Firsts of Cumberland County's
Links to
Historic Cairn at River Philip (1960)
 The Old Coach Road (1761-1847)
The First Court House /County Seat (1785-1830)
 The Famous Pugnose Inn
Other: First Masonic Lodge, Dwellinghouse of Dr. Tupper


Historic Cairn at River Philip (1960)
Take Exit # 6 Trans Canada 104 (at Oxford), at the intersection turn right on to highway # 4 to  River Philip. At what is known as Hewson's Corner (the intersection of Highway #4 and Route # 321 to Springhill), you will find a concrete and stone cairn. The inscription reads as follows:
 
 
FIRST  COURT HOUSE
      Commemorating 
   Cumberland County's 
 First Court House which
     stood nearby and was
        in use until 1830.

          FAMOUS  INN
    Also commemorating 
a Famous Stopping Place
     in the days of the 
           Stage Coach.

   OLD  COACH  ROAD
    Commemorating, too,
     The Old Post Road,
       Truro to Amherst,
    which served this area 
    until the coming of the
         railway in 1867.


 

Description of Cairn: Concrete and faced with large red, blue and grey stones from the various branches of the River Philip. The RED stones come from the Sherman Brook, the BLUE from the Bulmer Brook, the GREY from the east and main branch of the River Philip. A plaque with the above inscription is on its face.  It was built by Jesse Canning of Springhill in 1960. The construction of the cairn was a joint effort of The River Philip Garden Club and Nova Scotia Historic Sites and Advisory Council.

Unveiling of Cairn: As he was a decendent of one of the pioneer families, Mr. Albert McLean was given the honor of unveiling the plague. The guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Will R. Bird, a native of Mapleton and chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council.  The historic information for the site was authenticated by Dr. Will R. Bird.

In Attendance: Some of those in attendance at the ceremony were  Rayburn McCunn, chairman of the unveiling ceremony; Rev. Donald Blakie, pastor of River Philip United Church; Rev. John W. Porter, pastor of River Philip Baptist Church; Robert Coates, M.P. for Cumberland; Allison T. Smith, M.L.A. for Cumberland West; N.K. Jankov, Secretary of the Nova Scotia Garden Club; Colin Ripley, president of the River Philip Garden Club; students of the River Philip Schools accompanied by their teachers, Mrs. Allison Ripley and and Miss Ollamay King.  The River Philip Garden Club was awarded the Garden Club of  Nova Scotia's "Gardiner Rose Bowl  Trophy" for their work on the cairn and its garden. In 1960, it was said that the River Philip Garden Club was the finest of its size in Nova Scotia.

Source: This web page developed by Diane Shaw (sisca@nbnet.nb.ca)
 Background Research:"Plaque Marks Historic Site at River Philip", The Oxford Journal, 6 October 1960. Historical notes from address of Dr. Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, 1960 Cairn Unveiling in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.

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The Old Coach Road (1761-1847)
Old  Coach  Road Names:
Dr. Will R. Bird,  chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, said that of the three historical features being commemorated by the River Philip plaque and cairn, "The Old Coach Road " was the most important.
This entire Old Coach Road system within Nova Scotia was known as "The Great Northern  Road" (from Halifax to the fort, near Amherst) and "The Valley Coach Road" (from Halifax up to the Annapolis Valley). For several years these were the only coach roads in the province.

Old  Coach  Road Construction History:
"In 1761, sixty men cleared a blazed trail from Truro to Onslow.  In 1762 more men were engaged and 162 men cleared a trail from Onslow to River Philip. This was simply a footpath through the forests for soldiers.

However with the arrival of the Yorkshire settlers better roads were desired and the Yorkshire settlers in the Amherst area urged the government to clear a road so their cattle could be driven to Halifax. At that time it was necessary for the farmers to drive their steers to Parrsboro, where they were ferried across Minas Basin to Windsor and driven to Halifax. In 1784 the footpath was enlarged and there were three cattle drives to Halifax, seventeen farmers taking part in the last one.

In 1800 the appeals from  the settlers for a better road became more insistent and the government granted L300 to widen the road to 12 feet. The next year L400 was granted to widen the road from River Philip to Nappan and L750 for the road from River Philip to Londonderry.

In 1802 the road was declared open. In 1806, L100 was voted to clear and cut away all bushes and stumps which interfered with carts and in 1809 additional money was granted... Until 1829 there was no other road to the Amherst area."

