Canada 150 – #17 – In our Blood

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…

Now, off for a wee dram…



Canada 150 – #12 – Barbara’s Ball.

Canada 150 - #12 - Barbara's Ball.

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:

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?


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