Wallace is a picturesque village with a diverse cultural heritage. The remnants of Mi’kmaq habitation and the Acadian dykes are visible reminders of our first Native and European settlers. The fishing and hunting community was then called Remsheg, meaning “the place between”, in the original Mi’kmaq language.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Mi’kmaq have inhabited Nova Scotia for at least 10,500 years. The Mi’kmaq language is part of the Algonquin family language. At the time of their first contact with Europeans, the Mi’kmaq were spread widely throughout Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and parts of New Brunswick. The Museum continues to develop closer ties with the Mi’kmaq peoples through guest speakers and an informative program of Mi’kmaq/English signs along one of the walking trails. One of the most extensive collections in the Museum is the native basket collection. The Davison family left a collection of over fifty native baskets from the nineteenth and twentieth century. Thirty-eight are identified as of Mi’kmaq construction. The basket collection includes many sizes, shapes, different uses and different materials such as black ash, sweet grass, quills and natural dyes.
The most obvious reminder of the Acadian settlers living in the Wallace area (1710-1755) is the dykes. Dyked farmland is still clearly visible and confirms that several families farmed and lived in Remsheg. The several hard-working families that toiled over the rich marshland were deported by the English in what is called the Expulsion of the Acadians. Local author, Francis Grant, wrote that the male French settlers were marched to Tatamagouche and loaded on ships for expulsion to the American seaboard on August 15, 1755. A diary by the commanding officer at the time, Captain Abijiah Willard, tells of him giving the choice to the Acadian men to say if the women and children should stay in Tatamagouche or be brought with them. The captives voted for the women to stay. One of Francis Grant’s stories suggests the female Acadians, left behind by the British, were rescued by French settlers from Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward Island), who came to the area to care for the women and children left behind.
United Empire Loyalists
In 1783 the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence from Great Britain of the thirteen colonies along the Atlantic seaboard of America. A significant section of the population remained loyal to the British Crown. Between 80,000 and 100,000 loyalists migrated from the American Colonies to the British controlled part of Northern Nova Scotia. Approximately 35,000 came to the Maritimes. Many of the Loyalists that settled in Wallace, then called “Remsheg”, were from Westchester, New York. There were 109 lots of 200 acres each in the Remsheg Grant. Loyalist settlers were also given one of 239 three acre building lots in the surveyed township of Fanningboro, part of the Remsheg Grant. The descendants of many of these families are still in the Wallace area today. Some of the families are: Brown, Dotten, Forshner, McKim, Piers, Tuttle and Williams.
The Wallace Sandstone
The legacy left from the heyday of construction using Wallace sandstone continues to be a source of pride for the local area. In its long history, Wallace sandstone has graced buildings from Halifax to San Francisco and forms part of the Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Architect Robert Scott, who was commissioned to build the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1811, opened the first quarry in the area. Eventually several quarries opened along the Wallace River and two in Wallace. Wallace sandstone had many uses, from sidewalk blocks and breakwaters to head stones, but it is most famous for its use as building stone. The history of Wallace sandstone goes back much further than the nineteenth century, when humans first worked the stone. The story of Wallace sandstone begins 300 million years ago when the sandstone evolved from the bed of a gigantic river created by the formation of the Appalachian Mountain range. This fast-flowing river deposited beautiful, clean sand as it wound its way through north eastern North America and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Information about the history of the quarries and some of the fine stone buildings that were made from them is available at the Museum.
The Davison-Kennedy House
James B. Davison originally purchased the 222 acres of land belonging to the Museum from a United Empire Loyalist Peter Tuttle in the early nineteenth century. In 1839, shortly after he had established a successful shipbuilding yard, Mr. Davison built the one-and-a-half story house, which is presently the Museum.
Francis Grant was a businessman, poet and historian who did much to preserve our local stories, folklore, tales and tragedies. He was a self-reliant and determined man who researched and recorded history for the sake of learning, preserving and sharing the past. Mr. Grant was born in Wallace on December 12, 1904 to Wylie and Annie (Charman) Grant. He was the eldest of seven children: one sister, Gertrude and five brothers — Henry, Roy, Herb, Fred and John. Francis received his education at the Wallace School, but in 1922 he went west to try his fortune. After a brief period, Mr. Grant returned to Wallace where he trained to be a telegraph operator in the train station at Wallace Station. However, he soon left Wallace for the west again and worked in Alberta and British Columbia as a Telegrapher/Station Agent for seven years.
In 1928, Mr. Grant married Josephine Love. They had one son, Jim and one daughter, Dorothy-Anne.
In 1942, Francis Grant joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served in the Allied Forces until the conclusion of the war in 1945. After Mr. Grant finished his tour of duty he and his family returned to Wallace. Mr. Grant then joined his father in the family business and became part of the management of a successful general store. Grant’s General Store, which was located on Wallace’s main street, is now closed but the building still exists today.
