Long-time residents in this area are familiar with the story about Jawbone Corner and how it got its name. However, only history buffs know that the locally famous T-junction was once named Hamilton’s Corner and is the site of an Acadian settlement. There are all kinds of historical tidbits like this on Kings County and for all the history nuts out there here’s a quiz on some of the more interesting ones.
- During the American War of Independence, George Washington contemplated attacking Nova Scotia and it’s believed that an actual plan of action was drawn up. Did the War directly affect the residents of Kings County?
Answer: While no organised military action took place against the province, American privateers roamed the waters off Nova Scotia and made their way up the Bay of Fundy and into Minas Basin. James Stuart Martell, in his work on pre-Loyalist settlements around the Minas Basin, writes that in 1778, American rebels, who were roaming the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin, made their way up the Cornwallis River and plundered Kings County homes.
- They called it the Silver Link and it was officially opened in 1931. Newspapers hailed it as the widest structure of its kind east of Montreal and newspaper publicity linked it to the Planters. Where is the Silver Link located?
Answer: Over 500 people gathered on October 13, 1931, to celebrate the opening of the bridge spanning the Cornwallis River in Kentville. Newspaper reports say the bridge was decorated with aluminum paint, hence the name, Silver Link. The Silver Link replaced a bridge that had been in place since the late 1890s writes Mabel Nichols in her Kentville history, The Devil’s Half Acre.
- Opening in the early 1900s, it was the first movie theatre in Kentville and probably the first in Kings County. The five cent admission fee gave the place its name. Who was the movie pioneer?
Answer: The well-known Kentville entertainer, Al Clark, is credited with bringing the first movie theatre to Kentville. Clark’s obituary states that he operated the theatre “in the early 1900s” upstairs in the Margeson block, later the Hiltz Bros. block and charged a nickel admission. Hence the name, the “Nicklet.”
- A book could be written about the turbulent life of this gentleman. Emigrating to the United States from Ireland, he got caught up in the American Revolution and was forced to leave the country because he was pro-British. After many hair-raising adventures, he arrived in Nova Scotia and settled in Kings County. He opened a large general store in Kentville and dabbled in milling and lumbering, becoming rich in the process. Who was he?
Answer: The Irishman with British sympathies was Henry Magee. When he refused to support the rebel cause in America, Magee was forced to flee to Nova Scotia. He received a land grant on the North Mountain but decided to settle in Horton’s Corner, now Kentville, where he built a home and a general store in 1788. Magee also operated a grist mill and a saw mill. He died in 1806 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. You can find more details about Magee in volume 4 of Kings County Vignettes (available at the Kings County Museum and local bookstores) Mabel Nichols Kentville history, The Devil’s Half Acre and Eaton’s history of Kings County. Check out my website for an article on Magee.
- The Mi’kmaq and perhaps earlier native people were here in the Minas Basin before the French arrived in 1604. Is there any evidence that there were European explorers in the Minas Basin before the French?
Answer: Oddly enough, there is. When Champlain was making his second exploratory visit to the Minas Basin in 1606 he discovered “a very old cross, covered with moss and almost rotten” at the head of the Minas Basin. Champlain, in his account of his explorations, observed that the cross was a “plain indication that before this there had been Christians there.” See the introduction to Eaton’s Kings County history, the section on the “Acadian French.”