Almost all the settlers had a difficult time establishing themselves. They faced the hazards of making a home, Indian raids, fires, drought, and fierce weather. Animal stock grew slowly. These adaptable people could fish, farm, build and sail boats, and conquer the forests. Clearings slowly emerged before the axes of the homemakers.

Many of the first homes for these settlers would have been crude shelter, tents or even an upturned boat. In the 1790s, it has been said that the White's from a group of retired Newfoundland Fencibles used a boat as shelter while building a house on White's Point. The first homes were constructed very simply and were log houses of one or two rooms. Logs were laid horizontally. Timbers were squared by broadaxe and the roof covered with poles and birch bark or shingles. Outside walls were chinked with moss and mud or clay and interior walls were made with rough boards. A huge fireplace of rough stones created warmth and provided light to see by and heat for cooking.

Later on when new settlers came, they would stay with families already settled while cutting timber, clearing land and building their homes. As settlements grew, homes would commonly be houses torn down in one location and brought in pieces and erected on another site.

Raising Children

Girls learned to knit, weave, churn butter, spin and card wool. They would help milk the cows, clean house, wash and iron clothes, cook, carry water and firewood, and weed the garden. They hooked rugs and mats and made stuffed toys. They picked berries and helped make hay. The first washing was done in kitchens in a tin tub with a scrubbing board.

Boys had similar responsibilities but also helped out extensively with the fishery and hunted with their fathers. They also carved figurines out of wood.

Resident of Shad Bay, George MacKenzie Collier raised 5 children and says, "We used to discipline our kids with a paddling. Nowadays its Time Out."

Social Life

Much social life revolved around religion and reading of the Bible. After churches were constructed, religion gave substance and structure to the community and united people. Settlers would travel miles on horseback or walk to attend church services. Those in the clergy and nuns were very important people.

Diversions included music when someone with a fiddle could scrape out a tune or squeeze a song out of an accordion. Banjos, guitars and sometimes a piccolo would also be played. Dover residents in the 1900s enjoyed dances at the hall owned by Harry Graves on Whistler's Cove Road. They would waltz, fox trot and sometimes do the rumba or square dance. Harry played the accordion which provided music for dancing. Jiving and the jitterbug are fondly remembered as fun activities at Buddy's Canteen in Terence Bay in the 1940s and 1950s with music provided by his jukebox. In the 1950s there was rivalry over local girls between Terence Bay, Prospect and White's Lake. Teenagers called dances "hug and slug" events but they were "not like big sprawls." Residents of East Dover recall listening to Kitty Hagarty Mason and her 5 piece dance band in the 1950s.

Weddings, fairs, auctions, church socials and salmon suppers were enjoyable occasions. There were Christmas concerts with dramatic performances and July 1st picnics. Regular church picnics were favourite occasions during the 1920s and 1930s. Myrtle Isadore, a Terence Bay celebrity of the 1850s was a spinster with her own house on Sandy Cove Road. She also ran a grocery store and advertised in a newspaper for a husband. An Englishman, Mr. Cohen, responded and came from England to marry her. Known as "The Lady of the Village," Isadore always was dressed-up, her white hair in a bun and wearing hats and full skirts. Her story was turned in to a play performed by local talent.

Circuses came by boat to the villages. In Upper Prospect, Billy Smith remembered the Nick Gardener Circus coming around 1886. There was a man with the circus strong enough to lift an anchor and Russians with a trained bear. Local activity in the Upper Prospect hall featured boxing competitions. In the 1940s baseball teams from Shad Bay, White's Lake and Upper Prospect competed with each other as did teams from Terence Bay, Prospect and Brookside.

Among the local clubs were groups such as Grand Lodge of British Templars, Catholic Total Absence Association, Oddfellows, Orangemen (an association of Protestants who supported the British throne), Lions, Order of Good Templars who abstained from alcohol, church organizations such as the Catholic Womens League, Knights of Columbus, and youth groups such as Girl Guides, Sparks, Brownies and Boy Scouts.

