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First Issue April 2007
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Musquodoboit Valley Communities

Musquodoboit Valley was first settled along the winding Musquodoboit River in the late 1700s by Scottish and Irish immigrants. Valley residents enjoy sharing our knowledge with visitors. Through the efforts of many volunteers, family and community histories have been compiled and recorded to provide to those searching their genealogy factual information.


As well, records of all the church cemeteries within Musquodoboit Valley are updated regularly and are available upon request from the Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association


The following are excerpts from the community histories of Musquodoboit Valley, compiled in 1982-83 as part of the Musquodoboit Valley Bicentennial celebrations. The complete collection of community histories is available through Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association.


This page is a "work in progress" and histories of Valley communities are being added as information becomes available.


       Caribou Gold Mines

       Centre Musquodoboit



       Cooks Brook




       Gays River



       Lake Egmont / Wyse Corner / Antrim

       Lindsay Lake

       Meagher's Grant

       Mi'kmaq Culture

       Middle Musquodoboit

       Moose River

       South Section

       Upper Musquodoboit


Cattle have always been the mainstay in Brookvale. In 1894, a Creamery was opened in Middle Musquodoboit and this gave a great impetus to farmers to increase their herds. Almost every farm produced cream which was sold to the Creamery for butter making, from the time when milk was set in pans and the top skimmed off to the handcranked  “separator”.  The Creamery closed in 1961. 

Back in 1899, Samuel Crockett had set up a dairy herd on land now owned by Lorne Scott, and produced the Ayreshire cow  which in 1926 became Brookvale’s most famous citizen, “Betsy Wylie”.  She held the world record for the production of milk and butterfat. In 1930, Mr. Crockett was declared the Banner Farmer for Halifax County and Betsy entered the Agricultural Hall of Fame.

When Everett Dickie was asked who had given the name of Brookvale to this district, he replied, “Well, I don’t know who did, but it was well-named, for it’s full of brooks, just full o’ brooks!” And it is. 

There is the Ditch Brook, Bates Brook, Schoolhouse Brook, Jim Reid Brook and others; all these flow into Lindsay Brook, which in time of freshet and flow takes unto itself the power of a rushing river. There are small runlets and rivulets innumerable crisscrossing the pasture land, woods and fertile intervals of the peaceful hamlet. 

Despite modern drainage, the little waterways have scarcely changed since the early settlers came. Every pioneer made sure that his first dwelling, be it a dugout in the hillside, cabin or cottage, was located close by a running stream to sustain his family and animals. In later times, it was the power of these brooks, which ran grist mills, saw mills and shingle mills. This led to the district being called Mill… more in June 2008 TownCryer News

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Caribou Gold Mines

The history of a gold mining town is entirely different from the history of other communities. It is a story of brave and courageous people, who came not to build permanent homes, but to work in the gold fields, with the hope of striking it rich. It is a story of adventure, a story of hopes and dreams… 

Caribou Gold Mines, situated in the north-eastern part of Halifax County, six miles south of Musquodoboit Valley, is a large and rich area of gold bearing quartz. It is believed, but not recorded, that the first gold was discovered by Josiah Jennings and Francis Paul of Upper Musquodoboit while hunting for moose and caribou on the free claim barrens. The place may have been called… more in February 2008 TownCryer News

Caribou Gold Mines 1864-1990

Author: Eleanor M. Belmore

Passage from book: “Gold lured the wealthy, the poor, the desperate, the adventurers, and the dreamers. People gave up their families, stability, and their way of life in the mad search for gold. Driven on by its very elusiveness, the hope was ever present that the next boulder, the next pan would turn up the  bonanza. Regardless of the low wages, hazardous conditions, health risks, and hours of back-breaking labour with little recompense, it was the GOLD and the very word conjured up visions of opulence or, at least, a better way of life...”

This book is available for purchase through Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association.



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Centre Musquodoboit

Centre Musquodoboit derived its name from the post office in P.G. Archibald’s store. This post office was called Brookside, but because there were other post offices by the same name in the province, and the mail was getting confused, the name was changed to Centre Musquodoboit. 

In the late 1800s, this area was called Deacontown. It was part of an Archibald grant, a 2150-acre area granted to John, Matthew, and Robert Archibald on Jan. 20, 1780. John Archibald, from Truro, applied for the grant in November of 1864. 

