Monday, November 21, 2011

Old Fashioned Cut Nails by TREMONT NAIL CO.

     Many years ago I learned of this nail company in Massachusetts - the oldest nail manufacturer in the USA.  They make "old fashioned cut nails for authentic restoration and antique effect".  I received a sample set from them which has been a very useful reference over the years in a variety of restoration projects that I've been involved in.
Here's the website to Tremont Nail Co. 

Tremont Nail Mills
     The original factory was established by Issac and Jared Pratt in 1819 on the site of an old cotton mill which had been shelled and burned by the British in the War of 1812. Known originally as Parker Mills Nail Company, it later became known as the Tremont Nail Company. The first cut nail machines appeared during the late 1700's and the first machine to cut and head a nail in one operation was invented by Ezekiel Reed of Bridgewater, Mass.
     The present nail factory has about 60 nail machines and was completed in 1848. Among those who managed the business in the early days are men whose names are famous throughout New England: John Avery Parker, William Rodman, Charles W. Morgan, Bartlett Murdock, Benjamin Fearing, William Caswell, Horace Pratt Tobey and William A. Leonard.
     For almost 200 years, the company has achieved a reputation for skilled nail cutting that has made its product readily saleable throughout the markets of the world. Through all the changes and the hurried pace of modern industry the same product is still being produced for customers who prefer the superior holding power and durability of this time-tested nail.
You can get these nails locally! 
     Here on Prince Edward Island the nails are available from most building suppliers who get them from a local Wholesaler - they carry about 5 standard, most commonly used nail sizes.  You can also get them from Lee Valley Tools -  here's the link and the page from their online catalogue:,41306,41324

Square-Cut Nails

Square-Cut Nails - Hardware
Square-Cut Nails - Hardware
     Besides having the advantage of being historically accurate (they are made the same way now as they were in 1819), these nails are superior to conventional nails.Cut nails have two features lacking in wire nails:
1. They are near constant thickness but tapered in width. Aligning the parallel sides of the nail with the grain, the square tip shears fibers and the nail then bends fibers downwards as well as compressing them as it is driven. The fibers then act like a featherboard on a table saw, preventing the nail from withdrawing.
2. Because the square tip shears the fibers, there is no wedging action across the grain; you can nail near the end of a board with no splitting. A wire nail tends to split the wood.
The decorative wrought head and common rose head are ideal for rough-sawn siding, face-nailed floors, batten doors, and framing. While both brads are popular for cabinetmaking, the slender headless brad excels at furniture repair and picture frames.
Approximate nail count per box listed in brackets below.
The wrought-head nails have a black oxide finish; the others are unfinished steel.   Made in USA.
A. 1 lb (207) Wrought Head Nail, 1"
$13.60$12.20Add to cart
1 lb (132) Wrought Head Nail,
$12.60$11.30Add to cart
1 lb (68) Wrought Head Nail, 2"
$12.60$11.30Add to cart
B. 1 lb (97) Rose Head Nail, 2"
$9.90$8.90Add to cart
C. 1/4 lb (292) Headless Brad, 1"
$10.50$9.45Add to cart
D. 1/2 lb (215) Round Head Brad, 1"
$10.20$9.20Add to cart

Warren Farm, Rocky Point

     On August 18, 2011  I posted information on Warren Farm at Fort Amherst, Rocky Point - the house at that site is the Hyndman House and not the Warren Farm house.  I made corrections to that post ( ) and moved the historic references about Warren Farm to this new post.
     Below is a map of Rocky Point from Meacham's 1880 Atlas, page 136.  I have the Warren Farm house marked in red on this map.  I've been told there's an image of this house at the PEI Public Archives.
     The following information comes from Parks Canada website -
      When Charlottetown was officially named as the capital of St. John’s Island in 1768, the garrison was permanently removed from Fort Amherst to Fort Edward, across the harbour. The Fort had been in a state of disrepair for many years and was not worth salvaging. The fort was demolished in the 1770’s, and by 1779 there was nothing left of the fort but the ditch.
     There were several tenants of the fort lot through the rest of the 18th century, though perhaps none as prominent as the first (and only) Governor of the island, Walter Patterson.
     Patterson acquired the land through complicated means in 1773. He and his wife, Hester Warren, built an elegant farmhouse and offices on the lot. They named it Warren farm after Patterson’s wife. Patterson was removed from office in 1786, and the lot was left vacant until 1796, when Patterson’s title to the land was nullified. A variety of landowners farmed the land until 1959, when owner John Hyndman sold the land for its creation as a national historic park. The site was officially opened in 1973.

