THE TIME OF SHIPS, TRAINS AND 10 CENT WAGES (October 3/03)

There was a time when you could stroll to a nearby town or village, hop on the train and take a leisurely trip to the outermost reaches of the county. There was also a time when you could hitch up your horse and wagon and journey to the shore to watch shipbuilders at work or a schooner being launched.

There was also a time when working a 10-hour day at 10 cents an hour was commonplace; and while the pay seems low by today’s standards, a week’s wages in those times would buy enough groceries to last two or three weeks.

You may be too young to remember those days so here’re a few glimpses of those times culled from the files of this newspaper.

August 27, 1918 Heading: North Mountain Railway. “The North Mountain branch of the Dominion Atlantic Railway was opened for traffic on August 15th with a service each way on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“It is a beautiful scenic route of over 10 miles through the most fruitful portion of our valley. The stations from Centreville westbound are Billtown, Lakeville, Woodville, Grafton, Somerset and Weston. It skirts the foothills of the North Mountain all the way and passes through beautiful orchards.”

A news story on shipbuilding, dated May 4, 1918, in which Hunting Point is probably Huntington Point. Heading: Ship Building at Hall’s Harbour. “Mr. Hatsfield has the keel now laid in the new shipyard at Hunting Point, Hall’s Harbour. It is a 135 ft. keel and will be a handsome vessel when completed.

“The shipyard and surroundings is now a hive of industry. A mill has been erected and is now busy turning out the material for the ship. A store has been established and quite a village now surrounds the works. Mr. Andrew Neville is the foreman.

“It is well on to half a century since the last vessel was built at the harbour by D. R. and C. F. Eaton and John Bucknam. The shipyard was just west of the pier. The present ship is the beginning of an industry that is likely to continue.”

In the summer of 1918 Kentville’s theatre was the Strand and a Mack Sennett and Mutt and Jeff comedy were featured. Admission price was 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. There was a note that the “war tax” of two cents had been included in the prices.

Now, let’s skip forward a few decades and look at food prices.

In a 1930 advertisement for a north end Kentville grocer, R. A. Neary, mincemeat was offered for 18 cents a pound, sliced bacon for 35 cents per pound and head cheese 25 cents a per pound. Raisins were 14 cents a package, dates two pounds for 25 cents and a 40-ounce jar of marmalade 35 cents.

The 1947 grocery advertisement for the Red Store will bring back memories for many readers. The Red Store offered two dozen oranges for 45 cents, two-pound tubs of honey for 52 cents and apple juice at two tins for 27 cents. Clams were 65 cents for two tins and various jams and marmalades were priced from 39 to 50 cents per jar.

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