Lake Annis
Yarmouth Nova Scotia Canada
The following history was compiled by Jim Vickery in 1963.
Pictures Provided by John Goudey
Compiled, edited & hosted by G.J.LeBlanc: GrassRoutes Computers Services Ltd.
Original document Submitted by Dot Vallillee
 Permissions to reproduce this document was give by John Goudy
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EARLY SETTlERSView of Lake Annis

The story goes that there were two Durkee brothers — William and Henry who are considered the original settlers of lake Annis. Their home was the property that we are calling the McGray house, now owned by Babe Swan Miller.

BaggageThe brothers divided their land and William took the northern part which was later sold to his brother-in-law George Cossor.

The story goes on to say that one brother had a garden and the other raised hens; the hens got into the garden and the brothers got into an argument, the result being that William sold out to George Cossor and left for good.

When Henry left shortly after, he sold his house to Thomas Winter who attempted to move it across the lake on the ice. Unfortunately the ice broke and the house went down in Norwood Cove where it stayed until the following September. Then when the lake was low they held a mammoth ox-pull and it took twenty-eight oxen to get the house out and on dry land. It is now the front part of Mac Moore's house on the lake George road.

Note: The Cossor name has been spelled 3 ways.  I have left them as they were on the original pages.

Although there were earlier settlers one might well describe George Cossor as the founder of the settlement, as he continued to live at Lake Annis and his family after him, daughter and grandson both living there still. George was born on May 7, 1838 in Weymouth, and was married to Eliza Hilton, daughter of Captain A. Hilton of Chebogue, born in 1842.

George was a carpenter and with his wife moved to Massachusetts where he carried on his trade for a short time before returning to Nova Scotia. They had the following children Laura, born in 1862 who married Fred Jones and lived to the ripe old age of 93, Grace born in 1863, Julia who died in infancy, Florence born 1866 and married to Lewis Allen, living in Norwood on the Lake George road (this property now owned by Robert Manuge); and Hubert born 1868.  Eliza died this same year and George brought his children to Lake Annis where his sister Mrs. Henry Durkee was living.

At that time the main highway only went as far as Norwood Cove and George and his eldest daughter Laura, actually arrived in lake Annis by boat which he rowed over from the cove. He soon brought the other children, bought the land from William Durkee that year 1868 and built a home which is still standing, being the woodshed at the rear of the present homestead (No.6 on the sketch). The land is described in the deed, dated January 1872 as “100 acres the east side of the lake and on the first base line along the lake 69 rods”.

In those days land was cleared by hand-axe and the timbers of that house, some from frees 2 ft. in diameter, are all hand-hewn as well as many of’ the shingles In August of the same year he married Keziah Killam, a young girl of 16, who cared for his little family, having one of her own the following year • In all she had 12 children, 4 of whom died young. The names of Faustina, born 1870, Elmer, Bernard, Alvin, Beatrice(Mrs. Hall in Beaver River), Gordon, Mildred and Earle are well known to all former residents of the village. It was a large family to raise in such a small house.
Feeling the need of education for his children, George boarded a school teacher and the small building, afterwards the Post Office, was used as a school until such tine as the present school was built in the section. laura went to school in that tiny room until she was 13 when her education was considered complete. The blackboard can still be seen on the back of the door.

Mr. Cossor was a thrifty farmer; he had a good garden and raised cows, pigs, and hens. Each Saturday he would travel to Yarmouth with horse and wagon to sell his produce  butter, eggs, chickens and vegetables, to his regular customers. He started early in the morning and so punctual was he that people used to say that they could set their clocks when they saw him pass. In later years he used to stop at Elmer’s to collect what the latter had for sale. He dressed the same winter and summer and wore a long light brown coat with capes, at least two, and a wide-brimmed hat like a Quaker’s. With his long white whiskers he was a picture some of us will never forget.

Both George and his wife Keziah died in the year 1925 and are buried in the little cemetery at Norwood.

