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WATERMAN, ZENAS, farmer, lumberman, justice of the peace, and politician; b. 1 Dec. 1789 at Liverpool, N.S., second child of Zenas Waterman and Eunice Dean; m. first on 20 Nov. 1811 Experience Freeman (1790–1853) and they had nine children, and secondly, on 1 Sept. 1853, Patience Freeman, who survived him without issue; d. 3 Aug. 1869 at Pleasant River, N.S.

Zenas Waterman spent his youth in Liverpool where his father kept a blacksmith shop and taught music. In 1802 his mother, not wanting her sons to join the privateers fighting against France and Spain or to be “pressed” into the Royal Navy, persuaded her husband to pioneer a farm in the newly opened northern district of Queens County. At Pleasant River the Waterman family chopped their home out of the wilderness, sowed their crops, and planted an orchard, doing some of the first grafting in that district.

Shortly after his first marriage Zenas Waterman moved to the Twelve Mile (Middlefield), where, in partnership with James Morton, his wife’s brother-in-law, he established an inn and built up a considerable lumbering business, owning and operating a mill at Bangs Falls on the Medway River. He is said to have shipped lumber to England, largely, if not entirely, in ships owned and commanded by Captain George Allen of Yarmouth. After 1840, in well-to-do middle age, Waterman returned to Pleasant River and the life of a farmer. His impressive residence, Brighton Farm, boasted 17 windows facing the road. In 1846 Waterman was instrumental in establishing a new Congregational Church in his community and held offices in it.

Throughout his life Zenas Waterman had a keen interest in public affairs. An 1837 by-election chose him to represent Queens County in the assembly, and on 25 Jan. 1838 he took his seat. He quickly proved his reputation as an exponent of reform principles, supporting Joseph Howe* on several contentious issues. In 1840 he was defeated, according to the Novascotian, by a “combination of the two parties in the town of Liverpool, who, though they have no love for each other, would rather divide power between them, than share it with the farmers in the northern district.” Waterman remained a loyal Reformer, often taking to the hustings in support of his party’s candidate. In 1848, following the advent of responsible government, Waterman was appointed a justice of the peace, a commission he held until his death.

In or out of public office, Zenas Waterman was best known for his efforts in the building of roads. A writer to the Liverpool Transcript of 10 Jan. 1861 lauds him as “the father of nearly all the improved lines of road,” especially those connecting his northern district with the markets of Liverpool and other large centres.

Zenas Waterman, a stern, strong-willed man, was no doubt well beloved by his friends and equally disliked by those who opposed him. An advocate of temperance and reform, he forced his points home not by fluent speeches but by the sheer force of his personality.

John N. Grant

PANS, MG 1, 859; 933–35 (Waterman family papers, c. 1780–1913); RG 1, 175–76; 214 1/2, 1846–51; RG 7, 219 [Provincial Secretary’s papers]; RG 12, Census of Nova Scotia, 1860–61, 18; RG 34–319, A1-A2, 1842–63 [Queens County miscellaneous assessments]. Private archives, Mr Seth Bartling (Liverpool, N.S.), R. J. Long, “The annals of Liverpool and Queen’s County, 1760–1867” (1926) (typescript at Dalhousie University Library, Halifax; mfm. at PANS). Queens County Hist. Soc. (Liverpool, N.S.), Queens County Total Abstinence Soc., minutes, 1838–64 (mfm. at PANS). N.S., House of Assembly, Journal and proc., 1837–40. Novascotian, 1837–40, 1869. Belcher’s farmer’s almanack, 1849–69. Epitaphs from the old cemeteries of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, comp. Charles Warman (Boston, [1910]). J. F. More, The history of Queens County, N.S. (Halifax, 1873; repr. Belleville, Ont., 1972). E. F. Waterman, The Waterman family, ed. D. L. Jacobus (2v., New Haven, Conn., 1939–42). D. R. Jack, “Queens County, Nova Scotia,” Acadiensis (Saint John, N.B.), IV (1904), 93–95. R. R. McLeod, “Old times in Liverpool, N.S.,” and “The Northern District of Queens, N.S.,” Acadiensis (Saint John, N.B.), IV (1904), 96–118 and 140–57, respectively; “Notes historical and otherwise of the Northern District of Queens County,” N.S. Hist. Soc., Coll., XVI (1912), 93–135.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

John N. Grant, “WATERMAN, ZENAS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 18, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/waterman_zenas_9E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/waterman_zenas_9E.html
Author of Article: John N. Grant
Title of Article: WATERMAN, ZENAS
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1976
Year of revision: 1976
Access Date: December 18, 2014