figures relate to Tancook as one of the thirteen districts named in the census returns, and not to Big Tancook alone. On this island there were seventy children attending the public school in 1845. In 1895, the population of the same island is about 465, with 120 children attending school. There are 119 voters on the island, and 130 in the polling district. The voters living on the Tancooks, Iron-bound, and the Sand islands elect one of the municipal councillors.
The island of Little Tancook is half a mile from Big Tancook, and is about three-quarters of a mile long and half a mile in width. It has fifteen families, and a school attended by about eighteen children during half the year.
"The Baptist Church on Tancook was constituted in 1855, but its foundation was laid in the labors of Rev. Joseph Dimock".
The following have been resident ministers; Revs. Nelson Baker (a native), Shaw, DeLong, Foster, Whitman, Bentley, Huntley, Arthur Baker (son of Nelson), Parker, Guillison, Henderson, Marple and Porter. Revs. Dr. Welton, J.J. Skinner and others have from time to time visited the island.
A breakwater was built at Big Tancook in 1872. It is 190 feet long, and 30 feet wide, with a key 60 feet long, at an angle from the head and cost $4,000, one-half granted by the Dominion, and half by the Provincial Legislature. The commissioners were George W. Richardson, and Albert Pearl, Esquires. In 1885, $2,500 was voted for repairs.
Great numbers of wild-fowl have been killed about the Tancooks. It was reported that two thousand were shot by two or three men in 1864.
The Tancook people, having excellant land, which yields plentiful crops, coupled with facilities for fishing, have advanced in prosperity, and many of them are independent.
Big Tancook is the birthplace of Hon. C. E. Church, M.P.P., commissioner of Public Works and Mines.
The Tancook boats are noted for their fine qualities, and the men for the ability with which they handle them in rough weather. The following is from the Progress, June 20th, 1894. "A whaler built last winter by Mr. Amos Stevens, of Tancook, was recently bought by the officers of the Royal Engineers, Halifax, for the sum of $300. She will become a member of the Nova Scotia yacht squadron. Last year Mr. Stevens sold one to the officers of the Royal Artillery. She sailed a number of races last summer, several of which she won. She has sailed but one race so far this season, coming in an excellent third."