Games of hockey were enjoyed in the wintertime on community natural ice surfaces. Ice skating, too, is a fondly remembered social activity. As youngsters, they would hang around and do everything together as a group. Everyone mingled together.

Obtaining Goods

Each village had a local storekeeper and the store was usually found at a crossroad. Annie Jollimore ran a store in Terence Bay and Alice Clancey had a store in Prospect. The shops would keep bread, tea, butter, canned goods, tobacco, violin strings, molasses, corn syrup, flour, hayseed, cloth, thread, salt, soap, sugar, tea, honey, candy and sundry goods. These general storekeepers provided a market for the local fish catch and sold fishing gear. They also ran a line of credit for the local families or would trade goods for services or for handcrafts. In the 1940s Herbert Christian owned a store in East Dover and Albert Williams operated Buddy's Canteen in Terence Bay. In the 1950s a truck driven by "Flash" Carl Crow went door to door with groceries for sell. Later he delivered milk. Mail carriers also would pick up goods in Halifax requested by the residents and bring them back with the mail.

The Mi'kmaq women would go door to door selling hand made baskets to the villagers for about twenty-five cents each. Travelling pedlars in the early 1900s would travel on foot and stay overnight. They carried their goods on their backs including such items as dresses, socks, sewing materials, needles and threads.


In 1847 the Royal Western Mail Shore line stagecoach made bi-weekly runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays prior to rail service. Between 1850-1860, mail was brought from Halifax by horse and buggy. Each community had either a local store or someone who kept the mail where it would be collected by the residents.

Mail picked up at Peggy's Cove and delivered to West Dover was a distance of 6 to 7 miles by road or 2 to 3 miles by boat. In the 1870s a stagecoach ran between Halifax and Mahone Bay that met the postman on the Bay Road. He would then deliver mail to the communities postal service locations with his horse and wagon.

In 1905 the train station at French Village was built. The postman picked up the mail at the station and delivered it to the communities. Since the 1960s, mailboxes for residents have been available in the communities and of course horses have been replaced by cars.

Joseph Doherty of Upper Prospect was mail carrier for 10 years starting in 1910. He picked up the mail in Halifax and brought it back to the village with any goods the residents asked him to get for them in the city. He may have stopped off in White's Lake to drop off their mail and goods as well.


Settlers would have been aided by the Mi'kmaq when they got sick and their own remedies didn't work. Native homemade medicines of wild berries, barks, seeds and syrups helped with ailments such as influenza. Every adult needed to know how to deliver a baby, set a broken bone and dose a fever.

The settler's home remedies included cod liver oil, mint tea, and warm broth. For pneumonia there were a variety of remedies including camphor in water, Friar's balsom on sugar, mustard molasses, goosegrease, mustard paste, as well an unusual and unlikely one made from iron nails boiled in water which the sick then drank. Peppermint or spearmint was brewed as a cure for cold. Herb teas were made by infusing the dried leaves or roots in boiling water. Rhubarb was commonly used spring tonic.

The convent in Terence Bay served as an early clinic and the nuns made sure sick families had oranges and apples, and provided whatever healing they could. Most of the sick were nursed back to health at home. Mid-wives helped in the delivery of babies. In Terence Bay a midwife by the name of Aunt Dilly is also remember.

In 1881 the Dominion census listed 500 deaths in Halifax County and almost half of these were children under 11 years old. Leading causes of death were consumption (TB), diphtheria (caused by water pollution and unsanitary conditions, heart, blood or lung disease, and old age. Accidents, fires and drowning took many lives requiring local treatment by whoever knew best what to do.

In Prospect, a woman called Aunt Stitch Dorty was a nurse and she was called upon when people were sick. The first clinic to visit Terence Bay came in 1923. It has been noted that the first doctor to visit Terence Bay was Dr. Herman who came in 1925. There was a doctor in St. Margaret's Bay and a nurse in Upper Prospect who tended the people in a diphtheria epidemic with antibiotics that were dropped from a plane for her. There was also a Dr. Edmond Stewart who made house calls and tended Connie Slaunwhite's father. In 1942, innoculations were carried out at the Parish Hall in Upper Prospect by Dr. Morton of Halifax.