NEW MINAS OF THE 1920s AND 1930s (December 5/03)

New Minas had an outdoor rink in the pre-World War Two days, with a change room and an outside privy. “They used to have a lot of hockey games and skating there in the 1930s before the war,” says a New Minas resident, Ann Perrier.

Ms. Perrier was the first of several people who called to comment about [a recent] column on the Acadian cellars and old roads of New Minas. While she telephoned to tell me about a couple of roads she remembered seeing when she was a “wee youngster,” I quizzed Ann about the rink when she mentioned an old road that ran up from it to the south of the village.

When someone sits down one day to write a history of New Minas, its outdoor rink and the great recreation it provided in the 1920s and 1930s will undoubtedly be part of the story. Ann said the rink was located where the senior’s complex now stands, and she has a few tales to tell about it.

In fact, Ann remembers much about New Minas as it was in the period from the 1920s through to the time when the village began to change rapidly and became a commercial centre. She tells me she can name most of the people who once lived along Commercial Street; most the old houses and farms are long gone, but if anyone is interested, Ann knows where they were located and who lived in them.

Perrier’s father once operated a farm in New Minas in what is now a business and residential area. George Perrier’s 75-acre farm fronted on Commercial Street, taking in a block that ran from Perrier Drive to the Pipeline service station. The upper part of the farm was expropriated when the 101 was being constructed. She has a story to tell about the expropriation and the various efforts to buy her father’s farm when New Minas started to boom and this will make an interesting footnote when the history of New Minas is done.

One of the stories concerns a man who offered George Perrier over 100,000 dollars for his land. Perrier wouldn’t sell, refusing he told Ann because the man making the offer was a total stranger. Perrier later sold his land to a local family who named Perrier Drive after him when a subdivision was established.

Ann Perrier has promised me to sketch a map of New Minas as it was in the heydey of the outdoor rink. The map will show the location of a couple of old roads, the one that ran south from the senior’s complex and another that apparently ran parallel to Commercial Street. Ann remembers seeing this road when she was a girl; it was just north of Commercial Street and ran behind the civic centre and behind McDonalds.

I plan to hold Ann to her promise of that sketch. Hopefully, I can convince her to include all the old homes of New Minas in her map. Memories of this nature are worth preserving.


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