A RAIN OF FROGS – TRIVIA FROM THE PAST (August 28/98)

P. Redden (a descendant of one of the pioneer families of Kentville) and Rupert Davis, Kentville’s police chief for 45 years who used a bicycle while patrolling: Redden and Davis will be the subjects of upcoming columns and I mention them in hopes that readers will remember an anecdote or two about these illustrious citizens. Your assistance would be appreciated.

As well as asking for help from readers, I mention Mr. Redden and Mr. Davis to explain how I happened across the trivia in this column. Most of the trivia was discovered while digging through files and scrapbooks at the Old Kings Courthouse Museum and books on local history. I was looking for information on Redden and Davis; while researching I found some interesting and in some cases weird tidbits from the past.

In the fall of 1931, for example, a gale swept the coast in southwestern Nova Scotia and like the old tales about storms that rained toads, it rained frogs. Countless frogs suddenly appeared in Clark’s Harbor during the peak of a storm and residents claimed that they actually rained down from the sky. “Thousands of the small frogs whose appearance is a complete mystery… literally covered the town, filling the streets so that one could hardly walk without stepping on them, invading even the houses and stores,” read a news report on the strange occurrence.

“It has wool and is of the size of a sheep, its head and nose like a moose; its neck stands awry.” A 1774 newspaper description of a “strange beast” found in the woods near Windsor.

In 1941 the Berwick Register reported the death of a 91 year old Kings County native, Holmes Samuel Chipman. His name may not ring a bell but Mr. Chipman has a claim to fame – he pioneered modern printing in Japan. “In 1870,” reads a clipping from the Register, “Mr. Chipman went to Japan with Ito, later the celebrated Prince Ito, Premier of Japan. There he introduced the modern system of printing, made the first type and printed the first newspaper in Japanese.”

Growl if you will about postage rates and the slow postal service but things were much worse in the “good old days.” Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton reports that the cost of posting a letter from Nova Scotia to the United States in 1840 was so high – 15 cents – that people sent letters by “private hand” whenever they could. “Private hand” meant trusting a letter to a chance traveler or a roving peddler who happened to be going in the same direction one wanted the letter to travel.

Ever hear of the Sabbath Observance Statute, which in Nova Scotia forbids working on Sundays? This Statute was in effect as recently as 1931 when under the Statute one Sydney Waters, a Kings County native, was fined $2. plus the wages he earned for laboring on a Sunday. Mr. Waters paid his fine without appealing.

It’s possible that the Sabbath Observance Statute is still on the books but other, much harsher laws that were in effect three or four generations ago have been removed. In 1841, for example, an act was passed by the government making it unlawful to punish people with public whippings, nailing their ears to a pillory or cutting off their ears. Forgery and theft were crimes that once were punished with these cruel measures. (From the Western Chronicle, 1892.)

The Annapolis Valley almost had a gold rush of its own. In 1861 gold fever hit the Valley when traces of the yellow stuff was discovered in a brook south of Wolfville. The find turned out to be of little consequence and the fever quickly subsided.

 

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