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A History of the County of Yarmouth, N.S.
Chapter I. Limits of the County. Physical Character. Climate. Natural History

THE present County of Yarmouth, consisting of the Township of Yarmouth and the District of Argyle, has seen several changes as regards its limits. In the year 1761 by order of Council, Yarmouth, Barrington and Liverpool Townships were erected into the County of Queens. In 1784, by the same authority, Yarmouth, Barrington and Shelburne Townships were erected into that of Shelburne; and lastly, in 1836, the present Township of Yarmouth and district of Argyle were erected into the County of Yarmouth. All that is here said, refers to the County as it is now limited. And, in the prosecution of this purpose, our first duty is to observe the position, boundaries, and physical character of the Country whose history we are tracing.

By reference to the Map1 it will be readily seen that the general form of the County is that of a triangle, of which the Eastern boundary is the Township of Barrington in the County of Shelburne, and the Northern boundary the Township of Clare in the County of Digby: whilst the South-western shore is washed by the waters of the Atlantic and the. Bay of Fundy. All the Islands lying inside of a continuation of the County limits, of which the outermost is the Seal Island commonly called the elbow of the Bay of Fundy, are within the County. Those Islands are very numerous. Several of them are settled; and some of them have no small claim to be Galled beautiful. In Lobster Bay alone, there are said to be the usual traditional 365. The largest in the County are the Seal Island; the great Tusket Island and Surrette’s Island, lying at the mouth of the Tusket River; Morris’ Island, in the. Ahuptic, or Argyle harbour; Tinkham’s, Clement’s, and Crawley’s Island, in the Chebogue harbour; and Bunker’s Island— which however is more properly a peninsula, in the Yarmouth harbour.

The face of the whole County is greatly diversified; there being a happy blending of wood and water, hill and dale. There are nearly one hundred lakes, upwards of ninety of which have been fully explored; many of them are very beautiful, reminding one who has seen both, of well known English scenes.

The Rivers, which all rise in a North-easterly direction, run sufficiently parallel to divide the County into tolerably distinct Riverbeds. The most Easterly, as well as the smallest, is the Pubnico River; a corruption of the Indian “Bogbumkook,” Proceeding in a westerly direction, the next is the Argyle or Abuptic— (Indian “Pobbobteek.”)

The Tusket River is worthy of the Tourist’s time; for it is as varied and picturesque in its surroundings, as it is well known for its Trout, Salmon and Alewive fisheries. Any one in search of the beautiful in Nature, who overlooks or despises the Tusket, with its pleasing falls and continuous, yet ever varying chain of lakes, will be very likely to go further and fare worse. Lake Vaughan, which lies above the first falls, and where before 1755 was. a. flourishing French Acadian settlement, is a beautiful sheet, of water; and the Carleton system of lakes, viz.: Carle-ton, Sloan’s, Ogden’s and Parr’s, can not be surpassed in Nova Scotia for general beauty.

The Salmon River (the Indian “Ponamagottij," or “place of frost fish,”) lying still further to the westward, rises in the County of Digby; and, like the rivers already,, and those yet to be named, is a pleasing diversity of Lake and Stream. The Chebogue River (called by some Indians Itebogue “Spring Water”—and by others Teceboke “Cold Water”) is smaller than those yet referred to; but its harbour, dotted with islands and fringed with good, marsh lands, has the honour of having sheltered the first settlers, both French and English, who ventured on this, shore. The Yar, commonly called the Yarmouth, on which stands the County town, is somewhat larger than the Chebogue. The harbour is naturally poor; but what, has been denied by nature, has been, and is still being; supplemented by industry and perseverance. At its mouth stands the Lighthouse erected in 1840; at the narrows, there has been recently erected a Beacon, which was first lighted on the night of February 13, 1874: and a Breakwater, which with more or less success depending on the stability of the work, prevents the harbour from being rendered comparatively useless by the action of the sea, throwing the “ Bar” into the channel.

Still further to the North-westward, is the Chegoggih (the Indian Isegdgin or “Place for weirs”), which runs through a thriving and well settled District. The last stream we are to mention, is the Beaver River, in the meandering course of which are the Beaver, Darling’s, Coggen’s, and Killani’s Lakes. Lake George, if we except the not very well known Great Pubnico Lake, is the largest in the County; and the second largest—Rossignol in Queens claiming the first place — in the Province.

