Bear River Architecture

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A Great Reason to celebrate!

Published September 2, 2013 by oddacity designs

The weather was perfect, and the occasion sublime!  The grand opening of the Bear River Millyard cottages was a complete success in every way!

Those interested in the exciting development of the Bear River Recreation Millyard , and the future of Bear River, gathered on the shores of Bear River on Aug. 17 for a fun filled evening of food, music and comraderie.  During the course of the evening the guests were treated to a look at the fabulous new accommodations, a glimpse of the new book about Bear River, fabulous food, remarks about the development of the property and delightful music by George Sloane, Dan Lagan, Jack Fuller and guest flutist, Ai.

The little yellow houses are the brilliant design of Frank Zimmeck, a true artist, and the guests delighted in the remarkable detail work that adorn  the cottages.  In fact, they delighted in everything about them…especially the view!

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The week of Sept. 8 to 15 2012

Published September 16, 2012 by oddacity designs


In Bear River, Nova Scotia this week…

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The Annapolis Highland Winery held their third annual fall festival and the weather was perfect, as was the food and wine.  Music on the deck had everyone relaxed and enjoying the view while sampling different vintages from this award winning winery.  Bear River is fortunate indeed to have such a thriving and exceptional enterprise in our backyard!

The Bass Fishing Tournament was held on Sept. 15 with absolutely no fish caught.  But as co-chair Fred Miller said: “No big deal; everyone had a great time anyway and that’s what it’s all about!”

But someone caught a big one….The Winner of the $1000 prize for biggest fish from the Bear River Millyard Recreation is Brian (B.J) Trimper.  Nice job guys…congratulations!

This one didn’t get away!



Village news: As It happens! June 19

Published June 19, 2012 by oddacity designs

Condolences to the family and friends of Wayne Milbury who passed away on June 18th after a long fight with cancer. NaSCAR lost one of its biggest fans. The memorial service will be held at the Bear River Legion on Thursday, June 21st.

Olivia Justason celebrated her fourth birthday on June 14th with a new bicycle and a party at her granddad’s cottage.

Raine Ryan, daughter of Shyla Harris and Cory Ryan is home  from the hospital after successful surgery.  Her parents wish to thank every one for all their support over the past several months.

A fun-filled  and delicious birthday celebration was held at the home of Jack Fuller and Suzey Jacques on the occasion of  Jack’s birthday, June 18.

It looks like The Wilson family: Tim, Simone and boys, will be able to return home soon after being forced to move when the roof collapsed last November. The work is continuing, and hopefully they will be able to get their house insured.

Anna Green is back in the saddle and My Dreams Cafe is now open for another season of yumminess.

It’s nice to see Cathy and Dick back in their Bear River residence for the summer.

Also back for the summer are Dove Ballon and Alan Dale who are always such a delightful addition to the community.

Avery Cress: Fish tales and Beefsteak Tomatoes

Published June 15, 2012 by oddacity designs

Fish Tales and Beefsteak Tomatoes



By Angela McMullen

A collection of stories of the people of Bear River would not be complete without an Avery Cress profile.

Avery Bruce Cress of the Chute Road was a story-teller who loved every aspect of his humble life. His happy eyes were a reflection of his soul; kind and ever so gentle.

Avery was proud of the life he had created for himself.  So much so, that his enthusiasm spilled over into many conversations through social opportunities and home visits.

He was well-known for the luscious gardens he shared so lovingly with those in his life and those in the community. Avery always had a stand at the end of his driveway from which he sold vegetables. If you were lucky to find him at home, you were in for a treat.   Stories and facts swarmed in his head, tidbits he eagerly shared with anyone who cared to listen. Avery carefully explained different varieties of vegetables and best growing environments, and it seemed as though tomatoes were his favorite.

A visit with Avery was an exceptional social experience. You could get a lesson on bird behavior, and it was likely that you’d be invited to feed the birds at a feeder.  You could be invited inside to listen to him play the harmonica or enjoy a lesson in CB communication.

Children enjoyed a short walk to the fish pond where Avery swept them away in storybook fashion with fish tales.  A visit with Avery left you with the feeling that you could do anything; swim any ocean or climb any mountain.

His granddaughter Wendy Richard remembers him fondly and has submitted a school project she compiled on her grandfather as a young girl.

Remembrance Day a few years back also inspired an essay from Ms. Richard, which is posted as well.




