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Blacksmith Shop Lawrencetown Newspaper
Railroad Merchants Bank of Halifax
Post Office Elm House
Lawrencetown Fire Department 100 Years of Medicine
Board of Trade Lawrencetown's Undertaker


About 1905, a blacksmith shop was opened on the Lawrencetown Lane by Mr. Charles Miller. The Lane was much narrower then and the shop was situated away from the road. Now the shop is right beside it. Mr. Miller owned a large wooden block on which he fixed iron wheel tires. The block is still there but is covered by the highway which was widened and paved. For many years Mr. Miller worked in his blacksmith shop. He later sold it to Mr. E. H. Freeman who had moved here from Ontario. Mr. Freeman lived in the house which is now owned by Mr. John Stultz. The shop and the land adjoining were subsequently sold to Mr. W. A. Hills who used the shop as a garage. Some time after Mr. Hills became owner of the shop, he inadvertently discovered the large wooden block which belonged to Mr. Miller.

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For a few years in the late nineteenth century, a local newspaper named "THE HUSTLER" was published in Lawrencetown. The editor of this paper was Mr. F. A. Marshall. Among the more interesting articles to come from "THE HUSTLER" are the following items:
ADVERTISEMENTS. The High School at Lawrencetown opened for the third year (October 3rd 1879) with a complete staff of teachers. Special attention was paid to the teachers' course. Room, board, fire light and washing of clothes $2.00 per week. For particulars contact C. F. Hall, principal; or C. S. Phinney, associate principal.
Important. e.g. Whereas the street through this village has long been used as a race course, endangering lives of some and annoying many of the citizens, and not wishing to deal harshly with any person without giving fair warning, those interested will please take notice that after this date, all persons violating the law in this respect may expect to suffer the penalty herein provided and further that notice referring to the rate of speed through the bridge over the river at this place must be respected.
Signed James H. Whitman J.P.
James Wheelock J.P.
John Morgan J.P.

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The railroad which passes through Lawrencetown was originally know as the Windsor and Annapolis Railway.On July 20,1867, the first sod was turned at the crossing on the Leonard Road by the wife of Avard Longley, Commissioner of Railways in the provincial government. The railroad was constructed by John MacLeod who settled in Lawrencetown, in the house which is now owned by Roy Rodgers. The Windsor and Annapolis Railway was taken over by the Dominion Atlantic Railway in the 1890's and was in turn leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway for 999 years by an agreement signed in 1911.The original station in Lawrencetown was the building once used as a storage shed between Raleigh Eisner's and Mrs. Betty Harris'. In 1906 the building was torn down. A second station was built on the north side of the tracks .It was managed by a new station master , Mr. John James. Mr. James lived in the home west of the Anglican Church . At that time it was a great thrill to take a ride on a train . Whenever a person needed to go to the hospital in Halifax, because of a serious accident or sickness, a special train would be hired to take them. The cost was approximately $100 and this was done until 1920. Lawrencetown was once more important commercially than Middleton. This changed when the Nova Scotia Central Railway Company laid tracks from Middleton through to Bridgewater in the 1880's and the Torbrook Iron Mines opened. After years of active service the Lawrencetown station was bought by the Garrity family who moved it north of the tracks. The station became a barn . The last station built in Lawrencetown was erected by the Hicks Company of Bridgetown about 1928 . Since its construction, some of the station masters have been: Messrs. W. W. Bent, M.Clark, Cliff Belcher, Murray Daniels and Ronald Lister . This station was sold to the Fire Department who moved it north of the tracks in 1976 and use it as a storage building. From its very active life of a few years ago it was practically inactive in 1967. Poor passenger service with regard to reaching even a Nova Scotia destination in one day, and high passenger rates made travelling by rail undesirable.

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In 1878, Mr. Fred Palfrey and Mr. H.B. Hicks, residents of Bridgetown, drove to Lawrencetown by horse and wagon with the money and equipment needed to equip the bank. Dr. J.B. Hall, Walter Palfrey and S.M. Bancroft were influential in starting this bank. The "Merchants Bank of Halifax" name was changed shortly afterwards to the "Royal Bank of Canada." Some of the the managers over the years have been: Messrs. Palfrey, P.C.R. Harris, J.W. Connell, M. Matheson, Freeman, R.M. Whynott, MacIntosh, McGill, D. Theriault and Jim Leslie.

