When Judge of Probate Edmund J. Cogswell wrote about Kentville in 1895, he mentioned the town’s seven hotels. Foremost among them, he said, was the Royal Oak and the Kentville Hotel, the former according to Cogswell being the better of the two.
Much later, in 1932, Leslie Eugene Dennison reminisced in The Advertiser about Kentville, covering the same period Cogswell wrote about. Dennison recalled the town having only five hotels or inns and he doesn’t mention the Royal Oak.
Surprisingly, Cogswell and Dennison fail to mention what for a time was the grandest hotel in Kentville and certainly in the Annapolis Valley. This was the Hotel Aberdeen which for about 40 years beginning in 1892 was the leading hostelry and social center. Before being torn down and replaced by an even more magnificent hotel in 1930, the Aberdeen stood in a prominent place near the railroad station. Kentville’s dominant position as the railway’s headquarters likely influenced the decision to place the Aberdeen there.
Among the numerous A. L. Hardy photographs of the Aberdeen that have survived is one reproduced many times in The Advertiser and in various historical publications. You’ll find it in Louis Comeau’s pictorial history of Kentville, for example.
Oddly, photographs and brief write-ups are the only record you’ll find on the Aberdeen despite its once prominent position in Kentville. How many rooms did the Aberdeen have in its three stories? What about its ambience, its dining room, its bar room? What conveniences did it offer besides the Union Bank and the fact that it was conveniently located close to the railway station? What did it cost to stay there overnight?
Search as I have, I’ve been unable to find answers to these questions. I can tell you the year the Aberdeen was built (1892) who built it (Daniel McLeod) when the railway purchased it and changed the name to the Cornwallis Inn (1920) and when the railway tore it down and built a larger, grander Cornwallis Inn across the other side of town (1930).
Other than these facts (that anyone can discover with a few minutes of research) I have no other information on the Aberdeen. Mabel Nichols Kentville history, The Devil’s Half Acre, contains a short history of the Aberdeen and from the researching I’ve done, this is the only written record currently available.