RICHARD SKINNER: A FASCINATION FOR OLD ROADS (June 18/12)

Drive out Kentville’s west Main Street and continue along it past the point where Park Street branches off; continue on behind the new Kentville school and past the oil company, which would now be on your left.  On your right you’ll see high, sandy banks, remnants of long ago glaciers; motor on and you’ll quickly run out of a navigable road.

Main Street appears to terminate here but it doesn’t; on foot you can explore it along on remnants of an old road; this road, which is actually a trail, runs westerly towards what was once called Moccasin or Bloody Hollow.  Here says folklore, ghosts abound from an 18th century skirmish between British troops and the French and their Mi’kmaq allies.

The old road appears to vanish here, succumbing its seems to a railroad bed laid down in the 19th century.   However, Richard Skinner of Coldbrook, a man whose hobby is researching county cemeteries and studying old county maps, says the old road doesn’t end there and is still traceable.

“Roads have always fascinated me,” Skinner says, and to find where some of them once existed he diligently studies land grants, deed and maps.  After a lot of searching and a bit of guesswork, Skinner figures he knows the direction the old road took after Main Street vanishes near Moccasin Hollow just west of the town.

Once you leave downtown Kentville and go out west Main Street, Skinner says, the old road would have continued on past where Evergreen Home is, passing north of it.  Here the old road turned south, crossing highway #1 and eventually reaching the area where Access Nova Scotia now stands.

His study of land grants and deeds tells Skinner the old road then ran westward passing through the Toyota dealership.  At this point Skinner found the old road was untraceable for a bit but he assumes it ran west, passing just south of the Pineview Inn.  Continuing westerly, the old road likely passed behind Tim Horton’s and McDonalds and eventually crossed Lockhart Road.

In places the old road ran parallel to highway #1 and traces are visible here and there.  But Skinner admits that some of what he postulates re the places the old road ran might not be entirely correct.  Some of it is definitely guesswork, he says.

Skinner figures the old road continued west, passing through Sherwood camp ground, passing south of the Coldbrook cemetery before moving through Hayes subdivision.  Skinner says the old road ran west again, and then apparently north until it eventually connected with the highway #1.

Not once when we were talking about the old road did Skinner speculate on its origin.  However, he believes much of the old road and sections of highway #1 originally were Mi’kmaq trails.  Later, the Acadians used the Mi’kmaq trails.  Some sources say the Acadians had a main track that much of highway #1 now follows.

Anyway, speculation or not, guesswork or not, Richard Skinner continues looking for evidence of the old road.  I’ve only mentioned a few of the sections of old road that he’s found.

So many new roads have sprung up since the time the Mi’kmaq created various trails through Kings County it seems impossible today to determine exactly where they ran.  But I may be wrong.  Richard Skinner is one persistent man when it comes to digging out old maps and old records.  He may eventually have many of the old roads, and especially the old road that’s part of Main Street Kernville, completely mapped out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s