Chapter 8

Merchants in Yarmouth

Yarmouth was booming: “between 1874 and 1885, Yarmouth was the second largest port of registry in Canada, in terms of tonnage, second only to Saint John, New Brunswick”. Projects started before 1888 included gas street lighting, water supply, an academy, many banks and insurance companies, churches, some steamers, a few steel ships, cotton and woolen mills, telephone and telegraph, and the start of the railroad to Annapolis.

Map of Town of Yarmouth, 1889, by Curry.

Ralph Harold Davis

Ralph Harold Davis was born February 4, 1876 at Westport, Brier Island, and his family moved to Yarmouth when he was 2 years old.

Milton High School Class in 1891, with Ralph in the back row, third from the right. between: tall Cecil Killam in a bowler hat on the left, and short Percy Hood on the right. ( Ralph’s father’s cousin was married to I.W. Killam’s uncle. )

In the summer of 1892, Ralph attended regular meetings of the “Temple of Honour” at Milton, and a few meetings at the Baptist church. He and his friends played with his canoe and rowboat, both rigged for sail, and watched free shows put on by the Indians in the Kickapoo Medicine Company.

In 1892, Ralph began attending Horton Academy in Wolfville. Ralph had a newsletter from a Rhode Island YMCA dated 1894, with changes in the rules of basketball with text marked: a free throw rather than a foul would now be awarded to the opposite team in the case of a foul. The Young Men’s Christian Association had been formed in Yarmouth on March 22, 1891.

Ralph named his sailboat the Sherora from parts of his name and his friends’: “Sh” from Shenton Allen; “he” from Herbert Von Metzsky; “ro” from Roy Williams; and “ra” from Ralph Davis. A photo of the sailboat Sherora later hung in the “Sherora” cottage on Perry Road, Carleton, Yarmouth County. The boat in the photo resembled a life boat. It was probably the one that his father had to get in Cardiff, Wales in December 1891. It was used to save the crew of a sinking ship.

We leave Bathurst Saturday Aug. 10, 1893
I kept watch from 12 to 3 A.M. as the pilot’s boat was towing astern and sailors cannot always be trusted when temptation is too handy. At three I turned in and slept till four when all hands roused and got under way. We had a splending breeze till about half past ten then I went below and when I came on deck at twelve the wind had died out. In the afternoon we had a little wind.
About three o’clock we could plainly see Miscow Island. About six we were opposite and between 8 & 12 we left it out of sight. During the mates watch the wind increased a great deal.

Sunday Aug. 11, 1895
During my watch from 8 to 12 this morning a German bark hove in sight and soon we overtook her, as we came up with her he luffed up across our bows and we had to run off before the wind to avoid a collision she was named the Toni and hailed from Rostick. In the early part of the afternoon we sighted Prince Edward island on our lee bow and soon we could see the light house on East Pt. about 5 we had left it far astern at six the land of Cape breton was in sight quite-plainly. The wind all day has been fair and blowing a fine breeze by eight o’clock we sighted Cape St. george and about 9 o’clock we sighted Port Hood light. At twelve I went below.

Excerpt from:
A Brief Diary of Events in the life of R. H. Davis, as Second Mate on the Barkenteen Peerless, from July 15 to Sept 2/1895

In 1895, Ralph was second mate on the his father’s vessel, the barke Peerless, for two months. His father suggested, however, that he not get into shipping. Steel ships with steam engines were established and growing in the carriage trade. Instead, Ralph took Architectural Draughting at St. John Technical School. He made the working drawings from which the wheels were cast for the Burrell-Johnson Iron Foundry’s steam engine, designed by Robb Engineering and built in 1897 to run on the “log” railroad to New France. The Burrell-Johnson Iron Foundry was owned by relatives of his wife-to-be, Margaret Burrell.

Ralph later taught architectural drafting at the Yarmouth Technical School two nights a week. He designed two cottages on Perry Road: the family cottage “Sherora” and one behind Perry’s. He had a paper in 1907 on renovating orchards, possibly to help his father-in-law William Burrell in Carleton.


