The Local Newspaper

EDITOR’S NOTE: Back In the fall of 1939 the Amherst Daily News ran a story featuring the local paper and its differences between 1914 and 1939. It is surprising how much the story is the same despite the years between. Following Is that 1939 story.

The Local Newspaper
October 1914 – October 1939

Under an editorial caption “The Local Newspaper”, an article from the pen of the late A.D. Ross, a former editor of the Amherst Daily News, is taken from an issue of the Daily News in October 1914. Seemingly conditions that applied to the newspaper business in Amherst in those days are applicable today as well. It is admitted, however, that two or three progressive market men spend more money on advertising in the present than did those of the past, all of whom have since gone out of business. On the other hand advertising conditions on the whole are poorer today than then. Douglas & Co. for instance were steady advertisers as were Dunlap Bros. & Co. Retail, C.L. Martin Ltd., Etter & Pugsley Ltd., Chapman Bros. & Canfield, and others. The Empress Theatre used large space. Hickey & Smith, Fred Hillcoat, Oak Hall, all took larger space when advertising. Lawyers carried cards in the papers as did fraternal organizations.

The Amherst Daily News twenty-five years ago was only six columns in width, and used column upon column of “boiler plate” as only two linotype machines were kept in operation. Today the paper is seven columns in width, with plans under consideration to add an additional column. Four linotypes are required today to set up the material from the press services; the news from the typewriters of reporters and editorial desks and news columns from the correspondents in outside towns and rural centres.

The typography of the Amherst News today is much advanced over 1914 edition. In fact the layouts and general set up have been vastly improved. The News then as now featured local news, and the 1914 issues contained scores of small items dealing with industrial life that no longer exists in Amherst.

Since the editorial which is appended below giving a brief sketch of the careers of other competitive newspapers in Amherst prior to 1914, two other newspapers were started and failed. The Guardian, with Herbert S. Paisley as editor, was one of the most presentable sheets ever printed in the community, but one wealthy Amherstonian, and a resident of Westmorland found the bills entirely to heavy. Then the late J.H. Froggatt, one of the printing pioneers of the town and a former owner of the Amherst Daily News was induced by a number of political stalwarts to bring out The Free Press. Senator J.H. Logan and the late B.J. Lawson offered the writer a chance to try his editorial skill on that publication but the opportunity was declined.

Any news paper in Cumberland is virtually doomed to failure-more so today than in the past. Competition is keener. Advertising has been curtailed, while in Springhill, Parrsboro, Oxford, Amherst and Sackville newspaper standards have been improved materially. Production costs have also gone up, while wages are likewise higher. Furthermore there is the competition from the radio-a factor that was not considered in 1914.

Yet withal there is a great similarity between the editorial of 1914 and the comment of today. The article to which we refer follows: –

October 8, 1914.

Newspapers in Amherst have had a rather tragic experience. The Amherst Gazette, founded by the late J. Albert Black, began its career about the year 1867. Mr. Black rendered yeoman like the faithful service to the Conservative party and to the public at large but after thirty years of labor he found that the newspaper business had not made him rich and he abandoned the profession to accept a position in the Militia Department.
The Maritime Sentinel was born in Oxford some forty-five years ago and still lives in our semi-weekly edition the News Sentinel. The Maritime Sentinel in the early days of its history was only kept alive by the financial sacrifice of a number of prominent Liberals, who dipped deep and dipped often into their private resources to keep “the organ” afloat. It went into liquidation once or twice but ultimately weathered the storm and is now well established in Cumberland.

The Amherst Press was our first Daily. It was started by Messrs. Bryenton and Fitch. They ran it a few years and then it was taken over by B.E. Patterson, one of the cleverest journalists in the Maritime Provinces. Certain Conservatives put some money into it but “it never came back.” Mr. Patterson abandoned the newspaper field for more lucrative employment.

Out old friend L.S. Gow, now in Moose Jaw and doing well, thought he had a newspaper message for the people of Amherst and Cumberland. There were some more dollars lost and Mr. Gow left for the West.

