(Published in the 1969/70 Hantsport High School Yearbook)
INTRODUCTION TO SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT
In an effort to add “something different” to our Year Book, the Editors have decided to include a local history supplement. We have arrived at this decision for a number of reasons. First, in April of this year our town marked its seventy-fifth anniversary and we felt it had earned some sort of recognition. Secondly, we thought the results might be interesting: to the young who had never heard, a new story of the old town, and to the less young, the reliving of a memory. Finally, we knew it would be fun to do.
The first section of our supplement consists of excerpts from the “Hantsport Advance”. The Advance was a weekly paper published in Hantsport from some time in the 1890’s until around 1914. It is believed to have been founded by O. C. Dorman and later published by J. W. Lawrence, followed by Stanley Marchant. From early in the century till the end of the Advance, G. W. Woodworth was the publisher.
The original office was in the building known as the Mumford Block, which is the building directly across the track from the Town Hall and presently owned by Arch Kerr. At that time, there were three small places of business on the lower floor, the barbershop, Town Office, and Customs Office in the far end. Overhead was the Advance office. During Woodworth’s time, he moved a small building from the property owned now by Mrs. David Freeman to where Karl Dowe’s house now stands. This was the Advance office until its closing.
We are greatly indebted to Eric Smith who has kindly allowed us to use Advance clippings from a scrapbook in his possession and once belonging to George Dorman. We believe there must be many copies of the Advance around town and would much appreciate hearing from any of our readers who have copies. We wish to make an inventory of these and if possible, borrow them for use in later Year Books.
(Note: The first section of the supplement can be found as a Hantsport Story)
The second section of the supplement is our attempt to put together a history of sport in Hantsport during the period 1900 to 1950. This is based on interviews, mostly taped, with Maurice Smith, John R. Tattrie, John Scott, Dick Bishop, Willis Marsters, Wilfrid Terfry, Lloyd Starratt, Walter Comstock, Albert Davison, Cecil MacDonald, Hugh Rolph, Frank Lawrence, Cecil Scott, James Sherwood, George MacBurnie and others. We thank them for their interest and co-operation.
The interview with John R. Tattrie was so complete in itself that we have decided to print it completely unedited, and we join in wishing him well in this, his ninety-first year.
We now realize that to write a definitive history of sport in the half century is probably beyond our competence, but we console ourselves in having made a good try. Information has been given in good faith; where there are errors in fact, these are unintentional. We do urge those who have additional information or comments to get in touch with us. Such further information will be made use of in the future.
We would like to thank Mr. Clark for taking the time to arrange the following supplement in the order in which you will read it. If it were not for his valuable time and interest, and the time taken by those who taped the interviews, this section would not have been ready for this edition.
Also a special thanks to Mrs. Clark, who typed out the recorded information, which was a great help to our typist.
1900 – 1950
Philadelphia had its Connie Mack, Hantsport its John R. Tattrie; New York its John McGraw, Hantsport its Dick Bishop; John Van der Meer’s consecutive no-hitters would be comparable, relatively, to MacBurnie’s eight games in twelve days and all winners. When the rush was on to swim the channel, who of them dared to face the tides of the Avon? For years Willie Hoppe billed himself as the world’s champion of pool, but search the records as you will, you’ll find he never dared appear at John R’s Pool Parlor. Finland had Nurmi, England had Bannister, the U.S. had Jesse Owens, but Hantsport had Beazley, Whitman, Smith and Sherwood. As Leacock wisely stated in comparing the TITANIC with the MARIPOSA BELLE, each in its own right was a mighty ship.–It’s the story of Hantsport’s mighty that we attempt to tell.
The main driving force behind sport in Hantsport in the period before World War I was the Tri-Mu, a boys’ and young men’s club organized by Rev. F. E. Barrett, Methodist minister, around 1910. When he moved on to another charge, the club was led by Rev. W. C. Machum, the Baptist minister.
We have not found a satisfactory explanation of the name Tri-Mu, though the constitution does state the object of the club to be threefold: “To promote the moral, mental and muscular well-being of the boys and young men of the town.” This was, open to boys and young men between the age of twelve and twenty-five who were elected by a two-third majority of the members. It is startling to note from the minutes that the club regularly rejected applicants. It is also indicative of the lure of the club, at least in the early years, that some of these who were rejected applied a second and even third time.
The club’s pledge was itself a noble document: “I will honestly try by God’s help to keep the promises I have now made; that I will attend regularly some Sabbath School and, whenever possible, one other church service on the Lord’s Day; that I will be present as often as possible at the regular business meetings of the club; I promise further to do my best to develop my body by making as much use as possible of the opportunities the Club affords by way of sports and gymnastic exercise. I further promise that I speak no foul, impure, nor wicked words, and
that I will endeavour to make the most of myself mentally, morally, and muscularly, that the Club may have reason to pride itself on my membership.” Their motto was 2 Timothy 2:15.