George Cossor sold the land where Mooswa stands, to Chas Grantham in 1895, It was once known as Cossor's Picnic Grounds and parties came from Yarmouth by train on flat cars to spend the day there. Mrs. Cossor would provide large pots of freshly cooked garden peas or corn to supplement their baskets of food and would also serve hot tea or coffee to the picnickers. There was no doubt a charge was made for the grounds as well as the food.

He built the present home in 1896, No.7 on the sketch, still occupied by his daughter Mildred who runs the farm on a reduced scale assisted by Ivan C&udet, who has been her helper for twenty years or more.

George Cossor sold land to the Western counties Railway reserving a right of way in the west of the property, later used as a lumber yard.

At the time of the Fenian Raid 1870 he was called up along with many others. Soldiers came to get him but he was only gone a week and the raid was over. In 1913 all veterans of the Fenian Raid were given a grant of $100 and along with the others George had his picture taken on the old Court House steps in Yarmouth.

His sons worked on the farm until they were 21 end one by one left lake Annis, most of them going to the States. When in the Post Office he sat on a high padded stool and carefully saved every inch of the twine which bound the letters — getting it untied so as not to waste any took considerable time, or so it seemed to the impatient young people waiting for their mail. Thrift and economy were the key­notes in those days — even a paper bag was valuable and worth charging for — one suit of clothes should last a young man until he was 21. A farmer needed a large family as there was always work for everyone in order to raise food to last the year round.
Links: NOTE:

Note:-  After compiling the story of the family an interesting fact has come to light. The original family name was Cossaboom {A | B | C }and was changed to Cossar either by George or his father. A check has also been made in the family bible and there it is spelt with an A and, not an 0 as the author had been told to use.


Much of the land in the lake Annis area was at one time owned by Josiah Ellis who lived in Port Maitland, but owned and operated a sawmill in lake Annis where he bad camps for his men and barns for his horses.

Josiah also planted orchards, the largest still standing on the property now owned by Babs Swan Miller, while some of his trees are still growing on the Killam and Vickery properties which were bought from him.

He built the house which was sold to Elmer Cossor, the house and barn now owned by George Killam, as well as the barn that was in the centre of the Vickery lot before being moved across the road and used by Elmer.

Josiah’s son Alvin was at one tine manager of the Ellis House in Port Maitland and, his wife spending some time each summer at lake Annis in the house which he bought from A. E. McGray. Alvin’s son Robert will be remembered as the manager of Lakeside Inn at Yarmouth and the Cornwallis Inn at Kentville.

S. A. Crowell, John H. Kil.lam and E. J. Vickery all bought their lots from Josiah, each building a cottage in due course.

He also purchased the land that is McLeod’s Point in 1885, from John Moses and later sold it to Dave Saunders.

The mill mentioned in the first paragraph was erected by Josiah in 1878 on the lake shore just behind the Clem Crowell and Arthur Stoneman cottages. Nos. 12 and 16 and not shown on the sketch. There is little information to show how long it operated, but probably for a number of years.  In 1900 there was nothing on the site to show that a mill had been there other than pile of sawdust and some slabs. There had been a siding from the main line to the mill but the rails bad been taken up leaving the ties. The route can be distinguished by the indentation in front of the Cann and Allen cottages, now overgrown.


The lake perhaps needs further mention than just the paragraphs on “Boating” and “Fishing”. It might almost be regarded as the centre of attraction in the early days of the colony.

When it was fine everyone went swimming, or perhaps bathing is a more approprnate word. Usually the bathers put on their apçarel in their cottages and with a towel, headed for the lake. Bathing suits for the women in the 1900’s were works of art and would no doubt be museum pieces today.

The shore in front of the Killams and Vickerys was the popular place and had a fairly sandy bottom, particularly when the lake was low in mid-summer.  The cove by the Chelsea Cann and Tarmny Kirk cottages was also popular, especially for the small children, as it was shallow with a fine sandy bottom.

The finest sandy bottom with perhaps the warmest water, was the cove beyond the McLeod  property on the southern side of the lake. There used to be a wood road from the railway track to this cove, if one did not want to walk around the shore or go by boat.

For years the Killams maintained a float just off their stone wharf, perhaps 50 feet out. This was used for diving and a resting place for the younger fry who could swim that far.

