SEARCHING FOR THE OLD COACH ROAD (November 1/96)

Originating in a boggy area in Black River, the stream the Micmacs once called Cacaquit (swift flowing water) runs easterly and passes through the community of Bishopville.

It is the old road following the meandering Cacaquit from Greenfield and another old road joining it at Bishopville in which I’m interested. I have no proof, but I believe that in the last century, the old roads were traversed by coaches on weekly mail and passenger runs. Looking for evidence of this, I drove over the river road recently and had a stroke of good luck.

At Bishopville, a highway road sign proclaimed that the name of the track running up Grey Mountain in an easterly direction is the Old Coach Road. A resident of the community told me that the road was once traversed by coaches running between Halifax and Annapolis. I was told that after running east and southeast, the old road “comes down out of the hills at Falmouth.” While plainly visible at Bishopville, the road in that area has deteriorated over the years and is now no more than a walking trail.

I congratulated myself for discovering another section of the old coach road. My search for traces of the road has been on going for several years. If I had asked, I’m sure any local historian could tell me where to find the course of the original coach road, but that would’ve taken the fun out of it. It has been more enjoyable following up local legends and hints of the road’s course in various community histories.

I was told, for example, that traces of an old coach road could be found at the head of Sunken Lake. I walked this road recently and it appears that at one time a lot of work was done on it.

Perhaps the road from Sunken Lake to the New Ross Road was, as local legends say, a part of the old coach road. Another piece of this road can be seen along the road at White Rock and people have told me this is a section of the old Annapolis Road, a 19th Century project that was supposed to unite the province from east to west.

The community histories I mentioned tell me the coach road ran from Bishopville down the mountain to Wolfville and then to Kentville. There are hints that the road may have run through communities along the South Mountain behind Wolfville.

That’s what makes my search interesting. In some areas people may be confusing the old coach road with the old Annapolis Road. There definitely was a coach road, but while the Annapolis road was laid out in several areas, it was never completed. One day I’ll have it all sorted out.

As I said, I could make my search easier by checking with historians and any number of the historical references that exist. But If I did I wouldn’t have the experience of walking the old roads along the Hants County border and the southern highlands of Kings County. During my search I’ve visited some of the earliest eastern Valley settlements and talked with ancestors of people who first settled there. This alone has made my search worthwhile and satisfying.

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