The club arranged all athletic activities including track, ball, basketball and hockey. For a number of years they operated the rink. They were also the main force behind arranging the festivities for special days like May 24 and July 1. Some cultural activities were arranged, mainly as money makers, and included minstrel shows, plays, and bean suppers.
The club apparently flourished until around 1914. An amendment to the constitution, Section 4, “The use of tobacco or strong drink in any form by any member shall debar him from membership in the club”, took a heavy toll. Several members were debarred and it would be suspected there would be some who dropped out in face of the threat. By 1915 many of the older members were in the services and the club apparently disintegrated after a long and worthwhile life. A list of members who signed the constitution is appended. This was by no means all the members.
The club meeting room and gymnasium, were upstairs above the present McKinnon’s Hardware, which previously had been a Lodge Hall. Their reading room was on the ground floor in what is now the paint section of McKinnon’s Hardware. Older readers will remember this section as Simpson’s Jewellery Store, MacBurnie’s barbershop, a hot dog dispensary, and Hartt’s Clothing Store. The building at that time was owned by Andrew W. Pattison who ran a tinsmith’s shop downstairs. Later the club moved to a barrel shed, now long since gone, which stood near the site of Ray Johnston’s home on School Street. It was owned by John Woolaver.
One of the high points of the year for the Tri-Mu Club was their camping trip. Usually a two-week stay at Cheverie, groups of as many as thirty-six would go over with Mr. Machum who always used the first half of his vacation for this purpose. Later, camping again received a shot in the arm with the setting up of Boy Scouts under the leadership of George Holmes. They camped at Lakelands and continued also to use the Cheverie campgrounds.
Baseball and softball were probably played here before 1900. It is known that Hantsport had a baseball team before 1914, though probably there were no leagues. There are records of teams coming from Parrsboro and Port Greville to play on the 24th of May, July 1 and the King’s birthday (June 3), a holiday we have now lost. Early players were John Folker Sr., Grover and Whitney Beazley. After the First War, baseball was carried on but not until around 1926 was a Hants County League set up. This soon became very large with teams from Hantsport, Windsor (two), St. Croix, Three Mile Plains, Noel, East Gore, West Gore, Miller’s Creek and Wentworth and possibly more. This league become unwieldly; it was a “fun” league and often did not declare a champion. Hantsport played in a division with Windsor’s two teams, St. Croix, and Three Mile Plains as well as playing exhibition games with others.
Around 1931, Hantsport joined the faster Valley League and for two years played in both leagues. The Valley League was also played in two sections–Eastern, with Hantsport, Windsor, Wolfville, Kentville and Canning, and Western Section with Middleton, Kingston, Lawrencetown, Bridgetown and Annapolis. The teams varied slightly from year to year but were generally the ones listed above.
These were the years of the legendary Shamrocks (see Tattrie story). From 1932 to 1939 the Shamrocks, always winners of their section, always winners of the League championship, consistently made the Nova Scotia play-offs; but alas, it was the sad tale of “always a bridesmaid and never the bride.”–So near and yet so far! The closest and most heartbreaking was the year the Shamrocks won the first two games of a best of five series, only to drop the remaining three. A provincial baseball championship was not to come to Hantsport in the first half of our century.
During this period, the spark behind the team in addition to John Tattrie, was Dick Bishop, captain for years as well as manager. Other managers were Reg Buckler and Clarence Amirault.
Among the originals of the County League were Dick Bishop, Ad Smith, Fred Folker, Bill Hyson, Neil Forsythe, Bud Lane, Bun Hebb, Art Hamm, Jim Brooks, and Howard Fleming. Later as competition became hotter and age wearied some of the originals, new faces were added. George MacBurnie from Tatamagouche was to be the ace pitcher from ’31 on. Moving to town and joining the team were Parker Fuller, John Parsons, Mike Marsters and Willis (Will) Marsters, Will to become the mainstay receiver over the years. This was rare bird, a left-handed catcher whose throw to second base is reputed to have been “faster than a speeding bullet.”
John A. Woodworth came to teach and brought his bat, being reasonably able to make contact. In one play-off series he hit 13 for 13. Local boys joining the team were Earl Blackburn, Lawrence Gertridge and Bernard McKenna. Others came to play and stayed on, including Bernard “Bun” MacDonald, Blanchard “Bang” Sanford, Carl “Barney” Langille and Harold Warner.
Some others who were brought in to play were Gordon “King Cole” Crowell, Fred Neat, “Lightning” Amirault, “Huck” O’Brien, Harry McIvor, Lindsay Horton, Jim Comeau, Lawrence Muise, Gordon White, Ockie Titus, Roy Ross and certainly others.
