When gold was discovered, hordes of exuberant gold seekers crowded onto the site and all manner of construction started. Within a year, entire communities like Goldenville or Renfrew sprang up from nothing. Often one of the first buildings hammered together would be a makeshift saloon where miners, exhausted after their long, hard days, could sit down, light a pipe, play cards and have a drink. Drinking and mining operations went hand in glove. When alcoholic beverages appeared, the temperance movement, preaching sobriety, came too, often setting up shop near the principal saloon. 

Some towns, like Sherbrooke, where abstinence was already strongly embedded, were able to curtail the drinking and keep raucous behavior under control. Others, like Renfrew, had Bunker’s Saloon located in the center of town, opposite the more refined MacLellan’s Hotel and the temperance hall next door. These were Victorian times and many supported the temperance movement which aimed to control alcoholic consumption in order to offset the evils of devil rum. According to The Truro Daily News in 1893, no spirits were sold in Caribou Mines and “thus to a large extent the principles of sobriety prevail.” But with hundreds of miners, laborers, and transients coming and going, this claim may be somewhat exaggerated.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Dian Day, Susan Sellers, Rita Wilson
1860 - 1960
Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Caribou Mines, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Renfrew, Nova Scotia, CANADA
© 2013, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All Rights Reserved.

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