Ralph and Margaret Doane Burrell were the first couple to be wed in the Baptist Church at Carleton N.S. in 1903 (Yarmouth Times). Maggy had met Ralph while living in town. She had enjoyed the Lovitt family, a fun-loving bunch who were involved in her family’s foundry.

Ralph and Maggy Davis, and twins

Maggy & Ralph first lived at her sister’s home on Prescott Street (W. E. Perry). In May of 1907 Ralph and family moved across the street to a house on Fairmount Street purchased for $500. from L. Beveridge. Children born to Ralph and Margaret were: Alice in 1904, Elsie in 1905, twins Samuel Bancroft (Banny) and William (Bill) Burrell in 1907, and Mary in 1914.

Hobby Farm House

Maggy’s father, William John Gibson Burrell, owned a “hobby farm” at Perry Road, Carleton in the summer and worked at a foundry in Boston in the winter. William Burrell died in 1913, and his land was sold to the YMCA for a summer camp. Maggy’s brother-in-law Calvin Foote, senior, may have designed his Victoria B.C. house while recuperating from typhoid fever in Yarmouth in 1914.

Another relative of Maggy’s had a store at Milton corner. The sign he erected over the store misspelled his last name, so he changed his name to “Burrill”, rather than pay for a new sign. Later, the head man of Cosmos Mills in Hamilton, ON would be another relation, Walter S. Burrell.

R. H. Davis & Co, Ltd.

In 1897, Sam and his sons Ralph and Oscar established R. H. Davis & Co. Ltd., on the corner of Main and Parade Streets in Yarmouth. Ralph Davis’s obituary recalled how he “in company with his brother, O. L. Davis… he founded the business, which, at present, bears his name, and in the year 1896 opened a general wholesale paper and printing plant in the premises now [1933] occupied by W. R. Rozee”.

[The Yarmouth County Museum has a photo of men in front of the building.]

The Yarmouth Daily News recorded that

“The new store of Messrs. R. H. Davis & Co., at the corner of Main and Parade Streets, has been opened for business.”

Later, a magazine article in The Busy East recalled how

“the business was started in a small way in 1897. Twelve years later the company was incorporated under Dominion charter, and acquired their present 1917 brick block”

Oscar later operated another branch in Sydney.

“Oscar was the entrepreneur of the family, as he actually started the stationery business. But because of his young age, his older brother, Ralph, had to join the company. Hence the name R. H. Davis & Co. Ltd.” (Frank Davis).

The store sold dry goods such as ink, mucilage, wrapping paper, stationery, toilet paper, wallpaper, twine, bags, etc. Ralph sold goods from his bicycle as far away as Liverpool. They also bottled vanilla extract until Ralph discontinued the product. Waiting for a train, he had seen a poor man drinking some of his vanilla extract.

Paper was imported from England by the ton, with sherora watermark. “FoolsCap” was made by drawing lines on sheets of paper with a machine. It had a canvas conveyor belt on a wooden frame, and pen nibs attached to ink wells drew lines as the sheets passed under. In the 1940’s this machine, the printing presses, and an elevator would all be driven by one large electric motor which transferred the power to overhead shafts via leather belts.

They also manufactured “a 6 cent writing tablet which had the picture of a sailing yacht on the cover, and was called the Sherora tablet…”; similar to the present-day Camp Fire Note Book sold for 69 cents by the DRG Stationary Co. in Georgetown (Pelton).

In 1905, the business was moved to the Sherora Building on Main Street, purchased from the Lovitt brothers. An expensive fire wall was added to the North Side, which paid off in the fire of the 1950s.

R. H. Davis – Front Shop; March 12, 1914.

Ralph Davis died in 1933, at 58 years old.

Davis, Frank, Descendants of Ethel Davis
Davis, R. H., Daily Journal, 1892
Pelton, “Main Street” in Yarmouth Newspaper
Registry of Deeds, Yarmouth County.

