Cape Breton Book of Days
From The Cape Breton Book of Days. Published by the University of Cape Breton Press in 1984. Newton is the author of three books, including The Book of Seasons: The Search for Our Rural Roots. She lives in Cape Breton, NS. April 16, 1747
“Worst Spot on Globe”
Charles Knowles, British governor of Cape Breton from 1746–47, doesn’t like his posting at Louisbourg. In a letter to England, he writes “… in general I can only say it is the worst spot upon the Globe… for my part I have struggled hard to weather the winter, which I’ve done thank God, though was not above three times out of my room for 5 months.”
June 26, 1833
A local man is appointed to be chief inspector of pickled fish for Cape Breton County.
January 1, 1862
Source of Tension
Nine young men from Main-à-dieu and Louisbourg join the crew of the American fishing vessel, “Hir Crue.” Local fishermen don’t like the American fishing fleet coming into the local ports and recruiting the young men to join their crews. In fact, local fishermen don’t care for Americans and Europeans fishing in their waters at all. August 4, 1874
“Thicken With Flour”
Barrels of flour are released from a sinking ship off Cape Rouge this summer. Many Cheticamp residents rescue three or four barrels, but Martin Deveau finds thirty-eight barrels. During the storm, some of the other barrels break open and the flour spills out into the water, mixing with it and thickening it, so that the stormy seas are calmed.
December 9, 1886
The Strong Woman of Benacadie It is said that Catherine Cameron Macinnis of Benacadie, daughter of “Big” John Cameron, is the strongest woman the area has ever known. She gains her reputation one market day. Without a team to haul goods two miles away to the boat, her husband Donald starts off carrying two large bags of oats on his shoulders. He is surprised to hear Catherine coming behind him through the woods with a carcass of pork on her shoulders.
February 24, 1896
You Think Celsius is Confusing Changes in the Weather Code: Dense fog becomes chill; light fog becomes chilly. Dense haze becomes chip; light haze becomes chippy. Dense mist becomes crisp; light smoke becomes crispy. These words will be used instead of fog, haze or smoke. April 13, 1907
Residents of Sydney Mines complain about mail delivery from Sydney. Mail takes twenty-four hours to reach them from Sydney. A letter leaves Sydney early in the morning and reaches Florence by 9 o’clock. Sydney Mines is only about one and a half miles away, but the letters aren’t delivered until the following morning.
December 14, 1908
“Gem of Canada”
In a recent booklet, issued by the Department of the Interior, naturalist Prof. Macoun has written about Cape Breton in glowing terms. “I consider Cape Breton the gem of Canada. The climate is grand… never too hot, never too cold.”
August 22, 1930
Three booze joints are raided in the first seizure of liquor to be made at North Sydney since the New Act came into effect. All police can find at the Queen Hotel is an empty pitcher that smells of liquor.
November 1, 1932
Rats as Big as Deer
It is brought to the attention of council in Glace Bay that there are huge rodents “some as big as a buck deer” living in the covered drains at No. 11 and these are a danger to children. Council replies that the coal company is responsible for the maintenance of the drains. March 12, 1950
Mrs. Effie Bennett of Upper Prince Street gets more than she bargained for when she purchased half a ton of coal from the Dominion Coal Co.’s depot on George Street. Getting up early this morning, before her eight children were up, to kindle the kitchen stove fire, she discovers a stick of dynamite in her load of coal. February 6, 1951
North West Arm “Monster”
Rube Chislett of Upper North Sydney gets a surprise when he investigates a log floating just offshore. The log turns out to be a “sea horse” about seven feet long, which disappears as the ice forms in the harbour.
The Little Watchers (2016) by Lucie Bosquin. 13˝x13˝, paper collage. Bosquin is a collage artist and furniture upholsterer. She lives in Montreal. See more of her work on the cover of this issue and at luciebosquin.com.