All photos from the collection of Tim MacDonald of Liverpool except where otherwise credited.
A Henry Hensey Page with these recollections was first published in Queens County Times in 2004.
Henry on Main Street. He's in the foreground, right. You can see the town hall in the background as well as the building we all know as Hemeon's. Henry was born February 15, 1900 and he died April 24, 1970.
The Hensey Family
The first Hensey to come to Canada was George Hensey, born about 1823 in Bermuda, son of seaman Peter Hensey and his wife Ruth.
George, a seaman, married Ellen Cameron in Halifax in 1844.
In 1868, then a widower, George married widow Hannah James, daughter of Carter (a farmer) and Martha Croxen in Liverpool.
Choir Member--That's Henry, right front, with other members of Zion United Church Choir.
Back Row, left to right: Arthur Freeman, Doug Hemeon, Curtis Hirtle, Carl Walls, Maurice Feoner, Guy Dexter, Max Wharton, Lawrence Atkinson.
Middle Row: Ed Bower, George Jefferson, Emma Reinhardt, George Wolfe, Lorne "Dutchie" Meisner.
Front row: Percy Rafuse, Lester Smith, Henry Hensey.
This Polka Dots Picture was donated to Queens County Museum by Armand Wigglesworth.
Left to right: Max Harding, Maurice Feener, Henry Hensey, and George Wolfe. They were singing at the Liverpool fire Hall. Henry had a great tenor voice and sang solos in the Zion United Church choir under the direction of organist, Maddie Keay.
From: Marcia Herbert
I'll always remember Henry as he was the bartender at the Summerville beach cottage where my wedding party took place. I'll never forget my in-laws who were so impressed that he remembered exactly what went into their drinks.
He was a town ambassador and I still have several pictures of him with his basket on Main Street.
He toted with the high low, the medium low and the damn low.
(Marcia grew up on Bristol Avenue, Liverpool, daughter of the late Fred and Margaret Burrows)
Henry's House--Luckily Ida Pitts and her sisters Mary and Jennie (both now deceased) stopped to have their photo taken on the corner of Waterloo Street and Old Bridge Street and by chance caught Henry's house in the background! This original photo was loaned to Tim MacDonald a few years ago by a Pitts family member!
Henry's House, a painting by Bill Cox of Bayshore, Long Island, New York, and commissioned by Muriel Richardson. She later donated it to Queens County Museum. (Photo by Jane Stevenson)
The Music Of The Polka Dots
Thanks to Walter and the late June MacLeod of Liverpool; my brother, Howard Henderson of Great Hill; and to my husband, Barry Mouzar, for making it possible to share excerpts of the Polka Dots practice sessions. The tape was recorded by Lillian (Ted) Mooers. Walter's wife, June, whose father was Polka Dot member Maurice Feoner, had the original.
Howard made a copy which allowed Barry to then transfer it from cassette tape to CD. This made it possible to transfer it to WMA files for this page on the internet. The music will be heard after the page loads. --mary
Henry At Home playing the Hammond organ, a gift from a group of friends. This picture is in Queens County Museum.
(Photo by Jane Stevenson)
Henry Relaxing in the Blue Room in his home on Waterloo Street.
Henry Performing with the Polka Dots which also included Max Harding, Maurice Feoner and George Wolfe.
Henry with Bill Rawding at his home in Mersey Point, July, 1968.
Hors d'Oeuvres Dish that belonged to Henry is on display at Queens County Museum. (Photo by Jane Dunlop-Stevenson)
Henry's Basket--Donated to Queens County Museum by Dot Rawding.The basket wasn't the original basket that many would remember--he apparently wore out that one--but this was his last basket. (Photo by Jane Dunlop-Stevenson)
Among The Items In Henry's Basket Were…
Note: There have been rumours that beneath the cloth of Henry's basket were bottles of booze--not for Henry, but for his employers for their own use or for entertaining. Until now, nobody wanted to be quoted.
Evelyn Aulenback, however, in the following letter, tells about the day Henry arrived at her door in an attempt to preserve her reputation as "a nice young lady".
The stories about Henry are wonderful! Having been born, bred and brought up in Liverpool, I knew of Henry all my life. When I returned to Liverpool, in 1969, after living in B.C. for 13 years, I thought, one day, that I'd like to purchase a bottle of rye at our local liquor store, so, proceeded to do just that.
A day or two later, I was at home, and the doorbell rang, and there was Henry Hensey at our front door (with basket in hand!).
After I greeted him (wondering what he could possibly want, as I didn't remember ever having any sort of a conversation with him in my life), he informed me he had seen me coming out of the liquor store, and that "nice young ladies" didn't go there, and if I wanted him to purchase my booze for me, he would be more than pleased to do so.
I thanked him for being concerned about my reputation and said I'd let him know if I needed his services.
So, from that conversation, I think I may have a little clue as to what Henry may have carried in his basket on occasion.
From: Blaine Whynott
After being prompted by friends to ask Henry what he had in the basket, he'd invariably answer, "the bottom".
From: Linda Clark and Paul Rhodenizer,
Paul and I have been enjoying the Henry letters and info over the past few weeks.
