There was a definite need for a hospital to be built in New Glasgow to serve its citizens as well as those in the surrounding communities. After the smallpox epidemic of 1885 and the diphtheria scourge of 1892, it was the general consensus that something had to be done. It was under the leadership of Rev. James Carruthers, Dr. H.H. MacKay and James W. Carmichael that an urgent plea was put to the New Glasgow Council in regards to a cash grant necessary to start construction of a hospital. This was approved on March 5th, 1897. After considerable assistance from the public and fund raising by the newly formed Ladies Auxiliary, the first Aberdeen Hospital opened its doors for business on Stellarton Road. The building was named after the Governor General, the 7th Earl of Aberdeen and opening ceremonies were conducted by Lieutenant Governor Sir Malachi Daly.
After the hospital was established, the Aberdeen School of Nursing was created. Miss Jessie M. Sheraton, from Saint John New Brunswick was the first Director. A program was instituted and two students were enrolled for a two year term which was later lengthened to three years. In this painting we see the first graduating class of 1899 on the steps of the hospital. A Nurse’s Residence was opened in 1919 which accommodated twenty-seven students. Prior to this, nurses lived on the upper floor of the hospital. Much of nursing care focused on contagious diseases such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox and measles and a ward was created just for these illnesses. Prior to this, the sick were kept in private homes, under quarantine. Also the nurses of the Aberdeen had fine training in obstetrics which was desperately needed in the county. By 1922, an obstetrics wing was established.
In 1941, the Aberdeen School of Nursing was comprised of fifty students, an increase of twenty-three, since 1919. Courses in x-ray technology were added to the school program in 1945. The School was known as one of the best. Young women from all areas of Nova Scotia and other provinces came to New Glasgow to fulfill their lifelong dream in a career of nursing at the Aberdeen. Their three year training period was changed to two years in 1971.
Imagine the excitement as members of that first graduating class stood shoulder to shoulder with their fellow, now registered, nurses. They would take their newly achieved RN status home to their communities and enter the world of public care. Knowing that the Aberdeen School of Nursing took a leading role in the development of this profession is truly a source of pride in the Town of New Glasgow.
When the Aberdeen closed its doors and the new hospital was opened in 1955, the Aberdeen School of Nursing traveled to the new site and a new Nurses’ Residence was opened in 1959. This facility could house one hundred and twenty-eight students and was generously funded by descendents of James W. Carmichael. The School of Nursing closed in 1995 having graduated 1 837 nurses.
The old Aberdeen still sits, in part, on the corner of Munroe Avenue and Stellarton Road where a local dry cleaning firm exists today. The name Hospital Avenue was designated to a nearby street as a reminder of this historic era in the history of the Town of New Glasgow.
Top of Town
This early 1900 painting depicts an area known as the “top of town” where one can stand at this southern end of Provost Street and look down upon the entire street. Standing proudly on the right is the Norfolk Hotel. This was not always known as the Norfolk, but came into existence as the Forbes Hotel built by Donald Forbes around the 1850’s. Forbes was one of the first of many innkeepers in New Glasgow.
By 1868, when John W. Church took over operation of the hotel, it was called The American House. John W. was a “crack stage driver” and in that same year, had also opened a livery stable on the corner of George and Archimedes Streets. It was only natural that he would operate his stage line out of the hotel. The American House became the main depot for stagecoach passengers. There were daily coaches for Truro via West River and for Sydney, via Antigonish. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the stage traveled to Sherbrooke. John W. Church often stated that anyone who came through New Glasgow had a fine meal and good lodging at the American House.
The view from the “top of town” changed in the early 1900’s. Now the horse and carriage had company on Provost Street. Tram cars began operating as early as 1904 and motorized vehicles were first sighted as early as 1907. The American House, now known as the Norfolk House, since 1882, continued to improve and prosper just as the street outside its doors. With some additions, the now four storey building with mansard roof and corner spire was a striking sight.