A Piece of History

By Wendy Richard

A boy named Avery Cress was born in Deep Brook,AnnapolisCountyin a rented house to his parents Roderick and Elsie Cress in 1921.

His father died when he was two years old. His mother remarried when he was four. She married Frank Kaulback. She had another son and two daughters by her new husband. Then they moved to Victory, which is between Bear River andSouth Milford.

His step-father made him work hard and they didn’t have a lot of money. His chores were to feed farm animals such as chickens and pigs. He also had to milk the cows and cut and pile firewood.

His sisters’ chores were quite different. They picked berries in the summer. They did the housework and some of the cooking.

The schools were important to the community because of the things it did for the community. It taught children as well as held small meetings and bake sales.

The church was very important in the community because of the religious sense. The church was also used for weddings.

There was a truck that held supplies. On the truck was food like fruits, vegetables, candy, oil for lamps and other various articles. There were two stores, two churches and two schools.

Victory was a very rural community. Everybody had to work very hard. There wasn’t a lot of spare time for anyone.

Electricity hadn’t reached Victory while my grandfather lived there. To this day, electricity still does not run in Victory.

During the Depression years Victory did pretty good. The people there were farmers and wood cutters and were almost self-sufficient. The only thing they needed to buy was kerosene flour, molasses and butter. His step-father cut wood and would trade it for the supplies the truck would carry.

There were different ways to save supplies as well as money. At night, a family would blow out their lanterns and go to a neighbors house. They would alternate houses, thereby saving fuel and socializing at the same time.

Christmas during the Depression was pretty slim. There would only be one toy; a mouth organ or a jackknife, a coconut and some oranges, but no one went hungry and everyone stuck together and made it through.

Grampy quit school after grade ten. He thought he would be freer, but quickly found out this wasn’t so. He had to work for his step-grandfather. They cut pulp wood by hand, ten hours a day  for one dollar or one dollar and fifty cents a day.

He says he regrets quitting school, but by the time he was eighteen, they had moved to Bear Riverand he decided to join the Army. There was a war on in a far away place and they paid good money, one dollar and sixty-five cents a day in the Army. This sounded more exciting than working for his step-father so away he went.

The family moved to Bear River when he was seventeen.Bear River had jobs and electricity. His first job was in the lumber mill and he made fifteen cents an hour. This was easier than working in the woods and Bear Riverwas almost a city compared to life in Victory.

During the war, he went to many foreign countries;Germany,Belgium,Holland,Italy and Africa. He also learned to stand up for himself and matured very quickly. He also met a woman, Annie Stewart, whom h e would later marry.

While he was in Europe he sent twenty dollars a month home to his mother. When he got home he had over a thousand dollars. He had a wife  and they used the money to build their house, where he still lives to this day. With his new attitude, his step-father treated him much better too.

While he was away, things changed in the community also. People were making four dollars a day, a wage unheard of five years before. When he came back on the train, it stopped at Cornwallis. He didn’t know where he was. There was nothing there when he left and now was a busy job generating place.

If given a chance to live at any time, grampy would have chosen to have been born in the twenties. Many parts of his childhood were rough, he doesn’t like to talk about it, but life was simpler then, and he fondly remembers the war years. He also said he’d do it again, and is glad he went.

The present is difficult. He says he wouldn’t want to be a teenager these days because of crime, drugs and world instability.

He says he wouldn’t want to be a young person bringing up small children.

His outlook for the future is not very optimistic. Fewer and fewer jobs, high tech war, pollution and many other problems make the future look bleak to him. Is he wrong or will we have what it takes to get us through like they did then?

Avery Cress

A Remembrance Day Reflection

By Wendy Richard


When I think of my grandfather Avery, I reflect on his many gardens and his dedication to making them bigger and better, year after year, right up to his death; rows of potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans and corn.

I remember the smell of his shirt, a concoction of sweat, dirt and citronella. To this day, when I close my eyes and see him, my eyes still water with the memories of these scents.

Avery didn’t always wear a shirt. To catch him wearing one around the house was a rare find.

People often stopped by to chat, get advice or to have a drink or a smoke.

He cared not the least about his appearance. I can still remember what he looked like wearing black socks and dress shoes.

His housekeeping was not up to snuff at the best of times. I remember as a kid staying over at his house on weekends. In August there were flannel sheets on the bed and dirt on them, which I thought nothing of and just brushed off. Looking back, I cannot say that he ever changed those sheets.  At the time I thought to myself, “Don’t look. Don’t check for dirt.”

