June 11th 1999
CBH Halifax
CBC Information Morning

discusses the
150th Anniversary Celebrations
of the
Nova Scotia Pony Express

June 11th 1999


Hand bell rings. Then we hear a town crier at the top of his voice:

Dave Barrett:    
Oyez. Oyez. Oyez. I bring you greetings from beautiful and historic Annapolis Royal, the original capital of Nova Scotia. It is June the eleventh, nineteen ninety nine, and I welcome you all to Information Morning's birthday frolic.

Don Connolly:     That would certainly seem to make it official. We are live, from Pier 22 in Halifax, the current capital of Nova Scotia, and the party is officially on. Good Morning. I'm Don Connolly...

Elizabeth Logan:     And I'm Elizabeth Logan...

Margaret McGee:     I'm Margaret McGee...

John Hancock:     And I'm John Hancock, and this is Blue.

Musical Interlude


Don Connolly:     We're all here to celebrate Information Morning's twenty-ninth birthday. The music, as you can hear, is hot, so is the coffee. Lots of great food out there, and plenty of special guests who are here to help us mark this great occasion of the show.

Elizabeth Logan:     That's right, and coming up on the show this first hour we will gallop back in time to find out how the Pony Express put Nova Scotia on the map a hundred and fifty years ago, and hear how the ponies will soon make one more mad dash across the province.

John Hancock:     We'll be sifting through the centuries in search of some of the unsavoury characters who settled these shores.

Margaret McGee:     Speaking of settlement, it's moving day right next door at Pier 21, the gateway for Canada's immigrants. We'll hear why an old abandoned warehouse is about to become a national treasure.

Don Connolly:     So come on down to Pier 22 and join our party, or just turn up the volume on your car radio.

Musical Interlude


Hand bell rings. Then we hear a town crier at the top of his voice:

Peter Cox:    
Oyez. Oyez. Take heed and listen. Let it be known by all that on the twenty first day of June, in the year of our Lord seventeen forty nine, Colonel Edward Cornwallis, with two thousand five hundred and seventy six passengers first arrived in the great harbour called Chebucto to form the first English speaking settlement in Canada. Therefore this year, nineteen ninety nine, Halifax has many events to help celebrate the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Halifax. Citizens, and visitors, are encouraged to take part in those events that will take place on the waterfront, and various parts of the city. Come one, come all. Be a part of history. Good luck, good health, and God bless you all.


Don Connolly:     Well, hardly any need at all to introduce our first two guests, after that opening, Halifax Town Crier Peter Cox whom you've just heard, joined a little earlier on by Dave Barrett who dressed up early and travelled all the way in from Annapolis Royal — thank you very much, David — to open our birthday party show this morning.

Elizabeth Logan:     Good morning, Dave.

Dave Barrett:     Good morning.

Elizabeth Logan:     Good morning, Peter.

Peter Cox:     Good morning, darling, how are you.

Elizabeth Logan:     Just great, thank you. Listen, I guess we'll go back in time and history. How long ago was it that Annapolis Royal was the capital city of Nova Scotia? After two hundred and fifty years, is there still any lingering resentment because the capital was moved to Halifax, Dave?

Dave Barrett:     None at all. Look at your traffic problems and look at ours.

Elizabeth Logan:     You have a point, sir. You do have a point. You're a veteran, Peter, of course. Being here as the town crier of Halifax for what, twenty five years now, this is your anniversary?

Peter Cox:     My twenty fifth year.

Elizabeth Logan:     Congratulations. What keeps you going with such force?

Peter Cox:     A good beer every now and again.

Elizabeth Logan:     At this hour of the morning, you're willing to reveal that little piece of information...

Peter Cox:     Thanks a lot. I'll have to drink coffee, and decaf...

Elizabeth Logan:     Exactly. But truly, you have been on the road for twenty five years for the City of Halifax. What have been some of the, shall we say, the most interesting experiences you've had in this job?

Peter Cox:     Everything's interesting. I never know from one day to the next what I'll be doing. And it's not because of a hangover. I mean I literally don't know. I greet cruise ships, I've met royalty, I've met presidents, I've met drunks, I've met drunk presidents... I love what I do.

