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Windsor,  Nova  Scotia, Canada – c. 1800
by Garth Vaughan © 2001
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T.C. Haliburton’s
NS c1800

NS 1st Historian
King’s College
Hurley on Long Pond
TCH’s Long Pond
Clifton Grove
Windsor Gypsum

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Alexander Meets TCH


Windsor, Hants County, Nova Scotia 1829
by Thomas Chandler Haliburton
An Excerpt From –
An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia
Pub 1829

Windsor to Halifax Road

This place is distant from Halifax forty-five miles, the road to which, by many late alterations, is level and in an excellent state of repair.- After passing the boundary of Halifax County, the appearance of the land indicates a decided change in it’s quality. The somber spruce and fir, and the dwarf birch that clothe the Country for twenty miles from the Capital, are succeeded by a growth of beech mingled with hemlock, elm and maple; and the surface of the ground is no longer encumbered with heavy masses of stone. From the Ardoise hills, the whole of this township is displayed to view, and on a nearer approach it loses nothing of it’s charm impressed upon it by this distant prospect. The ancient name of Windsor was Pisiquid, an Indian word that signifies the junction of two rivers. It was held in great estimation by the French, on account of it’s extensive and fertile meadows, which they enclosed with dykes, and brought into a high state of cultivation. The crops of wheat which they raised were so superabundant, that for many years previous to the war of 1756, they exported a great quantity to the Boston market. Although immediately occupied by the English after the removal of these unfortunate people, it underwent no material changes until the last twenty years. The most valuable lands were granted to gentlemen residing at Halifax; among whom were many of his Majesty’s Council. That portion of it which fell into the hands of resident proprietors, was divided among a few individuals – and thus introduced the system of tenancy, which in Nova-Scotia [Nova Scotia] neither contributes to the improvement of the soil, nor the profit of the landlord. Under these circumstances, the appearance of the place remained stationary for many years, until in the progress of time the transfer of property and the increase of population gradually worked a change in this defective system. Almost all the upland in this township, lying between the south mountain, and the rivers Avon and St. Croix, consists of a strong productive soil, but the mountain land is cold and poor, adding indeed much richness to the scenery, but little value of its resources. It is covered chiefly with poplar, spruce, white maple, and juniper; and as its sides are in many places steep and abrupt, this diversified hanging wood, gives a peculiar beauty to the landscape. The dyke lands, of which there are 2544 acres, are decidedly the best in Nova Scotia, the deepest, richest, and most productive.– With some few interruptions, occasioned by projecting high lands, they skirt the St. Croix for nine miles, and the Avon the same distance, varying in width according to the windings of the river, and the formation of the upland. The peculiar situation of this place, surrounded by a range of mountainous land, and protected from the bleak winds, and chilly fogs, experienced on the sea coast, is peculiarly favorable for raising tender fruits. Peaches, though subject from the early blossoms they put forth to be injured by frosts, have been known to ripen without artificial aid, or even common shelter; and grapes, pears, quinces and a great variety of summer and autumn plums arrived at perfection, in all ordinary seasons.

The embouchure of the Avon receives the water of the Kennetcook, St. Croix and Cockmagon rivers, and conducts them into the Basin of Minas. The rise and fall of the river at Windsor, is about twenty feet at neap and thirty at spring tides. The whole of the salt water flows and re-flows , and the bed of the river at times is totally exposed. The two channels, by dividing the fresh water supplied by the lakes, from two small streams resembling brooks, and are constantly forded by carriages, and often by foot passengers. As a ford, it is unpleasant and inconvenient; and to those unacquainted with the tides unsafe. This extraordinary ebb of the rivers, emptying into the Bay of Fundy, facilitates the drainage of the dyked marshes. These lands are encircled by a small embankment of earth, and the creeks are closed by aboiteaux constructed with sluices. The drains are conducted to creeks, and the water when collected in these reservoirs escapes through the sluices, the gates of which are closed by the rising of the river, and exclude the entrance of the tide. But although it is attended with this convenience, and the change of air produced by these rapid currents, is conducive to health, and renders the climate salubrious, the red slimy banks, and the long sand-bars of the bed of the river, make this vast chasm when emptied of its contents a disagreeable object.

To remedy the inconvenience of the ford an act of the Legislature was passed a few years since, authorizing the building of a bridge over the Avon, at the town of Windsor; and making provision for raising the requisite funds, by the establishment of a lottery. The first class was drawn, and the proceeds appropriated to the erection of an Abutment; but difficulties having occurred in the further progress of the lottery, the design was abandoned, and the work still remains in an unfinished state. [The bridge was finally completed in 1836] A vein of limestone crosses the bed of the river, at the site selected for the bridge, and presents a good foundation for the piers. The extreme breadth of the Avon at this place, is about 1050 feet. Six miles further towards its source, where the great western post road intersects it, there is a good substantial wooden bridge.

