BRIEF HISTORY OF TOWN OF HANTSPORT
The first record we have of Edward Barker, the first settler of Hantsport, was a letter from his step-brother, William Hall, Nottingham, England, dated April 5, 1773; written to Edward Barker in the 59th Regiment. Commanded by General Owans in Captain Wilson’s Company, now situated at Halifax. Edward Barker went from Halifax to Rhode Island with the army, and there got his discharge. He married Miss Rebecca Chadwick and settled in Falmouth. Miss Sarah Chadwick, her sister, married Able Mitchener, who settled at Mitchener’s Point, Mount Denson.
Coln. Henry Denson had received a grant of land from the Government, after the expulsion of the Acadians, extending from the County Line between Hants and Kings to the White Rocks on the Avon River, and west about three miles until it strikes the said County Line, easterly along the said County Line to the Avon River and to the place of beginning.
Coln. Denson had, before his death, mortgaged two parcels of land, described in the Allotment or Division of Lands in the Township of Falmouth, as Lot numbered two and three. Said lots were sold at Sheriff’s Sale to Edward Barker in the year 1789.
Lots numbered two and three, situated and lying on the north side of the River Cacaquit or Halfway River and are bounded southerly by Lot four, on the west by line twixt the Township of Falmouth and Horton, and on, the north by Lot number one, and on the east by the River Cacaquit, and a part of a Ten Acre Marsh Lot containing in all two hundred acres more or less.
In 1794 Edward Barker moved from Falmouth and built a log house about where the John Churchill house now stands.
In 1815 Asa Davison came here from Falmouth and built the first frame house on the bank of the Avon River.
Edward Davison, his son, built the house on the corner of Main and Williams Streets, when he was nineteen years old and went Captain of a vessel the same year . (1830. Born 18 Nov 1811)
The sons of Peter Davison came from Falmouth about the same time. Robert built a house on the farm now owned by Coldwell Bros. Gould built the house where D. M. Frittenburg now lives and Asa built the house Mrs. Netta Fisher now owns.
In 1822 Elisha and Pelick (Peleg) Holmes, the Terfrys, Faulkners, and Ezra Churchill came from Yarmouth. Pelick Holmes and Benjamin Terfry settled across the border in Kings County. Pelick Holmes’ first wife was a Miss Terfry, and later he married a Miss Lockhart.
Elisha Holmes bought lands from Edward Barker, on what is now called Holmes Hill. His daughter Elizabeth, married James Nunn (Died 1841), who built the house that Dr. Prestwood now owns, and owned the land where the River Bank Cemetery now is. He built the first vessel that was built in Hantsport, down back of the cemetery on the land now owned by Alex Stevens, called the Tlotilla. Ezra Churchill built the house where William Pearson later lived. Lipton Faulkner built just back of where Dr. Bashaw is living.
The land south of Edward Barker was owned and occupied by a Mr. Baken who built a house and saw mill at the head of the tide on the land now owned by Downey Foote.
Bacon sold to John Dickie, who had two sons. Mark Patton who settled on the farm now owned by W. C. Graham, Samuel built where Captain Fuller now lives.
After these men came the Beckwiths, Mitcheners, Bordens, Toyes, Lawrence’s and Frizzle’s. The Coalfleets got their name from a little boy who was cast away from a coal vessel outside of Halifax, as he was not old enough to tell his name, he was nicknamed Coalfleet, Edward Barker brought him from Halifax to Hantsport on horseback.
The Bordens were descendants of John Borden, who was in the New England Regiment under Col. Noble at Grand Pre. He then went to Connecticut and came back to Nova Scotia with the New England Plantation in 1760 and received a Grant of Land at Belcher Street. The Huntley’s, Woolaver’s, and Comstock’s came at the same time, and a cousin of John Borden, grandfather of Sir Fredrick and Sir Robert Borden received a grant at Avonport.
The first main road leading from the Ford crossing the Avon River at Falmouth, through Mount Denson crossing the Halfway River just below the Lynch place, crossing the lands now owned by W. C. Graham, following the ravine to Rand Street on to Five Points through Lockhartville to Grand Pre.
In 1860 the bridge crossing the Halfway River on the old Mount Denson road was carried away by high tides and Freshet had another bridge built.
