Fir Bank on Vancouver Street


These photographs concern a house in Milton, on Vancouver Street, that was called Fir Bank by members of the Killam and Caie families who lived there.

  1. “Not many years ago there stood on Vancouver Street one of the showplaces of the town of Yarmouth – a large square house built in the Georgian style with a cupola, like so many of the old Yarmouth homes, rather ornate but with an imposing air. The “Caie Place” was the masterpiece of a landscape artist, an Englishman named James Pilling, who was also responsible for laying out Mountain Cemetery, and many of the beautiful gardens in Yarmouth, as well as planting many of the hawthorn hedges for which the town was famous. The white hawthorn was brought from England by Thomas Allen on his sailing ships and although there are few hedges left today, hawthorn spread to various places in the county.

  2. “At the east of the Caie home was a hill which rose in tiers of gorgeous bloom. A fountain was in the centre of a semi-circular lawn in front of the house, surrounded by a driveway. There were many clipped evergreen trees and a greenhouse which provided a starting place for seedlings, and in it grapes ripened. These provided many treats for friends of the family. Clayton Hurlburt was the tireless gardener who cared for the horses and the cow, which gave very rich milk. He was assisted by Jimmy Thibodeau with weeding and care of the lawns.

  3. “The house was built by Samuel Killam about 1860. Sophia, his daughter, married Robert Caie, a member of the Bar who was employed by his father-in-law. Their interest was in the Cotton Mill and shipping. A sister, Clara Killam, often made her home with them when she was not traveling abroad.” [1, pp. 195–196]

In 1890 Clara Killam finished arranging and labelling photographs in an album that she titled “Yarmouth County and Nova Scotia Scenery 1890.” Eight of them involved Fir Bank and are shown below.

Clara Caie, Robert and Sophia’s daughter, was born in 1874 and in her maturity lived at Fir Bank until her death in 1955. In the late 1960s Fir Bank was demolished and replaced by an architecturally unexceptional residence.

References and Notes

    [1] Richard Henry Reed, A Most Generous Gift: A History of Yarmouth Public Library and Museum, Its People – Its Places. Yarmouth Public Library and Museum, Yarmouth, NS, 1995.

    [2] I thank archivist Jamie Serran, at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives, 22 Collins Street, Yarmouth, for providing access to the images shown below. The eight slightly tinted images are from Clara Killam’s album, “Yarmouth County and Nova Scotia Scenery 1890.”

Bill Day (1 May 2012)