Born in 1918, Bev Eaton of New Minas clearly remembers the day in 1929 when an earthquake shook the ground, knocking down a woodpile on his father’s farm in Highbury.
“We had just finished stacking the winter wood when the ground began to shake,” Bev remembers. “It was a sort of quiver and it knocked over our winter wood just after we’d worked hard stacking it up.”
This would have been late in 1929 when Bev was 11. Around 4:30 in the afternoon of November 17 an earthquake under the Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland was felt throughout Nova Scotia. The quake was severe enough to shake New Brunswick as well as parts of New England. Ivan Smith of Canning, on his History Index website, contains this note on the quake which I quote with his permission:
“It was felt throughout Nova Scotia, with shaking severe enough to throw goods off of store shelves and teacups off of kitchen shelves in Windsor and Chester.
“In Kentville and Annapolis Royal, bricks fell from chimneys and plaster was cracked in some houses.”
Bev Eaton recalls that locally the quake definitely was “severe enough” to cause a bit of damage in local stores. He remembers that the old Rockwell Hardware Store on Main Street in Kentville suffered some damage when the quake rattled it and knocked dishes off the shelves. There was damage in other stores as well, Bev recalls.
A few rattles, a few cracked walls and lost dishes pretty well sums up the 1929 earthquake’s effect locally. My father, who was in his late 20s at the time of the quake, recalled that it briefly shook his father’s farmhouse in Steam Mill and except for momentarily disrupting the butchering of pigs, that was it.
For the most part there was only minor damage in Nova Scotia but as history buffs will recall, the quake created a huge tsunami that devastated the coast of Newfoundland. Of the 21 submarine cables linking Europe to North America, 16 were broken by the earthquake, most of the damage caused by undersea landslides.