Cyprus Walk

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Town Hall
Bridgetown started as Gaudetville (the Acadian settlement), with settlers attracted by the rich tidal marshes made possible by the Annapolis River. After the Acadian expulsion in 1755, New England Planters were attracted to the area for the same reasons, and because the Acadians had already cleared productive farms along the river. Here, the River was later spanned by a bridge, for nearly a century the last bridge on the river above Annapolis Royal, where a ferry
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Queen Street
transported goods and people across its mouth. As head of navigation (partly because of water depths, partly because of the bridge), the area was a natural commercial centre, collecting the wealth of the hinterland (agriculture and forestry products primarily) for export and distributing imports. It was a natural place for manufacturing enterprises to start up. Bridgetown has always been a trading town. It sat happily at the practical head of navigation on the Annapolis River and busily turned that advantage into a mercantile and industrial prosperity that lasted for nearly one hundred and fifty years. Naming the town "Bridgetown" after its most prominent feature was only sensible. Another story-that the town was named after a favourite previous home of Captain John Crosskill, the founder, in Bridgetown, Barbados, -is more romantic but less likely; for years the community had been referred to as "the Bridge".

 

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The Cyprus
Historic Cyprus Walk is a tour of some of the most significant parts of Bridgetown's heritage. With the help of this guide and the interpretive signs that have been provided you will learn about many aspects of life in Bridgetown long ago and today. The Walk is a way to get a feeling for that era of prosperity, initiative and comfort, as well as an acquaintance with nature and the advantages of this location. The walk begins at the kiosk in Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Park. Simply follow the blue line along the route. It should take about an hour and a half to complete. The Cyprus herself was the largest vessel ever built on the Annapolis River. She was a barque, a three masted vessel with the fore and main masts square-rigged and the mizzen mast rigged fore and aft. The Cyprus was built by Abram Young in 1878, and sailed for J. V. Troop and Sons out of Saint John, New Brunswick, where in all likelihood her masts and rigging were added.
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Annapolis River at Jubilee Park
She registered 1091 tons. The Troops were from Granville originally. The Cyprus was famous, too, as one of the fastest of her class. In 1893 she was condemned at Montevideo and refurbished as the Santa Lucia. The Shipyard where she was constructed was on the river, a few hundred feet downstream of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Park. There is said to be a big hole in the bank opposite the shipyard, gouged out when she was launched.

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Park

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Jubilee Park Entrance
At Jubilee Park, we are in the western end of the Annapolis Valley. Formed by the Annapolis River in the western end and the Cornwallis River in the east, the Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Canada. Apple and pear orchards, in particular, have brought prosperity to local farmers for generations.

 

The Annapolis River rises in the Aylesford bogs and runs westerly to the Annapolis Basin at Annapolis Royal. Annapolis means “Queen Anne's town”. The river was tidal to slightly upriver from Bridgetown until the construction of the tidal dam and causeway at Annapolis Royal. Now that tidal power is being produced at Annapolis, the tides have returned.

 

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Captain Croskill House
The Park, a mix of upland and tidal marsh, was dedicated to Her Majesty for her Silver Jubilee in 1977. It has been a joint project of the town, the Bridgetown Lions' Club, Britex Ltd. and the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as the generosity of former residents. Interestingly, the Park was available because a former owner of the house across the street, formerly Captain Crosskill's (1815), imposed a ban on building on the area to preserve his view, allegedly to allow him to see when the steamers were coming into port.

 

The first settlers in this area were the French, who settled about a mile east of the park in the 1630's. They had made their way upriver from the settlements at Annapolis Royal, partly because it was safer. The French industriously turned the tidal salt marshes into extremely fertile and protective lands through dykes to keep out the saltwater and aboiteaux to let the freshwater escape when the tides went out. Until the 1950's the "marsh" land was substantially more valuable than the upland. The brook at the Park, now known as Solomon Chute Brook, was for years called simply Aboiteau Brook, as it was the site of a very old aboiteau. (English pronunciation tended to a form like arbitoe, and sometimes so does the spelling.)An aboiteau was a dam that contained a wooden sluice with a "clapper", a one-way door that would let out the fresh water but seal up and prevent salt water entering when the tide came in.

 

The river provided the pathway for both imports and exports; it was the focus of the commercial life of the community. It also became a focus of social life, including ice fishing and even trotting races on the ice.

