HISTORICAL TRIVIA FROM A HISTORY BUFF (June 6/03)

He’s probably one of the most knowledgeable history buffs in the county; and if you don’t believe it, try to stump Leon Barron on anything pertaining to sailing ships, lighthouses, the railway and general history trivia.

Leon is also a country and western music fan and he has a considerable store of knowledge about singers like Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Snow and Wilf Carter. This was demonstrated when I asked Leon if he had seen a recent news release in the papers about the death of Hank Snow’s widow. The release noted that Minnie Snow was a Kentville native, but Leon said this was an error. “She was an Aalders from Aldersville,” he said.

Leon pointed out another error in the release, which said that Hank Snow was a native of Brooklyn, Hants County. Some sources give Snow’s birthplace as Milton, Queens County but this is also a mistake, Leon said. Snow himself claimed Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, as his birthplace, which he noted on his first LP album.

For those who dispute that Nova Scotia was a Canadian super power during the age of sailing ships, Barron’s extensive store of marine trivia says otherwise.

In any given year from 1873 to 1888, for example, Nova Scotia had at least double the number of vessels on the official registry books than any other province or territory. Picking one year at random, 1883, the province had 3,037 vessels registered, New Brunswick 1,107 and Quebec 1,739.

Leon’s files also show that Nova Scotia was the leading shipbuilder in the sailing vessel era as well. In the years 1874 to 1888, for example, Nova Scotia’s annual output was usually almost double that of any other province or territory. In 1883, for example, the province built and registered 202 vessels; in this year New Brunswick was in second place with an output was 72, Quebec third with 42.

Between 1874 and 1888, many hundreds of vessels were built and never registered in the province of origin. In Barron’s files these are shown as “new vessels built in Canada, which proceeded to the United Kingdom under a Governor’s pass without being registered.” While the records don’t tell us where they originated, undoubtedly the majority of these vessels came from Nova Scotia shipyards.

In the same period, Nova Scotia also lead the way in vessel tonnage, that is, “number of tons on the registry books,” signifying that the province not only constructed more ships, but apparently built them larger when it came to carrying capacity.

Looking For Information

I’ve quoted from her book, the history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, extensively in this column, and I think it’s about time that Marguerite Woodworth herself was recognised and celebrated. I’d like to devote a column to Ms. Woodworth and I’m looking for biographical information and perhaps some personal glimpses.

Readers who knew Ms. Woodworth or may have information, even of the most trivial nature, are invited to contact me. I can be reached by writing this newspaper, via e-mail at edwingcoleman@gmail.com or by telephone at 902-678-4591.

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