Here's another reference to Warren Farm:
     ....About the centre of the burying-ground is recorded the death of Job Bevan, son-in-law of Will. Pepperal. He did duty at the block house as a soldier in the artillery when he came to the Island. The recollections of what it was, if we read them, would throw some light upon the hidden past.
     Many of the principal men who figured in our early history, lie here with no stone to mark their graves. We are reminded of them and their acts by members of the family who have been highly honored. A monument to the Hon. Geo. Wright, Surveyor General, who administered the government at five different periods, is a partial record of a family mixed up with all our early public transactions. His father, Thomas Wright, was on the Survey with Capt. Holland in 1765, and was appointed Surveyor General Sept. 1770. He resided with Patterson at Warren Farm, occupying one of those " extensive offices" which the governor erected. As stated before, Mr. Wright was taken prisoner by the Americans and conveyed to Boston, was a supporter of the Governor in his political measures, was one of the commissioners appointed on the suspension of Chief Justice Stewart, and subsequently in 1788 made an assistant judge...

PS.  I was searching through Earle's Pictures Restoration's Photos on Facebook yesterday (Mar. 12, 2014) and found this photo posted
Caption: Hoisting up the Hay at the Warren Farm, on the Site of the old French Capitol of Port LaJoie Prince Edward Island Canada.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leard's Mill, Coleman

I read in today's Journal Pioneer Newspaper that the Leards Pond has been restored - below are a few photos of the mill I took on March 1, 2003; a children school project; and the Journal Pioneer article.
The mill is located on Route 140 in Coleman at Leards Pond.  The Mill faces south.
Below: the home adjacent to the mill where Warren and Bernice Leard lived until 2009 - the property was purchased by a local couple who will be excellent custodians of this historic property.
     A few years ago there was a website by local school children who interviewed local seniors to learn and document the stories of their lives.  Below is the story of Warren Leard, owner of this mill. The website doesn't appear to be still active - the information was collected by Kera Pineau & Michael Duquette.
Warren Leard
owner of a grist mill

     Warren Leard, born June 18, 1925 owned Leard’s Grist Mill in Coleman. He worked there most of his life since his father owned it before him. However in 1954 to 1964 he worked for CN in Summerside because it was good pay. He came back to the mill that he knew he would end up running someday.

     Warren started working at the grist mill when he was 16 years old. It was first owned by Peter Warren Leard, then passed on to Robert Waldron Leard (Warren’s father) and Albert Leard. After this it was passed on one more generation to Warren. Warren decided to become owner of the mill because he was brought up in it. Albert’s two sons, Heith and Harry, helped run the Grist Mill as well.
     The process of turning the wheat into flour would go as follows: the farmers first brought in 80-100 bushels of wheat to be weighed in. It would be dumped into something called a hopper. Below the hopper, the cleaner sieves, fans and scours the wheat. Following this, the wheat would go through another cleaner which would take out other grains, such as oats or barley. Next, the wheat would go through sets of rollers. While going through the first set of rollers the kernels of wheat would break. The second set of rollers takes out the bran which is the outer shell and continues on through the other rollers for granulation.
     Once this is completed it is carried to the top of the building by small elevators that could almost fit in your hand (refer to picture). From here it goes through the sifter which has silks and screens on it. The silk used for the sifter came from Switzerland and its cost was about $45.00 per square yard. The end product then flows back itself by gravity to its different outlets as bran, middlings, shorts and white flour and would be stored in bags or if kept for a longer period of time it had to be shifted every so often. Some of the wheat germ (cream of wheat) was used for cereals. Otherwise it was put back into the flour to add to its value. Used to help operate the mill is 1200 feet of belting.
     Warren worked at the mill approximately 8 hours a day or more depending on how much work had to be done and then the shift would change and somebody else would work at the mill. There were 2 or 3 people working at the mill and they were paid $1.00-$1.25 for an 8 hour day. The workers would have to have general knowledge of how the mill worked as well as some math skills when they calculated the weight and price of the wheat. The money received from customers was 50 cents per bushel. The season for milling started in June and July  but the wheat was actually worked beginning in August when the harvest started.
     Some of the big differences between the flour created today and the flour that was made in such a mill as Leard’s Grist Mill are that there were no additives and the wheat germ was used in the flour. Also flour was not bleached in older grist mills as it usually is today.
     We asked Warren if he had any experiences to share with us about the grist mill and he told us the following story: His father was working on a 25 horsepower motor when it blew up breaking his father’s leg. He had to stay home with a broken leg until 8 a.m the next morning when he could board the train to Summerside as there was no hospital in O’Leary at the time.
We thank Warren for his time.  By Kera Pineau & Michael Duquette.

