As I gaze out the window to the world outside, I think of Santa who, in slightly more than two weeks, will pace the floor of our kitchen wondering where in heck I hid the cookies! But he won’t have reindeer ruining the tiles of my roof; oh no! this year he’ll have to put up with a couple of work horses tied to an old buggy since there is yet not a hint of snow in the air for a sleigh to slide on!
Now this may change by the time you read this but on this particular December eve, it feels more like a pleasant warm September day than a few days to Christmas! And since we are in “the season” and, after all, I am supposed to write of Tantramar history to you, you will find below the text of a copy of the Christmas issue of The Sackville Tribune of Thursday, December 18, 1902 (I’m pretty sure Sackville had snow then!).
A photocopy of this little treasure was passed on to me by Ray Dixon who thought that you and I might be interested to see it. Please note the writing styles of the day: an interesting use of words and also the complete absence of criticism… many of today’s “letters to the editor” would likely never have made it in the paper in 1902! Consider this Part I since I had space for only two of the six pages of this newspaper. Watch for Part II in the new year.
The Christmas season at the turn of the century was as important to Sackville businesses then as it is now! Consequently, the “Special Issue” of The Tribune in 1902 was devoted to the town’s businessmen and their businesses. Many of you will not be familiar with the businessmen discussed below but, for some of you (like me), after a few minutes and a bit of thought, the bell will ring… familiar family names of Sackville, street names around town, buildings and stories still told around the Post Office… all these should start circling around your head and pieces of old puzzles will start to fit!
Sackville flourished at the turn of the century; so travel back 99 years with me and let’s enter into the office of the reporter and editor who put compiled this special issue and peek over their shoulders as they wrote, probably sitting at a small desk by a coal fire on a cold and wintry evening…
Its Business Interests — Business Men
M. Wood & Sons
This is the oldest existing business here, being established by the late Mariner Wood upwards of seventy-five years ago, when he was a young man not more than twenty years of age. The oldest ledger in the possession of the firm was opened in 1830. Mr. Wood at first did business in a small shop on the Philip Palmer farm. He soon afterwards purchased the adjoining property where he built a store and the business was carried on there until 1864 when it was removed to the present stand at Lower Sackville. His business at first developed into a general country trade. In 1847, he commenced ship building and between 1850 and 1856 had the principal interest in a number of large vessels built by Charles Dixon for the English market. Later he sailed and managed ships built by Edward Ogden, Henry Purdy and others. In 1871, a partnership was formed with his two sons Josiah and Charles under the firm name of M. Wood & Sons. Mr. Wood died in 1875 and the business has since been under the control of Senator Wood, Charles having died shortly after the partnership was formed. The firm, which dealt in general dry goods, hardware and groceries, is almost entirely wholesale, dealing in flour, tea, sugar, molasses and general groceries. They also buy and export lumber, hay and country produce. It is practically the only wholesale firm in Sackville. For many years a large trade has been done with the West Indies. In 1874, Josiah Wood started a private bank, the first in the place. This business was taken over in 1882 by the Halifax Banking Company.
R. Alder Trueman entered the employ in 1844 as clerk and book-keeper and remained until 1898 when he retired. He is still hale and hearty, although in his 78th year. His high character of honesty and integrity might be referred to as contributing to the high standing of the firm. C. W. Ford entered the employ in 1880 and since Mr. Trueman retired has had a large share of responsibility in the management of the business. Senator Wood was born in 1843, graduated at Mount Allison with Honors in 1863, received the degree of M.A. in 1866 and D.C.L. in 1891. He studied law and called to the bar in 1866. He did not practice his profession but entered his father’s business in 1867. He represented Westmorland in the House of Commons from 1882 to his appointment to the senate in 1895. Politically a conservative, he is also an Imperialist. He is a member of the senate and Board of Regents of Mount Allison University. He is thoughtful and well-informed and his opinions always command respect and attention.
New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island Railway
The head office of this railway is at Sackville, where the principal stockholders reside, Hon. Senator Wood being the President of the Company. This railway was completed in 1887, the charter having been granted in 1873. Traffic has steadily increased as the general business of the country has expanded. Last year it assumed greater importance than formerly, owing to the trial of a winter steam boat on the route between Summerside and Cape Tourmentine. It is said to be the intention of the government to again try this route during the present winter. The N.B. and P.E.I. railway enjoys a good patronage during the summer, conveying numerous excursion parties to the seaside and some considerable tourist travel as well. It is one of the best branch lines connecting with the I.C.R., being free from accidents in the past and kept open successfully during the winter months. In fact it is as well equipped as the present traffic demands.