Ralph Davis’ Time Line and Materials
( found in Mary Clulee’s Trunk )

? Milton school Grammar notebook
1892- 3 Horton Academy Calendar; signed
1894 ladies magazine-sew pattern: 6- 8 yr boys suit
1894 magaz: Americas Greatest Resorts, Yarmouth Grand Hotel
1894 Dec YMCA-Rhode Island: basketball goal: 15 to 18” diam
1895 Masonic Journal, Boston
1895, Aug. 29 Boston newspaper
1896, Jan. 18, Ladies magazine sewing
1902 Book. Yarmouth notice of shareholders, bible,
1904, Nov. magazine: Maritime Merchant
1907 Apple Culture: orchid renovation technical data
1912, Nov. 25 letter to WA.Kinney, Toronto
1913 Drawings for back window of W.L.Rogers store
1913 Sept. 3 school supplies advertisement, Sherora Bldg.
1916, Mar store donated $15 to patriotic fund
1920- 21 mech.drwgs by: W.Burrell + S.Bancroft
1924 swim booklet: the Crawl
1926- 30 Store Calenders
1927 design residence Clayton Olena, Carleton
1927 changes to store Caldwell Yerxa Ltd, Yarmouth
1929 Book: history of Printing
1933, Apr telegrm-Banny to W.B.Davis: Yarmouth lost game 47/48

l-r: Bill, Capt.Sam, and Banny Davis. 1915

Descendants of Ralph Harold Davis

3* Ralph Harold DAVIS, b.Westport, BriarIs. 1876, Feb. 4, d.Yarmouth 1933, Nov. 1, Married: 1903, Jun. 9, Carleton, Yarmouth Co.: Margaret Doane BURRELL, b. 1876, Oct. 10, Pembroke, Yarmouth Co., d.Yarmouth 1963, Oct. 4, Business Owner: R.H. Davis & Co.Ltd.; Architectural Technologist designed wheels N.Fr.log Railroad, built desk-shelf.
Children born in Yarmouth:

1. Alice Bethia DAVIS, 1904, Jun. 19 – 1979 , m. Rowley FRITH
2. Elsie Cleland DAVIS, 1905, Dec. 16- 1986, m. David Mackenzie
3. * Samuel Bancroft DAVIS, 1907- 1965, m.Orris Mary FILLMORE
twins: Banny & Burrell
3. William Burrell DAVIS, 1907- 1995, m. Dorothy Allen
4. Mary Beatrice DAVIS, 1914, Dec. 5-; m.John (Ian) W. CLULEE. [ Mary Davis III, of three consecutive generations. ]

Churchill twins, Davis twins, Maurice Armstrong; Margaret Armstrong, Mary, Alice & Elsie Davis. ~1915.

Left to Right= Alice, Bill, Maggy, Ralph, Mary, Elsie & Banny Davis, at home 24 James Street, Yarmouth, NS. ~ 1930.

2. Alice Bethia Davis, b. 1904, Jun. 19; m. Rowley C. FRITH, florist, Acacia Ave., Ottawa; ch:

1. Joy FRITH, b. 1929, m. Jim Bradley
2. Sylvia FRITH, b. 1931, m. Alan Bland
3. Mary Jane FRITH, m. John Bradford

2. Elsie Cleland Davis, b.Yarmouth 1905, Dec. 16, d.Ottawa, 1986, Dec. 12, m. David MACKENZIE, Sarnia, Ont.

1. Nancy MACKENZIE, b. 1937, m2. Ray Bertrand
2. David MACKENZIE Jr.b. 1937, m. Cathy Shediac of Yarmouth, divorced.
3. Ian MACKENZIE, b. 1949, m. Anita Walker.

2* Samuel Bancroft DAVIS (See Chapter 9)

2. William Burrell Davis, 1907, Aug. 6-Mar 7, 1996, lawyer, Labour Dept, Ottawa. m. Dorothy Allen;

1. Donna DAVIS, m. R. Alan Freeze
2. William Walter DAVIS, m. Jessica.

2. Mary Beatrice Davis, Yarmouth 1914, Dec. 5-; [ Mary Davis III, of three consecutive generations. ] m. John “Ian” Weston CLULEE, b. New Zealand,- 1990; WWII pilot, accountant, Business Manager R.H.Davis & Co.

