THE SIX ROD ROAD (January 24/03)

It was a grand plan, a 100-foot wide, magnificent highway that like the 101 would connect Halifax with the western end of the province. However, the so-called Annapolis Road, first schemed up in 1796, wasn’t the only early super highway proposed for the province

Right here in Kings County, in the late 1800s, another great highway to run from Minas Basin westward to Annapolis was envisioned. Like the Annapolis Road, it too would be 100 feet wide; and like the Annapolis Road, it existed mostly on paper. Some of this great road would be surveyed, and sections would be laid out and worked on, but for the most part, it would exist only on survey maps and in boundary descriptions.

This was the Six Rod Road, a highway that was supposed to connect the port of Kingsport with the entire western area of the province and possibly the Bay of Fundy. The road was so named because, like the Annapolis Road, it was to be laid out six rods, or about 100 feet wide.

Unlike the Annapolis Road, on which much has been written, little is know of the Six Rod Road. Local researchers have scoured government papers without finding written records of the road. However, while details are sketchy and there’s no evidence the road was ever put out for public tender, sections of it were constructed and can be pinpointed today. And if local folklore is accurate, some of the existing highways in Kings County incorporate the few stretches of the Six Rod Road that were constructed.

I first heard about the Six Rod Road four years ago from history buff Leon Barron. Leon told me what he’d heard about the road from people of his father’s generation. That the terminal for the road was Kingsport and the road was intended for military and commercial use; upon completion, the road would connect the Minas Basin with the Bay of Fundy. The Rabbit Square road north-west of Canning is part of the Six Rod Road, Leon said.

Mention of the Six Rod Road in this column several years ago resulted in a call from Mildred Elliott, Canning, who told me the deed to their property mentions the road in the description of its boundaries. The driveway of Blaine North’s property near Canning is a piece of the Six Rod Road; Mr. North tells me the road ran through his property and traces are still visible.

Bains Road resident Lewis Hazel may know more about the Six Rod Road than any man in the county. Hazel, who operated a bulldozer on the highways in the Valley for 40 years, tells me the road was laid out by the government and there were plans to make the terminal, Kingsport, a major shipping outlet. From Kingsport, the road was supposed to run north and then west parallel to Bains Road, then to Lakeville and eventually to the Annapolis Basin.

Sections of the road can be seen in Kings County, Hazel said. The Dill Branch and Rabbit Square road are part of the Six Rod Road, for example. When working in Annapolis County he came across an old road that residents said has been known for generations as a section of the Six Rod Road. In one part of Kings County, the Six Rod Road was laid out through a swamp. “You can see the corduroy road,” Hazel said.

So little information exists about it that the Six Rod Road is a bit of a mystery. Folklore has it that the road was a federal government project and it would mainly be used for military purpose. Why was road never completed? The answer may be the demise of Kingsport as a major outlet to the sea as the age of sailing ships ended and the railway loomed on the horizon.

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