Description of Historic Place
The Golden Horse Fountain is located at the intersection of four streets in the community of Milton in the north end of the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. It consists of an iron monument base surmounted by a bronze statue of a horse. The fountain was a gift to the town from a wealthy resident of the area, Clara Killam, in 1893. Municipal heritage designation applies to the Golden Horse Fountain and its footprint.
The Golden Horse Fountain is valued for its association with Clara Killam, one of the town’s wealthiest citizens and a generous benefactor to many Yarmouth organizations. It is also valued as being a unique structure, widely recognized and associated with Yarmouth.
The Golden Horse Fountain, also called the Milton Fountain, was erected in the middle of the intersection of Main, Vancouver and Chestnut Streets on May 1, 1893. It was the gift to the community of Milton from Clara Killam, one of the seven daughters of Samuel Killam, who was one of Yarmouth’s wealthiest shipping magnates. Clara was the only unmarried daughter and lived most of her life at “Fir Banks,” the family mansion which was located up the hill to the west, near the fountain's present site. She was left a very wealthy woman after her father’s death in 1887 and was notably generous with that wealth, making large donations to many local organizations, including Mountain Cemetery and Yarmouth Hospital.
At the time this fountain was erected, the "Yarmouth Herald" published a photo of the fountain and the following article: “The Fountain at Milton Square was placed in position on the 20th May, 1893. It is the beautiful, substantial and most useful gift of Miss Clara Killam. It is a massive iron monumental structure, standing on a granite pedestal, and surmounted by a bronze statue of a horse. The pose of the statue is exceedingly attractive. The height of the monument is about 12 feet and is most suitably proportioned. The iron work is paneled and richly ornamented. A brass plate on one of the panels bears the following inscription: "Presented to MILTON, YARMOUTH, BY CLARA KILLAM, May 1, 1893." There are two drinking troughs for horses and cattle and four for smaller animals. They are fed by Lake George, from the overflow of the drinking fountains. The latter are supplied through faucets, which are automatic, and through which a moderate stream of water flows continuously. Drinking cups attached with chains are handy for the thirsty wayfarer. The fountain was designed by J. L. Mott of New York, especially for Miss Killam, and is very handsome and appropriate. This gift forms a permanent addition to the many attractions of Milton, and is an ornament highly valued by the public, who thoroughly appreciate Miss Killam’s thoughtful, humane and generous spirit.”
With the advent and popularity of the automobile, a number of inevitable collisions took place which damaged the structure to some extent. In addition, the playful pranks of energetic youths, including the students of the nearby School of Nursing, took their toll on the horse statue. For many years it has been an annual tradition on graduation night for some of the more spirited student nurses, to “decorate” the horse in various ways. It has been discovered the morning following graduation sporting a straw hat and a feed bag as well as assorted other forms of attire, painted brilliant colours in whole or in some of its parts, entirely wrapped in bandages and occasionally missing pieces. At one time its ears were broken off and cracks were discovered in its limbs. As a result of accumulated damages, the statue spent several weeks at the Lunenburg Foundry undergoing repairs and repainting in the early 1990s, and has since fared relatively well. Much more recently a divider has been constructed down part of the centre of Vancouver Street which incorporates the base of the Golden Horse Fountain, thus further protecting it from vehicular traffic and hopefully helping to preserve it for years to come.
The image of this horse statue has appeared in many publications, including tourism brochures and historical society articles, as well as on souvenir ornaments of the town, making it widely recognized as a symbol of Yarmouth.
Source: Registered Heritage Property files, Town of Yarmouth, NS
The character-defining elements of the Golden Horse Fountain include:
- location at the intersection of four streets in the north end of the town;
- proximity to Yarmouth waterfront;
- granite foundation;
- iron base surmounted by a bronze horse statue;
- bronze decorative panels and gargoyle spouts;
- eight intact drinking bowls.