Day 49 – July 25 – Darthmouth, NS to Sherbrooke, NS

We woke in Dartmouth this morning to thick fog and it stuck around all day with the occassional short period of sunshine. We were driving east on the coast road and would have had some really nice ocean views but for the fog. Still, it can have a beauty of its own.

We drove down a few side roads to get the above photos and we had lunch at a park in Tangier, the site of the beginning of the Nova Scotia gold rush in 1861. The park has an arch to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria’s son Alfred that same year.

In case you have not noticed yet there is a similarity in the places we visit: history or nature museums, heritage houses and villages, historic sites, gardens, and scenic places. Today was another heritage village visit.

We arrived in Sherbooke at 3:30 and the Sherbrooke Village closed at 5 so we skedaddled right over to it in the hope we would have time to visit the 25 buildings on the site. The really unique thing about the Sherbrooke Village is that it really is the village. The forestry and gold rush boom years produced businesses and homes and the community realized in the late 1960s that this early part of town had been kept in good repair and most of the furnishings and items of the shops were still in the buildings. They literally closed the end of the street and created the heritage village. All of the buildings are where they were built, except the post office which was moved across the street and all of the contents are original to each one. Even the various bottles and boxes of things in the drug store are original. Some of the less commonly used items have never been opened. Two of the daughters of the doctor came from Ontario when they were setting up the village and told the curator where their father used to keep his various pieces of equipment and how his surgery was set up. They were only very young children when they lived in Sherbrooke, but they remembered where things used to be. This village also had costumed staff in most of the buildings that would tell you about the owners and point out things of interest. We were on a bit of time crunch so we were unable to chat as much as we would have liked. Still, we only missed two houses that we were told were offices and not very exciting.

The following history is from the Sherbrooke Village website:

“The French were the first European visitors to Sherbrooke, as early as 1655.

By 1815 the settlement which developed at the head of navigation became known as Sherbrooke, in honour of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. For years the community prospered, supported by farming, fishing and the timber trade. Busy mills produced deal, planks, laths, spars, ships’ knees and shingles for the British and West Indian markets.

Then in 1861, the cry of “Gold!” was heard and the town became a live and energetic mining camp. Nineteen mining companies had flocked to participate in the discovery by 1869 and Sherbrooke boomed. The boom lasted approximately 20 years, a time which could be described as Sherbrooke’s Golden Age.

Mining was reactivated in the early part of the 20th but never reached the same success. Lumbering continued as a major industry. Until the Restoration Project was established, the chief visitors to this area were sportsmen fishing for salmon in the pools of the St. Mary’s River.

The Sherbrooke Village Restoration area was established in 1969 to conserve a part of Sherbrooke as it was during the last half of the 1800s.”

The blacksmith shop had several Penny Farthing bicycles. They were called Penny Farthings because the different sizes of the wheels were about the same ratio as a British penny coin and a farthing coin.

The blacksmith was not in his shop so I was unable to ask him about the horse on his work table. Do not know if it is being repaired or being made. It is cute though.

The former hotel is now the restaurant for the village.

My favourite colour in my favourite shade.

The lady at the print shop was printing small paper bags for the blacksmith shop.

Type cases. The capital letters are kept on top – Upper case, and the small letters are kept in the drawers – Lower case.

This was the “I learned something new today house.” It is a jail house. Literally – and that is where the name comes from. It is not a prison or a jail. It is a jail in the house of the jailor. The room on the left is the sitting room and at back of it, the kitchen for the jailor’s family. The rooms front and back on the right are jail cells. Note the dark window. That is due to the bars. Immediately inside the door is a stairwell to the upper bedrooms and a hallway past the two jail cells. Adults that used to live in the house when they were children said they were forbidden to go down the hall. They went into the sitting room to the kitchen, and then out back, or up the stairs to the bedrooms. Also on the upper level was a room with no handle on the door, just a key hole, and bars on the window. I asked the ‘jailor’s wife’ why that was. She said the prostitutes who had caused trouble or were drunk – Sherbrooke was a Temperance town – would be kept there until released so none of the men could have access to them.

The tailor shop.

Established in the 1860s, Cumminger Brothers’ General Store was owned and operated by John Cumminger and his brother Samuel. John was also a ship builder and master mariner and had shares in lumbering and gold mining. In addition to the store, the brothers had a shipbuilding business situated between the store and the present-day boat building shop. Their company constructed the largest ship to come up the St. Mary’s River, weighing over 680 tonnes.

The St. Mary’s River is a tidal river like the St. John River in New Brunswick. When the brothers completed a boat they just launched it into the river.

The Cumminger Brother’s General Store. Note the way the counters on either side of the store curve inward at the ends; like a ship’s hull.

The brooms in the barrel are whittled and the ‘brush’ tied off. They are all one piece and are used to clean ship’s decks. The hanging ones are twig brooms used in livestock barns.

Also due to the proximity of the river, supplies coming to the store could just be offloaded right out back. Ships came up and down regularly but the mail ship only arrived once per month.

We had not seen this item before. There were two of them. We asked the lady and she said they were jacks for the stagecoach so it could be lifted if a wheel had to be changed.

A dog-powered treadmill to churn butter.

This safe is in the General Store office. They have never found the key for it so it has never been opened. And since it is an historical artifact they will not have a locksmith drill it open. The curiousity would kill me. I think I would look into a way to open it without damaging it. Can’t believe it would not be possible.

The doctor’s office was through the door at the back right and this was his surgery. Both these rooms are part of his house.

This is one of the earliest coal stoves that had a thermostat for the oven.

However, there were no temperatures. It read: Slow, Fast, Quick.

Some ingenious person made a boiled egg lifter; it looks like out of bed springs. I need one of these.

The Greenwood Cottage. Home of Mr. John Cumminger after his businesses became successful. He was a rags to riches local boy. One of 12 children of a poor settler family.

Tomorrow we continue on the coast road to Canso where there is an 1885 heritage house to see and then on to West Bay, just a bit east of Port Hawskbury, where we will spend the night.

One thought on “Day 49 – July 25 – Darthmouth, NS to Sherbrooke, NS”

  1. I found all your travel blogs very interesting, but this one, especially so. Thanks for putting all the effort in to share your travels with your readers!


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