A school, called Archibald School, was built there about 1869. One of the first industries in Centre Musquodoboit was… more in January 2008 TownCryer News

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Chaplin Post Office

Following, is one of the stories found in the Community History of Chaplin, written by Mrs. Anna Leslie in 1983. 

The Chaplin Post Office was located in the home of Robert and Jane Chaplin during the late 1800’s. Then, Mrs. Ernest Chaplin carried on until 1933. During these years, Mr. Lewis Dean delivered the mail from the Dean Post Office to the Chaplin Post Office, three times a week. 

In 1933, the Rural Route was started from Upper Musquodoboit. Mr. Andrew Wm. Cox was the mail driver from 1933 until 1945. He went every day to Upper Musquodoboit to pick up the mail and delivered it to mail boxes all along the road to the end of Chaplin Settlement. Although Mr. Cox had a car, most of the year he had to drive a horse and wagon due to muddy roads or a horse and sleigh during the winter to get through the snow. The roads were not plowed as quickly after a snowstorm as they are now. 

In 1945, Wilfred Wright, accompanied by his wife, Marjorie, took over the mail route. By this time, the driving was done only by car. Mr. Wright retired in 1975. From then, until the present day (1983), the mail is… more in July 2007 TownCryer News

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Following is an excerpt from the community history of Chaswood, compiled in 1983 by S.H. Taylor. 

The name of this settlement was changed from Taylor Settlement to Chaswood around 1899-1900. Previous to this time, this school section was known as Taylor No. 11. The Post Office address was Gays River Road. Letters were often addressed Taylor Settlement, Taylorville, etc. 

Now, there was also a Post Office at Gays River, so you will agree there was more or less confusion in the distribution of the mail, with the result, it was decided to have the name changed. My father, John H. Taylor, was one of those advocating the change, and I believe it was he who suggested the present name. 

… I have always understood that it was named in honour of Charles Taylor Wood, the first Canadian Officer killed in the South African War… The first school in this settlement, was on the old road at the top of the hill, sometimes called… more in March 2008 TownCryer News

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Cooks Brook

In early days, the settlers of Cook’s Brook, as in surrounding areas, traveled by foot or went on horseback to the nearest stores at Halifax or Truro for supplies which they could not make or produce themselves. Butter, eggs, wool, meat, wood and soap were available at home. But, essentials such as flour, tea, sugar, molasses, nails, cotton, ammunition, cooking utensils, etc. had to be bought and taken home by sleigh or on horseback. 

In later years, there were two stores in Cook’s Brook. One was owned by George Newman and was situated at the mouth of the Newman Road, leading to Lake Egmont. The second store was owned by James… more in September 2008 TownCryer News

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Dean General Store

One of the earliest merchants in the Dean area was David Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton’s store was located near his home which is now (1983) owned by Leon and Nellie Cox. In addition to keeping store, Mr. Hamilton was a shoemaker by trade. 

A later shop was owned by Mrs. Campbell Cox, who started in business by making and selling homemade ice cream. Mrs. Cox later married Colin Gammell and together they decided to expand their business, renovate their home and build on a small section to use as a store. They also bought the former David Hamilton store and attached it to their own building. In addition to the homemade ice cream, they gradually decided to add staple items – one of the first being a puncheon of molasses. 

Mr. and Mrs. Gammell continued to keep shop and serve the public for many years until… more in August 2007 TownCryer News

Sharon Presbyterian Church, Dean

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In the early 1900’s, Little River boasted many stores. One store, which stood beside the Leedham property, was owned in succession by Mr. Gladwin, W. Bain, John Killen and then Victor Dares. 

Another store located in the village centre, at the bottom of the Elderbank Back Road, was built and owned by Mr. Burris, followed by Norm Cole, Merlin Myers and Victor Dares. After Dares’ death, it was operated by his widow and then a succession of owners until it finally closed in 1977. At least once, a horse and pun went through this store’s door and front windows, coming off the slippery hill from the station. 

Other stores were operated on the Elderbank Back Road by Gordie Conrod and Cassy McMullin. A garage beside the store was operated by the store owners. This garage had… more in April 2008 TownCryer News

Recollections of Little River - Elderbank 1783-1983

Author: “Friendly Neighbours”  (a committee committed to implementing arts and crafts, community history, and sociability)

Summary: A history of the area presently named Elderbank between the years of 1783 and 1983.

