Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Canadian Branches ~ "Long John" Archibald and the Walking Contest

"Long John" Archibald (1758-1831), my fourth great grand uncle, found himself in the middle of a road controversy centering around Brookfield, Nova Scotia, in 1792. And, due to some underhanded business, came up short.

The Truro and Brookfield citizens of the day were of various minds as to where the official road from Halifax to Pictou should be. One blazed path lead from Lower Village (present-day Lower Truro) past Brookfield. The other led from Truro, at Young's Road (present-day Young St.), and met the first at a place known as Tucker's Clearing (present-day Hilden). The government left the decision to the local folks to decide which route would form this section of the Great Pictou Road, and then it would be developed at public expense.

The Lower Village residents were in favor of the first route, while the citizens of Truro and Brookfield strongly preferred the second way. A wager of five gallons of rum accompanied a bet that a man from Truro would walk the road in less time than the Lower Villagers could find anyone to walk the one of their choosing. If the Truro crowd's hopes were dashed, they lost the rum and the road.

On the day of the walking match, my ancestor, "Long John" Archibald, was chosen for the Truro route and William Johnson was chosen for the Lower Village one.

However, unknown to but a few, the Lower Villagers had hidden a horse along their route, which Mr. Johnson came upon, and mounted for the rest of the trip. Of course, the result was that he reached the Clearing at Hilden ahead of "Long John," walking back toward Truro to meet him.  

The Lower Village road was chosen as the final route. Supposedly, the secrets surrounding this decision remained hidden, until the details were revealed about seven years later in a court of law.


Longworth, Israel, Israel Longworth's history of Colchester County, Nova Scotia (circa 1886) (Truro, Bob and Ada Mingo, 1989), pp.66-67.

Miller, Thomas. Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County, down to the present time, compiled from the most authentic sources. (1873).

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