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Description Essay on Lyons Brook by Charlie O'Brien


Charlie O'Brien

December 1908

Lyon's Brook is a beautifully situated village at the head of Pictou Harbour, three miles from Pictou town.  At the north is Scotch Hill, to the west is Hardwood Hill, across the harbour can be seen Loch Broom and Green Hill.  It is at present, one of the busiest country districts in the county.  It contains three tannerys and a carriage factory, also three general stores.  The harbour presents a busy scene in the summer when the schooners come laden with bark for the Tanneries.

The poplulation of Lyon's Brook is, now, about three hundred, a large number being farmers.  In no other place may be seen more up to date, or better kept farms.  Our farmers are an industrious and intelligent class of citizens, of whom we may well feel proud.

The place takes its name from the Rev. James Lyon, who was the first Presbyterian minister to come to this Province.  He lived on the place now owned by Mr. Robert McDonald.

The first school in Pictou County was started in Lyon's Brook by James Davidson, who also established the first Sunday School.   It was the first in Pictou County.

Haliburton Stream better known as town Gut, and called after Judge Haliburton (Sam Slick), marks the eastern boundary of Lyon's Brook school section.  It is now spanned by a 


modern iron bridge, but in old pioneer days two birch bark canoes were used to carry pedestrians from one side to the other.  The first bridge across the Saw Mill Brook was built in 1845 or '46.

Lyon's Brook was at one time celebrated as a ship building place.  A number of ships were built in the old Kitchen ship yard, now owned by Mr. Robert Fullerton.  The first one was built in 1788.  From the years 1843 to 1847 there were four ships built, one each year, at Patterson's Point, now owned by Mr. James Beck.  The builder of these four vessels was Mr. Alex Brown of Durham.  His son visited this place in the summer of 1908.  Part of the forge still stands.   Of later years Mr. James Little built two ships in the Kitchen yard.  The last one built was named the "Phoenix."

Mr. John Stevenson, father of Mr. William Stevenson, was one of the early school masters of the place, having taught school for years in a building attached to his house, where the present Stevenson house now stands.   Preaching was also held in Mr. Stevenson's house until the first school house was built.  The first minister to preach in it was Dr. Bayne, of Pictou.  It was built in the year of 1845.  The size was 21 ft. by 25 ft.  It is now owned by Mr. William Stevenson for a wagon house and granary.  The present school house was built in 1865.  Over twenty years ago it became a graded school. 

A notable feature of the place, in its primeval days, was a wheat field owned by a man named Nelson.  Now, belonging to 


Mr. William Stevenson's farm.  After cutting the trees and burning them, Mr. Nelson sowed his wheat in among the stumps; and the like of the crop was never seen in Nova Scotia before or since.  The area of the field was eighteen acres.  It grew so high that if a man went in among it he could not be seen.

The first Saw Mill in the Pictou County was built at Lyon's Brook, on what is now known as McKenzie intervale, by William Kennedy in the year 1769.  It was also the first frame building in Pictou County.  Some years later mills were built by Mr. Donald McKenzie grandfather of Mr. Edward McKenzie on the site of the present mills.  The foundation was laid by Mr. Robert Hogg and son John, over seventy five years ago.

The first quarries were started in this place by Misters John and Charles McKenzie.  They built the warf known as the Little Wharf, where they loaded stone in lighters and carried it to schooners lying in the channel.  Some was shipped to Prince Edward Island and built the Parliament Buildings there.  Some years later Misters A.P. Ross and John Hogg went into partnership and started a quarry farther up, which they worked for a few years, and then sold it to the Acadia Quarry Co. and Mr. Hogg was made manager.  In the years 1852-3 they built what we now know as the old railroad, running from the Quarries out into the channel to carry stone to the vessels lying there.  The cars were loaded with stone at the quarries and carried down by the grade, and were hauled back by horses.  There was some beautiful blue stone quarried from here.  Two


large blocks one weighing five tons and the other six tons were shipped to Halifax.  One being placed on each side of the door of the Parliament Building, with the Royal Coat of Arms cut on them.   In the year 1859 the Acadia Quarry Co. stopped working.  Somewhere between 1861 and '65 Mr. Lang of Halifax took the contract of supplying the stone for a public building in Halifax; and rented the McKenzie Quarries from Mrs. John McKenzie.  Before the contract was finished he failed; and Mr. John Hogg finished the contract and worked the quarries up until 1873.

Among the oldest houses in the place are those of Mr. James Dunlop and the Gavin house.  Another old building is the double tenement house on the Scotch Hill road which was once a carding mill owned by Mr. Dougal Logan. 

The first shop in the place was in the old Wade house, now used by Mr. Baillie as a barn.

Mr. John Henderson built a house in the year 1813, on the site of Mr. Dougal Logan's warehouse.  One night, after taking the windows out to glaze them there came a big wind storm and blew the roof off.  Some of the Boards were found down where Mr. John Baillie now resides.  This gave the roof the peculiar shape which some of the present residents remember it to have had.  Mr. Henderson's daughter afterwards kept the store in the lower part of the building.

The most important industry in the place is the tannery of the Logan Tanning Co., which now employs from sixty to seventy five men.  It has recently installed an electric light plant which will shortly be in operation.  The original tannery was 


started in June 1848, by Mr. John Logan.  The frame of it costing only four dollars and a half.  In April 1875 the tannery was burned and rebuilt again in the same year.  Mr. Logan continued business until 1885 when the Logan Tanning Co. took over the business with Mr. Logan as manager.

The first tannery on the site of Mr. Robert McDonald's was built by a man named DeWolfe.  It was afterwards sold to Fullerton Bros., who ran it for some years until it became rotten and was torn down.  The present tannery was built by Mr. McDonald in the year 1886.

The third tannery was built in 1908 by Mr. Louis Schulman. 

The Lyon's Brook Hall was built in the year 1884.  The Westminister Hall was started in the year 1903 and was finished in 1904.

Mr. Alfred Hogg carried on the Carriage making business for a number of years in a shop where Mr. R. S. Thomson's factory now stands.  Some years ago his business was bought out by Mr. W. R. McKean, who built the present factory were he carried on business for a few years, until Mr. Thomson took it over in the year 1905.

There was a saddler's shop across the road from the carriage factory owned by Alex Rogers.

In closing we might mention some of the professional and public men, who came from Lyon's Brook.  First comes: Hon. A. M. McKay of Newfoundland; Rev. Dr. Grant, who was for over thirty years a Missionary in Trinidad; Mr. Y. C. Campbell, Superintendent of a division of the I.C.R. and Mr. Hector McInnis, Barrister of Halifax.  Among the doctors are: Drs. Thomas Fullerton and Alex


Anderson; Dr. Branch Evans; Dr. Walter; Dr. H. K. McDonald of Halifax and Dr. G. A. Dunn of Pictou.  Last but by no means least comes our Artist Mr. Charles McKenzie.

- Charles O'Brian


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