SEARCHING FOR THE “DRY HOLLOW ROAD” (September 17/12)

“Kentville for a long time consisted of nothing but the old Horton Corner and was composed of nothing but Main Street, or the old military road, and the street from Cornwallis (Township) running into,” wrote Kentville magistrate Edmond J. Cogswell in 1895.

The quote is from a lengthy article Cogswell wrote on Kentville for the town’s then paper of record, the Western Chronicle.  I’ve quoted Cogswell several times here about roads in and around Kentville.  In other articles stored at the Kings County Museum, Cogswell goes into detail on the origin of Kentville streets that run north and north east immediately after crossing the Cornwallis Street bridge over the Cornwallis River.

The quote above about the “street from Cornwallis” is interesting since it might refer to a road or trail I’ve been researching.  This could be what Cogswell refers to as the Dry Hollow road in an 1892 article.  In the article he wrote that “the old trail coming down the Dry Hollow was not a very good road but there was a creek or stream coming down from the north ….”

Now, on to the author of the History of Kings County, Arthur W. H. Eaton who also mentions the Dry Hollow road.  Before he published his history in 1910, Eaton wrote a series of historical articles for the Western Chronicle.  In one of these articles Eaton notes that a “road came into Kentville through the Dry Hollow, by Charles Jones’ and over the Joe Bell Hill.”

In his Kings County history Eaton again mentions the Dry Hollow road:  “Through the ‘Dry Hollow’ a road ran from Cornwallis (township) into Kentville, a little to the west of the main Cornwallis road.”  This road, which Eaton says began in Centreville and probably is of Acadian origin, runs through Steam Mill and along the edge of Aldershot Camp, eventually entering Kentville after crossing Gallows Hill or Joe Bell Hill.

I’ve been attempting to determine exactly where the so-called Dry Hollow road ran.  Eaton says it’s a “little west of the main Cornwallis road,” which is puzzling.  From Eaton’s description, the “main Cornwallis road” must be Cornwallis Street and what’s a little west of this is a high bank.

Oakdene Vale, the road that runs into what old-timers call Mosquito Hollow is a candidate except for one thing:  Dry it isn’t, nor has it ever been. Harold Quigley tells me when he built the Valley Tire store at the mouth of the hollow the area was all swamp and there was an artesian well on a nearby high bank.  According to several sources a stream once ran through Mosquito Hollow and into the Cornwallis River.  A watering trough for horses and oxen, fed by an underground source, was once located on the site of the Emergency Health Services building next to Valley Tire.

This leaves one other possibility as the old Dry Hollow road and that’s Belcher Street.  As you start up Belcher Street from Cornwallis Street you are traversing a hollow with two old roads, one now eliminated, and the Catholic Church on your right and a high bank on your left.  The only problem is that most sources indicate the Dry Hollow road and the old road from Cornwallis Township came in from the north.  Belcher Street runs sort of north but runs east once it reaches the top of the hill; Oakdene Avenue, which joins Belcher Street part way up the hill, does run north.  This may suggest that the old road is the course followed by Belcher Street and Oakdene Avenue and the east running section of Belcher Street was a much later addition.

It’s all puzzling and I’ll probably never clear it up.  Checking into the Dry Hollow road, by the way, I ran into another puzzle.  Above Mosquito Hollow lies Oakdene Terrace and Oakdene Place, and down below, the street that runs into Mosquito Hollow is called Oakdene Place.  Do all these “Oakdenes” suggest a onetime connection?  You tell me.  There’s a well used trail running parallel to Oakdene Vale and terminating on Oakdene Terrace; and at the far end of Mosquito Hollow you can find remnants of an old trail that wanders in a northerly direction towards Exhibition Street and Oakdene Terrace.

As I said, you tell me.  Too much time has gone by to accurately determine where the old Dry Hollow road is located.

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