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In 1892 the Lawrencetown Post Office was located at the site of Sam Bent's Store, which at that time also contained a Salvation Army Post. Mr. Horatio James was the postmaster and lived where Mrs. Betty Harris now lives. Mr. James' daughter assisted him. The post office had a main lobby where the towns people waited for their mail. It had a very small wicket and a place to put parcels. There were few windows in the one storey building so that the place was quite dark. Prices of stamps at that time were 2 cents for a letter and 1 cent for a card. The mail was brought to the post office from the railway station by a hand drawn cart. The cart was hauled by Mr. Sam Gesner. Mr. Gesner passed it on to Mr. James, who then gave the rural route mail to Mr. Harris Daniels to deliver. Daniels' son, Elvin, succeeded him. Another well known driver was Howard Corbett. The rural mail deliveries were made by a horse and wagon in the summer and by a horse and sleigh in the winter. The hours for this work were from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. About 1930 a new post office was built on the site of the present one. This building was moved for use as a residence by Herman Edmonds when the present post office was built in 1962. The latter has boxes for each family in the village limits. Each person has a key to their own box. Mr B.L. Rumsey was and still is the postmaster of the new office.

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The Elm House is one of Lawrencetown's oldest landmarks and is located in the centre of town east of the Legion Hall. This hotel was built in 1870 by Alec Oswald and contained twenty-two rooms; upstairs there were nine bedrooms with a bathroom, and the downstairs consisted of an office, a large dining area, kitchen, pantry, living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, hall and display rooms for travellers to display their goods . The house has undergone many changes through the years with Dewitt Rink, L.H. Stoddart, W.E.MacPherson, W.E. Parker, Tom Elliott and E. Wordwooth as previous owners. Much renovation was done by Mr and Mrs.Lester Mullen since 1942. The old house had a small wood stove in practically every room, with fireplaces in the dining and living rooms, and a large round stove standing four feet high which burned hard coal located in the hall and which heated the large house. It closed as a hotel about 1936. For the customers' convenience there was a two storey livery stable next to the house to keep the horses and carriages. The people who made the most use of this hotel were the travellers who stopped in town to show merchants their goods. There were also many salmon fishermen who found the Annapolis River bountiful and stayed in the Elm house.

