Find a longtime waterfowl hunter and sometimes you’ll find a person interested in local history, especially history of the dykes, and the old aboiteaux. This may seem unusual when you think about it. But waterfowlers generally spend a lot of time on the dykes and it isn’t unusual for some of them to collect dykeland lore and history.
One of the finest waterfowlers I ever met knew the history of much of the Canard dykes; why the various dyke sections were so named, for example, where the old Acadian aboiteaux and dykes were once located, and historical tidbits of this sort. The old waterfowler, now long deceased, used to say that “knowing some dyke history rounded out my hunting.” He was like a many of the older generation of waterfowlers that were around when I first started to hunt. They knew the dykes like the backs of their hands, to use an old but suitable cliché.
I often duck hunt down the Dewey Creek below the old Dewey Bridge. This is in Canard and the creek or brook is a tributary of the Canard River. The bridge can be found on an old section (now a farm road) of what was the main highway until roughly 70 years ago when the road was straightened. I was curious over how the bridge and brook connected with the Dewey surname – a surname not that common in Kings County – and I asked the old waterfowler who this Dewey was.
A couple of the Deweys came here with the Planters, maybe a bit later that the original grantees,” the old waterfowler said. “They’re a mystery. It seems they didn’t stay around that long and I don’t know what happened to them. I think their homestead was near the head of Dewey Creek.”
The “head of Dewey Creek” could be a mile or two away from where the creek crosses under the highway just below a poultry plant. The creek makes up in wetlands east of the Canning to Port Williams highway, a distance of several miles from the Dewy Creek bridge. Pinpointing the Dewey homestead, if there ever was one, would be difficult since it could be anywhere along the creek.
Anyway, the location of the homestead wasn’t of interest to me. How Dewey Creek came to be named was and the old waterfowler had provided the answer. “Look in your history books if you want to know more about Dewey Creek,” he added.
Dewey Creek in the history books? The old man was right. In his history of Kings County, A. W. H. Eaton devotes nearly a page to the Dewey family. Eaton says that one Moses Dewey received a grant in Cornwallis in 1764 and settled there for a time.
There’s no Dewey mystery, however. Moses Dewey simply must have given up his grant and moved out of Kings County, or out of the province. “For many years the Dewey name has hardly been known in Nova Scotia,” says A. W. H. Eaton. He quotes a historian he names as Dr. Brechin: “All that remains (in Cornwallis) of this family is the name of a small stream called Dewey Creek, on the place where Mr. Simpkins Walton lived.”
Now if my old waterfowler friend were still around I’d ask him where the Walton homestead was located. I’m sure he knew.