1. John Davis CLULEE, b. 1944, m.Jean McEwen
2. Janet Burrell CLULEE, m.Bruce Duncan

1. Joy FRITH, m. Jim Bradley, farmer, Carp, Ont.

1. Margo Bradley
2. Ellen Bradley
3. Heather Bradley, m.McWade
4. Christina Bradley, m.Fenton
5. Ruth Bradley, m.Riley

1. Sylvia FRITH, m. “Joe”Alan Bland,

1. Rowley Peter Bland, b. 1959, m.Karen Holland; ch. Charlotte Bland, Susan Bland.

2. Susan BLAND, m.Shane Stueck; farm,Saskatchewan; ch. Alice, Laurel, twins: Marina + Jessie.

1. Mary Jane FRITH, m. Bradford: divorced, art dealer Tuscon, Arizona, – NewHampshire,USA.


1. Ian MACKENZIE, m. Anita Walker, live at Port Hawkesbury, N.S.

1. David Ian MACKENZIE, b. 1980
2. Kathryn Leigh MACKENZIE, b. 1982

1. Donna Davis, Ottawa; m. R. Allan Freeze, UBC prof; address WhiteRock, B.C., Received research funding from Izaak Walton Killam trust. Father-in-law, Bill, showed Al how the Davis family is related to I.W. Killam. ( Ethal Davis’ grand daughter married I.W. Killams’ uncle. )

1. Geoff Allan Freeze, b. 1962, m. 1989, Kathleen E. DROKE

1. Brenna E. FREEZE, 1990
2. Danielle K. FREEZE, 1992

2. Christine Freeze b. 1962, m. Christopher M. Hart
3. Lori Freeze, b. 1968, adopted, ch.
4. Sean Freeze, b. 1969, adopted. m. ch.

1. William Walter Davis, b. 1945, Ottawa; m. 1965 Jessica A. QUACKENBUSH; address: Ont;

1. Lisa Aileen Davis, b. 1969, Feb.2, Peterborough, ON.
2. John William Davis, b.1972,Sept.11, Peterborough, ON.; m. Kelly McDermott-1998, divorced.;

ch. Ian James Davis, b.2000,Nov.21, Toronto.

3. Craig Andrew Davis, b.1974,Oct.6, Peterborough, Ont.; m.Jean Elizabeth Kerwin, 2000,Apr.22, Ottawa.;

ch. 1. Bradley Andrew Davis, b.2000,Aug.11, Gatineau, QC.
2. Madison Lisa Davis, b.2002,Jul.14, Gatineau, QC.

1. John Davis CLULEE, B. 1944, m. Jean McEwen, Education and real Estate Calgary, business manager R.H. Davis & Co; address Yarmouth. ch. adopted:

1. Spencer CLULEE
2. Weston CLULEE
3. Rachael CLULEE
4. Matthew CLULEE

1. Janet Burrell CLULEE, m. Bruce Duncan, farmer, Almonte, Ont.

1. Craig DUNCAN
2. Alison DUNCAN, m. Cramden, ch. Noel Sam C.

Lineage of Margaret Burrell

The Burrell origin is possibly southern Scotland. There is a Burrell Museum in North England.

6. Henry BURRELL Sr. b. 1778, Co.Down, North Ireland; d. 1850, Apr. 9, Ireland.
m. Rosanna COCHRANE, b. 1779, Eireland, d. 1850, Sep. 9. children born in Ireland.