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The Lawrencetown and District Volunteer Fire Department began in 1898 with the first chief being either Herb or Major Whitman. The fire fighting was done in a bucket brigade form. In 1917 the firemen built two wheeled hose carts with boxes for the fire axes and other tools. These hose carts were pulled by men, horses and later by cars. Victor Whitman was chief at this time. In 1927 Arch Stephenson replaced Victor Whitman and in 1941 Ken Eisner became chief and was replaced by Alan Longley three years later. In 1938 there was an epidemic of fires for about eight months. During this period Crofton Whitman's house and several others burned down.This epidemic brought great interest in the fire department and even greater interest in the rise of fire insurance rates.
It wasn't until the early 1940's that the Lawrencetown and District Volunteer Fire Department was well organized. In 1945 the first piece of machinery, the A.R.P. Pumper which is a trailer and is still used occasionally, was purchased through the Fire Marshall. This pumper was towed to the scene of fires by cars until 1948 when the first truck was bought. A Ford Army four wheel drive truck was also purchased and these two apparatuses were stored at Slauenwhite's Garage until they were moved to the old "hose house" in 1949. Prior to 1949 the alarm of a fire was sent out by the ringing of the church bell. In this year the fire department received two sirens from the army which had been used in the war as air raid alarms. Land was purchased from M.W. Graves in 1946 or 1947 to build the first fire hall on the site where the old hall stands today. Logs were donated by Miner Daniels for the construction which began in 1951 with the firemen doing their own work. These logs were hauled from the gulch below the falls on Phinney Brook. C.J. Slauenwhite replaced Alan Longley as fire chief in 1951. Also in this year another fire truck was purchased. The fire department was lucky to get a La France 1000 because there are only three in Canada. The nick-name of "Big Bertha" came from its huge size and it was bought for $1200 from the War Assets Department. Merle Slauenwhite, who was a very valuable man in the fire department, built a canteen for the exhibition grounds in 1953 with the help of Alan Longley and Clyde Beals. In 1960 it was found that the Lawerncetown water supply and fire hydrants, which had been installed in 1898, were now inadequate and the firemen built a road to the river to pump water from the river. In 1961 the old water mains and fire hydrants were replaced and extended further along the main road. Also in 1961 another fire truck was purchased; a new Mercury pumper which cost $19, 382.
In February of 1967 Fred Healy replaced C.J. Slauenwhite as Chief with Charles Whitman becoming Deputy Chief. In the spring of 1968 a new Chevrolet tanker truck was purchased to replace the old one which the firemen repaired and subsequently sold. The firemen and many other volunteers spent long hours in the building of the Lawrencetown and District Swimming Pool which is owned by the Fire Department and managed by their Pool Committee. The construction of the pool began in April, 1969 and the official opening was on July 15, 1970. Prior to this the Phinney brook was dammed to create a pond where swimming lessons were given between 1945 and 1958. In 1966 the Fire Department bought a local restaurant and opened the Lawrencetown Fire Department Restaurant. This operation is managed by the Department's Restaurant Committee. There are many men and women who have contributed a great deal to this strictly volunteer organization and helped to build it up through the years with money making schemes such as auctions, bingo, canteens, the restaurant and the supervision of parking lots at exhibition time.
In 1973 another truck was purchased to replace the Ford Army truck which was getting old and run down. More land was purchased in 1973 and in December, 1974, construction of a new fire hall, which is valued at more than 200,000 dollars, began. Many men spent long hours with no pay to help in the building. A Federal Government Local Initiative Project Grant totalling approximately 90,000 dollars greatly assisted in the completion of the project. The official opening of this new fire hall occurred on June 18, 1977.

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The Lawrencetown Library was started in 1921 with 60 members. The library was first located in the Demonstration Building but was later moved to the upper story of Merry's Drug Store. At that time Mrs. W.A. Hills and Mrs. A.P. Rumsey were the Librarians. The Library was located there for quite some time, until Willard Morse died and his son sold his house to the library committee for $400. The library was then moved across the road to its present location west of the Royal Bank of Canada. Up to this time no one has ever been paid to operate the library, it has always been a volunteer position.

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The first doctor to settle in Lawrencetown, Dr. John Primose, arrived in 1835. Dr. Primose graduated from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It is thought that Primose came to Canada with the soldiers of the Earl of Dalhousie who settled in East and West Dalhousie, and all along the old military road from Halifax to Annapolis. Doctor Primose first practiced medicine in South Brookfield, Queens County. He was then hired by friends in Lawrencetown to come and practice medicine in the village. Doctor Primose was a successful and loved physician. He lived in the house which is now owned by Herb Anderson. Dr. Primose's son, Samuel, took over his father's practice and was highly successful, his name was almost a household word. He was trained by his father, and when a medical degree was made necessary in Nova Scotia, the legislature granted him one. He was a popular and skillful doctor. He had a pet bear which he kept in his house. Dr. Primose was very strong and would fight or wrestle anyone at any time. Samuel's brother became a dentist in Bridgetown. Dr. Primose and his family are buried in the Valley West cemetery.


Dr. L.R. Morse was born in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia. By teaching in different schools in Annapolis County, including Lawrencetown (1858) and Middleton, he earned money to pay for his medical education. He went to Boston on a schooner to attend Harvard Medical School and graduated in 1861 with his medical degree. He then practiced in Lawrencetown until he died in 1907. Four of his seven children became doctors: Dr. L.R. Morse (father of our present Dr. Frank Morse) was a pioneer surgeon of the valley, Dr. W.T. Morse was a medical missionary in China, Dr. D.G. Morse practiced in British Columbia, and Dr. Ellen M. Morse practiced in Detroit, Michigan. All of these medical graduates served in Lawrencetown for short periods.


