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New Glasgow in the Business World
The history of New Glasgow dates back to about the
year 1809. At that time there were not more than a dozen houses in
the place. Today, it is a large industrial and business centre with
a population of over 7000. The men who founded New Glasgow were
James Carmichael, John McKay, Hon. James Fraser, James McGregor,
Roderick McGregor, Alexander Fraser, John McKenzie, George McKenzie,
Thomas Graham and John Cameron. New Glasgow was fortunate in its
founders, for they were men possessing fine business ability and
great force of character. They were not only interested in the
commercial growth and progress of the town but in its moral and
religious life. Most of the men were officers in the church; some of
them took a deep interest in state matters; many were zealous
advocates of temperance, and all of them staunch upholders of law
and justice. The credit of selecting New Glasgow as a business
centre for East Pictou belongs to James Carmichael who opened a
store there about the year 1810.
In the early days of New Glasgow shipbuilding was the chief and only
industry in the place. From 1840 to 1870 saw its palmiest days.
Vessels of all sizes were built, numbers of which made successful
voyages to all parts of the world, commanded by captains born and
trained in the county. Prominent and foremost among the ship
builders of New Glasgow was George McKenzie, who not only built the
largest vessels of the day, but commanded several of them. He made
New Glasgow noted as one of the shipbuilding centers of Nova Scotia,
and probably did more than anyone else to make the town.
The opening of the Albion Mines Railway in 1839 gave a great impetus
to the business life of New Glasgow. Consequently a large number of
merchants started business there from that time to 1850, among whom
were Alexander Douglas, John F. McDonald, James Fraser, Downie,
William Fraser, Basil Bell, Thomas R. Fraser, Angus Chisholm, Thomas
Fraser, George W. Underwood and John Cameron. Associated with these
as prominent citizens were William Lippincott, Robert McGregor, John
Miller, William Chisholm, David Marshall, Kenneth Forbes, and George
McKay who exerted a large influence in the development of the town
at a later period.
Among the early business men of Stellarton were James Mitchell,
James Wentworth, Donald Gray, Alexander Grant and James Keith. In
Merigomish, R. S. Copeland was for many years a leading shipbuilder.
Later on David Patterson built ships in Merigomish Harbor. John
Logan, tanner, the founder of the present community of Lyon's Brook,
was a prominent business man in his day.
Many natives of the county have made a place for themselves outside
of Pictou in the business and industrial world. Beginning with
Newfoundland, the late Hon. A. M. Mackay was Manager of the
Anglo-American Telegraph Company. He was born near Pictou in 1834
and died in 1905. From early life he was distinguished for his
wonderful memory and had a positive genius for figures and
mathematics. He began life first as a teacher, next as a telegrapher
and was one of the first to read a message by sound. For nearly half
a century he retained his position, putting the company on a
successful basis and serving it with great fidelity. Like Cyrus
Field he had a firm belief in the ultimate success of the laying of
the Atlantic Cable, and he had a large share in bringing it to a
successful completion. Judge Prowse of Newfoundland says no man can
rob Mackay's memory of this undying honor.
Perhaps the oldest representatives Pictou has in Montreal and those
who have made the greatest material success are : Mr. David H.
Fraser and his brother, Wm. H. Fraser The Fraser brothers are sons
of Hugh J. Fraser, whose home was on the West River near Durham.
They are now voted among Montreal's millionaires.
Another successful business man is Archibald Ross of the firm of
Ross & Greig, second son of the late David Ross of Saltsprings. Mr.
Ross is a Mechanical Engineer and the firm acts as manufacturers'
Mr. A. P. Willis, another Pictonian has made for himself a
reputation and at the same time a fortune by putting musical
instruments into thousands of Canadian homes. Mr. Willis was born
near Millsville in 1845. In 1873 he migrated to Montreal where he
engaged in the sewing machine business, and selling of pianos and
organs. After 25 years of selling, Mr. Willis decided to
manufacture; and the company's factory at Montreal turns out about
4000 pianos every year.
Mr. Alpine McLean, born near New Glasgow, was for many years a
prominent business man in Boston engaged in the wholesale flour and
feed business. He was a leader in the moral and religious work of
the city. He died in. 1913.
Hugh R. McGregor was born at Brookville, Pictou County 1859. When he
was 12 years of age he moved to Providence, R. I. In 1877 he went to
Brown and Sharpe to learn the machinist trade. In the third year of
his apprenticeship he was appointed Assistant foreman of the
building of Milling Machines, and in 1898 to the position of
Mechanical Superintendent. The Brown & Sharpe Company employ over
5000 men and at the present time are manufacturing 39 different
Milling machines. The names of many other Pictonians of influence
and business enterprise might be added if the writer knew of their
location and business.
A Final Word
The county has made an enviable record in the past;
it is still to do great things in the future. Pictou of today and
Pictou of yesterday! What a contrast : The change seems almost
miraculous, from the forest primeval to the present vibrancy of its
hills and valleys, with their well tilled fields. Upon every hand,
now, are comfortable homes, pretty villages, towns laid out with
care, handsome churches, modem school houses, fine academic
buildings, intersecting railways, vast coal and iron industries, and
a population of thirty-six thousand enterprising, progressive and
Now my task is done. It has been an arduous duty, yet a pleasant
one. It has been an honor and a privilege to pay a tribute to these
noble men and women who did so much for God and native land.
These resolute men and women, who in strict morality and with high
ideals laid the foundations of the social fabric enjoyed by us
today, were spiritual seers and heroes. They won for us our fame,
our freedom and our fortune. Too many of us have never fully
acquainted ourselves with their heroism and their achievements.
If every Pictonian were as well acquainted with the history of his
native county as he should be, and as proud of it as he might well
be, he would have a higher appreciation of the splendid moral and
material heritage his forefathers left him, and would in common
loyalty seek to honor their memory and emulate their virtues.
Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914