Around 1914, another striking building appeared on Provost Street. The Maritime Building can be seen on the left. It became known as “ New Glasgow’s skyscraper”. This seven storey building was thought by locals, to be the ‘tallest structure east of Montreal’.
By the mid 1900’s, Provost Street was a very busy street and the now Norfolk Hotel increasingly became an establishment associated with class and distinction. On July 31st, 1959, the hotel opened its doors to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh, for the county’s second royal visit by a Reigning Sovereign. They were driven in an open car through the streets of New Glasgow as thousands of cheering citizens lined the route. A reception was held at the Norfolk Hotel where Mayor J.H. Power welcomed them to New Glasgow. Several dignitaries were in attendance as the Queen and Prince were honored by the town.
The Norfolk remained a thriving hotel for many years and welcomed thousands of guests. Their dining room and ball room hosted many gala dinners and parties well into the 1970’s. By the late 1990’s the hotel was bought by Highcrest Enterprises and turned into a Residential Care Facility for Seniors.
Still standing at the “top of town” one can only imagine the changes this area has seen.
Troops at the Train Station
When a call to service was put out for the global conflict of 1914-1918, many young men, from Pictou County, stepped forward.Recruits from the general area were often drafted and billeted in New Glasgow before leaving for basic training. On the chosen day, family and friends would gather at the train station on Stewart Street to say good-bye to their loved ones. There was a feeling of excitement as the young recruits boarded the train waving and smiling through the open windows. Sometimes a wife or sweetheart would run along beside the train for one last look as the troop train pulled out of the station. This was the scene all over Canada as thousands entered the forces and prepared for battle. Families hoped for a short encounter with the enemy and prayed that before long, their sons and husbands would return joyously to this community station. The soldiers themselves looked to their futures with excitement, not knowing what was waiting for them.
The recruits made their first stop at Camp Aldershot where they were trained in the art of soldiering. After this was completed they once again boarded the train, but this time for Halifax. Troop ships waited at the docks for the journey to England where training would be completed under the British Army, Navy or Royal Air Force.
Pictou County men appeared on the casuality lists as early as 1915 at the Battle of Ypres . The 25th Battalion had suffered losses in Somme and the Canadian 23rd Field Battery was desperately in need of reinforcements. Trench warfare was a common occurrence.
By 1916, the 8th Canadian Siege Battery located in Halifax, sent out an appeal for more recruits. Once again, volunteers came forth in amazing numbers and signed up in New Glasgow or Sydney. Two young Pictonians were appointed to lead the unit. They were Lieutenant William MacDonald from Bailey’s Brook and Lieutenant Donald Cantley from New Glasgow. In 1917 recruits left the New Glasgow Station led by both lieutenants and prepared for their overseas encounter.
The first and only Black Battalion of Pictou County, quartered at Market Wharf in Pictou journeyed to Halifax and traveled overseas on the SS Southland, in 1917. Out of the 300 members several recruits were from the New Glasgow area.
By the time the war ended in 1918, some four hundred men and nursing women of Pictou County had given their lives in the Great War. Many had left from train stations such as the Stewart Street station in New Glasgow and returned changed by the tragedies they experienced . Some suffered permanent physical injuries and others lived with the anguish they would never forget. How comforted they must have been to see that familiar hometown railway station, as they returned to their loved ones.
The Stewart Street Station was built by the Inter Colonial Railway, later known as the Canadian National Railway, around 1870. It was destroyed by fire in March of 1923 and rebuilt. This building was demolished in the late 1970’s and replaced by a small station on the Museum of Industry site. That building was closed when passenger service was discontinued in the area.
Today at the location of the Stewart Street Station a memorial panel has been erected to honor those men and women who left the safety of their homes, during World War II, to bring peace and freedom to us all. Also on East River Road a memorial carving to those lost as Vimy Ridge reminds us of the sacrifices made. It is this commitment and their legacy that lives with us today as we shall never forget the impact war has had on all communities across this country.