A typical lineup of the teams of the ‘37 – ‘38 period would be:
Catcher Marsters or Warner
Pitcher MacBurnie, Neat, MacDonald
Ist Base Warner, O’Brien, Marsters
2nd Base Woodworth or Bishop
3rd Base Horton
S.S. White or Bishop
C.F. Neat or Amirault
Lest either gentle or youthful readers be persuaded that this was a pleasant little league of older men seeking amusement and exercise, a few facts follow:
In 1936 the Shamrocks had a season of 78 games–more than the American League played in the same season. A footnote to this fact is that MacBurnie pitched in 58 of them. Games were played every day, except Sunday, and at least one double-header per week.
It should also be remembered in reading the Tattrie story regarding the games with the touring Giants that these players could have been the Willie Mays and the Hank Aarons of their day. In organized baseball the colour bar was complete. These people could play ball only by organizing teams and touring the outlying areas to play teams that were in no way connected with organized American baseball. This makes the Giants’ humiliation at the hands of the Shamrocks all the more impressive.
The town was apparently passionately devoted to the team. A group of older men, including Caleb and Charlie Burgess, Ezra Coffin, Ikey Wallace and W. K. Stirling used to meet at Dorman and Amirault’s Garage (presently Irving), there to discuss in detail every play of the previous day’s game; to despair at the losses and to exult in the victories.
Attendance at games often exceeded one thousand and estimates of play-offs run as high as fifteen hundred. The largest number of people ever to attend a baseball game, according to the World Almanac, was 93,103 in a game played to honour Campanella in Los Angeles in 1959. Applying rudimentary mathematics and simple logic, it would appear that if the people of Los Angeles were equally as devoted as Hantsport fans, the attendance at that game should have exceeded seven million.
Hantsport shops were closed and Mr. Wyman, Mill Manager, closed the pulp mill for play-off games, arguing it was more urgent to play ball than to make pulp. Certainly the most avid and vocal of the Hantsport fans were the female supporters. It is said that the Windsor women could only remain silent in deference to such support.
We must keep in mind that the years of the Shamrocks were also the years of the Great Depression. These imported ball players were guaranteed twelve dollars per week; spare work was found at the pulp mill and elsewhere, and if their earning’s didn’t come to twelve dollars, the difference was made up by the club. The lure of work brought the best to Hantsport and many chose to stay.
Everyone seems to have his favourite anecdote of the Shamrocks, and here are three we heard and enjoyed:
A team from Westville had been brought in for an exhibition game and had been guaranteed fifty dollars. The game had scarcely begun when rain started to pour down. Some bright soul found it wasn’t raining in Windsor, so the game was immediately moved to the Windsor field and completed. Collection was taken and amounted to all of eight dollars.
Once Mr. Wyman, in an effort to encourage the team, offered to pay the club fifty cents for every run they could beat Windsor by. Darkness found the Shamrocks valiantly trying to strike out and end the game. The score was 19-3; Windsor had the three.
Probably the greatest baseball family in the province were the Seamans of Liverpool. The Larrupers of the day always starred at least three of the Seamans. Once the entire family accompanied the Larrupers and their boys to Hantsport–mother, father, sisters, aunts and uncles. From their point of view at least, a calamity occurred. Hantsport won. Eye witnesses tell us the entire family congregated at game’s end and wept. The family that weeps together sticks together–and loves baseball.
Around the turn of the century, there seems to have been a round rink down near the tracks called Parker’s Rink. We have been unable to confirm the when or where of this one.
Around this time also, the Mumford Foundry owned by S. A. Mumford and from which Foundry Road gets its name, was sold out and the machinery moved to Amherst. The building itself apparently continued to be owned by Mumford who allowed some changes to be made in the empty building so it could be converted into Hantsport’s first and only indoor rink. It was rather primitive, the water being pumped from a well on one side of the building and the fine ice making was done by carrying around a garden sprinkling can. This building was long, running parallel to Cottage Street. Later, around 1911, it was sold to Mr. Nichols who shifted a part of the building to house a saw mill and fruit basket industry. This was later Murray’s mill, or more properly, the Hantsport Fruit Basket Company.
This change marked the end of the rink and an outdoor rink was then constructed on what is now the spur line of the Gypsum Company. This rink was behind the L. B. Harvie property and ran parallel to William Street. It continued to operate until the Gypsum Company moved in, and around 1945, a rink was constructed on the site of the present school. This operated until after 1950 and thus into another chapter of our story.
The first outstanding team to operate out of the closed rink was the Strathconas. They played around 1945. Team members were:
Carl Margeson – Centre (Not to be confused with Carl Margeson, former deputy-Mayor, but the son of the local doctor of the time.)
