I recently read a book named “Lunenburg”. While author Keith Baker is from the UK, the book focuses on Lunenburg and Halifax. It is always interesting to read fiction set in Nova Scotia, using street names and places that we are familiar with…
My neighbour, and second mother, paid me a visit yesterday with a gift “for my sweet tooth”.
I think of maple syrup as something quite Canadian, even though it is produced in other places as well. Evidently, Quebec alone is responsible for about 75% of the world’s supply – so I guess we can put a pretty solid Canadian stamp on maple syrup.
I remember family trips back through the snow to a local sugar shack when I was young, and a very muddy trek to a more modern one on the North Mountain a few years ago.
Every spring my neighbour brings me these treats, produced by her family in Cumberland County. I look forward to and appreciate her annual gift of this wonderful elixir (something she secretly allowed me to drink by the cupful when I was young and my own mother wasn’t looking!)
Nova Scotia has a long & proud history of rum running…
But we also had some perfectly legal alcohol enterprises over the years as well. One such business was Acadian Distillers in Bridgetown which operated from the mid fifties until the early eighties. I am fortunate to have, in my cupboard, four of their whiskey glasses which belonged to my parents. A little piece of local history.
I remember touring the distillery as a school kid on a field trip – I guess as Nova Scotians it was important that we be taught early about liquor production! After the tour, I remember thinking that the most boring job in the world HAD to be the lady who watched the bottles go by to make sure the labels were all there. And she was able to read a book and watch the bottles go by – mutli-tasking at its best?
For more on our rum running heritage, check out this Land & Sea episode… http://www.cbc.ca/landandsea/2012/02/rum-runners.html
Now, off for a wee dram…
I drove back from Bridgetown on the 201 the other day, and stopped to take a photo of what we always referred to as “Barbara’s Ball”. Clearly visible from either side of the river, it was always a sign that we were getting close to Bridgetown. (When you are a kid in a car, Annapolis Royal to Bridgetown seemed like an incredibly long drive so we were always excited to see Barbara’s Ball!).
Most of you will recognize this as the Britex ball, standing sentinel over what was the “Elastic Plant” in the early days, having opened in 1960 as a branch of United Elastic Limited. They made elastic for garments (as opposed to rubber bands). I remember school tours of the plant, and using donated elastic in our gym classes in elementary school – some kind of jumping activity that involved elastic… Much later, the company became Britex. Through the years they were always generous in donations – at the Gardens we still have reams of “Britex fabric” that we use as tablecloths and for decorating for special events.
At its peak, UEL/Britex employed hundreds but sadly modern trade and technology issues led to its demise and it closed in 2004. There are lots of great things about its history, as told in this article I found: http://www.ribbontothefuture.ca/blog/the-amazing-story-of-britex
The building is now abandoned and derelict, but Barbara’s Ball still stands sentinel, although certainly not the bright and shiny beacon it once was.
Incidentally, the name “Barbara’s Ball” is attributable to my neighbour Barbara who evidently coveted the ball enough that the rest of us began referring to it as hers… Barbara’s sister Heather Foote can fill in any blanks on that end of things! Call it what you want, it is an iconic feature in the Bridgetown area.
PS – does anyone know if the tower/ball had an actual function?
I had to run an errand in Digby today, so I stopped to take a photo of one of the Maud murals gracing the exterior of the Digby Visitor Information Centre. Mostly, I was looking for a bright, colourful photo today. But I confess, the story of Maud has always fascinated me so I am happy to use it in a Canada 150 post.
There’s hardly a person in Nova Scotia who is not familiar with the name “Maud Lewis” and at least somewhat familiar with her story. What a great chapter she painted in local history, a simple life that has given the world so much pleasure. Her artwork helped her survive, and was obviously her passion… but certainly she never would have imagined that the works she sold for a few dollars at the roadside would eventually be so popular and so valuable!
The restored Maud Lewis House is on permanent exhibit in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – worth visiting, or re-visiting, to remind yourself of this great story! There is also a great deal of information on their website. https://www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/maud-lewis/