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THEN AND NOW: Weymouth – reshaped by history and by fire

Sailing vessels and lumber line Weymouth's busy waterfront in this early 20th century photo. The village was a center for many businesses and services up until the October 2,1929 fire destroyed much of the downtown business section of the village.
Sailing vessels and lumber line Weymouth's busy waterfront in this early 20th century photo. The village was a center for many businesses and services up until the October 2,1929 fire destroyed much of the downtown business section of the village. - Contributed
WEYMOUTH, N.S. —

Prior to Weymouth's devastating fire of October 2, 1929, the Digby County village was enjoying a period of great prosperity with three and four masted schooners in the harbour, waiting to load their cargo of lumber or pulp wood or unload salt, coal or molasses.

Weymouth could boast that it had poolrooms, blacksmith shops, silent movie theatre, bowling alley, dance hall, telephone office, dry goods store, tailor shop, several general sores, sawmills and lumber businesses.

A community of 1,200 people supported the village and had the services of doctors, a dentist, a banker and a judge. Young people, like Cliff Campbell and Clotilde Comeau, living in Weymouth at the time, stated that these were the good times, where everyone could find employment.

A restored Weymouth waterfront and the village looking south. KARLA KELLY
A restored Weymouth waterfront and the village looking south. KARLA KELLY

The early morning fire that October raged for over six hours and destroyed 25 buildings on both sides of the main downtown street.

At the end of the day, only a few smouldering embers remained where, hours before, flourishing businesses stood.

The village struggled to rebuild achieving a good measure of success by the outbreak of World War Two, but disaster followed again in the late 1950's.

LeBlanc Ship Building located along the north side of Weymouth's waterfront burned on Feb. 6, 1958, followed by another fire on June 5, 1959, that destroyed six downtown businesses.

On Aug. 29, 2018, two historical buildings, the former Trading Post store and New France Interpretive Center, were lost during an early morning blaze.

Directly across the street is the Goodwin Hotel owned and operated by Pat Comeau since 1970.

“This historical business has been serving the community and area continuously for over 130 years,” Comeau says. “The main section out front dates back to 1850 with John Goodwin adding to and opening it up as a hotel in the late 1880's.”

Weymouth's Goodwin Hotel pictured in this early 1900's postcard was owned and operated by Captain John Goodwin and his family for over 60 years.
Weymouth's Goodwin Hotel pictured in this early 1900's postcard was owned and operated by Captain John Goodwin and his family for over 60 years.
Pat Comeau and her family maintain the historic flair the Goodwin Hotel still offers today after nearly 50 years of owning and operating the Weymouth business. KARLA KELLY
Pat Comeau and her family maintain the historic flair the Goodwin Hotel still offers today after nearly 50 years of owning and operating the Weymouth business. KARLA KELLY

Comeau said she and her family were kept very busy in the early years.

“Everyone drove by the Goodwin until the 101 by passed Weymouth in the mid 1980's,” she says. “Tourists, construction and business people alike kept the hotel full and the dining room busy much of the time.”

Comeau says while times have changed economically in the area people know about the hotel and continue to support its old-fashioned flair.

“We were so fortunate last August's fire did not destroy our home and business and we continue to see the Goodwin as a constant in our changing times.”

Bayside Farms in the Weymouth area is also an historic business that dates back to the 1850's.

Bayside Farm Inn, owned and operated by Fred and Ethel Lent, attracted tourists and visitors to the Weymouth area from the 1920's until the mid 1950's.
Bayside Farm Inn, owned and operated by Fred and Ethel Lent, attracted tourists and visitors to the Weymouth area from the 1920's until the mid 1950's.
Bayside Farm is a restored vacation destination in the Weymouth area. KARLA KELLY PHOTO
Bayside Farm is a restored vacation destination in the Weymouth area. KARLA KELLY PHOTO

Owners Roger and Louise Mullen said in its heyday Fred and Ethel Lent's Bayside Farm Inn attracted a great many tourists and visitors from the 1920's to the mid 1950's

“The Bayside Farm, now a Heritage Property, was idle when we purchased it in the early 1990's,” Louise Mullen says. “We restored the Farm as a guest house and we rent it out along with several cottages nearby on the shores of the St. Mary's Bay.”

“It has become a vacation tradition in our area.”

READ ALSO: A more recent fire also reshaped the Weymouth area. Much was lost, but not all of it.

Original ‘Electric City’ manuscript survives Weymouth fire, to be central object in future interpretive centre

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