Charles Nicholson, now editor of the Detroit Free Press, one of the leading papers of the United States had an idea that two papers could be made to pay in Amherst. He was a versatile writer and a practical business man. He put some more cash into the plan but it, too, disappeared and Mr. Nicholson departed this town to see fields where his talents would and have been more appreciated. The Telegraph and Times had their little day and ceased to be and the News alone survived the wreck of journalism enterprise in this town. During the past seventeen years there have been fully $40,000 lost in the newspaper business in Amherst.

The man of the street will without though conclude that there should be a ripe field for a second newspaper in Amherst. He will compare Amherst with Moncton, Fredericton and other towns of similar population. Others have thought the same thoughts, reached the same conclusions and dropped their money. In the first place Amherst is a poor advertising town. We have got some faithful patrons who believe in Printer’s Ink, and finds that it pays to keep in touch with the public through our columns, but there is hardly grocer in town who advertises in the News. They never got the habit. They seldom advertised in the past and are not doing it now. Yet it is accepted fact by the merchants who have made the greatest success in business that advertising pays.

There is not a market man in Amherst that puts ten dollars a year in advertising. From a postal standpoint a newspaper in Amherst is handicapped. If you run a morning papers the Maritime has no connection with the principal towns of the county. If you mail your Amherst Daily at noon, the Halifax papers have covered the field before you.
An evening paper is too late for satisfactory distribution. There are other causes that go to make Amherst a poor field for newspaper enterprise that will not occur to the man not actually in the business.

The News, poor as it is, fills an important place in the community. If you don’t get it you miss it. It is read in nearly every home in the town. Its semi-weekly edition has at least twenty thousand readers in Cumberland. When any movement is mooted, such as the Patriotic Fund, the Belgian Fund, etc. not only the paper but the whole staff is at the service of the public. We make mistakes. We rub some people up the wrong way, but after all our intentions are not really bad and as the one advertising medium in the town we deserve more advertising than we are receiving. We deserve more job work than we get for we have quite a little industry giving employment to twenty hands to say nothing of the newsboys who make more than pocket money out of their street sales.

Patronize your home paper even if you cannot always agree with its views.

(Source: The Citizen, Saturday, May 8, 1993, Page 3 – A Touch of Cumberland History – The local newspaper)

Amherst’s first “court house”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story first appeared in the Amherst Daily News April 4, 1919. Built in 1831 and destroyed by fire in 1887, the old Amherst court house was an historic building of much note.

Many of our readers have been deeply interested in the articles furnished to the News by Sir Charles J. Townshend on the Old Cumberland Court House which was burnt in 1887. Our good friend C.W. Moore, from records in his possession gives us the following added information relative to the “Old Court House.”

Such an old land mark as the building which for more than half a century was the seat of justice and the arena of political contests, until rendered useless by fire on the 22nd of October, 1887, deserves more than a mere passing notice.

During the annual sitting, early in 1831 of the Sessions of the Peace, which consists of the Grand Jury and Justices of the Peace for the county, it was decided that the building then used as a court house and jail was no longer suitable. Plans prepared by Nelson Beckwith of Baie Verte, who then and many years since, held the deserved reputation of being a skilful architect and builder, were adopted, and Sheriff Chandler was empowered to contract for its erection. An agreement for Eight Hundred Pounds ($3200) to undertake the work was soon after made with James Page. The agreement was completed in the house of Thomas Page, a brother of the contractor, which in later years became the central portion of the old Lamy Hotel, and in presence of Amos Page, another brother.

The new Court House did not occupy the site of its predecessor, which fronted on Lawrence Street, near where the jail now stands. The new building was 48×36 ft., with 15 ft. posts. Its plain and solid style of architecture was admirably adapted for the purpose, and denoted unmistakably its juridical character. The style was in the main Doric, having the distinguishing frieze of that order with its triglyphic ornamentation but with the Tuscan unfluted columns. These columns, by the way, when being turned, were revolved by man power, operated by cranks fixed to their ends, and the process must have been a very deliberate one compared with the manner in which wood of any size is now put through lathes in a modern woodworking factory.

The character shown in the facade was well carried out in the interior. The triglyphs which adorned the gallery frieze were a strong feature in the internal ornamentation, and evinced the neatest of workmanship. All the interior fittings were fully up to the requirements of the time, and altogether the building did great credit to our local rulers. Its accommodation was later greatly restricted by the gallery being devoted to other uses. It must have stood out in marked contrast to its old neighbor whose lower story was of logs, just as the present Court House of stone out vies the one destroyed by fire, and doubtless the grumbling of taxpayers was heard, in the land, as it ever will be in cases of public improvements.

