LOUIS COMEAU: “TWO BEECH HILL ROADS” (July 25/11)

At one time Kentville had two streets named Beech Hill, “and this must have been confusing to the townsfolk” Kentville historian Louis Comeau writes. Comeau was responding to my recent column on Beech Hill (July [18] Advertiser) noting he’d discovered this “duality” when he was attempting to find the location of an old Kentville business.

“A very long time ago I acquired an artifact for Pauline Bros., cobblers by trade,” Comeau writes. “They were listed as being on the corner of Beech Hill Road and Main Street.”

From this it would appear simple enough to find the cobbler shop location, but it wasn’t that easy. Comeau discovered that Kentville had two Beech Hill Roads coming down to Main Street, a fact he unearthed when studying a map of the town made in 1879. This meant that there were four possible corners for the site of the cobbler shop.

That map, says Comeau, was made by an American, one Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler. Thaddeus fought in the Civil War, was crippled and as a result, took up the less physically demand trade of cartography. “He specialized in ‘bird’s eye view’,” Comeau says, (the drawing of maps as viewed from above). “His work took him to 23 States and three Canadian provinces, one being Nova Scotia and eventually Kentville. His bird’s eye view of Kentville is dated 1879.”

According to Comeau the maps shows Kentville looking south-eastward from the high ground where the sanatorium (now the hospital) was once located. The curious thing about the map is that it shows two Beech Hill Roads. “The streets are named and a few buildings numbered with a legend …. and as one gazes towards the east end of Kentville one realizes there are two streets labeled Beech Hill. (What are now) Prospect Avenue and Chester Avenue both have the name Beech Hill.”

Comeau tells me Chester Avenue was probably renamed first. “The Beech Hill you mention in your article off of Chester Avenue continues through the woods to the top of Prospect Avenue where Dr. Healy’s house is.”

With two Beech Hill Roads in the 19th century and thus four possible corners for the site of the cobbler shop, how did Comeau pin down the location of Pauline Bros.? Comeau got the answer from the late Lena Redfearn who along with husband Fred once operated a grocery store on the southwest corner where Chester Avenue joins Main Street. Lena was able to name most of the businesses that previously had occupied the store site. One of them was the Pauline Bros. cobbler shop.

“So I had my answer,” Comeau concluded.

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