"Itís The Best Gang Of Greenies I've Ever Had"

Article No: 29

"Itís The Best Gang Of Greenies I've Ever Had"
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, July 18 1989

This is how Mr. Churchill, from Tusket, described the people who had helped him in 1891 to move from Lower West Pubnico to Middle West Pubnico the rectory of the priest of the parish.

The first church in West Pubnico was built at Lower West Pubnico, on the heights of what is now known as the Old Cemetery Road, across from the Old Cemetery itself. It was started in 1810. An extension was to be added to it in the rear as a lodging for the visiting priest. The church was blessed by Father Sigogne in 1815. Then in 1822, a rectory was started, to be separated from the church, just west of it, when the first lodging of the priest became the vestry or sacristy of the church. Note that the first cemetery in West Pubnico was also on this side of the road. It was blessed by Father Sigogne in 1810, when the first stone of the foundation of the first church was laid. Before this first cemetery was established, each family would bury their dead on their own property.

This first church, which would accommodate 200 persons, after being in use for 25 years, became too small for the growing population. In 1840, a new church was built. It was on the south side of the road, where the so-called Old Cemetery is located; the church stood somewhat on the east side of that field, facing the west, having thus the cemetery in front of it and on its sides.

Ten or 12 years later, just after the middle of the century, a new rectory was erected where stood the first one. This first one was moved somewhat to the east and became the main part of the house of the Morris family, to which was added, north of it, as a porch, the old sacristy, which had been formerly the first lodging of the priest. The Morris house was demolished in 1969. For those who know these premises, the rectory stood southeast of the well which is still there, on the hill; between the well and the rectory, there was a path going down hill towards the barn or stable.

The second church served for some 50 years. In the 1880's it became too small for the population; even in the 1870's it was decided that a new church would be built more towards the middle of the village. But people had to wait till the end of the 1880's to see it go up.

If the church was to be built in the mid-section of the village, the rectory had to stand close to it. The one which had been built in the 1840's was still in good condition. Why not move it alongside the new church? And that is what was done. A Mr. Churchill from Tusket was hired to do the work, with the help of the people from West Pubnico. Those who worked with him on this project have always kept in their mind, until their old age, a vivid picture of the man: they described him as very irritable, adding, with some exaggeration, of course, that his voice could be heard on the other side of the harbour!

With rope-tackles and a series of pulleys, he needed only two pairs of oxen to pull the building, a distance of a mile and three quarters or close to three kilometers. Under the building were placed very big and long rounded planks, on which the underpinnings of the building could slide. It took all of a barrel of lard to grease these planks from the start to the finish. Behind followed another pair of oxen which would pick up the material which was left behind, especially the planks which were carried in front for another start.

After the building had been lifted from its footing, everything else being said and done, by Aug. 26, 1891, a Wednesday, all systems were go. This date, old people never forgot, not precisely on account of the fact that the Pubnico rectory was put in motion on that day, but because the vessel "Georgina" of Wedgeport, built only three years before, sunk in storm off Halifax, that day, bringing with it to the bottom of the sea all 15 members of the crew.

The storm did not hit Pubnico until later in the day. On that day Mr. Churchill was able to bring the building down hill, and then, later in the afternoon, while the storm was already hitting Pubnico with its fury, he was able to place it on the road, where it was to spend the night, in position to be on its way on the road next morning.

Thursday, it covered about a quarter of a mile, having reached in the evening, on the so-called "School Road", a point about 200 feet north of the present Lower West Pubnico Post Office.

Friday was to be a challenge for Mr. Churchill. At that time, the main road passed in front of Leonard d'Eon's house and through the bridge well known to the people of West Pubnico as "le Pont du Marais" (the marsh bridge). Unfortunately, the rectory was wider than the width of the bridge between the parapets. The building had to be lifted gradually over the parapets, so not to crush them, and then, on the other side of the bridge, be lowered again gradually to the road. Well, Mr. Churchill managed to accomplish this difficult task with the meager means that he had at his disposal. That Friday evening he had reached where the Knights of Columbus hall now stands.

By Saturday evening, the rectory was on its new foundation, that had been prepared beforehand. Note that it comprised then only that section in front of it, the rear having been added at a later date. The barn or stable was to be hauled the same way; it is the same one which now stands behind the rectory.

According to the stories which have been handed down to us by old people who were witnesses to this feat, Mr. Churchill seemed to have had trouble teaching the men who worked with him how to handle the devices he was using. For example, to operate the jackscrews, instead of handling the end of the bar which would have enabled the screw to exert an enormous lifting force, they would push on it rather close to the jack itself. As the house advanced, stakes were driven deep into the ground to which was attached the tackles; well, it seems that, at times, the men would drive the stakes inclined towards the building to be hauled, so that the pulley would slip out of them. Mr. Churchill, when the work was all done, instead of complimenting the men who had helped him, could only say: "It's the best gang of greenies I've every had"!

I heard this story from my brother Hector, now deceased, who had picked it up years ago from a number of witnesses.


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