Taken From the EVENING MAIL, Saturday, September 29, 1928
Sees Many Changes In Halifax North Since Days Of Confederation
James Kane Who Polled His Vote in favor of Confederation in 1867,
Remembers When North End of City Was Sparsely Settled
Is Retired Army Man
Among the few old timers living in Halifax North who polled their vote in favor of Confederation in 1867, none enjoyed more popularity than James Kane, the oldest resident and property owner on Almon Street. Mr. Kane is now in his eighty-seventh year but is as sprightly as a young man and although now retired from business is always ready to do his bit where ever required.
For sixth-three years Mr. Kane has lived in Halifax North, and is a great booster for that section of the city. He has watched it grow, seen vacant fields turned into houses and streets, and he now believes that if Ward 4, 5, and 6 had their just due, Halifax North would be a wonderful part of the city to live in. He is a strong supporter of those who ask that the streets be put in proper condition, and thus encourages people to brighten up their home surroundings.
An Old Soldier
Mr. Kane together with his lifelong friend Walter Castel, Agricola Street shopkeeper came to Halifax in 1882 both being soldiers in the second battalion of the 16th (Bedfordshire) regiment. Mr. Kane took the Queen's shilling in 1858 when the Bedfords were stationed in Armagh where he was born. He soldiered in barracks here until 1865 when he plunked down ten golden sovereigns and in returned received hid dis charge from Her Majesty's forces.
"I liked Halifax and stayed here" was Mr. Kane's answer to the question of the Evening Mail reporter as to why he did not go to Barbados with his regiment. He said he decided that once he settled down in Halifax he would give up any thought of going over to Ireland, even for a visit, because, as he shrewdly remarked. "It would just mean spending a lot of money and returning broke. No I have always been happy here, made a good living and at my time of life I am content for I owe not a cent to any man."
In Grocery Business
After leaving the army Mr. Kane lived with a Captain Cross of the 186th Regiment in a house on Robie Street, then Kempt road, which is believed to be one of the oldest dwellings in the district. He was left in charge of the house after Captain Cross went to Barbados. Colonel Tedd, who resided in Carlton street was left in charge of detachment, and later was present at Mr. Kane's request when Captain Cross' goods were sold by auction. William Allen whose place of business was on Sackville street was auctioneer at the sale.
Having declined to accompany Captain Cross to Barbados, Mr. Kane was offered a position with the Rodley Simpson Grocery Company, whose place of business was on the site of the Royal bank of Canada, corner of George and Hollis streets. He then went in business for himself after three years' experience, and later sold out. He was then employed by the Works department, and was a foreman of streets under both City Engineers Keating and later Doane. He worked for the city until 1917 and his home and property, being wrecked, his wife and himself badly injured as a result of the Great Explosion, he retired from business.
Mr. Kane married Miss Nora Kingston of Dartmouth fifty four years ago. There are six children of the union, two sons and four daughters. The sons are W. J. Kane, Walnut Street, and Clifford, Almon Street. The daughters are Mrs. Thomas W. Mullane, Mrs. R. T. Gibson, Mrs. A.J. Featherstone and Miss Ross Kane, all living in Halifax. Mrs. Kane has been an invalid since the explosion when she sustained two broken legs.
"Almon Street was practically a field when I settled down here in 1867", Mr. Kane told The Evening Mail. there was one house at the corner of Agricola where the bank building now stands. Three houses on the north side between Gottingen and Isleville and Agricola streets.
Mr. Kane said that in the days of confederation Maynard and Creighton Street, was nothing but fields. Where Thompson's drug store now stands at the corner of Agricola and Almon streets there was a fine pond, where his wife, then a bride enjoyed skating, while there used to be plenty of coasting down the hill.
Well Water Used
It was difficult to get water those days, according to Mr. Kane. There was a well in the field which is at present Bloomfield school yard. it was necessary to fill buckets and carry them back. Later water was laid on the street at the corner where the bank building is, and this was not such a bad haul. Later sewer and water connections were laid, and thus much trouble and waste of time elimited.
"In those days wages were small but people had plenty of work and could live," said Mr. Kane, then there were three tanneries, tobacco factories and plenty of industry. But previous to Confederation there was a time when things were dear. Flour went as high as $13 a barrow; sugar 11 3/4 cents a pound. Common tea 50 cents a pound. But the Conservatives brought prosperity to the country" declared Mr. Kane, who was proud to say his first vote was cast in favor of Sir. Chas. Tupper in 1862.
"Those were indeed the good old days" said Mr. Kane, "when we could see plenty of horse racing and sports on the commons for nothing. In the winter one could watch with pleasure the long line of tandems driven by John Stairs, Mr. Albro and officers of the Garrison."
Yesterday Mr. Kane
Is Hale and Harty
At the advanced age of 85, James Kane, veteran Halifax Northite and at one time foreman of streets for the city, is hale and hearty, and despite the epidemic of influenza has not been confined to the house for even a single day through illness this winter. Seen on Almon Street by the Star's representive yesterday morning, he seemed to be enjoying the very best of health, and displayed an agility which would have put to shame a man many years his junior. it is related that Mr. Kane, who is one of the most popular old timers in Halifax North, is seldom seen wearing an overcoat, and on these rare occasions it is in bitter cold zero weather. How he stands the cold weather without an overcoat always amazed by the Star's representive.