IN BLOMIDON’S SHADOW: KINGSPORT HOTELS (September 16/05)

When Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory was published in 1864, Oak Point, or Kingsport as it was later to be called, didn’t rate a listing. But some 30 years later, Kingsport had a rail line terminating at a bustling wharf and connecting in Kentville with the provincial railway system.

Looking at Kingsport today it’s difficult to picture a time when it had several hotels and one of the best-known shipyards in eastern Canada. W. C. Milner pays tribute to Kingsport’s shipbuilder Ebenezar Cox in The Basin of Minas and Its Early Settlers (published in either the 1920s or early 1930s) noting that “in the shadow of Blomidon” he “built in about 30 years thirty vessels measuring, on the average, 1000 tons each.”

A. W. H. Eaton in his Kings County history practically ignores Kingsport, mentioning only that is a “favorite summer resort” and including a poem mourning the loss of its famous oak tree. Eaton also neglects to mention Ebenezar Cox in the few lines he devotes to Kingsport shipbuilders.

However, despite this oversight by Eaton, Kingsport’s importance in the late 19th and early 20th century can been seen by the number of hotels it once boasted. In my notes, I recently found a reference to Kingsport having as many as three hotels in its heydey. When I mentioned this to that walking encyclopaedia, Leon Barron, he pointed out that there were more than three establishments that operated as hotels or inns. “Cora Atkinson only mentions three in her book (Kingsport by the Sea, which is out of print)” Leon said, “but there were actually four.”

One of the hotels only operated for a few years, Leon said. This was the Longspell Inn – some sources spell it Longspeil – which opened in 1910 and burned down in 1913. Atkinson mentions the Longspell Inn in her book, briefly describing the opening on a “glorious day” on Friday, July 1, when a large crowd gathered. Nothing like it was seen “since shipbuilding days,” Atkinson observed.

Immediately south of the United Church was the Sunnyside Inn, which is mentioned by Atkinson. Leon speculates that the Sunnyside Inn likely sprung up around the time the Cornwallis Valley Railway was completed.

“To the east of the Daniel Cox house, now owned by Mrs. Stockall,” Atkinson writes, “is the E. C. Borden hotel.” Leon believes this was called the Kingsport Hotel and it opened in 1891. “It was demolished some time ago,” he adds.

The Central House was another Kingsport hotel and around 1898 it was owned by a gentleman called Pryor Corkum. Leon recalls that for a time the Central House was managed in the 1890s by one Stevie Repetto.

Besides operating a hotel in Kingsport, E. C. or Elijah Borden also has another claim to fame. Leon tells me he was the first station agent in Kingsport; he was also the collector of customs for the port of Kingsport.

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