Rich in history—a great place to live
Our Community is a celebration of the 14 villages that make up District 4, one of seven districts in the Municipality of Yarmouth.
Our 14 Villages
Beaver River and Cedar Lake are the two communities that straddle both Yarmouth and Digby Counties. Properties on the south side of Beaver River Road are in Yarmouth County while those on the north side are in the Municipality of Clare in Digby County. The author of the Port Maitland web site (see Port Maitland) has included a section about Beaver River with beach scenes there. Be sure to take a look at the page with three historical photos of the school, church and Beaver River transportation. Beaver River is home to the registered heritage property the Dr John Harris House. The Old Stones cemeteries preservation society maintains three historic cemeteries. Two are located in Beaver River: Founders Cemetery and the Free Will Baptist Cemetery.
Brenton is the community between Lake George and South Ohio along the Lake George Road. It is home to Yaciuk’s Antiques, Clocks and Collectibles. Across the road is the registered historic homestead the William Winter House. Brenton is also the location of the historic Brenton Methodist Church which was recently deregistered as a heritage property and moved to private property nearby. The cemetery is maintained by the Brenton Hilltop Society which has plans to make the former church site available for graves. Brenton is also the site of a small cemetery known as the Crosby Private Cemetery.
Cedar Lake is one of two communities, the other is Beaver River, that straddle the Digby County line into Clare Municipality. It is home to the registered historic property the Benjamin B Porter House. The village is also the site of Camp Peniel.
The prominent historic landmark of Darling’s Lake is The Anchorage, today called Churchill’s Mansion. The building was built by Howard Curry for the owner, Capt Aaron Flint Churchill who was one of two men to have bestowed on him the nickname Rudder Churchill, because of his experience on board the vessel Research owned by the Killam brothers in Yarmouth. There are two accounts of The Saga of Rudder Churchill on the Yarmouth Villages web site, one is written by his direct descendant, Aaron Flint Churchill IV. The village is also home to the Darling’s Lake Cemetery which has strong connections to the Churchill family. The village was once called Moose Pit.
I understand that the area between Port Maitland and Lake George along the Richmond Road was at one time all known as Richmond. At some point it was divided into three communities, the nearest to Port Maitland being Richmond, then Hillview and then Ireton.
Between Hillview and Lake George, Ireton was apparently named after Ira Porter who was the postmaster there for many years. His home, that also served as the post office, still stands.
Lake George is one of the largest lakes in Yarmouth County, probably best known as the source of water for the town of Yarmouth. There are still a number of cottages on the lake although the town is gradually buying them up when they become available. Lake George is the location of the historic Lake George United Baptist Church and cemetery. Jenny Wallace has written about what it’s like to live in rural Yarmouth County. She lives on Killam’s Lake which is probably close to the boundary of the village of Lake George.
Bordering Lake Annis and often associated with it—the two communities shared a school—Norwood borders the Digby County line in the northeast corner of District 4. Marlene Sweeney has written a history of the village based on interviews she did with older residents. There is also a collection of photos including, I believe, every grave marker in the Norwood Cemetery.
I suppose Port Maitland might be called the “urban” centre of District 4. It has the largest population of any of the villages. I believe it’s around 575. It has a marvellous sandy beach and Provincial Park. Port Maitland is home to two cemeteries. One is the active Port Maitland & Beaver River Cemetery, earlier called Island Cemetery. The other is the historic Calvinist Baptist Cemetery located right across Highway 1 from the entrance to Island Cemetery. The community has two churches: the Bay View Baptist and the Wesleyan.
Port Maitland is the site of the little known historic Port Maitland Cattle Pound, the only one remaining in Nova Scotia. Two homes are also registered municipal heritage properties: Zaccheus Churchill House and Edmund Ellis House.
There is a wonderful web site about Port Maitland that does many of the things for that village I hope to do for the larger district on Musings. The site has some great photos of the village, the beach, wildlife and some photos documenting our history. There’s also a section about Beaver River. Well worth taking a look. As this site reminds us the Port Maitland Beach and wharf are great places to visit and stroll around.
There is a wonderful photo of master mariner Capt Percy Crosby and his wife, Stella Porter in the “after saloon” of the barque Sokoto. Capt Crosby was born in Beaver River. Stella Porter was born in Maitland (now Port Maitland). They buried in Port Maitland in Island Cemetery.
Many people in Port Maitland vividly remember the night of December 8, 1951 when the home and barn of Capt. George Parry, burned to the ground. During the blaze Capt Parry, who lived alone in the house, said to his next door neighbour George Snow, “I’ve lost all my treasures.” Capt. Parry had been friends with members of British Royalty including Kings George V, Edward VIII and George VI. He was the Captain of the “Empress of Britain” when it brought George VI and Queen Elizabeth back to England from Halifax following their royal tour in 1939. Among Capt Parry’s treasures were mementos and gifts from all three kings.
Port Maitland Stories is well worth a visit. Towards the end of each year Howard and Madeleine Snow add a story with a photo about Howard’s memories of growing up in Port Maitland. One of the stories, simply called Arnold Ellis describes tells about the people who lived on the Main Shore Road between Howard’s home and Port Maitland Beach. Madeleine and Howard acknowledge the support of those who refreshed Howard’s memory and helped with the technicalities of setting up a web site.
It’s remarkable that the small village of Port Maitland was the birthplace of two prominent jurists. The younger of the two is Rodney Snow QC who practices law in the Yukon. He has served as President of the Canadian Bar Association, the first from the Canadian North to hold that office. Lawrence Walsh was his counterpart, having served as President of the American Bar Association. Although the two lawyers possibly have not met, the Snow and Walsh families lived around the corner from each other, only five houses away. Mr Walsh was Deputy Attorney General during the Eisenhower presidency and was appointed independent counsel for the Iran-Contra hearings during the Reagan administration. I believe he is still alive, having celebrated his 102nd birthday in January 2014.
There are at least three facebook pages devoted to Port Maitland. One is called I Grew Up in Port Maitland. It’s an open group and has even allowed people like me who didn’t grow up there to join. The other, also an open group, is Port Maitland, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. There is even the Port Maitland Swap and Shoppe page. Because of some spam issues it’s a closed group but it’s easy to ask for an invitation.
There is more to Sandford than being the site of the world’s smallest drawbridge but that’s not bad for a start. It is also home to the well maintained Sandford Cemetery and two churches: the United Baptist and the Wesleyan across the street. Take time to read the story Growing Up in Boston and Sandford in William Day’s collection of essays on Yarmouth’s history.
Short Beach is the community between Darling’s Lake and Sandford. Be careful of the sharp corner at the ocean that serves as the intersection with the Main Shore Road. Stop by and have a look at the small Short Beach cemetery. William Day has posted on his wonderful Yarmouth history web site the article Short Beach Memories by Norman William Churchill (1915-2006). Some great fishing stories and other memories.
On early maps Wellington appears as Hartford. When I hear people talk about Wellington in days past one of the most common references I hear is to Pierce’s Mill. The Wellington page in the Yarmouth.org series has some great photos.
Woodstock is the community between the Hillview on the Richmond Road and Cedar Lake. If you see the sign on the Richmond Road directing you to Camp Peniel it will take you right through downtown Woodstock.
A web site worth looking at
The yarmouth.org web site maintained by G. J .LeBlanc has some fascinating background on the Villages of Yarmouth County. The descriptions above have several links to his site. It’s well worth a look. One could spend hours just looking at the guest book entries.
In most cases the title links on this page are to Wikipedia entries which, with the exception of Port Maitland, are almost empty. Anyone may contribute to Wikipedia, why not add to the entry about your village?