This book is available for purchase through Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association.


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Elmsvale was part of a 2,150-acre grant of land given to the Archibalds in the 1780’s and part of a Dickey grant. It was originally called The Flat. It was named Elmsvale because of the beautiful elm trees growing there. 

There had been churches in Upper and Middle Musquodoboit for nearly 70 years but, in the area between, the people had no place to worship. In the early 1880’s, the call came to establish a church of their own. The people of Higginsville, Newcomb’s Corner, The Flat (Elmsvale) and Deacontown Centre (Centre Musquodoboit) came together to build a church. The Riverside Presbyterian Church was built in 1886 and formally opened and dedicated in 1887 becoming part of the Middle Musquodoboit Pastoral Charge. 

The first school, which was made out of logs, was built on the old road some distance up the Dechman Road behind… more in May 2008 TownCryer News

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Gays River

In the earliest years, the pioneers of Gays River and surrounding areas traveled on foot or by horseback to hear the preacher at various log cabin homes in the area. The visit from a preacher was a great event in those days so people came from long distances. Sometimes, the service lasted three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon so they had to bring a supply of food for the day. Those from a very great distance often had to spend the night at a friend's home and continue on their way the next morning. 

The first frame church stood at the junction of the old Truro road and the old road leading to the Musquodoboit Valley and was opened for worship in 1818. The present church building was built in 1858 on land once owned by… more in October 2008 TownCryer News

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The first school in Greenwood was a log building situated on the north side of the old highway on land later owned by Everett Dechman. It was called Benvie’s, Upper Musquodoboit #2. The school was supported by the parents and, the teacher’s name was William Muir (June, 1832 – November 1832). 

The first preaching in Greenwood was at the home of Wellwood Reynolds. There was a flagpole located on the Dechman hill. Mr. Dechman raised the flag whenever the preaching was taking place so the people would know. 

Rev. John Sprott was the minister. Rev. Sprott had the first wagon in the Valley and about that time, the government appointed a magistrate. The minister was driving one day when he picked up the new magistrate. He wanted to know what he thought of his wagon. The magistrate made answer, “It is a better conveyance than your master had, when he rode into Jerusalem sitting on the back of an ass.” 

Rev. Sprott replied, “The government had taken all the asses and made them into… more in October 2007 TownCryer News

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John Higgins, some times known as Dandy Jack, and his wife Hester (Carmichael) Higgins are believed to have arrived in the area in 1783. Born in Wiltshire, England, he joined the Imperial troops and, at the time of the American Revolution, came to America. The land that John Higgins had been granted in Shelburne proved to be unsuitable for farming so they came to Halifax, then on to Musquodoboit Harbour, and made their way up the river by canoe.  When they came to what is now called Higgins Brook they found a place to make camp. Legend has it that their first was born that night.

When the sons of John Higgins grew up, he obtained grants of land for himself and his sons. Soon there were many Higgins families in the area. Because the descendants of John and Hester Higgins used the same names for their children, nicknames were inevitably used for the sake of identification. The fact that several generations back there was a John the sixteenth, will indicate to what extent the name of John has been used down through the family.

So of course they did acquire nicknames as well as numbers. Some of the John nicknames include: Dandy Jack (the first John Higgins to come to Higginsville), Sonny John, Johnny Over the Brook, Little Jack, Carpenter John, and Fiddler John. Mrs. John Higgins (in the woods) appears on the first church membership roll.  Then there was Gentleman John, so called because he rode up to someone's door and knocked without dismounting. He was also called Cobbler John as he was a shoemaker.

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Lake Egmont, Wyse Corner, Antrim

The hills and valleys of this corner of Halifax County began to ring with the sound of oxen wielded by new settlers from Ireland and Scotland, during the first quarter of the last century. These farms were to be found around Lake Egmont, along the old Halifax Guysborough Road and in the district named New Antrim, after the Irish birthplace of many of its inhabitants. 

The names of some of these settlers were Johnson, Kerr, McMichael, Moody, Milne, Butler, McMullen… The decendants of some of these people still live on the original land granted to them. 

