Furniture Making in Bass River, Nova Scotia, 1860-1989
Written by Ward Hemeon and Jim Grue
What do the dates, Feb.5,1989, July 27, 1948, and Nov.23,1940 have in common? These are the dates of the last three disastrous fires that leveled the furniture manufacturing plants of the Dominion Chair Company Limited.
Looking back further we find three previous fires on December 31,1909; November 3,1892; and March 17, or 18, 1885, I have records which show both 1885 dates. These three fires also destroyed the whole manufacturing facilities.
Five time the plant was rebuilt, bigger and better. It should be noted that the Factory that burned on Feb.5,1989 stood for forty years, the longest that any of the plants had survived.
What is there about these “Bass River Chair Factories” that enables them to recover from these many disasters?
The original founders of the enterprise were obviously exceptional men, particularly CHAIRMAKER GEORGE FULTON whose ability, enterprise, and strength of Christian character dominated the first twenty six years of the business.
James Fulton (Judge) the founder of Bass River, settled here in the 1760′s, and to him and his wife Margaret Campbell were born at the old Homestead on Birch Hill fifteen children. The “Fulton Family History,” shows that the Judge and his wife had a total of 59 grandsons and 52 granddaughters, so it is no wonder that some of the second generation moved away from Bass River.
George Fulton 1775-1858, the Judge’s third son, settled in the Stewiacke area. George’s son Samuel, in 1836 when visiting his Bass River relatives, was drowned in the Bay. He was survived by a wife and five young Children.
At least two of Samuel’s children, George later known as Chairmaker George, and his younger brother William, grew up in Bass River. It is believed that George Creelman an accomplished carpenter, who married Hannah Crowe a first cousin of their father, helped raise the boys, and taught them their trade, for they both became fine carpenters.