With a commitment to recreation, it is no surprise that the Town of New Glasgow established a beautiful walking trail along the East River. The Samson Trail has been enjoyed by old and young alike since the mid 1990’s and has made walking one of the most popular activities in the town. The trail follows the river as it winds its way through the community. As it passes behind the Museum of Industry, which is part of the present Albion Trail, it should be remembered that the Trail’s namesake, the Samson, resides inside.
Coal was discovered in the area and in 1827 the General Mining Association went into full production. A method of transferring the coal from the Albion Mine to the loading pier at Abercrombie was required. It was decided that a railway should be built along the river and in 1836 construction began. This railway was the first in British America to use standard gauge and iron rails. The line was opened in 1839. Three steam locomotives were purchased in England and transported to Nova Scotia. They were the Samson, the Hercules and the Hibernia. The Samson was the first to travel on the new railway and thus has been given the distinction of being the first locomotive in British America to run on all iron rails. This inaugural journey did not carry coal, but instead carried carriage loads of celebrating townsfolk. The festivities continued into the evening. All three locomotives steamed along this railway until 1883.
One hundred and fifty one years later, in 1992, the town saw the potential of a walking trail and in 1994 created the New Glasgow Riverfront Development Committee. A proposal was put in place to develop the trail along the abandoned rail line. Since historic distinction was given to the Samson, when it came time to name the trail, the choice was obvious.
The Samson Trail was completed in three phases beginning in 1996 and was completed in 2000. Also a marina for local boaters has been added to the river front. The Town of Stellarton extended the walking experience with the addition of the Albion Trail which links the two communities. In recent years, New Glasgow has added the Pioneer Trail which allows people to enjoy walking on both sides of the East River.
New Glasgow has bestowed upon its citizens one of the greatest gifts imaginable. An outdoor experience has been created where one can engage in physical activity while enjoying the beautiful vistas that naturally exist along our river. The Samson Trail which has brought this East River back to life, has energized a community and made New Glasgow a better place to live.
Skating on the River
Residents of New Glasgow and surrounding towns made great use of the rivers that passed through their communities during the 19th century. Transportation was crucial on these waterways especially when the roads were being developed and were not as desirable as one might hope. In winter, citizens were not daunted by the frozen surfaces but took to the ice with enthusiasm. Travel on the ice from New Glasgow to Pictou by horse and sleigh was quite common in 1850. These routes were much shorter. Safe routes would be marked by lines of spruce boughs and every year the county council would hire people to “bush the ice” and this continued until the 1940’s. New Glasgow would also “bush the ice” to indicate where teams of horses could safely enter or exit .
The frozen rivers gave way to an interest in recreational activities. People would come to enjoy horse and sleigh races on the East River and before long the love of skating developed. It was not uncommon for someone to skate to Pictou and back. Local residents would make sure that segments of the river were cleared of snow after a heavy snowfall.
Early skates were hardwood blocks smoothed to make the surface slippery. They would be turned up at each end and fastened to the footwear. Later metal blades were attached to the wooden blocks. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that metal skates were introduced. Whole families would spend pleasurable hours together skating and often at night bonfires would be lit along the shores of the river and evening skating was encouraged.
The love of sport and a competitive spirit led to an interest in curling on the open ice. Curling which was introduced in Scotland was brought to Pictou County with its early settlers and was quite popular with the citizens of New Glasgow. Before the Bluenose Curling Club was established in the 1850’s, teams played on the ice of the East River. Inter-club matches were organized there as well as on Pictou Harbour. Opposing teams were New Glasgow, Albion Mines and Pictou. Once, the New Glasgow team traveled to compete with the Halifax County team on the ice in Dartmouth.