Morning time meant waking to grampy’s homemade pancakes, and as a younger child, cornflakes were on the breakfast menu.

Winter and summer both, it was likely three hundred degrees on his house, with the kitchen stove blazing hot and the one in the living room glowing red.  The house was very small so likely one stove would have heated it. I can remember uniformed columns of wood piled to the ceiling in the kitchen, the living room, and in the porch. I am sure if there had been room in the bathroom and bedroom, he would have piled it there also.

On a kitchen clothesline hung dish rags, underwear and wool stocks, all stiffened by the intense heat.

Shelling peas with grampy was not a fun job. It took so long to get any amount in my pot, but he sat for hours in the scalding sun, sweat beading on his brow, anticipating them for supper.

I remember inches of dust on his shelves. Pictures hung crookedly on the walls, pictures which likely graced his home for over fifty years. Today I have the spice rack from his kitchen, an inheritance which I treasure. It’s circle spots of dust are still etched into the wood. I could not bear to wash them off.

Sometimes my grandfather was a man of few words, but when he took time to talk on his CB, he could talk for hours. Posted on the wall, near the little hand held device, was a sheet of paper where he had written call signs and code names. He was entertained by voices from beyond, some of whom lived just down the road. Others were from the States. I remember staring at that dusty black box with dials and switches, and also the times when he let me do the talking.  “Over and out,” we’d say!

Fond memories of my grandfather include all of the times he taught me how to feed the birds, with stealth and patience. If I shelled the sunflower seeds and slowly moved close to the bird feeder, chickadees and pine siskins fed from my hand.

As a child, I so wanted to play the guitar like my grandfather so in imitation, I strummed the instrument and made up words to songs as I went along. The real excitement was when he grabbed another guitar and sang along with me.

For my sixteenth birthday, he gave me my grandmothers’ diamond ring.

I could spend hours recording my memories of my grandfather, but on this Remembrance Day, I am inspired by Avery the Wartime hero. Above being a husband, a father, an uncle, a brother, a grandfather, a man of God, he was a Second World War Veteran

On this Remembrance Day I will remember him as a fearful young soldier who proudly fought for his Country, far away from his native home. He would not talk of wartime with me, his grand-daughter.

Had he not returned from War, he would not have married my grandmother, nor have moved to Bear River, nor built his little red house on Chute Road: the little red house which shared space with woodpiles and outbuildings, gardens and birdfeeders and a fire pit which he utilized for cooking kippers for lunch. Had he not returned from war, he would not have created the children whom are my family; my mother and aunts and uncles.

So on this Remembrance Day, and for many to follow, I give thanks for my grandfather for not only going to war, but for coming home.

I will end these writings with another little incident which took place in my childhood.

As my grandfather aged, we visited more frequently.  During one particular visit, we all sat around the kitchen table, which was a story in itself, that table.( It was usually sticky with left over sauces and spices from a previous meal, and often had at least one dirty plate on it, which he may or may not have rinsed before eating from it) He asked me if I wanted some apple pie and ice cream, and of course, I excitedly said yes.  Off to the fridge I went searching for my snack. No pie or ice cream there, so off to the freezer I went. No apple pie or ice cream there either. I returned to the kitchen to find my grandfather smiling from ear to ear.

He said, “Well we will have to get some. I don’t have any.”  He teased me about that for many years.

The last memory I have of my grandfather dates back to the night he passed away. After never visiting me in my own home, he paid me a visit. I made him a tea, he held my three year old son. He then went to my moms.(his daughter)

I miss you grampy

I love you.

Avery Cress’s War:

Like many Canadian men, Avery Cress went off to fight in WWII.  His contribution to the war effort was notably heroic.

“On the same night C company was engaged in more serious business.  Number thirteen platoon was managing positions on the Senio dyke, sandwiched between German posts two hundred yards to the left and right.  for the previous week  fighting patrols had gone out each night under command of an officer to obtain prisoners for identification purposes.  On this night, Cpl. Avery Cress led three men of his section to the left hand enemy position.  Putting his men in in an unoccupied enemy trench to shelter them from mortaring  and machine gunning directed at their passage, he himself killed a German sentry and jumped over the dyke into an empty dugout.  no German emerged to answer his call to them to come out, so he went in firing his Thompson sub-machine gun, killing two Germans and taking two prisoners, whom he shepherded back over the dyke and handed to his men to take back to the platoon, while he himself stayed on the dyke to provide covering fire until the patrol was safely back at Platoon HQ. Cpl. Cress was awarded the Military Medal.

excerpted from Invicta by Robert Tooley (about the Carleton and York Regiment in WW2.)

