The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

November 4, 2009

Wed. Nov. 4, 2009 – Blizzards in June

Here is an article that I found in the Springhill Record from 1978 which I found to be quite interesting. It was from Elaine Mont’s Column “Where Our Roots Are”.

     “In this summer of 1978 we would like to tell our viewers about the year 1816, in which Canada’s eastern provinces had no summer

     I was once loaned a brittle old newspaper clipping found in a family Bible, which was headed “Eighteen Hundred and frozen-to-death”.  The article carried no signature.  We hear so much about “the good old days” that we often fail to realize that few of us would care to have lived in those times.

     A little historical research shows that in 1814 Nova Scotia farmers had it hard because of the war with the United States.  In 1815 there was a terrible infestation of mice which ruined our province’s crops. Now let me quote from this old article:

     “In 1816 the first three months were normal.  April was very chilly and May was even worse.  Fires had to be kept roaring; they wore mittens when they went outdoors; water froze in well buckets; and hoar frost rimed the trees and pastures.

     In June blizzards howled over the Provinces, snow lay on the fields, the mercury slid down below the freezing point; vegetables in the ground froze; stock went hungry and died of starvation.

     Unreasonable weather continued through July and August.  Grain couldn’t grow enough to ripen or produce seed.  People talked about nothing but the weather.  Amateur scientists predicted another ice age and spoke vaguely about spots on the sun.  It stirred preachers into a denunciation of worldliness, and the hand of God lay heavily over the land. 

     Somehow the farmers struggled through that winter wondering fearfully what the next year would bring.  But the next summer was perfectly normal.

     So far as can be ascertained, the freak winter was due to volcanic eruptions in other parts of the world, to a pall of volcanic ash which intercepted the sun’s rays.  It was a long, long time before the people could joke over the terrible summer they nicknamed ‘eighteen- hundred- and- frozen- to- death”.”

From the Springhill Tribune of 1908:

     The mines were apparently having difficulties getting regular workers, saying “The more prosperous the times and the steadier the work, the more loss of time and work by employees.”  Examples were given: Feb. 15 – 203 men absent; Feb. 17 – 151 men; Feb. 18 – 235; Feb. 19 – 169; Feb. 20 – 428.  Saturday 15th was payday – note there were 203 workers off.  The management served notice that irregular workers would be replaced by steady men “now that labour is plentiful, for the first time in years in Nova Scotia.  Men who lay off work about pay days and for the slightest pretext will find their lamps stopped and others in their places.”

     A notice from Frank Heffernan announced he had purchased and became sole owner of all Jones’ property in Springhill.  “This property will hereafter be designated The Bijou and will open Monday, March 24.”

     The Springhill Ladies’ Hockey Team was defeated 8-10 by a visiting team from Windsor.  The Home Team met the visitors at the station, showed them around town in the afternoon, and gave them a fine banquet at Mattinson’s Restaurant after the game.  There were 750 in attendance at this game, with almost 100 coming from Parrsboro.  The 93rd Band played some fine music and the two hours skate was enjoyed by all.  The Windsor team was experienced while the new Springhill team had never played in competition.  Members of the Springhill team were: R. Leadbetter, goal; M. Leadbetter, point; Lizzie Fletcher, C.P.; Nettie Fraser, R.; Agnes Rogers, C.; Gussie Paul, R.W.; Effie Rooney, L.W.; Jack Cooper, referee.

     P. Boucher, Ted Davison, Gordon Thompson and Jimmie Mitchell left for Halifax Monday to prepare for the big skating tournament which takes place there tonight.  Cecil Murray, who is also entered in the races, will leave for Halifax today.  There should be some trophies come back to Springhill from such a speedy bunch.

     Bishop Worrell confirmed 43 candidates and had 120 communicants at the service at All Saints Anglican Church last Sunday.