William Morgan – Rover
Clyde Malcolm – Right Wing
Bud Dodge – Left Wing
Fred Dodge – Cover Point
Frank Lawrence – Point
George Patten – Goal
Of these, Mr. Lawrence is the only member now living in the area. G. Patten was an uncle of Helen Patten. A couple of positions need explanation: point and cover point were defense men and the rover was a seventh man who lined up behind the centre man and skated wherever he wanted. The rover was usually the fastest skater and the slickest puck handler of the team. William Morgan who played rover for the Strathconas was reportedly a very fast skater.
The Stratconas’ other claim to remembrance is that they were the first Hantsport hockey team to have uniforms. The team picture shows heavy knitted white turtle neck sweaters, white knickers, black socks, and two of the players are wearing black and white beanies. This team played against Acadia University, Windsor and Acacia Ville (also known as Patterson School, this was a private boys’ school in Hortonville which graduated its last class fifty years ago, May 1920.) This team broke up as the members moved on to university and jobs elsewhere. Incidentally, the town band played during intermission at some of these games (see article from the Advance).
Another team somewhat later, around 1911, was known as the Reginas. Players on this team included Moss Smith, Lloyd Marsters, and Moss’s younger brother who later went on to star with the original Truro Bearcats. (Frank Smith)
During the Twenties and early Thirties, there were town teams. Unfortunately our information is so sparse and uncertain that we must, for now, omit an account. This is an area in which we would be pleased to receive help.
Around 1935 there was a town league made up of Town (Firemen), Yeaton’s Candy Factory, and the Apple Warehouses. This last team had a very changing membership, but was organized by Laurie Sanford. The Firemen’s team included Vaughan Taylor, Lloyd Starratt, Ad Smith, Milford McCharles, Fred Folker and Harvey Folker. Playing for Yeaton’s were John Hicking, Starr Williams, Gerald MacDonald and John Folker Sr. This group apparently picked up extra players to fill out their roster. Around 1937 a team of Juniors was organized, including Cliff Wyman, Malcolm McCharles, the Scott brothers (John, Cecil and George), Nelson Pearson and Winston Churchill.
In 1946 the new rink brought forth a particularly strong High School team made up of Dick Starratt, Hilton Harvey, Frank Harvey, Bill Walsh, Ray Riley, John Smith, Alvin Ells, Burt Harvie, Chet MacInnis, Royce Elderkin, and George McKenzie. After giving a good account of themselves in the school league, it was decided to enter the Nova Scotia Junior Playdowns.
The team was coached Lloyd Starratt and Ad Smith. It was augmented by four players from Windsor including, Moe Smith and “Beef” Layton. They defeated Kentville 7-6 in the final game and then went to Sydney for the Provincial Semi-finals. This was a home and home series, Hantsport using the Windsor rink for their home game, and the rink was packed to the rafters. Unfortunately the Sydney team proved a bit too strong for the local boys. The victors were then defeated by Halifax St. Marys, a team that contained many players soon to become professional, and therefore, probably stronger than any Nova Scotia Junior team since that time.
In ‘46 or ‘47 Hantsport had an intermediate team that played against Wolfville, Port Williams and Windsor. Some of the members of the team were Douglas and Frank Cuvilier, Lloyd Starratt, Dick Bishop, John Scott, Winston Churchill, Cecil Scott, Wilson Pelrine, Ad Smith, and Charles Hyson. This group broke up when some of the players joined the Windsor Seniors and others joined various teams playing out of Wolfville in the suburban league.
The Tri-Mu Club probably brought basketball to Hantsport. They appear to have played in the club a couple of times a week and an All Star team was picked to represent the club against similar groups in Wolfville, Windsor and Acacia Villa. All home games were played in the club gymnasium.
Shortly after World War I, Hantsport had a slick town team made up of Dr. Shankel, Ernie Davidson, “Moss” Smith, Russell Whitman, and “Buck” Beckwith. This continued for two or three years before breaking up.
In 1924-25-26, a very active town league was formed called the Rainbow League. The teams were called, fittingly enough, the Red, White, Blue and Green. They usually played four a week. Both this league and the team mentioned above played in the Scout Hall. From this league an All Star team was picked called the Maple Leafs, made up of Dick Bishop, Charles Hyson, Harvey Folker, Fred Beazley, “Buck” Beckwith and Cecil MacDonald. This team played exhibition games with church league teams in Windsor, Wolfville, Kentville and sometimes Halifax.
For a number of years there also existed a fast-stepping girls’ team who usually played boys’ rules in order to get a more wide-open game. Some members of this team were Susie Newcomb, Mary Beckwith, Merle Yeaton, Nellie Reid, Phyllis Davidson, Louise McKeen, Elsie Perry, Bessie Salter, May Holmes, Marjorie Pulsifer, Eva Frizzle. Readers will realize that in this list we are skating on thin ice; if by mistake we have included the name of a girl ten years younger than the rest, the new sport of the Seventies may well be Amateur Sports Historians, running.
