VALLEY MAGAZINE – TOO BAD IT DISAPPEARED (July 11/06)

Folk tales abound about how Jawbone Corner in Canard got its name and most agree on one point – the corner was so nicknamed by locals because the jawbones of a whale were once prominently displayed there.

Most folklore accounts only tell us why the corner was so name. However, a short-lived magazine that was published locally some 30 years ago tells us it was one Dr. C. C. Hamilton who first displayed whale jawbones on his property by the corner. Hamilton died in 1885 so this gives us some idea of when the corner (cross-roads actually) was given its nickname. Apparently the area was Hamilton’s Corner before the good doctor decided to display the whale bones, a fact confirmed by Eaton’s Kings County history.

But back to the magazine. It was called Annapolis Valley Lives. Unfortunately it was only published for two issues. I say unfortunately since it was a publication with local history, folklore, natural foods, natural history, and so on in a folksy format; adding to its charm were the advertisements, which for the most part were hand-lettered with hand-drawn artwork.

The magazine first saw the light of day in July 1975 and its home base was in Hantsport and then in Wolfville. One article, an interview with local historian Ernest Eaton, included background on Jawbone Corner mentioned above and undoubtedly came from him. There were several natural history articles, one on the dykes, another on the Gaspereau River fishery, and a piece on the natural forces that shaped the Annapolis Valley and created its odd mixture of geological features.

The magazine also touched on Valley folklore and legends, and on the supernatural. An interview with Ethel Gibson, then 89 and an “elderly black lady with a remarkable memory,” was in my mind a pioneering first – the first in print history of black settlement in Kings County since A. W. H. Eaton’s 1910 work.

The first issue was outstanding for its Valley content. The second issue, released the following August, contained a couple of articles on wild foods and was even heavier on local history. Two words sum up both issues – good reading.

The magazine never appeared again after release of the second issue. Advertising was light in both issues and undoubtedly this was what killed the publication. Without the bread and butter ads, or rich sponsors, few publications survive for long no matter how interesting they are.

The magazine is a collectible, by the way, so if you have copies treasure them. A curio only, they probably have little dollar value.

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