The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

July 23, 2008

July 23, 2008 – Conclusion of Short History of Springhill

This is the conclusion of the “Short History of Springhill” as written by Dan McLeod.

Mr. Hall was succeeded by Henry Swift also a resident of Albion Mines but a native of Lancashire, England. Mr. Swift was one of the victims of the terrible disaster of 1891 and his untimely death was regarded as a serious loss to the Town as well ass to his family and friends owing to the promise he gave of successful management of the Collieries for many years to come. A splendid type of citizen, Secretary of the Presbyterian Church up until the time of his death, firm and dependable. Two of his sons John and Lancelot are now on the official staff of the Coal Company. Mrs. Swift, was a Miss McLeod, a native of the district of Baddeck. He was succeeded by Alex McInnes a native of Cape Breton, who after two years of service, had to resign owing toil health.

He in turn was succeeded by Christopher Hargraves and W.D. Matthews as Assistant. Mr. Hargraves was a man of great energy and held the position for ten years and very lean years and low prices in the coal trade and managed as well probably as any one could. After the amalgamation in 1911 a new office was created that of Superintendent to which J.B. Maxwell was appointed, then in succession Malcolm Blue and now J.C. Nicholson. The latter is a native of Stellerton but the family moved later to Cape Breton and it was there that he got his education and mining experience, and seems to have the good will of everyone. His Assistant is A.K. McLeod. I have an old pay roll from which I could copy the names of these first settlers whom I knew very well but must forebear. One picture which I must not omit of an old friend William Conway, whose wife was a Miss Coghill and is still living, a man of sterling quantity and who took more than ordinary interest in public affairs, in the public schools, was Mayor of the Town for five Terms.

Mr. John Murray a pillar of the Presbyterian Church, an ardent Oddfellow and prominent in community life. His sons following in his footsteps are Col. D. Murray, Merchant; John Murray, Ex-Mayor; William H.; Robert and Hugh, in the west. Another old citizen whose sons are equally prominent, James B. Wilson. A.B. Wilson present Mayor and John Wilson, Merchant are sons. R.B. Murray prominent in the business life of the Town, now Collector of Customs. A.A. MCKinnon who has been Station Master for about forty – years, one of the good old reliables, his wife was a Miss McConnell of River John.

Another Pictou County man I must mention A.E. Fraser one of the first settlers and a successful business man, was a member of the House of Assembly during two parliaments and first Mayor of the Town, regarded as a man of absolute integrity.

At the beginning of 1873 in the present limits of the Town there were five farm houses with a population of about two score at the close of the same year probably 200 houses and shops and a population of 400, in 1910 a population of 5730 and at the present time estimated to be 6300.

Some former residents of Stellerton were ardent Oddfellows and immediately organized a lodge. Eureka equally zealous Orangemen organized a Lodge of that Order called Wellington L.O.L... Other fraternal Societies were organized in years later, and a Child Welfare Society, the first organized in the Province under the Children’s Protection Act. Churches of every denomination were erected within a few years with about an equal number of adherents, although the Presbyterians, St. Andrews, was the largest congregation for the first few years. A school house containing two class rooms were erected, and the first teachers were Simon Fraser, a native of Sunny Brae, and John S. McDonald also a native of Pictou County, who previously taught at Toney River and other places. We have now three modern school buildings and very proud of our High School.

Another Institution worthy of special mention known as the “Cottage Hospital”. It was erected and liberally endowed thru the sole persistent and indefatigable efforts of one person, the late lamented Canon Wilson. It is managed nominally by a Board of Directors, but in practice by Rev. J.M.C. Wilson, son of the founder, and I believe, is not under the patronage of the Government in any way as other hospitals are, and it was while the late Mr. Wilson was curate that this beautiful building known as All Saints Church was erected. I must hasten to say something about our resources and municipal affairs with less details. Springhill was a splendid lumber district, but now practically exhausted and building material and pit material is becoming a problem, but our faith in the extent of the Springhill coal field increases with development.

William Maddin, when Deputy Inspector, describe the out crop of the Westville basin as being in the shape of a persons ear, meaning probably a big highlander, that of Springhill might be described as a man’s head facing eastwardly, bald on the top and the carefully trimmed fringe of hair, the coal out crop. Geologists described it as an anticlinal and assuming that the coal was formed on a level plain was thrown up by internal disturbances of the earth, to its present position. To the eastward not far from the present workings a bank of marine lime stone that underlies the coal measures is thrown up and to the westward sand stone. That was at first thought to be mill stone grit, also found under the coal measures and hence geologists were somewhat sceptical about the extent of the coal field. It is now positively certain that there fears were groundless and that the future of the Town through its one principal industry is practically assured for generations to come.