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1867 Confederation newspaper praises Pictou County coal


With the first dawn of this gladsome midsummer morn, we hail the birthday of a new nationality.

Philip MacKenzie holds a paper that was printed on July 1, 1867. It makes specific mention of the coal mines in Pictou County. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

A united British America, with its four millions of people takes its place this day among the nations of the world. Stamped with a familiar name which in the past has borne a record sufficiently honourable to entitle it to be perpetuated with a more comprehensive import, the DOMINION OF CANADA, on this First day of July in the year of grace, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, enters a new career of national existence.

So begins a paper published by The Globe on July 1, 1867, marking the formation of Canada.

The population of Nova Scotia was 372,136 in those days and statistics ranging from its natural resources to the number of livestock are documented in the pages of the newspaper, which New Glasgow’s Philip MacKenzie picked up in a book store about a year and a half ago.

“It has an awful lot of history in it,” MacKenzie said. “There’s things in here I never dreamed of.”

The paper is packed with information in tiny font over four pages about the provinces and what each of them brought.

Nova Scotia coal with references to Pictou County are highlighted in the information:

The coal-fields of Nova Scotia are in many respects unequalled by those of any other country in the world,” the paper reads and makes special mention of how thick the coal is. It talks about a 40-foot thick seam that was found in Pictou and how seams as shallows as three to six feet were mined in England and Scotland with profit.

The most important coal-beds, which have been as yet worked in Nova Scotia, are those of the Albion Mines in the county of Pictou. The coal from these mines is chiefly exported to the United States and is extensively used in the manufacture of gas as well as for fuel, the paper states.

The paper also highlights the fishing industry. In 1865, the Nova Scotia exports of fish were in the value of $3,282,036 and of fish oil, $194,505. In 1861, Nova Scotia employed in the fishing trade 900 vessels and 8,816 boats, manned by 14,322 fishermen.

In the paper, you can find a tendency to compare statistics with the United States and already a sense of national pride:

It reads: “In 1861 – the year preceding the outbreak of the civil war – all the vessels built in the United States, with their vast seaboard and thirty millions of people, were in the aggregate but 233,193 tons, – only six thousand tons in excess of the Provinces constituting the Dominion of Canada. If the figures for Prince Edward Island (24,688) and those for Newfoundland were added, British America would have the advantage of the Untied States by more than twenty thousand tons!”

Livestock numbers were given showing that Nova Scotians owned 41,927 horses, 110,504 milch (dairy) cows, 151,793 neat (for beef) cattle, 332,653 sheep and 53,217 swine.

In the militia for Nova Scotia there were 898 volunteers and 59,379 “First Class Militia” which included all ranks between 16 and 45 years of age.

MacKenzie had the paper laminated to keep it protected. For him it’s an amazing piece of history that shows how important not only Nova Scotia, but Pictou County were to Canada in those early days of our nation’s birth.

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