WHY NO PERMANENT RAILWAY OR SHIP EXHIBIT? (January 16/04)

Late last year the county lost another of its railway veterans and the passing of John DeWolfe, a former engineer on the D.A.R., brings a question to mind. Kentville at one time was the hub of the Dominion Atlantic Railway and due to the railroad, the town attained great prominence in the Valley. Kentville may owe its existence to a ford on the Cornwallis River, as E. J. Cogswell wrote in 1895, but there’s little doubt that the railway built the town and made it prosperous.

Given the important role the railway played in Kentville’s existence, and the fact that the Valley’s past prosperity was due to the railway, why is there no permanent exhibition recognising this at the Kings County Museum? From what I’ve seen of the various souvenirs, artefacts, photographs and written material stored at the Museum, such an exhibit could easily be put together.

Along the same line, Kings County at one time was a major shipbuilding area. The shipyards of Canning and Kingsport, along with smaller county yards, once turned out sailing ships that were among the best in Canada. In fact, Nova Scotia was famed for its shipbuilding and for its seafaring men who ventured worldwide, and this area, Kings County, in particular, led the way.

We have a great shipbuilding and seafaring tradition and there should be a permanent exhibit celebrating this fact. The Kings County Museum is the logical place for such an exhibit, which perhaps could be at the very least be a photo display along with a short history of our shipbuilding industry.

It was described as a 148-page book containing 158,000 words; and according to a news story in The Advertiser‘s 1937 issue of February 25, it was supposed to have been published on this date. The book was called The Romance of Railroading in the Land of Evangeline.

I mention this book in the hopes that a reader may have some knowledge of it. The railway buff who told me about The Advertiser news story wasn’t familiar with the book, and perhaps it never saw print. If it was published and you know something about it, please give me or Leon Barron a call.

With the new year underway, I’d like to recognise and thank the many people who contributed historical information for this column. I’m especially indebted to Leon Barron for some of the more interesting columns on the railway and shipbuilding that have appeared in recent years. Bria Stokesbury and Cathy Margeson of the Kings County Museum were especially helpful in digging out pertinent information when I was working on special projects. Frankly, without the assistance of Leon, Bria and Cathy it would have been impossible for me to report on some of the more interesting aspects of county history.

My thanks as well to the many readers who called and wrote me last year. Many of my historical columns resulted from readers taking the time to provide me with interesting information on local history. Your input was appreciated and I hope to hear from all of you again.

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