The BULLFROG, LARK and RIFFLE, were kept anchored just off the shore and a punt or canoe used as a tender. Rowboats were usually kept afloat at a buoy and could be quickly hauled in on a continuous rope.

Then the lake was low, one could walk around the shore to Lake Jessie Cove, where for several years there was a loons nest in the rushes. This cove was also the source of water-lilies and many morning trips were made by canoe to pick them in their season. High bush blueberr±bs grew on the west wide of the cove, one of the few places in the Lake Antns area.

The children spent many happy hours playing on the lake shore making fleets of small boats that sailed in and out of many a hand-made harbor that rexresented the ports of Boston, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. These were common household words in the take Annis homes where sea captains were frequent visitorsj and with plenty of imagination we sailed all over the world.  A punt anchored to the shore was considered a safe place to play and could be anything from an Ark to an Ocean Liner.

One forgets that the lake may be interesting in the winter. The writer well remembers spending New Year ‘ s Day in 1905 at Sunnyside when the younger members of the party skated all over the lake which was like a sheet of glass.

The outstanding winter event in the colony was the curling match held on ~.rch 3rd, 1908. It takes five pages to describe it in Dr. A. 14. Hill’s book “Sweepings” written in 1910. The rinks were as follows: Dr. W. G. Putnam Skip, J. H. Lovitt, E. J. Vickery, 0. F. Brown against Rev. R. D, Bambrick Skip, Capt. Augustus Cann, Jim Pendrigh, J. W. Baker. The score was 24 - 15 for Putnam. The book goes on to say “the first outdoor curling game held in Western Nova Scotia”. The players stayed over night at the Lovitt and Vickery cottages.


Most of the summer residents in lake Annis at one time owned a boat or canoe and the younger membertl of the family spent a great deal of time on the water. Picnics across the lake were a common occurrence, particularly in the cove straight across where for some years Bun Brown of Port Maitland had a camp.

There were two well-kown sailboats in the early 1900’s — the BULLFROG owned by the Killams and the LARK owned by the Vickerys. These were used constantly for a number of years and as both were flat-bottomed with a centreboard they could be sailed right into the shore. In later years camp Mooswa had a fleet of four smaller boats of the dingy type which were used to teach the boys to sail.

When the Lark began to disintegrate Mr. Vickery brought his swamscott dory, the RIPPLE, from Yarmouth and this was used by the family a great deal.

For years the Killams had a red boathouse on the shore shown as No.45 on the sketch. This was the only boathouse until George Green built one in front of his cottage.

Two or three of the residents had. pints which were often taken out to the mill on a truck or down to the meadow on a drag and used for fishing trips. Cknoes were perMps as popflar as they could be carried to the meadow or tekmi on the topof a car to the mill.

It is thought that Harold Lovett had a sail boat at one time but little can be remembered about it. George Killam did have one in later years after the BULLFROG, LARK and RIPPlE had retired from service. Today Seymour Crowell has a sail boat with a motor so is not dependent upon the whims of the wind.


Fishing in the lake sail in the river and tributaries, was for many years a popular sport. Two of the best places in the lake for speckled trout were the inlet in Lake Jessie Cove and the cove at Norwood leading to the mouth of the small outlet. At one time black perch were very plentiful - they used to school just off the village shore and it was not uncommon to catch three and four at a time if one md on a bait and three f1ies. The average size would be a half to one pound eat not too many of the latter.

FishingOn two or three occasions around 1910 E. J. Vickery had cans of trout fry sent by express from one of the provincial hatcheries, and immediately put them in lake just opposite the station.

Fishing the river from the Mill to the Meadow and from Lanigan's, or even futher to Gardner’s Mill, was very popIlar. Harry Hamilton ways willing to forget the farmwork and spend a day on the rive as an orsman in his punt.

Trolling from a boat or canoe was popular, perhaps more so in recent years with the lake stocked with brown trout. These were first put in about 1955 and the speckled beauties are no longer caught, the brown variety having taken over completely. One of the largest brown trout reported so far is a four-pounder takin en by Fred Dyke’s son in June 1963. 