In 1868 the road was changed beginning at Lynch’s Corner around Oak Point across the Marsh, and a new bridge was built and the road to the main street of Hantsport. There have been three bridges built on this same site since that time; the first an Arch Bridge, the second a Trestle Bridge and the present one of iron.
Main Street was opened up in 1843 and Prince Street was opened in 1849. Jackson Barker built the first house on Prince Street where George Newcombe now lives. William Street was opened in 1852 in honor of William Davison.
In 1860 Constand Bishop damned the Halfway River, built a house, saw mill and grist and carding mill, at the bend near the iron bridge on the Bog Road. At his death the property was sold to Captain Ezekiel Marsters from Summerville in 1875. His son Thomas Marsters, brought silk from India and John Borden built a new building, there were two sets of grinders; one ground oats and barley and another for grinding wheat. Later another mill was built and operated by the Halfway River Milling Company in 1920.
William Fitch had the first blacksmith shop on the corner of Main and William Streets. Daniel Faulkner and Faulet built the first block shop where James Hancock’s house now stands. Later they built at North’s shipyard, just over the creek, taking their power from the tide water. It was run by Mark Rathburn until 1890 when the dam went out and the mill taken down.
Another factory was built, the same building that the York Theatre now owns. The first and second floors were used for woodworking, the third for sail making. The machinery was later moved to the mill at Churchill’s Shipyard, which mill was taken down in 1897.
In 1895 the foundry and machinery building was built, now known as the Hantsport Fruit Basket Company.
In 1875 there were five tannerys and six shoe makers shops in Hantsport.
The shipbuilders at Hantsport were James Nunn, Daniel Huntly, Ezra Churchill and Sons, J. B. North and Sons, W. C. Balcom, and Captain McKinley at Mount Denson.
At the outbreak of war one E. E. Armstrong Company built two schooners in the Churchill shipyard and Foley and Porter of Halifax built two four masted schooners at the North Yards.
The largest ships built in Hantsport were the Austeria built in 1884 by J. E. Churchill and Sons, 1868 tons, the Looding built in 1889 by J. B. North, 1874 tons it was burned at sea with all the crew.
In 1848 the first church was built (Baptist). In 1867 the Methodist Church was built, in 1891 the St. Andrews Church was built, in 1897 the Presbyterian Church and in 1957 the Catholic Church was built.
The first (second) school house was situated on Holmes Hill, afterwards moved and made into a dwelling, now known as the Forsythe house near the Dominion Atlantic Railway.
Mr. Charles Randall conducted a Seminary on Main Street in what was built for a public hall in 1849, and is part of the building now used as the Hantsport School.
The first Post Office was on Main Street and kept by Nathan Harris, the first Telegraph Office was on the corner of Main and School Streets, the operator was Miss Mary Barker, afterwards Mrs. George Yeaton.
The mail had to be made up and sent out to Post Road to meet the Coach until the Railroad was built in 1871.
Mrs. Harris Martin opened the first dry goods store and J. H. Newcombe and J. B. North and Sons opened general stores.
The first hotels were on Main Street operated by Mr. Scott and another by Mrs. Martin, coming after them were Edward Dalton and James Wall and Sons on William Street, built in 1886.
In 1858 John Borden built the house on Main and operated an Undertaking Business from 1863 until his death in 1886. His son J. Edward Borden carried on the business until 1942, making a total of almost 80 years.
The town was incorporated in 1895 and in 1905 the water was piped from Davison Lake nine miles back on the mountain, with a reservoir on the hill west of Rand Street, and just outside the town line. The present reservoir has a capacity of three and one half million gallons.
The electric lights were installed in 1913 being operated for four years from Murray’s Mill until the power house was built on Prince Street, some years later the system was sold to the Nova Scotia Light and Power Company.
The sewerage was put in on Main Street in 1921 and continued over the rest of the town.
The present population is about fifteen hundred. There are now thirteen stores, two banks, three garages, and two candy factories.
The Minas Basin Pulp and Paper Company started operation in 1929 with about fifty men employed, it now employs over three hundred men and women.
The Canadian Gypsum started operation in 1947, with equipment by which eleven thousand tons can be loaded in two hours and bringing the rock from Wentworth by rail.
Most of the information in this record was gathered from the files of the late J. Edward Borden.
W. C. Graham (Chesley Graham 1895-1995)