Four decades of service to the town of Kentville was celebrated with a “brilliant banquet” at the Cornwallis Inn, The Advertiser announced in a page one headline.
The date was April 10, 1928. Honored at the banquet for performing this “splendid service” was the Kentville Fire Department, and the occasion was the Department’s 40th anniversary. The Department had been organized in 1888, one year after Kentville was incorporated.
At first glance, this appears to be a ho hum story about a small town fire department celebrating an anniversary. However, the story I found in a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from the 1920s and 1930s is much more than this. First of all, The Advertiser story names the dignitaries attending the banquet, providing a then contemporary list, in other words, of who’s who in Kentville for anyone interested in the town’s history.
Secondly, the newspaper lists fire department members (some of whom had been with the department for 40 years) local musicians and other towns people and local officials involved in the celebration. What better source than this story for anyone looking for ancestors, especially since The Advertiser’s 1928 files can be accessed at the Acadia University library.
Third, the fire department and the town practically progressed together with only a one year difference in age. As mentioned, some of the fire department veterans had 40 years of service and at the banquet they recalled the town as it was in the late 1800s. The Advertiser dutifully reported the reminiscing of those veterans, providing glimpses of the town when it consisted of “eight houses and two stores.”
Attending the anniversary banquet were four charter members of the fire department, and for the record they were T. P. Calkin Who at the time was the sole survivor of Kentville’s first town council, William E. Webster, M. F. Carroll and Lewis G. Ells. John Publicover is mentioned in The Advertiser story as another charter member.
For the record also – and this is why scrapbooks of this nature are so valuable since they preserve such records – The Advertiser also listed fire department veterans attending the banquet: H. R. Best, Lewis G. Ells, S. L. Cross, H. L. Dennison, J. R. Webster, Bryan Smith, J. Roy Hiltz, Fred Hiltz, Monson Carroll, Ernest H. Dodge, A. E. Calkin, C. B. Lockhart, Robert Brown, F. L. Corey, Mel Benjamin, William Horton, M. B. Neary, Arthur Curry, Horace Grant, William Redden, Waldon Kennedy.
In this list are several prominent Kentville businessmen and a star athlete. Some families of the above still reside in and around Kentville and readers may recognize their ancestors.