Historic N.S. Railway Pick
This object, as well as the included portrait photo of Sir Charles Tupper , were from the estate sale of the Fraser farmstead of New Glasgow. At the time of acquisition we were uncertain why the Fraser family would be in possession of these items.
After considerable research, we came across Issue #205 of Canadian Rail Magazine, published in 1968, which had a special article on the Pictou Branch of the Nova Scotia Railway. That magazine contained some interesting details explaining the Frasier connection to the railway. Some of those details are as follows...
-- In 1864, it was determined that extending the Nova Scotia Railway to Pictou would establish direct steamship connections with Montreal and central Canada. Sir Charles Tupper felt it important enough to make it a government project and it was approved in March of that year. One month after tenders were filed, none other than James A. Fraser was the successful bidder. Fraser broke ground on this vital undertaking on November 30th, 1864, at Fisher's Grant, Pictou County. --
So with that information in hand, what we have here in our possession, direct from the Fraser estate, is the original presentation pick used to break ground for one of the most important pre-Confederation branches of the Nova Scotia Railway. The pick has a carved handle with one side reading "NOVA SCOTIA RAILWAY" and the other side "NOVEMBER 30, 1864." Rather than being incised, this carving is all done in relief, which is considerably more difficult than just gouging out the lettering. As well, there are stylized carved rosettes in the handle and the pick head features decorative hand-painting.
Considering the industrial importance of Pictou County, particularly during the second half of the 19th century, it doesn't require a great amount of imagination to understand the utility the Pictou Branch brought to the entire province's railway system.
Also included with the pick is an original photo of Sir Charles Tupper taken by William Munro of Pictou. This photo is also from the Fraser estate.