Meadow Bank History: Industries, Transportation & Communications
This is the tenth excerpt form Meadow Bank W.I. Tweedsmuir History published in 1951.
Industries in a province such as ours must, of course, be connected either directly or indirectly with the land or the sea. Manufacturing must be limited and closely linked with the products of land and sea. Since pioneer days then, agriculture in its various forms has been the basic industry of the district and like most other parts of the province mixed farming has engaged the attention of the great majority. Fortunately, wood lots were cared for reasonably well so that logging and sawing chiefly for local needs have been interesting and profitable occupations.
The incident has been recalled of many years ago when Mr. Spurgeon Hickox set up a rotary saw at Mr. Fred Hydes and sawed lumber for those of the district. Since that time, however, firewood has been the chief asset of the woods. Today, on the Island, pulpwood is an important industry to which one member of our district, Mr. Hyde, has contributed.
Meadow Bank farm being all shore farms offered an excellent opportunity for the fishing of clams, quahaugs and oysters, the last being fished extensively in recent years. These find a ready market in Canada and United States.
Before the days of commercial fertilizers, wood ashes, as the land was cleared of the virginal forests, provided potash, and mussel mud from the river bed was loaded into flat-bottomed boats and spread on land providing the necessary lime. Later mud diggers were placed on the ice over the mussel beds and with a horse in the capstan, huge forkfuls were loaded into waiting sleighs. Seaweed, too, was a valuable fertilizer but due to some disease, it is almost killed out. Up to that time it was a happy feeding ground for nervous flocks of wild geese which were much sought after by sportsmen.
Fox farming is one of the later industries. It had its beginning years ago when two men bought a pair of foxes from the Natives. In this community, almost every farmer had his own individual fox ranch. Although the Island still can boast a lead in quality and production, there are very few foxes ranged here since the general slump in prices during World War II.
Our certified seed potatoes have reached a high state of perfection and command a ready market in many parts of the world. Turnips are grown for feed and export. Dairying and the raising of beef cattle engage the time and attention of our farmers. Surplus hay is pressed and sold. At first milk was processed at home into cheese and cream into butter. Then a cheese factory was operated for a number of years at Cornwall. This was in 1925 bought by Cornwall Community Club, torn down and rebuilt as a skating rink. Now, cream is shipped to creameries in Charlottetown.
Many changes have taken place in the method of farming from the time of the reaping hook, sickle and buck rake. The first binders, a Maxwell, was owned by Henry Hyde and used by his sons until a few years ago. Threshing was first done with a flail then the horsepower mill, later the cleaner was added, then engines and tractors. Now, we can boast of the first combine being used on the same farm by R.D. MacKinnon (1950) who has also introduced a clipper for the harvesting of grass silage.
For the convenience of travelers, the S.S. Harland made two round trips every Saturday from Charlottetown to the West River Bridge calling en route at MacEachern’s Wharf. The Strathgartney, Hazel R and other motor launches privately-owned and subsidized by the government made similar trips from Bonshaw to the capital city on market days. Their time tables varied as the tide changed. Now since hard surfacing of main highways and the advent of trucks and cars, this mode of travel has become outdated.
In the early days mail was received semi-weekly at the Cornwall Post Office. About the year 1910 mail began to come daily and boxes were placed at each gateway. Donald MacPhail (4 years), Dave Lowry and Seymour Scott and sons have been our mail couriers ever since.
A privately-owned telephone company serving the communications of Cornwall, York Point, North River, East Wiltshire and Meadow Bank was in operation as early as 1912 with a switch board at Cornwall. In 1947 we sold to the Island Telephone Company and now are on the Charlottetown Exchange.