YOU WON’T FIND A BETTER HISTORICAL REFERENCE (November 19/04)

They could have called it the handy, dandy little historical paperback for history buffs at a few dollars. Or even titled it Kings County history in a nutshell for history nuts.

Thankfully I wasn’t around when staff of the Kings County Museum selected a name for the historical booklet they published earlier this year, so these titles weren’t considered. They called the booklet Historic Kings County, subtitling it, A look at the history of Kings County through pictures and stories.

This was an appropriate title (and subtitle) for the booklet since it describes the contents perfectly. Frankly, you won’t find a better historical reference on Kings County anywhere today. Andrew Clinch of the Kings Historical Society spoke of it as offering “both a look back at the past, and a valued keepsake for the future.” As well, he called it a “pictorial history,” and this best explains what the booklet is all about.

Basically, Historic Kings County is a collection of old-time photographs and historical sketches of over 30 Kings County communities. Besides the community sketches, there are many historical articles and countless old-time photographs from grandpa’s time and beyond.

Well, I shouldn’t say “countless old-time photographs.” I just took a minute to count them and there are about 100 old prints in all, many of them taken by the county’s most famous photographer, A. L. Hardy. There’s a thumbnail sketch of Hardy’s career as well and a story about the subject in one of his better-known photographs. This is the photograph Hardy took of folk hero David Costley, the “bear man of Nova Scotia” who was recognised by Queen Victoria for his exploits. Which, by the way, consisted mainly of supplying bearskins for the hats worn by Buckingham Palace guards.

As mentioned, Costley’s story in digested form can be found in the booklet. You’ll also find short articles on our Acadian heritage, on dykes and those mysterious hay staddles, the legends associated with Cape Blomidon, county shipbuilding, and so on. There are easily some 40 plus historical vignettes, all with interesting tidbits on the origin of our county communities.

Getting back to the photographs, if you like looking at old-time scenes you’ll be delightful with the pictures presented in the booklet. Thanks to the digital scanning by Larry Keddy, the photographs in the booklet, even those over 100 years old, are sharp. The majority of the photographs are from the late 19th and early 20th century.

What also amazing about Historic Kings County is the price. As I mentioned, it’s amazingly low For three dollars you get one of the best historical references on Kings County in print today. Copies of the booklet are available at the Kings County Museum, Cornwallis Street, Kentville.

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