Basketball has had its ups and downs in Hantsport but never died out. The old Scout Hall saved it, but even it had its day. After the period covered by this account, other schools became extremely reluctant to play Hantsport in their home court. Ceilings were low, lighting was bad, and the baskets were strapped directly to the end walls. Probably the killer of the Scout Hall for basketball was the sight of our present beloved postmaster, Gilbert Veino, dribbling dazzingly down the floor, then running straight up the wall and dropping, not shooting, the ball through the hoop–a fitting end to a building that served our community well.
TRACK AND FIELD
Track and Field has always been strong in Hantsport (see Dominion Day, 1897).
In the early part of the century, the Tri-Mu Club was again the force behind Track. The club usually had complete control of the May 24 celebrations and Track and Field was always featured. Track events took place on Foundry Road and later Main Street, both of course were unpaved. Field events took place on the old school grounds which were somewhat larger than now since this was long before the ell was added to the building.
Competitors took part in holiday meets in the nearby towns. Temperance Lodges were very active prior to World War I and always included races field events at their picnics and special occasions. Church picnics were a feature of the period and they also had meets which would attract athletes from other denominations and areas. Again we must remember that lack of transportation limited the area in which an athlete, particularly a young one, could participate.
Maurice (Moss) Smith was a strong entrant in sprint events, being particularly strong as well in broad jump, having jumped over twenty feet. His brother Frank was also a good sprinter and pole vaulter, having vaulted over ten feet which compares well with today’s standards in spite of particularly great changes in vaulting equipment since World War II. A bit later the outstanding track man was Russell Whitman who was a star sprinter.
After 1918, Moss Smith retired from active running but bent his efforts to promoting Track and Field and to coaching. His greatest achievement was in working with Richard (Dick) Beazley whose achievements were so outstanding that we have given him a special feature in pages following.
Although it does not belong in the years covered in this story, it must have been particularly satisfying to Moss to be able to coach Dick Beazley’s three sons, Leslie, Richard and Wayne who, one after the other, became outstanding distance runners, and all of whom won provincial meets in the mile. Wayne held for a time a national record in the Junior classification.
Again moving beyond our cut-off point in time, mention must be made of James Sherwood who started late but gave it lots of heart. The high points of his career were his three appearances in the Boston Marathon in 1952, 53, and 54. The Boston Marathon was over a distance of twenty-six miles, and Jim made a good showing every time, finishing in 1952 in fiftieth place out of a field of some 250 entrants. He ran for twenty-two years, and never started a race he didn’t finish.
Other distance runners from Hantsport were Cecil Scott and Austin Benedict. Cecil ran in the Halifax Herald ten mile race in 1937, 38, and 39 and twice ran in the Dartmouth Natal Day races. He also ran in a Windsor to Hantsport race, finishing second or third, there being some confusion at the finish.
Hantsport’s history of bowling is complete in one lane. This was, again, upstairs in the present McKinnon Hardware building. It was built by Thomas Hughes around 1930 and was later run by Albert Cuvilier. The alley came, to an end when the building was sold to Reg Crowell. An interesting feature of this alley was the addition of a small extension high on the end of building to give the alley the proper length.
Swimming has always been popular in Hantsport, and it would seem local beaches had a high rating in the early days. In an article appearing in Port and Province of 1936 extolling the virtues of the town to “prospective residents, manufacturers and tourists,” we find, “…but not all (towns) can offer a mile of golden sandy beach, laved by tidal waters in which young and old can swim in safety, under the watchful eye of a municipal life-guard and swimming instructor. We make no sweeping boast about this, but we wonder if there is another town in the province, especially one of less than a thousand population, that takes such a direct and practical interest in the safety and comfort of its resident and visiting swimmer.”
It would appear from the information that the town employed a life guard around 1935 who was on duty from two hours before until two hours after high water, when these occurred between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Later, instruction was added and much later, a float with diving board was provided.
We were especially interested in finding out who had swum across the Avon. We have come up with five names and, there are probably more. They are Captain Charles Lawrence, who swam it early in the century and later Jack Swain, Harold Hart, Bill Murray and Reg McLatchy. The venture was not devoid of danger, and it is to be noted that these swimmers carefully studied the tides and currents and were always accompanied by a boat.
Two of these men, Hart and Murray deserve special mention. Hart was a strong swimmer who also enjoyed his relaxation. He sometimes swam wearing a boater hat, and after a while he would take off his hat and take from it his pipe, tobacco and matches, roll over on his back, light up and enjoy a leisurely smoke while floating. Then he would replace his smoking supplies in his hat and get back to more serious swimming.
Bill Murray (no relation to the present Murray families) was a case of perseverance in overcoming a handicap. As a youth he was a victim of polio which left one arm withered and completely useless, yet he was able to swim the river.
