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A History of the County of Yarmouth, N.S.
Chapter XIV. Opening of the Nineteenth Century. Condition of Roads and Bridges. Institution of the Post Office. H. G. Farish. Progress in Public Buildings. Episcopal Church. Abbe Sigogne. Social Conveniences

THE opening of this century found Yarmouth flourishing and prosperous. Population was steadily increasing;

ROADS AND BRIDGES were beginning to be carefully built; commercial and shipping interests were extending; and public buildings were about to give character to the Town, as the centre of County influence. Even at this period we trace the presence of some of the comforts and conveniences, not to say elegancies of life. Not that there was any thing to boast of. There was none of that network of roads which a few years later served to throw over the whole face of the County. The road to Tusket was not more than chopped out; and, although surveyed and re-surveyed, the road through the Town itself was a series of lines after Hogarth’s own heart, round the undrawn stumps of forest giants.

“The post road, to Beaver River was not even explored till 1801. Previously, if any one had business in Annapolis County, he was compelled to take the beach, and follow the sea shore up from Cranberry Head to Cape St. Mary’s, using the precaution however to he at the mouths of the several rivers on the Bay at low tide, that they might be forded; for there was not a bridge on the whole line. After a lapse of ten years, say 1811, used to find it a hard day’s work to urge my Canadian pony through the mire and among the tortuous roots of the huge beech trees, of which the forest was composed, as far as Meteghan. We seldom could accomplish the distance before night, except in midsummer, or in cases of urgent haste.”

Before the bridge over the Tusket was built, the only way to that village was by striking the river above Plymouth; and so go up by boat in summer, and on the ice in winter. The bridge over that river was built under the direction of Col. Boud, who, under commission dated 18th May, 1802, was appointed “Commissioner for superintending and directing the expenditure of two hundred and fifty pounds, which were voted in the last sessions of the General Assembly of this Province, for to aid and assist the inhabitants of Argyle and Yarmouth to erect and complete a bridge over Tusket River. In the following year, the Sessions report to the Government, that the work was done in a very thorough and substantial manner.”

The natural consequence of an increasing population, desirous of keeping up an acquaintance with what was going on in the outside world, was a demand for increasing facility of communication. At, and before this time, the only means of sending or receiving letters w7as by the kindness of a friend passing through Digby or coming from Halifax.

But in June, 1806, a


was established in Yarmouth. Says the Postmaster of the day—

“For the first six years after my appointment, our mails, wrapped in a bit of brown paper, were sent down in the jacket pocket of any Frenchman who happened to be at Digby, and had business of his own to bring him on to Yarmouth. Some of these little mails, of one or two letters, were more than a fortnight coming from Digby, and from three to four weeks coming from Annapolis and Halifax: one of them travelled one hundred miles in twenty-six days ”

During the first six months after the establishment of the office, only fifteen letters were despatched, every one of which was unpaid. The first person commissioned to carry the mail between Yarmouth and Digby was Mr. Jesse Wyman in the year 1810. I know of nothing that more decidedly marks the progress of the place than that fact as contrasted with the piles of matter now brought in daily. In the year 1871, 200,000 letters, and 150,000 newspapers passed through the office: 170 mails were despatched, and as many received every week: money orders were issued to the extent of $40,000; and the money orders paid amounted to nearly $22,000.

The first Postmaster, and the only one for fifty years, was the late Dr. Henry Greggs Farish, to whom circumstances have compelled so frequent reference in these pages. He was born at Brooklyn, New York, where his father was, at that time, a Commissary in the British army. After the peace in 1785, his parents with their family removed to Shelburne, and afterwards to Norfolk, Virginia. He entered the Navy as Assistant Surgeon, on board the Asia, and was soon after promoted as Surgeon on board H. M. S. Cleopatra. At the peace, the ship was paid off; and, after having practised some little time in England, he returned to Nova Scotia, and settled in Yarmouth in the year 1808, and here he remained till his death in 1856. In addition to his duties as a medical practitioner, in which capacity he was very highly esteemed, he filled for many years, with singular ability, integrity and impartiality, many important public offices. He was Naval Officer, Collector of Excise, Registrar of Deeds, and an able Magistrate. He was also Land Commissioner, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; for twenty years Custos of the County; and, as before said, for fifty years Postmaster. I found whilst in Halifax making some enquiries, that, till this day, his remarkable accuracy was fresh in the memory of the older Post Office authorities.

He came to Yarmouth when scarcely more than the rude clearings of the forest were visible; and he never ceased to take a deep interest in whatever concerned the history, progress, and welfare of his adopted home. He was evidently a most discreet man; of few words; but of careful and constant action. He seldom spoke in public; but no public work was uninfluenced by him. He was, in well-worn phrase, “a gentleman and a scholar”; and, however widely his opinions differed from the majority of those among whom he lived, he commanded the respect of all. The ruling principle of his life seems to have been a strong sense of duty, from which he would not swerve, however painful the consequences might be to himself. Nor can I leave this portrait without giving it the epigrammatic touch of an old inhabitant, since deceased, who knew him long and well, and who told me that the only faults that many found in him were, that he was a Conservative in politics and a Churchman in religion.

We have said that public buildings, at the beginning of the century, indicated increasing prosperity. Up till this time, 'there were hut two meeting-houses in the County; that at Chebogue, and the other in Cape Forchue; besides the Roman Catholic chapels at Eel Brook and Pubnico. But in the spring of 1807, the

OLD EPISCOPAL CHURCH was raised, and on Sunday, Dec. 13th of the same year, Divine Service was held there for the first time. The first member of this body who came to Yarmouth to reside was • Joseph Norman Bond; and, after him in succession as they came, the Loyalist families, who were, almost without exception, Churchmen. For many years those families had no church ministrations, and the consequence finally was that numbers of them became attached to other bodies. Occasional visits to Yarmouth had been made by Clergymen; the firs$ of whom was the Rev’d David Ormond.

