The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

February 1, 2006

Feb. 1, 2006 - The Armouries

In 1893 Springhill wanted to build a Drill Shed but they were given a very small amount from the Government for the construction of the building. So, a group of men from the town, consisting of, D. Murray, E.A. Potter, F.S. Heffernan, L.B. Donkin, Dr. Hayes and R.B. Murray decided to borrow some money and erect a drill shed. The building was 50 x100 feet and had a solid stone wall under it.

On November 26, 1895 the Springhill Advertiser stated that “the work on the new drill shed in Springhill is progressing rapidly. The frame work is now up, the building boarded in and most of the roof shingled.”

Towards the end of 1896 the Armouries, or Drill Shed as it was often called, was officially opened. The adjoining lot at the corner of Pleasant and Drummond Streets was later deeded to the crown to be used as a parade square. It was first called the Drill Shed because it had no floor. Several years later a foundation and floor were put in and a 20 ft. room to the west was added for storing equipment. The upper floor was divided to make a band room and the rest could be used for offices.

During the next few years the men worked hard to pay off the debt. The building being less than a month old and these men brought in a Merry-Go-Round and if the 93 rd Battalion Band wasn’t playing at the Rink it was playing there. The building was rented for teas and picnics (if it rained), The Orange Lodge used it to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with a Goose Supper and Quadrille Party and the Catholics held their annual Bazaar there which always ended with an Old Time Dance for which Dan Gillis always did the “calling off” for the square sets. The Drill Shed was also rented for private parties.

In 1894 the Militia of Canada was re-organized into six companies, three of which were in Springhill: No. 2 Coy – Capt. W.M. Letcher (later LCol. of 93rd. from 1902-1906); No. 4 Coy – Capt. H. Mills and No. 6 Coy – Capt. E.A. Potter (later LCol, 93 rd from 1906-1910) LCol Daniel Murray was commander of the 93 rd from 1910-1920.

In 1910 they were again re-organized in to the Cumberland Regiment. There were still three Companies and they were located in the Springhill Armouries.

With the outbreak of war, Col Murray was order to recruit one hundred and twenty other ranks and seven officers to form a party of the Overseas Expeditionary Force. They were recruited in two days and shipped overseas along with Loc. Murray. 1916 Loc Murray returned from overseas and in 1920 took over the Battalion.

In 1941 the “B” Company of the Nova Scotia Highlanders formed the Number 1859 Springhill High School –Legion Cadet Corps. The first instructors for the corps were Marvin Maguey and Harvey Findlay. The first Cadet Officer of the platoon unit was Cdt. Lieutenant Jack Allbon while the NCOs were Frank Milton and Robert Howard.

The following year Doug Campbell took over as chief instructor and held the position until 1970. During this time he was assisted by Major D.B. Dickson, Capt. Wm. Totten and Lieutenant Michael Moore. After Mr. Campbell’s retirement the position was taken over by Bill Kempt, who retained command until 1974 when it was taken over by Ray Berry.

From 1945-1947 the cadets won the General Efficiency and Proficiency Award and the Strathcona Trust General Proficiency Trophy which is emblematic of the highest cadet honors in the Eastern Command. They also captured the King George V trophy for efficiency in rifle competitions in 1946 and 1947. The Cadets have gone on to win other awards and are still in existence 65years later.

As the years went by the old Armouries was expanded, repaired and painted but in 1954 the building was condemned and all training had to be done outside. The repairs were made to the building by June of 1955 and the bottom floor, as well as parts of the second floor were, once again, able to be used.

Over the years there have been many school proms, Adult dances and other affairs held in this building. In 1988, a new armouries was built on North Street and the old building was bought by Dan & Joyce McMillan and now houses the D&J Home Hardware Store.