 

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Annapolis River
Here, at the Park, you can imagine horsedrawn mowing machines and wagons taking bountiful hay off the marsh. Just a few feet upriver, across the brook, there are remains of some of the old wharves, and an old warehouse that served Longmire's (agents for the Valinda that traded to Saint John as late as the 1930's) for decades. Across the river, there is more of the hay marsh and just downriver there was a major shipbuilding enterprise, where the Cyprus herself was built.

 

To your left as you look at the river is Solomon Chute Brook, named after an early farmer who cultivated its upper reaches in the mid-1800's. As indicated, for locals it was always referred to as Aboiteau Creek. Once, the brook defined one of the centres of industry in Bridgetown. There were wharves at its mouth, and it was not unusual for ships to be anchored in the creek. Saw mills and grist mills were located on the upper reaches of the brook.

WATER STREET

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The Kiosk
As you look toward the river, to your left is a kiosk and pedestrian foot bridge that crosses Solomon Chute Brook. Historic Cyprus Walk starts at the kiosk. As you cross the foot bridge, look down towards the river. Can you see any signs of the merchant schooners that tied up there a hundred years and more ago?

 

Follow the walkway to Albert Street at Court Street. The foundry was just to your left. The courthouse that gave its name to Court Street was between the foundry and the street. They both burned down in a fire started in the foundry in 1884. Notice the old home on the corner of Albert and Court Street. This is a classic example of the common home in the earliest days of the Town, with a steeply pitched roof and no decoration. While not precisely dated, the house seems to date from about 1826. Behind this house is the "new" courthouse, now an apartment building. There have been no court sittings in Bridgetown for over half a century. Across Albert Street, on the right, is another of the older homes in Bridgetown. This house still occupies most of two original ninety by ninety town lots, the only home in Bridgetown still to do so. It was constructed by Reverend William Elder between 1826 and 1828. He was a Baptist Minister, but kept food on the table by iron work, including axes and horseshoes. There was a ladies' Seminary in the house in the 1830's. It is said to have always been painted yellow (except for a short time as a brown house).

 

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17 Court Street
Continue to follow the blue line along Court Street. On your right, No. 17 , you’ll see a house that was built about 1880 by the owner of the foundry.

 

The house on the corner of Water Street and Court Street on your right, No. 21, was built between 1822 and 1832 by Nathan Randall, a trader. It is another of the oldest houses in the town, although it has been extensively added to. It was ideally situated for overseeing the landing of cargoes at the wharves across the street. Later this was the home of Joseph Foster, an important merchant in the town in the first half of this century.

 

You are now on Water Street, the heart of early Bridgetown. Across the street ships tied up at the wharves to offload cargoes from around the world, and to load local products in return. The old warehouse to the far right (beyond the apartment building) was probably built by Anley Foster sometime after 1866. After 1884 it was owned by the Longmire family, which ran a freight service between Bridgetown and Saint John New Brunswick between 1884 and 1939. Two ships named " Valinda" were among the vessels used. Older residents can well remember the second Valinda steaming up the river and docking at Longmire's wharves.

 

Directly in front of you, No. 22, is another original, dating from 1822-32. Once coal was unloaded at the wharf to the rear of the house. It was built by another of the town's merchants, James Clark.

 

Continue along your way and see No. 19 Water Street, a house built by James Peters shortly after 1825. It was originally a public house and a rooming house for sailors, another reminder of the town's maritime past.

 

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18 Water Street
Continuing along Water Street towards today's business section, it is hard to imagine the hectic bustle that surrounded these homes from the earliest days of the town, and for more than a hundred years after. On your right, at No. 18, is another of the original homes. This one was built in 1822 by John Quirk, a shipwright, innkeeper and merchant. It is widely considered the oldest home in this part of Bridgetown, and one of the oldest of all. Originally, it too had its wharves and storage sheds.

 

The house next door, No. 16, is much younger, with elements of Greek revival and Second Empire influence demonstrating the prosperity achieved by the merchants of the later nineteenth century. This house was built by John Marshall in 1891.

 

On your left, No. 17, you see the Kervin house, built in 1845. Next to it, on the corner of Middle Street, is a house built by another merchant, Joseph Wheelock, in 1831. This house was a double house for many years, having been originally constructed that way to provide housing for Mr. Wheelock's partner, W. Y. Foster.

