In his history of Camp Aldershot published in 1983, Brent Fox writes that when it was moved from Aylesford Plain to its current site, “there was little in what became the new training ground.” There was the old Kentville racetrack near the gate, a carding mill on the north-east edge, a sawmill and adds Fox, “several farms were evident (on the grounds) at the turn of the century.”
Fox writes that between 1903 and 1907, the federal government purchased land for what was to become the new Camp Aldershot, the boundaries eventually becoming what they are today by the latter year. However, Steam Mill resident Harlan Adams tells me he was born in 1922 on his father’s farm on what is now the military camp ground; and it appears that from what he remembers, the current camp originally was much smaller than it is now.
George Adams owned land where Peach Lake is now and Harlan tells me spent the first decade of his life there. He describes the farm as situated on the long forgotten Garret’s or Garret Road, part of which is now North Aldershot Road. This road turned west into the camp grounds and eventually ran south-west to Brooklyn Street. Garret’s Road was connected to Lakewood Road by Reid Lane, also long forgotten, which is now a continuation of North Aldershot Road.
The Adams farm stood beside Garret Road, which was named after a man by that name who had a sawmill in this area. Near the farm was a small pond in a marshy area and a brook that was eventually dammed to form Peach Lake. The Adams farm consisted of most of the land around Peach Lake and it joined property owned by Clayton Crocker on the west or south-west and by Hughie McGregor on the north. Near George Adams along Garret Road were two farms, one operated by George Sherman, the other by his son, Fred. “There were other houses on what is now the Camp right out to the main road,” Harlan said.
Even though it contradicts what Brent Fox outlines in his history, Harlan is positive that his father’s farm and the farms of the Shermans and others were located inside the current boundaries of Camp Aldershot and weren’t part of the original grounds. In fact, he remembers the year the farms were expropriated by the federal government so the camp could be expanded. “It was in 1941,” he said. “The government gave us the choice of tearing down our house or moving it. We decided to move it.”
The Adams house was placed on skids and hauled by a team of horses operated by Keith Bennett out to a site at the end of North Aldershot Road, right beside Lakewood Road; it was moved on a day that historically has a special significance and this is probably why Harlan remembers it so well. “We moved the house on December 7, 1941,” Harlan said, “the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour.” The house still stands, Harlan added, and is currently lived in by a relative.
Harlan also remembers that there was once a carding Mill on Killam Pond off North Aldershot Road; and he says the pond is not Peach Lake, as some local residents like to claim. Killam Pond is shown as the site of a carding mill in the 19th century Kings County map made by Ambrose Church. However, Harlan tells me that a few years before he was born, the carding mill was moved farther along North Aldershot Road to the property of Joe Keizer. “I can remember walking along the road when I was a kid and seeing them work the wool,” he said.