Elizabeth Logan:     I won't press you to reveal which ones. Okay, Dave, how about you? In Annapolis Royal... You are new in this job. In fact, I understand you are new in this country.

Dave Barrett:     That's true. I arrived in the country in July last year, and I took over as town crier in December of last year.

Elizabeth Logan:     How did that come to be?

Dave Barrett:     The old town crier retired, and my mother in law said that she was sick and tired of me shouting at her — could I go and shout at somebody else. She volunteered me for the job.

Elizabeth Logan:     Is this something that you have been used to doing?

Dave Barrett:     Not town crying, certainly. I've never done it before. But I spent thirty years in Her Majesty's Royal Marines, and I've been shouted at, and shouted over, parade grounds all over the world. So, yes, I've shouted before.

Elizabeth Logan:     I must say, Dave, you sound like a veteran. Now, Peter, can you give us some history as to what role the town criers really played on our streets?

Peter Cox:     Of course, the original town crier was your predecessor. Without us, you wouldn't have a job. We were the day's media. We would do the advertising, we would do the news, we would do proclamations, we would do good news and bad news. We would announce public hangings, whippings, all the bad stuff, and we would do the good stuff you know, I don't know many that you didn't get raises, but you did get the taxes raised...

Elizabeth Logan:     Any interesting proclamations along the way that you've made, that stand out in your mind?

Peter Cox:     No, not really. Of course, we've got a big one coming out shortly — that's the Joe Howe Pony Express ride, coming from Halifax. That's going to be a very interesting one. And over the course of the next two or three weeks there's going to be a lot with the celebrations of the founding of the city.

Elizabeth Logan:     I must mention, too... Obviously, our radio listeners can't see you, but we have the pleasure of seeing the absolutely extraordinary — I don't know if you call them costumes or uniforms... They're uniforms. Okay, thank you. How did you come to have this beautiful uniform, Dave?

Dave Barrett:     This is the uniform of the Fortieth Regiment of Foot, a sergeant, circa 1750. The Fortieth Regiment of Foot is a regiment raised entirely in Nova Scotia in 1717, and it served here in Nova Scotia, particularly in Annapolis Royal, from 1717 until 1757. It is a historic uniform, and it's certainly not a costume.

Elizabeth Logan:     It's a red coat. And, Peter, your uniform, how did that come to be?

Peter Cox:     This is roughly from the period of the 1820s. That's when the old town crier Chuddy Chalker passed away here in Halifax. It's not what a town crier would have worn. Too fancy dress with too much lace and too much gold and silver. He was very poorly paid, in fact my understanding is he was paid worse than I am. He was very poorly paid. The colours are come from are from the fortress, which was the red, and the black, which was the navy that used to mainly visit the port. Combine the two, that's how I came up with my colours.

Elizabeth Logan:     Now, the fortress you're referring to?

Peter Cox:     The Citadel, of course.

Elizabeth Logan:     Okay. And your tricorn hat?

Peter Cox:     Mine comes from the States. I don't know where Dave gets his, but I have to get mine from the States. They're very hard to get hold of, good tricorns.

Dave Barrett:     In history, it comes from the British Army, but in practice, if I can advertise, it comes from a re-enactment group in Shelburne. The Prince of Wales American Regiment, their Colonel-in-Chief, Terry Hawkins, is an excellent man in the re-enactment game, and he provides me with all my uniform.

Elizabeth Logan:     Do you have any opportunity to try to out-do each other, over the time you've been together? Do you try to out-cry each other?

Peter Cox:     Yes. That's what we have competitions for. The competition is not for the job, it's to find who's the biggest loudmouth.

Elizabeth Logan:     And would you like to vie for that title? Dave?

Dave Barrett:     Uh, in time. I think you probably heard today that I've got a lot to learn. I'm still a novice on probation. Peter's got the gift. Maybe in a couple of years I'll be chasing him.

Elizabeth Logan:     Good luck to both of you and I hope you can stay around to party with us. Thanks very much for being here.

Peter Cox:     Thanks, Liz.

Dave Barrett:     Thank you.

Don Connolly:     And those were the two town criers we've been blessed with here this morning, Peter Cox of Halifax, and David Barrett who came in from Annapolis. It's seventeen minutes after six o'clock. We're at Pier 22...