Windsor to Chester Water Route 1807

This river takes its rise in the extensive lakes that lie between Chester and Windsor; but though spacious and navigable as far as the bridge just mentioned, it would be nothing more than a large brook, were it not for the augmentation it receives, from the flow of the tide from the Basin of Minas.

The whole of the neighbourhood of Windsor is extemely beautiful. The luxuriance of the meadows, the frequent changes of scenery, the chain of high hills on the south and west, clothed in wood of variegated foliage, and the white sails of vessels passing rapidly through the serpentine windings of the Avon and the St. Croix, are some of the leading features of this landscape.

Windsor is the shire town* of Hants County. It contains, (beside a number of respectable private houses) an University, an Academy, an Episcopal Church, A Roman Catholic Chapel, a Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist meeting-house; a Court House and County Jail. The former [King’s College] has a Royal Charter, bearing the date at Westminster, the 12th day of May, 1802. By this Charter it is ordained that "King’s College" shall be deemed to be a University, and shall have and enjoy all such and like privileges, as are enjoyed by Universities in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, as far as the same are capable of being had and enjoyed by virtue of said letters patent. And that the students in the said College shall have the liberty and faculty of taking the degrees of bachelor, master, and doctor, in the several arts and faculties, at the appointed times.
(*shire town – British : a town that is the seat of the government of a shire)

The Archbishop of Canterbury is Patron of the Institution, and the following persons compose, ex officio, a board of Governors:- His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, The Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia, The Hon. The Chief Justice, the Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the Attorney-General, the Solicitor- General, the Secretary of the Province, and the Rev. the President. The board has the power of making statutes and by-laws for its internal Government and regulations.

The Following extract from the statutes of the University, will shew the course of studies established for the students:-
"Regular courses of lectures, as soon as the establishment shall admit of them, shall be read every year by the Professors in the following branches of literature, science, and knowledge. Each course shall begin in Michaelmas term, and shall be completed within the year – upon the evidences, practice and doctrines of the Christian Religion, Grammar, universal and of particular languages.

The Greek and Latin Classics, Hebrew, Rhetoric, Logic, Mathematics,- including Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, and the Conic Sections, with their application in Mechanics and other useful practical Sciences.

Natural Philosophy, Astronomy, Ethics, General Jurisprudence,
The Law of Nature and Nations, The Civil Law, and the Theory of Municipal Laws, Political Science, Economy, Metaphysics, Geography and Chronology, History, ancient and modern, Anatomy, Botany, Chemistry, The Materia Medica, and the Practice of Medicine in clinical Lectures.

The four following Professorships shall be now established, to which others shall be added, as soon as the revenues of the College shall render it practicable.
1 – A Professor of Hebrew and Divinity
2 – A Professor of the Moral Sciences and Metaphysics
3 – A Professor of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Astronomy
4 – A Professor of Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic.

Masters shall be procured to teach the modern languages, particularly French, to whom small salaries shall be allowed, and whose fees for instruction shall be settled by the President. Students may likewise receive permission from the President to attend instructions in the arts of drawing, dancing, music, fencing, riding and other polite accomplishments. It is requisite that the president shall have taken a regular degree of Master of Arts, or Bachelor in Civil Law, at one of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge or Dublin, in the United Kingdom.

The students are eligible for matriculation**, at age of fourteen years. This period is perhaps too youthful, but has been adopted on account of the limited means of the Country, and the custom which universally prevails in America, of introducing young men into business as soon as possible. The first matriculation took place in the year 1803, and the first degree was obtained on the 18th of November, 1807.-There have been conferred 67 degrees of A.B. 15 of A.M. two of B.D. one of D.D. one of B.C.L. and one of D.C.L.; besides eight honorary degrees of D.C.L. total 95. There are 12 Divinity scholarships attached to the College, by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts. Candidates for these scholarships are nominated by the Bishop, and appointed by the Society. The object of these endowments is to enable Clergymen and others, to educate their children for the ministry of the Church of England; each scholar enjoying £30 Sterling per annum, for seven years. There are also four scholarships on the foundation, which are each of the value of £20 Sterling, and are tenable four years. These are designed as a reward for those students who are most distinguished at the annual examination. There are resident at present sixteen undergraduates and two bachelors. The College contains a large and well selected Library, and a valuable Philosophical apparatus.
[**matriculate – transitive senses : to enroll as a member of a body and especially of a college or university]

The building consist of five wooden houses under one roof. These Bays are three stories in height, and consist of two suits of rooms on a floor, each suite containing one parlour and two bed rooms, for the accommodation of two Students. The situation of the College is extremely pleasant, and the most eligible that could be selected. It is about one mile from the town of Windsor, which is the most central point in the Province. The climate is peculiarly healthy; and it is remarkable that there never has occurred an instance of mortality among the Students since the first establishment of the institution. The buildings are erected upon an elevated spot, commanding in front a delightful view of the most improved and best cultivated parts of Nova- Scotia. In the rear the scenery is equally fine, the landscape being much embellished by the meanderings of the Avon and St. Croix. The ground belonging to the College consists of about one hundred [actually 90] acres.

