History of Kemptville
|Around the year 1820 people moved from Argyle and Roberts Island to Kempt to settle. In 1820, a forest fire swept through the area. Sir James Kempt, the Governor of Nova Scotia, sent aid to the area, and the village was named in his honour in 1821. The first settlers were probably Abner, Nathan and David Andrews and James Hurlburt. On February 19, 1828 Capt. Jesse Grey was granted 800 acres of land for service in the North Carolina Highlanders. In April 1869 the population of Kemptville was 495 people. The population in the year 2000 is around 600 people. The first death recorded was that of John Vanamburg (date not known). There are numerous lakes and rivers of considerable size. The forested areas have various softwoods such as pine, fir, and spruce, as well as hardwood trees. Lakes include: Skinner's or Mink Lake, Nepsideck Lake, Barrio Lake, Pearl Lake, Beaver Creek Lake and the Kempt Back Lake. The rivers that run through Kemptville are the main Tusket River (often called the Kempt River), The Little River (a branch of the Tusket River), and the East Branch (another branch of the Tusket River).|
|In Kemptville the residents have made good use of the natural resources located in the area. There has been extensive lumbering and mining since the village has been settled. Kemptville has always had a number of farmers over the years, who have supported themselves with lumbering, cutting and turning the land into fields for raising cattle and growing hay for the farm animals. The first general store in Kemptville was owned and operated by William Prosser. Then came the store of James Hamilton on the ridge and the store across the North Kempt road from the United Baptist Church. There is only one general store in Kemptville today due to people being able to travel to Yarmouth to do their shopping; it takes 25-30 minutes to drive to Yarmouth on a good day. The store is owned and operated by Lawrence and Judy Roberts, with 3 part-time employees. They are open from Monday to Saturday (7am to 9pm) and on Sunday (11am to 5pm) (times may be subject to change). The first person to preach in Kemptville and hold services was David Flint. A United Baptist church was built in 1847-48 on the corner where the main road splits to go either to north or east Kemptville. The church was torn down and replaced in 1882, and this one was destroyed by fire on January 29, 1950. A new one was built and dedicated to the old church on June 10, 1951, and this church is still there today. Victory Baptist Church was built a few years ago, located on the road from Carleton into Kemptville.|
|Dr. Joseph B. Bond uncovered evidence in 1863 to show that Mi'kmaq Indians lived in Kemptville before the land was settled. Indian relics have been found in mounds of earth which were probably burial places. An Indian cemetery was found behind Ron Gray's house. The mounds were about ten feet long by ten feet wide by four feet high. There is a road across from Ron Gray's named the Indian Hill Road which was probably named after the cemetery. In early Kempt there was no mail delivery until between 1850 and 1860 which was only once weekly. After this the mail came twice weekly until finally the mail was delivered daily. Telephone services was delivered to Kemptville around 1882 by the Carleton Telephone Company. There were several one room schoolhouses in the area that taught the children before the bigger schools were built. There was a school located at the area where the big Nova Nada sign is today, this was owned by George Burral. When you travel up North Kempt and go past the end of the pavement you will come upon a "Y" in the road, at this "Y" is where the Harthorne schoolhouse was founded. If you know where the Pasture Point road is in North Kempt, you would probably remember a pink building across the paved road from Pasture Point. This building was a school known as North Kempt School; it's number was 32. There was a school across the road from the present Victory Baptist church called the Hatmatack School; it was converted into a house by Clayton White and burned down in the early 1960's. The Central Kemptville School was located where the Grey Road emerges onto the East Kempt Road on the right hand side. There was a school on the Tower Road named the Rockingham school. In September 1958 the elementary school in Carleton was built, therefore all of the one- room school houses closed.|