Hockey attracted old and young as well. This also began on the open ice and there are many stories told of the Nine Mile Hockey Game that took place on the East River. In 1892, the sport was officially moved indoors. The town was bitten by the hockey bug which exists to the present time. In 1900, a women’s hockey team was started and this continued until the end of the first World War.
The first indoor rink in New Glasgow was constructed in the late 1860’s on a lot of land bounded by MacLean, MacKay, Forbes and Washington Streets. This was mainly a skating and curling rink. The present day John Brother MacDonald Stadium was built in 1951.
We can not help but think that in the community of New Glasgow, this love of the ice and sports that surround it, had to have its beginnings on the East River. The rush of the fresh air, the crunch of the ice under foot, the closeness of family and friends were all vital in this incredible outdoor experience.
Dr. Carrie M. Best
From a very early age Carrie Best developed her sense of dignity and self worth that would take her on a path of civil rights that spanned ninety-seven years. This crusader was born in the town of New Glasgow on March 4th, 1903 to James and Georgina Prevoe. Using her mother as a role model, she became an advocate for many African Canadians who were experiencing injustices in their own communities. The title of her autobiography, “ That Lonesome Road”, published in 1977, suggests to us the emotion felt by so many. The road was long and hard through discrimination and injustice.
Carrie found her public voice in 1946 when she established “The Clarion”, which was the first African Nova Scotian owned newspaper . The case of Viola Desmond attracted her attention and she published several articles about this New Glasgow woman who was arrested for sitting in the ‘Whites Only’ section of the theatre. Dr. Best traveled to Halifax to watch the trial as it unfolded.
In 1952 she began “ The Quiet Corner”, a radio program consisting of poetry and music which was carried through several radio stations in the Maritimes for twelve years. Her love of poetry emerged at the tender age of four and she continued to write throughout her life. She stated herself that “The Quiet Corner” was one of the most satisfying experiences she had and loved to recite poems over the air. She chose her musical composers carefully and felt there was a need for something other than Rock and Roll on the air waves.
The Pictou Advocate hired Carrie Best in 1968 to write a human rights column and she focused attention on the substandard conditions on the First Nations Reserves as well as the discrimination against African Nova Scotian property owners on Vale Road, New Glasgow.
The Order of Canada was bestowed upon her in 1974 followed by an honorary Doctorate of Law from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish in1975. These awards as well as the invitation to join the Task Force on the Status of Women were very significant but not the only milestones accomplished by this remarkable woman. Dr. Best also received the Queen Elizabeth Medal in 1977 , the Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979 and another honorary doctorate degree in Civil Law from the University of King’s College in 1992.
It was with the publishing of her autobiography, “That Lonesome Road” in 1977, where we get a full appreciation for the woman, what she stood for and where that road took her throughout her life. Her love of family played a big part and the image of her mother standing tall against adversity never left her. That was her model and that was how she lived. She married Albert T. Best in 1925. They had one son T. Calbert , who went on to achieve distinction in his own right. She gave her love to four special children, Berma, Emily, Sharon and Aubrey.
Dr. Carrie M. Best passed away at home in July of 2001. She was a poet, an author, a journalist and a crusader for human rights.
Former Mayor Ann MacLean is the longest serving mayor in the history of the Town of new Glasgow and its only female mayor to date. A graduate of Dalhousie University with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work, with a concentration of study in Policy and Administration. Ms. MacLean held numerous positions with the Department of Health and when she retired in 2004 she was Vice President of Community Health with the Pictou County Health Authority.
Currently she is a Member of the Province's Jobs Fund Board that advises the Province on Business Initiatives that request funding support from the Province, a volunteer on Provincial Committee that advises the Province of Nova Scotia on Awards recognizing Heroism among its citizens and also participates with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities in conducting campaign schools for women who may be interested in offering for public office. She was elected President of Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), representing 1600 municipalities and 25 million Canadians and served in this capacity and as Past Chair from 2004-2007. She was also the first woman in Atlantic Canada to be the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and received the 125 Anniversary of the Federation of Canada Medal for her contributions to Canada, was President of the Nova Scotia Police boards Association, and was the fifth female in FCM’s more than 100 year history to be president of that national organization.
