UPPER GRANVILLE, N.S. - In Upper Granville there are 69 houses -- and a thousand stories for each one.
Like the time Charlie Hudson was milking the cows and a chimney fire spread not only to the house but to the attached barn and the whole place went up in flames.
That was where the Troop house is now at civic number 8003 on Highway 1 in that stretch heading west out of Bridgetown. The Hudsons lived in a shed for 12 years while they rebuilt and ended up selling the property to Mackie Troop.
That’s one of the stories Peggy Gillis, Jean Ward, Janice Lawrence, Joan Hudson, Carl and Linda Phinney, Carolyn Scott, and Beryl Hannam chronicle in a new book called ‘An Upper Granville Diary’ that was launched on Dec. 1 at the home of Jean and Russell Ward.
The book, like a lot of ideas, came from talk over a cup of coffee. Literally. Jean Ward was hosting her annual July 1 Coffee Party where discussion turned to local history and someone said they should write a book before that history was lost or forgotten. It was Canada 150 and Janice Lawrence brought some Canada trivia questions with her but threw in some Upper Granville questions as well.
Peggy Gillis stood up and said ‘We should write a book.’ The rest is history, sort of. They went out into the community and conducted interviews, gathered information, and took pictures.
Lawrence wrote the book’s introduction and based on tons of information collected by the group, wrote the manuscript that was edited by numerous others involved in the effort.
She describes the book as one of collective memories compiled by friends, family, and neighbours.
“So here we are, 90+ years of ‘An Upper Granville Diary,’ from the Wards on the hill on the outskirts of the former Bridgetown limits to the Phinney Mountain Road,” she said in the introduction. “The area that we know as Upper Granville.”
The community was named for Lord John Cartaret, the Earl of Granville, England. It was settled by the English after the Acadian expulsion, and in 1764 the Granville Township was granted to 168 proprietors and included Granville Centre and Granville Beach. Belleisle was also part of Upper Granville and the lots ran from the Annapolis River to the Bay of Fundy.
The book details as much information as possible about numerous of the homes, including architectural style, history, and context or location within the community. Names of current owners and past owners are also detailed and professions are recounted.
For instance the ‘White’ house on Hebb’s Landing Road was built in 1834 by Thomas Walker. Jump ahead more than 100 years to 1952 and the property is home to Harold Walker, a farmer and maintenance worker in Annapolis County schools. His wife Marion is remembered for riding her motorized bike and later her motorized scooter. The property has changed hands several times since Marion died and Harold moved to Hampton with his new wife.
There is even one house that was moved from Digby to 75 Phinney Mountain Road in 2013 and is completely solar.
The book speaks of family, friends, dreams, and of course the beautiful setting in one of the most fertile valleys in the country.
“I was a little concerned that the river would be too small to satisfy my yearnings,” said Lynn Main in an article reprinted from ‘Our Canada’ where she speaks about her dream house at 7712 Highway 1, “but it is more than enough. Jon and I never tire of the wonderful view from our windows and back deck. The scenery changes from season to season, day to day, and even hour to hour.”
They bought the property from Arthur Deveau in 2003. The house was built in 1840 by Phineas Phinney. The Mains built a new home after a controlled burn of the original house.
The book is filled with old and new photos, talks about roads, railroads, contains a section on cemeteries with some interesting stories attached.
Russell and Jean Ward visited the Phinney Pasture Cemetery and found a stone with the name Josiah Dodge from Massachusetts Bay who died in 1837.
“Josiah Dodge had come to help the English overthrow the French at Louisburg and then was asked to come to Granville to help with land grants,” the book notes.
There is also a section on special events like Christmas concerts, card parties, skating, parades, quilting bees, and haying time. The section on the Upper Granville School chronicles a long history dating back to 1850 until 1959 when the kids were sent to school in Bridgetown.
And of course there is a page about ghosts, including the story of a headless horseman riding up and down over the bridge at the neighbourhood known as ‘The Newcombe Brook Bridge.’
The book also includes a page recounting all of the childhood entertainment back in the days before television. There are 28 items and every one of them was outdoors, including: games like Red Light/ Green Light, Mother May I, Marbles, Tag, and Hide n’ Seek, plus activities such as skipping, building forts, Hop Scotch, coasting, and even skinny dipping.
The book is dedicated to the late Edwin Gillis, 82, who was a force behind getting the book project started.
‘An Upper Granville Diary’ is available at Treasures and Collectables in Upper Granville and at Endless Shores Books in Bridgetown.