The respectability of this establishment, its liberal endowments, the learning and exemplary conduct of its officers, the number of Gentlemen whom it has educated, and its influence it exerts upon the morals and manners of the Country, render it an object of the highest importance, that should be cherished and promoted. Subordinate to the University under its controul [control], and within the limits of its grounds is the Collegiate School. The building is composed of free-stone, and erected at an expense exceeding six thousand pounds. There are apartments in it for the head master and his family, his ushers, and about 40 borders. This Seminary is in a flourishing condition, and very numerously attended. The system of education is in accordance with that of the College, for which it is intended as a Preparatory Academy. At the school there are also twelve Divinity scholarships of £30 which may be severally held for seven years, or until matriculation. The object is the same as those at the College; to these scholarships the Bishop also nominates, and the Society appoints.

There is a small Military post at Windsor, called Fort Edward, in honor of his Royal Highness the late Duke of Kent, which is much out of repair, and now scarcely tenantable. It is pleasantly and advantageously situated on elevated land, that commands the entrance of both rivers. The ground originally reserved for military purposes in the neighbourhood of this fort, was granted during the administration of Lord William Campbell, in the year 1767, to his Lordship’s groom, and was afterwards purchased for a valuable consideration by the government. The fortifications it is said are to be repaired, and a new commodious Barracks erected. At present a subaltern and small detachment are stationed there.

Between this place and Parrsborough there are two Packets***, and three constantly ply between it and St. John, New Brunswick. To Halifax and Annapolis a Stage Coach runs three times a week, The chief trade of Windsor consists of the exportation of Plaister of Paris or Gypsum, to St, John and St. Andrew’s, in New Brunswick; from whence it is transported to the United States, and applied to agricultural purposes, This fossil is found in the western part of Nova-Scotia [Nova Scotia], but commencing in Falmouth, occurs in various places in the midland and eastern sections, and also in the Island of Cape Breton. In the County of Hants, and particularly in Windsor and Newport, it exists in greatest profusion. It protrudes itself in Windsor in many places above the surface; on the north side of the St. Croix it rises into a high mural precipice for several miles, and in Newport it forms one continued ridge through the centre of that extensive peninsula, enclosed by the St. Croix and Kenetcook. In all these places it is accompanied and often intermingled with lime- stone, to which it bears a strong affinity, to one being a sulphate and the other a carbonate of lime, The ground where it occurs is generally much broken, and abounds with deep circular cavities, known by the Miners, under the name of "kettle holes," in which the bones of animals and the skeletons of Indians have sometimes been found, who had falled into these caverns, and were unable to extricate themselves from their prison.
[***packet – a passenger boat usually carrying mail and cargo]
This fossil is by no means a solid body, and is seldom found in any great extent in a compact form, or unbroken strata of pure gypsum. Large veins of loam are scattered through the rocks, and a red and blue clay, with layers of lime. It is quarried by the aid of gunpowder, and broken into suitable sizes for exportation, by a pick-axe. As it enters so largely into the composition of the soil, its inulility**** as a manure, in Nova-Scotia [Nova Scotia], has been assumed by practical farmers, although no regular experiments have ever been instituted to ascertain its effects. In the United States its value has long been known; and nearly one hundred thousand tons have been annually exported from different parts of the Province to that country.

The manner in which it operates on vegetation remains enveloped in mystery, By some its efficacy is attributed to its power of accelerating purification; and by others, to its absorbing moisture and imparting it to the soil; while many ascribe it to the valuable nutriment it affords to plants. Perhaps its extraordinary powers may be justly inferred, from a union of these several known peculiarities, than to the agency of any one in particular. Besides gypsum and limestone, this township contains freestone; and indications of coal have been discovered near the south mountain.

[****inutile – useful]

An Excerpt From –
An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia
In two volumes. Illustrated by a map of the province, and several engravings.
By Thomas C. Haliburton, Esq.
Barrister at Law and Member of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia
[originally] Printed and Published by Joseph Howe, Halifax 1829
Edition consulted – Candiana Reprint Series No. 51
Mika Publishing Belleville, Ontario 1973

Volume 2

Pg 100 – 110

Section III.
Middle Division.
This Division contains three Counties,- Hant’s County, Lunenburg County, and Queen’s County

The County of Hants – Windsor


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