As FCM President she achieved consensus among all municipal governments in Canada on the New Deal for local government in Canada with the Federal Government that transferred billions of dollars to Canada’s local governments for Infrastructure and she rewrote the partnership relationship between the two orders of government. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities established The Ann MacLean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics that annually recognizes women municipal politicians who have shown exemplary service to their community. Ann MacLean was named to the FCM Role of Honour as an elected official who has made an outstanding contribution to FCM and to municipal government in Canada. Awarded annually.
Ms. MacLean was the only Past President of FCM to serve as Special Advisor to the FCM Board of Directors and as Past President worked on the Development of the Board’s Code of Ethics and Governance By-Law Revisions. She was also a spokesperson for FCM in partnership with the Canadian Status of Women promoting a project to encourage Canadian women to enter municipal government.
Among her many volunteer activities, she was an original Founding Member of the Pictou County of Tearmann Society and campaign chair for the Diabetes Society. She also volunteered with Big Brother's Big Sisters, Pictou County; the New Glasgow High School Band Parents; the Canadian Federation of University Women- Pictou County, and many others
As Mayor of New Glasgow Ann MacLean initiated and led a long-term plan and development of the New Glasgow Riverfront. This included the Samson Trail, Marina and Glasgow Square and particularly the engagement of citizens, the business community and other orders of government to see the developments to conclusion. Under her leadership, New Glasgow established a sustainable state of the art water treatment plant; secured funding and business engagement for the revitalization of New Glasgow's Downtown and became one of the earliest adopters of energy/cost reduction strategies as a corporation and as a community in the region and the country.
She was the first recipient in Pictou County of an Honorary Diploma from the Nova Scotia Community College for community involvement; Recipient of the Canada 125 Medal; Honorary Chair- Race on the River- Pictou County Dragon Boat Festival for several years Award of Merit from the Canadian Mental Health Association for her work in the community on behalf of mental health and a recipient of the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal for her local, provincial and national leadership in municipal government.
Best and Jenkins Stamps
James William Carmichael
James W. is the third in four generations of James Carmichaels. The first James from Abercour,Banffshire,Scotland came to Pictou County with his wife Ann. Their son, the second James, was born in 1788. This James, along with George Argo, built one of the first businesses in New Glasgow in 1809. This structure was destroyed by fire but James rebuilt. In 1812 he married Christian MacKenzie. His son, James William Carmichael, was born in 1819. In his teen years he became a student at Pictou Academy and also began clerking in his father’s store. By this time his father had become established in the shipbuilding industry on the shores of the East River in New Glasgow and young James W. followed in his footsteps. Captain George MacKenzie, James W.’s uncle had also joined the business. The first ship built by James W. was the 129 ton brigantine Helen Stairs, launched in 1851. It was the same year that he married Maria McColl from Guysborough. Together they raised five children Caroline, James, Christian, Jessie and Anna. In 1874, Maria died with tuberculosis leaving James to care for his family along with the assistance of his oldest daughter Caroline.
James W. was considered by many to be a bold and successful entrepreneur. He took over his father’s shipbuilding business and constructed twenty-six wooden ships until 1883. They sailed the world under the GK flag. These ships ranged in size from the Ticnico of 130 tons to the Thiorva at 1,174 tons. In 1885, James began purchasing iron ships and steamers built on the Clyde River in Glasgow. His business sense told him that the Age of Wooden Ships and Sail was declining and more attention had to be given to steam and steel. Along with his subsidiary the I.Matheson Company, he built one steel ship in New Glasgow named the SS Mulgrave, launched in 1893. This ferry carried freight and passengers between Mulgrave and Point Tupper. The first steel hulled schooner built in Canada; the James William was launched at the Carmichael yard in 1908, in his memory. James amassed great wealth and the Carmichael firm continued to operate until 1927 from the offices on George Street.