He was the oldest son of Dr. L.R. Morse, Senior. He graduated from Acadia in 1892 and from McGill University in 1896. Both he and his brother Reginald starred on the baseball and football teams of these universities. He took post-graduate work in the United States, then returned home to help his sick father. He practiced in Lawrencetown until shortly before his death in 1963. He had a very large practice, being the first surgeon in the valley. For many years he was a Medical Examiner for the Dalhousie Medical School. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society. He was also a governor of Acadia University. Dr. Morse was one of the first X-Ray Specialists in Nova Scotia. During his very active life he was a Major in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in World War One, and a survivor of the Halifax Explosion. Dr. L.R. Morse proudly gave his two sons, Dr. Lewis Morse and Dr. Frank Morse, to the medical profession.


He was popularly known as "Dr. Lewis" and is the son of Dr. L. R. Morse, Junior. Dr. Lewis graduated from the Arts program at Acadia in 1931 and in Medicine from the University of Toronto in 1936. He did post- graduate work at the Vancouver General, The Royal Victoria, Montreal and still later at Yale University. He returned to Lawrencetown in 1938, where he assisted his father until 1941 when he enlisted in World War Two as a navel surgeon. After the war "Dr. Lewis" specialized in Urology (the branch of Medical Science that deals with the diseases and treatment of the genito urinary tract) and has practiced in Saint John since then.


Dr. L. R. Morse gave yet another son to the Medical profession in the person of our own Dr. Frank. After undergraduate work at Acadia, Dr. Frank graduated in Medicine from Dalhousie University in 1938. He took post- graduate work at the Montreal General Hospital and became qualified as a specialist in General Surgery. He then returned to Lawrencetown where he has faithfully served the community since 1941. Dr. Frank has completed a hundred years of "Morse Medicine" in Lawrencetown since his grandfather began his practice here in 1861. This hundred years has seen sweeping changes in medicine. The first Dr. L. R. Morse faced epidemics of measles and diphtheria that his grandson Dr. Frank can prevent by inoculations. Dr. L. R. Morse, Senior did practically no surgery, and had no hospital to work from. Dr. L. R. Morse, Junior was one of the founders of the original Soldiers Memorial Hospital located on Gates Avenue in Middleton. Dr. Frank uses the facilities of the new Soldiers Memorial Hospital with its many modern conveniences.


Dr. Young was born is Lawrencetown. He received his education at Lawrencetown School, followed by pre-medicine at Acadia University, a Medical Degree at Dalhousie, post-graduate work at Harvard University, and also in Baltimore, Maryland. His first private medical practice was in Clementsport. He later he settled in Lawrencetown. His office was in his home which is now owned by Mr. Perley Bent. Dr. young died in 1917 at the age of 44, following an operation at the Halifax Infirmary. While at Harvard, Dr. Young met and married Elsie Jean Brannan of Baltimore. Their two sons and their families, now live in Lawrencetown. F.Brannen Young, who worked at the Beaver Fruit Co-operative Limited as a television technician, died in 1974, and Jean H. Young , now retired, worked at C.F.B. Greenwood.

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In November of 1886 the first Board of Trade was founded in Lawrencetown by J.R. Elliott and was called the Lawrencetown Free Trade League. Following are the three main objectives of the Board: 1.To discuss and study questions of political economy, especially pertaining to the Laws of Trade and to diffuse and discuss information pertaining to this.
2. After discussing questions and current matters a well rounded public opinion is formed and swiftly sent to the Legislature where action takes place.
3. To simulate similar organizations and to strengthen brotherhood in them and with them.
This League existed, although inactive, for many years until January,1965 when E.W. Elliott took over the president's chair and at this time the Lawrencetown Board of Trade began to flourish. About 1960 the Middleton Board invited Lawrencetown to join them but Lawrencetown members felt the village was large enough that it should have its own Board of Trade.

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Crofton Fitzgerald Uniacke Whitman was born in 1885 and died January 22, 1960. He was the last undertaker for Lawrencetown and District. He was a successful farmer, business man and a valuble member of the United Church. Mr. Whitman learned his business from his father-in-law Wiliam FitzRandolph of South Williamston. The first funeral home was in South Williamston at the farm house of William FitzRandolph and then Crofton Fitzgerald Uniacke Whitman took over the business and the house burned down, which was only one of his misfortunes with his different homes burning. After the home and parlour burned he moved to the site of the Municipal Offices (formerly the Land Survey Institute).