We both remember Henry's answer to what was in his basket as......"Four sides and a bottom!"
From: Joe Winters
Joe Winters of Liverpool said his father, the late Herman Winters, performed in a band with Henry.
Herman, a Liverpool barber, played the drums and, sometimes, piano.
As for that basket always carried by Henry, Joe said it contained milk, bread and sometimes flowers.
From: Lanny DeLong, Brooklyn
I do not have a special story to tell about Henry.
However, I did know Henry and I saw him around town many times going with his famous basket. (I have no idea what was in it). If there was ever a perfect gentlemen it was Henry.
I recall him always tipping his hat to ladies when he met them on the street and he always had something pleasant to say to everyone he met.
My first meeting with Henry was many years ago when he catered to my aunt's wedding reception held in the Masonic Hall in Liverpool. He served creamed chicken on some kind of puffed pastry. It was delicious.
He of course was a wonderful entertainer and I believe someone raised money and bought him a Hammond organ later in his life.
He could play and sing and he knew so many of the old songs and ditties. The one word to describe him would be "Great".
As great as Henry was to most of us there were those who were against the waterfront being named in honour of him. I can remember reading of it in the Liverpool Advance.
I send you this note to support your idea of a special page where those who have stories to tell of Henry can send them in where we can all share them.
I shall be checking and look forward to some good stories.
One more thing. The picture Tim sent you of Henry is great.
Some Notes From Tim MacDonald
From: Tim MacDonald, Liverpool
Unfortunately I do not remember Henry since he died in 1970 and I was only 5.
However I've heard many stories about this man and have enjoyed collecting information and photos of him.
Back a few years ago when I was really involved with putting together a display at the Queens County Museum for African Heritage Month, many people were eager to tell me their remembrances of Henry Hensey since everyone knew him.
The late Dot Rawding and husband Bill were great friends of Henry and after Henry's death, the Rawdings had gotten his basket.
Dot knew about my yearly displays at the museum for African Heritage month and she decided to loan us the basket and eventually donated it to our cause so it is at the local museum in safe keeping.
Bill and Dot Rawding got the organ after Henry passed away.
Dot told me that several years after Henry's death, one day when she turned it on, smoke started coming from it and that was the end of the organ!
You also mentioned the Polka Dots. Well, once again I was lucky enough for a local guy to give me a cassette tape of the group rehearsing. It's truly priceless!
Hi again Mary
I almost hated to email you again, I'm probably starting to drive you crazy. I had to tell you a story that I've heard many people talking about. Apparently the first time Henry was a pallbearer he had the misfortune of slipping and falling into the grave before the casket got there. Forget who told me that story, may have been Armand Wigglesworth but not sure on that.
I see that Peggy Airey asked if the road was named after Henry died or before.
Unfortunately it was after he died.
I have the article here about naming the road. Henry died in the spring of 1970 and it was later that same year that the name was given to the street to honor him.
From: David Johnson, Nanoose Bay, British Columbia
One of many memorable things about Henry was in the mid 50s.
I was singing bass in the United Church choir and one Friday evening at choir practice,
Maddy Keay, our organist, was late.
Henry sang tenor and as there was nothing else to do, Henry decided to play the church organ.
He played some popular
music of that time and blew the dust off those pipes for more than 15 minutes.
While he was playing, Maddy came in and sat at the rear of the church until Henry finished playing.
That church rocked.
We knew that he was
musical, but this playing captivated everybody there.
He was quite the man.
It is a great thing that we are honouring him.
From: Peggy Airey, Milton
Mary, I so loved the page devoted to the memory of Henry Hensey.
I moved here is 1970, the year he passed away. When was the drive named after him - before he passed away or after - I can't remember.
He sounds like a delightful gentleman and I wish I had known him. Thanks for the web page.
From: Nina Inness, Hunts Point
When I was growing up we lived at 89 Old Bridge St. Almost every day Henry Hensey would walk by our house. If my brother Steve (who was only 3 or 4 yrs. old at the time) was outside he would sing Dance With Me Henry to him. Henry always got a kick out of this and would laugh and carry on his way with his basket. My sister Bev remembers Henry & Dad singing a rousing version of Oh Danny Boy.
From: Karen Crouse, Jeffrey's, Newfoundland/Labrador
I moved to Liverpool in 1963 and Henry was one of the local characters that is unforgettable. He sang in Zion United Church choir.
He was always pleasant and said hello whether he knew you or not. Thanks for the page about Henry.
From: Shirley Shot, Liverpool
Good morning Mary.
I enjoyed the Henry Hensey page as I remember Henry both from church and on the street.
As kids we would run up to him and ask "What's in the
basket Henry"? and he would always reply "The Bottom"
He was very friendly and always had a laugh for us.
I felt it very appropriate that the Town of Liverpool named Henry Hensey Drive in his honor.
From: David Paterson, London, Ontario
I'm almost certain that this picture is of the United Church choir, which later became a joint effort of the United and Baptist churches.
In the years after WWII, they sang once a month at evening services, except in July and August, alternating between the two churches.
