Administrative History

2.81 m of textual records

Town Incorporation and Elections

Prior to 1910, the community of Wedgeport in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, was part of the Municipality of the District of Argyle. In 1908 the people of Wedgeport petitioned the Provincial Government for town incorporation. On May 16, 1910, the Town of Wedgeport was officially incorporated, and the communities currently known as Upper Wedgeport, Wedgeport, and Lower Wedgeport, became a town seperate from the Municipality of Argyle. Incorporation meant that Wedgeport was responsible for collecting its own taxes, operating a town office, electing a Council, the maintenance and construction of roads and electing its own school commissioners. The town was also responsible for its Magistrates and for Police affairs. The first meeting was held on July 23, 1910, and town officers were appointed. Elections were held previous to this first meeting at which time the mayor and councillors were elected. Town Council held regular monthly meetings as well as special meetings as deemed necessary.

Town Clerk and Treasurer

The two most important officials employed by the Town Council were the Town Clerk and the Town Treasurer. The Clerk was responsible for recording the minutes of all the Council meetings and administering the day to day affairs of the Town. He had many financial responsibilities as well, although the Town Treasurer was responsible for the final and formal book-keeping for the Town. Auditors were appointed each year to audit the financial records. On March 8, 1913, the minutes state that a salary be paid for the Town Clerk and Treasurer, which is the only indication of when these two positions merged into one.

Although the Council made all the administrative decisions for the Town at their meetings, it is obvious that the Town Clerk was the person who carried out all the day to day business of government. His duties were very important, as a weak Council and mayor could result in the Town Clerk being the person directing most of the business and making most of the decisions for the Town.

There were two Clerks during the history of the Town of Wedgeport who served long terms. Marin O. Pothier was employed from the time of incorporation in 1910 until 1939. In October of 1939 Cyriac I. Boudreau was appointed Town Clerk and remained so until the Town disincorporated in 1947. He later became Clerk for the Municipality of Argyle.

Tax Assessment and Collection

Of all of the affairs of Council, the assessment of property taxes and the subsequent collection of those taxes was its pre-eminent duty, since all of their other activities were dependant on this source of revenue. In addition to taxing real property (i.e. land and building), poll taxes were levied against those who lived in but did not own property in the Town, personal property (i.e. furniture, boats, etc.) and for many years dog taxes were also levied and collected.

Before the Tax Collector could carryout his duties, there had to be a Tax Assessor to assess the properties in the Town of Wedgeport. Every year, the Town would appoint a chief assessor and assistant assessors, usually three individuals in all, who would assess property values for the following  year. It would often be the Councillors of the Town who held these positions. A list of Tax Assessors can be found in Appendix 1.

The Town’s first Collector of rates, whose job it was to go out and collect taxes from residents of the entire Town, was Basile Boudreau. He held this office for only one year after which time Marin O. Pothier, also Town Clerk, took on these duties for 1911 and 1912. It appears from the minute books that the office of Tax Collector (also referred to as Rate Collector) was appointed on an annual basis. A list of Tax Collectors and their years of service is found in Appendix 1.

It should be noted that on occasion the Town Council called upon additional individuals such as constables to assist with the collection of taxes and tax arrears. Temporary collectors may have been appointed from time to time dur to an absence. For example, in 1943 Rudolph E. Doucet was appointed temporary clerk and tax collector in the place of Cyriac Boudreau during a brief absence. It appears that, from 1943 until the Town’s discorporation in 1947, the duties of Tax Collector were carried out by the Town Clerk.

Council Commitees

Town Council operated with a number of committees. The main committees mentioned in the minutes and whose functions are evident in the records contained in this fonds are:

Arbitration Committee - a joint Town of Wedgeport and Municipality of Argyle committee responsible for determining cost-sharing for jointly used facilities and services. The agreement between the two bodies included administration of justice, upkeep of ail and courthouse, a portion of the Clerk’s salary, municipal school funding, and Poor Farm services.

Overseers of the Poor - generally provided for the poor of the Town and made contracts with private individuals or corporate bodies for the support of those who were not able for various reasons to care for themselves. Report on expenditures for these services were made to Council on an annual basis.

Liscense Committee - was appointed to determine the persons to whom liscenses would be granted for peddling, trading, and various other services for which applications were made.

Police Committee - oversaw and supervised the police of the Town and reported to Council any “irregularities or misconduct”. This committee often made regulations concerning the offices of police constables.

Fire Department Committee - had duties of supervision for fire apparatus and supplies, as well as handling any recommendations regarding the fire departement for the Town. The committee was also responsible for   all dwellings in the Town.

Town Disincorporation

On December 22, 1947, the Town of Wedgeport was disincorporated and rejoined the Municipality of the District of Argyle. The Town’s tax base had become too small to support the Town’s obligations and responsibilities.