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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' agents.

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 intelligent people.

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


Pictou County

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