And from the memoirs of Rodman Logan: (Col. Ret.)

“I was a Major in the Carleton and York Regiment, 13 Platoon “C” Coy, during the Italian campaign of 43-45.  We were fighting outside Bagnacavallo when….Corporal Avery Cress earned , for his actions on the Senio, the Military Medal (Bronze, VM., N.D.R.)

During the crossing of Lamone, the Canadian regiment drove back nearly 13 enemy counterattacks, all extremely bloody, in order to install a firm bridgehead on the ridge still occupied by the Germans. …

The last of the Canadians mentioned, Corporal Cress, was able to infiltrate the occupied ridge called Senio, and made way for himself amidst submachine guns and hand grenades, protecting his section and taking two prisoners, something no other group was able to do”

And in Avery Cress’s words, from an April  2001 interview:

“Well, he comes to me and says he’d like me to see what I could do.  I say, “With respect Sir, can I try this my way?  Just give me three men and twelve pair of heavy wool socks.  And we’ll go in quiet light, no packs, no armed to the teeth and making so much noise.  Just bandoliers and utility belt and a weapon each.  i had a Thompson on a sling over my shoulder.”

Avery Cress

Bear River History from 1893

Published April 2, 2012 by oddacity designs

The document reprinted here has no identified author.  If anyone has any ideas as to who it was written by, please let us know.

Nestled among the hills, along both sides of the stream which for some distance forms the boundary lines between the counties of Annapolis and Digby, stands the bustling, enterprising community, which, collectively, is known as Bear River.  The parts on each side of the river belong to different municipalities, and in some respects, diverse interests.  A few years ago an attempt was made to complete the diverse between the two sections  of the town by giving to each a distinct name, that part on the Annapolis side being called Bridgeport, and that on the Digby side, Hillsburg.   But this attempt to diverse what nature had joined together proved abortive, and these names are now seldom heard, while the general name used to designate both communities as one town remains fixed, doubtless, permanently.  If we mistake not, the sections on each side have formed a union for educational purposes, and at their present rate of progress, the community of interest existing between both, may draw them into more complete union, of a municipal  nature, at no very distant day.

The stream divides the two sides; foreground, Bridgeport, background, Hillsburg

Several explanations have been advanced as to the derivation of the name of this town. A recent writer claims its origin as derived from the French pronounciation of Imbert, a gentleman who formed one of the party visiting this spot as early as 1611.

From the date of the French occupation of the country, 1604, to the date of their expulsion  in 1755, it is believed that no settlement was made as no remains have been found on which to ground an opposite assertion, and the town is, doubtless, of exclusive English origin.  With the invasion  of the United Empire Loyalists, the settlement of the district commenced, and in 1784, the township of Clements, including both sides of the stream, was granted to certain English, Hessians, and Waldeckians who had served during the old revolutionary war, and who, at its close, received grants of land, in lieu of pay for the services they had rendered in that unfortunate struggle.

The first frame house was erected by one Capt. O’Sullivan Sutherland, and stood nearly midway up the slope of the eastern hill, and adjacent to the present residence of Captain J.Harris.  The housewarming, given on the occasion of the completion was a merry-making of no ordinary description. Everybody who was entitled to be somebody was invited and music, dancing and drinking made the hours reseate until the dawn of the next day.  Among the guests were the Demoliters, the Hertricks, Kyshes, Callecks, Vreens, Ditmarses, Boehlers, Purdys, Joneses and others whose names do not now occur to our memory.   Perhaps there has been not so jolly a party in the place from that day to this.

Before the completion of this first framed dwelling,  a number of log huts had been built and occupied by both German and English settlers, and the work of clearing the soil for cultivation had commenced, but with so little success owing to the ignorance of the proprietors, that much want and suffering was felt by their families  for several years to come.

