Former teacher contributed to preservation of local history

‘I never visualized when I started out that it would lead to all these books’

Published on May 20, 2014
Mildred Burrows holds several books she wrote on local communities. SUBMITTED PHOTO


For more then 30 years Mildred “Millie” Burrows enjoyed a distinguished career as a school teacher.

Besides teaching at schools in Wittenburg, Old Barns and Onslow, Burrows taught English for 12 years at Cobequid Educational Centre.

The Wittenburg native, and a former 69-year resident of Beaver Brook, also wrote several books and made major contributions to local history.

Millie married Clifford Burrows in 1945 and the couple bought a farm in Beaver Brook where they raised four children.

“That’s where my writing began in the 1950s,” said Burrows, 92, who now lives in Truro. “I belonged to the Women’s Institute and we were challenged with writing the history of our community. It was a competition and led to the first book I wrote A History of Beaver Brook.”

Carrying out a lot of research and interviewing many people Burrows wrote that the first white settlers in the vicinity of Beaver Brook were the Acadians who arrived in 1688 and remained until their expulsion in 1755. In the fall of 1759 about 20 men came to Truro and Onslow from New England to prepare for settling the vacant French farms.

In exciting fashion Burrows explores numerous interesting subjects including local farming, the railroad, shipbuilding, lumbering, mining, schools, churches, fires, tragedies and wars.

“An attempt was made to leave a picture of the life of our forefathers at work, at play, in joy and in sorrow,” Burrows wrote. “At their worship and of their concern for the education of their children.”

Burrow’s second book was titled History of Wittenburg.

“I went out to the community and interviewed the older people,” Burrows recalled. “Everyone was quite interested, people were glad their stories were going to be recorded for posterity. It was an enjoyment for me because Wittenburg was where I grew up.”

Books on Green Oak, Princeport, Old Barns, Lower Truro and The Nova Scotia Pulsifers, followed.

“I never visualized when I started out that it would lead to all these books,” Burrows said. “When I think back now there was an awful lot of research went into each book. I interviewed an awful lot of people. It wasn’t for the money, it was because I had the enjoyment of finding out about history and getting to put it down in print.”

Burrows said the book on the Pulsifers was a natural fit.

“Pulsifer was my maiden name,” she said. “Most of my ancestors, my dad’s people, came from New England. My mother’s side of the family were named Fader and they came from Germany. I developed quite an interest in tracing my ancestors back. Because of my interest in genealogy I made trips to Halifax, Ottawa, Boston and Salt Lake City.”

Burrows recalled an interesting part of family history involving a relative, Mary Fairbanks, which took place in the Massachusetts.

“Mary’s husband and children were killed in a raid in 1692,” said the author. “Mary was taken captive by an native tribe. She was later released when ransom was paid. Being a captive for about two years Mary would later give a lot to society because of having learned the native’s ways with plants and treating certain sicknesses. I found the research on Mary Fairbanks very interesting. Mary was in no way a doctor but people often referred to her as ‘doc.’”

Through her research, Burrows revisited the life of another relative.

“Rev. George Burrows was executed in the late 1600s in Massachusetts in what was known as the Salem Witch Trials,” Burrows said. “In everything that I studied and researched, Rev. Burrows was not guilty of any crime. This sort of thing was common in early history - people being wrongly accused of being witches. It was a dark blot in the history of Massachusetts.”

Burrows, a resident of Parkland Estates for the past year, has been honoured for her many contributions to preserving local history during the years.

In 1986, she was honoured the Clifton District Federation of Agriculture. Then in 1992, she received the Governor General of Canada Medal in recognition of her significant contributions to compatriots, community and Canada.

Burrows was also presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her contributions to community.


Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News.

If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.