|The Department of Natural Resources has a depot in East Kemptville which includes a fire tower, office, two storage barns and a hose rack (used to test fire hoses). The depot has five full time employees; they are Bruce Gates (all year), and four others from spring to fall: Ross Burton, Jeff Crowell, Fred and Peggy Burrill (fire tower operator). The depot also hires several students for the summer. The depot does several different jobs from checking fires to cutting brush on the side of the road to testing Yarmouths fire hoses. There are approximately 20 volunteer fire fighters on call. In Kemptville there is a small seasonal harvest of Blueberries every year. Every summer there is a day camp that is held at the Kemptville ballfield which looks after children during the day so the parents can go to work, have a break, etc. The camp employs two or three high school or university students, to supervise the games, stories and other activities. One of the best known lodges in Kemptville is Birchdale. This lodge was built in 1911 and expanded over the years. In 1911 Omer Roberts built the dining room. It was a fishing and hunting lodge between 1911- 1920, two log cabins were built between 1911-1914. After Omer Roberts died in 1921, it was bought by people in Yarmouth in 1922 who, in 1930, sold it to Lloyd Ring. (He had managed it since 1922.) He added two log cabins. Birchdale was closed during World War II and in 1945 Lloyd sold it to Selwyn Ring, his son. Selwyn built three more log cabins. Selwyn then sold it to an American, Spencer Harris, who later sold it to The Spiritual Life Insitute, who still own it today. The present owners changed the name from Birchdale to Nova Nada. The lodge is now and has been a Carmelite hermitage ever since the Spiritual Life Insitute purchased it. They allow visitors to see the hermitage starting on the first Sunday of June every year. You can also stay at the hermitage for an unforgettable experience (no electricity) if you ask them prior to your showing up there.|
*Infromation added by: Jay Underwood Vice president Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society Elmsdale NS 902-883-9673
|Winston and Amy Hurlburt:
Winston and Amy Hurlburt: Both born and raised in Kemptville, Winston was born August 20th, 1910 and Amy September 7th, 1915. They have 9 children, 19 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. Winston and Amy were married for 70 years. Winston was a guide at Birchdale for many years and a carpenter in town for 15 to 20 years before retiring. Amy was a homemaker all her life. She past away March 31, 2003 at the age of 87. At the age of 90 Winston still resides in Kemptville and still manages to hop on the four wheeler and head for the woods. This information was provided by there 19th granddaughter Jana Prasad (formerly Hurlburt), daughter of Winston and Amys eighth child Dennis Hurlburt.( Updated April 17,2003)
|WARREN GREY: Warren Grey was eighteen when he started guiding in Birchdale for bird hunters. He had his own camps, Bear Lake Camp and Rocky Lake Camp. His father, Allison Grey, was also a guide. Most of the hunting parties were American. One American, Dr. John Bosty, came each year for thirty years and Warren was his guide. The wages were one dollar and fifty cents a day plus food. While in the woods, not only did he guide but he also did the cooking. Each hunting trip was usually for ten days plus the time for carrying the canoes and supplies into the camp. .|
|CLYDE GREY: Clyde Grey guided for eighteen years in his own camps and also in Birchdale. He started at the age of ten and worked until he was forty years old. His own camp was called Oakland and it was situated at the head of the Tusket River. The other hunting camps were called Upper Camp, Moose Lake Camp, and Hannah Lake Camp. He guided a doctor from New Hampshire for eighteen years. At night everyone stayed in tents and slept on fur boughs for beds. A large fire would be built in front of the tents and the guides were fed the best food. The time period could be anywhere from two to four weeks or more for hunting. Although the days were long, Mr. Grey enjoyed the time spent in the woods. He told several comical stories. One such story was about a doctor who came to hunt. He guided the doctor to a spot by a lake where he saw a deer. He told the doctor to shoot, but the doctor stood for about five minutes and shook. This is known as buck fever. The doctor had quite a temper. He wanted to throw his expensive rifle in the lake. Clyde stopped him from doing that. The doctor was so angry that he went back to the camp and went to bed for three days. Another person in the party took him aside finally and talked to him. It took him awhile, but he finally settled down and wasn't a problem after that. Another story concerns the doctor's wife who also went hunting. She came to a brook where she had to cross by walking on two logs. One of the guides decided to carry her across and they both fell in. Another story talks of the time