THE 1924 ORCHARD AND SAM SLICK TOURIST TRAILS (November 17/00)

“To a large extent the trails are improved gravel-coated roads and are excellent for motoring, and for open sea views and landscapes are without peer on the Atlantic seaboard.”

Thus reads a “road map and travelogue of Nova Scotia” that was written to entice the motorists of 1924 to venture out on the “modern, gravel-coated highways.” And if the super “gravel and earth roads” of 76 years ago weren’t enticement enough, motorists were advised that the “Nova Scotia Motor League has done splendid work in marking the various trails on telegraph and telephone poles at all important and confusing roads and turns.”

In addition to the “helpful markings,” the various trails were given names that were guaranteed to entice adventurous motorists. In the Annapolis Valley, we had three trails in 1924 that were being touted as attractive and worth touring; these were the Look-Off Scenic Trail, the Orchard Trail, and the Sam Slick Trail.

The Look-Off Scenic Trail, all of 14 miles, ran from Kentville on an “excellent wide gravel road” to the Look-Off on “top of the famous Blomidon” from which one could view five counties. “No motorist should pass Kentville without first taking this short detour.”

The Orchard Trail was a 31-mile route in Kings County “through continuous orchards, over good gravel and earth roads and through such centers as Centreville, Canning, Starr’s Point, Port Williams, Gaspereaux and on to Grand Pre,” the last community being described as one of the famed historic places in the province.

The Sam Slick trail (what a name!) was a “good earth road” some 48 miles long leading “from Windsor, through Brooklyn to Shubenacadie, connecting with the Atlantic Trail leading from Halifax to the New Brunswick border.”

Tourism was in its infancy in 1924 and it’s amusing to note that the “good and excellent roads” were either gravel or earth. Imagine pounding along those dusty roads in a Ford or Chevy roadster, watching for the Motor League’s color-coded telephone and telegraph poles while looking at the scenery. The Look-Off Scenic Trail was denoted by poles marked with a white band flanked top and bottom with blue. One would know he was on the Orchard Trail from the poles banded in yellow flanked with red, while the Sam Slick Trail was marked with black bands flanked top and bottom with white.

This was motoring in Nova Scotia between the two world wars. The best highways outside of Halifax in 1924 would rank as secondary roads today. However, the highway out of Halifax was “excellent bituminous macadam pavement;” this is one of the few mentions of paved highways in the province and apparently at the time it was only seven miles in length.

There’s an amusing reference to the New Ross road, which is described as a “road in fair condition during fine weather.” Wolfville is singled out as being almost unique in the province when it came to roads. Smack dab in the centre of Wolfville one “meets with a delightful surprise – a splendid paved street which runs straight through the town.”

Published by the Morning Chronicle and Evening Echo of Halifax, the travelogue and road map (price 35 cents) described the amenities to be found in Valley towns. Thus we find that Kentville and Windsor were the leading Valley towns in 1924, between them boasting seven hotels and five banks.

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