Buried History

When I heard that Mike Parker, author of many historic books, was coming to Coles in Bridgewater for a book signing, I made plans to be there.   I had picked up “Buried in the Woods: Sawmills Ghost Towns in Nova Scotia” a few weeks back and really enjoyed it. If you’re interested in saw mill ghost towns in Nova Scotia this is a good book to read. Lots of photos as well.

My home in E. Dalhousie is not so many miles from Crossburn, a logging town that was quite a booming little place in the early 1900’s. It is also one of the “sawmill ghost towns” that Mike Parker writes about in his book.

A few years back a group of us headed off to Crossburn to see that was left of this once flourishing town.  Luckily, we went armed with a map (hand-drawn by one of the last surviving residents of the town who is now 100 years old.) Our map helped us to locate such things as the schoolhouse, the roundhouse, and the area where the community garden would have been. There was evidence of where the machine shop stood, old wells, and foundations from some of the buildings. We found old bottles buried beneath the ground and was even able to establish the area where the railroad once ran through.

Crossburn came up in a conversation I had with a friends a few weeks. This person mentioned that they had been there as well, but there was nothing left. I found this statement interesting because, as part of the group who went a few years back, I came away with the impression that the area was brimming with ghosts from the past. I could almost picture the town in my mind as it would have been so many years ago. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the evidence of the town’s history that we found that day.

Buried In The Woods is the perfect title for Mike’s Book because it describes these forgotten towns so nicely. An open mind, as well as a little imagination, can sometimes help us to gather a clearer image of the past. I often say that what amazes me the most about history is the fact that these people who came before us were just living their lives, getting from one day to the next. They never anticipated the fact that, years later, we would we looking back on their lives with interest and recording these events for those who will come after us.

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  1. Thank you for this, Laura. Buried in the Woods sounds like a perfect gift for my DH. He loves any stories about Canadian History. It’s a shame they don’t teach our children this stuff.

    • It is strange, Joylene that we are not taught more about these things As I mentioned I grew up not far from where this town was but it wasn’t’ until the last thirty years or so that I even knew of it’s existence..

  2. “… there’s nothing left.” It’s all in one’s perspective, isn’t it?

    I’m not a big history buff but I do enjoy reading local accounts. I like both fiction and creative non-fiction stories of pioneering in BC, perhaps because it’s sort of what my parents did when they built a home off the grid. I’m fascinated by places like Sandon, near New Denver in BC’s Kootenays… a silver mining town that used to have 10,000 residents but is now a ghost town. (It’s making a bit of a comeback thanks to tourism, and now has 15 full time residents and a museum and cafe.)

    • It is strange how we can come away from any experience with a whole different perspective than someone else.
      Mike has also written a book, to go with this one, about gold mine ghost towns in NS. Now I would never have imagine that NS had gold mines , but there you go.

      It’s sort of sad to think of these places long since gone.

      • Torry

         /  July 12, 2010

        My Grandfather ran those streets and went to that school . Oh how I regret not listening to more about Crossburn… as… I now live on the road there. Thanks to people like Mike who keep these forgotten places alive!

  3. Cottentail Bunna

     /  July 12, 2010

    Sounds very interesting! Thank – you, for sharing this with us.

  4. “I often say that what amazes me the most about history is the fact that these people who came before us were just living their lives, getting from one day to the next. ”

    This is what I loved about doing genealogy research, Laura. As I worked through old documents, tax lists, court records, etc. my imagination formed these names and facts into real persons, until I felt I had actually known them. That’s when history came alive for me.

    • I also find history fascinating.When I researched the history of St. Cyprian’s,a few years back, I felt a strong connection to the lady who was responsible for having the church built. She really was quite a fascinating character.I know it may sound silly, but spent some restless nights thinking about it all, trying to put all the pieces together until they told the story.

  5. Janice

     /  July 22, 2010

    This sounds lilke a very interesting book – I must pick one up! My grandmother lived in Crossburn as a young girl while her father worked there. I love listening to her stories about it! Exploring Crossburn is on my to-do list as well!

    • There’s a nice section on Crossburn and some pics I hadn’t seen before. Laura J and her family were there last week one day. I sent her a copy of Carroll’s map but you likely have it. If not I can email you a copy. Yes, you should definitely take a trip.

  6. Robert G. Young

     /  December 15, 2012

    If you ever wish to have a guided tour of the area, Let me know. My family has maintained a camp on the edge of Donallan stillwaters since 1920. As a small child, I would play in the old manor at the end of Alton rd.and fish in the brook across the road from the old roundhouse. I grew up listening to the stories from “Billy” about how things were back then and how he would fetch water as a boy for the men of the camps and how he made a home from a cave in the rocks just above the mill. Good stories as you sat around the woodstove on a chilly spring night.

    • Billy certainly had his share of stories to tell. I’m sure there are several from around the area who would be interested in a guided tour. We may just have to take yu up on that sometime. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Robert, and for your comment.

  7. Hello Laura: Do you still have the “map” i have been thought crossburn many.many times. been trying to understand town lay out.thank-you

    • I do still have the map, Al, it’s in a magazine that was put out in the 1970’s by students of New Germany High School. If I can’t find it in my files I’ll scan it and sent it to you.


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