Clyde and his friends went to the valley to pick apples. They decided to take a taxi to a camp that was quite close to the woods. As the car came close to the woods where the camp was, it slowed down and they opened the door of the car and jumped out and ran into the woods. Upon coming to the camp, they asked the people for jobs cutting pulp. They then changed their minds and walked all the way through the woods to Kemptville. This story was about a man who hunted for thirteen years and never shot a deer. Clyde agreed to guide this gentleman to hunt deer. Clyde guided the man to a spot where they spotted a deer. The man fired many shots, but always missed. Finally Clyde fixed the scope of the rifle and he was able to shoot a deer. When the man went back to his home the deer was left back at the camp. In the spring he called Clyde and wanted to know where his deer was. Clyde checked with the owner of the resort and they found the deer in the freezer but by then it was not fit to eat.|
|EARLE SMITH: Earle started guiding in 1945 in Birchdale and Braemar for bird and deer hunters; and he also guided fishermen.. He worked for Selwyn Ring for a few years. Most of the hunters he guided were from the Eastern United States, from Massachusetts to West Virginia. He usually remained in the woods from two to four weeks at a time. Besides acting as guide, he also prepared dinners and cleaned up after meals. His pay would be five dollars a day. .|
|KEN MOOD: Ken started guiding at the age of eighteen in the Oakland camp, Birchdale and Braemar . He hunted bird, moose and deer. For twenty years he guided with Warren Grey. He began to guide in 1915 with a Mr. Charles Reeves, Sr. Oxen were usually used to get to the camp. Later horses were also used. On a typical fishing trip with a party of eight canoes, they would leave on a Sunday. They went to Oakland Lake, portaged across to Cranberry Lake, and then to Buckshot. The party stayed overnight and the next day started down the Sheburne River as far as Irving Lake, portaged to House Lake and then to Spetch Lake, on to Junction Lake, and down the Roseway to Upper Ohio, Shelburne County. One memorable trip was made with teenagers who knew nothing about canoeing. For this trip there were twenty bags of food with one case of milk.|
|SPENCER HARRIS: Spencer Harris now lives in Bloomingdale, N.J. but he owned Birchdale in 1960, buying the property from a group of businessmen. Mr. Harris is an engineer. In the rear of the main lodge was a room called the Liars Room in which the guides retold their stories of the day. On the wall was a sign stating this to be the Liars Room. Following are some tales from this room, believe them or not. At Mr. Harris' time of ownership there was a small dump behind the lodge which a tame bear dug apart often. A small line was tossed over a maple tree and attached to the line was a carcass of a turkey. This line was hauled up and down and the bear swung at it as if he were boxing. After awhile the bear climbed the tree and got the carcass. One story concerns a squirrel which got drunk on a crouton full of whiskey placed on a bird feeder, he swirled back and forth. One of the people there took a picture of the squirrel and as the light from the flash erupted, the squirrel turned head over heels and scrambled off into the woods. One man, while bird hunting, saw his dog point and the bird flew and was shot. Then the dog brought the bird to the man and he placed the bird in his pocket. Upon meeting with his friends they asked him what he shot and he pulled the bird from his pocket and placed it in his hand, whereupon the bird stood up, let go his excrement and flew away. Another time a man and his wife came to Birchdale to hunt. He complained that at all the other hunting camps the food was lousey and the guides drunk. This couple wished to go in a canoe so Mr. Harris said that was fine except they should be back for lunch at 1:00 p.m.. Well, 1:00 p.m. came and no couple showed up, so Mr. Harris got in his motor boat and went to the end of Carrying Road Lakes and found the canoe upset and the paddles floating in the lake. There was no sign of the couple so Mr. Harris returned to camp and was about to call the R.C.M.P. Coming within view of the camp, he saw the couple who had walked through the woods to the camp. This man killed a big buck and the next day killed another deer bigger than the other. Some of the people who visited Bichdale were: F. Van Wyck Mason - author; Spyros Skouras - President of the American Export Steamship Co.; Mr. Kendall - President of Pepsi Cola; and a group of Wall Street Brokers|