Another later swimmer of note was A. L. O. Phillips who used to dive from the government Wharf when well on in his seventies.
In 1925, all the Methodist and Congregational Churches along with some Presbyterians merged to form the United Church of Canada. This presented the local United Church congregation with a problem: an extra church building. This was resolved by using the former Methodist Church as a church and, for a few years, the former Presbyterian Church, as an activities centre.
Pews were removed and badminton played in the main part of the building. The minister at this time was Mr. Gornell, grandfather of co-editor Rogers. He was very active in youth work and had a keen interest in badminton. He was an extremely skilled player, and we are told he would play against two of the best girls at once, allowing himself the handicap of playing only with his left hand, and would still win easily.
Later when this building was converted to an apartment building, badminton shifted to the Scout Hall on School Street where the game was played intermittently during the Thirties.
There were a number of private courts in the early days. One of these was at the Cedars (present Community Centre) and another on Avon Street at a summer home owned by Harry E. Wilson, a druggist from Windsor. This was near the present home of J. F. Lawrence. The Baptist Church maintained a cinder court beside their parsonage, now the J. J. Jodrey home.
The main public tennis courts were where the Avon Food now stores apples. This land was then owned by the D. A. R. and leased to the tennis club. The moving force behind this Hugh Rolph. Clay was hauled from the river at the end of Avon Street and two excellent clay courts were constructed and used in the period between the two Wars.
Top players of the period were Alfred Metzler, Hugh Rolph, Foye Perry and Dr. Shankel. Inter-club tournaments wore held with Wolfville, Windsor and Kentville. Bev Piers, Sr., of Halifax, top-rated player in Nova Scotia in the Thirties, had romantic interest in this area and often played on the local courts. He was invaluable in keeping playing standards at a high level.
All we can find out on this sport is that it was played in school on the school yard for a few years around 1905. It obviously didn’t become popular.
Horse racing was an important sport from 1900 (see Dominion Day 1898). Main Street was often the scene of an exciting contest, beginning at the foot of Holmes Hill and ending at the Willow Bridge. Since the street was narrow and unpaved, usually only two horses, with racing carts, raced at once. Often these were challenge or “grudge” races and stirred up excitement. Horseback (running) races were also held over the same course with four or five entrants in each event.
The heart of horseracing was on the ice at Shey Lake. From 1900 to early in the Thirties, there were three or four meets every winter. These were held in the afternoon and families would go out on sleds and sleighs to join in the excitement.
Parallel lanes were ploughed in the snow just wide enough so that each horse and sleigh, and later racing sulkies, had its own slot. Usually there were not more than four horses in each heat.
Owners and drivers of the time were Earl Gertridge, Charles Barker, Blanch Harvie, Murray Salter, Hughie Hiltz, “Biff” Terfry, John Kelly, Dr. Turner (New Minas) and Dorans from Windsor. Horses came from as far away as Chester.
These were the fast steppers, but there were also races for slower horses owned by farmers of the area. As in the road races, challenge and grudge races were common.
It often became bitterly cold as the afternoon wore on and drivers, owners and spectators sometimes resorted to crushed apples and other medieval remedies which unfortunately sometimes led to boisterous behavior as groups took sides to back particular horses and drivers. W. A. “Biff” Terfry believes he was a winning driver in the last race held on Shey Lake sometime in the early Thirties.
A Mecca for the sporting blood was the Pool Parlor on William Street. This was first owned and operated as a combination barbershop – pool room by Everet Corbett. It was bought in 1926 and operated by John R. Tattrie (see Tattrie story).
This was a popular meeting place of the Thirties, so much so that a young scholar of the period in writing a composition at school began it by saying, “Last night John R’s Pool Room burned to the ground and five hundred citizens of Hantsport were left homeless.” Fortunately, the building did not burn, and stands today across from the Bank of Commerce, still housing a barbershop.
The operation was carried on after 1946 by C. “Barney” Langille as a combination Taxi – Barbershop – Poolroom. This attraction was retired in 1949.
With the abundance of water close at hand, fishing has always been a popular sport in Hantsport. Every brook, lake and stream has been fished, with the exception of Davidson Lake which became the town’s water supply in 1905 and as such has been off limits to anglers.
A social feature of the Thirties was the “old timers” fishing for smelts from the wharf, partly for the fish and partly for the conversation. A junior member could join in only until an elder arrived to claim his rightful place, when the young fellow had to move down again to the end of the line. Cecil Scott, then as now an avid fisherman, recalls being “bumped” in this way until he was so far down the wharf he no longer had any water to fish in.
Hantsport has always had its tug-of-war teams. However, these teams were often short-lived, so it is impossible to get lists of all those who participated. There is one story that seems worth telling.
