Photographs courtesy of Norman Munroe

Pictou  /  Pictou Island Pictou Landing  /  Piedmont  /  Pinetree  /  Plainfield  /  Pleasant Valley  /  Plymouth  /  Ponds  /  Poplar Hill  /  Priestville


PICTOU, Pictou County

        This town is located on the north-west side of Pictou Harbour.  Its name is derived from the Micmac "Piktook" meaning an explosion of gas.  La riviere de Pictou was applied to this harbour by Nicolas Denys who explored it in the 1660's.

        In 1765 a block of land on the west side of West River, its eastern boundary running through the present village of Halliburton was granted to a company whose members mostly resided in Philadelphia.  This company chartered the brig Betsy which left Philadelphia  in May, 1767, bound for the Philadelphia Grant with Captain Hull, Dr. Harris, Robert Patterson, James McCabe, John Rogers, Henry Cumminger and one other family.  They arrived on June 10, 1767, and began settling along the west river.  In July, 1773, the Hector left Loch Broom, Scotland, with one hundred and seventy-nine passengers from that place and ten from Greenock.  It arrived at Pictou on September 15, 1773, and the people came ashore to found the town on land granted to Alexander McNutt in 1765.  The McNutt Grant had been escheated in 1770 and in August, 1783, part of it was regranted to forty-four people, mostly Hector passengers.  Pictou town was laid out in 1788 and the first house was built about 1790.

        Five thousand acres of the escheated McNutt Grant, including Pictou townsite was granted to Lieutenant Richard Williams of the 80th Regiment, in 1775.  He allegedly traded it for a horse with Walter Patterson who laid out a town he called Coleraine.  In September, 1787, John Patterson acquired part of the tract, divided land into building lots and named it New Paisley, probably after his home town.  Various names were applied to the township.  In January, 1770, there were one hundred and twenty people in Donegall or Pictou township.  In November, 1775, there were fifty-three families in the district of Pictou.  In February, 1783, seventy men were able to bear arms at Pictou or Tinmouth (Taignmouth).

        The population of the town swelled by the Loyalist immigration in 1784 and by February, 1830, there were about 1500 residents.  Pictou was incorporated as a town in 1873.  In November, 1881, fire destroyed St. Lawrence Hotel, the Masonic Hall and other buildings with $34,000.00 loss.  In November, 1890, fire destroyed the jail and twenty business establishments, A $30,000.00 fire destroyed Revere Hotel on February 18, 1905.  In 1946, a $1,000,000.00 blaze destroyed the docking facilities.  On July 6, 1959, a $4,000,00 fire destroyed the docks again as well as part of Ferguson Industries Ltd., and the Federal Hydrographic Survey buildings.  Fire partially destroyed business blocks with $250,00.00 loss on August 19, 1960, and with $500,000.00 loss on December 4, 1960.

        St. James Anglican Church was begun in 1825, the exterior completed by 1827, consecrated August 16, 1829.  The new St. James Church was begun in 1879, opened June 15, 1881 and consecrated May 31, 1888.  St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was laid June 15, 1865, and it was consecrated in August, 1866.  An off-shoot of Presbyterianism called the Morrisonian Church or the Evangelical Union of Scotland opened a Church building on January 4, 1857.  About 1868 this was acquired by the Methodist and used by them until 1925, after which it was used by the United Church of Canada until 1937.  The United Church and dedicated it on August 1, 1937.  The United Church purchased he old John Knox Free Church and dedicated it on August 1, 1937.  The new Pictou United Church was opened and dedicated on June 28, 1964 and the old Knox Church was torn down in 1966.  The frame of the Presbyterian Church was erected in 1804.  It was replaced by the new First Church in 1848.  A wooden Church was erected for St. Andrew's Kirk about 1823.  The new St. Andrew's Kirk was opened and dedicated on January 10, 1869.  This church burned down November 7, 1893, and was rebuilt soon after.  John Knox Free Church was opened May, 1848.  In 1918, Knox and First Presbyterian Church merged to form First Presbyterian Church.

        A school was opened by Peter Grant about 1793.  Other schools were kept by Messrs. Glennie, Graham and Logie.  A grammar school was established by Rev. Thomas McCulloch, July, 1811.  A school-house was built by June, 1818, in which Patrick Connelly taught the first six months of the year.  Pictou Infant school was established about 1842.  A new school-house was completed in December, 1866.  A south Pictou school was built about 1872.  High Street school burned down in January, 1883, and was replaced by a new building by November.  A $65,000.00 school was constructed in 1930, opened in October.  A new school was erected at Victoria Heights in 1942 was opened in February, 1943.  McDonald School built for Stella Maris Parish was opened in November, 1955.