My father, in his autobiography, says: "In November I was asked by Rev. Chester Brown to revive the Men's Choir of Zion Church,......" This was in
1938, presumably after your photo was taken.
Dad, working with Maddy Keay,
led the choir until 1948. In addition to the monthly services in Liverpool, they sang on many occasions in other churches in Queens and Lunenburg counties. These would be at anniversary and roll call services, and the
Dad enjoyed that, very much. And there would always be a feast after the service!
Henry Hensey sang solos on occasion, and I seem to remember that the Polka
Dots also performed - perhaps not by name!
Maddy might be able to help with the two unidentified people.
Great fun, this history!
From: Ken Parnell, Ottawa
(formerly of Brooklyn)
Just a little trvia re Henry. One very happy event in Henry's life occured many years ago. I cannot remember the date, etc.....
BUT! I believe a former resident of Liverpool, Jerald Wright, invited Henry to visit the nations capital and while there he took Henry to the Governor General's Levee at Government House. That was a real highlight of Henry's life.
From: Helen (Day) Jones, Hunts Point
Mary--Henry Hensey is vivid in my memories of growing up in Liverpool.
I was born at 58 Main Street, the house built in the 1700s by a Capt. Burnaby, later owned by my father C. S. Day.
As a young teen Henry worked several days a week for my mother; he did this for several families.
He would arrive wearing his plus-fours carrying an oblong antique wicker basket in which he brought the mail from the post office and usually left with letters to be posted.
Henry brought his own dusting cloth and danced around the house dusting or whatever, singing, bringing pure simple joy into our home.
Henry could do no wrong, my mother adored him.
He would chat with me when I was home.
He always called me "girl". He'd say "if only you had your grandmother's contralto voice".
Henry and my father's mother, Harriet Wright Day sang together for at least 50 years in the United Church choir.
He told me as a young lad he would pick up washing for many folks, one being this grandmother.
He pulled a small wooden cart, picked up the washing, took it home to his grandmother to be washed and ironed then returned it when it was ready. One day many years later I was in Hector MacLeod's drug store and there was Henry, with his basket, explaining in a louder voice than usual "Calories, never heard of them. what are they?"
After Hector explained this to him, Henry walked out of the store announcing "Well, I've never seen one!"
After my marriage to Bev Jones he met me on the street and said "Girl I have a gift for you and young Bev, come to the house and pick it up."
It was an exquisite cup and saucer, gold and white decorated with raised gold flowers on both pieces.
He told me this was given to him by Miss Janet Mullins. To this day I have displayed this cup and saucer in my home.
I am going to give it to the Queens Museum if they'd like to put it with Henry's other articles of interest. I had the privilege attending many of the famous Polka Dot performances.
I could go on and on but I wanted to share these stories with you.
Hope to see a good turnout at the Henry Hensey Party at the museum.
Your Henry Page brings back so many memories.
It's little wonder why your site is popular - congratulations on the big milestone or hitstone!
Helen Day Jones, Hunts Point
From: Cheryl Kempf
Thanks for the trip down memory lane with all of the articles on Henry Hensey.
It was always a joy to see him on the street because he always had a smile and a friendly greeting to you.
I also remember being lucky enough to enjoy some of his fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
When it is decided on what day to have a celebration for him I will surely plan my vacation for that.
Note: Cheryl's maiden name was Lethbridge, the granddaughter of Laurie Thorbourne, and daughter of Joyce Lethbridge.
From: Doug Westhaver
In the mid 60s, I lived at 271 Waterloo Street. I was 10 years old. I remember seeing henry alot while driving my bike,and he always had time to have a chat. He would give pennies instead of candy at Halloween. I remember very clear the way he said hello, which is the first thing you heard when you stopped to have a chat.
From: Fred Giffin, Liverpool
On a rainy and cold day, I took the time to go through the Henry Hensey page. This is history at its finest, about a citizen who captured the imagination of all who met him. The recording of the Polka Dots practice is the icing on the cake. Absolutely wonderful!
I arrived in Liverpool in 1963, and it wasn't long before I was another newcomer who Henry greeted with his omnipresent cheerful smile and "Good day".
I recall him being at the Mersey Lodge to help in the cooking, serving and cleaning for Bowater functions, including visits by customer representatives. He brightened the day for everyone there with his sense of humour, stories and quips.
After reading through most of the page, it is obvious that this humble man, blessed with positive thoughts and a wish to be a friend of everyone, has had an indelible effect on our community. The world needs more like him.
Fred Giffin, Liverpool
From: Christopher Clarke, Liverpool
Many years ago, when Hugh Byrne and I worked across a desk from each other at Bowater and, amongst other things, published Mersey Quarterly, we did a series of recipes by notable persons in the community, for example Joe Holloway's Doughnuts, on the back cover of the magazine.
I wrote Henry's recipe for cooking a wild goose.
I don't have a copy though I'm sure it's available from the mill.
Maybe Robin Anthony could help.
I remember interviewing Henry to write the recipe.
It was a Sunday afternoon.
We were in the Blue Room, where Henry did most of his entertaining.
