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A History of the County of Yarmouth, N.S.
Chapter XV. Supremacy of Yarmouth gradually asserted. War of 1812-14. Loyal Memorial. Defences

BY the year 1810, Yarmouth had struggled for and obtained decidedly the


On the Church hill, or Butler’s hill, as it is sometimes called, were the building used as a court house, the stores of the principal merchants, and taverns; and, in fact, that was the Town.

It is not to be doubted that the introduction of the Loyalist element infused a new life into the County. “Knowledge is power”: and many of that class were, at once, well informed and experienced men, who had seen something of life. We feel then as we proceed into the century, that things are rapidly becoming more defined in every respect; ideas of business of all kinds more enlarged; it may be, too much so. For instance, about the year 1810, an idea was started to the effect that if the head of the Yarmouth harbour was connected by locks with Lake

George, the fortunes of the settlers and inhabitants generally, were as good as made. It was a hold thought at least, and appeared so feasible that in the following year, 1811, The Act for the encouragement of Inland Navigation  was passed, which embodied a corporation, provided officers, limited their powers, regulated their tariffs, and defined the corporation as “the Yarmouth Lock and Canal Proprietors.” Some business was actually done; but the enterprise ultimately failed; and I believe all the right and title to the privileges of the corporation have become centred in one person, Samuel Willam, Esq. Vestiges of the works may still be seen in the middle of the stream, on the south side of the bridge at Milton.

We have already seen how very embarrassing to the inhabitants of this County the revolutionary war proved. And, if not as embarrassing, at least as annoying and harrassing was

THE WAR OF 1812-14.

Privateers were continually hovering around, ready to pounce on vessels belonging to belligerents; and frequently unoffending inhabitants, unarmed, were attacked. Thus, on the 8th of October, 1812, a boat’s crew from an American privateer, landed on Sheep Island, at the mouth of the Tusket River, which was inhabited by a poor Frenchman named Francis Clement and his family; and although unoffending and unresisting, they deliberately shot the man dead, ransacked the house, and carried off the stock; leaving a widow and orphan children, the oldest of whom was a helpless cripple. This privateer was afterwards captured by the Shannon, and the murderer identified as the lieutenant.

At least seven vessels owned in this County or port were taken; several of our townsmen were killed; and many of them endured Very great hardships in prison. During the first year of the war, Militia volunteers performed night duty on all the exposed stations from Chebogue Point to Chegoggin; and mounted guard every night as regularly as soldiers of the line. The second year they were relieved to a great extent by a company of embodied Militia, raised from among our own population, whose head-quarters were on Bunker’s Island where the sites of the block house and battery are yet very clearly defined.

At THE COMMENCEMENT OP HOSTILITIES, the people of this County showed a spirit of enthusiastic loyalty, which compares most favourably with the colder calculations into which many of them entered in the petition of 1775. No sooner had reliable information been obtained that the conflict had opened, than the Magistrates, of the County prepared a well-written Memorial to Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, the Lieutenant Governor of the Province, which, I think, is worthy of being preserved here

“May it please your Excellency,—

“The accounts of a commencement of hostilities having reached us in such a manner as to leave little or no doubt of the fact, we, the Magistrates of the Districts of Yarmouth and Argyle, impelled by a strong sense of what we owe to the people over whom we are appointed to preside, and by a zeal for the faithful discharge of our public duty, beg leave to apply to your Excellency for such assistance as it may be thought proper at the present crisis to afford us.

"If your Excellency will be pleased to cast an eye over this part of the Province, you will readily see that our apprehensions are not without foundation. The enemy is within a few hour’s sail of our shore, and the coast of the District is so extensive and so indented with deep bays, and covered with islands, and the population is so detatched, as to render any efficient defence very difficult if not impossible, unless aided by some Naval or Military force.”

“We are well aware of the present limited means of defenee within the Province, and at a time when our fellow Colonists are menaced and even invaded by the enemy it would be highly unreasonable for ue to ask or expect any very material assistance unless your Excellency should deem it expedient to establish a military post at thie place, for which it is particularly calculated. We have, therefore, called together the Grand Jury of the District to provide for the building of four gunboats, and we now respectfully solicit your Excellency for the guns and other materials necessary for their equipment..... And, we feel a great satisfaction in assuring you that there appears a general disposition in all classes and descriptions of people in this community to perform their duty cheerfully in their respective stations. We have, etc.

“James Lent,
“Henry Q. Farish,
“Samuel Sheldon Poole,
“Benjamin Barnard,
“Richard Fletcher,
“Samuel Marshall.”

We have already anticipated the fact that part of this MEMORIAL WAS ACCEDED TO, Joseph Norman Bond, Esqr., being appointed Colonel of Militia. In addition to the fort on Bunker’s Island,— some pieces of ordnance were kept, ready for necessary use, immediately in the rear of Colonel Bond’s house. There was also a Block House on the eminence situated in the heart of the Town of Yarmouth, known as the “Bock,” — one of the most beautiful properties in the County, then owned by Colonel Bond.

The defence of this coast and the appointment of Militia was by no means an unnecessary proceeding. We have more than one reminiscence of violence offered to the inhabitants and of successful defence of the place and capture of prisoners by the Militia,—who were also required from time to time to carry their prisoners to head-quarters. The Militia embodied here, were frequently sent to Halifax to take the place of the regular soldiers who were sent abroad. It was on such an expedition as this that Captain James Cain, whilst in command of his company, fell down dead near Chegoggin River.

It is somewhat amusing now to read some of the accounts rendered by the Innkeepers of the day for hoarding prisoners and Militia men. Here is one of them:—

Since that war, no hostile vessels have infested our waters, nor have the enemies’ feet trod our ground. The Military spirit is not that which characterizes our people, or which brings them honour. Still, it is a fact worth preserving, that when the old Militia system had fallen into desuetude and inefficiency, Yarmouth has the distinction of having formed the first company of Rifle Volunteers, in what is now the Dominion of Canada, and, I believe, they also received the first issue of arms. The company was commanded by Captain J. W. H. Rowley, whose commission bears date of October 24th, 1859.

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