The “bible” of history books in the Annapolis Valley is Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton’s massive volume on Kings County, which was first published in 1910. While not as lengthy as Eaton’s work, W.A. Calnek’s 1897 publication records the early days of Annapolis County and dabbles in a bit of Kings County history as well. In Hants there is no “official” county history in one volume but various works collectively chronicle the Acadian, Planter and Loyalist periods.
On a lesser but no less important scale than the works of Eaton and Calnek are a number of histories on Annapolis Valley communities. There’s an abundance of these valuable works, several of which have been mentioned in this column before. Valley people would appear to be “hooked on history,” and there’s an ongoing, never-ending effort to write and publish area histories. Even as I write this, several new community histories are nearing completion and others are being planned.
While it’s impossible to do justice to the topic and many books and papers will be overlooked, I’ve planned for some time to devote a column to listing some of the local histories that have been written. A few of the following histories are out of print and can only be found in used book stores, libraries and museums; where possible I will indicate if a history is for general sale and where it can be purchased.
For starters, both Eaton’s and Calnek’s history were reissued by Mika Publishing and can be found in or ordered by most bookstores.
Readers interested in Hants County history should contact the West Hants Historical Society, which has an extensive list of community works. The Society has histories on the communities of Bramber, Centre Burlington, Cheverie, Summerville, Ellershouse, Falmouth, Newport, Walton, Rawdon, St. Croix and Hantsport.
If Kings County is your main interest, a book reviewed previously in this column should be read. An Early History of Windsor, Henry Yould Hind’s 1889 work, complements Eaton’s history, containing many interesting references to Kings County in the Acadian period. It is also available from the West Hants Historical Society.
Some of the communities of Kings County that have published histories are Coldbrook, Port Williams, Kingsport, Canaan, Greenwich, Bishopville, Aylesford and Prospect. Echoes Across The Valley is a two-volume history of Kingston and surrounding communities. A history of Scots Bay should is currently being worked on and should be available this summer.
Town histories include a chatty, detailed work on Kentville by Mabel Nichols (The Devil’s Half Acre). James Doyle Davison’s book, Mud Creek, is a well-researched, comprehensive history of Wolfville. The town of Windsor is also covered by several books of more recent vintage than Hinds. Historic Windsor and Windsor: A Journey in History are available from the West Hants Society.
While they aren’t truly community histories, three other books by James Doyle Davison are recommended if you would like to nurture a historical “feel” for our early days. These are Handley Chipman, Kings County Planter, Eliza of Pleasant Valley and a book that complements Davison’s Wolfville history, What Mean These Stones?