READER HAS A STARR SKATES CONNECTION (March 29/02)

The column on Starr Skates (January Advertiser and Hants Journal) brought a letter from a reader who says she may have ties with the old Dartmouth manufacturer. Audrey Goucher-Millett of Windsor wrote from her winter residence in Florida with comments about the Starr article and to tell me about her family connection.

“Years ago (in the) 1930s when in Halifax with my father, he would make sure he showed our family where Starr Skates were made,” Ms. Goucher-Millett wrote. “The old, long low buildings were in Dartmouth and a large name, Starr Skates, was across the side of the factory.

“My great grandmother, who was Sarah Jane Smallwood, was closely related. Sarah Jane was born in Halifax; her father, Rev. Frederick Smallwood, raised the family outside of Windsor at Pemberton’s Crossing, in a large house on the hilltop above the motel (it is also called Garland’s Crossing).

“My grandmother married Harry Beldon, who was a bookkeeper for the Starr Skate Company. In 1906 Harry accepted the position as the first town clerk for the town of Middleton.

“We were always told we were related to the people who made Starr Skates. It was a connection of my grandmothers and that is all I know. I would love to find out the real connection.”

When she returns to Windsor this spring, Ms. Goucher-Millett said in closing, she plans to visit Howard Dill’s hockey museum to see the pair of Starr Skates mentioned in my column. These skates were donated to the Dill museum by Ruth and Wayne Downey and are now on display there; the skates were used over half a century ago by Ruth Downey’s mother, Agnes Bishop, on ponds in the Grafton area.

The Hibernia Shipwreck

On December 8, 1911, the Hibernia sailed out of Hantsport, bound for Barbados with a cargo of lumber, with Capt. Charles McDade in command. It was her last voyage. The Hibernia disappeared after a series of severe storms swept over the Atlantic a few days after she sailed and it was feared that the schooner and her crew were lost.

Some 29 days after the Hibernia disappeared, word came of a miraculous rescue at sea. The remains of the Hibernia had been discovered drifting in the Atlantic, its crew literally clinging to portions of the ship and barely alive. The battered remains of the Hibernia had been drifting for 29 days and at the moment of rescue the crew had given up all hope.

On April 28 the story of the Hibernia shipwreck will be the topic of a talk at the Kings County Museum. Hantsport historical researcher Garnet McDade, the grandson of Capt. Charles McDade, will present the Hibernia story at the monthly meeting of the Kings Historical Society. The meeting is open to the public.

On May 4 historian Dan Conlin will be the guest speaker at the Fieldwood Society meeting in Canning. Conlin’s topic will be lighthouses of the Maritimes.

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