Leards Pond is Back
by Eric McCarthy  November 17, 2011
                    Allan MacPhee, left, president of the Leard’s Pond (Coleman) Environmental Committee and Eric Shaw, secretary of the group, check the water flow over the stop logs in the dam. After being down for 11 years, the water level in the pond was recently put up again. Landscaping and other improvements are ongoing.

COLEMAN - After being down for 11 years, the water level in Leard's Pond, Coleman, has risen again. The stop logs were put back into the dam three weeks ago. The fish ladder is operational.
     Excavation equipment dug out the main pond basin over the past four years and made it deeper than before.
     "One of the things when we re-opened here," said Eric Shaw, secretary of the Leard's Pond (Coleman) Environmental Committee, "we had to go with a different operating level, a lower operating level."
     The lower water level keeps areas upstream from being flooded.  If the water level was allowed to rise, he explained, that would result in shallow water beyond the banks that could warm up quickly with the sun's rays
     Although the water level itself is lower, the pond is narrower than before and dug deeper. The clay and silt removed from the pond's floor was piled onto the banks and leveled out the genesis of a new park.
The pond covers six to eight acres and the park will cover two.
     Trees have been planted near the water's edge and in the future park. Grade 4 students from O'Leary Elementary School had short work of planting 100 ash, birch and maple trees Wednesday. They acknowledged the trees, once they grow, will help provide shade for the pond. Landscaping and seeding will occur later, and a parking area will be developed.
     The 12-member committee which consists of Allan MacPhee, president; John Rogers, vice-president, Jim Harris as Treasurer and Shaw as the executive and members Elton Ellis, Alton Silliker, Percy MacEachern, John Buchanan, Jimmy Baglole, Doug MacLeod, Randy Bridges and Warren Leard, has been overseeing the re-creation of the pond since 2005. During that period they raised over $12,000 through various fundraising initiatives. The provincial government provided $120,000 to assist with the work.
     Fundraising activities to assist with further upgrades will continue.
              O'Leary Elementary School Grade 4 student Tyler MacLean gets assistance from classmates, from left, Hayley Somers, Karrie Lee Veniot and Myranda Clements in planting a tree along the bank of Leard's Pond in Coleman. The bank of the pond was shaped with clay and silt taken from the floor of the pond.

By Kera Pineau and Michael Duquette

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Legacy of Architect James Harris - New Exhibit

A slice of his life
Gallery director Kevin Rice and attendant Natalie Woodburn-Heron study some of the buildings that architect James Harris designed, including, from left, Moore and MacLeod Ltd. and the Currie Block extension, corner of Kent and Queen streets in Charlottetown.  Works of the Heart: The Architectural Legacy of James Harris in P.E.I. continues at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery until Jan. 22.  It consists of photos and sketchbooks from Harris’ own collection with narrative by Darin MacKinnon, guest curator.
The Guardian Newspaper
by Sally Cole
Published on November 9, 2011

