When it comes to Acadian settlements in Kings County, is the area around Upper Dyke, Lakewood Road and Gibson Woods overlooked and little investigated? This is suggested in the following email note I received recently.
“Evidently Upper Dyke was quite an Acadian community; by that I mean several houses and perhaps some farming/forestry industry,” writes Ernie Hawboldt in response to a recent column. The column (Tracing An Old Acadian Road) mentioned an Acadian settlement between Upper Dyke and the Gibson Woods Road. I had expressed surprise the Acadians had resided in an area with no tidal waters but as Hawboldt points out, there was dykeing not that far from Gibson Woods.
“Down near the Lakewood Road where the Sherman Belcher Brook crosses the road,” Hawboldt writes, “there were some old dyke works. Probably none remains today due to highway construction and farming. There is quite a bit of dykelands just south of the Lakewood Road.”
Hawboldt believes this dykework is of Acadian origin and in his letter he mentions Acadian basements and a mill in this general area. “When I was a child,” he writes, “there were three Acadian basements near our house, and the site of an old mill, but I don’t know what the mill was used for. One basement was located on the South Branch Road. The second was at the junction of South Branch Road and Sherman Belcher Road …. The third is about where the Channing house now sits on Sherman Belcher Road.”
As well as pinpointing the site of the mill near Sherman Belcher Brook, Hawboldt mentions the old Acadian dyke works around the Sheffield Brook. “The Sheffield Brook kind of divides Upper Dyke and Canard. These old dykes are south of the highway and are partly concealed by bush and high grass.”
Most interesting are Hawboldt’s observations about Lakewood Road and Saxon Street. When he was young Hawboldt says, “Lakewood Road was nothing more than a trail between Upper Dyke and Steam Mill. Regarding the roads, the present Saxon Street was previously known as the French Woods Road. It ran from Centreville, through Gibson Woods, then down across the fields to where the old Bill Newcombe farm is. There was a rough trail running from the farm to the dyke. That part of the French Wood Road I know ran from Centreville through pine forest; that forest still exists and is between Saxon Street and the Sherman Belcher Road in Centreville.”
Hawboldt concludes his letter with mention of the Acadian dyke works on and around Sheffield Brook, which may have been some of the first dykeing by the Acadians in this area. He suggest that perhaps there should be some official recognition of this site.