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Martin, J. Lynton.

Halifax. Nova Scotia Museum, c1986. 42pp. paper. $3.95, ISBN 0-919680-32-1.

Grades 6 and up
Reviewed by Joan M. Payzant

Volume 14 Number 5
1986 September

Recently republished in the Peeper series by the Nova Scotia Museum, The Ross Farm Story "is really the story of most of rural Nova Scotia," writes J. Lynton Martin, former director of the Museum. The particular farm named in the title is now operated by the Museum as an educational resource and tourist attraction.

New Ross, originally called Sherbrooke, was settled in 1816 at the request of Lord Dalhousie, Governor of Nova Scotia, by Captain William Ross and 172 disbanded soldiers. In eighteen concise chapters, generously illustrated with line drawings, Martin chronicles the rise and fall of a typical uplands family farm. From virgin forest to prosperous dairy farm, he describes in simple language the clearing of land, building of homes, and planting of the first crops. The tools used in the beginning and their gradual evolution to more sophisticated farm machinery, makes a fascinating story in itself, as do descriptions of the uses of native Nova Scotian trees for various purposes, i.e., pine for furniture, hackmatack for fences and boat building, hemlock for tanning, etc.

A chapter titled "The Farm Dairy" extols the cow for her many uses; milk, butter, cheese, skim milk for the pigs, as a producer of oxen, (so valuable for work on the farm), beef for the table, leather for footwear and harness, and finally, manure. Rather amusingly, the next chapter views farm women and their breathtaking accomplishments from dawn to dusk. Frivolously, I felt that the women should have taken precedence over the cow and been praised earlier in the book, but no doubt I can be forgiven for this bias.

From the time of the first railways, Eaton's mail order catalogue, and the automobile, the once almost self-sufficient family farms began to decline. Small factories that supplied ploughs, wagons, and the like to their immediate areas could not compete with more sophisticated American and Upper Canadian products. Sons and daughters left for the cities, and farms throughout the province were gradually deserted. Martin concludes, "A chapter of our history had been written on the land."

Joan M. Payzant, Dartmouth, N.S.
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