In 1969, Francis Grant retired from Grant’s General Store and began to write stories about the lives of extraordinary people, the history of Wallace and stories about the sea. Mr. Grant’s grandfather had been an all-ocean Master Mariner and for a few years had served as a coasting skipper. Francis Grant had been fascinated with the stories and tall tales his grandfather told him about the sea, the shipping world and the “Golden Age of Sail”.
Mr. Grant wrote five books of poetry about the ocean, which he printed and bound himself. He also wrote two novel/adventure books about nautical events. Between 1969 and his death in 1987, Mr. Grant recorded most of the oral history of Wallace. Some of the information about the village was gathered from local people who sent him written articles about their memories of a certain person or event. Mr. Grant also wrote numerous articles and stories about Wallace history for local papers such as the “Strait News”. At one point during his career as an historian, he remarked, “No day is ever long enough”. Without Mr. Grant’s historical work, it is certain that a great and irreplaceable part of Wallace history and identity would have been lost.
The Wallace and Area Museum is fortunate to have in its collection over one hundred of Francis Grant’s files, his small printing press, his clippings and research files. In 1992 when the Wallace and Area Museum opened, the Museum Society recognized Mr. Grant’s work for the community and named one of the rooms in the Museum as a tribute to him.
On June 11, 2005 the Wallace and Area Museum opened its expanded facility. The new facility is the result of many community-involved planning meetings. The long awaited expansion has greatly improved the Museum’s ability to safely house its collection. It has provided more exhibit space, meeting space, office space, a gift shop, public washrooms and a kitchen.
Acadian Research Project – Community Memories
During the first week of August, 1755, a Battalion of British and New England Irregulars left Fort Cumberland, near present day Amherst, under orders to follow the Cumberland Road for about 150 km to Cobiquid, now present day Truro.
From there they were to carry on northward 70 kilometres to the small Village of Tatamagouche on the Northumberland Strait. The march took about 10 days. They were led by a New England Officer named Lt. Obijiah Willard and were under sealed orders from Lieutenant Colonel Robert Monckton and Nova Scotia Governor Charles Lawrence. After gaining supplies at a French Village near Cobiquid, they marched on towards Tatamagouche. A few kilometres from Tatamagouche they stopped to read their sealed orders.
The orders shocked Willard. He was told to continue on to the Village of Tatamagouche where he was to capture all the French inhabitants and burn the homes of all settlers along the Northumberland shore. This was the first act of the Deportation of the Acadian people from Nova Scotia. Willard sent 40 soldiers to the small village of Remsheg, 15 kilometres away to begin carrying out his orders. The date was August 15, 1755.
The object of this project is to gather as much information as possible about the Remsheg Bay Acadians, to record the story of this amazing group of settlers. They came to a difficult area of Nova Scotia (Acadia) at a difficult time. They brought with them their music, their religion, their work ethic, their farming methods and traditions. They hoped to start a new life in a land of abundance.
War and politics made a difficult life even more difficult, eventually leading to their removal and deportation. Nearly fifty years of hard work was lost by a military decree. A little over ten years later the Acadians were allowed to return to their former land but no one returned to Remsheg.
Three hundred years later the footprints of these hard working people are nearly all erased. Their system of dyking and draining the land had broken down years ago; many parts are only visible to the experienced eye. It is hoped the records collected in this project will generate interest in the life of the Acadians and will stand as an enduring tribute.
Nobel Prize winner Willard S. Boyle
The Wallace and Area Museum Society recognized the passing of scientific genius Willard S. Boyle, 1924 – 2011. During the summer of 2010, the Museum celebrated the 2009 Dr. Boyle’s Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded in 2009. The Society members looked forward to another year of recognition for Dr. Boyle, a man of true distinction, but it was not to be.
A Condensed Matter Physicist, one of Dr. Boyle’s nineteen patents, was his co-invention of the Charge Coupled Device (CCD), for which he won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics. Dr. Boyle’s research and invention led to world changing technology. Applications of the CCD have resulted in thousands of devices with life changing consequences, such as digital cameras, image recorders and medical image devices. Dr. Boyle, a former Wallace resident, was born in the 1920’s, while his father was a doctor in Wallace. Bill’s family had deep roots in Wallace, though most of his early years were spent growing up in a small town north of Quebec City, where his father ran the hospital. Following his retirement in the 1980s, Bill and his wife Betty took an interest in many community organizations. Both had served on the Wallace and Area Museum’s Board of Directors and supported the Museum’s many activities. Dr. Boyle is missed by many people who knew him.
The Wallace and Area Museum will, according to its Mission Statement, continue to collect, preserve, and display local history and artifacts. Educational programs continue to interpret the beauty and heritage of Northern Nova Scotia. The Museum endeavours to enhance the natural beauty of our grounds and to provide an informed experience for the public.