special people of Bear River

All posts tagged special people of Bear River

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!



Millyard Day; down by the river….

Published August 25, 2012 by oddacity designs


There was lots of fun on Millyard day, August 18, down at the Bear River Millyard Recreation.  While there were no takers for the mud race, there was still a great time to be had.

There used to be a number of sawmills in Bear River and Bob Benson has put together a great display with the names of those who worked in the mills and some great photos of former glory.  Also on display is a tribute to Bill Morine, fisherman extrordinaire of Bear River.

It doesn’t have to be Millyard day to drop down and enjoy some social time and great buys.  the Millyard Market is open on Saturdays from 10 to 3.

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Here are some of the things you will find…


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

Harry Hill: A colorful life

Published February 20, 2012 by oddacity designs

Harry Hill    1913-2005

by Angela McMullen

Anyone privileged to have known Harry Hill of Bear River cannot help but smile when hearing his name. This charming sage was a member of the community for ninety-one years, leaving behind a loving  legacy for future generations. 

He was so highly respected, that following his death, a monument was erected in the village waterfront park in his honor. Many family members, friends, village residents and political figures gathered to honor the man who made such an imprint on our village.

The story of Harry Hill begins after the American Revolution, when the government granted his Black Loyalist family a parcel of land in nearby Greenland.One of sixteen children, Harry was born to Benjamin and Blanche Hill. Together, the Hill family worked their land and lived off of its abundance. 

With a grade nine education, he left school to work at Cunningham’s Mill at the head of the tide. Harry held various employment positions throughout his life, each one attended to with pride, honesty and dedication.   

In addition to working at the Mill, he was the janitor at Canada Post for thirteen years. He was also the caretaker of Mount Hope Cemetery, where he maintained the grounds and dug graves for thirty-nine years, a position which he held until age eighty.

 Admired for his exceptional work ethic, Harry was an individual who had learned to balance work with pleasure. It can be said that Harry was the backbone of the community. His passions included singing in the choir at the Advent Church, and engaging the youth of the community to participate in various activities. 

He was the coach of the girls’ softball team for over a decade, and operated the skating rink behind the Fire Hall for eighteen years. Many residents fondly remember Harry tying their skates as children, and even teaching them how to skate. He was so committed to this cause, that he often spent time at the rink late into the night making ice.

 Harry is affectionately remembered for his extraordinary fashion sense. When asked to describe Harry Hill, a local resident respectfully  said, “He looked like a peacock.” She was referring to the flamboyancy of his attire. 

Harry in one of his favourite outfits.

An enjoyable out-of-town excursion for Harry involved traveling to Halifax on the train, where he visited family and shopped for additions to his colorful wardrobe. Making his way up the aisle of the train, he introduced himself to the passengers with the tip of his fedora and a friendly handshake. “Harry Hill of Bear River.” 

A merchant at a particular clothing outlet in Halifax was so impressed with this country gentleman that he extended him credit, allowing him the opportunity to pay for his purchases at his leisure. 

Although Harry was a busy man, he took the time to acknowledge everyone, entertaining tourists with stories of his town and giving advice to the locals when asked. 

Another lucky lady gets to pose with Harry.

People loved his sincerity and gregarious nature. Such an honor it was to be photographed with Harry Hill of Bear River! Love for his town and an interest in its people earned him the title of Ambassador of Bear River. 

One of Harry’s favorite things was his bicycle, which he could be seen riding along the narrow streets in all kinds of weather, rain or shine. Another one of Harry’s favorites was a photograph of Oprah Winfrey, an autographed gift which he was so very proud of. 

Harry was an avid pool player and even had his own seat at the local Legion. 

Harry loved the ladies and he loved life. The monument by the riverside is a testament to his sense community spirit, his diligence in promoting kindness and love, and to his honesty and integrity.


A teenage Harry Hill

Visit the Cherries and Cherry Carnival page to see a film clip of Harry when he was 15.



This is a story of Harry Hill’s life as told by Harry Hill himself. (2003)

“My name is Harry Hill and I was born May 14, 1913, which makes me 90 years young. I have lived in Bear River Nova Scotia all of my life and there were 16 in my family.  I started school when I was 5years old at the old Oakdene school which burned down in 1934.  Not having a fire department like today, buckets of water were used to put out the fire, which didn’t work and the Anglican Church next door burned down also. Thank the Lord that the wind wasn’t blowing the other way.  Times were tough in those days, and I can remember working for 10 cents an hour.  We ate well and were always kept clean as cleanliness was next to godliness even if you were not rich.

I only remember nice things about going to school and being the teacher’s pet. At 19 year of age I left school (grade 10) on permission of my father.  School only went as far as grade 11.  I went to work at the JH Cunningham stave mill were I worked for 26 years, working in all departments.  There were a lot of people looking for jobs during the depression, and you had to prove yourself physically and mentally.  A stave is  a curved piece of wood forming parts of the sides of a wooden barrel.  There was also a cooper who was responsible for the metal rings to make the barrels.  The barrels in those days were used for holding nails and apples for instance, and wooden boxes were made for cherries and other things.  This was before cardboard took over.  Wooden barrels went to the Sydney Steel factory.  This was a thriving community area with about 1800 people and other industries like a clothespin factory.

