Bridgetown, Nova Scotia
|Motto: Palma Non Sine Pulvere (Latin)
"No Victory Without Struggle"
|Incorporated||September 15, 1897|
|• Mayor||Robert Fowler|
| • Governing
|Bridgetown Town Council|
|• MLA||Stephen McNeil (L)|
|• MP||Greg Kerr (C)|
|• Land||3.54 km2 (1.37 sq mi)|
|• Urban||3.65 km2 (1.41 sq mi)|
|• Density||267.8/km2 (694/sq mi)|
|• Urban density||277.5/km2 (719/sq mi)|
|Time zone||AST (UTC-4)|
|Postal code||B0S 1C0|
|Telephone Exchange||312, 588, 665|
|Website||Town of Bridgetown|
Situated on the Annapolis River at the head of the tide, the area saw Mi'kmaq settlements in the area, followed by Acadian settlers from Port-Royal and then British-sponsored settlements by the late 18th century.
There were at least ten Acadian settlers in the Bridgetown area before the French census of 1671, and the population doubled by 1707. The main Acadian settlement was on the east boundary of the present town, called Gaudetville. There were other Acadian settlers in the town proper, some of whom lived just east of the present bridge.
Deed references suggest British settlement on the site of the town from the early 1760s, after the Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia in 1755. These settlers appeared shortly after the allocation of Granville Township among its proprietors; Bridgetown is located in what was formerly Granville Township, settled from 1760 on. The central part of the town was referred to as the Farm of Henly for unknown reasons. The community grew into a successful wooden shipbuilding area during the 19th century, accounting for many grand homes; it was incorporated in 1897. The town was actually an entrepot for the agricultural and forest products of the surrounding areas and became a significant manufacturing and commercial centre in the 19th century. Manufacturing included a furniture factory, an organ factory, a tannery, a bottling plant, a cider plant, the first M.W. Graves cannery and vinegar factory (Graves was a major food processor that later moved to Kings County) and a distillery.
The town is one of few in Nova Scotia to have developed from a town plan (or plat), rather than just grew up. Captain John Crosskill, who owned or controlled the central part of the Town, what is now downtown, divided the bulk of the lands into 90 by 90 lots in 1821. Most of these boundaries are visible today. As the town developed his heirs planned several additional subdivisions, some wildly optimistic.
The town was named at a great gathering of the townsfolk about 1824. There are two versions of the rationale for the name. The more romantic has it that the town was named after Bridgetown, Barbados because Captain Crosskill had once been stationed there, and had much enjoyed it. The other simply attributes the name to the bridge. This version is given some credence because Joseph Howe, in his Rambles, refers to the area as "The Bridge". Likely there were proponents of both theories at the meeting, and since both sides wanted the name Bridgetown it will never be possible to sort out how many had which reason.
The Windsor and Annapolis Railway constructed the mainline between Windsor and Annapolis Royal through the area in 1868, crossing over the Annapolis River on a bridge on the south side of the town. This bridge was initially a wooden covered bridge. It was replaced later on by the present iron railway bridge. This railway eventually was merged into the Dominion Atlantic Railway and served the town until 1990. The Middleton and Victoria Beach Railway was constructed through the north end of the town in the early 20th century and this line under the ownership of Canadian National Railway served the town until 1982.
Various small industries clustered around the DAR station and small railway yard on the south bank of the river, including a brick plant and apple warehouses. There was a soda pop factory and siding just across the bridge from the station. Today there is little industry in the area, with the passenger station now hosting the End of The Line Pub, as well as a Nova Scotia Power substation.
The north side of the town hosts the former Acadian Distillery factory, which closed in the early 1980s. The Bridgetown High School and elementary school are located in the east end of the town. The historic downtown fronting Queen Street underwent redevelopment and beautification during the 1980s.
Like a lot of small towns, Bridgetown today concentrates on service industries. The largest employers are the schools, Mountain Lea Lodge, the Adult Residential Centre and the headquarters of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library. Britex Limited was the last large manufacturing enterprise but closed in 2004.
Bridgetown is roughly equidistant between Middleton and Annapolis Royal. Trunk 1 runs through the town on Granville Street. During the 1980s, Highway 101 was extended to Bridgetown, terminating at an interchange with Trunk 1. This highway was extended in the early 1990s through to Annapolis Royal, bypassing the town completely.
Today Bridgetown has many heritage buildings which are best appreciated by taking The Cyprus Walk self-guided and critically acclaimed walking tour.
The town hosts an annual Ciderfest festival to celebrate the apple harvest in the fall.
In 2011, the town council drew national headlines by resigning en masse over financial difficulties including a misappropriation of funds. A subsequent provincial audit found that $113,195.96 had been misappropriated from the town over 5 years by one employee, and additional losses were incurred from related costs and record-keeping errors. The provincial government subsequently appointed a council consisting of a mayor and two councillors, which governed the town until the municipal elections in October 2012.
In November 2012 a new council (mayor and four councillors) was sworn in and the provincially-appointed council ceased to hold office.
Sister Cities, Twin Towns
Bridgetown's only sister city is Bridgetown, Barbados.
- Andrew Hill Clark, Acadia: the Geography of Early Nova Scotia to 1760 (Madison: 1968), p. 122.
- Elizabeth Coward, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia: Its History to 1900 (1955)
- The first deeds of town lots are dated in October 1821.
- , Censuses 1871-1931
- , Census 1941-1951
- , Census 1961
- , Censuses 1981-2001
- "N.S. council quits en masse over money woes". CBC News. 31 May 31, 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- MacMillan, Susan D. (2011). Overview of the Misappropriation at the Town of Bridgetown. Grant Thornton LLP.