First Henry offered me a drink, rum, I think.
After a while, when that was gone, he told me "You can't fly on one wing" and poured me a second drink. After that was gone he said "You need your tail for steerage"!
I'd never heard the expression before or since.
Henry's charm and charisma was such that it is almost impossible to describe such was his unique combination of talents, ethics and humour, all wrapped up in someone who cleaned houses and tended bar at cocktail parties.
But to all of us who knew him, our lives have been richer for having to be able to call him a friend.
From: Elizabeth (Bain) Edge
Hi Mary - I have so enjoyed the recollections of Henry and the pictures are priceless!
Had he not been identified in the "little boy" picture on Main Street, I would have easily guessed who it was by the stance, which he carried throughout his life.
I remember him so well as he did the odd bit of catering for my grandparents, however, remember him vividly from his daily walks down Main Street - one could hear him coming long before seeing him! As I remember, he'd always stop for a rest at the taxi stand, chatting with the drivers and anyone else who cared to stop.
He was truly a "Liverpool Treasure" and one never to be forgotten.
From: Celeste Wong
I remember Henry and his basket whistling a little tune as he walked main street.
Always pleasant and cheerful with a smile as big as all outdoors.
Spoke to everyone he met.
Wonderful man he will always be remembered.
Polka Dots--Real Treat
Just wanted to tell you that I truly enjoyed the Polka Dots this morning!! I remember them so well, and it was a real treat.
Barb (Williams) Porter,
Goose a la Hensey (from Mersey Quarterly Winter 1966)
Whilst your wife is shopping on Christmas Eve, drive out to the Goose Hills at Port Joli armed with a shotgun and a pocketful of shells. In your hip pocket there should be a large flask suitably filled with a restorative for at this time of year the weather is bleak and cold. If you are lucky you will be in the right place at the right time and will have no trouble in shooting one of the large Canada Geese that winter in the area. However, if fortune doesn't smile your way, we would suggest you see Jack Dunlop of the Woodlands Department, who always has an excess of water fowl.
The goose should be plucked and cleaned on New Year's Eve for eating on New Year's Day--this is perhaps a wifely chore. The neck, gizzard and liver should be kept and used to make a stock for the gravy. To find out how to cook such a bird, we contacted Henry Hensey, Liverpool's most noted chef and raconteur.
Stuff the bird through the vent with a dressing made from half a loaf of stale bread which has been crumbled. Mix in summer savoury and finely chopped onions and season with salt and pepper. Season the goose and put in an oven of about 350 degrees and cook for about 3 1/2 hours. Be sure that the bird is cooked through but is not overcooked.
Simmer the neck and giblets in water to make a stock for the gravy. When the bird is done, remove from the pan and put back in a cool oven to keep warm. Pour off any excess fat from the pan but keep the juices. To these add the stock and a teaspoonful of sugar. Make a thickening of flour and water and add this to the gravy. Cook on top of the stove for a very few minutes. The gravy should be strained before serving.
Henry recommends that wild goose be served with mashed potatoes and string beans. Of course cranberry sauce is a must. The meal is filling and so whatever dessert is served should be light. This dish should be accompanied by whatever remains in the flask, if anything. The flask can of course be refilled frequently.
Henry Hensey’s Name And Memory Violated
By Unprecedented Town Council Decision
(Thanks to Armand Wigglesworth of Summerville Centre, for permission to republish this column that first appeared in the Advance, and was later published in Anecdotes Of Queens County Nova Scotia Volume III.)
A man's name and memory have been dishonoured. The Liverpool Town Council, none of whom really knew the man, voted recently to change the name of Henry Hensey Drive to Shipyard Lane.
However, there was one dissenting voice to this strange decision, which could turn out to be utterly stupid behaviour. Maybe it was the weather! People have been known to do strange things on hot summer nights. Councillor Don Hines was apparently the only councillor whose words made sense. He said, "I feel that the town fathers of the day named this particular street in honour of Henry Hensey and I don't think it's right for this council to reverse that decision. I don't think we should be reversing these decisions." How correct Don Hines is.
Darlene Rhodenizer, the Town's Planning Officer, was directed by her committee, and the chairman of that committee should bow his head in shame, to find a suitable name for the street that runs westward along the Mersey River. She suggested Shipyard Lane would make a three-section street all one name. That meant that Centennial Drive and Henry Hensey Drive would be eliminated. People who don't travel a great deal wouldn't recognize the fact that many cities in Canada, the United States and even in Europe have the same problem. In Halifax, for example, Dutch Village Road suddenly becomes Joseph Howe Drive. But, they didn't make a fuss over it and remove the name of a remarkable man for convenience sake. One has to ask the question, for whose convenience? Bear in mind that the street which terminates at historic Shipyard Point was named in 1776.
The last shipyard on the Point was operated by Robie MacLeod, Walter Macleod's grandfather, and was still in action in the 1920's. During World War II the shipyard was re-opened and utilized to build scows for the government. A bucket factory was later built on the property. That factory was destroyed by a spectacular fire in the 1930s.