Laurie Sanford, warehouse operator and sport supporter, organized a very heavy and strong team, some members of whom were appropriately of the Strong family of Mt. Denson. Needing practice for his team, he walked them over to Hantsport to Dorman and Amirault’s garage where it seems of a summer’s evening, numbers of local men had the habit of congregating.
A bit of imagination and one can hear the rumble as these men came across the bridge, a cloud of dust in their wake, the earth trembling as they approached with heavy tread. A team was hastily assembled to give them a practice pull, the visiting team generously allowing the garage boys an extra man. The “extra” chosen was Albert “Al” Davison, 145 pounds of muscle. Again imagination pictures him being drafted as he hurried by, perhaps on his way to prayer meeting.
The mighty pull began, but by unkind fate, the Sanford team was defeated. Mr. Sanford became justifiably disturbed and challenged any one singly to take him on. The finger of fate came to rest on Harry States (grandfather of Jim and John Brewster). Both, the story goes, were big, strong men. The story ends in humiliation for Sanford. States won, but instead of backing up and hauling his opponent in the usual manner, he stood stock still and pulled him over the line, hand over hand. The rest of the story is probably happily lost to history.
Much skating took place on Shey Lake, and a great deal on Half Way River and on flooded areas behind the Whitman house on Main Street (Miss Grace Whitman’s home).
Sleigh rides were common. During the Thirties, school and Young People’s groups always had a number of sleigh rides a winter. A most popular ride was to Windsor (via Bog Road) where the young people would attend the movie and then enjoy the long sleigh ride home. This was, of course, aided by the fact that cars came to a halt in winter and roads were rarely plowed.
Before too many cars were in use, and streets were neither paved nor ploughed, coasting was popular. We are told that Holmes Hill straight down Main Street was a popular run, and we have a case on record of a young fellow who started at the top of Holmes Hill turned down Prince Street and coasted right to the river.
Dancing was popular in any season, and the old Scout Hall saw many of them. Laurie Sanford’s warehouse, during the offseason, was also the site of such activities.
Boxing was never a major sport in Hantsport. There was a small class set up in the Scout Hall after World War I, but it really didn’t flourish. Only one other boxing item has been found. Millage Oulton, when principal of the school, kept a pair of boxing gloves in the laboratory, later library, of the school. When some of the bigger fellows became difficult, they would be invited to the lab for an experiment with the gloves. Oulton’s consist victory may have soured the boys on the sport.
Up until the later Thirties when traffic became heavier, bicycle racing was popular. Every field day and picnic featured these races. A popular one was the Kentville to Windsor race on July I. The Halifax Herald sponsored a race on the first Saturday in October of each year. This was from Windsor to Halifax, a distance of forty-four miles. This race attracted entrants from all over the Maritimes. None of the road was paved and the Ardoise Hills had a reputation for thinning the field rather drastically. Time for the race varied from two hours twenty minutes to about three hours, depending upon head or tail winds.
Local racers were Fred Folker, Cecil MacDonald, Wesley Kilcup (Mt. Denson), and Charles Hughes (Avonport). MacDonald was the strongest, entering the Windsor-Halifax race in 1924, 25 and 26. He placed sixth in 1924, first in 1926 and seventh in 1927. In the last years, this race became dominated by Italian immigrants from the Sydney area who had a strong background in Alpine racing.
In the Thirties there was a great interest in motorcycling, though it was more for touring than racing. Local fellows who took an active part in touring were John, Arthur and Earl Faulkner, John Frizzle, Gerald MacDonald, and Jack Webb.
John and Earl Faulkner and Gerald MacDonald decided to enter as a team in the Halifax Motorcycle Club Endurance Test. The course was a hundred miles of rough back roads in Ha1ifax County and was timed at 30 miles an hour with three known check-points and three unknown. The Hantsport team came off with first prize, and John placed second in individual high points, certainly an excellent showing for the local boys.
In bringing this to a close, we are conscious of the fact that we haven’t covered everything. There are probably many names that should have been included. We apologize for omissions, and if you find errors and omissions, as we are sure you must, we ask you to please bring them to the attention of the co-editors or our principal, Mr. Clark, and we will attempt to revise and update this story.
Finally, as we interviewed people, certain names kept coming and again and again. These were the supporters, the backers the promoters of sport in Hantsport. We know they are often forgotten, but without them, our town would not have the impressive sports history for which it has always been well known. Such names are Rev. Machum, John Tattrie, Dr. Shankel, Moss Smith, George Currie, Dr. G. K. Smith, Dick Bishop and Clarence Amirault. These men we honour and salute, and thank on your behalf.
JOHN R. TATTRIE
Well, I’m going, to tell you as well as I can how the Hantsport Shamrocks got their name.