The first school in the area was built on land given by Archibald McMullin. This school served Lake Egmont, Wyse Corner and the eastern part of Antrim. It was built at the foot of…  more in November 2008 TownCryer News

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Lindsay Lake

Following is an excerpt from the community history of Lindsay Lake, which was compiled in 1983 by Agnes Redden. 

About 1880, a prospector named Sidney Lindsay came to Lindsay Lake and founded a gold mine down on the east side of Lindsay Lake. A mill was built to crush the ore. This mine didn’t work long and the last gold was crushed in 1882. The remains of the old mine can still be found in the woods near the foot of Lindsay Lake. 

About 1884, William Redden, son of John Drilleo Redden, bought a farm from John MacKenzie at the foot of the MacKenzie Hill. He traded the MacKenzie place with his father John Redden, and settled on the farm by… more in November 2007 TownCryer News

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Meagher’s Grant

This community is located on the Musquodoboit River about 25 miles northeast of Dartmouth. On June 7, 1783, Martin Meagher, a Loyalist from North Carolina received a 5,000-acre grant here and the settlement became known as Meagher’s Grant. About 1790, Miles McInnes, a Loyalist Scot from North Carolina purchased part of Meagher’s Grant and built his home in what became known as Lower Meagher’s Grant.

Other early settlers were Daniel blue, John Oglivie from Georgia, Angus McDonald, Ronald Crawford and Jacob Byer. In Sept. 1790, the following land surveys were made at both Meagher’s Grant and Lower Meagher’s Grant: 250 acres for Henry Schenk, 300 acres for Christopher Dillman, 450 acres for John Nix and 100 acres for Francis Fraser and 250 acres for George Stangell [Hangell]

Soon after the first settlement, a Meeting-House was built which was used mainly by the Presbyterians until it was torn down around 1870. About 1866, the Presbyterian church, which later became St. James’ United Church was erected. A Methodist church was in the process of erection in Sept. 1867. A Baptist church was opened on Nov. 29, 1885 and used until services were discontinued in the 1920s.

In Nov. 1866, one new school was completed while another was under construction. A new elementary school was built at Lower Meagher’s Grant in 1954-55.

A Postal Way Office was established on Jan. 1, 1863 with J. W. Dickey as Postmaster.

The first train on the Canadian National Railway branch line to Upper Musquodoboit passed through in 1916.


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Mi’kmaq Culture in Musquodoboit Valley

Records dealing with specific names of families are scarce, but we do find evidence of Mi'kmaq existence in Musquodoboit Valley from the Memorials of the Rev. John Sprott, published in 1906, which are composed of edited portions of letters and notations collected by Rev. Sprott’s son, George.

Page 80 specifically enumerates the life of the Native as civilization began encroaching on his domain. Rev. Sprott described them as good neighbours, truly an original people, strongly marked in their features, and totally different in their habits and manners from any people ever seen. He considered them of fine principles, mild disposition and very honest. Rev. Sprott wrote of their courteous, gentlemanly ways and their fierce pride in their life. 

He sympathized with their worries as ploughed fields destroyed their gravesites, cleared woodland drove their game away, and… more in August 2008 TownCryer News

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Middle Musquodoboit

The first Reid store was built in 1883 by A. J. Reid who sold it to Daniel Reid in March of 1885. After he was married in 1886, they lived in a small kitchen built on and upstairs over the main store. A back shop for feed, etc., was added to the main store in the early 1900s. This store was burned Aug. 1958. 

The present store was built in the fall of 1958 by Frank Holman. Since 1983, it has been operated by Jim Reid, grandson of Daniel Reid. 

Other early stores were owned by John Higgins, Sidney Lindsay (home of Ronald Guild, 1983) and Charles D. Archibald specialized in the flour and feed business on the present exhibition grounds. 

The Co-Op Store is owned and operated by members since 1983. Ira J. McFetridge purchased his store Feb. 1, 1914; later his son, Donald, operated it and then sold it to… more in December 2007 TownCryer News


Middleton United Church

The first Church was built on the centre of the land now called Pioneer Cemetery during the ministry of Reverend John Laidlaw. Construction of the Church started in 1814 and was finally completed after some difficulties in 1818. It was a two-story building, and could supposedly occupy 700 people. 