Afterwards, visits were made by Mr. and Dr. Rowland, successively Rectors of Shelburne, and others. But the first Rector was the Rev. Ranna Cossit, a native of Say-brook, Conn., who was inducted to the Parish on the 23rd of January, 1807.

On the preceding Michaelmas Day, Sept. 29th, 1806, the first Parish Officers had been appointed. They were, Church Wardens—Joseph Norman Bond and Samuel Marshall, Esquires; and the first Vestrymen were—

Thomas Wilson
Stephen Adams
Joseph Bell
Job Smith
Jacob Tooker
William Robertson
Jonathan Horton
Robert Huston
David Van Norden
Joseph Tooker
Henry Greggs Farish, Clerk of the Vestry.

As men who were looking ahead, the Church Wardens and Vestry resolved to obtain grants of land for Glebe and School purposes. And in the month of August, 1807, the Rector went to Halifax on that business, bringing back with him the grant and plans of the lots assigned. For many years very strong feeling existed iu the Town on the subject; the popular conviction being that their Church brethren had no legal right or title. Nor were they for-' ward to prove that they had.

Mr. Cossit died in 1815, and was buried under the Chancel of the old Church. His remains were interred with Masonic ceremonial, the first instance I have met with in this County. (The first Masonic Lodge was formed in Yarmouth in 1795.) For some time the Rev. Mr. Milner, of New Brunswick, served the congregation. The next Rector, the Rev. Thomas A. Grantham, the father of our respected citizen Henry A. Grantham, Esq., arrived in Yarmouth in 1819, and laboured here till 1884. The third in charge was the Rev. Alfred Gilpin. He was succeeded by the Rev. Richard Avery, who was transferred to the Parish of Aylesford in 1845: and in 1846 the Parish was placed in charge of the Rev. J. T. T. Moody, the present incumbent. This denomination erected in 1872 a substantial Church-like edifice, in the early English period of architecture, of which we here insert a view; and, in 1873, a Parish School House in a similar style, both situate in the centre of the Town. The adherents of this body now “number nearly one thousand.

After the expulsion of the French Acadians, the first Roman Catholic chapel in the County was built in 1784, being the Church of St. Anne, at Eel Brook. Originally the mission of Saint Peter’s, at Pubnico, was part of the Parish of Saint John the Baptist at Port Royal; afterwards of Saint Mary’s; still later, of Saint Anne’s, Eel Brook ; and, at last, in the year 1816, the inhabitants of that settlement had their own chapel, which finally became too small; and in 1841, that which now stands on a piece of land given for the purpose by Benoni D’Entremont, Esq., was raised; M. Goudot being the Missionary. This settlement of Pubnico is certainly destined to be one of the most important in the County. In 1871 the eleven families of 1771 had increased to about one hundred and fifty.

Whilst speaking of Roman Catholic Church matters, I may say that there are now six churches and chapels in this County, viz:

There is a very commodious Educational establishment in the interest of the same body at Eel Brook, and another nearly as extensive was completed in 1874 on the west side, of Pubnico harbour.

There can he no more fitting place than this to preserve some memorials of the


for fifty years Parish Priest and Missionary from Pubnico to Annapolis, embracing what are now nine or ten French Acadian missions. He was a native of Tours in France. In 1790, his father being then Mayor of Lyons, he escaped from Paris at the outbreak of the Revolution, and found his way to London, where he lived for nearly two years. From thence he removed to this country, where he lived for half a century. He was a man of excellent ability; good judgment; a rich and vigorous imagination; and a logical precision of thought. He was a great admirer of English institutions; and he ever taught the people under his charge, loyalty. Had the Acadians before 1755 been blessed with such men to rule, guide, and instruct them, they never would have been expelled. Abbe Sigogne was an excellent Parish Priest, as well as practically the lawyer, judge, and notary public of all the French Acadians of Clare, Tusket, and Pubnico. He began and carefully preserved the Records of his Mission. He wrote all the deeds and contracts of his parishioners; and, we are told, he constantly taught them to avoid litigation and strife. Amongst his learning may be included a knowledge of the Indian language; and the Mic Macs always regarded him with the utmost veneration and respect. This venerable man, who died in Clare on the 9th of November, 1844, had a most generous appreciation of the truly liberal character of England as a nation.

We observed that at the beginning of the century marks of convenience, comfort, and elegance were being gradually introduced. In the year 1799, Col. J. N. Bond brought into Yarmouth the first


a chaise,—which was ever seen in the County; but its melancholy end was somewhat discouraging to intending importers. It lay unused till 1804, when Mr. Bell, Col. Bond’s father-in-law, tackled it up, and having got in, was immediately thrown out. It remained undisturbed till the next year, when Col. Bondmince more put in the horse, intending to take some of his family for a drive. He first got in, in order to try it; but it tried him and the chaise both. The horse ran off, and turning into the open grave yard in front of the Cape Forchue meeting house, the chaise stock a tree, which threw him out, and broke the carriage into pieces. Mr. Zach. Shipman was the next importer. In the year 1831 there were 140 pleasure carriages in Yarmouth; and by the census of 1871 it appears that there were then 1438, besides 2916 other vehicles, in the County.

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