1. James BURRELL., b. 3 Jan. 1799, d. 9 Sep. 1859, Yarmouth
2. William BURRELL, b. 1802Jun. 3; m.Catherine SULLIVAN, Yarmouth
3. Eleanor BURRELL, b. Feb. 1805, d. 16 Jan. 1890; m. John McCORMACK, ch: John, Sam, Eliza.
4. * Henry BURRELL Jr., b. 1807, Jul. 13, d. 1896, Jun. 28 Yarmouth.
m. Jane CLELAND, b. 1808, Dec. 3, N.Ireland, d. 1881, Yarmouth
5. Sarah BURRELL, b. 1810, Belfast, Ireland
6. Mary BURRELL, b. 16 Mar. 1813; m. J. CARRUTHERS ch: 2 girls born in Australia
7. Anne Jane BURRELL b. 23 Jun. 1815
8. girl BURRELL: died
9. John BURRELL, b. 7 Mar. 1820, d. 1852; m.Martha HUNTINGTON, no issue
10. Samuel BURRELL, b. 7 Mar. 1822, d. 1901, Yarmouth
11. Joseph BURRELL, b. 15 May 1826, Burrell-Johnson Iron Foundry, Water St. Yarmouth

5. Henry BURRELL Jr., b. 13 Jul. 1807, Co. Down, N.Ireland. d. 28 Jun. 1896, Yarmouth.
m. 1834, Sep. 9, Jane CLELAND, b. 1808, Dec. 3, N.Ireland. d. 17 Sep. 1881, Yarmouth

1. Margaret Jane BURRELL, m. William DOANE, no children
2. Henry James BURRELL,
3. * William John Gibson BURRELL, b. 1840, Mar. 19, BearR. d. 1913, m. Bethia ALLEN
4. Joseph BURRELL, 1843- 1920 m. Agnes BOWERS, no children
5. Dorcas BURRELL, no issue
6. Samuel BURRELL, d. 1908.; m. Harriet CORNING
7. Martha Cleland BURRELL, m. Edward ALLEN

4. William John Gibson BURRELL, b. 1840, Mar. 14 Bear River, Digby Co., N. S. d. 1913, Carleton, YarmouthCo. bd.: Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery
m. 1859, Sep. 14: Bethia ALLEN, daughter of Waterman Allen b. 1842, Nov. 11; d. 1925, Oct. 23, bd.Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery

William Burrell lived on Pond Road, in Milton, Yarmouth, and had a farm on the Perry Road, Carleton. Back step stone near road, near YMCA camp road. Worked in a foundry in Boston in the winters.

1. Lillian May BURRELL, b. 1861 – 1897 m. Erneste NEVERST, ch: Ernestene B., George P.
2. Harrison Whittier BURRELL, b. 1863 – 1906 m. Mary R DURKEE, ch: 4- 5 girls
3. Carribell BURRELL, b. 1864 – 1954, lived Sunset Terrace, James St. m. William Edw. PERRY, lived on N.E. corner of Prescott and Fairmont Sts., Yarmouth. ch: Doris, m. Hubert R. CANN
4. Jane Cleland BURRELL, b. 1866, d. 1941; m. J. Calvin FOOTE, Victoria BC; ch: Calvin, Kenneth.
5. Clarence Christie BURRELL, b. 1873, game warden Carleton m. Arzena ANNIS, ch: Dan, Lawrence. bq.
Clarence Burrell ? & Bethia Allen Burrell at farmhouse, Perry Road, near YMCA Camp Lane.
6. * Margaret Doane BURRELL, b. 1876, Oct. 10, m. 1903- Ralph Harold DAVIS

Burrell sisters: left to Right: Caribel (l), Jane (top), and Margaret ( r ).

3. Margaret Doane BURRELL, b. 10 Oct. 1876, Pembroke, Yarmouth Co. N.S. d. 3 Oct. 1963, Yarmouth, N.S., bd.Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery; m. 1903, Jun. 9 Carleton, Baptist Church, Yarmouth Co., N.S.. Ralph Harold DAVIS, b. 4 Feb. 1876, Westport, Briar Island, d. 1933

(For children, see Ralph Harold Davis)

back: l-r= Alice, Margaret, Banny.
front:l-r= Elsie, Bill.