Don Connolly:     We're at Pier 22 celebrating Information Morning's twenty-ninth birthday with our twenty-fifth annual birthday party, our little soiree. If you didn't have the vocal chords of the town criers we heard just a little while ago, talking with Elizabeth and practising their trade as they did in the old days, there had to be yet another way to spread the news — the Pony Express.

        You may think that was only in the duster movies you see in black and white on channel 51 these days, but it was a communications breakthrough of the nineteenth century, and of course it happened right here in Nova Scotia.

Elizabeth Logan:     Absolutely. And one hundred and fifty years later the story has spurred on a twentieth century communications executive, to bring back the Pony Express. Jim Fisher has come all the way in from Victoria Beach, Annapolis County, this morning to be with us.

Don Connolly:     Morning, Jim.

Jim Fisher:     Good morning.

Don Connolly:     I expected you to have chaps on, some kind of cowboy disguise.

Jim Fisher:     Oh, I left that to the experts. We have Delle deSwart, from Prince Albert, near Middleton, a wonderful Arabian horse breeder and rider, and she's going to organize the entire end-to-end ride of horses and riders to carry our proclamation.

Don Connolly:     Before we talk about the ride, the recreation ride if you will, or the re-creation ride, more accurately, tell us a little bit about the history. Give us the bare bones about how it worked in the first instance.

Jim Fisher:     Yes. Actually, if we were here 150 years ago, looking out on the right day, we would have seen the Cunard side-wheel steamer go by with the despatches which were really the very first work of the Associated Press which was founded in 1848 by six New York newspapers.

        As I was listening to your newscast this morning, I was thinking that it was right here, where I can look out on the water right now, that something happened that was very important in the acceleration of news availability. Also, the fellow who organized it here, Daniel Craig, for the Associated Press, set standards of objectivity for this Associated Press which became their policy, and really forms the core of what we would consider the ethics of objectiveness in news gathering and transmission today.

        In 1849 there was a great deal of interest in North America, in what was happening in Europe, which was going through convulsions of revolution and suppression — many other reasons, stock market and so on, to follow European news. In 1848 the Associated Press started to organize. In 1849 it ran something that represented a significant advance, an acceleration in the availability of sound, objective European news in North America.

        The way it worked, the Cunard steam packet, the Royal Mail steamer — which of course was founded by a Nova Scotian, Mr. Cunard — would come in from Liverpool, and as it got close enough to George's Island someone would give a signal and a printer named Andrew West would jump in his rowboat down at Market Wharf, and he would row out and the purser of the packet would throw out a waterproof despatch case with the despatches of the Associated Press, and Andrew West would row back quickly to shore and hand it to the first rider.

        Two riders with twelve horses carried that news from just about where we are right now to Victoria Beach...

Don Connolly:     They went as a bunch? The two riders and the horses would be right here, virtually where we are?

Jim Fisher:     Well, one rider and one horse would be here...

Don Connolly:     Yeah...

Jim Fisher:     ...and they would change horses about every twelve miles, with a rider change in Kentville, 72 miles from here.

Don Connolly:     Okay.

Jim Fisher:     They did it in an average of eight hours, and they did it in as little as seven hours and forty-five minutes.

Don Connolly:     Virtually from where we sit, to...

Jim Fisher:     To Victoria Beach, 144 miles from here. I did the trip this morning — I started out at 2:30, no, let's see, I started at 2 o'clock from Victoria Beach, and we were here at 4:45 or so — so you see that even modern automobiles... Shows how fast those horses and riders really went.

Don Connolly:     What was the key ingredient they were carrying? What was... To do that, to set up that kind of infrastructure, you have to have a real good reason...

Jim Fisher:     The reason was that, when they got the news to Victoria Beach they were able to take it across to Saint John with a fast steamer and there they would put it on the telegraph and it would be immediately available in New York. It was far, far faster than the alternatives available.

Don Connolly:     And the essential ingredient, apart from curiosity, it was an industrial thing in a sense. People wanted to know what was going on so they could know what to do in business...

Jim Fisher:     With business, and also there were wars, and many people were just first or second generation North Americans at that time, and had lots of people back there.

