AN UNUSUAL SOURCE OF KINGS COUNTY HISTORY (December 10/04)

“It must suffice for the purpose of this brief retrospect, to state that large numbers of the Acadians… escaped to the woods and joined their allies, and in numerous instances family connections, the Indians, taking with them many cattle. Each year their strength was increased by accessions from those who stealthily returned from the New England or southern provinces, or by refugees who have fled to the woods in the devastated region about Grand Pre, the rivers Canard and Habitant…

“The duties of the troops from the close of 1755 to 1765 were arduous and painful. The Acadians and the Indians appear to have been hunted down as a necessary, though distressing, precautionary measure.

“Those of the Acadians who were not killed were kept as prisoners when taken, many of them voluntarily surrendering in order to escape starvation.”

You won’t find these post-expulsion glimpses of the Acadians in popular history books such as Eaton’s Kings County history, Will R. Bird’s Done at Grand Pre or the history of Grand Pre by Herbin.

In fact, I took these quotes from a most unusual source, a book you’d never expect would have any history of early Kings County or of the Acadians. Before I tell you what that book is called and where you can obtain it, here’s another fascinating tidbit from it about this area:

“The forests were rich in fur-bearing animals and moose. The rivers teemed with fish, and the sea was alive with many species of marine animals not found at this day in the Basin of Mines, or only discovered at rare intervals.

“In 1766 the Indians alone bought into… the Trader’s store at Cornwallis (Kings County) 1000 Beaver, 50 Otters, 80 Fishers, 300 Martins, 300 Mink, 100 Muskrats (and) 50 Bear skins.

“In the Canard River alone, the Rev. Hugh Graham records an average of 85,000 shad taken each year, beginning with 1787. The number he gives as subjoined: 1787, upwards of 100,000; 1788, 100,000; 1789 about 70,000; 1790 about 70,000 (for a) Canard River yearly average (of) 85,000. In the Habitant (Canning) River, 1789, 120,000; 1790, 70,000. The average annual catch of shad in Cornwallis this period amounted to about 135,000 barrels.”

So where did I find this detailed historical data, which while mundane is interesting?

In 1889 one Henry Youle Hind took it upon himself to write a Sketch of the Old Parish Burying Ground with the aim of seeking to preserve the same. His work was reprinted in 1989 under the title An Early History of Windsor, Nova Scotia.

As you can see from the quotes I’ve taken from Hind’s book, it’s much more than a Windsor history. In fact, it’s also more than a sketch of an early Windsor cemetery. Hind writes about the Acadians, the Mi’kmaq and the Planters in Hants and Kings County and there are glimpses you won’t find in other historical books about thepost-expulsionn period. Where, for example, will you find that the 1784 “muster” (or census) taken in the Kings County townships of Horton and Cornwallis found there were “91 men, 37 women, 44 children above 10 years, 27 children under 10 years (and) 37 servants” for a total of 237 persons.

Hind’s book is found in local libraries and can be purchased from the West Hants Historical Society.

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