Article-Annapolis County’s New Insane Asylum

“The interior contains ninety-one rooms, as follows – The basement or ground floor contains two general workrooms, one 36×14 ft., and one 24×14 feet; two furnace and fuel rooms, one 11×25 feet, and one 11×18 ft.,..two halls, 36×7 ft., and two halls 6x18ft…two bathrooms fitted up with a tub and three wash basins in each and from either of which may be obtained cold or hot water. There is also one room fitted up for a cell to confine refractory inmates, 11×8 ft. 

The first story or flat contains 8 wards 10×9 ft with 9 foot ceilings…two water closets

The second story contains eight wards, 10×9 ft and two water closets…

The attic or third flat contains 12 wards 12×14 ft, two water closets and…two rooms in towers 6×6 ft…”

This is just a very small part of the description written about “Annapolis County’s New Insane Institution” in an undated article in the Bridgetown Weedly Monitor. Denise Rice came across a photocopy of this article. What she did not realize was that the back page of the photocopy not only gave us the time of year (Easter) but also contained a letter to the editor. It is a long letter and include the following excerpts:

Plans and specifications were prepared and tender called for building same, the lowest ender being of the vicinity of $9,000…A resolution was passed to this effect: That the committee modify the plan and specification so as the building could be erected….not cost(ing) over six thousand dollars…a sum, Mr. Editor, that would be more than ample for that purpose when you consider at the present time we have about fifteen in that institution.

Reading over the rooms, the size of the rooms and the number, I did think “Wow! They are expecting a LOT of harmless insane people from the county to be housed here.” Of course, poor people would be housed here as well as we not only criminalized poverty but also questioned the mental health of those in poverty. As poverty puts a great stress on those in it, it creates poor mental health. This is a cycle that continues today.

The building ended up costing $10,000. The article applauds Annapolis County with this line “…the people of Annapolis county of this generation certainly rank high, for they have taken the load among the people of the province in establishing institutions for the poor and the insane which speak loudly of their generosity and christian philanthropy.”

To which I cannot help but ask the question, What was making the people of Annapolis County poor and ‘harmless insane’? Rather than only dealing with the outcome, find the source of the problem.

But that is a question and philosophy we are still grappling with today…in 2019.



The Women of 1949-Inmates of Bridgetown Poor Farm

Last weekend, author Denise Rice and I shared a table at the Round Hill Community Hall annual sale. She was selling her many books on genealogy and I was selling my book A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses in Nova Scotia.  Denise is often at sales for anything regarding genealogy and had picked up several boxes from a local person whose parent, a genealogist, had died recently. When going through the boxes, she came across some things that would be of interest to me.

Denise handed  me a rough photocopy of an undated article from the Weekly Monitor, a newspaper from Bridgetown Nova Scotia and a photocopy of a page of the Register of Inmates 1949. The list contained names of women who were in the Annapolis County Asylum and Poor Farm in 1949.

The names are               Community                         Age                 Religion        Civil State

Sabean, Martha               Port Lorne                         67                   Baptist            Single

Sabean, Catherine           Port Lorne                         82                   Baptist           Single

Minard, Bertha               New Grafton                      71                   Anglican        Single

Minard, Helen                New Grafton                      33                   Anglican        Single

Spurr, Maria                   Lequille                              81                   Anglican         Single

Mosher, Beatrice           Bridgetown                        40                   Baptist             Single

Sabeans, Florence         Bridgetown                        34                   Baptist             Single

Clayton, Phyllis              Parkers Cove                      30                  Baptist             Single

Orde, Maud                    Clementsport                     50                   Anglican          Married

Palfrey, Elsie                  Bridgetown                         39                  Baptist               Single

Baker, Etta                     Margaretsville                    76                  Baptist               Single

Sears, Addie                   Kempt                                  70                  Baptist               Married

Smith, Edith                   Inglisville                           76                   Baptist               Single

Cress, Charlotte            Bridgetown                        77                   Baptist                 Single

Banks, Annie                Port George                        43                    Baptist                Single

Caufield, Lavinia         Lunenburg                         67                   Baptist                 Widowed

Forrester, Margaret    Bear River                          34                   Baptist                  single

Jeremy, Rebecca           Annapolis Co.,                  91                    R.C.*                     single

Young, Bertha              Granville                             71                                                 single

Whynott, Ellen            Springfield                          72                                                  widowed

Orde, Caroline             Lake LaRose                        77                                                 widowed

McCormick, Ruth        Bear River                           54                                                 single


*R.C. = Roman Catholic

The religion of the last four women are not noted or else, through multiple photocopying, the Ditto sign has faded out.

The first two women, the Sabeans could possibly be sisters as there are 15 years between them and they are both listed as ‘single’.

The Minard women from New Grafton are possibly Mother and Daughter as there are 38 years between them but they are also both listed as single.

And then again, perhaps the elder women in these two groups of women were unmarried when they became mothers.

Rebecca Jeremy from Annapolis County could possibly be First Nations as Jeremy was often a First Nations surname.

The married women, Maude Orde  and Addie Sears might have been separated from their husbands who were in the male quarters of the poor farm.

So much information and so little information at the same time. I’m grateful but frustrated. I want to know more!

Next post will be about the ‘new’ asylum and it’s size and dimensions as well as a Letter to the Editor protesting the cost of this new place. Bridgetown.RegisterofInmates.1949


A Wholesome Horror: Poorhouses in Nova Scotia by Brenda Thompson • The Miramichi Reader

Good Rainy Morning Everyone! I just came across this review last night on the Miramichi Reader. Thank you James, very much!
Over the weekend I was given some material on a poorhouse which I will be writing about on here. Stayed tuned!

PS -If anyone wants to share information with me about their local poorhouse, just message me. 🙂


Brenda Thompson’s poignant treatise on the treatment of the poor in Nova Scotia and the evolution of private and government-subsidized poor houses.

Source: A Wholesome Horror: Poorhouses in Nova Scotia by Brenda Thompson • The Miramichi Reader