We got up a team and practised and played around the first year I came to Hantsport which was forty-four years ago and we thought we were getting quite a team. The next year in the spring, we thought we’d like to join the league (they had a local league), but we had no crest for our uniforms. The boys all got together in the barber shop and talked about what we were going to do about getting into the league and how we’d make a crest.
I looked in a magazine I had there and I saw a picture of a shamrock. I had two pool tables there with some old cloth, the very best of cloth only one side was getting a little worn but the other side looked like new–green covers for the pool tables. So I said, “Now if you boys help me, I’ll take one of these pool tables and we’ll make a crest.” They said they’d help and we’d make it. So I said we’d send to Eaton’s and got some uniforms. We couldn’t play in the league without uniforms. We sent to Eaton’s and got enough for a team, nine uniforms, and paid about four dollars apiece for them.
In the meantime, while the uniforms were coming, we made crests. The boys all got to work and got needles and cut out shamrocks (that I got out of the magazine) and they looked good, too. It wasn’t because I believed in the shamrock at all. I never thought if it was protestant or what it was. I always got along well; on our team we had mixed players–it was all the same to me.
They made me their manager and we went into the league. Well, we didn’t win the league the first year, but we did win it the next year and after we played in the league one year, we joined the Valley League. We took in some few good players with us from Halifax and we did well in that. We kept on and were in the playoffs in the Valley League, and then we played in the playoffs with Liverpool. We played in Halifax and lost out.
Then we had these colored Giants from Boston down and played with them. We had an awful crowd the first game, but the last time we played the Giants from Boston we beat them. They didn’t like it and didn’t take it very well so we never had them again. We went on with good luck and were in the playoffs most every year. Well, I’ll just say that I’ll never forget the Hantsport Shamrocks as long as I live, and I’m ninety now.
I might say I had a pool room and we had a great time playing pool with the boys. There got to be some pretty good players, but of course I being almost professional, they never could beat me. I never was bested in my poolroom in twenty years. Never a man came in who could beat me, but we had a good time playing, and the boys that are away who played pool and played ball with me, I hear from wherever they are. I had a letter from Victoria, British Columbia, from the Turner boy yesterday wishing me every success and hoping I would live to be a hundred.
I never mentioned the field that we played in over here, that the Shamrocks play in yet (that is, the year before last–they’re not playing now, there wasn’t a team this year.) But the boys and those that weren’t on the team helped with the work. I had it plowed all over and harrowed and rolled and filled in the low places, and after we played a few years, built a grandstand and put a fence all around so high. Paid eight dollars a thousand for the boards, that’s all. We kept fixing it up every year–we had quite a field there as you may all know. I guess I won’t go into any more details about the field, but that’s how it started.
Interview taped by:
RICHARD PAUL BEAZLEY
The late Paul Beazley, known to most as Dick, was one of Hantsport’s best runners. He had a running career of about eighteen years.
Dick started running in small races such as the one from Windsor to Hantsport. This was his first race and he was only fifteen. He started out to pace his brother, Fred, but he finished ahead of him.
Dick ran in many small races, including five and ten mile ones in Cape Breton. But from these small races, he went on to run all of the major races of that time.
One of the races that was held every year was the ten-mile sponsored by the Halifax Herald. This race was well-known because runners came from all over the Maritimes to compete. Dick ran this race for over ten years. He started coming in tenth and then worked up, finally winning it. Twice he came in ahead of the other forty of fifty runners.
Another big race was in Dartmouth. It was known as the Dartmouth Natal Day Race and it was six miles long. This was one of his best wins because he out sprinted a big field in the final three hundred yards of the event. He captured first place in this race three times during his career.
In Dick’s day, one of the biggest events you could be in was the twenty-six mile Marathon. This was also sponsored by the Halifax Herald. When he was about nineteen he was invited to Halifax for his first big long distance race. Although he didn’t finish in a high position, he promised to come again. When he returned the next year, he won the race end way very proud of it.
About the biggest event anyone could take part in was the Boston Marathon. In 1938, Dick was lucky enough to go and represent Hantsport. There have been only three people from Hantsport* to ever go, and Dick was the first. This was a big race and there were about two hundred runners who took part in it. Dick placed fortieth in a time of about two hours and thirty-six minutes.
The last race that Dick participated in was the Dartmouth Natal Day six-mile race. He ran for the Canadian Army with the Camp Aldershot Team. Although he didn’t come first himself, his team won first place.
This race was run in August 1944 and Dick lost his life on February 26, 1945, while serving with the Canadian Army in Europe.
He will always be remembered in Hantsport because the annual five-mile race has been renamed the Dick Beazley Memorial Race in memory of him. His name will live as long as racing continues in Hantsport.
Beazley, James Sherwood and Paul Collins. Collins, although a native of Wolfville, was supported by and ran under the sponsorship of the Hantsport Branch, Royal Canadian Legion.