Internet historian Ivan Smith, Canning, calls him “an important figure in the industrial development of Kings County.” Mr. Smith notes that along with famed Valley industrialist R. A. Jodrey, he pioneered the production of electric power in Kings and Hants County in the early 1920s.
He was a builder as well and many “landmark buildings” exist here as testaments to his accomplishments in this field. He is one of our unsung and little-known heroes, a Kings County native who but for his tragic demise in an automobile accident would now be as recognised and celebrated as R. A. Jodrey.
He was Charles Hemmeon Wright, a native of Canard whose life work will be commemorated in a soon-to-be published biography being written by one of his grandchildren. Daphne Frazee, Gaspereau, already has two historical books to her credit and she’s currently working on a biography on Mr. Wright who was her grandfather.
Built Churches, Gymnasium
“Charles Hemmeon Wright was born in Canard on October 31, 1882,” Ms. Frazee wrote during our recent e-mail correspondence about this remarkable gentleman. His importance as a builder and industrialist is well illustrated in the brief bio she sent me.
“It was (in Canard) that his career as a builder began. He apprenticed as a carpenter under John Borden. While still a teen he struck out on his own. One of his earliest projects was the Canard Baptist Church, with the laying of its cornerstone in 1909. He was responsible for a number of landmark buildings in Wolfville and Kentville, including the Wolfville Baptist Church, St. Andrew’s United Church, Acadia’s original War Memorial Gymnasium, the Atlantic Theatre building, and both the United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen and St. James Anglican Church. Charles built a number of private homes in this area, including his own at 586 Main Street, Wolfville.
“In 1917 fate threw R. A. Jodrey and Wright together,” Ms Frazee continued. Answering a call from the town of Wolfville for a reliable source of electricity, Jodrey and Wright investigated the possibility of building a hydro station on the Gaspereau River. “This they did with the power station at Stiver’s Falls in White Rock.”
Continuing their partnership, Jodrey and Wright “went on to build dams on the Avon River. The resulting power enabled them to establish Minas Basin Pulp and Power in Hantsport. Charles was the company’s president for the first two years of its existence. The two were involved in many other projects. One was the building of a chain of Super Service Stations around Nova Scotia.”
Jodrey and Wright’s partnership was tragically concluded, Ms. Frazee wrote. “It all came to an abrupt end on July 16, 1929, when Charles’ car was struck by a locomotive.”
(To round out the biography, Ms. Frazee is looking for anecdotes or any information readers may have on Mr. Wright; she can be reached at 902-542-4309.)