My father, Benjamin Hill, was a master stone mason, and I went to work with my father who had worked in Halifax after the terrible Halifax explosion and he had been a stonemason foreman also.  You worked where the work was.  I worked at the Cornwalllis Naval base and at the Digby Pines for example.  Later on, I worked at building the present Bear River Post Office which is made of bricks and after th Post office was built, I got the job as cleaner, maintenance worker.  I worked at this job for 13 and a half years. Oh, there was a time previously that I had worked for the Nova Scotia Power Company for a bit over a year.

In 1956, I got the position of caretaker of the Mount Hope Cemetery, Bear River.    I worked at the Mount Hope Cemetery for 39 years which I did with great pride and honour.  The cemetery was kept in good shape at all times and many a photograph was taken of me and the grounds by people from all over the world.  It became a tourist attraction also.

I was brought up to respect God and look on life on this planet like four seasons and when the Lord wants you, you will have nothing to say about it or complain about it,  In essense, you can talk or complain all you want about the wether and death, it is the only thing you can be sure of.  I never discuss it too much but it was very difficult for me getting the gravesite ready for members of my own family, and most have moved on. Then, on the other hand, I buried people who were not very nice either and some of these I wished them a better life after.  I believe in the words of the good book and don’t mind speaking and preaching to young people of todaa on values and to have respect for life.”

Harry Hill was called by his Lord on the 9th of April, 2005, age 91.

Here are some of Harry Hill’s memories of life in  Bear River, which he talked about at a presentation at Oakdene Center in July 1997.

There were 11 stores in town including a jewellery store.

There were apple and cherry exports.

There was a stone cutting business, and a business that made memorials.

The Bear River Packett went back and forth to St. John.

There was a shipbuilding yard where the fire department is now.

Timber sold for $2.50 per hundred feet.

There were more than a 100 employees at Lake Jolly including the clothespin factory and the cooks.

Cunningham’s Mill  burned in 1934. He worked ther 26 years.

In the 1930’s depression, nothing moved for nine months.

The Lincoln Pulp and Paper was where the Legion is now.

The rate of pay for labour was 10 cents per hour for ten hour days. During the war it was $7.00 per day.



For a transcript of an interview with Harry Hill go to  http://www.municipalities.com/elders/elder_harryhill.htm

We would love to add more memories of Harry Hill and any photos you would like to share.  Email thebearrivertides@gmail.com to let us know.

all contents of this  page are copyright of the Bear River Tides and Think for yourself publishing. 2012









Walter Wambolt: an extraordinary life

Published November 25, 2011 by oddacity designs

Walter Wambolt takes a break

If there is one person in Bear River who deserves mention, it is Walter. Walter is an example of what a community really is.

Walter Wambolt is in his mid sixties. All of his adult life, he has been a village fixture and maybe even an icon. Because of his physical  impairments, Walter has never had a job, but he is the busiest man in town.

Walter has a routine. He has a list of people and places and things that he checks on daily, probably covering dozens of miles a day. He helps out at the Cherry Brook grocery, picks up and delivers mail for people who can’t get there themselves and makes sure the street lights are all working properly.

While Walter may only have completed a few grades of schooling (not uncommon back then) he is an avid reader and never misses the bookmobile’s visit to town.

Because of Walter’s speech impediment, it is difficult to understand him unless you have developed an ear for it.  This takes time and most people are happy to indulge in learning to converse with him.  Unfortunately there are some who don’t and we pity them.  Because Walter is a wealth of information.

Walter has an encyclopedic memory of birthdays.  If he knows someone’s birthday, he never forgets what day it is, and often he will phone or drop by with personal birthday greetings. He reads the horoscopes every day,  and if he knows your sign , he will alert you when something good is going to happen.

Walter knows who used to live in each and every house in Bear River and can tell you great stuff about the former inhabitants. And he has the most delightful and original nicknames for just about everyone he knows.

One of Walter’s many talents is his gift of mimicry.  Walter can do wonderful imitations of the people in town…his version of Harry Hill and Leslie Kennedy are smack on the nose.  Walter can sing and play percussion instruments incredibly well.  Walter is also a good man with a basic joke and if you tell him one, he will share it with the rest of the town.  Just ask him why there are no frogs in Bear River.

Walter used to ride a bicycle until his vision got too poor. This was no fancy bike but a old-fashioned-one-speed bicycle and boy, did he put the miles on it.  It wasn’t unusual for him to ride to Digby and back on top of his regular route around town and  out to Bear River East, and Clementsvale.   Those are some mean hills. Walter must have the best leg muscles in the world.

Walter is almost always upbeat and happy. He loves sweets. At any event involving food, Walter gets fed for free and always enjoys the desserts.  Walter is also a regular member of the Bear River Christian Advent Church and particularly looks forward to the men’s fellowship dinner one Thursday each month.  The Changing Tides diner puts together a man-sized stocking full of xmas goodies for Walter each year, which many people in the community contribute to.

Walter loves yard sales and likes to stock up on perfume and pantyhose for the women in his life. He lives with his brother Gary (and wife Susan) and is particularly close to his sister, Shelly.

Walter is the only person in town who received a special award from the Bear River Fire Department for all the help he has given over the years, without actually being a member of the Fire Department.

There are so many great things to say about Walter but it also says a lot about the way the people in Bear River are committed to his well-being.  One newcomer commented that he knew he had moved to the right place when he saw how important Walter was to the village.

He is a jewel in the Bear River Crown.

Oh yes, his birthday is December 18th…don’t forget it!