Work began on the Windsor and Annapolis Railroad (the forerunner of the Dominion Atlantic Railway) in 1867. In less than a decade, the railroad was in difficulty. The financial problems of the old Windsor and Annapolis are detailed in an old newspaper clipping I found in the scrapbook of the late Jenny (Mrs. Walter) Young, New Minas. The financial manipulations and problems of a long-gone era are of little interest to casual readers today. Revealing, however, is some of the trivial information in the clipping. Although it was losing money, for example, passenger numbers and freight was increasing by at least five per cent annually and the railroad was being hailed for filling a “long-needed transportation want in the Valley region.”
Railroad and trivia buffs might like to add the following to their stock of interesting but useless information: between Kentville and Windsor, workers on the old railroad had laid down 20 miles of 67-pound iron rails and five miles of 50-pound rails. In 1873, the “rolling stock” included 10 cattle cars and five horse cars.
The first automobile to be owned in Kentville is said to be a Stanley Steamer. Purchased in 1898, the car was brought to Kentville by Robert Baker. A clipping in the young scrapbook has a photograph of the car with its second owner, William Yould and family. The William Yould shown in the photograph was undoubtedly the Englishman who was one of the builders and roadmaster of the Windsor and Annapolis Railroad and later a high-ranking official of the Dominion Atlantic Railway.
The yellowing pages of the Young scrapbook contain clippings marking a number of Valley firsts.
The first telephone line was strung in the Valley in 1893. The task of stringing the line between Hantsport and Annapolis Royal took seven men the entire summer to complete. The only equipment used was a horse-drawn wagon that carried the telephone cable and a few hand-held tools.
There was resistance to the stringing of the phone cable. The news clipping notes that farmers along the way objected strongly to “having the limbs of their tall and stately trees amputated to make way for a newfangled contraption.”
People still talk today about the time during the American prohibition when a rumrunner had to dump its cargo in the Bay of Fundy. For weeks after the dumping, casks of rum floated ashore along the Bay of Fundy, much to the joy of the locals, c1aims a clipping in the Young scrapbook. One Fundy village, claims the news story, had the biggest hangover in its history.
Designed by E. Cox, Kingsport, and built by C.R. Burgess of Wolfville, the square-rigger Kings County is said to be the last ship of its type to be built in the Minas Basin. Launched in 1890, the Kings County was the second largest Canadian ship of her day. “One larger ship in the nation at the time was the W.D. Lawrence, launched in Maitland in 1874,” says a news clipping in the Young scrapbook. The clipping told of the fate of the Kings County. In 1912, the ship ran aground in the River Plate and was later sold and dismantled.