Towards the close of the century, there was considerable movement from the townships of Granville and Annapolis, to the hill country on the shores of Bear River.  At was at this period that the Clarkes, the Millers,the Troops, Dodges, the Rices, the Chutes and the Harrises bought lands and settled in the district, a course they were induced to take in the belief that wheat and other cereals could be produced in larger quantities and of finer quality there than could be raised on the same sized areas elsewhere in the county, and  the descendants of these men today constitute a large percentage of the population, both of the village and its immediate vicinity.

early farming in Bear River

Still, up to the  date under review, 1790 to 1810, there had been no village visible, but soon after sawmills began the work of  transforming the timber up the streams into lumber, necessitating the inception of shipbuilding, which was almost contemporaneously begun, stores were erected, and a thriving town was the final result.  No less than seven or eight public highways  converge upon the present town from different directions, and not an hour passes without the arrival of vehicles laden with freights for export or passengers on business or pleasure. Substantial and comfortable dwellings line the hilly streets in all directions, which at every point new aspects in landscape scenery.  Neat fruit and vegetable gardens and lawns are attached to nearly every domicile in the town and thrift and comfort everywhere give evidence of vital existence.

freight arriving in Bear River?

Today, the greater number of stores are on the Annapolis side, where Clarke Bros. have become the leader in Bear River in business matters, although there are a number of new and well furnished ones on the west side of the river.

The jewel of the Clarke Brothers commercial empire

The town also has fine places of worship, the Baptists being the leading denomination.  Within the past year, they have remodeled their church, making it one of the handsomest in the town.  The Methodists and adherents to the English church have each neat pretty religious edifices on the north side of the river, and the Adventists have also a house of worship.

left to right: Anglican Church, Oakdene School, Methodist Church

Bear River has sent from its shipyards many vessels, some of large tonnage, constructed by such efficient master builders as Mr. Thomas Rice, Captain John Benson, the Lents, and others which carried away freights of lumber , cordwood, pulpwood, and other products of the forests, for which it is noted , to ports in the United States, the West Indies, etc., and commanded by our skillful and intelligent native captains.

loading the ships with Bear River lumber

This delightful resort among the hills has also gained a deal of notoriety owing to its mammoth yield and great variety of cherries, and is visited, during the season, by excursionists from distant parts of the counties of Annapolis,  Digby,  and elsewhere, to enjoy to their heart’s content, a feast of the luscious fruits.  Besides the hundreds of others, here and there may be seen a majestic cherry tree planted by the French during their occupancy in the country, which serve as historical landmarks to that period.

The construction of the so-called missing link of railway from Annapolis to Digby, and the building of a new highway from the town to the depot, located some four miles distant, proved a great boom to the commercial interests of the entire locality, affording as it does more direct communication with the principle avenues of travel.

Within the past year, electric light has been introduced, driven by one of the best water powers to be found in the country, while the many other improvements in the way of new dwellings, a $7000. schoolhouse and other evidences of prosperity and wealth mark the town  as one of the most progressive in the western part of the province.

Tour of Historic Houses

Published January 29, 2012 by oddacity designs


While the village has lost many buildings over the years, there are still some wonderful examples of 19th century architecture, and each building has a rich history of its own.

 Dr. Lovett House:  This home was built in 1896 for Dr. Lewis Johnstone  Lovett (1867-1942). The home was designed in New York City, and was the wedding present to Dr. Lovett and his bride, Josephine Troop Marshall, from her father, Alpheus Marshall Esq., a leading merchant of the village. Dr. Lovett was well known  politically ,being a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party, and serving as a member of parliament from 1920 to 1925. He served as a president of the Bear River Board of Trade and did much to develop the community as a summer resort. This is a second empire home that was strategically built upon a hill. The mansard roof is equipped with dormers throughout. The entrance is an enclosed verandah/sunporch. The positioning on the hill gives it an extra storey.

In recent history, the house was used as a Bed and Breakfast called Lovett Lodge, from the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s, operated by Adrian Potter. At present it is uninhabited.

Green Lantern:This building is dated from about 1882, originally built as a warehouse by Edward E. Rice who was one of Bear River’s wealthiest men. In 1888 Edward had sold the Green Lantern Building to Thomas Bales Coombs. Thomas Bales Coombs was the first commissioner of Canada for the Salvation Army. He arrived in Canada in 1884 from England and bought this  building in  1888, when the Salvation Army was just five years old. From 1924 to 1944  Robert Yorke turned the building into a theatre: the main entertainment center in Bear River at this time. Mr. Yorke showed silent films here . Mr. Yorke should be a man commemorated as bringing enlightenment and entertainment to this village. Movies shown through the second world war must have given some relief to the bereaved and worried residents. This property has truly had a colorful and eventful past and should be proudly looked upon. The architecture is a rare vernacular design with few windows.

