That genealogical treasure trove, best known as the Church map of Kings County, has a publication date of 1864. However, anyone knowing a little about the history of Kings County and the railway will undoubtedly notice an irregularity – if that’s the right word – in the map.
Church’s map shows the railway line running through the heart of Kings County and it indicates where the rail yard and railway buildings are located in Kentville. If you look at Marguerite Woodworth’s history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, you’ll find that in October, 1865, two civil engineers representing a British firm arrived in Nova Scotia to propose the establishing of a railway line from Windsor to Annapolis.
In other words, Ambrose F. Church’s Kings County map indicated that a railway line existed in Kings County in 1864, but the possibility of establishing said line was being negotiated late in 1865 In fact, the contract to proceed with the railway wasn’t signed until near the end of 1865, the contract stating that work was to commence no later than the first day of May 1866; it wasn’t until some four years later that the line was officially opened.
So why the 1864 date on the Church map for Kings County?
Let’s go back to 1862. In that year the legislature of Nova Scotia was looking at the possibility of procuring detailed survey maps of the various counties. A contract to produce said maps was given to one Jacob Chace. Mr. Chace died before commencing work on the maps. Enter Ambrose F. Church who in 1864 submitted a proposal to the government to furnish detailed county maps. It appears that no formal contract was signed but on April 28, 1864, Church’s proposal was received by the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia; final approval for Church to proceed with the maps was given a year later on April 28, 1865.
Now perhaps we can see why Ambrose Church saw fit to date his Kings County map 1864. Actually, he didn’t begin work on Kings County until much later. His first map, of Halifax County, was completed in August 1865, and some 200 copies were printed. Work began late that year on Church’s second map, that of Pictou County, which was issued in 1867. The maps of Digby County and Yarmouth County were next and were completed in either 1870 or 1871. The map of Hants County was fifth in the series, and it was published in 1871.
In 1872, Church received a grant from the government to produce a map of Kings County and we have to assume it was published that year. We know from what is shown on the map that the survey of Kings County had to have been done no earlier than 1869, and most likely after work was completed on Hants County. Realistically, the Kings County map probably should have been dated 1872.