ALDERSHOT, STEAM MILL VILLAGE – SOME HISTORY (November 18/13)

“This settlement (Aldershot) is located about two miles north of Kentville,” Charles Bruce Fergusson writes in his book, Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia.

Actually, step over the northern boundary of Kentville right by D’Aubin Lane and you are immediately in the community of Aldershot.  The “two miles north of Kentville” Fergusson mentions applies more to the location of Steam Mill Village which butts against Aldershot on its northern boundary.

Obviously Fergusson wasn’t familiar with Aldershot or Steam Mill Village when he compiled his book (he probably looked at a map and guessed at the distance separating Kentville and Aldershot).  Anyway, none of this is important.  That Aldershot and Steam Mill Village, both rather insignificant communities in the greater scale of things, are included in Place-Names is notable however.

Aldershot, as Fergusson points out, obviously is so named due to the presence the military camp.  Otherwise, besides the few words Fergusson has to say about the community, little has been written about Aldershot historically.  Even its borders are ill defined.  Where, for example does Aldershot end and the neighbouring community of Meadowview begin?  Where is the true borderline, if there is one, that marks where Aldershot ends and Steam Mill Village starts?

I suppose none of this is important overall.  However, there’s one gentleman who thinks it is and that Steam Mill Village (and eventually Aldershot perhaps) deserves its own history.  For several years Geof Turner has been attempting to compile a history of Steam Mill Village.  If his efforts are productive we might discover that the village has Planter connections and was part of an early Irish settlement in this general area.

Historically, Steam Mill Village is more significant than Aldershot.  Brent Fox, in his book on Wellington Dyke, notes that one of the first aboiteaus the Acadians built in this area was constructed at Steam Mill. From what Brent Fox wrote the aboiteau was built where the railroad bridge of the Cornwallis Valley Railway once spanned the Canard River.  This aboiteau, while historically significant, is not marked by a monument or a plaque, an oversight that hopefully will one day be corrected.

According to Arthur W. H. Eaton (in his history of Kings County) Steam Mill Village has the honour of being the site of the first “steam factory” in Kings County.  Charles Bruce Fergusson (in Place-Names and Places   of Nova Scotia) notes that the site now known as Steam Mill Village was settled in 1761 shortly after the Planters arrived, making it time wise one of the longest settled areas in the county.

Aside from mentioning the steam factory, Eaton has nothing else to say about Steam Mill Village.  He’s even less generous with neighbouring Aldershot, but he does mention the military camp twice.

Not so with Fergusson in Place-Names.  While he erroneously places the community two miles north of Kentville, Fergusson devotes considerable more space to Aldershot than Eaton.  However, Fergusson appears to confuse Aldershot with the old area known as the Pine Woods.

Getting back to Eaton, he places the Pine Woods as located near Kentville and identifies it as once being a Mi’kmaq encampment.  Eaton mentions the Pine Woods in a couple of places in the county history but unlike Fergusson, he doesn’t confuse it with the community of Aldershot.  The Pine Woods, Eaton says, was where Aldershot Camp was established after it was moved here from the Aylesford area.

On Geof Turner’s compilation of Steam Mill Village history, perhaps you, the reader, can help.   If you have anything of interest in family records, family lore, etc., Geof would like to hear from you.  He’s especially interested in obtaining a photograph of the Steam Mill Village train station, which has been elusive.

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