Bridgetown was originally established as a small Acadian settlement along the Annapolis River in the 1600s and early 1700s. At that time it was called Gaudetville. The rich soils of the river's tidal marshes attracted the Acadians, who successfully drained and farmed the area. In 1755 the British government expelled the French (Acadians) from Nova Scotia and expropriated their lands. Four years later, in 1759, a land-grant proclamation addressed the newly acquired lands.
Two hundred land grants of 500 acres each were laid out--each running from the Annapolis River north to the Bay of Fundy--and quickly settled by New England planters. All the lots running south from Granville Street to the river were each 90 square feet. (Granville Street is a continuation of highway #1, which goes through the centre of town, from east to west.)
The house below, on Albert Street just south of Granville, was built between 1826 and 1828 and it includes most of its original 90 x 90 foot lot, the only house still to do so.
The picture at left shows the present-day bridge from the park on the west side of the town. The one on the right shows the bridge heading south, towards highway 201. That street, the continuation of Queen Street heading to the junction of highway 201, is the oldest continually used highway in Nova Scotia.
The yellow house is on Granville Street and the brick one, with the look-out windows on top, is located on the street leading south from the bridge.
Captain John Crosskill arrived in the area in the early 1800s and acquired control of three adjoining land grants. Their river-front boundary included the bridge. The Captain recognized the importance of this crossing point and believed that a town should be established. In 1821 he designed and laid out a town plan. He surveyed enough to take care of the town's growth for one hundred years, deeding the streets to the county for public use forever. The town was named Bridgetown after its most prominent feature. It was incorporated in 1897. A former owner of Crosskill's house insisted that nothing hinder the view of his house, which faced the Annapolis River below. Today, the house faces Jubilee Park, which edges the nearby river, but the river can no longer be seen from that house today.
The next three houses are all on Water Street and closest to the river: The house, below left, was built in 1822-1823. The other, on the right, was built shortly after 1825. It was originally a public house and a rooming house for sailors.
The present day James House Museum on Queen Street was built in about 1835. It features an upstairs ballroom and a five-door gallery. It is maintained by the Bridgetown and Area Historical Society. Admission is free.
Bridgetown today is a town of less than 1000 residents without the industry it once enjoyed. It is, however, still a community of friendly people, set in a peaceful valley not far from the cold water of the Bay of Fundy, where the best scallops and lobster in the world are found. My next blog will show what the town today offers.
Note: Much of my historical information came from the brochures I obtained at the Tourist Centre in Jubilee Park, particularly from the brochure "A Walking Tour." As well, I used Bridgetown's official website (www.town.bridgetown.ns.ca) and the James House Museum brochure.
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