 

Across the street, No. 14, was constructed in 1829. It was built by Joseph Wheelock, the first of many houses he built in the town. Note how close this and the other houses are to the street. The back yards fronted on the river, and they had to leave room for wharves and warehouses.

 

Continue across Middle Street to Queen Street, now cross. This is the main street of the town, so watch carefully. The building before you is a former garage, built in the classic early style by Super-Service Stations shortly after 1929. It has been converted to office space.

 

Look right. The last house before the bridge (across the street) was built in 1887. It was owned or occupied by a series of photographers (the studio was upstairs) until 1969. These included Joseph Rice (who built it), Miss Edith Crosskill and Miss Georgina Cunningham. Residents of Bridgetown have always adapted existing buildings to other purposes. The grocery store started as a car dealership and became a bottling plant before being converted to groceries.

 

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Masonic Hall
The Masonic Hall by the river, to your left, was originally the Presbyterian Church, built in 1879. It is built from bricks from the brickyard just outside of Bridgetown. Presbyterians joined the Methodists in Bridgetown several years before these two denominations became the United Church of Canada. This former church in a unique setting is a provincially-registered heritage property.

Bridge Look-Off

The bridge has always been the heart of Bridgetown. The current bridge is a new, conventional highway bridge opened in 1922. The lighting was provided by the town and the Business Improvement District Commission.

 

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Highway Bridge
Originally, travellers crossed the river, pretty much at this point, by wading; it was the last ford. Before too long there was a ferry. The first ferry was operated by John Hicks as early as 1771 and the community was known for many years as Hicks' Ferry. The Hicks family have always been prominent in Bridgetown, one member (Henry D. Hicks) becoming Premier of Nova Scotia, President of Dalhousie University and a Senator.

 

The first bridge replaced the ferry in 1805. It was relatively crude, based on huge abutments in the river, needed to defeat the tides. Apparently it created noisy whirlpools and eddies when the tide turned. If nothing else, it created a barrier preventing ships of any size from travelling further up the River. “ Bridge town is a neat little village, taking its name from the bridge that connects Granville with Annapolis, and deriving its origin and support from the depot which is here formed at the head of navigation for the trade of Wilmot and the upper part of the two adjoining townships.” Haliburton, 1829.

 

Bridgetown “is also a seaport, and vessels of very heavy tonnage may come up the river, and discharge their cargoes into its bosom, an advantage which, notwithstanding the difficulties of the Bay and River navigation, is one of the first importance.” Howe, 1828.

 

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View upriver from Look-Off
Crude as it may have been, the first bridge lasted until 1878, when a covered bridge replaced it. The red covered bridge, with its famous sign " Keep to the Left and Walk Your Horses or You Will Be Fined", became a symbol of the town. (It was not until the 1920's that Town Council agreed that we should drive on the right.) This bridge endured until 1907, when it was considered too expensive to maintain, and a conventional steel bridge replaced it. This bridge was taken out by the great flood of 1920, which created the worst flooding ever seen in Bridgetown. Another steel bridge was built in its place, and served until the new steel and concrete structure we now have was opened in 1992.

 

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Iron Railway Bridge
Tides at Bridgetown formerly rose and fell about ten feet. After the causeway was constructed at Annapolis Royal, tides became non-existent. With the development of tidal power, tides have returned to the river but seldom exceed a foot or so at the bridge. Across Queen Street, the grocery store is on the site of Captain Crosskill's store. There was a dock here before the town was laid out. Up the river you can see the iron railway bridge (the old highway bridges were similar, if less substantial). This bridge was an important link in the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, opened in 1869. Later this was the Dominion Atlantic Railway (famous as the Route of Evangeline) operated by Canadian Pacific. The old station is across the river and to your right.

 

The large building you can see across the river on the right, the one with the turret, is the former St. James Hotel, later the Riverside Inn. Occupation of this site goes back to John Hicks (the original ferryman) and his home, integrated into an earlier version of the Inn but since burned. The present building was built in 1902; it remained as a hotel until about 1930.

 

You may wish to cross the bridge and look around.

Historic Cyprus Walk continues, returning up Queen Street and taking a right on Centennial Drive. The building supply store on the corner was built in 1830 by Thomas Spurr, a local merchant and the first post master. It housed the first post office when stagecoaches started to run through the Valley to Annapolis Royal. The local newspaper was located here for a few years.