James Carmichael , shipbuilder and businessman also turned his hand to politics. Although he opposed Confederation, he was Pictou County’s first member of Parliament from 1867-1872 and again from 1874-1878. He was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Laurier in 1897. On his many trips to Ottawa he became close friends with the country’s well known politicians including Laurier and Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie. At his home on George Street, he entertained politicians, sea captains and businessmen from around the country and around the globe.
James William Carmichael passed away in 1903 but his legacy of entrepreneurship and enterprise along with his most distinguished political career will not be forgotten. Like his pioneering father before him, it is people like James W. Carmichael who have created the rich heritage we cherish today which has allowed New Glasgow to flourish as an outstanding community.
Dr. Caroline Elizabeth Carmichael
Caroline Carmichael was born in New Glasgow on July 9th, 1852. She was the oldest daughter of James W. Carmichael and Maria Mc Coll. At this time in history, New Glasgow was a small village with muddy streets and wooden sidewalks. Due to her father’s success as a shipbuilder and politician, she entered into a life of wealth and position. One may think that this status alone would be sufficient for a young woman of this time. Caroline showed an interest in politics and her community at a very young age. It has been said that she was always willing to discuss political issues and community concerns with workmen around her father’s shipping office. In her memoirs, she states that she received her best education at home at her father’s side. Unfortunately, when she was twenty-two, her mother died of tuberculosis and Caroline became the woman of the house. Any thoughts of a career would be discouraged at this time especially for a woman of this social status. A political life would not be possible but as a visionary, Caroline found other ways to give of herself and to improve the community she lived in. Along with looking after her one brother, James, her three sisters, Jessie, Christian and Anna and maintaining a grand home where many of the country’s elite visited, she reached out wholeheartedly to the needs of those less fortunate around her.
Her list of accomplishments is outstanding. She was a founding member of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Aberdeen Hospital and worked tirelessly to create the hospital’s first maternity ward. She was the first president of the Pictou Local Council of Women and played a critical role in exposing conditions in the town jails where young offenders were treated as hardened criminals. This is believed to be one of the early developmental stages of the Juvenile Court. She sought help for local Chinese families who were being mistreated by local hoodlums. Under her presidency, Christmas dinners for the poor families began in 1912 and the first welfare worker for the community, Bertha Putnam, was appointed in 1914.
With so much accomplished in her own community, she went on to become the president of the Nova Scotia Council of Women and in 1922 she became the president of the National Council of Women. During her national presidency, she focused on issues of health and welfare. Tuberculosis clinics were developed across the country and conditions improved for mothers and children. It was womens’ groups and leaders like Caroline Carmichael that led in the area of social reform. During this time, she also directed the funding of the nurses’ residence at the Aberdeen Hospital.
Caroline traveled the world and after her father’s death she still maintained close contact with dignitaries with whom she had become well acquainted. Lady Aberdeen, wife of Governor General Aberdeen became a close friend. At home, she maintained her memberships in charitable organizations and local church groups. She wrote a monthly article in the Eastern Chronicle focusing on local issues.
In 1915, she was admitted to the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem as Honorary Associate, by King George V. In 1940 she was given an honorary doctorate degree in civil law from Dalhousie University.
Dr. Caroline Carmichael, who was always known fondly as Carrie to her family, died at her family home on the West Side of New Glasgow at the age of ninety. Letters of sympathy poured in to her surviving sister. These letters recognized the accomplishments of a woman who had changed her world and had improved the lives of so many others, a true pioneer in her own right. As a woman of dignity and grace, perhaps born ahead of her time, she will be remembered as one of New Glasgow’s finest.
Adam Carr Bell
A notice was published in the Eastern Chronicle in January 1875. It stated: “To John MacKay, Esq., Stipendiary Magistrate we the undersigned respectfully request you to call a public meeting of the Ratepayers of New Glasgow, as early a date as possible, to take into consideration the propriety and feasibility of incorporating the town.”