Mr. F.C. Harris is the popular and efficient superintendent, and being a man of well-known mechanical attainments, as well as a businessman generally, the road is fortunate in the acquirement of so good an officer. Mr. Harris is a Sackville boy, being the son of the late John Harris a respected farmer. Early in life Mr. Harris showed a fondness for mechanics, and resisting all persuasion to remain on the farm, he went into the I.C.R. shops in Moncton. Later he was a practical locomotive engineer on the I.C.R. and and subsequently engaged in manufacturing work in the Moncton lock factory. He afterwards gave considerable attention to electrical engineering and was mainly instrumental in establishing the electric lighting system in Sackville, and has been more or less engaged in overseeing this enterprise while occupying his present position. Mr. Harris is 52 years of age and is in religion a spriritual and can talk quite as interestingly on this little understood theme as on the perhaps less difficult themes of mechanics and electrical energy.
Mr. Harris has lately invented and patented an improved snow-plough, the rough model of which has proved highly satisfactory.
A.B. Copp — Barrister
A.B. Copp, M.P.P., studied law in the office of W.B. Chandler in Dorchester and Moncton. He attended Harvard law school in 1892 and subsequently studied two years at Dalhousie, graduating from the latter institution in 1894. He was admitted an attorney in the Michaelmas term of that year and in the spring of 1895 began the work of his profession in Sackville, where he has an excellent practice. He unsuccessfully contested Westmorland County in the general local elections of 1899 but in 1901 he took by acclamation the seat my vacant by the death of W.W. Wells. Mr. Copp has always taken an active interest in politics and makes an admirable representative.
J.E. Hickey — General Merchant
A merchant long and favorably known in Sackville is J.E. Hickey. He began by clerking in the store of the late David G. Dickson in 1872, and ten years later bought out his employer when Mr. Dickson retired from active business life owing to ill health. Since 1882, Mr. Hickey has been at his present stand with the exception of five or six years when he occupied the store now used by C.W. Cahill. He carries a large and varied stock of hardware, staple dry goods and men’s furnishings and has the best line of china in town. He imports china direct from Japan, the articles never seeing daylight after leaving the Flowery Land till their arrival in Sackville. It is unusual to find such tasteful and unusual goods outside of a large city.
He is doing an excellent trade in men’s clothing, having sold among other articles eighty over-coats this fall. Mr. Hickey well-merits his success being active, a capital salesman, pleasant to his customers and is liked by everyone. He is a native of Melrose, N.B., his father being the late John Hickey of that place. There are two other sons in the family, Frank, who travels for a Toronto firm, and James, who does all the fancy turning for Rhodes & Curry, Amherst, N.S. Mr. Hickey is now favoring his customers with one of the prettiest calendars ever issued by a Sackville business concern.
Walter Cahill — Stipendiary Magistrate
Squire Cahill, as he is usually called, was appointed J.P. in 1870. There were then about a dozen or more but in a few years he practically did all the business and has continued to do so ever since. He was made commissioner of the parish court in 1877 and Stipendiary Magistrate in 1884. He has probably done more magistrate business than any other man in the county and is noted for his ability and impartial decisions.
Royal Bank of Canada
D. Cameron, Manager — This bank was incorporated in 1869, opened in Sackville in 1882, and has paid the capital of $2,000,000 and a rest of $1,700,000. It has over forty branches throughout Canada, has foreign correspondents at chief centres. The Savings Bank department is a strong feature of the Sackville branch; sums of $1.00 and upwards are received at most favorable current rates.
Royal Bank of Canada — The present manager is Mr. Duncan Cameron who succeeded Mr. Fulton McDougallon the latter’s promotion to Moncton after fifteen years successful work in Sackville. Mr. Cameron is late of Shubenacadie where he was manager five years and possesses to a marked degree the tact and business acumen necessary to the banking profession. Mr. Cameron’s staff are Messrs. W.W. Read, accountant and teller, A.E. Hopgood, A.W. Sprague and A.C. Smith, all obliging and efficient young officers. No greater tribute could be paid to the great stability of this Bank than the recent investment in its stock of $1,250,000 of American capital.
