Interesting people and things

Pictured is one of three pipe organs left in the world which were made by Henry Berger. This one is at Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church in Arichat.

In studying the history of a village, town or county, it is those individuals who had an impact on the life of their time who receive the recognition, and rightfully so.

Successful entrepreneurs like the Jeans, Lavescontes, Janvrins, and Robins; prominent politicians like Sen. Miller, Laurence Kavanagh, and Edmund Power Flynn; persons outstanding in medicine, law, the arts and, sports; the early ship builders and sailors – these made our history and deserve their place in it. But what of the lesser known people and the little things that provided a context for the big things and people to make their mark. There are innumerable colourful individuals and events, and here are a few of them.

Joseph (Joe) Robert Richard, one of the premier middle-distance runners in Eastern Canada, was born in Cap Auguet on November 13, 1914, the son of Peter and Victoria Richard.

As an athlete Joe excelled in skating, boxing, and particularly in middle and long-distance running in which he won numerous awards. For example, in July 1953, he placed second at the Maritime Invitation Track and Field Meet in Charlottetown. He competed in the Boston Marathon three times, from 1954 to 1956. In recognition of his athletic prowess, Joe was posthumously inducted into the City of Miramichi Sports Wall of Fame in February 2009.

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The Lord’s Day Alliance of Canada was formed in 1888 to combat the increasing secularization of the Sabbath. It was sponsored by the Presbyterian Church and supported by other Protestant groups. It was signed into law in 1907.

Leisure activities such as sporting events, the theatre and visiting the local ice cream parlour competed for the participation of those who previously “kept the Lord’s Day.” The holy day was becoming a holiday.

On July 24, 1908, the Canso branch of the Lord’s Day Alliance met to discuss three issues in regards to observance of the Lord’s Day: first, the running of Sunday excursions from Arichat to Canso by the steamer Percy Cann; second, similar trips from Guysborough to Canso by the Scotia; and third, the City of Ghent sounding its whistle as it entered and exited Canso Harbour on the Sabbath. All three agreed, more or less, to meet the demands of the Lord’s Day Alliance.

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In 1849 Henry Berger left France and came to Baltimore, Maryland in the United States where he remained until 1855. He later moved to York and then to Jefferson, Pennsylvania. Henry Berger built three track organs in the 1850s; the location of one is unknown, but a second is in the old Fork church in Hanover County, Virginia. The third is in Arichat.

The organ in Arichat is quite large, the size, in fact, of a small room. It contains 600 pipes which, originally, were activated by pumping a handle at the side of the organ. The handle operated a bellows which produced the air flow to the pipes. Now, and as part of the refurbishment of the organ, a motor has taken the place of the bellows.