|VIOLET and DOLPH: Violet and Dolph spent four months in Birchdale, in the spring and summer of 1956. Violet cooked, waited on tables, cleaned, washed and ironed. She sewed, making covers for couches, even after leaving Birchdale. Violet made bread and pies every day, and once cooked trout in wine especially for a Prince from France. Another customer, Sam Parleman and his wife, had to have their food prepared without fat. At that time there was no electricity in the seven cottages. There was a cow so butter was made the old-fashioned way. Violet slept in a little room behind the kitchen. J. Prout was a guide and Fayelene Crowell worked as a maid in Birchdale. Deer would come right under the clothesline, also tame rabbits. Wages were sixty dollars a month and more money was made in tips. Local people came for a day or two and visitors came up to two weeks. Lunches were made for the guide and fisherman who would leave in the morning and return at suppertime.|
|CHESTER GREY: Chester was a game warden and also a fire warden. He went to work in 1933 at the Tobiatic Sanctuary and worked there for eleven years. He became Chief Ranger and retired in 1963. Following Chester's retirement Robert Gates Sr. became Chief Ranger. C.C. Burrill was Chief Ranger before Chester. In the late 1930's and 1940's the beaver population was becoming almost extinct in the northern part of the province. For a number of summers Chester land- trapped beaver and transported them to Eastern and Northern Nova Scotia and helped to replenish the stock in those areas.. He was a moose-hunting guide for years. His father , Jusdon , was one of the most famous guides in Yarmouth County during his time. One of the people Chester guided was a writer from the United States, Bertram Spiller. Chester was asked by the government to take Mr. Spiller fishing. He took him to the Tobiatic Sanctuary where there were large fish. Mr. Spiller wrote an article about Chester.|
|LAWERENCE MOOD: Lawrence started guiding in 1915 in Birchdale. He guided for deer, and for fishing. He guided for bird hunting in Braemer and he guided with his brother in Dugas Lake, Digby County. Lawrence also had his own camp where he took hunting parties. Some of the people he guided came from New Jersey. They traveled to his camp by ox team. At one time there was a bounty on bear and Lawrence and his partner, Edwin Hamilton trapped and shot around one hundred bear over a period of time. During the war he operated a bus into Yarmouth to earn his living. He also sold firewood. He would bring the wood to town to sell and pick up groceries and deliver them on the way back from Ohio to Kempt. .|
|TOM JEFFREY: Born in 1902, Tom started guiding in the early 1920's. He guided at Oak Hill cabins for fifty-four years. He was caretaker for the last ten of those years. Most of the people coming to Oak Hill were from the United States. He began by taking fishing trips and later hunting trips. He worked for many years for Lloyd Ring in Birchdale. Tom also had a camp of his own on the edge of the Blue Mountains and another at Nephcead Lake. One person he guided was a Mr. Steckel who was the leader of the U.S. Republican Party and who worked for the Motor Vehicle Branch in Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Steckel was one of twenty-five people who ran the camp. He was an avid fisherman. Another individual, Wilfred Koritem, spent many hours feeding squirrels as a pastime and he also hunted at Bartlets. Tom remembers guiding in Birchdale with the first aluminum canoes in the area. They would spend anywhere from ten days to two weeks at a time in the woods. A guide would make from one dollar to two dollars fifty cents a day. Lloyd Ring supplied the food and canoes.|
|ALEC JEFFERY: Alec ran Birchdale for Selwyn Ring for several years, starting when he was 16. He guided for bird and deer. After Selwyn sold Birchdale to Spencer Harris of New Jersey, Alec continued to work for him. Alec managed Birchdale for eleven years. His wife, Olive, worked there for twelve years, cooking, waiting on tables etc. Most of the guests were from the United States. Another guide at Birchdale was Bill Goodwin. He was born in Kemptville. . One person that he guided was W.H.C. Schwartz. president of Maritime Life Association and of the Schwartz Spice Co. He also guided Fred Nauss. There is a story told of a tame bear called Ben who would push the kitchen door open. Mrs. Jeffery started giving him bread and he became very tame. Eventually he started being a nuisance and he was sedated and moved twenty miles away but the next day he appeared back at Birchdale. After a time it was necessary to do away with him.|