Town Council by it's action should be in line for the 1995 Insensitivity Award. Previous councils have been noted for unfortunate decisions. As a result, the citizens have a solid-span bridge crossing the Mersey River. At one time previous to 1902, ships made their way up the river to Morton's Wharf in Milton. Today, unfortunately, even the smallest sail boat cannot take that route. Another previous Town Council decided that they would again make history by installing a primary sewage treatment plant smack on Shipyard Point. An irresponsible decision and one that could not have pleased Henry Hensey.
I have been told, "Oh! that primary treatment won't be there for long, we are going to collect the sewage and convey it to that place we've built across the harbour." That is certainly a long way in the future and only after you taxpayers vote to contribute a couple of million dollars.
As far as the rock wall and the dredged fill which destroyed valuable wet-land habitat for ducks and possibly small animals is concerned, I am waiting for the first south-east hurricane force blow see what will happens to it. It is rumoured that the design had been copied from a plan used for Bedford Basin, for a different circumstance. It appears that by decreasing the size of the river mouth, the current flow in the river has increased. So what's to stop the gravel and sediment washed from the banks all the way up river to Lake Rossignol from building up again at the river mouth, as it has done for centuries?
What has all this to do with the re-naming of Henry Hensey Drive? I guess it is just to point out the mistakes of past town councils - and the fact they have again made another major decision that is bound to raise hackles in this community. Councillors who made this unpopular move to erase Henry Hensey's name from our history books made comments like this: "It will make it difficult for the municipal numbering system. What balderdash! I was involved in the early planning of the 911 system at the federal and provincial level when the matter was first discussed in Nova Scotia, nearly two decades ago. Sure, the process of numbering residences and places of business in the town and parts of the county has been nearly completed. The problem is the province is not completely committed to completing the project after expending millions of your dollars in fancy infrastructure. It is just not going to happen in this section of the province soon, folks. Don't worry, the fire department, the ambulance service and the hospital are all on net and will be there when you need them. So, that excuse for voting to dishonour Henry Henry's name does not wash.
During the council meeting when the decision was made councillor Charles Welch said:" I assume the intent of the council naming the street after Hensey was to honour him." Right on Charles! He continued:" In terms of honouring the gentleman, I think we can do that still. Council may choose to name some other site after Hensey or erect some sort of plaque in his honour. I think the intent was to name the street after him so that the name would not necessarily live on only in some memories, but that it would be publicly used. "That is just not done in this or any other day's society, Charles.
I was also amazed but not surprised by Mayor Ron Lane's side-stepping statement during the council meeting. He said: "I expect that there could be some reaction to this, that's one of the hazards of naming streets after people."
Naming streets after people. Have these people-names ever caused a conflict? Wolfe Street was named for General James Wolfe by Sylvanus Cobb of the King's Rangers. Cobb was Wolfe's guide in the expedition which resulted in the final capture of Louisbourg by the English in 1758. Cobb Street honoured Sylvanus Cobb who is credited with building the first house in Liverpool. Cowie Street was named for the Cowie family who owned a tannery in Liverpool during the late 18th century. The brook that provided water for the tannery was also named after the Cowies. Major Charles Lawrence, who captured Fort Beausejour at Chignecto, provided that name for that street.
He was later Governor of Nova Scotia and was responsible for the expulsion of the Acadians during the winter of 1775-76. Amherst Street honoured General Amherst who fought under General Wolfe at Louisbourg. Then there are streets named after the Bartling family, former Mayor Charles Murphy and noted resident Harry Hollands.
By this time you have recognized that I am really steamed about the council's decision to remove Henry Hensey's name from History.
I know how valuable Henry's life was to all who knew him. His daily presence on Main Street carrying his ever present basket, was even noticed by one youngster who would want to go downtown every day to see the "Easter Bunny" and his basket. Henry would make a visit to all the shopkeepers along the street to pass the time of day. There is much, much more to remember about Henry Hensey than that. I would not begin to repeat it all here, but if you are interested, as councillor Don Hines was, you could read as he did, the chapter of my book, Anecdotes of Queens County, Nova Scotia, which goes into some detail of Henry's value to this community. Unfortunately, the Mayor and the other members of council refused to even discuss the facts. It is obvious that I am steamed up about this unprecedented decision by the town council, and so are many other citizens of the town and county who really knew him.
My last word for council for what it is worth, reconsider your decision, please! Why not name the entire street Henry Hensey Drive, that would make more sense. And finally, fellow citizens, let your views be known to your councillor or through this newspaper. N'uff sed!
(Subsequently, Town Council changed their decision and the entire street along the waterfront is now named Henry Hensey Drive)
I Remember This, Armand!
I remember quite vividly people coming to our house to speak with my father (Don Hines) concerning the changing of Henry Hensey Drive.
One thing I am been proud of my father is that as a councillor, he listened with respect to people with every concern they had.
He would voice those concerns even if he was the only one, just like in the renaming of Henry Hensey Drive.
I worked for a number of summers in the Tourist Bureau where we were often asked who Henry was.
I do remember a document with a bit of Henry's story which we informed the tourists about.
One comment I remember a tourist saying was how thoughtful a town was to name a street after person who touched people hearts.