Mr. Beckwith, the designer of the building was also the master workman and among those employed were John Weldon of Dorchester and Jeremiah Embree of Amherst. The magnificent olive free-stone, which formed the steps and showed so little the effects of the attrition of 56 years, was supplied by Robert Trueman of Point de Bute. The wonderful durability of the shingles, which were not replaced for 40 years were split from a thoroughly seasoned pine log. They were furnished by Matthew Lodge and were the product of this log alone, which must have been of an immense size. The fact that the building has been twice reshingled since, points to a marked deterioration in quality. The massive timbers used in its construction were in strong contrast to the balloon frames of today. The complete manner in which Mr. Page fulfilled his contract, though it was understood he made no money by it, called forth much popular admiration.

What a difference between the “Amherst Corner” of that period, with its few scattered buildings, and the progressive town of today with its handsome brick and stone structures, its closely crowded business blocks, and the agricultural beauty portrayed in so many of its residences.

On the completion of the Court House, it was justly regarded as a spacious, convenient and handsome building.

The first remarkable event in its history was the trial and conviction of Doyle for the murder of Clemm in the coronation year 1838. On that occasion Senator Dickey, then the junior of the Amherst Bar, was called on by the presiding judge to act as Clerk of the Crown. Immense crowds attended this first trial within its walls for murder. It would require much space to enumerate the many celebrated cases tried there. Chief Justice Haliburton, facile princeps, his successor. William Young, Judges L.M. Wilkins, senior and junior bliss, Hill, Haliburton (Sam Slick), with other eminent jurists, have graced its Bench. Its walls have re-echoed the brilliant eloquence of such men as S.G.W. Archibald, Alexander and James Stewart, James W. Johnston, James R. Smith, James F. Gray, Edward B. Chandler, Martin Wilkins, Hiram Blanchard and others.

In political contests there have been battles of giants on its platform, between such men as Howe and Stewart, Tupper and Young, in wordy warfare before the assembled people of Cumberland.

Prominent among those was a protracted debate on Sept. 10th, 1844, between Alexander Stewart and Joseph Howe, on the public questions of the day. It was listened to by people from all parts of the county, and the friends of each of the brilliant contestants had reason to be proud of their party chieftains. This was the day of the marriage of the late Senator Dickey, and the debate was adjourned over the event.

Before the days of music halls the Court House was the scene of many pleasant concerts and other entertainments. One of these, the first bazaar ever held in Amherst, took place in January, 1844, under the pleasant guidance of Mrs. Ratchford. Another memorable occasion was that on which an entertainment was given to aid sufferers by the Crimean War. Before places of worship were as common as now are it was frequently placed at the disposal of ministers for divine service, by Sheriffs Charles Chandler, his son Joshua, James Kerr and Roderick McKean.

On polling day the voters went to the Court House to cast their votes. The voting then was an open one, and it was customary for the grit voters to line up and enter by one door, and through the other door the Tory supporters would enter. Many a tussle took place outside these doors in endeavouring to get a would-be grit to cast his vote for the Tory party and vice versa.

(Source: The Citizen, Saturday, January 30, 1993, Page 3 – A Touch of Cumberland History – Amherst’s first “court house”)

Cumberland Bar in years of old

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story by J.T. Smith first appeared in the Amherst Daily News Feb. 21, 1919. The story centres around the recollections and incidents of former members of the Cumberland Bar who practised in Amherst and elsewhere in the county.

Referring to the interesting contribution by Sir Charles Townshend touching the Cumberland Bar, which appeared in a recent issue of your paper, may I say that there was at least one member of the fraternity, not named by him, whose standing and abilities entitled him to more than a passing notice.

I allude to Jonathan McCully, who subsequently removed to Halifax and was promoted to the Bench. Mr. McCully as an experienced lawyer was far above average. Probably as an advocate he might not rank with some of those mentioned by Sir Charles, but for astuteness and quickness of perception he could claim, and was entitled to a leading position. As a writer he had few equals.