        The original Pictou Academy building was completed in 1818.  A Divinity Hall was opened in one of the rooms in the summer of 1820.  The school closed in August, 1844, but re-opened in 1846.  The building was demolished in 1932.  A new Academy building was begun on May 24, 1880 and opened on January 9, 1881, but it burned down October 26, 1895.  The new Academy was completed by December, 26, 1896, but it too burned down on June 3, 1938.  A new building was erected in 1940.

        A post office was established about 1813.  A post office building was erected in 1895.  The corner-stone of the new Pictou Federal building was laid August 30, 1955.

        Pictou Marine Hospital was under construction in 1883.  The Pictou Cottage Hospital was formally opened December 6, 1906.  Sutherland Memorial Hospital was opened June 27, 1928.  A nurses residence was built in 1944.  The new Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital was opened June 1, 1966.

    A jail was erected about 1792 and  in 1813 a court-house was built.  A new court-house was built in 1856.  A new Customs House was nearing completion in April, 1876.

        A new Masonic Hall was completed in 1886 to replace the one begun in August, 1867, and destroyed by fire in 1881.  The construction of a Convent for the Catholic parish was begun in and purchased in November, 1880, by Sir Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, was sold to the Grand Lodge of Oddfellows in 1923.  A chapel for the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church was opened in the renovated Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company building in September, 1959.

        A lighthouse was built at Cole Point in 1834.  A lighthouse burned down on May 27, 1903.  A battery for defence was erected on Battery Hill about 1811-12.  A drill hall for the Pictou volunteers was completed by December, 1862.

        Newspapers published in Pictou were, The Colonial Patriot by William Milne, begun December 7, 1827;  The Pictou Observer edited by Rev. J. K. McKenzie and published by W. Gossip, May 11, 1831; The Juvenile Entertainer, by William Milne, August 6, 1832; The Pictou Bee by J. Dawson, May 27, 1835; The Mechanic and Farmer by J. Stiles, May 23, 1838;  The Eastern Chronicle, a merge of the last two papers under Geldart and Patterson in 1843 which moved to New Glasgow in 1866.  The Missionary Register, a monthly edited by E. M. McDonald in 1850; The Christian Instructor begun in 1855 by Rev. George Patterson, which two amalgamated in 1856; The Christian Record begun in 1843 with Rev. Hugh Dunbar as editor.   The Colonial Standard by S. H. Holmes, November 2, 1858;  The Colonial Prenological Journal by A. B. Parker, editor, May 1860; The Pictou News published by W. Harris and edited by C. D. McDonald in September, 1882.  The Pictou Advocate begun in December, 1893, with J. D. McDonald as editor and still being  published in 1966 and the Pictou Canadian under R. S. Hamilton in 1900.  Two magazines, "The Little Visitor and The Times Magazine" were begun in 1843 and 1856 respectively.

        The Pictou Railway between Pictou, Westville and Stellarton was begun in June, 1886, opened November 28, 1887. The "Short Line" was under construction between Oxford Junction and Pictou in 1888 and was opened in 1890.  A new Intercolonial Railway Station and roundhouse was built in 1905-1906.

        A public subscription library was established in 1822 and lasted for about thirty years.  A new Y.M.C.A. building was under construction in 1879.  The ground floor was used as a Post Office, probably until 1895.

        In 1775 travel between Pictou and P.E.I. was by birch bark canoe.  A regular packet was running by 1825 and in 1830 the steam boat  Richard Smith was put on this route.  By December, 1888 the Stanley was running regularly between Pictou and Pictou Landing by John Foster, Jr. in 1806.

