The trans-Canada highway skirts our sleepy little town on its way to other people and places. To the souls hurrying through, we must appear small and insignificant, just a place to slow down for a minute or so. Ahh, little do they know that our town offers unsolved mystery, heroism, excitement and best of all heritage. Our heritage. Canada was built from little towns just like ours. Some grew into great cities, some maintained a small-town atmosphere in which to raise tomorrow's citizens.
In the growing from a handful of settlers to whatever it is destined to become there is a story that is always interesting, often fascinating and sometimes eventful. Such is the story of Nairn Centre. It all started when a group of pioneering people decided that they were a community prior to 1896. Why do we start there? We know that March 7th, 1896 was the date that the people of Nairn, Lorne and Hyman Townships formally held their first meeting as a municipality. We can imagine that for quite some time before this momentous day, people had been talking at weddings, house or barn raisings or whatever occasion got together a group of neighbours. Soon they decided to amalgamate their small bands of residents into a recognized community. Thus, we arrive at the date of March 7th, 1896.
thAt two o'clock on Saturday afternoon of March seventh that year, after chores were completed, they met in the schoolhouse. They probably stoked up the woodstove and then our first Reeve, Andrew Dever, called the meeting to order. After the Proclamation of Certification was read, the Clerk, H.L. McLean would note the first councillors as Richard Fensom Sr., R.G. Lee, John Hall and William Hunt. They would decide to pay the first treasurer, Fredrick Summerby, a salary of $10 a year along with a $500 bond if he performed his duties correctly. (This seems to be an interesting concept, I wonder if our federal politicians would agree to such an arrangement?) They would elect to pay the clerk a salary of $50 a year. These men were our first council. Some of these names appear regularly throughout this history so remember them.
So far we had grown from a collection of people residing near the Nelson railway station who called their town Nelsonville, to a town that received its present name from the railway engineer who was employed laying out the new railway line. He came from a small town in Inverness Shire, Scotland called Nairn. This book could have been much shorter if we'd simply chronicled our story with historical dates and facts, but that would have been the bones of the story and it's the flesh that makes it interesting. It took some imagination and a lot of talking to our older residents to fill out the skeleton that grew into the fascinating body that is contained in the following pages. We hope that you find it as enjoyable to read as we did to write.