As you turn left onto Queen Street, looking towards the bridge, you see the pattern created by Captain Crosskill in 1821. He laid out 90’ by 90’ lots and the central street pattern of the town. Almost all of the original boundaries still exist, although most of the lots have been divided.
The corner where you are presently standing was on the main highway through the Annapolis Valley. Here the road turned to go down to the bridge and across the river. Passing out through the lane to Carleton Corner, it then turned west once more to Annapolis. Remember, if the road had not crossed here, it could not have reached Annapolis, as this was the last bridge. This stretch of highway is part of the oldest continually used highway in Nova Scotia. To the west is the road through Granville, leading to Granville Ferry and eventually to Victoria Beach. The roads on both sides of the river probably approximate the location of Acadian trails.
On the corners at the head of Queen Street (this one named after Queen Victoria) are the two of the Town’s banks, , both present in Bridgetown before 1900. The bank located in the Primrose Block, No. 274 on your left, was built by the Primrose doctors (local dentists) in 1900. This building is on the site of Foster's tavern and the Golden Ball Inn, the traditional site of the 1824 meeting where the name of the town was chosen and where the stage coach stopped for many years.
The other bank, No.3 on your right, has been on its site since 1910, although the existing building was only built in the 1950’s.
On the right side of the street, next to the Royal Bank, is a brick building, No. 5, originally built in the 1820's as a residence. This is the oldest brick building in Bridgetown. The bricks are believed to have been fired in a kiln behind the house. It appears much as it did in very old pictures of the town. The next building, No. 9, also started as a house, about 1830. The third floor was added in the 1890's.
Next door, No. 11, is a house dating from the 1820's, also built by Edward Eaton. The store was added in the 1880's.
Continuing along Queen Street, to your left, is the James House, a museum operated by the Bridgetown and Area Historical Society. It was originally constructed in 1835, and stayed in the James family until 1923. As a justice of the peace, Mr. James occasionally made enemies; there was at least one threat to blow up the house with him in it. A bomb blast in the 1850's is reported.
The business across the street, No. 15, is housed in a store erected about 1825. Over the years the property has been occupied by the newspaper, the telephone company and drug stores. Its neighbour, No. 17, is very similar, having been built by the same owner at the same time. A library reading room was upstairs in 1842. Later the upstairs housed the Salvation Army. An early owner was Jeremiah Calnek, author of the History of Annapolis County.
No. 16 is a store built about 1835 by John Hill, a merchant. It has been consistently used for commercial purposes since it was constructed. On the same side of the street, across Rink Street, is the Ruggles Block, No. 22, built by the Ruggles brothers in 1898. It originally contained the Bank of Nova Scotia, the customs house, a law firm and a dry goods store. The Ruggles brothers were respectively the customs officer and lawyers; a cousin was agent for the bank.
Across Queen Street, on your right, you will notice the Shafner Building, No. 21, another of the turn-of- the-century brick permanences built; this one, in 1901.
Next door, on the corner of Queen and Albert Street, No. 23, is a much older house dating back to another period of building, this time about 1835.
To your left, No. 30, is a house built in 1876 by J. W. Beckwith, one of the wealthiest men in the Town. Continuing on your left, on the corner of Queen and Centennial Drive, No. 32, is a building that dates from 1830, and is supposed to have been the first post office.
Continuing along Queen street, on your right, No. 31, dates back to 1825. Its builder, Jesse Oakes, is regarded as one of the first settlers in Bridgetown. Next door, No. 33, is a heavily altered house originally built in the 1880's. On the site of the lawn, the original Acadia Organ Co. was located, followed by the first generating station for electricity in Bridgetown.
You made it!
You have concluded our historic tour of Bridgetown.
We hope it was an informative and enjoyable journey into our past.
Anyone who wishes to look further into the history of Bridgetown, copies of Elizabeth Coward's History of Bridgetown and a video of the town in the 1940's are available for purchase at the James House Museum on Queen Street.
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