     When Darin MacKinnon started researching Historic Places of Prince Edward Island, an online resource for the Department of Tourism and Culture, he discovered a number of references to buildings designed by James Harris (1886-1954), the nephew of iconic P.E.I.  architect William Critchlow Harris and painter Robert Harris.
     Whether it was designs for the Tweel Building, which is located on the corner of University Avenue and Kent Street in Charlottetown (now the home of Starbucks) or the Moore and McLeod Limited Building on Queen Street in Charlottetown or Clark Brothers Store and and the Fire Hall (home of the Eastern Graphic) in Montague, Harris left his mark on the P.E.I. business skyline as well as many Island residences and churches,
     “I decided to learn more about what he did. It struck me that every day I was driving by his buildings, but I had never thought of the life that created them,” says MacKinnon, whose research forms the basis of the narrative of an exhibition currently underway in Charlottetown.
     Works of the Heart: The Architectural Legacy of James Harris in P.E.I. continues at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery until Jan. 22.
     The exhibition features his collection of sketchbooks and photograph albums, loaned to the gallery by his daughter, Mary Beth Harris.
     “When I started making the connections to the buildings that James Harris designed, I noticed the sketchbooks, so I got more of a sense of him — how he loved to draw like his Uncle Robert, the artist. It was a very pen-and-ink kind of culture.
     “And James seemed to like to record things while he was on vacation when he saw a building or piece of Island scenery,” says MacKinnon.
     From a family enjoying a relaxing day at the beach to a 1922 Queen Street scene filled with bustling Islanders complete with a Model A Ford next to a horse and buggy, he gives viewers a taste of what Island life was like.
     Harris also knew the importance of recording places that are important in Island history. For example, his 1930 watercolour sketch of the iconic Green Gables House predates the opening of the P.E.I. National Park in 1937.
     At the gallery, director Kevin Rice points out some of his favourite sketchbook pages.
     “In Weekend at Holland Cove, the place where he summered, he’s got prehistoric creatures appearing in this beach scene. He also wanted to show people, so he entertained himself by creating humorous sketches in the outdoors,” says Rice.
     Another thing that pleases him is the interior of the house where Harris lived with his family on Greenfield Avenue in Charlottetown.
     “You can see the little inset panels in the mantle piece decorated for Christmas. Then above the fireplace is a painting by his uncle (Robert Harris). And just by chance we have it curated in an exhibition upstairs.
     “So if people come and see the original painting, they might see the home where it was displayed for many years,” says Rice, who is impressed with the variety of images in the exhibition.
     “It’s an interesting assortment of daily life, but also you see his interest in architecture ... It’s like a slice of his life,” he says.
     A snapshot of James Harris.

     Born in Charlottetown on July 2, 1886, James came from an artistic family. His uncle, who was architect William Critchlow Harris, gave him great inspiration and encouragement.
     James attended West Kent School in Charlottetown.
     In 1906, at the age of 20, he moved to Halifax to train as an architect in the office of his uncle, William, who was working there with the architect, William T. Horton.
     William encouraged his nephew to gain professional credentials by enrolling in McGill University’s architectural studies program. After spending several years studying in Montreal, James graduated from McGill in 1912 with degrees in architecture and mechanical engineering.
     The following year, after William died suddenly, James took his place in the firm with Horton. Like his uncle, who had created a legacy of church buildings in the 19th century, James would also become noted for his ecclesiastical architecture as the 20th century unfolded.
     With the outbreak of the First World War, Halifax became a major naval centre. James enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1917.
     After the war he moved back to the Island to operate the Prince Edward Island branch of the Horton and Harris firm.
     During the 1920s, James designed churches for several denominations in each of the Island’s three counties. These included a new United Church in Dunstaffnage in Queens County, which he completed in 1927. He also designed and built many residences and commercial buildings.
     For more information on James, go to

The following images are all from the website:
1929 St. Peter's Anglican Church, Alberton
1930 St. Alexis R.C. Church, Rollo Bay
1930 Harris Library, Charlottetown
BeBlois House, West St., Charlottetown
1932 St. Michael's R.C. Church, Corran Ban
1927-36 Tweel Building, Charlottetown
1948 Chandler House, North River Rd., Charlottetown
Sketch of MacCallum Stone House, Brackley
Sketch of Aitken Stone House, Lower Montague
Sketch of Block House Lighthouse, Rocky Point
Sketch of Harris Cottage
Sketch of Green Gables, Cavendish
Sketch of Souris & French River Lighthouses
Sketch of Presbyterian Church, Canoe Cove