The sounds of Annapolis Royal at the end of the nineteenth century were very different than those we hear today. Between the shipyards and blacksmith shops, hammers would have been a prevalent sound. The ring of a caulking iron and the dull chime as a blacksmith hits hot metal on an anvil would fill the air. The local waterfront would have been host to a number of ship's bells and the creaking of wooden vessels which were tied there. Whistles from nearby mills and factories would alert workers to the beginning and ending of shifts. Additionally, the rhythmic clopping of horses hooves on gravel roads would have accompanied almost every activity. While they are in a much diminished form, some of these sounds can still occasionally be heard. Sadly, there is a common sound from the end of the nineteenth century that I have yet to hear on the streets of Annapolis Royal. That is the sound of ox bells.
Oxen were once among the most common sights in Annapolis Royal. In his book Years of Wonder, Manfred Mills relates that he would see 40 to 80 teams of oxen walk by his house on Upper St George Street on an average day. The teams, each with its own driver and loaded with up to 3000 board feet of lumber, would average about two miles per hour. With a bell around the neck of each ox, the teams would have been heard long before they were seen. The lumber would be deposited on the town's waterfront where waiting ships would carry it to ports around the world.
Today's image comes from the AHS Archives and is titled with the inscription "Lequille Express". Lequille, a small community which lies directly to the south of Annapolis Royal, was the source of a great deal of the lumber that arrived in Annapolis Royal. By the 1880s, much of the country beyond the town had established portable sawmills to furnish lumber to a growing export trade. The carts in this picture appear to be headed for home at the end of the day. Rather than lumber they are carrying supplies which had been purchased in town.
All for now,