WHERE IS CHARLES ISLAND? (November 21/16)

After he retired from Imperial Oil, Kings County native Douglas E. Eagles researched and compiled several historical papers. Since he had Kings County Planter ties – he was born in North Grand Pre and came from a Planter family – Eagles centered his researching on the Long Island area. One of his papers is a detailed genealogical history of North Grand Pre, or Long Island. As well as a church history and an Eagles genealogical study, Eagles also wrote a history of Horton Township.

Privately compiled in limited quantities and bound in paperback, the Horton Township, and Long Island papers were never offered for sale to the general public. Copies of them can be found in the Nova Scotia archives and in various museums around the province.

I mention here the Eagles papers (or books if you wish) since I just searched through them to see if mention is made of an earlier name for Long Island. In a recent email, Jamie Robertson refers to a 1733 map of this area which indicates that what we call Long Island north of Grand Pre was once named Charles Island. Robertson writes that this is a detail from a much larger map of North America.

“Note that (on this map) there is an island called Charles Island just north of Minas (now Grand Pre) so this must have been an early name for Long Island (North Grand Pre)” Robertson says.

Further, Robertson mentions that another map from 1736, which was based on observations made in 1711, contains no reference to Long Island or Charles Island.

Basically, Robertson wrote to ask if I knew how this area got to be named Charles Island. Perhaps, he suggests, it was “named for the church Saint-Charles-des-Mines at Grand Pre at the time or maybe named after King Charles 1.”

In an attempt to answer the question Robertson posed I turned to the Eagles books and a study of Grand Pre dykeing by the Acadians and Planters (Sod, Soil and Spades) by J. Sherman Bleakney. The bottom line is that I failed to find any mention of a Charles Island in these books. I also looked at a couple of early maps, other than the ones Robertson mentioned, and could not find any land area in Grand Pre referred to as Charles Island.

I admit failure but I got to scan the Eagles books for the first time and a much more detailed reading of them will follow. Copies of the Eagles books are on file at the Kings Historical Society and I recommend them to readers interested in what early Planter life was like in Kings County.

As for Charles Island showing up on an old map, I suspect this may have been a one-time designation for the land mass the Planters called Long Island. As they say, I stand to be corrected.

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