YARMOUTH, N.S. – It’s been photographed.
It’s used as a reference point for directions.
It’s been spray painted and defaced.
It’s been the target of a homemade bomb.
It’s a reminder that another class of nurses have graduated.
Its presence is taken for granted.
Its recent absence was duly noted.
And now it’s back.
Under the provincial government’s downtown beautification process, the Town of Yarmouth received $13,000 in funding – that was matched by the town – to carry out work to three historic fountains – the Milton horse fountain in the north end, the Lewis Fountain in the south end and the fountain in Frost Park.The horse that sits atop the Milton horse fountain in Yarmouth’s north end arrived back in town Oct. 4, after undergoing repair and restoration work at the Lunenburg Foundry.
This summer the horse was removed from its regular perch atop a fountain that was constructed in 1893 and sent off to the Lunenburg Foundry for repairs – and badly needed ones at that, says Todd Muise, the town’s parks coordinator.
“We didn’t know the extent of the damage but when we got it down it was more extensive than we had thought,” he says. “There were a lot of cracks in it,” Muise says, particularly throughout the horse’s legs.
Muise approached a local company that specializes in welding to see if it could repair the horse, but the business didn’t feel capable to carry out the repairs, so it was sent to the foundry, where it’s been repaired before in the past.
“We maybe could have done a little patch work here, but we figured now is the time to fix it properly because we did get that grant,” says Muise.
In a Facebook page post the Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering Ltd. posted: "We recently had the pleasure of restoring an important historical monument for the Town of Yarmouth; the Milton - Golden Horse Statue! Great job to all involved!"
A BIT OF HISTORY
The fountain – which sits at the base of Vancouver Street where the street intersects with Main Street – was gifted to the town by resident Clara Killam, who contacted a designer in New York, J.L. Mott, to design a public drinking fountain. The fountain, constructed and presented to the town in 1893, had two drinking troughs for horses and cattle, and four smaller ones for dogs and sheep. Cups for a faucet were also available to quench the thirst of people passing by.
As time went on, the need for a public water fountain became reduced – especially when automobiles started replacing horses.
The fountain is still a local landmark, although over the decades it has been the target of pranks and fallen prey to other damage. In 1922 a decorative feature on the fountain’s base was reportedly blown off by a homemade bomb. In 1961, the fountain was struck by a grader with the horse crashing to the ground, requiring repairs.
In 1986 there was another form of damage to the horse. At that time Fred A. Hatfield, editor of the Yarmouth Vanguard, received an envelop in the mail containing one of the horse’s cast iron ears and a letter of apology. The sender said it was “deepest shame and sincerest apology” that they were confessing to having ridden the horse and taken part of it home as a souvenir. They sought Hatfield’s help in seeing that the horse’s ear was rightfully returned to the town, saying they never should have taken it in the first place.
The horse has also become part of a tradition. Every spring a few “extras” are added to it as it is decorated by graduating students from the school of nursing in Yarmouth. In the past it’s been adorned with balloons, streamers, medical gloves and even lab coats.
All-Out Property Services of Yarmouth has been hired to help reinstall the horse on top of the fountain. That installation is expected to happen this week.
Meanwhile, following these latest repairs to the horse Muise says one thing they are cautioning the public about is not to climb onto the horse and sit on it, which people have been known to do.
“We need to keep people off of it,” he says. “To me looking at the damage on it the next person who would have hopped up on it would have gone for a ride. The legs that were supporting it and the cracks in it were bad,” says Muise, saying the legs could have easily let go.
“Take a picture of it, but stay off of it,” Muise says is the message they’d like people to remember.
After all, while realistic, it’s not a real horse.
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