In 1971 Watson Kirkconnell published the results of his research on Kings County place names, remarking in this pioneering work that often the origin of some communities was obscure.
The gentleman that he was, the late and beloved Dr. Kirkconnell avoided mentioning a number of well-used place names that had derogatory or otherwise unpleasant connotations. Among them was the area immediately north of Kentville known for generations as “Yoho,” and still referred to as such by older residents of the community of Meadowview.
It was bad enough growing up in Aldershot, as I did, during the war years. Like Meadowview, Aldershot was another community whose residents were looked upon as second class by some Kentville citizens. Why we were is a mystery, but there definitely was a stigma attached to being from Aldershot or Yoho. As a result, Meadowview replaced Yoho and many residents who live in that nebulous area known as Aldershot now give Kentville as their postal address.
Unlike Aldershot (Aldershot Camp) the origin of Yoho as a place name is a mystery. However, Rebecca Crouse of the Kings Historical Society is determined to learn how the community got the Yoho name and why it was looked upon as being derogatory. Ms. Crouse is currently delving into land grant records and other historical material in hopes of finding an answer to these questions.
If anyone has information on Meadowview/Yoho, they can reach Ms. Crouse at the Kings County Museum in Kentville (902-678-6237); or you can e-mail her at email@example.com. In the meanwhile, here are some of the facts Ms. Crouse and I have unearthed regarding Yoho, and some of the questions she is asking.
Eaton’s Kings County history refers to the area that eventually became Yoho and Aldershot Camp, the Pine Woods. “Across the river from Kentville, on the main roads that run North,” Eaton writes, “for many years have stood some small scattered houses, owned and occupied by people of the African race. This Negro settlement got the name it has always borne, the ‘Pine Woods,’ or as now, ‘The Pines’.”
Ms. Crouse has found references to a land grant in Cornwallis, dated 1838, to one George Bear and Eaton notes that the surname Bear was associated with the Pine woods. In 1873 and 1886 land grants in the Pine Woods were made to James Landsey and Ebenezer Landsey; Eaton says that the Landseys were among the chief families living in the Pine Woods.
One section of Meadowview, Knockwood Hill, was named after a Mi’kmaq family. I’m only guessing, but the fact that Mi’kmaqs and blacks dwelt in the Pine Woods may have resulted in anyone living in this area being looked down upon. In other words, racial prejudice may have labelled future residents of Yoho/Meadowview as undesirables. When I was a boy in the 1940s, for example, the worst insult you could give anyone was “you act like someone from the Pines.”
Re the Landsey land grants, Eaton says that this family was long-time dwellers in the Pine Woods area. Is it possible that Landsey eventually became Lanzie, the name of the road that runs through what was once the Pine Woods?