New Glasgow recognizes century-old watering trough

Published on August 1, 2014

NEW GLASGOW – Aleta Williams looked on with pride as her late father-in-law Albert and the trough where his horses stopped for a drink were honoured on Friday.

Donnie Chisholm led his horse to water and it drank at ceremonies marking the official declaration of the 1913 New Glasgow watering trough as a registered municipal heritage site.

The trough, the only one of its kind in New Glasgow, was one of three that historically served the community. Two other troughs, which have since been removed, were located near Carmichael and Laurie Parks. 

Around 50 people gathered for the ceremony held at the trough, along with town, historical society, historical committee and family members of the late Albert Williams.

“This watering trough was thoroughly researched and evaluated to achieve this special designation,” said Mayor Barrie MacMillan. “Its style is distinctive, rare and of an early design.”

The trough served the town’s horse watering needs for seven decades when horses and carriages were a common sight on New Glasgow’s dusty roads. By the 1960s however, there was no longer a lot of horse traffic and the reduced use of horse-drawn carriages and horse carts led to the demise of all but one trough in town.

According to retired Judge Clyde Macdonald, a well-respected local historian and author, the annual rates for use of the troughs for one horse amounted to $1. For a cow and each additional animal the annual cost was 50 cents.

Many members of the Williams family were present to see their late father, grandfather and great-grandfather Albert honoured. Julia Williams, a granddaughter of Albert, received a historical photo from the Town of New Glasgow.

“It was an honour to receive a photo of my grandfather,” she said. “I’m the youngest of his grandchildren but I still remember his horses. We always knew his and the trough’s significance and so we’re happy to see it recognized.”

According to Macdonald, Williams operated a trucking business using horses and was the last person, under a grandfather clause, to use the watering trough on East River Road. After an injury in the 1970s, Albert’s trucking days came to an end.

“I remember working long days with him, when I was 10 right up to age 18,” said Marty Williams, another grandson. “He had various routes where he’d pick up garbage in town. He charged a $1 for weekly pickup.”

John Ashton, Nova Scotia’s representative to the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, noted his fond memories of Albert’s trucks heading down the road.

“You could always hear him before you saw him,” Ashton recalled. “It was a ‘clip clop, clip clop.’”

He also commended the hard work of the town, the New Glasgow Heritage Committee, the Pictou County Roots Society and the Pictou County Historical Society in recognizing and preserving the area’s history.

The watering trough joins the ranks of other heritage sites and buildings in New Glasgow including the Town Hall, Squire Fraser’s Place, now The Dock Irish Pub, and the Pioneer Cemetery.

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