In the early days, the major economic activity of Orr’s Island was fishing. The shores were lined with fish houses and flakes for drying fish. In 1845, Sylvanus Cushing Prince established a general store on the southern tip of Orr’s Island (Prince’s Point) to create a market for the catches of the local fishermen. The store provided island residents with all needed goods, outfitted fishing vessels, and processed salt fish.
S.C. Prince’s General Store and Fish Flakes 1899.
Codfish bought from local fisherman was cleaned, graded, split, and salted in large hogsheads barrels. The hogshead barrels were filled with alternating layers of fish and salt. The pickled fish were removed from the barrels and spread out on flakes to dry. This was usually done in the fall of the year when the winds were strong enough to keep the flies off the fish until a proper salt crust had formed. A good dried salt cod could resist spoilage for at least nine months.
Prince’s Point Circa 1910
Millions of pounds of codfish caught by local fishermen were cured on Prince’s Point and shipped to Gloucester, Massachusetts, a major center for domestic and foreign trade. From Gloucester, the salt cod ended up on the dinner tables of many New Englanders and was also traded with the West Indies for sugar, molasses, and rum.
In 2004, the Salt Cod Cafe (Prince Specialty Seafood Products, Inc.) was established by Alison Prince, the great great granddaughter of Sylvanus Cushing Prince, at the site of the old general store to continue the tradition of creating a market for local products.
Salt Cod Cafe – Present Day