The Mail
"Before the road (the Old Coach Road) was widened, mail was carried on horseback but now the mail was carried by cart." (after 1809)

The Stage Coach
"In 1842 more work was done and it (the Old Coach Road) was made fit for coach travel. In June of 1842 the first coach passed over the road carrying four passengers. Until 1844,  statute labor  built the roads. In 1844 the system was changed over and men were paid four shillings per day to look after the road.
 
From 1844 the coaches made only one trip a week. In 1847, this service became semi weekly . By 1869 a daily service (except Sundays) was begun with the coach nearly always full.

Source: This web page developed by Diane Shaw (sisca@nbnet.nb.ca)
 Background Research:"Plaque Marks Historic Site at River Philip", The Oxford Journal, 6 October 1960. Historical notes from address of Dr. Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, 1960 Cairn Unveiling in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.

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    The First Court House, County Seat (1785-1830)
 
            Hewson's Corner, River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.
 According to Dr. Will R. Bird, "Here was the original seat of the county of Cumberland, before it was transferred to Amherst in 1830."  Early records state that the first court was      held at River Philip. There is also a  report  that the court was held in River Philip on  2 Jun 1816 at a house occupied by Mr. Duncan... "until building was completed by fall session".
 
A report in 1830 ( in regards to line fences and road boundaries)
states "Supreme Court now being held at River Philip." This same report (line fences  and road boundaries) further states that" .. it is expedient that court  be moved to Amherst. "
 
It is believed by Dr. Will R. Bird that  the court was moved to Amherst since  most cases tried at River Philip (in the court records) were cases from Amherst.
Source: This web page developed by Diane Shaw (sisca@nbnet.nb.ca)
Background Research: "Plaque Marks Historic Site at River Philip", The Oxford Journal, 6 October 1960. Historical notes from address of Dr. Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, 1960 Cairn Unveiling in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.
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The Famous Pugnose Inn
According to Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, there were many early references to the famous Pugnose Inn located in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. The Pugnose Inn offered overnight lodging, a full meal, stabling of horses and change of horses. Judge Halburton is said to have written, "The Pugnose Inn at River Philip and the Inn at Truro are the best inns in Nova Scotia".

Will R. Bird states that originally the inn could not charge more than a shilling for a full course meal, 9 pence for for overnight lodging and 10 pence for overnight stabling of a horse.  By 1850 these rates had doubled.  

When the fight for the establishment of the Cumberland County railway was in full force, Joseph Howe, Dr. Charles Tupper and MacFarlane were among the important persons frequenting the Pugnose Inn (1860's).  Joseph Howe held five dinners there while running for election in Cumberland. 

Dr. Will R. Bird also offered the following writing quotes of travelers:

"Dined today at Pugnose Inn. Good as ever."
"Traveled to Amherst. Stopped, of course, at Pugnose Inn."
Source: This web page developed by Diane Shaw (sisca@nbnet.nb.ca)
Background Research: "Plaque Marks Historic Site at River Philip", The Oxford Journal, 6 October 1960. Historical notes from address of Dr. Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, 1960 Cairn Unveiling in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.
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Other: First Masonic Lodge , Dwellinghouse of Dr. Tupper
In his opening remarks, Raeburn McCunn, chairman of the unveiling of the River Philip Historical  Cairn in 1960, stated:

" the cairn and plaque have been erected to commemorate the early settlers and to perpetuate some of the events of the early days in this community. Here was the original seat of Cumberland County, before it was transferred to Amherst about 1830. Close to us on the hill behind us was located the original and perhaps first Masonic Lodge in Nova Scotia. And contrary to the opinion of some, we hold the view and have satisfactory proof that on the property now owned and occupied by Hiriam Wood was the dwellinghouse of Dr. Tupper and the birth of place of Dr. Charles Tupper. The Tupper family moved to Amherst when Charles Tupper was 3 weeks of age."

Source: This web page developed by Diane Shaw (sisca@nbnet.nb.ca)
Background Research: "Plaque Marks Historic Site at River Philip", The Oxford Journal, 6 October 1960. Historical notes from address of Dr. Will R. Bird, chairman of the Nova Scotia Historic Sites Advisory Council, 1960 Cairn Unveiling in River Philip, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.
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