I remember a case in which hew was counsel for the defence; the plaintiff’s solicitor being Mr. Fullerton and the action, if I remember correctly, being what was then called trover. Fullerton, in presenting his case to the jury detailed the facts he proposed putting in evidence, to which Mr. McCully at once replied, “If the opening of the learned Counsel is correct, away goes his case.”

The presiding judge, concurring with the view, the suit ended then and there. I merely advert to this as an instance of his alertness in taking advantage of the weak points in the armor of the opponent. Had our present jurisdiction act been in force at the time the technical objection presented would not have prevailed but as it was Fullerton had put himself out of court.

Regarding Senator Dickey, without wishing in any manner to detract from his recognized legal ability, it was generally understood that he enjoyed the benefit of the legal knowledge of James Stewart, brother of the master of the rolls and Mr. Stewart being looked upon as a veritable encyclopaedia of law, this naturally gave Mr. Dickey a very great advantage.
Regarding his business habits to which reference has been made by Sir Charles, I might mention a circumstance which came under my notice confirmatory of this. A dispute arose between him and Mr. Kerr, relative to an amount of $250.00 lent to the latter, and by him alleged to have been paid. In order to settle the question it was referred to the late F.W. Bent and myself to decide, both litigants and referees, being barristers.

Having previously heard Mr. Kerr’s version of the transaction, we consented to act, more especially as our inclination was to give him the benefit of any doubt and supposing from what we had heard that there would be little difficulty in arriving at a conclusion in his favor. However, the old adage as to one side of a story being all very well until the other side is told was fully verified as the facts presented by the senators were of so conclusive a character that we could not do other wise than decide in his favor.

Besides Mr. McCully mentioned above, there was a number of other practitioners in the county in addition to those named by Sir Charles among them being Alexander MacFarlane, who subsequently became senator; William P. Moffatt, a brother-in-law of Senator Dickey, the three Chandlers, Charlie, Amos and Robert, sons of the Sheriff, the two latter practising at Pugwash; John Stubs, a nephew of the senator Henry Oldright of Wallace, a most painstaking attorney and highly educated; Ben Dickson of Parrsboro who was always on hand at court with his Blue Bag; Mr. Muir, also of Parrsboro; John Hickmen and Robie S. Morse, who, notwithstanding that he subsequently abandoned law for medicine should not be overlooked, more especially as he was not averse to holding forth in court.

I recollect one occasion of this kind, when he was defending an Indian, who was charged with theft and in cross examination of one of the Crown witnesses a rather green countryman, Robie wanted to know whether the witness was prepared to swear that the accused took the article in question, “animus furandi” being a Latin term signifying feloniously or with intent to steal. As the witness knew as little about the Roman tongue as he did of the inhabitants of the Isle of Man and thinking it applied to the character of the article, when I think was a coat. The answer he gave, if it did not bring down the House, most unquestionably did bring down both Bench and Bar.

In conclusion I might add that all those indicated above have also passed into the mysterious future.

(Source: The Citizen, Saturday, January 30, 1993, Page 3 – A Touch of Cumberland History – Cumberland Bar in years of old)

Down one side of Victoria St. East

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story first appeared In the Amherst Daily News June 27, 1956.

Reminiscences by George E. Freeman, who writes at the age of 85.

I wonder if many people in Amherst would be interested in what I remember of Amherst 80 years ago and since that time. Amherst was then Amherst Corner.

Starting at Eddy Street up to what is now the Tantramar Motors was the Douglas and Purdy block, a three-storey building with six stores on the ground floor. Fifty-three years ago the Two Barkers opened a branch store in the second floor. Mr. Barker claimed that by doing a big business he could buy his goods wholesale at a saving of ten per cent and another ten per cent by selling only for cash and the saving made in bookkeeping. So successful was their business that they built the big block now the Margolian store.
The third store at one time was the headquarters of the Amherst band. Here under the training of a cranky little Englishman by the name of Rosindale the Amherst band became the envy of all the bands in the Maritimes. So far as I remember George Stiles is the only living member of the band at that time. This big wooden building was destroyed by fire about forty years ago.

The next house up street was the Sleep home. Here two boys lived, Doug and Wib as they were called – Douglas and Wilbur – and a little sister I have seen running round. She became the wife of Harvey Pipe and the mother of J.M. Pipe. The Sleep boys had a bicycle of the very earliest make. The big front wheel was over four feet high and made entirely of wood. The pedals were on the hub, the seat on top of the wheel, the hind wheel was all iron. They asked and my brother and I paid six dollars for it. It was on this bicycle that I first learned to ride and got many a tumble.

