AN ACT FOR ENCOURAGEMENT OF A STAGE LINE (March 24/10)

“Precisely how early a stage-coach line was established between Halifax and Kentville we do not know,” Arthur W. H. Eaton writes in his history of Kings County. “But in 1829,” Eaton continues, “it is said (that) Mr. John Whidden was instrumental in having the stage line extended from Kentville westward to Annapolis Royal.”

The above quotes are taken from page 130. Later in the history, on page 180, Eaton writes that it “must have been shortly before 1816 that a stage coach line was established between Halifax and Windsor.” Eaton then adds that it “was not until 1829, as we have seen, that the line was extended to Kentville.”

That fine old scholar, to whom we are deeply indebted for compiling the Kings County history, appears to contradict himself regarding coach-line dates. On page 130 he wasn’t sure of the date but on page 180 he appears to be positive that the coach started running to Kentville in 1829.

However, contradictions or not, what’s important is that Eaton records the old time modes of transportation in Hants, Kings and Annapolis County. Early in the 19th century, stagecoaches began running daily (most of the time) up and down the Annapolis Valley, connecting all the major towns and villages along the way.

As I said, Eaton mentions John Whidden as connected with establishing the stage-coach line. Whidden’s name doesn’t appear in early government records on the line. In the Statues of Nova Scotia a page dated 13 January, 1828, deals with an act granting funds to encourage setting up a coach line “between Halifax and Kentville, and Annapolis and Kentville by James D. Harris, Caleb H. Rand, James Tobin and George N. Russell.” Internet historian Ivan Smith, who sent me this information and the link to it, wrote that besides naming the above principals, there are “lots of details” in the Statues about the proposed line.

The “Act for supplying certain Monies” for the proposed line does indeed go into details, stipulating that the coaches “must run with, at least, four horses each, three times a week, from Halifax to Kentville, through Windsor, and so in return, and from Annapolis to Kentville and back again, each three times weekly.”

The Act also stipulated that each run (“the time employed in performing the Journies”) from Halifax to Kentville and from Kentville to Annapolis was “not to exceed, in general, sixteen hours for each respectively,” The coach line was also required to carry mail.

Thanks to Ivan Smith for providing this insight into the early coach line, which once established would run for about 40 years until the railroad’s arrival killed it. You can read the document referred to by going to the following link: http://books.google.ca/books?id=WMQvAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA21.

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