 

This street, Centennial Drive, was originally known as Revere Street after the Revere House, an early Inn. The houses along the street are of more recent construction, as this area of Bridgetown was opened up somewhat later than the ones you’ve already seen. Post Office Street originally extended south across Centennial to reach the Mud House Tavern, said to have been converted from one of the original Acadian dwellings.

 

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29 Washington Street
Continue along Centennial Drive to the stop sign and turn right, you’re now on Washington Street (named after Washington Chesley, a local merchant, rather than the American president). No. 29, on your right, is a Queen Anne style home built in 1898. It has fortunately recovered from having a large elm fall on it in the middle of the night.

 

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32 Washington Street
The large brick house across the street on your left, No. 32, was originally built about 1881, on the site planned for the Presbyterian Manse (later located in the brick house on the river by the Masonic Lodge). It was built by John H. Fisher, and is still occupied by a Fisher.

 

Continue up Washington Street past the Elementary School (the first school on this site was built in 1867). Remain to your left along Victoria Street. The houses across from the school were all built about the turn of the century. The occupants of No. 5 and No. 7 were partners, and once ran a barrel factory behind the houses.

 

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Anglican Cemetery
Continue straight ahead past the houses and you will find yourself at the Anglican Cemetery. Many of Bridgetown's former leading citizens are buried here. Please feel free to wonder around. In the far left corner of the cemetery you will find a clutch of very early stones that predate most of the cemetery, including that of Dr. Silas Piper, Bridgetown's first doctor.

 

Proceed through the cemetery to Riverside Drive and turn left. Follow Riverside Drive to Rectory Street. The Riverside Drive area has recently been opened to development. It is the newest street in Bridgetown. Formerly it was the site of cider, vinegar and bottling works, particularly the Annapolis Valley Cider Company (later sold to M. W. Graves and Company).

 

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Riverside Cemetery
Continue across Rectory Street along Riverside Drive to Riverside Cemetery. Riverside Cemetery is the other Protestant Cemetery in Bridgetown. It started as a burying plot back on the corner of the Chipman Farm adjoining a similar family plot to the rear of the Frances Gidney Crosskill (second wife of Captain John Crosskill, the town's founder) farm. Here we can find tombstones for Crosskills, Richard and Angie James, Joshua de St. Croix and many other notables from the Town's past. After William Chipman stopped selling gravesites himself, he sold the whole cemetery to the Bridgetown Baptist and Wesleyan Cemetery, which eventually became the non-sectarian Riverside Cemetery Company. The Cemetery has acquired substantial additional lands over the years. Please wander around. When you’re ready, exit the cemetery to your left through the gates.

 

As you leave the cemetery, you will be on a street known as either Chipman Avenue or Cemetery Lane, since (like most of the cemetery) it was originally part of the William Chipman Farm. The houses are newer in this area.

 

Continue along Chipman Avenue and cross Centennial Drive (named for Canada's centenary in 1967). You can see the wider street representing more modern traffic flows than the streets laid out in 1821.

 

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Bridgetown Lawn Bowling Club
As you stroll up the street and approach Granville Street, notice the Bridgetown Lawn Tennis and Quoits Club on your right. This is now devoted to lawn bowling, and the home of several Canadian champions. They love to have visitors stop in!

Granville Street takes its name from its usual description as the main road through Granville, meaning Granville Township. Granville Township, which went from the north bank of the River to the Bay of Fundy, and from the Messenger Road east of Bridgetown to below Port Royal, was one of the earliest New England Planter settlements in Nova Scotia. It was granted to 168 proprietors in 1764. The Township was named for Lord John Cartaret, Earl of Granville, an English Secretary of State. This portion of Granville Street, to the Queen Street corner, was part of the Main Post Road, meaning the main road through the Annapolis Valley used by the mails. The main road crossed the river here at Bridgetown since it was the last bridge on the river. The bridge at Annapolis Royal was not constructed until the turn of the century.

 

As you reach Granville Street, the house on your right, No. 380, was built about 1902. William Chipman was subdividing his lands and offering them for sale in 1897, when the Town was incorporated. This lot was one of the choice ones, but still only sold in 1902, like its companion lot on the other side of Chipman Avenue, No. 374. This home was once occupied by Henry Hicks, a former premier of Nova Scotia.