In 1868, only 50 years later, it was torn down and sold at public auction. The present Church, originally built as a Presbyterian Church, stands east of the old Church on property that was purchased from Jonathan Layton for $40. The entire cost of construction was $3,440. It was opened and dedicated for worship on December 12, 1869 and in October 1871 named Middleton. 

The name Middleton came from… more in December 2008 TownCryer News

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Moose River Mines

While most of the Musquodoboit Valley is well know for its fertile soil and the miles of farm land along the river, some of the fringe areas lay claim to fame for the minerals contained in their rocks. The history of Moose River dates back to 1866 when lumbermen, blasting rock in the river for a log drive, discovered the presence of gold there.  These men, John Pulsifer of St. Andrews and two Taylor brothers from Musquodoboit, were also responsible for the first official discovery of gold in Nova Scotia, nine miles to the East of Moose River in 1860.

Mr. Denis Touquoy took up some property soon after 1866 but not much interest was shown in the discovery until 1876 when the district was surveyed and prospecting began. In 1877, prospects were bright and the yield from one property owned and operated by one Mr. Hiltz was very encouraging. In 1897, John Reynolds was manager of the Touquoy Mining Company and 32 men were employed in the Little North and Britannia, on which a 100 oz. pocket of gold was found. It is said that during the years from 1890 to 1897 gold to the value of $10,000 was won from this property. Gold was selling then for $35 per ounce. Operations at the Touquoy Mine were said to present an excellent example of economy in gold mining. 

In 1890, a 15 stamp mill, driven by water power, was used to process surface material running from .75 cents to $1.00 per ton at a cost of .40 cents a ton. The G. And K. Gold Mining Company erected a 40 stamp mill in 1904. This company in 1907 contributed land and material for the erection of the first church in the village. There are no records to show when the first school was built, but it gave way to a larger, but still one room structure in 1930.

In 1906, Mr. Touquoy returned to his native France, after amassing a fortune in gold mining in Nova Scotia.  It has been said by older residents that his tomb in France is fashioned partly from Moose River Quartz. His company then passed into the hands of Robert Kaulback. In 1924 and 1925, the same property was operated by R.E.G. Burroughs who stored a large body of arseno-pyrites there for shipment overseas. Somehow the deal fell through and the ore was left to moulder away.

In 1908, schelite was discovered in an area two miles west of Moose River and for several years the mine there operated under the management of John Reynolds. Many families lived in schelite during that time. During the 1930's, gold mines in an area one mile west of Moose River were operated by Higgins and Lawlor and by Doctor Sutherland, both very profitable operations.

In 1936, after a period of prespecting, Phil Henderson was able to interest promotor Herman McGill and a Toronto physician, Dr. C.A. Robertson, in dewatering and opening up the old Meagher shaft. Within hours of Doctor Robertson's arrival in Moose River, he was accompanied underground by Mr. McGill and time-keeper Alfred Scadding to view the operation. After their inspection, the three men were on their way to the surface when the earth collapsed, trapping them at the 140 foot level of the shaft. What followed during the next ten days has become known as the Moose River Mine Disaster. It Happened at Moose River, by David E. Stephens, recounts the hardships of the entombed men, the desperate struggle to try to reach them, the diamond drill pipe that broke through to the shaft below and, finally after a week, Scadding's voice coming from the depths. It details the moments when food was sent down, a mini-telephone especially made by Maritime Tel and Tel was lowered for communication and, three days later, the rescue of Robertson and Scadding and the news that Mr. McGill had died on the eighth day. This book is available by contacting Musquodoboit Valley Tourism Association.

Following that tragic event, the Higgins and Lawlor Mine and the Sutherland Mines to the west operated for a few more years, but only sporadic gold prospecting has since been carried on in the Moose River area, as well as some interest in schelite, both here and to the West. Meantime, with the main industry gone, the village had shrunk to nine families with a total of 24 people, except in summer when second homes were opened on weekends and vacation; the school had been closed and had become a community hall, the general store was closed, the church was maintained for special services only.  Truly, the term 'ghost town' was aptly applied to a place when the mines close down.

Touquoy was born in Paris and was buried there. He was an orphan at an early age. First he went to Australia, then to California, on to Mount Uniacke and finally to Moose River where he first made money. He was all in all one of the most untiring of men. When France was compelled, after the War of 1870, the huge indemnity of a billion dollars in gold, before the Germans would evacuate Paris - Damas Toquoy sent all the money he had accumulated to the aid of the French government.