All my family members have now moved away from Liverpool - Dad (Don), Mom (Mickey), and my sister (Evelyn) live in Truro and my brother (Patrik) and myself live in Edmonton. Out of all the places we have lived in I'm sure I can speak on behalf of my family, Liverpool is still considered home.
Please continue posting stories and pictures like this, it puts a smile on my face every morning when I get to work, log on and look at the site before I open my office. As for a Henry's party, what a great idea!
I live in a part of Canada where people are beginning to learn the importance of history and the people who contributed to it.
Keeping in touch with what is happening in Liverpool makes me realize what positive things can happen if the effort is done.
Nadine (Hines) Bonsant
More About Henry From Armand Wigglesworth
Henry's love for music began when he was called upon to "pump" the organ in the Methodist Church.
He was paid 10 cents a Sunday for that chore. It was not long before he graduated to the choir. Once they heard his voice, he remained in the choir for more than a half century. The fact that Henry could not read music took nothing away from his fine tenor voice. He also learned to play the piano and often accompanied himself on many of his public appearances. His rendition of "The Night That Pat Murphy Died", always brought down the house.
There are many anecdotes about this wonderful person. Dorothy (Mulhall) Killam published an article in the Advance in 1968, which was repeated on April 29.1970, a week after Henry died. Henry was greatly influenced by his grandmother, Hannah. She was a strong willed woman with a heart of gold.
Once, when Henry was a toddler, a young man-about-town thought that it be a smart idea to paint Henry from head to foot with black lead, a substance commonly used at the time for polishing shoes.
Hannah was furious and paid a visit to the local Judge, persuading him to give the young person the dressing down he deserved. Several years later, when again working for the young man, Henry learned that he had been fined only 10 dollars for his dirty deed. Down went Hannah to seek out the judge. What was said between them will never be known. but Hannah returned with the money. She really only wanted the young rogue chided, as you see, she was teaching Henry to have pride in who he was.
Henry, in his plus fours, (remember them?) swinging his ever-present basket to and fro was a familiar sight on Liverpool Streets.
Henry loved to tell all about the first time he was asked to be a pall bearer. While the service was proceeding at the graveside, he was standing perilously close to the edge; and before he could do anything about it, he skid slowly and silently beneath the casket. There was neither a pause in the service nor a snicker. As someone pulled Henry out he was heard to say, "Never in my whole life did I have such a queer feeling."
On another occasion "Hen" as he was known, was hired by a lady of the Roman Catholic faith, to do some work in the church. He met her at the door and she told him to follow her. She took off at a great rate down the aisle. Suddenly, she stopped and dropped to one knee. Henry, close on her heels, had no choice but to go right over her head, scattering the tools of his trade in all directions. Not a smile appeared as Henry apologized profusely- and went on with his business.
Several years before his death, Henry thought he had reached Seventh Heaven, when he was invited to attend the opening ceremonies of the Nova Scotia Legislature. He met the Premier of the day and set foot in the Red Chamber.
Wing Commander Jerauld G. Wright DFC, a former Liverpudlian, invited Henry to fly to Ottawa as his guest to attend the Governor General's New Years Day Levee.
As Jerauld and Henry ventured out New Year's morning, Henry said "It reminded him old times, when that day was known as "Gentlemen's Day", when not a lady could be seen on the streets- her place being "at home" to receive.
Henry's heart swelled with pride as he accompanied Wing Commander Wright in full uniform, including wearing his Distinguished Flying Cross, as they proceeded to visit National Defence Headquarters.
That afternoon, Henry stood proudly in line at Rideau Hall waiting to be presented to the Governor General of Canada, he heard the Governor's Aid call "Mr. Henry Hensey". Henry said," My feet took wings. and I floated by, perhaps nothing like that will happen again, but at least I can say, "I'VE BEEN"
Henry's life was fairly free from Illness or injury. However, on one occasion, while he was on his way to weekly prayer, Henry was struck down by a car. The entire town waited to hear the worst. but the Good Lord was not ready to take Henry at that time. Typically, "King" Henry held court at the Queens General Hospital while his broken leg mended.
Late in his career, friends of Henry's got together and presented him with a Hammond organ. Jerauld Wright, Bill Rawding, George Burrows and other friends were behind the scheme to provide the organ as a token of their appreciation for Henry's friendship.
Earlier, a group of friends had installed a bathroom upstairs in Henry's house on the corner of Waterloo and Old Bridge Street., which they all visited regularly. They completed the job by painting the entire room BLUE. From then on, it was known as the Blue Room. and you really had to be a good friend of the genial owner to use it ! I am extremely happy to be able to say I was invited to use the exalted place on a few occasions.
Henry Hensey was a truly fine citizen of Liverpool.
One can truly say "Yes, Henry has been."
Street Sign Tossed Aside--When the Town of Liverpool decided to eliminate the street we've known as Henry Hensey Drive, they took down the signage and it was tossed behind the Fire Hall. Tim MacDonald snapped a photo of it. "Luckily a concerned group of us went to a council meeting and council was convinced to reverse their decision," said Tim
More Memories Of Henry...