The frequent falls on the rivers indicate considerable variations in the land level. But it would scarcely be true to say that the County is hilly; still less true that there are any Mountain ranges. There are high land ridges, on which are the best timber trees in the County, running approximately North and South, parallel with the several riverbeds. With regard to the

QUALITY OF THE SOIL, it must be confessed that there are other more fertile districts in Nova Scotia. In the opinion of competent judges a comparatively small proportion of the land is capable of profitable cultivation, although the question of profit is evidently one intimately bound up with the amount of capital and skill brought to bear on the land. In this direction, the Agricultural Societies have done, and are still doing, a most excellent work. Even within the last ten years the minds of those most nearly concerned, have undergone a beneficial change on the important branches of drainage, manuring, improved implements, and the raising of good stock. In addition to the timber lands referred to, there are considerable tracts of fair marsh lands in the County, about 500 acres of which are dyked, producing heavy crops of hay. Excepting small patches at Eel Brook and the Wedge, the only dyked lands in the County are the Salt Pond and the Chegoggin Marsh.

The Salt Pond before 1799 was simply flatshut in that year it was dyked by twenty-five proprietors at an expense of £270. It contains 165 acres, and was originally divided into eleven shares. A well authenticated story tells how, after this work had been done, and the fine grass was waving where before there had been but water, that an Indian who had been away in the Eastern part of the Province, came here, as had been his wont, to shoot ducks. His exclamation when he saw it, illustrates, I think, the relation of the races — “What, white man turn water into ground!”

The Chegoggin MMksh which contains 320 acres had been dyked early in the history of the settlement, possibly in Acadian times; but the work had been rendered practically useless, by the enormous beach of pebbles that the westerly winter gales threw in upon the Sluices. The river being thus shut up, forced a new opening for itself; and, in 1810, it was again closed by a good dyke, with substantial Sluices; and the abatteau was protected by a long pier running out seaward. From

A GEOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW, there is but little to be said which may not be equally truly spoken of the whole of the western shore. The prevailing rock is clay slate, with a general South-westerly strike. Here and there, as for instance at Little River, Plymouth and Argyle, obtrusive boulders of Granite are to be met with : and, I believe, all the Islands have a granite base. Throughout the whole County, quartz veins may be traced; and in some places, as at Cranberry Head, in such quantities as to have given reasonable hopes of a remunerative yield to the miner. The Yarmouth gold mining and quartz crushing company have opened a mine at that place on a lode averaging eighteen inches. Gold has been found there, and has been made into “bricks.” The only question is whether the gold produced does not cost, as much as, or more than, it is worth. But we are by no means rich in minerals when compared with other parts of Nova Scotia. Plumbago is found on the Tusket Wedge. It is turned up when plowing; and, although small in quantity, it is said to be excellent in quality. No endeavour, however, has been made to ascertain the extent of the deposit. A peculiar purple sand is found in abundance on the eastern shore of Lake George. It is of the colour of the amethyst, and like it, it is silicious.

Hitherto no traces have been found, worth mentioning, of fossil remains. Infusorial earth has been found in pretty large quantities in Ohio. When quite dry, it looks and feels like magnesia, and can scarcely be distinguished from it. When wet or damp, it feels more like dough or wet clay. It is composed of silicious shells of very varied forms, so small as to be seen only through a powerful microscope, and so fine as not to scratch delicately polished silver.

With regard to the

CLIMATE of this County, it is but just to say that although humid and very variable, it is described by the most competent medical authoritities as healthy above the average. We are indeed at the extreme end of the Province; but we are not extreme in temperature: for the mercury seldom falls below zero in the winter, or rises above 80° during the summer. Every few years (as in 1865-6 and 1873-4,) the mercury may descend to five or six below; but the mean annual temperature, day and night, is 48°. The most noticeable feature in the Climate is the liability to sudden changes; twenty-four hours sometimes sufficing to produce a difference in the thermometer of 40 degrees. With regard to the

NATURAL HISTORY of Yarmouth there is little to be said in addition to the fact that whatever applies to the Province generally, applies equally to this County particularly. I believe I am correct in saying that there is no plant nor insect, no bird nor animal found here, that is not found elsewhere. There is, as might reasonably have been expected, a large proportion and variety of sea fowl, and a small proportion and limited variety of forest birds: although it is a curious fact, that the English woodcock is rapidly increasing. Our insular position, together with our numerous inland lakes, adequately account for those facts. Civilization has well nigh banished several valuable species from the County. The days are gone when a local merchant can send ninety-five moose skins to the Boston market, as one did a hundred years ago.

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