In the horse and buggy days, the family would leave town early in the morning for it would take 2 to 3 hours to drive 18 miles over the country roads to lake Annis. A pleasant drive especially the last mile or so from lake Jessie where the woods were thick on either side and the branches of the trees met overhead; and even if the road was often muddy the horses didn’t get stuck in the mud as the cars often did in later years. The horses would be put up at the Cossar’s or Harry Hamilton’s barn ready to start back to Yarmouth again after a night’s rest.

people/groupin-car1s.jpgThe boys and sometimes some energetic girls, used to ride their bicycles to lake Annis and a few people have been Known to walk that distance, two of them quite young ladies.

One of the first automobiles used for transportation to Lake Annis would be the Stanley Steamer belonging to Harold Lovett. This car was purchased by E.J. Vickery in 1907 and when in the village was parked on the covered veranda on the north side of the cottage.

It was because of the convenience of the trains from Yarmouth that Lake Annis first became a popular summer resort. One could come up in the morning on the regular mail train arriving about 9:30 a.m. and return to Yarmouth by 5 p.m.(if the train was on time) or one could come up by Suburban arriving around 6.30 p.m. and return in the morning about 7.30 a.m. Meeting the various trains was very important — there were always baskets full of provisions to be carried and it was a pleasure to be helped off the train by such genial conductors as George Williams:
frequently a wheel-barrow was needed to transport the baskets to the cottages.

Often there were flat cars in the siding loaded with lumber to be picked up by the freight train after unloading bags of feed for the Gossars and other nearby farmers.

The lumber yard was a favorite place in which to play while waiting for the train, often late when coming from Halifax: or if the Boston boat was held up by fog which in turn would delay the train from Yarmouth. We also amused ourselves picking berries which grew by the track — strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and sometimes cranberries.

Quite recently, after Dr. Ollie Stanton and his wife Ruth had been living in their cottage, Clem Orowell noticed something unusual about the sign over the Lake Annis Station, it seemed to read OOBISSIS. Fearing trouble with the C.P.R. the sign was soon reversed; it is doubtful if the trainmen on the Dayliner would have noticed it at the rate of speed they travel. That same season a coat of paint was pit on the same sign in some mysterious manner which had nothing to do with the railway.

Having mentioned the Stanley Steamer, one should include some of the other cars which provided a very useful means of transit. Cars owned by Bert Henry and Donald Lawson; the Hupmobile used by the Lewis family and Dave Saunder’s red Rambler runabout, were the care of 1910.


train/station~1900'ss.jpgtrain/kids1s.jpgThe Railway, then known as the Western Counties Railway, was put through the lake Aunts section in 1878. The first through train from Yarmouth to Digby was on August 21st, 1878 and carried ballast. The road was open for transportation on September 29th, The house shown as No. 42 was built as a railway store and used for a year before being acquired by Joe Clark in 1879. George Cossor sold land to the railway in 1885 and at that time reserved a piece twenty feet wide as a public road. This is the road which we now call the Station Road and runs from the main highway to the railway tracks.

An interesting story is told about the first train - the vibration on the track and ground was so great that it shook the foundation of the fireplace in the house shown as Noll ( the Ellis, Killam, Saunders house) doing so much damage that the fireplace bad to be rebuilt.

Fred Jones, the grandfather of Everett Killam, will be well remembered as the railway section foreman in the early nineteen hundreds. One of his duties was to keep the station clean and some of us older ones can see him marching on the track with a broom over his shoulder like a rifle, on his way to sweep the station before the first train arrived.

A shed to house incoming supplies mostly for Dave Saunders and George Cossor, such as flour, feed etc, with a high section of platfoit so that barrels could be rolled across a ramp direct from the oar to the shed, was in use some years before the first station was erected. Very likely the shed was built by Dave at little or no expense to the Railway. This was eventually torn down after his mill ceased to operate,

station1904s.jpgThe first station was built in 1904. It was painted yellow with bright red trimmings and had, a very nice sign over the door.  In cold weather waiting passengers would have to build a fire in the stove using the wood supplied by the section-men - not always as dry as it might be. This building was removed in 1947 and replaced with the station from Sissiboo, which was brought down on a flat car. This latter building was taken away in 1962 and is being used as a Maintenance of Way tool house is the railway yard at Kentville.  Snapshots. of both stations are preserved in the looseleaf record held by the author..

