For the most part, the writers who have researched and compiled the histories of communities, villages and the towns in Kings and Hants County are little known and rarely celebrated outside their immediate areas.
But without the efforts of these writers – often they devoted years researching – most of their work would never see the light of day. These writers deserve to be recognised much more than they are. With this in mind, I’d like to profile those “local historians” in an occasional series beginning this week. I welcome input for the series; if you are aware of a Kings or Hants historian that should be recognised, please contact me.
Larry Sinclair Loomer (1930-2003). Born in Windsor, Loomer was noted as a historical writer, artist and antiquarian. Early in his career Loomer worked as a journalist for several Maritime newspapers. While he authored and published books on art, his main interest appears to have been Hants County history. He has three historical works to his credit. His book, Windsor Nova Scotia: a Journey in History is a brilliant retelling of Windsor’s history and the period when Kings and Hants were a single county. This is one of my favourite historical books and Loomer is one of my favourite historical writers. I recommend his Windsor book to anyone who likes history served with humour and irony.
John S. Erskine (1900-1981). A teacher in the Annapolis Valley for many years, John Erskine was noted as a keen student of natural history and was a published writer on the botany of Nova Scotia. Erskine liked to investigate archaeological sites as well; his life long study of Acadian sites resulted in a book entitled The French Period in Nova Scotia, A.D. 1500-1758. In effect, this is a historical and archaeological survey of the Acadian period. In the book Erskine identified many Acadian homestead sites in Kings County. The book, a paperback, is out of print but occasionally copies shows up at yard sales. Copies can also be found in the archives of the Kings Historical Society.
Ernest L. Eaton (1896-1984) Born in Upper Canard, Kings County, Eaton was a Professor of Agronomy and Senior Horticulturist with the Department of Agriculture. He was a devoted historian as well and wrote many invaluable papers on the Planters, early Kings County farms and the dykelands, several of which were published by the Nova Scotia Historical Society. Most of his historical research is unpublished and is held privately. However, Eaton’s historical articles can be found on the Internet at: http://nseaton.org/Eaton/Library/E.L._Eaton_Archive.html.
Marie C. Bishop (1929-2011) Born in the United States to Canadian parents, her family returned to Coldbrook when she was three and eventually settled in New Minas. Bishop was noted early in her career for the crafts she created. While she was a paraplegic since age eight, she was active in various Valley organizations and clubs throughout her life. Her interest in history resulted in her compiling several books. Two of her best known works are The Pioneers of Canaan (1994) and Memories of Coldbrook (1999). Bishop was also one of the major compilers of genealogy for the four volume Tangled Roots, a Bishop Family Association publication.
Douglas E. Eagles (1927-2008) One of the most prolific historical writers and researchers in the Annapolis Valley, Douglas E. Eagles was born in North Grand Pre, Kings County, attended school in Wolfville and graduated from Acadia University with an Honours B. Sc. Degree in 1948.
Eagles has four major publications to his credit, most of which can be found in the provincial archives and in museum collections. Eagles’ major works include: A History of Horton Township (1975) A Genealogical History of Long Island, also Eagles Families of North America (1982) and Lockhart Families of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Besides these works Eagles has at least eight historical papers to his credit, all either privately published or stored in the provincial archives and in local museums. Among these papers are works on several Kings County churches, papers on Horton Township records (deaths, births, marriages) and the cemeteries of Horton Township.