AN ACADIAN MAP OF NEW MINAS (January 2/04)

Reader response to my column on cellars and roads of Acadian origin in the village of New Minas has been tremendous and also educational. As the result of telephone calls, for example, I’ve learned that the site of an Acadian cemetery, homestead sites and an Acadian mill in the village have been roughly pinpointed.

By “roughly pinpointed” I mean that the approximate but not the exact location of these sites is known. During the upcoming Acadian celebrations, some of these sites will be identified on a pamphlet currently being put together. The pamphlet will be distributed during the celebration and will contain a map indicating areas where Acadians may have worked, lived and were buried in and around New Minas.

It would seem from information I received recently that New Minas was much more important as an Acadian settlement than historians realise. Grand Pre as an important Acadian centre has been heavily promoted over the years and rightly so. However, not enough attention has been paid the settlements on the Canard and Cornwallis River. The Canard area was a major settlement area replete with a church, at least one mill and possibly even some minor shipbuilding; New Minas may have had a church and a mill as well.

The Acadian presence on the Cornwallis River at Port Williams, New Minas, Kentville and as far as upriver as Coldbrook, while not entirely ignored, has never been promoted as much as Grand Pre has Eaton’s Kings County history skims over the Acadian presence around Canard, New Minas and Kentville. Oddly, a history of the old burial ground in Windsor has more about Acadian settlements in this area than Eaton’s work.

Getting back to responses from readers about the Acadian presence in New Minas, I’ve been told that an Acadian cemetery may have been located at the bottom of Jones Road. A couple of readers told me there were Acadian homestead sites near the elementary school. There is a mini park in the hollow behind the elementary school and there may have been an Acadian mill on the stream there. This may also have been the site of a Planter mill. In more recent times, the brook in the hollow was the site of a fish hatchery dam.

There may have been an Acadian mill on the border between New Minas and Kentville. At the mouth of the research station ravine, a mini aboiteau controls the tidal flow of the small stream that runs into the Cornwallis River. The mill may have been located there or just upstream in the ravine and it may have been powered by the tidal waters.

Thanks to leads from readers, I’ll have more later on the Acadian presence in New Minas. In the meanwhile, my thanks to Sam Milne who called to fill me in on the rink once located in New Minas. Sam tells me he worked as a rink rat there. As mentioned in an earlier column, the rink was located near the senior citizen’s complex. Sam said the rink was relocated to a site near Vail’s Laundry and was closed in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

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