Before the birth of the Dominion Atlantic Railway (D.A.R.) in 1895, the Annapolis Valley was served by several independent railroads.
Two years before the D.A.R. came into being the Windsor and Annapolis Railway (W. & A.) ran through the counties of Hants, Kings and Annapolis. In Middleton another railway, the Nova Scotia Central, connected with the W. & A. at Middleton and ran to the South Shore. In Annapolis, the W. & A. connected with the Western Counties Railway and ran west to Yarmouth.
In addition, there was the tiny Cornwallis Valley Railway (C.V.R.) which ran from Kentville to Kingsport with numerous stops in between.
All of these railways, except perhaps the C.V.R., were connected with stagecoach lines that ran into the hinterlands. These connections meant that travellers in the late 19th century could hop on any of the Valley railways and eventually reach even the most remote town or village in the province.
The W. & A., the Nova Scotia Central Railway and the Western Counties Railway regularly advertised that stagecoach connections were part of their service. That it was a fairly complete service can be seen by a train and stagecoach schedule the W. & A. published in an 1893 directory:
“The trains of the W. and A. Railway Company make connections at Newport Station semi-daily with coach to Newport; at Windsor, semi-weekly, with coach to Chester; at Port Williams Station going West and Kentville going East daily with coaches to Cornwallis and Canning; at Kentville, daily with train to Canning and Kingsport; and semi-weekly, with coaches to New Ross and Chester.”
The directory also listed the stations serving the four railway lines. Besides Kentville, which actually was owned by the W. & A., the tiny C.V.R. had only five stations along its line; these were at Steam Mill Village, Centreville, Canard, Canning and Kingsport.
The much larger W. & A. boasted 36 stations and many of their stops were in important apple-growing areas. In this immediate area, the W. & A. had stations Hantsport, Avonport, Horton Landing, Grand Pre, Wolfville, Port Williams (Greenwich), Kentville, Coldbrook, Cambridge, Waterville and Berwick. In the east, the W. & A. had stations at Windsor and Falmouth, in the west at various villages and towns now lying along the 101 highway.
It was possible in 1893 to hop on the W. & A. in Kentville and travelling west to Annapolis, connect with a steamer to St. John. A passenger on the W. & A could also transfer to the Western Counties Railway at Annapolis, then travel farther west to Yarmouth where it was possible to take a steamer to the States. Using a combination of trains and stagecoaches, it was possible to make a loop by travelling west from the Valley to Middleton, then south to Bridgewater, then eastward to Halifax and back to the Valley.
Using a W. & A. station anywhere in the Valley as a starting point, it was also possible in 1893 to take the train to other provinces. The W. & A. also pioneered a “water connection” with its line. In 1893 the W. & A formed the Evangeline Navigation Company and put in service between Kingsport and Parrsboro the Evangeline, a “sloop-rigged, carvel built little boat of 50 H.P. and 25 tons capacity.”