In 1889, British-born explorer and geologist Henry Youle Hind published a book on the early history of Windsor. In the book also are historical references to Kings County, which are puzzling if you didn’t know that the two counties once were one.
Hind’s book (An Early History of Windsor) and Gwendolyn Vaughan Shand’s book, Historic Hants County (a series of historical essays published in 1979) are recommended reading for history buffs. However, to achieve a historical overview of Hants County, the books by Hind and Shand should be read along with L. S. Loomer’s book, Windsor, A Journey in History.
Published in 1996, Loomer’s book takes over where Hind and Shand stop. Well, sort of anyway. In effect, the three books offer a wide-ranging view of Hants County (and parts of Kings County) from the early days up until recent times. All three books are available in branches of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library.
There are three other books I recommend as must-reads. To understand the role the Acadians played in shaping the environment and their part in the history of this area, read J. Sherman Bleakney’s Sods, Soil and Spades. No other book explains how the Acadians were able to create thousands of acres of dykeland by pushing the sea back with simple, hand-held tools. The subtitle of the book – The Acadians at Grand Pre and their Dykeland Legacy – neatly sums up in a few words what Bleakney’s book is about.
An American author, John Mack Faragher, tells the tragic story of the expulsion of the Acadians in his book, A Great and Noble Scheme – and no other author does it better or more completely. Faragher starts with the French arriving at Port Royal, circa 1606, ending his narrative in the 1990s when the British government was asked to officially apologize for the expulsion. The British passed the buck to Canada and our government stalled and did nothing, by the way.
The books by Bleakney and Faragher books, like the works by Hind, Shand and Loomer, can also be found in the Annapolis Valley Regional Library. In the library also is one of my favourite reads, the book by Harry Bruce on R. A. Jodrey.
When he was commissioned to write the Jodrey biography, Harry Bruce likely didn’t set out to write about the history of Kings County. However, R. A. Jodrey’s exploits as a young entrepreneur and rural life in Kings County, as revealed by Bruce, offer explicit glimpses of what country living was like here in the early 20th century.
This alone, the incidental description of rural life in areas such as White Rock and the Gaspereau Valley, makes the Jodrey biography a treasure to read. Readers may find detailed descriptions of R. A. Jodreys financial exploits boring, which Bruce covers in detail in the third section of the book. Section one, covering the period from 1888 to 1956, is the most interesting read, especially for anyone interested in local history and the exploits of a young R. A. Jodrey.