Dick Cole Learned What Was In The Basket
The Day "Gentle Henry" Held Communion
In The Print Shop Of The Advance Office
My first memory of Henry was about 1946 in Liverpool when many children from outlying areas were in Liverpool to participate in the annual music festival.
The festival was an all day event and lunch was provided at a local hall.
Arriving at the hall we were entertained by a selection of very fine piano music by the gentle Henry.
Lunch was served with the gentle Henry hustling around to make sure all guests were adequately cared for.
His humorous chatter and gentle smile was a joy to experience.
In 1953 I went to work at the Advance as an apprentice printer. On Friday of my first week there, who should appear at the newspaper but gentle Henry.
Henry appeared every Friday to clean the front office for the next working week. We had many conversations on a variety of topics during my years at the paper.
Henry carried with him a basket, the contents kept secret by Henry.
If he was approached on the street--which was frequent--and asked about the contents of the basket, the gentle Henry would reply, "Why the bottom, my dear", and give a loud unique laugh that he was famous for and then continue down the street.
As the years passed by and I got to know and respect Henry, I thought I would ask Henry what was in his basket.
When Henry arrived at the office late Friday afternoon and the office was quiet, the work of the day completed, I said to Henry, "Henry, what is in the basket you frequently carry?"
The obvious answer came quickly.
I replied that it was a very nice basket.
With a twinkle in his eye he asked, "Would you like to see the bottom of my basket?"
I was quite pleased to view the bottom of his famous basket.
Gentle Henry with a twinkle in his eye uncovered the contents of the basket and produced a bottle of very fine vintage wine.
Henry removed the top, and on a quiet Friday afternoon in the back of the print shop, two friends partook of what Henry called his Communion Wine.
Henry finished his work, covered up the bottom of the famous basket and continued down the street to another appointment.
Henry was a very talented musician and performed with a group known as the Polka Dots with the two Georges and Max making up the Quartet.
They performed at many charity functions with Henry doing his famous rendition of a number called Shoo Fly, keeping the audience in a perpetual state of laughter.
It is rumored that in Henry's home there was a room referred to as the Blue Room where Henry presented musical selection on his electric organ for his guests.
The years rolled along and gentle Henry remained unchanged. Meet him on the street and there was always that unique laugh and a cheerful colorful comment.
Following the death of Henry Hensey the town fathers paid tribute to a great man by naming a street for him.
A fitting farewell to a gentle black man who was a true legend in his own time.
I miss Henry, and often think of the times he brought joy to others.
Alan Kelso Remembers Henry
I remember Henry Hensey very well from the days I was growing up in Liverpool.
He certainly was a unique individual and always had a smile and pleasant greeting whenever we met on the street.
When they named the road along the river front after Henry I thought it was well justified.
Having a special day on August 8th to honour Mr. Hensey is truly a wonderful and most deserving gesture.
I would love to be there to help celebrate.
Best regards Mary and keep up the great work with Queens County Times.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Richard Guckert Recalls Henry's Chowder
Served At The Suppers In Port Medway
I remember Henry-- seeing him in Liverpool walking around with his basket (like everyone else) and in knickers (a remarkable dress mode).
Henry Hensey used to cook the chowder for lobster suppers held by the Red Cross on the Meisner store's property in the 1950s. I remember it well (except for the specific years).
He made both lobster and fish chowder, but I wasn't into fish at the time. This was in Port Medway.
The other dish I remember at the lobster supper was baked beans. Fred Meisner made the best baked beans I have ever had. I asked him what kind of beans he used (but unfortunately I can't remember the variety; although Great Northern are popular I think his had some kind of eyes on them).
Richard Guckert, Marietta, Georgia
Anybody Remember Henry
As A Cook At White Point?
David Rudderham of Port Mouton mentioned his mother, Catherine (Payzant) Rudderham recalled Henry Hensey as a cook at White Point Beach Lodge about 55 years ago, circa World War II.
Does anybody else have recollections of information relating to this aspect of Henry's life?
Florence In Nanaimo
(The following is from Florence Leslie of Nanaimo, British Columbia)
In 1946 I worked at White Point Beach Resort.
Henry Hensey worked there that summer.
I was Florence Leslie from Port Mouton and married Edgar Hardy in 1949.
Bert MacLeod Recalls
Being Henry's Helper
At White Point Lodge
Henry Hensey did indeed spend at least one session as chef at White Point Lodge.
During the summer of 1945 (or mebbe '46)
Don Milford and I were employed as kitchen help at W.P.
Mr. H, as we called him, was our immediate boss.
Our job was doing all those messy things such as cleaning pots 'n' pans, preparing vegetables for the menus, chopping ice for drinking water.
On our first day, we did not have a routine that enabled us to have everything prepared on time.
On day 2, we were working in our little hut where it was quite dark, cool and damp. A nice place to work during a hot summer.
Suddenly it got very dark. In the doorway stood Mr H with a huge meat cleaver in his hand.
He then made a very clear statement/question that we understood immediately.
"Men", he said, "my vittles will be on time starting today."(!?) Our routine greatly improved.
