Recently acquired artifacts

Gathering up “new” artifacts is an ongoing concern at NFHC. People will call up to say they’re moving, or they’re cleaning out their barn, or perhaps the farm has been sold… there are many reasons for individuals donating items to us. Directors will discuss what we already have to see whether something new should be accepted, since storage and display space is limited. If the item in question is a duplicate to what we already have, it might be turned down. Usually a director will go and see what it looks like. If it’s too bulky, or possibly in very bad shape, it could also be turned down.

Most artifacts are gratefully accepted, however. The photos in this post show some of our newest acquisitions. From top to bottom, they include:

  1. a mink muff to keep a girl’s hands warm
  2. two quilts. One (mauve) is a Dresden Plate, hand pieced by Maie Bentley (1884-1942), hand quilted by Billtown Baptist Church quilting group in 2015. The other (yellow) is a Pinwheel Star – Barbara Frietschie, hand pieced by Maie Bentley or her mother Becky (1851-1936), hand quilted by Billtown Baptist Church in 2014. Both donated by the Bentley family, signed by Margaret Bentley, granddaughter of Maie Bentley.
  3. a mangle iron for ironing sheets. It has all steel construction.
  4. a cream separator
  5. several copies of Blacksmith Magazine from 1940 and 1941.



It’s a mystery to us!

Among artifacts being re-organized at NFHC this winter is an item that none of us can identify. We are posting various pictures of it here in the hope that some visitor to the site may know what it is. If anyone has an older relative with a farming background, please ask them to help. What could it be? If you can help, please contact us at:



More apple stencils added to NFHC collection

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We’ve had a few dozen apple stencils in our collection for some time, but a recent addition has more than doubled that number. A donation from Bill and Mary Swetnam of Sheffield Mills has resulted in a second large wall display in the cooper shop. Many of the varieties shown have long since disappeared from Nova Scotia orchards, such as Jenneting, Maiden’s Blush, Laxton’s Superb, and Fallawater.

In fact, C.M. Collins noted in the 1930s that Valley orchardists grew far too many varieties of apples. Annual admonitions from speakers at the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers (NSFGA) annual convention repeated that theme. Some varieties just didn’t produce enough fruit, lacked sufficient quality for easy marketing, or otherwise dragged down the performance of the apple industry.

Barrel stencils were used to paint the name of each variety on each three-bushel wooden barrel before leaving packing houses along the railroad tracks. Some of the larger packers printed colourful and well designed paper labels to do the same thing. NFHC has a couple of these labels on display in Heritage Hall.

An earlier donation to NFHC, a large 1941 calendar, turned out to hold a complicated four-way graph on the back, carefully hand drawn by some long-gone bookkeeper. Although the pencilled writing was badly faded in spots, we found that this record enumerated that portion of the 1941 apple crop that was handled by the North Mountain Fruit Company at Woodville. All the growers’ names were there, as well as the varieties they shipped, and the volume, in barrels, of each variety.

With 2015’s events at NFHC now over, work continues on maintenance of buildings and collection of artifacts. Volunteers show up on Wednesday mornings to do what needs to be done. If any reader of this website is willing and able, NFHC can always use some help. Our monthly directors’ meetings are held the first Thursday of each month, and anyone is welcome.

To enlarge photos, click on them.


And now, a wedding venue…




Northville Farm Heritage Centre has been used for many different events, but on October 10, 2015, it became a wedding venue for the first time. Ronee-Lee Farris and Eric Gillis were married by a justice of the peace on the veranda of the Carriage House. Guests were seated on chairs and at picnic tables in front of the couple, under sunny skies with a cool fall wind.

Both Ronee-Lee and Eric wanted a rustic, farm-type background for their photos, and NFHC can certainly provide that. Perhaps this event was the first of many more weddings here. Couples could also come here just to take their photos, with North Mountain as the scenic background.


Finally, some sun for tractor pull

After several days of rain, which caused the Fall Tractor Pull to be postponed for a day, the sun shone on Northville Farm Heritage Centre. People of all ages were able to attend, including a number of children and even a baby. Although the adults focused on the tractors competing to pull the heaviest weights, the kids entertained themselves quite nicely. The antique hand pump mounted in between a couple of NFHC buildings has challenged them for a number of years: can you actually get water out of that? A new swing set, with antique equipment seats, was similarly of interest.

The track had been packed down especially hard before the event – and before the rain – but all the water that fell still made it necessary to grade the surface in between weight classes. Only Mike Sandford made the full pull of 250 feet, with his 1963 Cockshutt, in the 11,000 lb. class.

“It was still pretty good day”, says chairman Jos VanOoostrum. “People seemed to be having a good time.”

About twenty tractors took part, with an average of three hookups each.

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Tractor Pull Postponed!

The Antique Tractor Pull planned for Saturday, Oct. 3, has been postponed until Sunday, Oct. 4, due to rain.

Everyone is welcome to attend this event, which should get underway by about ten a.m. (if the rain ever stops!!!). The Cookhouse will be open.

You should have been there!

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Our September 6 Harvest Festival came with full sun, high temperatures and a nice breeze – in other words, ideal weather for an outdoor event. This resulted in a very good attendance, as evidenced by Cookhouse sales that almost doubled those of last year’s event. For planners, weather is always the big question, and we got lucky.

As a result, the harvesting crew was able to demonstrate the old ways of mowing and threshing a crop of dry oats. This remains the prime reason for having a harvest event, but other attractions have been added over the years to bring out people of every age group. They include the baking, gardening, and knitting competitions. The latter was new this year but attracted a good number of entries. In fact, the second place winner in both the socks and hats classes was an 80+ man, who entered his delicately made baby bonnet and booties. Having visitors identify old tools remains very popular also.

For kids, the face painting, fish pond, and balloon animals remain big attractions. But their enjoyment of this event is far broader than that. Where else would they, especially town kids, find a large, safe property where they can run around freely in the fresh, clean air? Ice cream is just one more big bonus.

The photos above, collectively, are worth more than a thousand words.

Coming up next: HARVEST FESTIVAL September 6, 2015

Plans are underway for this year’s Harvest Festival, to be held Sunday September 6. The main feature, as always, will be the harvesting and threshing of the NFHC’s crop of oats, using antique equipment only. If you’ve wondered how your ancestors gathered their grain, come and look! Combined with the harvest, there will be an ox pull with many teams expected from around the province. It’s quite amazing how strong these animals are.

In addition to that, several fun events and competitions will take place. There will be new classes in the baking and garden competition, while the knitting competition is being added as an entirely new feature. (See details below.) For children there will be a fish pond, face painting, and balloon animals, not to mention the sandbox and swing set. All members of the family can enjoy the Fur and Feathers display, and it will even be possible to discover how much your entire family weighs when you pile on the scale together. Another new challenge is to identify antique items by matching them to the story that goes with them – it’s up to you to decide which story matches each artifact.

No doubt there will be antique tractors, trucks and cars around, and each year the displays are somewhat different. Last year there was an antique bicycle, and an older man riding it. Who knows what’s next?threshing machine copy2013-09-01_12.21.34

Baking competition:

Classes: 1: dinner rolls, 2: rolled molasses cookies, 3: apple pie. Prizes: $25, $10., and $10 in each class, in grocery gift cards.

Garden competition:

Classes: 1: Attractive display of garden products, 2: Attractive flower arrangement. Prizes as above.

Knitting competition:

Classes: 1: Knitted hat, 2: Knitted socks. Prizes: as above.

All entries must be delivered to Heritage Hall between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 noon on the day of the event.

We hope our Harvest Festival will be part of your Labour Day weekend celebrations!