From the time it ceased being the location for weekly movies in the late 1950’s, the building sat empty. In the 1970’s, Donna and Michael Susnick operated the Bear River Farmer’s Museum there.  It was renovated to some extent in the 1980’s and used by the Board of Trade for meetings.  It was also used by a kayak and canoe maker for three years as a workshop. This historic property is now owned by the Bear River Board of Trade and unfortunately is in need of many repairs. Until recently it was the home of the Bear River Historical Society’s Museum.

STEWART DARRES’ POOL HALL. This building is believed to have been built circa 1900   and was once owned by Alpheus Marshall. It served as the home of the Dr. Dinsmore’s dentist office prior to 1924. when J. Arthur Rice, probate clerk for Bear River obtained the building for his office. In 1924 Stewart Darres owned the store/restaurant next to this building ) and built an addition on to his restaurant which unknowingly encroached on this property in question, owned then by J. Arthur Rice. Mr. Rice allowed Mr. Darres to keep this addition provided Mr. Darres pay him a yearly sum of money. In 1936 Stewart bought this building.and  joined it with his store/restaurant so that he had a restaurant with a pool room attached in one structure ( the link has since been torn away). Stewart kept hens and exotic birds under the lower part of this building.  In the restaurant that once adjoined this building he sold homemade ice cream.

The building is now a private residence, having served as a retail space for local crafters  for several years. in the 1980’s there was a small pottery shop and residence in the building.

Captain Anthony Building:  This was built in 1893 and remains the only waterfront commercial building in Bear River, Digby County. It has very direct links to the “golden age of sail”, 1870-1915. Once encircled by a wharf, it served the needs of the ship-building community.The encircling wharf and storage building at the rear, were removed before the 1920s. The third floor was lost to a fire in the late teen’s. However, the remainder of the building  has remained virtually unchanged.

Original gingerbread carvings, lintels, doors. windows etc. remain virtually intact. The interior, with its tongue-in-grove walls and ceiling and its 25 foot long oak store display counter, also are original. Both floors are in keeping with the end of the last century, with the look of an old sea captain’s home. Capt. Anthony retired from the sea in 1893. It is a fine example of a rare second Empire architecture.

In the 1920’s local boys were paid 3 cents an hour to unload from a ship and 2 cents an hour to unload from the land.  The 25 foot counter is original to the building which served the community for many years as a wonderful general store and meat market operated by Ali Harris.

Ali Harris’s store was a delight and will be the subject of another post.

Following Ali’s Meat Market, the Rice family took over the grocery business for a brief time, followed by a  tailor shop, and an antique store and art gallery.  The building now stands vacant.

William Riordan Building 1852.  This  building was originally built on the opposite side of the street and moved to the present location in 1903.  It was used as a store by a variety of merchants, including the Clarke  (1902-1919) when it was sold to Louis V. Harris who operated a drugstore there until 1962, and it continued as a drugstore until the 1990’s.  This is a one and a half storey Greek Revival with a decorative false front.  it is one of the few remaining buildings built on pilings over the water.

The building was purchased in the mid 1990’s and turned into a cafe.  Various cooks tried operating a restaurant in the premises, and then the building was sold and sat empty for several years.  Sold once again,it once again is used as a cafe, in spite of the fact there is no water to the building.

Andrew Harris building, 1845.  This building has a long history of commercial use; originally built by Andrew H Harris, master mariner and shopkeeper, near his wharf on the east side of the river. He purchased the lot from Robert Jefferson in 1845 for five pounds.  The store was sold to John Troop in 1881 and it was used as a customs house until 1903.  in early deed it was described as the wharf lot with wharf and store.  Later a Bandstand was built in the lot between the store and river. The Clarke Bros. owned and operated a store here from 1903 to 1924, and it continued as a store in various capacities, purchased by Flight of Fancy Crafts co-operative in 1982.  The building is built on stilts to allow for the flow of the river under it at high tide, as the lands behind the store are a man made landfill project.

Unfortunately the stilts and sills under this building are in serious disrepair, causing the right rear corner to sag dangerously.

The building was the home of Bear River Home Furnishings until sold to a group of local artists/craftspeople in the early 1980’s who formed the Flight of Fancy Crafts Co-operative.  Unfortunately, they found the co-operating part difficult and one member, Rob Buckland Nicks bought it and made it a single proprietorship. He runs the shop from May through October, and has established a reputation as one of the finest craft shops in the province.

