Upper Stewiacke Meteorological services

Upper Stewiacke Meteorological services

By Ross Johnson

In 1910 the Atmospheric Environment Service of Ottawa installed a Meteorological Station in Upper Stewiacke. Mr. J. D. Cox was the first ‘official weather observer’. He remained the observer until 1952, a total of 42 years. Ross C. Johnson (son-in-law of J.D. Cox) took over the position and was observer until his resignation on March 31, 1980 – after 28 years of service. For only two observers to have serviced the station for 70 years is quite a record. Margaret Johnson (daughter-in-law of Ross Johnson) succeeded R.C. Johnson.
The observer’s duty is to read the thermometers, the maximum and minimum temperature, morning and night – place the readings in a record book and record all rain, snow, hail and electrical storms. The two thermometers, maximum and minimum, are housed in a box, named a Stevenson Screen, which is installed three feet off the ground.

A Standard rain gauge, made of copper, sits on a wood block, 12 inches from the ground. The rain is measured in a glass graduate which rests inside a larger container. All rainfall is recorded in the record book. At the end of each month a complete report is sent to the Department of Enviornment in Bedford, Nova Scotia. When records were first taken, they were sent to St John, New Brunswick.

For ten years, Mr. J.D. Cox went down to the river bridge, and measured the depth of water under the bridge. On the bridge was placed a measuring aparatus, a weight was let down to the water and the chain was measured on a measuring board.


Weather Facts

31 January  1920 coldest recorded temperature in Nova Scotia -42F
28 February 1925 earthquake at 10:30 p.m.
18 November 1925 earthquake at 4:25 p.m.
September 1942 biggest freshet – 12.3 inches of rain after long dry spell


As of 2003, Margaret Johnson was still the official weather observer, meaning that only three people, and all from the same family, have held this job for more than 90 years.

Note: This account of the flood of 1942 is found in Stories of the Stewiacke Valley, collected and printed during the Stewiacke Valley Bicentennial celebrations in 1980.