BARRINGTON- History came alive in Barrington recently when an 18th-century New England Planters Encampment that was held at the Wild Axe Park.
The Atlantic Living Heritage Association set up camp on the Barrington River for the weekend as a part of Canada 150 celebrations organized by the Municipality of Barrington and the historical society.
Museums throughout Barrington offered up their own historical knowledge of the Planters and gave visitors free admission for the weekend. Additionally, they offered up hands-on programming like spinning, weaving, genealogy, weaving, rug hooking and more.
“It was overwhelming that that many people came through,” said Suzy Atwood, community and tourism development officer with the municipality, adding that the event was a huge success.
Close to 400 people visited the encampment and local museums Aug. 5 and 6. On a typical summer weekend, museums are likely to see 40 people come through the doors.
“We let people know the history of how the Planters settled here,” said Stephanie Ilse with the Cape Sable Historical Society. “We are already sitting down to make plans for next year’s event.”
Planters play important role
The Planters were the first major group of English-speaking immigrants in Canada who did not come directly from Great Britain. The arrival in Nova Scotia of thousands of New Englanders, towards the end of the French and Indian War and the declaration of peace among the European powers, was the fourth great demographic event in the history of British Nova Scotia, said Atwood.
Barrington is home to the Old Meeting House Museum, a National Historic Site. This New England-Style meeting house is the oldest nonconformist house of worship in Canada and among the oldest in North America. It was built by Congregationalist fishermen and farmers from Cape Cod, called Planters.
Atwood believes Planters played an important role in shaping the development of the present-day community of Barrington and have had important influences on the culture of the region.
Many local residents are fishermen, she pointed out, who can trace their family lineage back to the Planters, and the Planter work ethic can still be found in many hardworking families who call Barrington and area home.
Sam Brannen played a role in organizing the event and was one of the re-enactors at the camp and has been participating in living history since 2008.
“As living history animators, we were overwhelmed by the positive response to both the number of visitors and their overall engagement in what we were doing,” said Brannen.
She said the association would be thrilled to participate again if the event were to be held again next year.
“A New England Planter era impersonation is seldom done and it was a refreshing change to talk about their role in the history of our county,” she said.