Woven Wire Fences

Here’s a little project for your summer adventures in our cultural landscapes. Take note of vintage, woven wire fences. They are not too common, but they crop up all over the province (and elsewhere on this continent), and can be delightfully decorative.

Lequille, Annapolis County

Clementsvale, Annapolis County

We’re not talking about barbed wire, that has a dodgy narrative, or fencing generally intended for livestock. The fencing I’m promoting was most often found around people’s yards to define a private space; keep in a dog, or keep out hares. These days the best place to see examples is around old cemeteries.

Dalhousie, Annapolis County

Lequille, Annapolis County

Often only a gate will survive and many of these are topped with curlicues of steel.

Marriots Cove, Lunenburg County

South End, Halifax

These examples are probably 50 to 100 years old, but I suspect you can still buy similar-looking products today. The wire was usually galvanized and painted, and survives quite well in our climate.  Sometimes old fences are embraced by fast-growing companions.

This advertisement from an April 1925 issue of Saturday Night shows what a good wire fence was supposed to look like. 

A little catalog of farm fencing, perhaps from the 1930s or 40s, includes a couple of styles of “lawn fence.” 

So there you go, good luck on your fence hunt. Tell me what you find.

Postscript

  • I recently did a blog post about the old cemetery across the road from our house. Ancient posts, of some rot-resistant wood, suggest it was once surrounded by a wire fence. While cleaning up one spring, I discovered some rusted metal that may have once been on top of a gate.  
  • My undated catalog (with the lawn fences) is from the Security Fence Company, that was part of the Dominion Steel and Coal Company. It notes that DOSCO’s “enormous steel works and mines at Sydney, Nova Scotia, employ nearly 30,000 Canadian workmen.” Those were the days. 
  • A favourite item from the warehouse is this little wire fence sample from the Selkirk Fence Company in Hamilton. About 1920, it was mailed, without packaging, to Gilbert Etherington in Milton. The post office would have known it was Milton, Queens County and not Milton, Yarmouth County, because Etherington is a South shore name. And everybody knows Gilbert.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.

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