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Planters’ heritage encampment happening in Municipality of Barrington

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BARRINGTON, N.S. – The rich New England Planter’s heritage that is the foundation for the settlement of the Municipality of Barrington and surrounding areas will be celebrated on the Aug. 5 weekend along the banks of the Barrington River and in local museums. 

The Planters, who immigrated to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick from New England between 1758 and 1769 are a somewhat “lesser known” part of the local heritage, said Suzy Atwood tourism and community development coordinator for the Municipality of Barrington. “We hear a lot about the Acadians and Loyalists, but not so much about the Planters.”

With celebrations across the country marking Canada’s 150th birthday, Atwood, who was successful in securing federal funding for the event earlier this summer, said, “I thought this would be a good opportunity to celebrate that and bring awareness to people that this is who we are.”

The main stage for the Planter’s celebration weekend will be the Atlantic Living Heritage Association’s 18th Century Planter’s Encampment at the Wild Axe Park on Petticoat Lane from Aug. 5 to 7. The camp will be open for visitors on Aug. 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Aug. 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Admission is free.

As many as 10 re-enactors are expected to participate in the encampment, giving accurate portrayals of 1760's clothing, food, baking and other daily tasks. Butter making, razor and tool sharpening, petty sutlery, open fire cooking and baking, ice cream making, candle making, clothing construction, and spinning will be among the daily demonstrations.

“I am looking forward to meeting people with planter ancestors that have a very different idea of what they look like, did and dressed,” said Sam Crowell-Brannen, of Clyde River, who will be one of the re-enactors taking part in the encampment. “I hope that if it goes well, we can do it again with more notice and more re-enactors.”

The Planter’s Encampment re-enactors will be coming from Bear River, Dartmouth and possibly a few from Sable River and Shelburne, said Crowell-Brannen, noting the Planter’s re-enactment group is smaller than some of the other era re-enactor groups in the association “as our level of authenticity is a lot stricter.”

It doesn’t get any more authentic than Barrington’s historic Old Meeting House Museum, located within sight of where the encampment will be. Built in 1753 by the Planters, it is the oldest nonconformist house of worship in Canada and is designated a National Historic Site. Graveyard tours on Saturday (2 p.m.)  and Sunday (3 p.m.) as well as a special church service at 2 p.m. on Sunday are among the special events planned there.

Elsewhere in the Barrington Museum Complex will be opportunities to research genealogical records and trace the roots of Planters in the area, which includes surnames like Nickerson, Newell, Atkinson, Atwood, Smith, Crowell, Kenney and Sears at the Old Court House on Saturday and Monday with both the Cape Sable Historical and the Chapel Hill historical societies.

At the historic Barrington Woolen Mill, a special Planters’ display will be set up, with a knit and yard event Saturday afternoon, and rug hooking demonstration Sunday afternoon. At the Seal Island Light Museum, hear the tale of the origins and operation of the Seal Island Lighthouse, built in 1831.

Along with the Barrington Museum Complex, the Archelaus Smith Museum in Centreville, Cape Sable Island and the Samuel Wood Museum in Wood's Harbour, both named after founding Planters’ families, as well as the Chapel Hill Museum in Shag Harbour will be welcoming visitors to come explore their exhibits and displays, with free admission to all the museums during the weekend celebration.

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