 

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371 Granville Street
Cross the road and turn left on Granville Street, notice the home on your right, No. 371. This is a classic Nova Scotia Vernacular, built about 1835 for William Handley Chipman. The exterior has been unaltered since. The house passed to his son William A. Chipman in 1866, who later moved up the Valley to Wolfville about the turn of the century. The other houses in this area all date from about 1902.

 

Along Granville Street, still on your right, No. 363, is a house built by Charles Haines, the saddler, about 1836. This house is just west of the old farm boundary from the Chipman property, and was developed by Frances Crosskill very much earlier. In both cases the farms originally ran from the Annapolis River across the North Mountain to the shore of the Bay of Fundy. The part north of the top of the mountain was generally the first to be sold off. The house was the Baptist parsonage between 1839 and 1907, when a new parsonage was obtained on Granville Street West. It was then occupied by members of the Crowe family to 1971.

 

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351 Granville Street
Continue to stroll along Granville Street to the corner of Jeffrey Street. Look at house No. 351 to your right, this is another Queen Anne style home built in 1891. Originally Joseph Gidney (Frances Crosskill's father) built a home here in 1809. It was moved to a site up Jeffrey Street but burned a few years later. This house served as the local RCMP headquarters and barracks for a time.

 

Jeffrey Street was originally laid out as the road to the mills. The Gidney family had a noted sawmill on the brook to the north, and a grist mill was built there later. When these mills were operational, it was common for the mills only to operate for a few months of the year when the spring water flow was sufficient to provide reasonable water power.

 

To your left, No. 352, is a modified New England Colonial Town House, built by W. Y. Foster in 1843 on another of Frances Crosskill's lots. The Lockett family (who bought out Joseph Wheelock's store in 1868; Foster was Wheelock's partner for many years) occupied this house for 82-years.

 

On the corner of Jeffrey and Granville Street, No. 343, is another old home, in the same style, built by Aaron Cleveland in 1834. At one time it was owned by the Hoyt family, who had a stone-cutting business and a store across the street (now gone).

 

Next door on your right, No. 339, is a similar style home built by Hanson Chesley, a prominent local merchant, in 1848.

 

On your left, No. 344, is another New England Colonial built about 1852.

 

Next is the street, No. 335, is a home originally constructed about 1830 by (probably) Josiah Sanders, a shoemaker. It was subsequently owned by various stonecutters.

 

On the corner of Granville Street at Rectory Street, No. 26, is the original Church of England Rectory that gave the street its name (it was originally Fox Street, named after "the widow Fox" who lived farther south, and was sometimes also called Steadman Street, after the widow Fox's successor in title). The house was built by Edward Eaton in the 1830's. It is a modified Greek revival. On your right, along Granville Street, notice the house well back off the road. This was built by Watson Russell in 1833. Watson Russell was known for often paying his bills with pottery. Between 1860 and 1890 the house was owned by John Bath Reed, proprietor of the Reed Furniture factory just east of the house more or less where the curling rink is now.

 

The house in front, near the street, No. 329, was built by Joseph Bohaker in 1836, and was occupied by different town merchants for the next fifty years. Various members of the Reed family lived in it for sixty years after.

 

The large home next door, still on your right, No. 325, was built by the Honourable O. T. Daniels, a local lawyer and politician who was at one time Attorney General of Nova Scotia. The Daniels family sold the house in 1937 to K. Lee Crowell, another local lawyer who became a judge of the county court. The house was built in 1896-97, but was probably still being worked on as late as 1902.

 

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318 Granville Street
Across the street on the corner of Freeman Street (also known as School Street), No. 318, is a unique example of Second Empire design that is a provincially-registered heritage property. The house was built by Leander Morse, a local lawyer, in 1875. Legend has it that he built the house for his wife Cordelia, who now haunts the house as a very friendly ghost. Dr. and Mrs. Freeman lived in the house for thirty years, and Freeman Street is named after them.

 

On your right is the Baptist Church. The original " Baptist or New Light meeting house" was built on a quarter-acre on this site about 1785. A proper church was erected in 1828. In 1891 the present church replaced the older church, which had been outgrown. The old church, sixty feet long and forty feet wide, was moved to the northwest corner of Centennial and Freeman Streets for use as a furniture factory, but burned down in 1902.

