The Cape Breton Regional Library has an interesting collection, known as the Nova Scotia Collection, of historical documents that tell much of the story of our community's history and culture. This collection includes books, documents, diaries, and photographs. One of these collections is the diaries of Melvin S. Huntington, which were donated to the W.W. Lewis Memorial Library in Louisbourg. The diaries, although not complete, span the period from the late 1800s to 1961. They provide an interesting view of life in Louisbourg during that time, including current affairs that were of interest at that time, such as the shipping industry, weather, world news and events in people's lives. The Library has been transcribing these diaries to make them available online to a wider audience. This is a work in progress, with many now completed and available. The work on this project is continuing.
Melvin S. Huntington Biography
Melvin S. Huntington was born in Salmon River, Grand Mira in 1875, the eldest son of Henry and Frances (Spencer) Huntington. His great grandfather, Caleb Huntington, was a pre-Loyalist New Englander who came from Connecticut, USA around 1760 and was the first white settler in Grand Mira after the French exodus.
Melvin, like most farm children in those days, was home schooled until he was old enough to walk the many miles to school. He graduated from Sydney Academy in Sydney, and continued to be a life-long learner throughout his life. His love for reading and keen powers of observation kept him well informed in current affairs both locally and internationally.
As a young man, Mr. Huntington worked a number of years at the Dominion Coal Company in Louisbourg, and then became a travelling salesman for Miller Brothers, selling pianos and organs. In 1906, he opened his first store in Louisbourg, and continued to run his own store until his retirement in 1962 at the age of 87.
Melvin Huntington had many interests and served his community in many ways throughout his life. Active in town politics, he was elected Mayor of Louisbourg in 1926 and held the office for 20 consecutive years. He was a keen historian, and was greatly in demand as a guide by visitors and dignitaries to the historic site of Fortress Louisbourg.
He devoted his spare time to a number of hobbies. His garden was one of the town's show places. Every Saturday from spring until fall, he arranged bouquets of fresh flowers for the Sunday services in his church. He was a friend of the birds and provided feeding stations for both migratory and regular customers in his back yard and studied the characteristics of the various species with interest.
Throughout Mr. Huntington's lifetime, music was one of his chief interests. At two years of age, he sang hymns in the little Grand Mira Baptist Church. At the age of eighty-two, he was still in the bass section of the First United Church choir in Louisbourg. He had been a Choir Director for over thirty-two years, first in St. James Methodist Church and later in First United Church. Melvin was also a member of the Louisbourg Quartette along with Angus MacIntosh, John A. MacDonald and Duncan Crowdis.
After his death, many of Mr. Huntington's diaries were donated to the Louisbourg Library, as well as some of his personal books, mostly of historical nature. These books have since been catalogued with the Cape Breton Regional Library and can be found in the Louisbourg branch (Nova Scotia Collection).
Melvin S. Huntington died in his 89th year in 1963. His wife, the former Emeline Townsend, predeceased him in 1959. They both are buried in Harbour View Cemetery, Louisbourg.