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Preserving community's history a passion for Belmont resident


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Local historian Stacey Culgin, left, and her daughter Emma are dressed in Planters costumes at the Onslow Island Cemetery this spring. SUBMITTED PHOTO

When the topic turns to Belmont's history, Stacey (McCully) Culgin is all ears.

 

She has lived in the small Colchester Co. community (estimated pop. 400-500) for about 20 years and is now considered as something of a local historian.

 

"My grandparents, Sid and Lill McCully, tweaked my interest in McCully genealogy," said Culgin, who grew up in nearby Debert. "This was the beginning of my interest in local history. I would have been a teenager at the time."

Culgin's initial documentations were simple enough as she filled several scribblers with key information. Eventually, she typed everything of importance and put it into book form, including the completed McCully genealogy.

 

This was followed by the completion of 15 additional  binders, which were filled with information about local people, roads, buildings and businesses.

 

"I have also collected many old photos of homes, businesses and people," she said. "I've used the church map of 1874 as a guide. I know of three homes still occupied by original descendents."

Culgin's work details the early settlers (the Planters) who settled near the Chiganois River on the Isgonish Marsh in the 1760s. The centre of the community shifted towards a train station when the railroad was built just over 100 years later.

She also produced a paper on the Wesley United Church, which opened in 1897 and closed in 2009.

 

"On many occasions, when researching church history, the elderly would get sidetracked," said Culgin. "They would share memories and history which, of course, I wrote down.

"It was a sad day when we lost that church. The building sold and the good thing is that it is now serving as a residence."

Culgin's documentation of buildings includes blacksmith shops, general stores, churches and schools.

"A personal favourite of mine are photos associated with the logging industry," she said. "Because of my family connection to McCully & Soy Ltd., this company's history means a lot to me."

McCully & Soy was launched during the 1940s.

"They purchased the assets of the Maple Leaf Lumber Company," Culgin said. "My father, Manning, and my Uncle Everett followed the early generation and company founders Sid McCully and James Soy. Sid was their father and my grandfather."

A letter dated Feb. 21, 1939 from James Soy to Bert Putnam, who was in charge of the work crew at Farm Lake Camp, Upper Belmont, provides a glimpse into the economy of that era.

It reads, in part, as follows:

'Dear Bert,

Frank Simpson needs some teams very badly at the airport as this last snow and crust gives him the best sledding that he has had this winter.

'It would seem that we have enough cut on the Belmont River for this year. Send out the horse we got from Put Upham as I think I have a chance to sell him.

'You will have to let enough men go to balance up your crowd for the number of horses that you have left.

'Also send two or three sets of dogs if you can spare them. If molasses and oil barrels are empty you may as well send them along.'

J.M. Soy

 

Aside from compiling community history, Culgin serves as treasurer for the West Colchester Minor Hockey Association, as a member of the Colchester Historical Society archives committee and she is involved with celebrating the 250th year of the Planters.

 

She is also the bookkeeper for Culgin Construction, which is owned and operated by her husband Randy, and is the mother of two teenagers, 16-year-old Emma and 14-year-old Isaac.

But if time permits she hopes to write a book on the history of Belmont some day.

 

"I'm getting it all together," she said. "I have to get rid of some of my volunteer positions. Then, maybe, I'll accomplish my goal."

 

Lyle Carter's column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.

 

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