In 1855, Ronald Campbell established a business that would endure for almost a century: the Campbell Carriage Factory. Situated in Middle Sackville, this family enterprise flourished in a modest yet thriving university town. The Campbell family provided their community with reliable, high-quality carriage-making services until the Factory’s closure in 1949.
Initially constructed as a tannery by John Beal in 1838, the building was acquired and transformed into a carriage factory by the Campbell family in 1855. Over the following hundred years, the Factory manufactured premium horse-drawn vehicles, tools, agricultural equipment, and caskets. Later generations expanded the business into hay dealership and undertaking.
The two-storey Campbell Carriage Factory building features post and beam construction, with dimensions of 70 x 30 feet. It is divided into four distinct rooms, two on each floor: the Woodworking and Machinery Rooms on the ground floor and the Storage, Assembly, and Paint Rooms on the upper floor. A plethora of original artifacts from these rooms are now part of the museum’s collection.
In the Factory’s early days, a horse-driven overhead belt system supplied power to each workspace. This “horse-power” system was eventually replaced by a gas engine.
Soon after the factory’s opening, a blacksmith shop was built on the main building’s south side. The shop’s two forges crafted all the bespoke metal components required for the production of sleighs, wagons, and carriages. For more information, see Blacksmith Shop.
In 1905, an old Baptist meeting house was acquired and connected to the main building’s east end, providing space for finishing and trim work, as well as a large hand-operated freight elevator.
The rise of automobiles ultimately led to the Factory’s closure, and the last two employees left their tools on their workbenches and locked up as they would at the end of any typical workday. The tools and other items remained largely untouched until 1998 when William and Barbara Campbell donated the historic factory to the Tantramar Heritage Trust, saving the building from demolition.
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