The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

January 31, 2007

Jan. 31, 2007 – John Murray Family

Among the prominent families that moved to Springhill in the early days of its existence was the John Murray family.

John Murray was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada as a young man, moving first, to Stellerton , Nova Scotia . He worked in the coal mines in Stellerton and evidently married Annie McKenzie. John and Annie had 6 children, 5 sons, John Jr. Daniel, Robert, William Hector and Hugh and a daughter Susie.

In 1873, when the mines were opened in Springhill, the Murray’s’ moved here and John Murray Sr was employed as a Foreman Blacksmith with the Cumberland Railway and Coal Company, a position he held until his death.

Mr. Murray purchased the Townsend property on the corner of Main and Victoria Streets. This is one of only five houses in Springhill at this time. The property consisted of a house and four acres of land. They continued to live in this house until a new house was built across the road on Main Street . This house was later moved back onto Fir Street to make room for the Bank of Commerce building.

John Murray Jr. was born in Pictou County around 1860. In 1895 he built his home on Lowe St. ( Princess St ). John was Chairman of the School Board in 1896 when there was talk of enforcing the compulsory attendance Act. He was on the Managing Committee for Lacrosse when it was started. John Jr. was also Mayor of Springhill in 1913 and again in 1919, 1920 and 1921.

John Murray Jr. had the house on the corner of Main & Victoria moved back and erected Murray ’s General Store (the exact date is not known). The old house he used as a warehouse. The store and warehouse were destroyed by fire in 1896 when the Main St. fire occurred. The store was rebuilt and continued in operation until 1938. A large warehouse was also built at the back of the store. John Murray Jr. ran the store until his retirement in 1917 and then was taken over by his brother Daniel who changed the name to D. Murray & Co. and ran it for another 26 years before going out of business in 1938. The corner of Main and Victoria Streets became known as the Murray Block.

In 1896 The Springhill Club moved its quarters to the top level of the Murray building and A.W. Foster, Barrister-at-large was also there.

John Murray Jr. never married and passed away Mar. 18, 1952 .

When the business closed the store was divided into two businesses, the larger part was taken over by Louis Saffron and his father Alex. After his father’s death in 1945, the name was changed to Louis Saffron Limited. When Louis retired it was taken over by C.R. Price. After the Main Street fire of 1957 H.S. Terris Insurance moved into this store. In the smaller part of the store R.B. Murray had his Insurance Office before C.R. (Charles) Murray, son of Daniel Murray, opened the C.R. Murray Men’s Wear. Later on this store was managed by Charles’s son Conway (Con) Murray.

About a week before the Main Street fire of 1975 Purney and Brian Fuller purchased to Murray Block. At that time the building contained Murray ’s Men’s Wear, Springhill 5 to $1.00 Store, H.S. Terris Insurance and the former J.A. Gillis Hardware. The Fuller’s renovated the building and where Gillis Hardware was the Dept. of Consumers Affairs was situated.

When Con Murray retired the store was renovated and the Ross Anderson Pharmacy started business on this corner. Later they moved across the street and the Dollar Store took up residency there until its closure in 2005. Last year, 2006, the Cumberland Home Health Care and Sears Order Office moved in along side H.S. Terris Ltd.

Robert Murray was born in Stellerton Mar. 14, 1862 . He was an Engineer with the Cumberland Railway a position he held for 50 years. He was never married and passed away Sept. 3, 1946 .

No much is known about Susie Murray other than she married J.R. Forbes and had a daughter Dr. Roberta Forbes. She died at a young age.

Hugh G. Murray was born in Pictou County in 1869. H played for the Maple Leaf hockey team when it was first formed in 1896. Hugh went out west and opened a store in Barons, Alberta . On his return he lived with his niece Dr. Roberta Forbes in the old family home on Fir Street . He passed away Aug. 11, 1953 and was never married.