OLD VALLEY HOTELS, LODGES, INNS (November 20/98)

In last week’s column I mentioned that Elijah Borden, the first station agent in Kingsport on the Cornwallis Valley Railway, also operated a hotel. Leon Barron, who supplied the information about Mr. Borden, couldn’t recall the name of the hotel or where it was located in Kingsport.

After this column was published I discovered a list of Annapolis Valley hotels, inns and lodges in a 19th-century tourist publication produced by the Yarmouth Steamship Co. To my surprise, Kingsport in 1896 boasted two hotels. One was the Kingsport House and E. C. Borden was shown as the proprietor; this no doubt was Elijah Borden, the station agent. Kingsport’s second hotel was the Central House, the proprietor Edw. (Edward, Edwin?) Viner.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Kingsport supported two hotels. In its heyday, the early days of the railroad in the Annapolis Valley, Kingsport was bustling. Once completed, the Cornwallis Valley Railway connected with the Government wharf at Kingsport, where steamers regularly landed freight from Saint John.

In her history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, Marguerite Woodworth said that the freight moving through Kingsport was “considerable;” so considerable that a few years after the Cornwallis Valley Railway began operation, it was bought out by its competition, The Windsor and Annapolis Railway.

Apparently, Kingsport was a busy place even before the railroad arrived. Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton noted in his Kings County history that Kingsport was for a long time the County’s main “point of departure for the Parrsborough packets.” This may explain why Kingsport was a favourite summer resort before the railroad reached it and could support a couple of hotels.

In 1896 Canning also offered a first class hotel. The Waverley House, with A. B. Baxter as its proprietor, boasted that it could be reached by rail from Yarmouth, and tickets were obtainable in Boston “direct to Canning.” The Waverley House may have been owned (or partly owned) by the Yarmouth Steamship Co. since it is one of only four hotels prominently advertised in the tourist publication.

Windsor, another important railroad centre in 1896, has two hotels listed in the tourist publication, the Hotel Dufferin, C. A. Jordan, proprietor, and the Victoria Hotel, operated by one T. Doran.

Windsor was a much larger centre than Wolfville in 1896, yet the latter had four hotels listed in the tourist booklet. Wolfville had the Royal Hotel, Rose Cottage Hotel, American Hotel and Kent Lodge. Why the difference in the number of lodgings in Windsor and Wolfville? The American-controlled Yarmouth Steamship Co. may have simply not listed hotels in which it had no investment.

Hantsport had two hotels in 1896 – the American Hotel and Hantsport Hotel. Horton Landing, for a time a prime area in Kings County, also had a hotel in 1896; this was the Dunedine Hotel, operated by Thomas Harris.

From Windsor running westward up the Valley, there were hotels of some sort in every major village and town. It almost seems that if a place had a name, there was a hotel, inn or lodge. Windsor, Hantsport, Horton Landing, Wolfville, Kentville, Berwick, Aylesford and Kingston had hotels. Even Port Williams was important enough to have hotels near the turn of the century even though the railroad missed it on the south and skipped around it on the north. In 1896 Port Williams had the Village House and the Port Williams Hotel, with George Brown and M. A. Orr respectively as proprietors.

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