LETTER SUGGESTS PRESERVING LYONS NAME (January 26/01)

Kentville’s newest street, two-way Station Lane, was once part of the railway line that sliced through the town just north of and parallel to Webster Street. Part of the parking area on Station Lane was once a siding where boxcars pulled up to unload at the Scotian Gold warehouse.

Station Lane was selected as the name for this street after the town asked for suggestions and it appears to be an appropriate choice. The original site of the old train station is just up the way and the newest station is now a bus stop on the street.

But while seemingly appropriate, there are some who feel that perhaps the street should have been named after one of Kentville’s historic personages, a former Mayor perhaps or someone who was a major player in the development of the town.

When the town announced that it was seeking public input on a name for the new street, Kentville historian and archivist Louis Comeau had a suggestion that should have been seriously considered. Mr. Comeau’s research turned up the fact that the Lyons family has been connected in various ways with the town since the early 19th century. Comeau outlined this connection in a letter to the town and asked that the Lyons surname be considered for the new street.

Since the new street has been named, it may seem pointless to resurrect Mr. Comeau’s request that the Lyons name be connected with it. However, Mr. Comeau’s letter contained a number of historical tidbits about the town and the Lyons connection that I have never seen in print. I found the Comeau letter quite interesting and I’m sure history buffs will too; for that reason, and that reason alone, part of Mr. Comeau’s letter is reprinted here.

“Streets hold an important place in a community’s demographics,” Mr. Comeau wrote. “They tell us where we are in the present time and also tell us where we have been in the past. This new street needs a special name commemorating past persons who have contributed much to what we are now as a town.

“There is an exemplary family that fits this profile. The Lyons family has played an integral part in the town since the early 1820s. Several members have had outstanding records in contributing to (Kentville’s) development. They are:

“James Lyon, who emigrated from Ireland in the early part of the 19th century and within a decade established himself as a prominent hotelkeeper,” Comeau wrote. “He owned and operated the Stage Coach Inn on east Main Street (which is still standing as an apartment building); after this he owned and operated the Lyons Hotel on Aberdeen Street, which is also still standing and now is MacDonald Chisholm Insurance Ltd.

“James’ son, Joseph R. Lyons. He was postmaster in Kentville for 48 years, from 1892 to 1940, the longest serving postmaster in the town’s history; he died while still serving in this position at the age of 94.” (Mr. Comeau fondly describes Joseph as a noted town character.)

“Joseph R.’s son, Gerald Lyons, K.C. and former Mayor of the town. He served from 1932 to 1935 and died in office, serving the town to the very end.

“Other Lyons family members who have lived and worked here are, Miss Mary Lyons, RN, who was head nurse at the provincial Sanatorium, Lewis Lyons, blacksmith, who operated a shop near where Cleve’s Sporting Goods store is now, and his daughter, Edna M. (Lyons) Comeau, RN, who was head nurse at the provincial Sanatorium geriatrics unit.”

Mr. Comeau closed his letter with the observation that preserving the Lyons name on a street would be an “appropriate memorial to a very outstanding family in (Kentville’s) lengthy history.”

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