As documented in [a recent] column, the first poorhouse or poorfarm opened in this area over 100 years ago. It’s difficult to believe that poorhouses were necessary in a time when most people lived off the land and were mainly self-supporting. However, there were three in this area in the late 19th century, operating as mini-farms and looking after the destitute and mentally incapacitated. In 1922 the three poorhouses were closed and amalgamated into one at Waterville. Here’s the announcement of that opening from the December, 1922, issue of the Wolfville Acadian:
“The amalgamation of the Poor Districts of Cornwallis, Horton and Aylesford in this county has now been effected and the new building for the accommodation of the unfortunate poor which has been under construction during the past summer is now completed and has been taken possession of by the officials who have charge of this responsible and important branch of the municipality’s affairs.
“For a number of years back the proposition to place all the dependants of the county in one central institution and care for them in a manner creditable to the people of such a highly favored section has been under consideration and we feel sure that in carrying out such work no mistake has been made. If the affairs of the Home are conducted in a proper manner, with due regard to the interests of the ratepayers, the burden of taxation should not be unduly increased. If conducted in a business-like manner it ought to be good economy to carry on one institution in place of three.
“The site selected for the new home is at Waterville in the central part of the county. The selection of the farm, as well as its cost and the expense of building, has come in for considerable criticism and with regard to these matters we have nothing now to say. If the change made in the end makes for the public good to the extent we confidently anticipate it will more than repay for any mistakes that may have been made.
“The new edifice is situated on elevated ground and commands a fine view of the surrounding country. The main structure which faces the south is 36 x 37 feet with a wing on the north-east and 36 x 48 feet. It includes a large basement, main floor and attic. The main floor has a large plaza on the south about 75 feet in length. Adjoining are the men’s smoking-room, kitchen, dining room and recreation room on the east -end, with the apartments for the superintendents and officials in this wing at the same end. At the west-end are similar rooms for women for sewing, recreation and dining rooms. The men’s and women’s recreation-rooms are connected by folding-doors which may be opened when required for any special occasion. There are two fireplaces for the men and the same for the women. Some of the wards or rooms are also located on this floor.
“On the second floor are the dormitories for both males and females, the latter using the western part. A long hall running the entire length of the building divides by three doorways and provides as far as is possible for the plan for the segregation of the sexes.
“The attic provides quarters for the help. There is also a promenade with fire-escapes located at either end. The basement is of concrete and is divided into furnace-rooms, work-shops, morgue, etc., with ample provision for fuel storage.
“Adjoining the Home there is a large barn 42 x 65 with 16-foot posts and completed cement cellar. An artesian well provides an ample supply of excellent water.
“Mr. and Mrs. Slaughenwhite,(sic) who for a number of years have efficiently conducted the home at Billtown, have charge of the new home, and the inmates of the three old homes were installed in their new quarters last month.”