|SAM FRANCAIS: Sam was born on the Meteghan Reserve August 10, 1873. He was a Mi'kmaq who lived off the land and was self sufficient. He guided for moose and deer and was well known around Yarmouth. One old gentlemen also a Mi'kmaq, fished and trapped with Sam; he was a good dancer and played the fiddle and was also a good singer. Sam was a craftsman who made baskets and axe handles. He spoke Mi'kmaq, English and French. Sam lived on the Holly Road across from a small stream. He had built a small cabin there. He roamed everywhere and at one time lived in the Southern United States. Clark Shatford and Harry Allen, two businessmen from Yarmouth, would take Sam to the sports shows in Boston where he had a booth and sold his crafts. Sam also had a booth at the local Yarmouth Exhibition in the 1920's. He also made canoes and would demonstrate how the Indians cut the bark off the birch trees and show them how a canoe was made. Sam was an excellent guide and guided many Americans who came to this area. Once Sam was following his trap line and a bobcat stole from his line time and time again. Each time he met up with the bobcat, he had no gun or bow and arrow, and so he was never able to kill the animal. As he got older he became sick and died on the Yarmouth Reserve.|
|JOHN ALTON PROUT: John is from Kemptville and guided in Birchdale for a few years. He was a good fisherman and enjoyed the woods. He guided parties to hunt deer and birds. He also guided fishing expeditions. His father was also a guide. His sister, Phyleen Crowell, waited on tables for Lloyd and Selwyn Ring. She also helped make lunches for the hunters plus seven or eight guides and earned ten dollars a week. Her hours of work were from five in the morning until 10:30 in the evening|
|HERBERT HUNTINGTON CROWELL: Herbert was born in 1900 and died in 1955. He was a woodsman and guided for deer and also guided for fishing parties. He guided at the Oak Hill Camp with J. Prout and Faye Prout for a group from Connecticut , U.S.A. He also worked with Tom Jeffrey.|
|VICTOR GREY: Victor guided in Birchdale and at Braemar. He guided for fifty years in Kemptville and also had his own camp at Billy's Island on the Moose River stream. This was located on one of the branches of the Tusket River. He guided for bird, bear, deer and moose. He had a cabin called Big Meadow Lodge and another camp called Pine Hill. Victor guided for Dr. Burton and would spend up to six weeks at a time guiding. Victor also guided for trout and salmon fishing. His father had also guided , mostly for Americans. Victor furnished his own canoes and usually slept outdoors. During the years between 1925 and 1970 he made four dollars a day.|
|ROBERT GATES, SR. : Robert guided from 1946 until 1960 for American hunters. He guided for birds, deer and bear. He guided one particular hunter for over thirty years. He had his own camp. He was 18 years of age when he started guiding and he guided for Selwyn Ring off and on for several years. In 1970 he became Supervisor of Forest Resources , retiring in May, 1986.|
|VICTOR RING: Victor was born in Brooklyn, Yarmouth County on Oct. 23, 1900. He stated that Carl Herman, Shaman and Haley introduced the deer in Nova Scotia in the early 1900's. He guided in Barer, Birchdale and in Little Gull camp in Quinan. He worked for Selwyn Ring and guided for bird-hunting, deer and moose at Birchdale. He also had to work and cook meals in the woods for the hunters. The typical food was hash and boiled tea made in a billy can.|
|GEORGE THINKHAM: George started guiding in Braemar in 1940 and guided Frederick Buck Dumaine for ten years. He was from Boston, Mass. He guided for bird and deer hunting.He also guided Allen McMartin from Montreal and Bob Habgood from Pennsylvania He guided for deer in Quinan and for birds in Yarmouth and Digby counties. He worked in Birchdale, guiding for Selwyn Ring and later for Spencer Harris. Most of the people he guided were from the United States. He alsoguide from his own camp in Quinan on Gull Lake. A story that George tells concerns a person he had taken out for bird hunting. After they got all the way out to Quinan, they discovered that he did not have his hunting license. They had to go all the way back to Pleasant Lake to buy a license. After they arrived back in the woods, the man fired all of his shots at some birds and he missed every time. The next day he wanted to hunt again, but only for half a day and became quite upset when he found out that he would have to pay for a full day. He refused to pay. and hunted on his own around the perimeter of the camp.|
BURRILL: Lawrence was born in North Kempt in 1892. He lived in Kempt
where he had a farm and a blacksmith shop. He also worked as a guide and
had his camp called Beech Lodge. He guided people from the U.S. as well
as local people. Some of the people he guided included a Dr. Bishop, Dr.
