OLD ROADS, OLD CELLARS OF NEW MINAS (November 21/03)

Were they Acadian or Planter in origin – the old cellars and old roads that people say were visible some 50 years ago around New Minas?

Bev Eaton, who is 85, believes some of the old cellars he played around in his boyhood days were Acadian. “That’s what we were told,” Eaton says of three cellars he and friends found south of his Aalders Avenue residence in New Minas.

The cellars were close together in an area between Aalders Avenue and the D.A.R. tracks, Eaton recalls. “They had rock walls and we used to dig around them looking for buried treasure,” he said. Eaton also mentioned a mysterious mound of earth in the area that apparently had been there for some time. As well, Eaton remembers hearing stories of an Acadian church that was in the same area.

It’s possible that the cellars Bev Eaton remembers seeing were Acadian in origin. A. W. H. Eaton quotes a source in his Kings County history that pinpointed an Acadian village in New Minas and the location of a chapel and a “French fort.” In fact, the historian confirms that New Minas was the site of a large Acadian settlement and he names the farmsteads where they were located – for example “the Best farm, now owned by Amos Griffin,” and “the centre of the hamlet… known as the Foster farm.”

Eaton published his county history in 1910, only a few years before Bev Eaton investigated the old cellars, and the historian writes that Acadian homesteads sites were visible at the time his work was published. “In later times French cellars have been numerous here,” Eaton says. He places some of the cellars as approximately in the area where Bev Eaton remembers seeing them.

As well as there being evidence of what A. W. H. Eaton calls “a somewhat important (Acadian) hamlet” in New Minas, the village apparently was crisscrossed by various French roads. Eaton’s history gives enough clues so that some of the Acadian roads probably can be traced. “North of Robert Redden’s, across the hollow running east and west, the French road can be traced yet,” Eaton writes of one old road, for example.

A former long-time resident of New Minas remembers the location of various old cellars roads in and around the village, but he isn’t sure if they were Acadian or Planter. Wayne Downey tells me he found cellars near the trailer park west of the Big Stop. There were a rock foundation and a well beside the 101 down ramp there, Downey says.

Downey says he also found an old cellar south of the #1 highway in New Minas near the liquor commission store. He also found an old cellar on the “laid out road” that once started by the senior’s complex and ran south. And during his explorations when he was a youth, Downey also found a cellar near an old dyke road which ran to the Cornwallis River. Downey tells me he also explored another old road that ran south from New Minas to Canaan. Sections of this road are buried under the 101 highway but some stretches are still visible and can be walked.

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