(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)
Hi there – well, here I am again!
We started out from Truro a couple of days ago and have been poking along the coastline having a good time. The area west of Truro has quite an interesting history and we found out quite a bit about it at the old home of W.D. Lawrence which is now a museum. The house is a beautiful 26 room Victorian home built by Mr. Lawrence in Maitland, NS.
Mr. Lawrence’s father arrived in Canada from Ireland in the very early 1800’s and built up a farm near Maitland. William Lawrence decided very early that he didn’t want to be a farmer like his dad and decided that he was going to build ships, a very lucrative business at the time. The problem was, he had never built a ship so he went to Dartmouth and apprenticed in the shipbuilding trade. He started right from the bottom and managed to apprentice two years later. He came back to Maitland because he needed to earn some money and in the meantime started building two ships on his uncle’s farm that was close to the Bay of Fundy. The boats were a success and he started a trading/shipping business. He took his ships and headed down to South America and loaded them up with pelican guano (bird poo) which was there in abundance and highly sought after by farmers back in Canada and the US. In a short time he had made his fortune. Over time he built six more ships, the last one being the fourth largest wooden ship built in North America.
All this was done in a shipyard right across the road from his home in Maitland. His was one of many shipyards in the area that were building Canada’s shipping fleet making this area very prosperous.
Mr. Lawrence entered politics and was strong in his belief that Nova Scotia shouldn’t join Canada as a province. It was felt at the time that the Canadian government (in Ontario) was not doing a very good job handling their finances. Britain, who was still overseeing the doings told the powers that be that they needed to get their finances in order. They could do that by going to the United States for help or find the needed money elsewhere. So they turned their eyes East to the very lucrative shipbuilding and trading center in Nova Scotia and handed them an invitation to join Canada.
Mr. Lawrence feared that the government would drain Nova Scotia’s prosperity away in order to shore up it’s draining purse. Unfortunately it seems that is exactly what happened.
The house was beautiful with four stories of rooms. Most of the furnishings were original as the family passed it on generation to generation until they sold it to the historical society. The tour guide kept a close watch on us, especially after the Lady kept asking to go into all the forbidden places. One highlight of the house was the outdoor outhouse connected to the house by a covered walkway. It was a two room – four holer model!
Eventually iron ships started to be built and the shipyards in that area fell to ruin. Now when you see the area there is hardly a trace of its former industry. What still does remain are the wonderful old houses though many of them could use some TLC.
Our next stop was a small church, now museum, near Selma. What caught the Man’s eye was a sign mentioning Titanic artifacts. The Man has always had quite an obsession with things to do with the Titanic so we had to stop. The church itself was built in 1865 and was Presbyterian by nature. In 1881, the church hired Lewis Baille to paint the interior white plaster walls and ceiling. He painted the whole thing by using feathers with tempera base paint. It gave the walls a marble like look that has drawn visitors for more than 125 years.
The one artifact they had from (though not quite from) the Titanic was the autopsy table they used to perform the autopsy on John Jacob Astor. All the bodies found from the sinking were taken to Halifax where autopsies were performed. Somehow the museum got hold of this interesting piece of furniture!
From there we enjoyed the scenery until we made it just past Wolfville (the home of Acadia University) and checked into a motel.
The Man and the Lady took me to a restaurant within sight of the motel. The Man watched as two teenage boys walked along trying all the motel room doors. When we returned to our room we found that a long, thin piece of metal had been pushed through the screen of the bathroom window and a beer can, pine cones and a few pieces of broken glass thrown in. The Lady phoned the manager who phoned the RCMP. Meanwhile the two boys were hanging around at the far end of the motel. When the police car showed up, they took off with the police in chase. They caught the boys at one of their homes. The RCMP came back and put the Man in the police car so he could give them a report. The Lady and I were afraid the Man was going to turn on the lights or siren or something but he managed to control himself. As the boys hadn’t taken anything, it became an issue between the owners and the boys so the Man and the Lady and I finished off with a quiet evening in a new room.