W.D. Piercey Developer of “Dutch Village”
Submitted by Devonna Edwards
William Drysdale Piercey was born in Dutch Village, Halifax County, Nova Scotia on June 9, 1877, son of Charles E. Piercey and Eleanor Jane Drysdale. His father, a dairy farmer, took him out of school at an early age to herd the cattle in the pastures of the neighbourhood, now filled with various streets and homes of Fairview.
His grandfather, a N.C. Officer with the British Army, had served in England, Jamaica and Halifax for thirty years before his retirement in 1853 and then bought a home in “Dutch Village.” There were only a few families there at the time, mostly of German origin, but when they told the locals they were “Deutsch”, the people thought they said “Dutch”, hence the name Dutch Village. Some of those earlier names were Geizer, Deal, Leppert, Smith (Titus), Olie, Smart, Devlin, Keeler, Lantz and MacDonald; also Pitcher and Aalders. Will (or Willie) as he was known, and later “ W.D.” earned some money picking berries, collecting junk and doing odd jobs for neighbors to purchase various items boys like to posses.
As time went on he accumulated a pretty fair set of carpenter’s tools, and when fourteen years of age, together with his older brother, Charles, shingled the roof of his father’s barn. (He later told his family this is when he became very fond of lumber, especially the wonderful odor of the shingles!)
Farming not being in his line, he went to work at a Shovel Factory (near Chocolate Lake, Armdale- Fenerty’s) at age fifteen. His pay was 25 cents a day for ten hours work, and he walked a distance of five miles a day to and from work. He handed this over to his father (who might give him fifty cents back for a pair of shoes or what he needed). When he was eighteen years of age, he was offered a job at Rhodes Curry and Company on Robie Street. He remained twenty years with the company, first as Warehouse Boy for 4 ½ years, then on to their Sydney Branch as Assistant Manager for 10 ½ years, back to Halifax for one year, then to Headquarters in Amherst as General Superintendent, then promoted to General Sales Manager and Director. In 1915 he resigned to organize his own company, Piercey Supplies, and much later Piercey Investors, a family business. He sold the lumber business in the 1950s.
He was a M.P. of the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1925 for a term under Premier E.N. Rhodes.
Shortly after working at Rhodes Curry, he spent four evenings a week at a private night school under Mrs. Harry Deal of Dutch Village, who would not accept any remuneration. She was his last teacher in Common School, which building is still standing (but added to) next to where St. Lawrence Church used to be located (today a new building called St. Lawrence Place stands on the site) in Fairview. He was very grateful to Mrs. Deal and Mr. Pelton of Rhodes Curry, who opened up the way for him to eventually be able to go into the world of business. He also spent the evenings of two winters at the Halifax Business College and the Maritime Business College, and two courses were taken in English and Mathematics by correspondence.
Mr. Piercey opened up the hillsides of Dutch Village with its many hilly streets and his company built many of those nice little houses there selling so many of them to wonderful Newfoundlanders on the Installment Plan, which he initiated to help them buy their homes. He admired those hard working people and their honesty. He, himself, knew what it was to work hard and have a goal, even with very little money to begin with.
“W.D.” donated a nice piece of land to Fairview, which is called the “W.D. Piercey Sports Field” (Picture Above Left), and his wife, Annie, established a scholarship at Halifax West High School.
Also of interest is in Mr. Piercey’s Will he left a sum of money to Fairview United Church because it is built on the site of his birthplace.
Piercey Investors was incorporated in 1933 mainly to consolidate his real estate holdings, which he held from 1918 when he purchased and subdivided the property now known as Springvale Subdivision (Picture Above Right). He was renowned for his business foresight and his concern for the little man, helping with various resources in a novel and fair fashion. His other business interests were many and varied. He was formerly Vice-President and a Director of the General Trust and Executor Corporation, President of the Yarmouth Building and Loan Society, and a Director of the Nova Scotia Trust Company for many years till his death in 1964. He was a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and a Justice of the Peace. He was a Director of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and on the Board of Pine Hill Divinity College, also for many years Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Armdale School Section. He was a life- long member of Bethany (Presbyterian) later United Church at Armdale, where he served for many years as Chairman of the Board of Managers and played a major part in the various building programs of that growing congregation.
He passed away suddenly at his home, 100 Dutch Village Road (today that part of the road called Joseph Howe Drive), on January 21, 1964. Rev. Dr. Harry Rackham, at his funeral service spoke of his diligence and integrity in business and faithfulness to his church. His wife, Annie died June 5, 1960 after fifty-seven years of faithful companion and co-operation. His second wife Elsie May Peart, survived him but is now deceased. His three sons, Reginald, (Dr.) Douglas, and George are now deceased, leaving his only daughter, Joyce Jones, as the sole survivor of his immediate family.
In 1955 Piercey Supplies Ltd. was sold to the Cameron Joudrey interests, but retained the name “Piercey”. Piercey Investors is still carrying on, the president now being B. William Piercey (George’s son/W.D.’s grandson), and the Vice-President is Barbara (Piercey) Ploeg (Reg’s daughter/W.D.’s granddaughter).
Joyce (Piercey) Jones
(Daughter of W.D. Piercey)
Joyce wrote this information about her father before she passed away in 2016, in her 100th year.
William D. Piercey was born at Dutch Village on the site where Fairview United Church stands today. By 1916,he purchased the property known as Sunnyside on the Dutch Village Road (today called Joseph Howe Drive). It was located across from the bottom of Mumford Road where it joined Dutch Village Road. Here he lived in an attractive home on strikingly beautiful landscaped grounds. A quaint gardener’s cottage was located close to his lovely home.
William died at his Dutch Village home in 1964 at the age of 87, his son Reginald lived there until his death at the age of ninety-two in 1997.
In 1999 the buildings were demolished to make way for new houses on small road that was cut through the Piercey property called Glen Eagle Way.
W.D. Piercey took a great interest in the history of the Dutch Village area and wrote articles for the newspaper regarding this. He gave a lecture to Bethany United Church many years ago where he spoke of a very old stone wall that was located behind his house on Dutch Village Road.
Ancient Stone Wall
Behind the now Glen Eagle Way, across the walking trail (once railway tracks) is where the fence of Ashburn Golf links is located. Near the fence are the remains of an old stone wall said to be built around 1751 by the soldiers (redcoats) to divide the Glebe Lands. When Halifax was founded in 1749, considerable lands were provided for the army, the judiciary, and the church (then the Church of England only), and these glebe lands as they were called, extending westward from the site of St. Paul’s Church, were bounded by a stone wall. Most of this wall has long since disappeared, but a small portion of it can still be seen today.
Yesterday and Today