Don Connolly:     We only have a minute. I want to cover two things. It's interesting. Your interest in this... You're a reasonably new Nova Scotian.

Jim Fisher:     Yes. We immigrated here on the first of July 1998. We live just a few minutes walk from the stone monument.

Don Connolly:     And you were in the communication business, but now you're in the cybercommunication business. You can do it from home.

Jim Fisher:     Yeah. I'm a management consultant so I'm in all kinds of businesses.

Don Connolly:     Now, you go by this little marker for the terminus of the Nova Scotia Pony Express and you decide this would be a good year to re-create it. Give us an idea of how you're going to do that.

Jim Fisher:     Well, I have three key vice-presidents. I mentioned one of them, she's taking care of the horse and rider event, end to end. You've already heard from Dave Barrett this morning, the town crier, he's our vice-president of ceremonial activities. And Ivan Smith up in Canning has done a wonderful job putting the Nova Scotia Pony Express history together and putting it on the website. Your listeners can put Nova Scotia Pony Express in their search engine and they will come up with our website, which is rife with historical materials.

Don Connolly:     When are you going to do it?

Jim Fisher:     We're going to start out on the twenty eighth, in the morning...

Don Connolly:     Of June?

Jim Fisher:     No. The twenty eighth of September. To me, this is a world-class operation. The Associated Press is backing it very heavily. They're sending an exhibit which will be shown at Pier 21. Cunard, which was involved, is going to carry over what we hope will be a very important message from a Highly Placed Equestrian in England, and deliver it on the morning of the twenty eighth. It will be read by a town crier, whom you've just heard, then handed to the first rider.

        We'll have celebrations across the entire province. We've got big celebrations lined up from Mount Uniacke to Clifden to Annapolis Royal and Victoria Beach, Granville Ferry. We're going to have a lot of fun. We have hundreds of school children, 4-H riders, and all kinds of people standing by to help us celebrate. And Joe Casey, my next door neighbour, at the end, to make a few comments.

Don Connolly:     The inimitable Joe Casey...

Jim Fisher:     Right. There's none other like him.

Don Connolly:     And to make a few comments. We'll be heartily amused at the end. Keep in touch with us. Great to be here. Maybe we'll be live with you at the launch. Thank you very much. Been good to see you. It's been a long drive, Jim. Thank you very much.

Jim Fisher:     Our pleasure. Thank you.

Don Connolly:     Jim Fisher lives in Victoria Beach, Annapolis County.


More About the
Nova Scotia Pony Express

The 1849 Nova Scotia Pony Express

Photographs of the Nova Scotia Pony Express monument

The Pony Express Plaque Installed in 1949 100th Anniversary

Halifax Express The Novascotian, 26 February 1849

Halifax Express The British Colonist, 10 March 1849

Halifax Express The Acadian Recorder, 10 March 1849

The Second Run of the Nova Scotia Pony Express 8 March 1849

Nova Scotia Pony Express 1849, by John Regan 5 January 1912

Nova Scotia Pony Express 1849, by George Mullane 1 Jan 1914

Nova Scotia Pony Express 1849, by Murrille Schofield 1973

Nova Scotia Pony Express, by D. A. MacNeill April 1940

The Cunard Steamship fleet, 1849
These ships brought the news carried by the Pony Express

Burket's Exchange News Room Halifax 1848-1849

Pony Express Editorial, Halifax Chronicle-Herald 15 Feb 1999

Radio Station X1J1F Victoria Beach, Nova Scotia, 1999
set up in recognition of the 150th anniversary
of the 1849 Nova Scotia Pony Express

The Oregon Boundary dispute, 1849
Britain and USA close to war – the Nova Scotia Pony Express
was the fastest link carrying breaking news to U.S.A.

Go To:   Nova Scotia History

Photographs of War Memorials, Historic Monuments and Plaques in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Nova Scotia Quotations

Go To:   History of Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Electric Companies in Nova Scotia

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Home Page

Counter started 10 May 2002

First uploaded to the WWW:   1999 June 15
Moved to new hosting service:   2001 November 04
Script upgraded to HTML 4.0:   2002 March 16