SIX ROD ROAD “IS NOT IMAGINARY” (January 28/05)

“Elusive certainly is an appropriate adjective (when referring to the Six Rod Road)” Canning Internet historian Ivan Smith writes. Smith, who has a massive website devoted to Nova Scotia history, was commenting on a recent column about my search for information on the little-known road.

Smith wrote that the road “is not imaginary” and, in fact, he found a couple of references to it in government documents recently. “This morning I stumbled on several references to this road – actually the Six Rod Highway – in documents produced by the Nova Scotia Legislature in the 1850s,” Smith wrote. “All of these are expenditures for a highway in Kings County.”

Smith noted that the government designation of the road as being in the six rod class signifies it was an important highway. As I mentioned previously, the road apparently was planned as a major thoroughfare connecting then vital ports on the Minas Basin and Bay of Fundy, either to facilitate commercial traffic and/or to be of military use. It appears that the road was only partially completed.

Getting back to Smith’s observation that designation of the old road as six rod signified its importance, he explains that the “width of roads is carefully defined in the laws of every jurisdiction with responsibility for streets, roads, and highways, from the municipal level to the provinces (and states) and the federal government.

“The legally-required width for right-of-way for roads and highways is often defined as 99 feet. Six rods is defined as 99 feet. A Google search on the Internet this morning turned up repeated references to roadway widths of 99 feet, from Robert Moses’ plan for highways in New York in the 1920s to official standards for land surveyors in Alberta in the 1990s.

“The term ‘six rods’ and ‘three rods’ still appears in modern legal documents dealing with roadway widths. It is clear that a highway planned in the 1850s to be six rods wide was meant to be an important artery. At the time, roads two rods wide were often considered adequate, and three rods were better than average.”

Mr. Smith enclosed several documents – the journal and proceedings of the House of Assembly – designating funds allocated for highway repairs in Kings County. The documents show that in 1854 some eight pounds was allocated “for to open the Six Rod Highway, from road passing Hemming Pents Mill.” From the 1854-55 journal and proceedings are two mentions of the road, each allocating five pounds. One reads, “Open to six rod highway to Hemming’s road to Pent’s mill road,” the other, “Pent saw mill road, to open up the six rod highway.” Also from the 1856 House of Assembly records is the entry, “to open the six rod highway from Hemmings,” with six pounds being allocated. The 1857 House of Assembly records also indicate funds being allocated for work on the six rod road.

With these references to Hemmings and Pent’s Mill it should be possible to discover where at least part of the six rod road ran through here. However, I could find no mention of Pent’s Mill or the Pent and Hemming surnames in the 1864 Church map or in Eaton’s Kings County history. The search continues, however.

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