 

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312 Granville Street
On your left, across Freeman Street, No. 312, is a low Queen Anne built by John Easson about 1844. His shop was originally located at the rear of the property. This lot was originally one of the 90 foot by 90 foot lots into which John Crosskill and his son James divided the central part of the town. The house was later occupied by a milliner, a medical doctor, a lumber merchant, a hotel keeper, a dentist, a medical doctor and a Methodist Minister. David Lewis, a local author, lived here between 1965 and 1976.

 

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304 Granville Street
Next door, continuing on your left, No. 308, is the "new" Anglican rectory, built in 1906. The next house, on the corner of Washington and Granville Street, No. 304, is another of the Queen Anne style homes built by local merchants about the turn of the century. This house was built by William Chesley, a grandson of Hanson Chesley's and a son of the Washington Chesley for whom the street is named. William Chesley was also a local merchant and owned a store where the telephone exchange is located across the street. When the house was built there was still a harness shop on the corner where there are now lawns and gardens.

 

On your right, No. 305, is a modified New England Colonial dating from about 1865. It was built by Dr. DeBlois and was occupied for many years by medical doctors (and was known by older citizens as the "Doctor's House). Solomon Lowe, CNR station agent, who lived to be over 100, bought the house in 1936 and his daughter resides there still.

 

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295 Granville Street
Still on your right, the house on the corner of Church and Granville Street, No. 295, was formerly the Colonial House, a rooming house or inn. It was built by a local lawyer, William Troop, about 1858. The next owner was Rev. Donald Gordon, a Presbyterian Minister. He was so loved by his congregation that the Presbyterian Church on the river by the bridge was called Gordon Presbyterian Church, and the name survives as the Gordon Providence United Church, across the street. The house was substantially altered by Norman Chute about 1920. It was then occupied by Elsie Prat, who ran a rooming house and inn from 1921 to 1954, taken over by Donald Kaulbach and operated by his mother, Minerva Kaulbach, until the early 1980's.

 

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United Church
The United Church, on your left, is the second Methodist church to be built in Bridgetown. The original church was built on a lot on Middle Street donated by Thomas Crosskill, one of Captain Crosskill's five children. It was fifty feet long and thirty feet wide. The new church was built in 1872, and was called "Providence" because no accident occurred during construction. When the Methodists and Presbyterians joined congregations, the church was renamed the Gordon Providence United Church. The old church was moved across to the north side of Granville Street where it is now apartments in front of the former larrigan factory and tannery. In the 1930's it was moved again, west and back from the road, and refurbished, where it still stands. Next to the United Church is an 1840 home, No. 292, probably built by Colin Wilson, a tailor. Later the home was occupied by Dr. Morrison Oakes, medical doctor, Daniel Palfrey, cordwainer, and Enoch Dodge, carriage maker, all of whom were significant in Bridgetown history.

 

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Anglican Church
To your right, on the corner of Granville and Church Street (originally called Crosskill Street after a son of the town's founder, but quickly changed to Church Street, following the townspeople's preference for utilitarian street names) is the Anglican Church. St. James is built on a lot first dedicated to the use of the Church by Captain John Crosskill, who laid out Bridgetown. The Church was started in 1825, finished in 1827 and consecrated in 1829. Church Street itself was laid out about twelve years later. As with other churches in Bridgetown, those who supported the building of the church were often adherents of other denominations. Several prominent Baptists and Methodists contributed money, goods or time.

 

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292 Granville Street
Like the other churches, the existing Anglican church is the second to serve its denomination. The new church was started in 1884 and the first service was held in December, 1885. The earlier church was, of course, moved to another location for use as an organ factory. Furniture was later constructed in it, and it was later the site of the Bridgetown Electric Company's offices, then the Union Bank of Halifax (now the Royal Bank) and a dentists' office.

 

Next to the Anglican Church, continuing along Granville Street, No. 285 is a building originally built as the Masonic hall in 1879, and served in that capacity until 1926. It was a meat market for many years.

 

The second structure down from No. 285, adjacent to the service station, was originally constructed in 1829 by Dr. Silas Piper, Bridgetown's first doctor. The original building had a steam room for vapour baths. Later it was occupied as a drugstore. The building has been moved at least once.

 

The service station was built in 1933, and is a classic of its kind. When it was built the Irving company was required to move the adjacent building and carry out additional improvements to the land. The Town Hall, at the head of Queen Street, is a former federal post office, constructed in the 1930's, on the site of a former hotel. The land was once owned by Captain Crosskill's second wife. The town offices moved into the building in 1973. The town library, one of the oldest in the province, is located downstairs.