The Masonic Hall 1828. The building and land were originally owned by Robert Jefferson, and sold to Isaac Willet in 1835, and used for commercial purposes by 3 other owners until 1967 when it was purchased by the Keith Lodge #1628.  The Masonic Lodge of  Bear River was established in 1851, and granted it’s full charter in 1954, making it one of the oldest lodges in Nova Scotia. Since purchasing the building, the Lodge has enlarged and improved it, with a major renovation in 1911.  The Lodge meetings were held upstairs and the main floor rented out.  It can be remembered as Lilly Hubley’s tea shop, Chester Kaulback’s barber shop and Samuel Parker’s watch repair shop. It is a version of Greek revival.

It is now used exclusively by the Masons of Keith Hall, Branch 16.

Clarke Brothers 1902: Now the Bear River Legion branch #22.  In 1903, a store that was located on this land was purchased from C.C. Rice and moved to the other side of the street, and the building replaced it. It was used as commercial premises and possible a bank, until the Royal Canadian Legion bought it in 1947.  It is an example of a highly modified Italianate commercial building.  It is joined to the New Horizons building which was originally built in 1851, purchased by William Reed in 1854 and the reed family ran a general store here until the Clarke Bros. bought it in 1901  The Bear River Legion purchased the building in 1973.

Trading Company Building 1856.  The first building of record on this lot was built in 1856 by David Rice and purchased by Harris Harding Chute in 1863 and later by the Clarke Bros. in 1880.  With the demise of the Clark Bros. empire in the 1920’s,it was taken over as the Bear River Trading Company by Mac Parker in 1932 and it is well loved and fondly remembered as such as a wonderful general store that included dry goods, housewares, hardware, groceries and a great candy counter.  In the 1880’s the building was substantially renovated by the Bear River Economic Development Society. It originally was connected to the adjoining building, built in 1856 by David Rice. It was referred to as the Sail loft building because the upper storey was used for the storage of sails for the wooden ships.  It also housed the local telegraph office for many years. The Trading Company complex is a cornerstone of the village, and one of the few remaining buildings that was built on “stilts’ over the water.

It now houses a second hand book and junk shop, a family diner, an ice cream emporium/gift shop, as well as two apartments.

Edward Sanford (Bear River Pulp Co.) 1880. Prominently visible in most photographs of old Bear River, this was built by Edward Sanford in 1880, purchased by the Clarke Brothers in 1890, and variously used as a warehouse for storing the goods to load onto ships, a hospital for sick seamen, a brandy and liquor store for ships, a ship’s chandler shop, and a horse and oxen barn, a home furnishings store, a used clothing enterprise and even a museum.  The building was purchased in 1996 and extensively renovated by the current owners. It is a Greek revival style commercial building, approximately 9500 sq. feet, the largest privately owned building in the village.

The building is home of Oddacity Designs, a one of a kind clothing and accessories enterprise, as well as a vintage/antique shop, The Innocent Rose,  and a licensed guest suite, Inn out of the Fog.

The Turnbull House.1829.  This is arguably the oldest remaining building in Bear River, and some claim a section of it dates to the late 1800’s when it was used as a stagecoach stop and inn.  A previous building may have been used for that purpose. The date of 1829 is well documented however, and was originally used as a house/store purchased by John Barr in 1845, it was used as a postal station and customs house, and it is during his ownership that it is believed that the addition of the painted room was made.  The building was purchased by the Great War Veteran’s Association of Canada, Bear River Branch, and used as a memorial and club house until 1947, when the group purchased the Legion building.  It is a modified vernacular style with Greek influence. One feature of the house is a “painted room” which is believed to have been created in the mid 1800’s.

It is currently uninhabited.

Bear River Customs House 1920. This is now known locally as the Rebekah hall as the building was owned for many years by the Independent Order of Oddfellows, with the Ladies’ Auxiliary the Rebekah’s. Originally it served as the Customs House for the cargo that was brought into and leaving the area by the shipping industry. The downstairs has also housed the Royal Bank of Canada, a dress shop, millinery shop, bakery, and museum. The village cenotaph was originally located in the adjoining yard.

The building now houses a coffee roasting enterprise and an art gallery that is open occasionally. There is also a space on the second floor that is used for public events.

Edmund Walsh 1873: Known locally as the Harris house, this was built by Edmund Walsh, merchant, in 1873 and purchased by Robert McClelland in 1885 who operated it as an inn until 1898.  It was owned by Edward and Arthur Rice , prominent merchants until 1925, when it was purchased by Fred R Harris a prominent citizen of the village and the local insurance agent. At one time there was a tennis court in the back next to the creek.  The house is 3 storey Georgian with a mansard roof and Italianate influences.

