The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

March 30th, 2011

Incorporation of Springhill

With the 122nd anniversary of the Town of Springhill becoming incorporated, on Wednesday March 30, 2011, I would like to share with you an article that appeared in the Springhill Record on April 27, 1939 which was written by Bertha Scott.

     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 government and the matter of incorporation became a matter of outstanding importance.  An election was held December 31, 1888 gave the people an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the matter of incorporation which carried in favor of incorporation by a majority of fifteen.

     The procedure for incorporating a town is of interest as outlined by Mr. A.S. Barnstead, Deputy Provincial Secretary, in a letter from which I quote:

     “Your letter has been handed to me for attention.

     “I have examined the Towns’ Incorporation Act of 1888 which is Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1888 and find that Section 6 finds that upon a requisition of not less than 50 ratepayers of the Town to the Sheriff of the County of 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 of receipt of such requisition he shall print and post notices in the various parts of the Town which shall contain full and accurate description of the boundaries as fixed by the Sheriff and the date for holding the vote.  The vote fixed shall be not less than 10 days nor more than 21 days from the date of posting the notices.

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

     “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 favour of incorporation, the Governor of 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.

     “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 a return to the Provincial Secretary on the 2nd. Day of January, A.D. 1889, and the Proclamation published on the 30th day of March, A.D. 1889, in accordance with 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, 1889.

     Alexander 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 $1.30.  In the next election, 1891 four of the above body were returned, Mr. Cooper and Mr. Noiles being replaced by E.A. Potter 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.  The served, to the best of their ability, their day and generation; and laid, as best they knew, the foundations 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; and also to all those who have followed from the first, a vision of a town prosperous, friendly and progressive.  If at times the vision seems somewhat dim, we know it exists and that civic pride is not an empty ideal.  And so we go on to our ultimate destiny.