The next house up was owned by Dr. Black. He had one son also a doctor and who was killed in a car accident. He owned and operated a drug store called Medical Hall.

The next house up was the Cove house. It was moved up on Acadia St. where it now is. The M.B. Vail house was moved back and the Bob Sharpe house and harness shop was torn down to make room for the big Fort Cumberland Hotel.

The next up is the W. Tuft’s Sunny Home for tourists. The next up is the big home office and store room of the Burke Bluebird Novelty Co.

Over sixty years ago I was on the lookout for milk customers and I saw a load of furniture loading at the freight house. I followed it to a house on Eddy St. Yes, they would take a quart of milk a day. Mrs. Burke gave the name Dorrity Burke, grandparents of the present owner of the Bluebird Co.

There a very pretty little girl stood and watched me measure out the first quart of milk. That little girl became Mrs. B.L. White and lives in one of the best homes on Havelock St.
Day after day, year after year, for sixty years and more the Freeman milk wagon has stopped at her door.

The next house up, Dr. Drury lives there — has not changed. A new house has taken the place of the one in which C.E. Ratchford once lived. Deacon Botsford Smith lived in the next house. Charles Smith lived in the remodelled house where Harry Biden now lives. A very old house stood where Doug Smith’s beautiful new house and garden now are. Here in this old house there once lived two very pretty twin girls by the name of Sutcliffe.

Next the house known as the Dr. Goodwin house was built by Robert Douglas, Governor of N.S. at one time. Hance Logan or “Handsome Hance” lived in a house that had previously stood on this stand. He defeated Arthur Dickey as a Liberal in a federal election.

The next two houses were built by T. R. Black and occupied by his two sons Will and Charlie till their death. Jessie Harding lived in the next house; he had two sons, William and Ernest, a doctor, and Bess.

Next Percy Black’s house. Mr. Black was four times elected to the NS. Legislature and three to Ottawa. If Mr. Black could have remained young I think the Conservative Party need never have to worry about who would represent Cumberland County.

The Boggs house was next. Mr. Boggs had some office in Amherst and had two daughters. One married Judge Morse, the other Arthur Dickey. Sherman Rogers lived in this house till he was made a judge.

The Douglas house is unchanged. I remember Benjamin Douglas. I think he was the great-grandfather of J.H. Douglas, the founder of the Douglas store. A Baptist he would drive down to Lower Maccan with a horse and wagon night after night to hold religious meetings.

The corner house is owned by the Canadian Bank of Commerce, built for its managers when it took over the Halifax Banking Co. A cemetery once was on this spot.

C.B. Simmons was a P.E.I. resident before he became manager of the Bank of N.S. His daughter is the wife of Randolph Lusby, M.P.

Up to 40 years ago there was not a house for the next quarter mile, now there are ten of the best homes in Amherst located here. One vacant lot is owned by A. R. Lusby. This large field of perhaps 60 acres was used as a pasture for the Page brothers’ forty cows. It was also used as a circus ground and I was told that it could be bought for $1,000 at that time.

Joe Black’s house was next. The names of his family were Maud, Jennie, Sadie, Grace, Russell and Wylie. Wylie Baird bought the Joshua Black house and had it made over to a modern home. Donald Freeman and Cecil Stiles have each built nice homes here.

The old Freeman home was where the town boundary now is and here a large family of boys and girls were born. Their descendants are scattered all over America. It is said no Freeman was ever behind the bars for any crime. Two boys of this family went up to Ontario where they named a now flourishing town Freeman. After over one hundred years the descendants of these two men have been in Amherst to see me – one a traveller, one a lawyer and one Geo. Freeman, a wealthy farmer who lives near Toronto.

The first milk man’s meeting was held in my father’s house. Those present were Frank and Hubert Page, B.W. Ralston and H.B. Pipes. That was seventy years ago. Milk at that time was five cents a quart.

One dollar for ten hours work was the standard wage but a few got more.

(Source: The Citizen, Saturday, July 25, 1992, Page 3 – A Touch of Cumberland History – Down one side of Victoria St. East)