Bishop Jr. and Dr. Miller from Kentville; Mr. J. Courtney and his wife
from Halifax. Every fall Dr. Gay Klin and Dr. Muelbur From Amherst, Mass.
came to hunt. They taught at the University of Massachusetts. Lawrence's
camp consisted of a main lodge and a smaller lodge containing a living
room and two bedrooms. Bernard Cosman was a guide at Beech Lodge for Lawrence
Burrill. When Lawrence was guiding he would be in the woods for long periods
Yarmouth Newspapers.[p.473] 1899.page 474
"The following story has been submitted for inclusion in the Yarmouth Villages Website by Guy Baker, Grandson of Seymour Baker who was witness to the tragic death of his brother, Victor Stanley Baker, in Kemptville, 3 January 1899."
On Tuesday, January 3rd, a most distressing and terrible accident happened at Kemptville, whereby Victor Stanley Baker, second son of Hon. L. E. Baker, was instantly killed. The deceased, in company with his brother Seymour and George H. Cain, had been in the woods above Kemptville for a week's shooting. They had good sport and spent a merry time, having with them Arthur Bower as guide. They left for home on the above day, embarking from John Bower's, where they had left their team, in an express wagon. As the road was heavy they left a portion of their paraphernalia in the camp to be brought out by the mail courier later on. Before leaving Mr. Bower's house their guns, with one exception, were taken apart and packed in their cases. By common consent the unpacked gun, which was a light, single barrel breech loader, was loaded with small shot to be in readiness in case any game should be seen on the road. This gun was placed in the back of the wagon, muzzle pointing to the rear. Mr. Cain and the two brothers were seated on the front of the wagon, Mr. Cain driving, whilst Mr. Bower sat behind. On reaching the base of school house hill, about four miles from Kemptville corner, Victor and the guide jumped out, the former saying that his feet were cold. The two walked behind the wagon for a short distance, when Bower started to climb in the wagon. He got one foot on the axle, and held on with his hand, and saw Victor grasp the back of the wagon with one hand and seize the loaded gun with the other. Instantly there was a report and the horse started on the run. When he was stopped Mr. Cain and Seymour looked back to see what Victor had shot, supposing that he had fired at something, but were horrified to observe him lying in the road with Mr. Bower bending over him. Mr. Bower jumped off the wagon upon hearing the report of the discharge, and instantly ran to Victor's assistance, but he was dead when he reached him. Upon examination it was found that the charge had entered Victor's lungs, causing instant death. His clothing was burned by the powder. Why Victor grasped the gun will never be known. It was thought by his companions that in going up the hill the gun was moved from its position and was in danger of falling out of the wagon, and he intended replacing it. As soon as his companions recovered from the shock of the awful tragedy a sleigh was procured, the body taken to the hotel at Kemptville, and the news telephoned to town. An inquest was held and a verdict rendered that “the deceased had accidentally come to his death from a wound from a gun in his own hands.” The body was at once [p.474] forwarded to town, accompanied in another team by his sorrowstricken companions, arriving about midnight. Victor Stanley Baker was the second son of Hon. and Mrs. L. E. Baker, and was born on the 18th April, 1879. He had recently returned from college. The funeral took place from Holy Trinity church on the afternoon of the 5th January, the church being packed to its fullest capacity, numbers standing in the aisles and corridors.
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|Footnotes: Olga Neal
NOTE: Chester Grey's father's name: Is it Jusdon, Judson, Justin? Also the spelling of Jeffrey, becomes Jeffery, so I stayed with Jeffrey for Tom and Jeffery for Alec but suspect they're both the same. I've again deleted reference to time/age, etc. as "at this time" since the reader (family tree researcher??) won't know what the date of writing is. This is a great document of a long-gone era.
Hasn't Nova Nada moved back to the States, following the fight with Irving? Perhaps those last few sentences should be updated, if so. Also, I've changed Kempt to Kemptville after the 1821 references. But I note on the map that there are East and West Kempts and am wondering if there is yet another village, named 'Kempt'. ??? I stayed overnight at Birchdale when it still was Birchdale, by the way, and have an idea that my visit there was among those news clippings I mentioned to you. I'll start digging those up one of these days. Another thought: it's tricky to mention such things as "the population is now" without giving a date, unless you plan to update those statistics. Also I wondered about John Van Amburg's death date so noted it as "unknown".
Reply: I believe Kempt is short Kemptville. Monks
of Nova Nada have moved to a desert in the USA. Our Loss.. (G.LeBlanc)
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