The building was turned into apartments in the 60’s and then back to a single residence with a bed and breakfast in the late 1990’s, which closed in the early part of the 2000’s. It is  currently uninhabited.

Harris Harding Chute: 1857. One of the leading merchants in Bear River, Harris Chute also served as a Member of the Provincial Legislature. The house was purchased in 1884 by Wallace W. Clarke, one of the Clarke Brothers who ran the Trading Company, a lumber mill, clothespin factory, logging operation, shipbuilding operation, and shipping business.  It is still known in the village as the Clarke House, as the Clarke families lived there until 1944, when it was sold to Dr. Alexander Campbell, a physician who had his medical practice there until 1952.  It then became a residence for senior citizens and later was renovated into apartments.

John Moore House 1853   John Moore built this in 1853, and is listed in Lowell’s directory as having the occupation of caulker.  His daughter,  Elizabeth was a “spinster” who kept house for him, and inherited the property on his death in 1890.  It remained in the Moore family until 1944.  This is a modified Greek revival architecture.

It remains a single family residence.

Charles Brown 1869.This unusual example of a picturesque style architecture was built for Charles Brown, mariner, in 1869, and sold to Dr. Robert Ellison, who ran his medical practice there until  his death in 1907, when he willed it to his grandaughter Robina Romans.  It is still known locally as the Romans house, as the Romans family owned it until 1956 . This house is unusual in it’s three bay facade with central doorway.

It remains a single family residence.

Methodist Church: 1856.  It is believed that the Methodists were given this land by William Turnbull sometime between 1837 and 1840, and that there was a different building first built here, while other’s claim that this was the first church, built in 1856. The original structure had a tall steeple but it had to be removed as it was the frequent target of lightning and wind storms. This is a modified Greek revival architecture.  Unfortunately, the Hillsburgh United Church closed its doors in 2011 due to the declining numbers of congregants.

Andrew H. Harris 1837.  This is one of the oldest remaining buildings in the village, and the residence of Andrew Harris, who ran a dry goods and grocery store near the Bridge   He was deeded the land by his father, John Spurr Harris.  It remained in the Harris family until 1891, when it was purchased by Dr. Robert Ellison .   In 1907, it was purchased by Rhoda Yorke, wife of John Yorke who ran a livery stable between Bear River and Deep Brook, It was her horse and wagon teams that met  the Dominion Atlantic trains in Smith’s Cove and brought them into Bear River.  She also owned a dry goods store. The family also operated the Green Lantern theater for many years.

It remains a single family residence.

Oakdene School (1934)  The original Oakdene Academy which was built in 1895 was destroyed by a fire in January of 1934, and this replacement, similar to the destroyed school, was completed by September for the beginning of the school year. Unfortunately, the school was closed  in 1993 but the building now serves as a community center with  studio and commercial space.

St. John’s Anglican Church 1833: Originally the Anglican Church was built in 1833, but was destroyed by the same fire that devestated the school in 1934. This may have been the earliest church, but perhaps the smallest with it’s congregation beginning in the late 1700’s with the zarrival of the Hessians and Loyallists in 1784.  It was considered the most conservative of the village churches and adopted by the Protestant Hessians as a substitute for the Lutheran Church. this small church is still used for an occasional summer service.

Horatio Nelson Chute House  1830. It is believed this house was built inthe early 1830’s making it one of the oldest remaining houses in the village.  Horatio Nelson Chute was drowned off his boat “The Robert” in 1840, and the house passed to his wife and remained in the Chute family until 1855 when it became the property of Zebidiah Croscup, a shipwright and customs collector. In 1884 it was purchased by W Alpheus Chute, who’s occipation was listed as house mover, and later by his son Joseph Burton Chute, also a building mover; and the one who moved the Clarke Bros. buildings in 1903.  Oral history has it that he was famous throughout the county for his moving skills. It remained in the Chute family until 1951, then the Nicholl family until 1978, when it was turned into rental units.It has been recently renovated.

Zebidiah Croscup Building 1855.  The origins of this buidling have been in dispute for many years, some believing the builing was originally a church and later moved here.  There is no evidence of that however, and the records of the 1870’s show that this was a custom house operated by Zebediah Croscup .  Later this building was used to store and sell caskets. It is an example of a Greek revival commercial building.

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