Where are the “Pine Woods?” I asked readers in a column last November.
One reply came from Kings County historian and author, Marie Bishop, who believes the Pine Woods were located on the camp Aldershot grounds, on the Steam Mill side. Ms. Bishop recalls reading somewhere that Camp Aldershot was once referred to as being in the Pine Woods or being called Pine Woods. This was puzzling to Advertiser columnist Brent Fox, author of a history of Camp Aldershot; Fox didn’t think that the current Camp Aldershot and the Pine Woods were in any way connected.
After I mentioned Marie Bishop’s remembrance of a Camp Aldershot, Pine Woods connection in a follow-up column, Gordon Hansford called with additional information. During World War 2 Gordon took his basic training at Camp Aldershot before going overseas. On route marches from the camp, soldiers usually stopped for a water break at a large pine stand a mile north of Kentville – in the triangle formed by Cornwallis Street and Nichols Avenue which is now occupied by the A. P. Redden house. The military referred to this area as the “Pine Grove” but Gordon believes the local name was Pine Woods.
Pinpointing the location of Pine Woods may not seem important; however, I believe the area may be of historical value and there are several reasons why its exact location should be determined.
First of all, Pine Woods may have been a Micmac encampment. Eaton’s Kings County history mentions this possibility but neglects to give its exact location, writing simply that it was “in Cornwallis, near Kentville.”
Second, the Pine Woods Eaton mentions may have been one of the first black settlements in this area; also, the Pine Woods may have been populated by some of the Annapolis Valley’s first freed slaves, which in itself is of historic value. It appears certain that a number of freed slaves lived in Pine Woods; Eaton names several families who occupied Pine Woods and notes that some were once slaves. This is a phase of Kings County history often overlooked and neglected by historians.
Besides the Cornwallis Street, Nichols Avenue triangle, it’s also possible that the Pine Woods community was located on Cornwallis Street immediately north of Gallows Hill in the area of Wade Street. Several longtime Kentville residents recall a Micmac camp being located in this area.
Oddly, Marie Bishop’s recollection that Camp Aldershot and Pine Woods are identical is true in one sense. However, the Camp Aldershot called Pine Woods isn’t the base that’s north of Kentville today.
As Brent Fox said, there is no evidence that today’s Camp Aldershot was ever called Pine Woods. However, the current military base is Camp Aldershot number two. Before the base was established at its present site, it was located in Auburn, Kings County. At Auburn the base drill grounds were situated in an area called “The Pines” and “The Pine Woods.” I discovered this bit of trivia in a book called Paradise Terrestre, a history of the village of Paradise, Annapolis County.