        In the beginning Pictou's industries were lumbering, fishing and shipbuilding.  In 1962, Pictou was a ship building refit and repair centre, a concentration and collection point for lobsters from Northumberland Strait and salmon from Belle Isle Strait, and lumber was a major export.  Hamilton's Bakery was begun by George Hamilton as a bakeshop in 1840.  It was purchased by Westons Ltd. in 1955. Pictou Iron Foundry went into operation in 1856.  A coal-oil manufacturory was built in 1860.  Robert Campbell operated a tannery here in the 1860's and 1870's.  In 1871 the Pictou Boot and Shoe Company was incorporated.  The Pictou Gas Works were in operation in the 1870's.  In 1906 Allan A. Ferguson purchased a foundry and developed the Pictou Foundry and Machine Company.  On December 28, 1950, this Company was incorporated as Ferguson Industries Ltd., steel ships being their most important product since 1942.  Maritime Packers established in 1910 by Samuel Broidy at River John was purchased by National Sea Products Ltd., in 1965.  Pictou Cutlery Ltd., begun in March, 1948, in a purchased navy barracks, was incorporated in July, 1949.  Other industries established before 1962 were; Atlantic Milling Co. Ltd., Fred Magee Ltd., Canners, and Stright and MacKay, boat builders.

        Population in 1961 was 4,534.


PICTOU ISLAND, Pictou County

        This settlement is scattered over the island from which it takes its name and which is located in the Northumberland Strait about eight to ten miles off shore.  The names date back at least to the 1760's when it was applied to the Island by Fredrick DesBarres.  Indian names were "Akoogomich" and "Gunsunkook."  It was granted to Sir Alexander Inglis Cochrane in 1809.  In 1814 he sent William Cumming as his agent to settle the island and Cumming was accompanied by families named Boyd, Hagan, and Morris from Ireland. In 1819, John and Donald McDonald and Charles Campbell moved there.  In 1820 Kenneth McKenzie purchased Cumming's property.  Strife broke out between Irish and Holland Scots and the Irish departed.  On November 1, 1833, W.A. Hartshorne purchased the Island from Sir Alexander for [pounds] 750.  By 1887 there were twenty-seven farms on the island, farming and lobstering being the main industries.

        A Presbyterian Church was begun in 1909 and completed and free of debt by September, 1911.

        A school-house was built here by 1879.  In 1958 a one-room school was built.

        A post office was established in September, 1881.  In 1854 a lighthouse was completed on the south east point.

        Population in 1956 was 150.



    This settlement is on the opposite side of Pictou Harbour from Pictou town.  It was probably so named because it was the landing place for ferries crossing the harbour from Pictou.  The land was included in a grant made in 1765 to John Fisher, hence an early name was Fishers Grant. By 1875 "Walmsley" town had been laid out here by members of the disbanded 82nd Regiment from the American War but it never became more than a plan.  Settlement probably began soon after the Hector arrived in 1773.  About December, 1783, Lieut. Col. Robertson of the 82nd Regiment sent disbanded troops to the possession of Fishers Grant, "on which people had already been settled for many years."  A stone house, built by Captain Donald McDonald in 1835 was still standing in the 1950's.  Bethel's Presbyterian Church was opened and dedicated February 23, 1873.  Bethesda Kirk was opened March 19, 1882.

        Hugh Dunbar was schoolmaster at Fishers Grant for a term beginning in November 1, 1822.  A new school-house was completed and opened in 1875 at Fishers Grant North.  Pictou Landing school was torn down in 1962 having been replaced by a new school in 1961.

        A postal way office was established in 1867.

        A clubhouse for the Royal William Yacht Club was completed in 1961.

        A railway line was completed from New Glasgow in October, 1866, and operated until coal shipments to the loading pier ceased a few years ago.

        About the beginning of the 20th century this became a resort area with summer cottages and other instruments of leisure.

        Population in 1956 was 367.


PIEDMONT, Pictou County

         This rural area is located about four miles south of Merigomish Harbour.  It was settled about 1810-1816 by James Hagart of Kenmore, Scotland, and others from Blair Athole, Scotland.  Lather the name was given by Rev. Dugald McKeichan from its situation at the foot of a range of hills.

        A Methodist Church was dedicated on December 29, 1884.  A postal way office was established in 1861.  A school-house was built before 1885.  

        By October 15, 1879, the Eastern Extension Railway was completed from the New Glasgow to within one mile of Antigonish.  A station was built here in September, 1880.  Cummings Furniture factory was built between 1868 and 1883.

        Population in 1956 was 56.  


PINETREE, Pictou County

        This settlement is located on Pinetree Brook near the head of Merigomish Harbour.  The place received its name before 1809 probably because of a prominent pine tree which was used as a landmark.