There was a time when at least seven trains a day went through - the Express 40 and from Halifax, the Flying Bluenose { A  | B  }going both ways in the summer season, the Suburban from Yarmouth to Weyinouth and at least one freight either up or down and perhaps both.

Today there is only the sign “LAKE ANNIS” and a metal flag to be used if one Wants to stop the Dayliner. { A  }

A newspaper clipping from one of the Yarmouth Papers dated 1885 aid preserved Mrs. E. J. Vickery contains this interesting story of the early days:

Wating for the Train Train coming into Lake Annis

"A copy of a list of Directors of the Western Counties Railway we found of particular interest, for it told how many miles of tracks had been laid at the time, for Yarniouth was then on its way with a new mode of transportation.  67 miles of track had been laid from Yarmouth to Digby, and from Digby to Annapolis, 22 miles were under construction. Passengers carried at end of December 31st, 1884 were 32,539 and the amount of freight in tons carried byte railway was 16,135. Directors of this railway had at its head, the late Hon L. E. E Baker who was President train/station~50s.jpg


In a small country comiininity like lake Annis, the Post Office is an institution; much the same as going to the station to see the trains come and go.

George Cossor was the first postmaster and some member of his family has held the position from the opening of the office until the final closing. For years it was a small room in what might be described as a store-house a few feet away from the homestead, with standing room for about eight in addition to the postmaster.

Just when the original appointment was made is somewhat indefinite but it perhaps can be assumed to have been at the time the Dominion Atlantic Railway was awarded the contract to carry the mails from Yarmouth to Halifax. This was probably in 1895 as two postal cars were put in operation that year by the railway.

homes/post1s.jpgEach morning Mr. Cossor, or a member of the family, would take the mail bag the short distance to the station to meet the Express from Yarmouth, returning with the incoming bag or bags. Eventually a Mail Catch Post was erected which picked up the outgoing bag, allowing the train to maintain speed when it did not have to stop with a passenger.

The residents, mostly the younger generation who always went to the station, would follow Mr. Cossar to his small office and wait patiently until the string was untied from the bundle of letters and stamps cancelled to his satisfaction strictly handwork. If the office was a bit crowded some of the eager onlookers would be asked to wait outside.

Stamps could of course be purchased, and the sale of these and Post Office Money Orders provided some of the revenue of the office.

Following the death of George Cossor, the Post Office was moved to Elmer’s house and Alden became postmaster. He carried on the office for seventeen years, first in his father’s house in the living room, and then in his own house in a little den.

In 1942 the office was moved back to the original location and Mildred became Postmistress, an office which she held until 1962 when some sixty-five years of faithfull Cossor service ended.  Mildred had a mail-slot put in the door so that she need not be disturbed by nocturnal visitors posting mail.

In August 1956 when the Dayliner service was instituted, the railway contract to carry mail ended and rural mail delivery in the village came into being. The bags were delivered to Mildred until 1962 when the residents were required to get their own wayside boxes. This latter service is more convenient and probably the Cossor yard would be far too small for parking all the cars that today would be used in getting the mail if it continued to come by train.


The sawmill at the junction of the brook from Lake Edwards and the river running out of lake Annis, approximately a mile east of the vilJage, was erected by Captain David Saunders and Captain John Churchill in 1894. It was operated not too successfully for a year when it was taken over by Captain Saunder’ s son David in 1895. Dwellings and a cook-house were located near the mill and some of the early names associated with this industry were Harry Hamilton, Fred Jones, William Hewey, Arch Sweeney, low Allen, William Ellis, Urias Hewey and Adolphus Burridge of Hectanooga, who drove the horses hauling the loaded lorries on the log rails that went from the mill to the lumber-yard which extend from the station platform to the railway crossing in front of Cossars. At one time Dave had a general store in the buildings shown as 13 and 11 on the sketch, the latter burning down in 1908.

