The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

May 14th, 2014

April 27, 1939Springhill Record
Springhill Celebrates Its Incorporation and Many Anniversaries This Year – Part 2 - by Bertha I. Scott

     That same year 1879 saw the launching of Springhill first newspaper, the “Trades Journal”, the official organ of the P.W.A. founded by Mr. Drummond, the first number being issued on Jan. 1, 1880.  It was printed in Mr. Drummond’s house on the corner of Elm and Drummond Streets (next above the McPherson house).  It was removed later to Stellerton, enlarged and continued for many years as “Maritime Mining Record” becoming in time the official organ of the coal trade of the Maritime Provinces.  Mr. Drummond, who gave nearly half a century to its publication was an authority on coal mining and wrote a valuable book on the subject.  He was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1891 and at the time of his death in 1925, was engaged at the age of eighty-eight on a work of early conditions.

The Junction Road School 1889 – Springhill’s pioneer school house was built at a point opposite the Miller Corner Church.  This log school was the only school in the district for many years.  It meant a great deal to the early settlers.  Later when it burnt down there were more people to carry on and take up the continued responsibility.  The bar-room of the Miller Hotel was fitted up as a temporary school.  The teacher, a Miss Sayre, was the first licensed teacher in the district.  There was a school also in the Herrett district in a remodeled store.

     When the new settlers came in, there were found to be upwards of fifty children of school age.  The establishment of schools was no less a responsibility than the building of churches.

     A store near the McDougall St. brook was converted into a temporary school.  Old Springhill was included in a large section with Rev. W.S. Darragh of Linden, as Inspector.  A request was sent from the new town to be included in the section.  This was arranged and plans went forward for a school.  A site was selected on Elgin Street and the company not willing to sell a small section set aside a site of three quarters of an acre, giving a lease of ninety-nine years.  The school house of two rooms, afterwards enlarged, was built in 1874.  Soon there was a need for greater accommodations met partially by Primary Schools in the Conway House and in Hall’s Hall; At also at an earlier time a private school by Miss Mary Robbins, in her father’s house on the site of D.M. Smith’s residence.  In the late eighties the need became urgent, and finally the people came to the place where they believed the necessary outlay to be justified, and the Junction Road School was built. The plan called for eight well-finished rooms, plenty of windows, the best and most up to date methods of heating and ventilation.  The school was erected and opened in 1889.  That splendid workmanship went into the making of it has been proved by the way it has stood the test for fifty years.  The West End School, the High School building and the modern Elgin St. School on the old site have followed.  The satisfaction in these later achievements could scarcely surpass the pride of the small community of fifty years ago, in the Junction Road School. 

Incorporation 1889 – The growth of the new town was rapid.  By the end of the eighties the people were becoming ambitious for a closer-knit form of civic government, and the matter of Incorporation became a question of outstanding importance.  An election held December 31, 1888 gave the people an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the matter, which carried in favor of Incorporation by a majority of fifteen.  The procedure of incorporating a town is of interest, as outlined by Mr. A.S. Barnstead, Deputy Provincial Secretary, in a letter, from which I quote:

  1.      “Your letter has been handed to me for attention.

  2.      “I have examined the Town’s Incorporation Act of 1888 which is Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1888 and find that Section 6 provides that upon a requisition of not less than 50 ratepayers of the Town to the Sheriff of the County in which the Town is located requesting an election of ratepayers to determine whether the inhabitants of the Town shall become incorporated under the Act, the Sheriff shall immediately proceed to ascertain and define the boundaries of the Town to the best of his judgment.  Within twenty days from receipt of such requisition he shall print and post notices in the various parts of the Town which shall contain an full and accurate description of the boundaries as fixed by the Sherriff and the date for holding the vote.  The date fixed shall not be less than 10 days nor more than 21 days from the date of posting the notices. 

  3.      “Section 10 provides that the Sheriff or anyone authorized by him shall reside at the poll and shall appoint a poll clerk and scrutineers. The Sheriff, if he is an elector, shall have a deciding vote in the case of a tie. 

  4.      “Section 11 of the Act requires the Sheriff to make a return to the Provincial Secretary within forty-eight hours and if it appears that the majority were in favor of incorporation, the Governor in Council shall, by Proclamation in the Royal Gazette declare the Town incorporated under the provisions of the Act and upon the publication of the Proclamation the inhabitants of the Town shall be a body corporate. 

  5.      “For your information I enclose herewith a copy of the Proclamation appearing in the Royal Gazette.  You will note that the election was held on the 31st  day of December, A.D. 1888, and the proclamation published on the 30th day of March, A.D. 1889, in accordance with the provisions of Section 11 of the Act.  The Town of Springhill was, therefore, incorporated on the 30th March, A.D. 1889”.

     The first election for a Mayor and Council body was held May 2, 1889Alexander E. Fraser, “A.E.” , later Liberal M.P.P. for Cumberland, was elected by acclamation, the first Mayor of Springhill.  The first Councillors were as follows: R.H. Cooper, A.D. Ferguson, E.B. Paul, (later Liberal M.P.P.), Charles Simpson, Solomon Keiver and F.F. Noiles.  The base rate at that time was $1.20.  In the next election in 1891 four of the above body were returned , Mr. Cooper and Mr. Noiles being replaced by E.B. Paul and Simon Fraser, with Manager William Hall as Mayor.

     Joseph Herrett, a son of David Herrett was the first Justice of the Peace of the Springhill district, and Richard Bennett was the first Magistrate of the New Springhill and held regular court in the old Court House at the corner of Main and Lisgar Streets.

     These men – public spirited men of vision and integrity – were worthy predecessors of half-a-century’s “city fathers”.  With the exception of Mr. Noiles, who lives in Amherst, all have passed on.  They served, to the best of their ability, their day and generation; and laid, as best they knew, the foundation of civic liberty and privilege.

     The ‘eighties were vigorous and hopeful years.  Today we pay tribute to our people who, fifty years ago, made so important a decision;