I haven’t seen a copy of what a reviewer called a “trusty guide to Nova Scotia waterfalls” so I don’t know if Kentville’s cascades are mentioned in this book.
One of these waterfalls can be found in the research station vault at the eastern end of the town. While perhaps not truly a waterfall, this cataract spills down a cleft in an ancient ravine that contains trees over 200 years old. While relatively diminutive and not as spectacular as, say, the falls in Truro’s Victoria Park, the waterfall in the research station ravine attracts hundreds of sightseers every year.
Much more famous because it was once visited and written about by a famous Nova Scotian and captured at its peak by a famous photographer is the so-called “Kentville Waterfall.” First of all this is a misnomer since the waterfall lies well outside Kentville’s town limits. However, Joseph Howe designated this spectacular little cascade the “Kentville Waterfall” when he wrote his travel sketches over 150 years ago and it has remained so ever since.
Around the turn of the century the noted recorder of old Valley scenes, A.L. Hardy, perpetuated Howe’s error with a photograph of the cataract which he titled “Kentville Waterfall.” Local newspapers which reproduced occasionally Hardy’s photograph in the 30s and as recently as the 60s also perpetuated this error, placing the waterfall in Kentville.
While the “Kentville Waterfall” is not in Kentville and on a scale of one to 10 probably only rates a five or six, it may be one of the best known cascades in Nova Scotia. Thanks for this can be given to Joseph Howe who in his Travel Sketches of Nova Scotia, published between 1828 and 1831, probably gave the waterfall more publicity than it deserved.
That Howe was impressed by the waterfall is an understatement. “There is a wildness and singularity in the whole scene that nothing can surpass,” he said of the falls and the ravine it catapulted through. And it is an ideal place for a hermit’s retreat he said in conclusion, “where his evening hymn might mingle with the falling waters, and his knee bend in adoration of him whose power and beauty was ever before his eyes.”
Besides the poetic note quoted, Howe devoted several paragraphs to a description of the waterfalls and the area around it. I suspect the falls had more volume in Howe’s day and when A.L. Hardy wandered up the ravine with his camera, but the “wildness and singularity” are still there. In fact, there are people who believe the waterfall and the ravine deserve to be made into a park so everyone can enjoy the wild beauty of the area.
I would guess that the waterfall Joseph Howe fell in love with lies less than a kilometre south of Kentville’s town limits. By following Chester Avenue and turning east beside the 101 overpass, you can find the stream that flows from the falls. It’s a rough walk up the stream to the falls but the sight of the falls is worth the effort.
The waterfall can be reached quickly by turning on the 101 at Chester Avenue and driving east. From the Chester Avenue exit the highway climbs steeply and at its peak is the stream that feeds the falls. From this point the waterfall is only a short distance downstream.