This industry was located in Hantsport, when the last century was but a few years old, by Mr. C.
O. Nichols. He came from Nicholsville, King County and in 1905 established a box factory in
the old foundry building of Joseph A. Mumford built circa 1870, on Foundry Road. Prior to this
the building was used for a few years as a skating Rink. In 1910 Mr. D. W. Murray came from
River John, Pictou County, bought the factory and started a business that thrived for over fifty
years. In 1913 the business was becoming too much for one man to handle. D. W. brought his
brother, Alexander Murray, from River John to help out.
Soon after the beginning of the business, timber rights were acquired near Hantsport to
assure a dependable supply of raw material. From this source most of the company’s needs were
met, logging operations being carried on in winter, and some twenty-five men being so employed
when the manufacturing was closed. Choice birch, maple, poplar, spruce, and fir trees were selected
as stock for the making of boxes, baskets, crates, and shooks, while the larger spruce and
hemlock trees were chosen for boards and timbers to serve the needs of the building trade, which
was supplied to a great extent by the Hantsport mill, in which all sorts of rough and dressed lumber
was produced. The company also bought from small timberland owners and in that manner
distributed large sums in the surrounding country.
The Company, in fact, included in its list of actual or potential products all containers of
small or moderate size that can be made from veneer or shooks. In addition to the production of
containers, the Hantsport plant was regularly employed in turning out stock lumber of all ordinary
specifications, and in custom sawing and finishing for special purposes.
This outline of the beginning and development of an industry does not indicate that industry’s
full value to the community. An essential part of the story was the inauguration of electric
lighting for Hantsport streets and homes. This event took place in 1914 when D. W. Murray
induced the Town Council to install a transmission system and encourage householders to wire
their homes for the use of electric current to be generated by steam in the company’s plant.
The Town procured all material for public and private use at wholesale costs. While the company
undertook to supply current for one year at less than actual cost. That arrangement continued for
five years, until the burden became too heavy for the company. In 1919, the Town
built a building on Prince Street, and installed a generating plant which supplied Electric Power
for homes and street lighting. By the 1930’s the Town was buying power from the Avon River
The lumber mill and box factory closed down sometime in the 1960’s, and the property sold to the
Minas Basin Pulp & Power Company. They demolished the old building, and built a new state
of the art mill to saw lumber. This mill ran for a dozen years with John Scott as manager.
John Jodrey, President of the Minas Basin Pulp & Power Company Ltd. on an inspection
tour of the mill yard thought the wood that was being sawed into lumber was too small and
should still be in the woods growing. He said if we keep on at this rate there will be no wood left
in the woods. In a few weeks, the mill was closed down. In 1994 the mill was sold to a lumber
company in New Glasgow N.S., dismantled, and taken away.
This day, October 18th , 2007 the old mill yard is being turned into a soccer field.
S.H.P – 07 (St. Clair H. Patterson)