4.4 Roderick Hugonin
In January of 1851, Roderick Hugonin married Harriet McNab, the youngest daughter of James McNab. On February 20, 1852, Hugonin acquired a portion of Peter II's estate on McNabs Island. A subsequent purchase from James McNab in 1854 gave him ownership of approximately 135 acres which stretched through the centre of the island from McNabs Cove to Eastern Passage. About 1855, Hugonin built a large, Georgian-style, house on his property (Figures 8 and 9). The hill immediately behind Hugonin's house commanded a magnificent view of Halifax and the harbour (Figure 10).
Hugonin had served with the 38th Regiment in which he held a commission as lieutenant. He had served not only in Nova Scotia, but also Gibraltar, the West Indies and in Nicaragua where he was engaged in active service. Widely regarded as one of the best sportsmen in the colony, Hugonin was described as being of "splendid physique, herculean strength and powerful frame."
In late May of 1865, Hugonin sailed for England, never to return. The death of two sons, James and Roderick, at an early age may have contributed to his decision to leave the island. Both children are buried in the McNab Cemetery on the island.
"A great variety" of household furniture belonging to Hugonin was sold without reserve at the Mason Hall on May 26, shortly before his departure on the next Steamer for England.
In 1869, four years after Hugonin's departure, his property was advertised for sale. The Halifax Daily Reporter and Times described the estate as:
... comprising about 130 acres of Arable Pasture and Woodland, good Dwelling House, 15 rooms with a 50 foot frontage, and having a depth of eighty feet, large frost-proof cellars, capital Farm Buildings,three Cottages, Icehouse and Outhouses; also Wharf and Boathouse. There is a never-ending supply of spring water close to the house.
Apparently the property was not sold at that time, for in 1873 a notice of sale appeared in the Acadian Recorder for the "Hugonin Farm - McNabs Island." In offering the Hugonin property for sale, the advertisement played on the growing popularity of McNabs Island with picnickers.
McNabs Island: This favorite locality for summer excursions is likely to be adopted as the resort of persons wishing to remove their families from the dust and heat of the town during the hot weather.... Go everybody and buy a lot on the Hugonin farm on Saturday.
A plan of subdivision indicates that the property was to be subdivided into at least sixty lots, with water lots commanding a premium price. Despite the claim that "the property must and will be sold if possible without regard to its real value," only a few lots were sold and the bulk of the estate remained intact.
James Findlay, caretaker of the Hugonin estate, purchased two lots in 1873 or 1874 and an additional two lots in 1887. Shortly after acquiring the first lots Findlay erected a fine home on them, the remains of which stand today. On this property Findlay also operated a pleasure ground. The three cottages referred to in the 1869 advertisement most likely included a caretakers residence and the two buildings shown to the right of James Findlay's house in an 1885 photograph (Figure 11). Some of these buildings were formerly part of the Innes farm.
In March of 1885, Frederick Perrin purchased the Hugonin house and some adjoining land. The house had been vacant for most of the twenty years since the departure of Hugonin in 1865. Perrin subsequently purchased two more parcels of land from Hugonin later that year and, in total, it appears that Perrin acquired the entire Hugonin estate with the exception of four small lots which had previously been acquired by Findlay.
Perrin introduced many exotic species of trees and shrubs around the estate. In 1948 the Hugonin home mysteriously burned and in the following year John Lynch purchased the property from the estate of Fred Perrin.