The Saxby Gale of October 4

SAXBY GALE, October 4, 1869

Editor’s note: Several additional writings re the Saxby Gale can be found online, including:


The Windsor Mail gives a full account of the damages sustained at that place and vicinity.

We quote: —

“…the inhabitants of the part of this town known as “Poverty Point”, near Smith’s Island [ed: the area off Exit 6 in Windsor, past the old Visitor Centre], were woke from their slumbers at about 11 o’clock in the night by the rush of water which broke over the dykes in the immediate vicinity. Ten minutes after the dykes gave way the whole body of water found its level, covering in the low-lands for miles and miles around. About twenty houses are situated here; these were flooded nearly eight feet, which presented an appearance the morning after more like that of a street in Venice than a terra firma.

After the inmates were cared for and the floods had somewhat abated, the sheep and cattle were looked after. The number were released from their pens where they would soon have perished, a few had to face the elements until morning, when they were brought out more dead than alive. Everything in the cellars was destroyed, and in many houses the water was two feet above the second floor. Nearly all the families have taken up their temporary abode in other parts of the town, waiting until the water runs off. The wells in this neighborhood are all filled with salt water.

Boats and rafts were immediately out looking for cattle on the Major King Dyke. The majority had taken refuge on Nizabeth Island, which they must have had great difficulty in reaching. A number of dead sheep were discovered floating about in the water, and horses and cattle were rescued from exposure; some were found standing up to their middle in the water; being then upon the highest ground in the field. Some horses were known to have either swam or been carried by the tide to a distance of nearly three miles. He is feared that the stock upon the island will suffer from the want of water.

Mr. P. Miles had 35 sheep out, these were all drowned except one which was found lodged on the branches of a Willow tree. A number of other sheep and one horse were found dead in the water.

The tide rose four feet higher than it was ever known before. On Water Street it crossed over in many places flooding all the cellars. Messrs. Curry and Shand’s grocery store was covered with seven inches of water on the floor, the damage done to their stock is reckoned at $500. Mr. John Sharp had $160 worth of brown sugar destroyed in his cellar. Some of the small dwellings on Curran’s Wharf narrowly escaped being floated away; the inmates were driven to the attics.

Mr. Bennett Smith’s wharf was raised over three feet at one end, and racked considerably. Several cords of hardwood were carried off. A portion of Dewolf’s and Petlow’s wharves were badly damaged in. Mr. F. W. Beckman of Elleshouse, had 40,000 Clapboards on Dimmick’s wharf, ready for shipping to Boston, these all drifted away except for about 5000. His loss will be nearly $1000. The Baptist Church was flooded to the depth of seven feet in the Vestry. The whole Sabbath School library was more or less destroyed; the damage done to the building cannot yet been ascertained. The water is up to the door of H. Dimmock and Co’s. Foundry so steam cannot be got up.

The dykes are carried away in every direction. Over in Falmouth, above and below the bridge, there is one perfect flood; at low tide the water rushes out over the banks like a young Niagara let loose. We hear that a number of cattle and sheep have perished at Upper Falmouth. Over at Newport the dykes are also destroyed, but no loss of stock. A vessel on the stocks at Avondale got a great shaking but sustained no serious damage. A quantity of timber was floated away from the shipyard.

At Horton, and on the Grand Pre Dykes, a quantity of hay was destroyed and numbers of cattle drowned, some of which drifted out to sea. Bridges were carried away or destroyed. The one near Reed’s is entirely gone. All along the W. & A. R. line an amount of damage was done which will take some time to repair, as the track was completely demolished in places. At Wolfville the dump is carried away so that the trains cannot run any further than the town.

In other parts of the county and province the gale appears to have been equally destructive, Cumberland has lost one third of her hay crop. Colchester has met great losses; Truro, Maitland, and Shubenacadie have suffered the most in that County.

The tide on Tuesday night rose six inches higher than the night of the gale. The water only lowers 6 to 8 inches every tide. It will probably take a week for it to run off, as nothing can be done to the dykes until the high tides are over, when they will have to be dug away.

We have heard of no damage done to the shipping in the Basin. The wind itself did not do much injury except to the fruit crop, the principal loss will be the dyke lands which will lose two years crops from the effect of the salt water. This will probably make an advance in the hay market.

Traveling is impracticable in many places; near Brooklyn the water is very high on the main road, and between here and Wentworth the road is flooded and impassable; the bridge across the creek is carried away. Parties have to travel the old road which makes the distance three miles further.”

The Windsor Mail


The Daily Evening News

Saint John

October 12, 1869

  1. 2, col. 4

About the author:

John D. Wilson is a lifelong resident of Nova Scotia.  Born in Windsor Forks in 1939, he followed a career in the computer field. In 1975 John joined the Engineering Technology Department of the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology where he taught Electronic and Computer Technology. He led in the establishment of a number of training programs including the Automated Manufacturing Technology Program. John later joined the Adult Training Division of the Department of Education from which he retired in 1997.

John and his life partner, Laura (Baxter), live in Wentworth Creek where they raised two daughters who have given them the precious gift of three grandchildren.

History and genealogy have been John/s passion from childhood, West Hants Historical Society offered him a wealth of information on the community and its people.  Here he studied records, assisted visitors from all over the world and developed deep friendship with fellow volunteers.  He has served in many capacities  with WHHS from volunteer, to researcher to President. John has researched a great deal of the history of Hants County and has written a number of related articles that he wishes to share on this Website.

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