READER RESPONSES TO RECENT COLUMNS (November 12/99)

As I’ve often said, one of the pleasures of writing this column is the responses received from readers. The historical columns usually generate the most calls, letters and comments. The Annapolis Valley has many dedicated history buffs and this is evident from the various historical groups where membership is high and there is great interest in the past.

Often readers will call to comment (and elaborate) on topics they have an interest in and which they have researched. In [a recent] column, for example, I mentioned the old Seavey’s liniment bottle a collector has. I said that the collector believes the bottle is at least 100 years old and was made in the Valley, perhaps by a manufacturer located along the Bay of Fundy either at Hall’s Harbour or Scot’s Bay.

George Moody of Berwick (not the former MLA) telephone to set the facts straight on this. Mr. Moody told me that around 1890 there was a liniment company in Margaretsville called the S. (for Seavey) Harris & Son Co. Mr. Moody said that in the 1920s Margaretsville was also the site of another bottling company called Mayflower Bottling.

In a September column, I wrote about and old ledger from a Gaspereau Valley store that was in business at least a century ago. I mentioned some of the old apple varieties that were listed in the ledger and one was the Spitz. I couldn’t find the Spitz mentioned in historical records on apple growing, which isn’t a surprise since the name wasn’t shown in full in the old ledger.

Roscoe Potter, Wolfville, called to tell me that Spitz is an abbreviation; the apple’s full name is Spitzenbergen, which seems to suggest it is of German or Norse origin. I appeal here to readers who may have information on this apple variety and would like to call.

Harold Gates, Canning, called with comments on recent columns and to tell me about some of the first headstones that were placed in the old Canard cemetery. Mr. Gates also told me about the S.S. Banam, which went down in 1939 after sailing from Port Williams. This is quite a story. Mr. Gates has written an account of this event, which I hope to use in this column soon.

While it wasn’t a column topic, the October article on autumn leaves published in the Tuesday Advertiser brought some interesting information. A reader suggested that I should have mentioned the important part the maple leaf plays in Canada’s military history; and I was chided gently for neglecting to mention the obvious, the prominent maple leaf on our national flag.

Frankly, I couldn’t see how I could work the maple leaf on our flag into the article but I certainly considered it. As for maple leaves in our military history, the reader was referring to Canada’s army badges of World War One. In every army badge from this conflict that I could find depicted, the maple leaf theme was dominant. In the next world war, however, the maple leaf virtually disappeared from military badges

Now for some railroad trivia.

Who was the first passenger on the Cornwallis Valley Railway which opened in 1889 and ran from Kingsport to Kentville – and was later swallowed up by the Dominion Atlantic Railway. A read telephoned to tell me it was a “Mrs. Loomer,” and that’s all I can tell you. I’ve lost the reader’s name thanks to sloppy filing. If the person who called reads this, please telephone again.

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