From 1900 to 1910 the mill was a very busy place and many carloads of assorted sizes of lumber were shipped by rail, much of it going to Yarmouth to be loaded on sailing ships for South America
Dave built houses 18 and 19 for employees, these being sold to the owners as described on another page. He departed from lake Annis in 1912 for California leaving his estate to be liquidated for the benefit of the creditors.

At the time of writing this historical sketch all the buildings at the mill have vanished.


Although the Saunder's  Mill was the big industry for some fifteen years, there have been other mills in the area.

To begin with the mill built by Josiah Ellis in 1878 and mentioned briefly on a page about the Ellis family.

A man by the name of Deming operated a portable mill just across the road from the entrance to Camp Mooswa for a season or two. The approximate date is 1919/20.

There was a mill near Ase Sweeney’s in 1940 owned by a man named Moses. This has long since vanished.

In 1946 a Mr. Harrington operated a sawmill near the home of Doug Eldridge.  This too is no more.


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Foot Notes:  Lake Annis related topics

Clear Cutting Bill Crowell ANNIS PLACE NAMES
1990 March 27
Dominion Atlantic Railway Abandons Kentville to Yarmouth Main Line Track
On this day, the Dominion Atlantic Railway officially abandoned all its track west of Coldbrook, Kings County. All of the Yarmouth Subdivision was abandoned. The Kentville Subdivision between mile 0.0 at Kentville and mile 4.6 at Coldbrook was retained; all of the Kentville Subdivision west of mile 4.6 was abandoned. The abandoned track was dismantled during the summer of 1990. The DAR Employees' Timetable which came into effect on 27 September 1936, listed the stations along the Kentville Subdivision, westward from Coldbrook, as follows: Coldbrook, Cambridge, Waterville, Berwick, Aylesford, Auburn, Kingston, Wilmot, Middleton, Brickton, Lawrencetown, Paradise, Bridgetown, Tupperville, Round Hill, Mochelle, and Annapolis Royal. The stations along the Yarmouth Subdivision were: from Annapolis Royal to Upper Clements, Clementsport, Deep Brook, Bear River, Imbertville, Smith's Cove, Digby, Acaciaville, Bloomfield, North Range, Plympton, Sissiboo Falls, Weymouth, Belliveau, Church Point, Little Brook, Saulnierville, Meteghan, Maxwelton, Hectanooga, Norwood, Lake Annis, Brazil Lake, Ohio, Hebron, Yarmouth, and Evangeline Wharf. (Source
Jones, William Frederick, 415581, Private (1893-) 

William Frederick Jones was born on 19 December 1893 at Norwood, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, son of Frederick Jones.  He enlisted in the 40th Battalion  at Aldershot, Nova Scotia on 15 June 1915, having worked as a railroad man.  He stated his next-of-kin as his father, of Lake Annis, Yarmouth County, Nova  Scotia.   Private W.F. Jones was wounded on 10 August 1918, during the Battle of Amiens. (Source

CAMERON, Thomas Alexander - 77, died Friday, Dec. 7, 2001. Born in Sackville, N.B., he was a son of the late Alexander Roy and Etta (Lowerison) Cameron. An employee of the Bank of Nova Scotia, he retired in Halifax in 1984. He was a member of Masonic Lodge 28 (F & A.M.) in Sackville, N.B., Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Yarmouth, the Yarmouth Amateur Radio Club (VEITOM), the Saint Andrew's Society of Southwest Nova Scotia and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 143 in Port Maitland. A veteran of the Second World War, he served in northwest Europe with the Royal Canadian Artillery. Surviving are son, John Alexander Cameron, Niagara Falls, Ont.; daughter, Patricia Lynne Cameron, Lake Annis; sister, Frances Caroline Crowell, Lake Annis; one grandson, Scott 
Alexander Cameron, Ontario. He was predeceased by his wife, Ruth (Foster-Brown) Cameron in 1980. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Sweeny's Funeral Home, Yarmouth. Service was Monday, Dec. 10, December 10, in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, William Street, Yarmouth. Donations to Norwood Cemetery Fund. (Source

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