He then asked "how long has that thing been on?"
That thing was an automatic electric potato peeler.
It looked like a bean crock. It had a rotating bottom, abrasive lining on the walls.
After a very short time in orbit the potatoes were removed and we would remove the eyes.
Don told him the thing had been on for a little while.
Mr H stopped the machine and removed the contents. However the potatoes were the size of ping pong balls!
Mr H grunted and said "the next time I need potatoes for the Seven Dwarfs I shall come down here and prepare them myself!"
He had a great sense of humour.
In the kitchen where we worked, Mr H had a drawer that he told us to keep clean and empty.
On some evenings after cleanup when we had worked late he would tell us to check his drawer. We would always find two huge desserts that he had confiscated for us.
The best treat was finding his "cream chicken dish" that seemed to be his favourite creation.
Henry was always singing or humming while he worked.
He had a large wooden spoon that he used to "tap out a tune" on pots that were hanging in the work area. He knew just which pot had that certain chord.
I also recall during a rehearsal, in a church, for a minstrel show, when Henry played the Battle Hymm Of The Republic.
It's a wonder that the organ did not explode!
It was fantastic.
Later he told us that he did "not read music". He was an exceptional person.
Near the end of that summer, Henry met my Dad in Al Sapp's grocery store and said
"Mr McLeod, your boy is a fine worker."
Of course Dad asked if he was talking about his son or someone else. Henry said "Nope, it was Lighthouse".
When Dad asked how he got me to work
at all, Mr. H said "Harry, I have a very large meat cleaver".
Everyone in the store laughed.
My Dad, never one to pass up a good joke, asked "Would you like to sell it?"
I have a few other little stories to tell but these are the highlights of that summer of my first real job.
It was like a vacation. Mr H made it unforgettable.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Henry Hardly Missed A Day Of School
Nice to see a few more letters from people who knew Henry. Reading the new letters made me remember something else about Henry that most likely no one would know.
A few years ago the Queens County Museum obtained old school records from the 1890s and up to the 1970s. Of course it was heaven for us researchers so I started going through them looking for my grandmother, great grandmother, etc.
I found them but also made an interesting discovery.
Henry Hensey almost never missed a day of school.
Many school years he would have perfect attendance and if he did miss time it was no more than one day per school year.
It was truly remarkable since some students missed 75 or more days in a school season, probably having to stay home to work. It's just one more thing I'll never forget about Henry.
Tim MacDonald, Liverpool
Henry Treated To Christmas Dinner
After Years Of Cooking For Others
Our family had the pleasure of spending part of our
Christmas day with Henry.
I have a photo taken when I was about 11 or 12.
We were having Christmas dinner at my Grandmother Thompson's house.
I also remember another Christmas when we lived on the corner of School & Church Streets (in the house now owned by Lorne & Barb Redmond) that Henry joined us for Christmas dinner.
I spoke with my mother and she told me her story.
Apparently, Henry always cooked Christmas dinner for the Tozers. Eventually, Mrs. Tozer travelled to Halifax to spend Christmas with her son, Mike.
My mother figured that since Henry had always cooked Christmas dinner for someone it was time someone cooked dinner for him. She invited him and he came.
She remembers that after dinner, while she and my father were washing the dishes, Henry would play our piano and would sing with my grandfather (Hector Dunlop).
The two Christmases he joined us for dinner were very memorable for her.
He knew she collected goblets, etc., and gave her a couple of pieces of glassware that she still has.
Henry was very giving as a number of people seem to have received little gifts from him.
Jane Dunlop-Stevenson, Liverpool
From Georgia and New Jersey
Henry Hensey's Cousins Visit Liverpool
With all of the interest in Henry Hensey over the past few months, I had to write to tell you a story pertaining to the Hensey family.
I've been emailing with a woman in Atlanta, Georgia, for about a year or more and I've been helping her with her family tree which connects to Liverpool.
She left Georgia last week and picked up her cousin in New Jersey and headed for Nova Scotia.
Yesterday they landed in Halifax where they met up with distant cousins from the White family (which connect to Mill Village).
Today (Tuesday, June 22) they arrived in Liverpool and we spent five hours going to museums, cemeteries, Fort Point, and the list goes on and on.
We managed to squeeze in so many things in five hours.
Their great grandfather was Richard Hensey (originally from Liverpool) who with his wife Elsie White (originally from Mill Village) moved to Massachusetts about 100 years ago.
Richard Hensey was Henry Hensey's uncle.
They were delighted when I took them to Henry Hensey Drive.
They took photographs of the street, the street signs, the park, etc. We even went to Main Street where they had their picture taken where the picture of Henry was taken when he was just a little boy about 100 years ago. (You have it on Henry's page). They were more impressed because almost every building behind Henry in the photo is still there today.
It was fun to meet them and they plan to come back again for a longer stay next summer.
They truly loved Liverpool!
The lady from New Jersey makes hand made jewelry and left several pieces to be sold and displayed at Adja Studio and Gallery on Main St.
It's truly amazing how Henry seems to be in the hearts and minds of so many people 34 years after he passed away!