1907 – A SMALLPOX EPIDEMIC IN PROVINCE (November 1/02)

In 1907 about 2,000 Nova Scotians were stricken with smallpox. Local newspapers wrote about a province-wide epidemic but not every area was hit. And, in fact, while many people contacted the disease, there were few fatalities.

Details on the epidemic are sketchy. Recently I went through old newspaper files at Acadia University and there was no mention of the epidemic. However, I have a photocopy of a report on the epidemic; its source is unknown but it may have come from the Public Archives in Halifax according to the person who gave it to me.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this report but here are highlights from it: Over 1,900 cases of smallpox were treated in 1907 by doctors who had filed reports with the provincial government. It was said to be the worst outbreak – and possibly the first major outbreak – of smallpox in the province; all the cases were mild, however, and few people died from the disease.

Readers who may have heard of the epidemic from older family members may have some useful information about the smallpox outbreak of 1907. If so, please share it with me and the readers of this column. You can reach me through this newspaper or by telephoning 902-678-4591. My e-mail address is edwingcoleman@gmail.com.

“Have you ever run into anything pertaining to ‘Canaan Road?’ John and Sue Corbett wrote recently via e-mail. “A friend who lives in Tremont has what appears to be an overgrown trail in the forest behind his house, noted on his deed as Canaan Road. Following this eastward, he says that it breaks from the brush onto an existing road on the South Mountain.”

It’s believed, the Corbetts write, that “this is part of the early road running down the Valley to Annapolis Royal.”

The Corbetts wonder if Kentville’s Canaan Avenue is somehow connected with the road mentioned on the friend’s deed and what was the old stagecoach road. “We recall Canaan Avenue in Kentville coming from the south side of town down to where (our father) mentioned the stagecoach stop was near the Mill.”

Perhaps a reader has information on this that they’d like to pass on. In the meanwhile, I plan to do a little digging and to contact local historians to see what I can find out about the Canaan Road.

When he passed away at age 90 in 1960 he was said to have been Kentville’s oldest son and a descendant of one of the town’s first families. Allison Patrick Redden, better known here as A. P. Redden, worked at an old Kentville mill that was operated by his father; later he opened a mill in north end Kentville which is now the site of the Goodyear outlet. A. P. was well-known for his woodcraft and his former residence located in the “Y” formed by Nichols Avenue and Cornwallis Street contain examples of his carving and intricate wall panelling that he created by hand.

I’m looking for information about A. P. Redden. Readers who remember him are invited to call me. I’m also hoping a reader can supply some interesting tidbits on two men who were master builders. One is Vernon Smith, the man in charge of building the Dominion Atlantic Railway through this part of the Valley. I’ve been told that Smith has relatives here. The man in charge of building the Cornwallis Inn, Jesse Fenwick Parsons, may also have relatives in this area

 

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