        Daniel Fraser received a grant here in 1809.  He was a Halifax merchant and had made some improvements on the land before the grant was made.  He had purchased it from William Fraser who held it under a license of occupation from Governor Wentworth.  The adjacent lot to the north was obtained prior to 1806 by George Roy, a native of Scotland and resident of Nova Scotia since 1783.  William McKay, William Fraser alias Miller, and James Fraser had settled near Pine Tree Gut by William Fraser between 1798 and 1808 when he received a license of occupation for the land.  In 1838, William Fraser purchased a lot of land and began construction of a saw and grist mill in 1839.  The mill was carried away by a freshet in August, 1840, and in February, 1841 he asked the Provincial Legislature for help to rebuilt.

        About 1820 a school was established under Patrick Finney.

        Fishing and farming are the main industries.

        Population in 1956 was 125.


PLAINFIELD, Pictou County

        This rural area is situated near the headwaters of the east branch of the River John.  The name is descriptive and was given before 1859.

        James McCara  purchased 900 acres from Robert Pagan, just west of here and settled on it about 1796.  Charles Sutherland came here from Scotland in 1811 and in 1830 the family of Alexander Sutherland moved here from Earltown.

        Postal way offices were established from 1859-1860 and 1865.

        Farming and lumbering are the basic industries.

        Population in 1956 was 111.



       This settlement is located about five miles south-west of the town of Westville and about three miles west of the Middle River, in north central Nova Scotia.  The name is descriptive.

        Thomas McKenzie, a blacksmith from Gairloch, Ross-shire, Scotland, 1805 and Alexander McDonald were both settled here by 1814. Walter Ross was settled in this area by 1815.  John McKenzie along with Walter Ross and Thomas McKenzie received a grant of land here in 1815.

        Farming is the main industry.

        Population in 1956 was 54.


PLYMOUTH, Pictou County

        This rural area is located about a mile south of Stellarton near the East River.  It may have been named after Plymouth, England.  An early name was Irishtown until 1873 when Irishtown and Churchtown became Plymouth.

        Collin McKenzie emigrated from Scotland in 1773 and received a 350 acre grant on East River Pictou in 1783. William McLeod also received a grant here in 1773 and both were settled by 1789.  John McKenzie obtained a grant in 1789.

        A Presbyterian Church was built in 1803.

        In July, 1913, the school here was abandoned being no longer fit for use.

        Farming is the main industry.

        Population in 1956 was Plymouth 291, Plymouth Park, 157.



PONDS, Pictou County

        This rural area is located about four miles west of the Antigonish-Pictou County line on the north shore of Nova Scotia.  The name was prompted by one of the area's natural features.  John Smith settled here about 1791.  He and Samuel Main a resident by 1809, received grants of land in 1815.  John Paton also was an early settler.

        Fishing and farming are the basic industries.

        Population in 1956 was 122.


POPLAR HILL, Pictou County

       This rural area is located about five miles south of the mouth of  Toney River near the north shore of Nova Scotia.  This name is descriptive.  Because of its location near the head of the Caribou River the early settles called it "Cariboo River Settlement."

        Daniel Munro of Inverness-shire, John Brown of Edinburgh and James Blake from Aberdeenshire, emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1817 and settled here during the year.  Robert Patterson received a grant here in 1817 in lieu of lands lost to George McConnell because of the escheat of the Philadelphia grant.  By 1882 Ezra Reid, Andre Olsen, Daniel Miner, James Reid, and Thomas Robertson were settled here.  Ezra Reid died before 1824 and his wife Sarah obtained a grant of the land in 1824.  In the same year grants were made to Jonathan Hartley, a native of Cumberland, England, who emigrated in June, 1822, and to William Hendry who came from Ayrshire, New Brunswick, in 1820.  The other part of Henry's lot was located to Mr. Irvinein 1822.

        A new school-house was completed in 1903.

        A postal way office was established at Popular Hill on July 1, 1873, with George Morrison as postmaster.

        Farming is the basic industry. 


PRIESTVILLE, Pictou County

        This community is located within the south east boundary of New Glasgow.  It may have been so named because of a priest who lived here.  Settlement in this area probably began as a result of the establishment of Standard Clay Products Ltd. in the early twentieth century.

        On May 12, 1913, the Priestville school section was created and a school was built that year to serve an increasing number of people attracted by the clay works.  A new 2-room school was built in 1944.

        The main industries nearby are: Standard Clay Products Ltd., L. E. Shaw Ltd., Tidewater Construction Ltd., and Eastern Woodworks Ltd..

Population in 1956 was 319.