Halifax Banking Company
W.H. Harrison, Manager — The Halifax Banking Company was a established in 1825 with the head office at Halifax, N.S. The authorized capital is $1,000,000, the paid-up capital $600,000 and the reserve fund $500,000. This bank is one of the oldest as well as one of the strongest in Canada. It has fourteen branches in Nova Scotia and two in New Brunswick, and in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and North-West Territories its correspondents are the forty branches of the Molsons Bank. In New York the correspondent is the Fourth National Bank, in Boston the National Suffolk Bank, and in London, England, The Parr’s Bank, Ltd. The bank has excellent facilities for collecting drafts and remitting money. Sterling exchange is bought and sold, and deposit receipts are issued bearing interest at best current rate. This bank’s officials are noted for their promptness and care in handling all business intrusted to them. The branch here was opened on May 1st, 1882, succeeding the banking business of M. Wood & Sons, and the officers were Josiah Wood, local agent, Geo. A. Thompson, accountant and teller, and W. H. Harrison, manager, T. Seward Baird, accountant and teller, Donald A. Truemen, ledger-keeper, and Roland N. Rainnie, junior clerk.
The Enterprise Foundry Company
Manufacturers — The manufacture of stoves, ranges and furnaces by the Enterprise Foundry Co., is one of Sackville’s leading industries. This company bought out the firm of E. Cogswell & Co., in 1888 and since that time their business has been steadily increasing. New building have been erected, several additions have been made to their moulding and fitting shops and a thoroughly up-to-date nickel plant has been installed. The company began with eighteen employees but this number has grown to sixty and at present their weekly payroll is over $700. During the last year they have extended their business to Quebec and Ontario, where their goods are meeting with an excellent reception. A strong point with them has been the close study given to patterns to secure the right kind; and as a result, practically every stove turned out in the last six or eight years has been a success. This is one of the reasons of the popularity of Enterprise goods. The Enterprise Hot Blast, invented to take the place, with soft coal, of the hard-coal self-feeder, has had a very large sale in Nova Scotia, and this year in New Brunswick also. It has, this year, been re-arranged so that it burns hard coal as well as soft.
Mr. W.B. Dixon, who is the thoroughly competent secretary-treasurer of the company, has had thirty-two years experience in the stove business. He is a son of the late Charles Dixon and is one of the most popular of Sackville’s citizens. To his good judgement and excellent executive ability is due much of the success with which he has been associated.
T.A. Treen — Traveller
Mr. T.A. Treen is the travelling representative of the Enterprise Company for the Maritime Provinces. He understands the stove and heating business from moulder’s floor to plating department and is very successful in his work. Agencies for Enterprise goods have been planted by him in almost every important place in the lower provinces. He recently opened up trade in Ontario and Quebec where large quantities of the company’s stoves and ranges are now shipped. Mr. Treen is genial, popular and has a large circle of friends who are always pleased to meet him.
H.A. Powell, K.C. — Barrister
Mr. Powell was born on April 6th, 1855. He received his early education in the Richibucto Grammar School and subsequently attended Mt. Allison University, graduating from the latter institute in 1875. He studied law with the late Christopher Milner. Esq., was admitted as an attorney in 1879 and became barrister the following year. He represented Westmorland in the Provincial Legislature from 1890 to 1895 and in the House of Commons from 1895 to 1900. He was appointed QC in 1894 and for the past ten years has been the Alumni Representative on the Board of Regents of Mount Allison University. The firm of Powell, Bennett & Harrison, of which Mr. Powell is the senior member, has a very large practice. Mr. Powell is a clever speaker and has hosts of friends.
W.A. Warren, Phm. B. — Druggist
In May 1899, Mr. Warren graduated from Ontario College of Pharmacy and a month later received the degree Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Toronto, passing with Honors the severe examinations of that institution. In August ’99 he bought his present drug business from E. A. Moore and now carries double the original [stock of] toilet articles and fine perfumes. This year he purchased sufficient pharmaceuticals from Parke, Davis and Co. to become wholesale agent for their goods. This is the only Drug Store in Westmorland County having this advantage. The preparations of this well-known firm represent the highest standard for quality and reliability. This with a thoroughly well equipped dispensing department enables Mr. Warren to give such satisfaction as is nowhere excelled.
Gaius Fawcett, Fawcett Brothers — Grocers
Fawcett Bros. is a firm of two years standing and already has one of the largest grocery trades in town. Both young men have had considerable experience and thoroughly understand their business. The boot and shoe department showing strong business increase in its business, they intend giving special attention to this line. Crockery and china also form no small part of their trade. In fruit and confectionery they keep up a leading reputation.
THE END (PART I)
So dear friends, members of the Tantramar Heritage Trust, I hear Santa checking his bells, waxing his sleigh and exercising Rudolph for the big day. So when he arrives to your chimney, may he find you all in good health and preparing for a new year of heritage discoveries and many more happy visits to The White Fence.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
—your friendly editor and members of the Tantramar Heritage Trust’s executive and all members of the Board of Directors — enjoy, keep healthy and play safe!