Tales of benches with magical powers and activities that could result in tragedy are just a few of the things Joe Ballard discovered when he looked in to Victoria Park’s past.
He found the history of the site so interesting that he wrote a book, called ‘Fairy dells & Rustic Bowers,’ which has just been released.
“My interest in the park has grown as my understanding has grown,” he said. “I used to walk there daily, and the whole gorge is magical, but there are features that have been lost that would be easy to replace. I have two concepts in my head; the park that is there and the park that should be there.”
Ballard found a section on Truro in a copy of the 1900 Canadian Trade Review. It contained a lot of little known information about Victoria Park, and spurred him on to do further research.
“It’s such a big piece of our heritage,” he said. “It’s much, much more than a nice park.
James D. Ross, who lived from 1848-1921 and trained as a lawyer, was the main visionary for the park, and spent much of his time developing it.
At one time, it included many unusual features, like seats that had special powers.
There was also a legend, stating that if someone plucked things like ferns and flowers, it would lead to tragedy. One woman was said to have broken her heel while leaving with ferns, strengthening the power of the legend.
For several years, the park was a popular spot with campers. During the spring of 1956 the campground was completed, and during its first year, 275 tents and 125 trailers used the grounds. A cooking pavilion was added in 1958, and a pool opened in 1959.
Records show that 11,826 people camped in the park during 1963. Campers began to complain about overcrowding and a lack of showers. In 1970, new provincial regulations showed lots were below minimum requirements, and camping ended in 1972.
Ballard’s book will be launched, and an exhibit on the history of Victoria Park will open, at the Colchester Historeum on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Seats from Victoria Park’s past
A person who set on the bench would instantly become 20 years younger.
Leap year engagement seat
While a couple was seated, the woman could ask the man to marry her at any time during a leap year, not just on Feb. 29.
When a couple was seated, the woman would find the man irresistible.