LOOKING BACK: WOLFVILLE AND GASPEREAU (September 18/98)

The late Murrille Schofield, writer and historian, was the author of a series of historical pamphlets that the old Nova Scotia Light & Power Company mailed out with utility bills. Mr. Schofield was a lifelong collector of local history and his special interest area appears to have been Wolfville, Gaspereau and the adjacent south mountain communities of Bishopville, Greenfield, Newtonville and Black River. He notes in one of his essays that it would be impossible to write a history of Gaspereau without including these communities. “Gaspereau,” he explains, “is too intertwined with the entire mountainside.”

Some of Murrille Schofield’s research – a series of historical trivia from Wolfville and the greater Gaspereau area – has been included in the work Lexie Davidson recently compiled on Gaspereau Mountain. While of no historical significance, this trivia gives us a look back at life in one of the first Valley areas to be settled after the Acadians were removed. Some of the more interesting trivia follows:

“A delightful legend has it that Gaspe, a musical Acadian in the 17th century, traveled the settlements along the river singing his songs troubadour fashion, and the grateful settlers named the river ‘waters of Gaspe’ or in French, Gaspereaux. When the New England Planters arrived from 1758 on, they called it Salmon River, as is attested on the old grants and deeds.

“September, 1884. William Benjamin purchased property near the Gaspereau bridge from James A. Coldwell. He built a dyke or breakwater and removed an island from the middle of the river. He then engaged in wool pulling and the manufacturing of kid calf gloves with sheep wool linings.

“There was considerable cider making in Gaspereau, 400 bushels (of apples) a day being chomped and crushed for the tasty… beverage.

“1886. R. Pratt of Wolfville has family flour at $5.25 to $6.00 a barrel. The barrel and flour together weighed 219 pounds. The story is told that Bill Thompson, lumberman, miller, stonemason and barn builder, shouldered a barrel of flour at the Gaspereau store and carried it up the mountain… about a two mile lug, most of it uphill.

“1888. The Acadian advertised lime at $1.50 a cask. It was mostly used for mortar work (walls, ceilings and chimneys) and in outhouses at that time.

“1889. In Gaspereau the sawdust from the S. P. Benjamin Mill at White Rock was causing pollution and there were letters to the Acadian.

“1890. Silas Baker shod about 120 yoke of oxen (in Gaspereau) between December 1 and March 7.

“1892. Wolfville had some new winter technology, a snowplow, only used after 3:00 p.m.

“1896. The Willow Vale Tannery was paying 6 cents a pound for hides. No doubt Valley farmers and mountain men took advantage of this market. My great grandfather, James Schofield, used to tan his own hides and make shoes for his family and others.

“My paternal grandfather, Emory Schofield, was in charge (of the Fullerton Lumber Mill at Moosehorn Lake). He had his son Austin working as a cook. The boy noticed a peculiar looking bone in the salt meat barrel and dug around until he pulled it out. It was a horse leg with an iron shoe on the foot.

“March, 1904. Wolfville had an earthquake.

“1914. The Boot Island Fox Company was incorporated with $100,000 capital. it was another financial pipe dream, as investors soon realized.”

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