Leslie and Hilda Simpson

Episode 8

The Simpson Farm

  1. Leslie and Hilda Simpson
  2. Signal Fires
  3. The Simpson Farm and Store
  1. Chapter Reference
  2. Comments

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Leslie and Hilda Simpson

While little is known of the first family to occupy the house at the Little Entrance, many stories remain of the family of Hilda and Les Simpson who took over the farm just after WW1. Built in the vernacular Cape Cod style, the house had a pitched roof, a central fireplace and an outdoor well. The house evolved as the Simpson clan grew. Stain glass, a new addition, extensive landscaping and an extension used as a store, altered the building over time. At some point a dormer was put into the south side of the roof to allow more light upstairs. Photographs from grandsons Stewart and Earl Simpson trace the changes through the cars parked outside, from the era of hand drawn cart to Model T and the big cars of the seventies. In 1966 the Simpsons sold part of their land to the Provincial government for the creation of the Caribou Munroe Park. In 1980 the Simpsons sold the house and property but retained several building lots close by.  Members of the Simpson family remain in Caribou.

 

 

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Signal Fires

The Simpson property included the headland that was the closest point between the mainland and Pictou Island. This proximity shaped a relationship between the Simpsons and the families on the island. By 1920 rural communities, including Pictou Island, were cooperatively financing their own telephone installations but before this a signal system was used to communicate between the Island and the mainland. Using bonfires and torches, Les Simpson, as the mainland signaller, would be on hand to raise the signal as the situation required.  One torch indicated a medical emergency, two indicated a death.  The Simpson beach was also the first point of contact for the iceboats that carried the mail from Pictou Island. It was an arduous and dangerous task to leap from ice floe to ice floe dragging a boat full of passengers and mail across the strait. The Simpson kitchen often provided hot tea and a resting place for the crew after an especially hard crossing. The Simpson family’s relationship to Pictou Island is documented in the stories of Jim Turple, which were published in the Pictou Advocate.

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The Simpson Farm and Store

The Simpson farm raised milk cows and chickens and grew vegetables such as cabbage and carrots. The Simpsons supplied milk and vegetables to dining hall at the Maritime Packers factory. In the fall, Les would fertilize his fields with massive amounts of lobster shells from the factory.

Hilda Simpson operated a commissary store from the house were factory workers would come for soda pop, chips and sundries such as aspirin, bandaids and feminine products (wrapped in brown paper for discretion’s sake.)  The store would also cash the workers paycheques from the factory.  Before payday, Hilda would go to the bank in town to withdraw the thousands of dollars in cash necessary to provide this service.

The road past the farm leading to the factories at the Little Entrance was nicknamed 'Tomalley Alley" but today its known as Simpson Road. It's fitting that their name lives on as a tribute to a family that worked hard, raised several generations of children and whose business played an integral role in within the economic ecosystem of the Little Entrance.

 

 

 

 

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