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South Section #9 

The following are excerpts from the community history of South Section #9 that were compiled in 1983 by Mary Cook. Mary gives vivid descriptions of the individual homesteads and includes many detailed stories from those times, like this one:

Sam Logan was a carpenter and shipwright and was in the Southern States when the American Civil War broke out. He skedaddled back home bringing his wife, Aunt Jemima with him. She was quite a famous Spritualist-Medium and created a lot of excitement the few winters she spent in the Valley.

Aunt Jemima taught the locals how to call up the spirits of dead people and have them use somebody’s hand to write on a slate the answers to questions she asked. Lots of slabs of slate-rock could be gotten at Murchyville or other places, and at one time they had to be broken up and thrown in to the river after a Christian Minister scared the people into believing the spirit writing was the work of… more in July 2008 TownCryer News

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Upper Musquodoboit

This community is located about 23 miles southeast of Truro. The name is an Anglicized version of the native name: Mooskudoboogwek. The Indian name for Upper Musquodoboit was Kesokwedek: “the road runs over the hill.” The name, Fisher’s Grant, was used for a time by the school section.

About 1785, a party from Truro accidentally discovered the upper river where they settled and applied for a grant of 5,500 acres, which was given to William Fisher and 12 others on Oct. 6, 1786. The grant was called Fisher’s Grant since Mr. Fisher was the most active and influential of the proprietors.

Samuel Patterson, from Ireland, was schoolmaster at Musquodoboit in 1812. A schoolhouse had been “provided” by 1814. Thomas Delex was schoolmaster at Fisher’s Grant district in 1832. By 1865, there were 15 handsome schoolhouses on the Musquodoboit River. A new schoolhouse was completed at North Musquodoboit in 1896. Another new school was opened at Henry Section, Upper Musquodoboit in 1900. Upper Musquodoboit consolidated School was built in 1962-63.

A Postal Way Office was established in 1831 and this became a post Office in 1853.

A small library was formed about 1802 by Rev. Hugh Graham. The Musquodoboit Railway was completed late in 1915 and was officially opened on Jan. 3, 1916. Passenger service on the line was discontinued in 1960.

The basic industries are farming, lumbering and milling.

(pop. In 1956: 360)



Joe Howe House - Upper Musquodoboit

The following is an excerpt from the community history of Upper Musquodoboit, which was compiled in 1983. 

Among the pioneers' happiest days were those when William Annand and Joseph Howe lived in Upper Musquodoboit. Annand built a large beautiful home here and Joseph Howe lived there for a period of two years. Howe was very much liked by the people and one of the settlers went all the way to Halifax to vote for him. The Annand house later became known as the Joe Howe house.

No tangible evidence of this historic mansion can be found today. It is said that every room in the house had a beautiful mantel and doubtless a fireplace with it. The Musquodoboits gave Joe Howe a reception the like of which has not been seen before or since his victory; 20 miles from Upper Musquodoboit, he was met by a delegation and this was added to as he came along the way. He was seated in a wagon, decorated with beautiful flowers, drawn by six horses. 

HHe lived in Upper for a period of two years or more.


Upper Musquodoboit Church

A Methodist church was dedicated on Jan. 19, 1896 and was demolished soon after 1925. A Presbyterian Meeting House was built in 1818 but burned in 1819.


A new church, sometimes called James Church was completed by May 1929. It was auctioned in 1888 and the new St. James Presbyterian (later United) Church was dedicated on Mar. 3, 1888. A congregational hall was constructed in 1900, being completed in July 1901.


Upper Musquodoboit Community Hall


Community halls play an important role in rural Nova Scotia communities. They’re a centre to bring people together to host receptions, dances and public meetings. In 1956, Upper Musquodoboit celebrated the opening of the Upper Musquodoboit Community Hall on Oct. 2, 1956.

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Moose River Gold Mines made international news in 1936 when Frank Willis of the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission gave the first-ever live reports from the scene of disaster. The Moose River Gold Mine disaster involved a gut-wrenching recovery to save the lives of three men who were trapped beneath the earth’s surface for ten days.

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