A MINOR HISTORICAL MYSTERY SOLVED (October 29/04)

One of my recent columns prompted a letter that solved a mystery, while another letter concerning this column raised a few questions that may never be answered.

In the October 15 column, I wrote that a 1914 map indicated the existence of a community near Canning called North Corner. This caught the eye of Canning historian Ivan Smith who wrote recently via e-mail that this column “clears up a minor mystery” about North Corner.

Ivan Smith says there is a map “showing the location of Wilf Carter’s home when he lived here (now owned by Mark Parent). This online map is based on a 1928 topographic map; the name ‘Norths’ shows clearly at the location where Wilf lived.

“I noticed this a year ago, and have been wondering what this name meant. Your column clears this up. I’m assuming that the location ‘Norths’ on the 1928 map agrees with the location ‘North Corner’ you referred to.”

I mentioned in this column that the 1914 map indicates Church Street apparently in earlier times was recognised as a community. Ivan Smith writes that “this recognition was given legal form at least once. Chapter 104 of the 1922 Acts of the Nova Scotia Legislature authorised the ‘inhabitants of Upper Church Street’ to form the Upper Church Street Electric Light Commission ‘to supply themselves with Electric Lights’.”

A postscript here. Church Street, is listed in C. Bruce Fergusson’s Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia. According to Fergusson, the community had a school as early as 1836, and a postal way station was established there in 1855.

In an e-mail letter, David Webster asks if the hollow I referred to in the October 8 column – an area Acadians avoiding the expulsion used as a hideout – is one he’s familiar with. “Your description,” Webster writes, “sounds a lot like a hollow that is several hundreds paces magnetic South of the south-west corner of the reservoir that supplies water to somewhere in New Minas.”

Mr. Webster writes that he and his wife discovered the hollow some 30 years ago and have gone back to it quite a few times. I wrote in the October 8 column that oral history has long linked the hollow and the Acadians. However, Webster says, “I am aware of no folklore associated with the hollow.”

Mr. Webster also asks if it makes sense that Acadians attempting to avoid expulsion would use the hollow as a hideout. “If you wanted to hide in the woods, and keep a lookout for possible French ships, would you pick a steep-sided hollow with a narrow passage at each end (tailor-made for ambush), that was far from navigable waters, not close to a look-off, close enough to trails/roads for your smoke to be detected …? Those who did would surely not last two years.”

On the folklore about Acadians forts or stone houses in this area, Webster believes the historical basis for them is the “Old Stone House” at Poplar Grove. In a letter to this paper (as yet unpublished) Mr. Webster wrote that my October 8 column “about an all-Acadian fort has added more twists to the confused and conflicting folklore about the ‘French fort’, ‘Stone House’ or ‘Priest’s House’ variously located at Glenmont, south of New Minas on a hilltop, in Greenwich and now south of New Minas in a hollow.”

All these versions are dubious, Webster says. He suggests that the “probably correct basis for these legends” is the Old Stone House at Poplar Grove “that was rescued from oblivion by Sherman Hines.”

Mr. Webster adds that this house, which was built in 1699 by the French, is marked on a 1756 map as a fortified church.

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