A meeting was called for January 19th, 1875 and a resolution was passed to apply to the Legislature for an act to incorporate the Town of New Glasgow. By Monday, January 24th, 1876 the first town council took office. The first Warden, later called Mayor, was Adam Carr Bell.
Born in Pictou on November 11th, 1847, he was the son of Basil Bell and Mary Carr. The Bells were natives of Scotland and the Carrs originated in England. His lineage on both sides is noteworthy. Basil Bell was a distinguished man of letters and taught at Pictou Academy at the time of Adam’s birth. Adam Carr, on his mother’s side, after whom he was named, was involved in the very early coal mining at the Albion Mines in Stellarton. Adam Carr Bell received his education in New Glasgow and from there he attended Mount Allison University and Glasgow University in Scotland.
Considered to be “ a studious man of affairs and a strong, logical, graceful speaker with a fine presence and commanding appearance”, Bell was the obvious choice for the town’s first mayor. At this time New Glasgow, a small community of 2500, had its share of obstacles to overcome. Fires of 1874 and 1875 had destroyed a large portion of the downtown district. Firefighting equipment was desperately needed. Roads and sidewalks were a constant source of complaints by the citizens. Mayor Bell had his work cut out for him. A council was sworn in and the newly incorporated town was divided into three wards. At this time mayors served for a one or two year terms. In 1877 Bell was replaced by Jeffrey McColl but in 1884 he returned as mayor for one more year.
Between the years of 1876 and 1884, Adam Carr Bell continued to be involved in politics. He was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1878 and in 1882 he was the Provincial Secretary in the cabinet of Premier John Thompson. From 1882 to1887, he was the Leader of the Opposition representing the Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. By 1896, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the electoral district of Pictou and re-elected in 1900. Although defeated in 1904 and 1911, he was appointed to the Senate in 1911 on the advice of Prime Minister Robert Borden. It was one year after this appointment that Adam Carr Bell passed away at the age of 65.
In New Glasgow he was known as a public servant and politician. He operated a pharmacy on the corner of George Street and North Provost Street. Today this corner is still called Bell’s Corner although the building was removed when the street was widened. With this fond remembrance, the citizens of New Glasgow will never forget Adam Carr Bell’s dedication and contribution to the community he loved.
Grant of Free Pardon
Trams on Provost Street
As early as 1889, the Town of New Glasgow was interested in a street railway. Horse-drawn omnibuses were being replaced by electric trams in the United States just as gas lanterns were replaced by electric light. The Jennison brothers who had electrical experience in Boston requested a franchise to construct an electric railway through the centre of New Glasgow. Their request was granted but funding issues presented problems for the two brothers. In 1902, after much delay and no construction, the town council along with the councils of Trenton, Stellarton and Westville withdrew permission from the Jennisons and gave the contract to the Egerton Tram Car Ltd. Once again two brothers, C.A. and Leonard Flaherty and their engineer, W.A. Straw took on the project but this time with success.
Construction began within months and the first rails were laid in front of the Steel Works in Trenton. From here the tram rails continued on to Provost Street in New Glasgow, turning right at the Goodman Corner, now the Celtic Building, and continued towards the East River. A Tram Bridge was erected which crossed the East River just south of the George Street Bridge. The rails then continued to the West Side and on to Stellarton Road. The project continued on to Foord Street in Stellarton and then Westville, via Acadia Avenue, where the rails ended. All rails had to be laid in the centre of the existing streets and this project took approximately two years.
By 1904 , the tram car railway was ready for operation under the direction of the Pictou County Electric Company. The sights and sounds of the four towns changed dramatically. There was a buzz of excitement as the trams made their way through Provost Street .
