The Acadia Paper Mill is believed to have been founded about 1819 by Anthony Henry Holland on the Nine Mile River, near Bedford Basin. Holland needed paper for his newspaper, the "Arcadian Recorder" which he was publishing at nearby Halifax. According to the noted paper historian, Dard Hunter, this was the second paper mill established in Canada.
Early papermakers at this mill included John Campbell (who married Catherine Elizabeth Holland in 1821); Samuel Courtney (who married Barbara Holland in 1821) and William Fudge (who married Julia Webber in 1827).
In 1837 power for the mill was furnished by a twenty foot breast wheel, eight feet wide and one small over shot eight feet in diameter and four feet wide. No steam was used in the mill and the stock was cooked in a large open pot over a fire. It was then loft dried. The paper machine used was a thirty-six inch one with a fire drier.
Charles Fenerty, a Nova Scotian, who was first to make paper on the American continent from ground wood was connected with this mill. Fenerty began his experiments in 1839 and produced a ground-wood sheet in Halifax in 1841. He lacked the support and faith of the Canadian papermakers, but did receive a degree of credit from a Halifax newspaper which endeavoured to obtain a subsidy for Fenerty on patriotic grounds. In a letter written in 1844 to the "Acadian Recorder" he made the following comment on his works:
"Enclosed is a small piece of paper, the result of an experiment I have made in order to ascertain if that useful article might not be manufactured from wood. The result has proved that opinion to be correct, for - by the sample which I have sent you, gentlemen - you will perceive the feasibility of it. The enclosed, which is as firm in its texture, as white, and to all appearances as durable as the common wrapping-paper made from hemp, cotton, or the ordinary materials of manufacture, is actually composed of spruce wood reduced to a pulp, and subjected to the same treatment as paper is in course of being made, only with this exception, viz: my insufficient means of giving it the required pressure. I entertain an opinion that our forest trees, either hard or soft wood, but more especially the fir, spruce, or poplar, on account of the fibrous quality of their wood, might easily be reduced by a chafing, and manufactured into paper of the finest kind. This opinion, sirs, I think the experiment will justify, and leaving it to be prosecuted further by the scientific or the curious, I remain, gentlemen, your obedient servant. . . ."
A John Wills was said to have been producing sheathing and wrapping paper at this mill in 1845.
Later on, possibly in the 1860's, the mill was relocated a little further down the stream. Alexander Kissock was running this mill at the time of his death in 1868. His sons (William and Alexander) took over the mill.
In 1870 A. & W. Mackinlay were appointed as sole agents for the output of the mill, then described as the Bedford Paper Mills. The running of the mill was subsequently taken over by Daniel Hughes and his sons and run by them until it was totally destroyed by fire.
A document, dated 10 October 1873 shows that Daniel Hughes took over the lease of this mill from Jeremiah O'Connor. This lease, from William Holland was due to expire on 1 May 1875 and covered "All that piece or parcel of land on the old Hammond's Plains Road in the County of Halifax on both sides of the Nine Mile river situate to the north of Archibold's Mill and . . . containing four acres more or less . . . " The lease cost Hughes $12,500 with repayments to be made at $40.00 per week plus interest until the full amount had been repaid.
A fire on 20 August 1875 destroyed the mill and its contents. It was never rebuilt.
Carruthers, George "Paper-Making" (The Garden City Press Co-Operative, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1947)
"Dictionary of Canadian Biography"
Edwards, Anthony Personal Communications
Fergusson, C. Bruce "Charles Fenerty, The Life and Achievement of a Native of Sackville, Halifax County, N.S."
Hughes, Ian Alexander "Hughes, A Family of Papermakers" (privately published, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1979)
Hunter, Dard "Papermaking - The History and Technique of an Ancient Craft" (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, second edition, 1957)
Marble, Allan Everett "Nova Scotians at Home and Abroad: Biographical Sketches of over Six Hundred Native Born Nova Scotians"
Moir, Carmen Personal Communications
Nova Scotia "Acadian Recorder", "The Halifax Citizen", "The Halifax Herald"
© Copyright 2015 by Alexander Romanov-Hughes. All Rights Reserved.