d'Entremont Millstone found in East Pubnico

Seventeenth century millstone has been discovered on the Hipson Brook between the railway bridge and the stone bridge

Hipson Brook area, East Pubnico, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.
The Stone Bridge (not seen on above map) can be found
between the highway bridge and the railway bridge

In August 1997, Réal (à Bernice) d'Entremont and I were in East Pubnico walking the grounds of the possible 17th century d'Entremont settlement, when Christine Yeats, an archeologist from Wales, showed us a cross on a stone at the water's edge, below the hill where provincial archeologists, Stephen Powell and David Christianson, had made an archeological dig in 1996.
Réal d'Entremont with the cross on the rock

The stone may or may not have a cross (or part of a cross) carved onto it in high relief. It is possible that the cross is from natural fracture of the rock.

Ms Yeats then told us of the millstone in the brook. She was in a hurry and told us we would find it between the railway bridge and the old stone bridge.

Réal and I walked among the rocks between the bridges and found 2 stones which had been drilled assumably for blasting. Was one of these the millstone?

On September 4, 1997, we checked the area again, and while I had all my interests focused on a green frog, Réal called out, "There it is"! It was located in a small adjacent pool on the north side of the brook. When the water flow of the brook and the tide are low, the millstone would be partially dry in the black mud. At high tide or when the water level of the brook is high, the stone would be under water.

Réal d'Entremont with millstone

I imagine it could be a millstone, unfinished or worn. Made of what looks like granite, it is 26.5 in. at its narrowest diameter and 28.5 in. at its widest. It is far from being perfectly round. One side appears to have been ground flat, the other is very roughly cut. There are, however, no obvious radial lines carved onto its surfaces, and it is flawed with a radial fracture. The hole in its centre is about 3.5 in. on one side increasing to about 4 in. on the other. The stone is about 5.5 in. at its thickest. It is possible the stone cutter discarded it when it fractured. It is also possible it is something other than a millstone. Its weight is estimated at about 200 pounds.

There are historical writings of a Sieur de Villebon who sailed into Pubnico Harbour, in 1699, with 80 bushels of wheat to be milled at the d'Entremont grist mill. It was in the spring of the year and one of Sieur Philippe Mius d'Entremont's sons [Jacques] lived here with his wife and eight children. His peas and wheat were well sprouted; he had 30 horned animals, 3 sheep [moutons] and 18 hogs, and a water-driven mill.

Other writings indicate that the manor house (la manoire d'Entremont), the church, the rectory, the cemetery, and the mill were all in the same general area.

The land on which the assumed millstone lies is owned either by Paul d'Entremont of West Pubnico or the railroad. It is believed to be within the boundaries of the railway.

"A Scattering of Seeds - Acadian Spirit - The Legacy of Philippe d'Entremont", a film by Peter d'Entremont, was to air on the HISTORY TELEVISION channel on Wednesday, February 18, 1998, and again on the following Saturday and Sunday. Réal d'Entremont and I are seen in the film, searching for evidence of Sieur Philippe's habitation in East Pubnico.

The film clearly shows the location of the possible millstone. A number of locals had already seen the film in a pre-release screening in January. People were asking "where is the stone now?". Réal would answer that it was still there, and they would respond with "aren't you afraid it could be vandalized or stolen?". The answer was "YES". So, Réal wrote the provincial museum about removing it before the airing of the film. By Friday, February 13th, he had received no response to his letter and we happened to have the time to undertake its removal. We removed the stone and stored it in the steel building adjacent to the PHARMASAVE pharmacy, West Pubnico, for safe keeping until the Village Historique de Pubnico-Ouest or the Musée Acadien de Pubnico-Ouest could accomodate it. Milton D'Eon was with us recording the process on video tape.

    The removal process:
    Millstone secured to pallet

    Réal marking location after removal of millstone

    Ready to haul it up to the railway bed

    Millstone in trailer

    The stone was rolled onto an awaiting wooden pallet and secured with rope. The pallet was then dragged onto the railway bed using the Jeep. It, with the millstone still fastened to it, was placed into a utility trailer and taken to West Pubnico.

On Monday, Feb. 16, Réal received a letter telling us not to touch it due to heritage laws, etc., and we should apply for a permit to do so. Next day, I phoned David Christianson, the provincial archeologist, and explained.

The millstone is now on display at the Musée Acadien de Pubnico-Ouest (Acadian Museum) in West Pubnico, Nova Scotia.

Ted C. D'Eon

Send E-Mail to: ted@ns.sympatico.ca

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© Ted C. D'Eon