A HISTORY OF “NORTHS” AND “NORTH’S CORNER” (December 3/04)

In an October 15 column, I mentioned that a 1914 map indicated the existence of a community near Canning called North Corner. Later, Canning historian Ivan Smith wrote that he had a 1928 map showing a place called “Norths” in the area where Wilf Carter’s family once lived. Smith said he wondered what this name meant until he saw the October 15 column. “Your column clears this up,” Smith wrote, “assuming that the location ‘Norths’ agrees with the location of ‘North Corner’ you referred to.”

I quoted Mr. Smith in a follow-up column on October 29, noting that his e-mail letter appeared to solve a mystery. Actually, as I found later, I made a wrong assumption. Norths and Norths Corner (North’s Corner) are not the same place. Leon Barron, who grew up in the area, tells me that Norths where Wilf Carter briefly lived and North’s Corner are separate places about two miles apart on the same road.

Neither Norths nor North’s Corner were recognised as communities, Barron says. “Community” being used here in the sense of a place having a school, recognised boundaries and so on. However, Norths and North’s Corner were place-names since they are shown prominently on the 1914 map and on the 1928 map. Most people think of North’s Corner as being part of Woodside, Barron said, adding that “Norths is basically Upper Pereau.”

Leon Barron also told me that North’s Corner is shown as an address in today’s telephone book. Look up Ms. Bessie North in the Canning section, Leon suggested, and you’ll find that it gives her residence as North’s Corner. Which I did, finding that Leon was right. I also called Ms. North and asked her if she knew anything about the origin of North’s Corner. She explained that her family has lived on the corner, in the house she now occupies, for over 100 years. Over the years, Ms. North said, three families of Norths have occupied the house, which was built by her great-grandfather, Silas Patterson, over a century ago. She added that Patterson was one of the top carpenters in his day and built houses that are still standing in Port Williams and Wolfville.

Finally, I looked up Norths and North’s Corner in the bible of place-names, Charles Bruce Fergusson’s Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia. North’s Corner isn’t in this book, probably being too small to rate a listing even though it was important enough to show on the 1914 map.

It’s a different story with Norths, which is listed in the Fergusson book, and it appears that it was once an important community. Fergusson writes that this “rural area is located about three miles north of Canning,” and it was “probably named for the North family who were early residents.” Fergusson adds that settlement began in this area shortly after Cornwallis township was granted to the New England emigrants in 1761, making it one of the earliest communities in Kings County.

Apparently, both the Norths and North’s Corner place-names originated from the concentration of North families in these areas. One wonders why Norths disappeared as a place-name and today is called Pereau or Pereau Road while North’s Corner is still in use, if only as an address.

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