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Primrose Block at Queen Street
As you turn left onto Queen Street, looking towards the bridge, you see the pattern created by Captain Crosskill in 1821. He laid out 90’ by 90’ lots and the central street pattern of the town. Almost all of the original boundaries still exist, although most of the lots have been divided.

 

The corner where you are presently standing was on the main highway through the Annapolis Valley. Here the road turned to go down to the bridge and across the river. Passing out through the lane to Carleton Corner, it then turned west once more to Annapolis. Remember, if the road had not crossed here, it could not have reached Annapolis, as this was the last bridge. This stretch of highway is part of the oldest continually used highway in Nova Scotia. To the west is the road through Granville, leading to Granville Ferry and eventually to Victoria Beach. The roads on both sides of the river probably approximate the location of Acadian trails.

 

On the corners at the head of Queen Street (this one named after Queen Victoria) are the two of the Town’s banks, , both present in Bridgetown before 1900. The bank located in the Primrose Block, No. 274 on your left, was built by the Primrose doctors (local dentists) in 1900. This building is on the site of Foster's tavern and the Golden Ball Inn, the traditional site of the 1824 meeting where the name of the town was chosen and where the stage coach stopped for many years.

 

The other bank, No.3 on your right, has been on its site since 1910, although the existing building is barely 50-years-old.

 

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5 Queen Street
On the right side of the street, next to the Royal Bank, is a brick building, No. 5, originally built in the 1820's as a residence. This is the oldest brick building in Bridgetown. The bricks are believed to have been fired in a kiln behind the house. It appears much as it did in very old pictures of the town. The next building, No. 9, also started as a house, about 1830. The third floor was added in the 1890's.

 

Next door, No. 11, is a house dating from the 1820's, also built by Edward Eaton. It may possibly have been built on Acadian foundations, although such records as there are do not suggest Acadian dwellings in this part of the town. The store was added in the 1880's.

 

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James House Museum
Continuing along Queen Street, to your left, is the James House, a museum and tearoom operated by the Bridgetown and Area Historical Society. It was originally constructed in 1835, and stayed in the James family until 1923. As a justice of the peace, Mr. James occasionally made enemies; there was at least one threat to blow up the house with him in it. A bomb blast in the 1850's is reported.

 

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15 Queen Street
The business across the street, No. 15, is housed in a store erected about 1825. Over the years the property has been occupied by the newspaper, the telephone company and drug stores. Its neighbour, No. 17, is very similar, having been built by the same owner at the same time. A library reading room was upstairs in 1842. Later the upstairs housed the Salvation Army. An early owner was Jeremiah Calnek, author of the History of Annapolis County.

 

No. 16 is a store built about 1835 by John Hill, a merchant. It has been consistently used for commercial purposes since it was constructed. On the same side of the street, across Rink Street, is the Ruggles Block, No. 22, built by the Ruggles brothers in 1898. It originally contained the Bank of Nova Scotia, the customs house, a law firm and a dry goods store. The Ruggles brothers were respectively the customs officer and lawyers; a cousin was agent for the bank. No one knows why they went into dry goods.

 

Across Queen Street, on your right, you will notice the Shafner Building, No. 21, another of the turn-of- the-century brick permanences built; this one, in 1901. It has almost always been a grocery.

 

Next door, on the corner of Queen and Albert Street, No. 23, is a much older house dating back to another period of building, this time about 1835.

 

To your left, No. 30, is a house built in 1876 by J. W. Beckwith, one of the wealthiest men in the Town. Continuing on your left, on the corner of Queen and Centennial Drive, No. 32, is a building that dates from 1830, and is supposed to have been the first post office.

 

Continuing along Queen street, on your right, No. 31, is a house dating back to 1825. Its builder, Jesse Oakes, is regarded as one of the first settlers in Bridgetown. Next door, No. 33, is a heavily altered house originally built in the 1880's. On the site of the lawn, the original Acadia Organ Co. was located, followed by the first generating station for electricity in Bridgetown.

You made it!
We have concluded our historic tour of Bridgetown.
We hope it was an informative and enjoyable
journey into our past.

Anyone who wishes to look further into
the history of Bridgetown,
copies of Elizabeth Coward's
History of Bridgetown

and a video of the town in the 1940's
are available for purchase
at the
James House Museum
on Queen Street.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 May 2012 )