In this painting we see the tram, bound for Trenton, making its way past the Post Office and Customs House which was built in 1884. Commissioned by Sir John A. Macdonald, this magnificent building was one in a series of seventy-eight structures established across this nation. Thomas Fuller, Canada’s chief architect, designed the building using a mixture of Second Empire and Romanesque styling. In 1957, the building was purchased and became the Town Hall. To this day, it remains a cornerstone of the community.
This clanking of the wheels, on metal rails, outside the Post Office and Customs House added a whole new dimension of sound that had not been heard in the era of horse and carriage. There was a feeling once again of prosperity in the town. Many people from other communities came to New Glasgow on the trams and before long the town became known as the shopping centre of the county. Workers regularly used the trams to reach their businesses and miners traveled daily to and from the mines.
For approximately twenty-five years, the trams were in operation. The Tram Bridge, across the East River was replaced once when an ice build-up had caused the bridge to collapse. By 1930 the electric tram system was phased out and replaced by a motorized bus service. The first bus was introduced in 1928 and traveled along the same routes. For two years both systems operated at the same time under the management of The Pictou County Electric Company which later became known as the Pictou County Bus Services Ltd.
Thus another exciting era in New Glasgow’s past draws to a close as we imagine the clanking and jostling of those glorious tram rides through our town streets.
From the very early history of the community, dating back to 1784 when Thomas Deacon Fraser claimed his 400 acre grant of land , it seems that the Town of New Glasgow was destined to develop on both sides of the East River. Although businesses were emerging on the east side of the river, people felt the need to be connected to the west side as well. As early as 1804, the citizens of the town decided to build their first bridge. It was a fairly crude structure made of logs and planks and was located just south of the current bridge. This increased cross-river traffic and by 1826 a new and improved bridge was put in place. As shipbuilding began along the river, shipyards were erected on the south side of the bridge and therefore ships had to pass through the bridge. Removable boards were used to allow the mast of a ship to pass . Sails and rigging would be put in place once the ship reached the north side, where the marina stands today.
It seems that as the town grew, so did the need for an improved bridge. In 1838, a third bridge was constructed across the East River. With so many ships being built in the mid to late 1800’s a fourth bridge, in 1859, with a swinging centre span, was required. Horses pulled this section of the bridge aside when the passage of a ship occurred. Traffic across the bridge increased as people started building their homes on the west side of the river. With each new bridge, strength and durability was improved in concern for the safety of the citizens.
Just in time for the incorporation of the Town of New Glasgow in 1875, a fifth bridge was put in place. John Stewart, known for his construction of steel bridges in Nova Scotia, erected this new and once again, improved bridge. Three spans were mounted on stone piers and this structure also had a swinging centre span to allow ships to pass through. This bridge, much wider and stronger, also had an overhead iron suspension for extra support. As the James William, the first steel hulled schooner built in Canada, was launched at the Carmichael shipyard in 1908, the centre span of this grand structure was proudly pulled back. Townsfolk lined the two remaining spans to see the glorious sight.
This bridge stood proudly watching all the activity on this busy river until 1931. It saw the end of the shipbuilding industry and the addition of the automobile to its ever increasing traffic. It shared the river with the first tram bridge, opened in 1904 by the Pictou County Electric Company. It connected the east side at MacLean Street to the west side at Stellarton Rd. Trams traveled the streets of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Westville and Trenton until 1930. This first tram bridge was replaced once when a build-up of ice destroyed it and it was later taken down when the tram service ended.
The final bridge to connect both sides of New Glasgow was opened in 1932. The contractor was Andrew Wheaton and Sons from Moncton. The old stone piers were removed and replaced with concrete and the J.W. Cumming Manufacturing Company supplied the steel. For the first time, in the town’s history, there was no longer a need for removable parts or swinging spans. The launches of New Glasgow’s ships had ended. This bridge has spanned the East River to this very day, supporting the traffic and townsfolk of the community of New Glasgow and has been a welcoming landmark to all who visit our community.