When M. de Brouillan was appointed Governor of Acadia in 1701, he proposed that two major roads be constructed from the Acadian settlement in Minas. One was to run “10 leagues across the woods” to Port Royal. Once this road was completed, de Brouillan suggested that the Acadians occupying Kings County should “subsequently make a like one to Laheve.”
History tells us the Acadians started the road to Port Royal but never completed it. However, well before the Acadians arrived in Kings County, a track of sorts running towards what was to become the French settlement at Laheve already existed. Folklore has it that on their seasonal migration from the Minas Basin towards the South Shore in pursuit of fish and game, the Mi’kmaq had established a well-marked trail. The expansion of this trail may have been what de Brouillan had in mind when he proposed building a road from Minas.
If folklore is right and the Mi’kmaq established a path from Kings County, south towards the lake country and Chester Basin, then Highway 12, the road that connects Kentville to New Ross, was undoubtedly part of it. We can assume that what is known locally as the New Ross Road follows for the most part the old Mi’kmaq trail. Much later, when the settlement of New Ross was still young, a road from the settlement into the heart of Kings County was again proposed. In his history of Lunenburg County, M. B. DesBrisay writes that the road from New Ross to Kentville was first “deemed impracticable” but later was built. This apparently was shortly after the settlement of New Ross, or Sherbrooke as it was first called, was established in 1816.
This is the second time in his history that DesBrisay mentioned what was to become the New Ross Road. I quoted his other reference to the road at the beginning of this column, the reference to de Brouillan’s proposed road from Minas to the South Shore. In his Kings County history, Arthur W. H. Eaton also mentions de Brouillan’s proposal to connect Kings County with the French settlement on the South Shore. The Acadians, de Brouillan wrote, have engaged to work on the road once the harvest was over.
A history of the New Ross Road has never been written, but Ron Barkhouse says (in a 1990 paper) that if it ever was, it would be an interesting one. Such a history, Barkhouse says, would have to dwell on how Daniel O’Neil of New Ross made Nova Scotia’s first apple barrels in 1863 and the now legendary movement of New Ross trucks carrying the barrels to the Valley for over half a century.
Such a history would have to relate the role the New Ross Road played during prohibition, Barkhouse said, when it was the main thoroughfare for rum runners and such.
On a final note, DesBrisay in his Lunenburg County history indicates that in 1870 the New Ross Road was known as the Horton road, probably because it connected with Horton Township on the south edge of Kings County.