LOOKING BACK: THE BLOMIDON RAILWAY (April 9/99)

With consolidation of several railway companies and the incorporation of the Dominion Atlantic Railway in 1894, a single line ran through the province from Halifax to Yarmouth. Wherever possible, the line through the Annapolis Valley had been laid in the lowlands, in some places running near the Minas Basin shore where railroad builders found fewer natural obstructions.

In Kings County the turbulent Cornwallis River and a geological feature, the Cornwallis Valley, dictated where the rail line would run. This left a vacuum of sorts along the northern bank of the Cornwallis River from Port Williams to Kentville and from these communities north to the Fundy shore. The establishment of the Cornwallis Valley Railway (C.V.R.) from Kingsport to Kentville provided some service, but it was obvious that a major area in Kings County had been “left out” when it came to rail service.

Looking at the lay of the land, it was also obvious that running to Kentville on the D.A.R. and doubling back on the C.V.R. to reach the then major port of Kingsport was taking the long way around. A line crossing the Cornwallis River at Port Williams and running north to Canning was the direct and shortest route to Kingsport. Since bridging the Cornwallis River near Port Williams would have presented no major problems other than financial, why was such a rail line never considered?

Actually it was. On March 31, 1911, an act to incorporate the Blomidon Railway Company Limited was passed by the provincial government. The document of incorporation can be found in the 1911 Statutes of Nova Scotia; this document indicates that the new railway would connect with the D.A.R. at Wolfville, cross the Cornwallis River at Port Williams and service areas untouched by the current railway

From Port Williams the Blomidon Railway was to run to Canning via Starr’s Point and Canard. After connecting with the C.V.R. “at or near Canning,” the new line would run north to Cape Blomidon, passing first through Woodside, North Corner, Upper Pereau and Delhaven. The plan was to run the line to the top of Cape Blomidon to the site of the National Park and from there run to Scots Bay and then to Cape Split. Today an old trail of unclear origin runs from the park site straight through the woods to Scots Bay; perhaps it is the right of way hewed out of the forest by the fledgling Blomidon Railway Company.

A number of prominent professional men and merchants were named as the chief operating officers of the proposed line and it’s is obvious from this list that the Blomidon Railway was a serious undertaking. One of the officers, Kentville lawyer Harry H. Wickwire, came from a pioneer family that had long played a prominent role in Kings County. Another officer, Leslie S. Macoun of Ottawa, was the son-in-law of Sir Frederick Borden. Named also as officers of the line were Canning physician Archibald M. Covert and Canning businessmen Arthur S. Burgess and Halle Bigelow.

Rumored to have the blessing of Sir Frederick and with initial capital of a quarter million dollars, the plan to build the Blomidon Railway was far from a fanciful scheme.  It would have been a magnificent undertaking but looking back from our vantage point today, we know that the Blomidon Railway was never built.

The Company had two years from the date of incorporation to start work on the railway, and I assumed that newspapers in 1911 or 1912 would have some reference to it. I found nothing. Perhaps another researcher will discover why the Blomidon Railway never happened.

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