In his history of Camp Aldershot published in 1983, Brent Fox writes that when it was moved from Aylesford Plain to its current site, “there was little in what became the new training ground.” There was the old Kentville racetrack near the gate, a carding mill on the north-east edge, a sawmill and adds Fox, “several farms were evident (on the grounds) at the turn of the century.”

Fox writes that between 1903 and 1907, the federal government purchased land for what was to become the new Camp Aldershot, the boundaries eventually becoming what they are today by the latter year. However, Steam Mill resident Harlan Adams tells me he was born in 1922 on his father’s farm on what is now the military camp ground; and it appears that from what he remembers, the current camp originally was much smaller than it is now.

George Adams owned land where Peach Lake is now and Harlan tells me spent the first decade of his life there. He describes the farm as situated on the long forgotten Garret’s or Garret Road, part of which is now North Aldershot Road. This road turned west into the camp grounds and eventually ran south-west to Brooklyn Street. Garret’s Road was connected to Lakewood Road by Reid Lane, also long forgotten, which is now a continuation of North Aldershot Road.

The Adams farm stood beside Garret Road, which was named after a man by that name who had a sawmill in this area. Near the farm was a small pond in a marshy area and a brook that was eventually dammed to form Peach Lake. The Adams farm consisted of most of the land around Peach Lake and it joined property owned by Clayton Crocker on the west or south-west and by Hughie McGregor on the north. Near George Adams along Garret Road were two farms, one operated by George Sherman, the other by his son, Fred. “There were other houses on what is now the Camp right out to the main road,” Harlan said.

Even though it contradicts what Brent Fox outlines in his history, Harlan is positive that his father’s farm and the farms of the Shermans and others were located inside the current boundaries of Camp Aldershot and weren’t part of the original grounds. In fact, he remembers the year the farms were expropriated by the federal government so the camp could be expanded. “It was in 1941,” he said. “The government gave us the choice of tearing down our house or moving it. We decided to move it.”

The Adams house was placed on skids and hauled by a team of horses operated by Keith Bennett out to a site at the end of North Aldershot Road, right beside Lakewood Road; it was moved on a day that historically has a special significance and this is probably why Harlan remembers it so well. “We moved the house on December 7, 1941,” Harlan said, “the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour.” The house still stands, Harlan added, and is currently lived in by a relative.

Harlan also remembers that there was once a carding Mill on Killam Pond off North Aldershot Road; and he says the pond is not Peach Lake, as some local residents like to claim. Killam Pond is shown as the site of a carding mill in the 19th century Kings County map made by Ambrose Church. However, Harlan tells me that a few years before he was born, the carding mill was moved farther along North Aldershot Road to the property of Joe Keizer. “I can remember walking along the road when I was a kid and seeing them work the wool,” he said.


In a column several years ago I noted that the province first registered automobiles in 1907, and the first license plate was issued in May that year. In the column, I wrote that a car owned by a Wolfville resident received the very first license plate issued and it carried the number 1.

When I wrote this column, a collection of local history trivia, I didn’t know the identity of the Wolfville resident who owned the first registered car. I can report that I now do. The column mentioning the license plate was included in a collection of my articles published recently by the Kings Historical Society. Fortunately, it was read by a former Wolfville resident who saw the first license plate issued by the province and the car it adorned; he told about the car’s owner, who apparently was a prominent Wolfville citizen, and he related some interesting lore about the town in the 1930s.

When he was growing up in Wolfville in the 1930s, Gordon Hansford was shown a car that was stored in a barn on Pleasant Street. “The barn was owned by the Burgher family,” Gordon recalls. “Eugene Burgher, a boyhood friend of mine, was the one who took me in the barn and pointed out the car.

“The first thing I noted was the license plate; it was made of leather and it had the number 1 on it. The car it was on – it looked like a buggy – had a name written on it, ‘One Lung Long Distance.’ Evidently, it only had one cylinder, a one lunger.”

Gordon doesn’t remember any other details about the automobile but believes he was told it was made in Hartford, Connecticut. The automobile was owned by one “Ardy Young, Gordon said. Of that he is sure. However, he doesn’t know what happened to the car.

Gordon recalls that Young was a Wolfville businessman who operated a bakery and restaurant. He was famous locally, Gordon said, for cooking up massive amounts of baked beans and selling them. “Every Wednesday he baked beans in the bakery and people from all over town would come with pots and pan and whatever to get the beans at his bakery or restaurant. You could go in and eat or you could go around back and get the beans; whichever you liked.”

Baked beans by the bucket or whatever. An amusing bit of Wolfville folklore from Mr. Hansford who had the opportunity to see a historic license plate and shared this experience with us.

There’s a P.S. of course. Gordon told me that Ardy Young was related to Cecil Young, who operated a long-time Wolfville fixture, a restaurant called “The Palms.” Gordon thought Ardy may have been Cecil’s father.

Actually, Ardy and Cecil were brothers, a fact I learned by looking these gentlemen up in the Wolfville history, Mud Creek. According to this book, Ardy was Arthur Young and he was Cecil’s older brother. The history chronicles people buying baked beans at the “bakery and restaurant that… Arthur ran at the corner of Main Street and Elm Street.” Arthur served as a town councillor in the 1920s and is mentioned several times in the Wolfville history.



In a November column, I asked if Canning was ever called Apple Tree Landing by its earlier inhabitants. In fact, I offered some rather weak evidence that maybe it wasn’t, siding with historian Bruce Spicer who argues that the name actually applied to an old wharf in the village. I even dared suggest that historian A. W. H. Eaton was slightly amiss in his 1910 history of Kings County, where he wrote that the village was once called Apple Tree Landing.

While Eaton was probably right rather than wrong, and historical writers will keep on repeating what he wrote without questioning it, I have yet to see any documentation suggesting Canning was once Apple Tree Landing. However, it really doesn’t matter; besides, the folklore about the old apple tree beside an old wharf is a colourful tale and true or not, deserves preserving.

That being said, a few days ago I discovered an article in the vaults of the Kings County Museum that sheds interesting light on Canning’s early days. The article was written in 1929 by Margaret E. Ells (1909-1986) and was entered in an essay competition at Dalhousie University. Ms. Ells writes about Canning’s various name changes, in some respects differing slightly from A. W. H. Eaton, but agreeing with him that the village definitely was once called Apple Tree Landing.

“The Loyalists settled Apple Tree Landing,” Ells writes. “When the stump of the tree for which the village had been named was no longer visible, Apple Tree Landing received another name. Habitant Corner it was called and Habitant Corner it remained for some thirty years, until in the third decade of the nineteenth century a village meeting decided to change its name to that of two leading British statesmen, George Canning, late prime minister, and his nephew.”

How does Ells differ from Eaton? The latter wrote that the village was named after George Canning and his son, not his nephew. Most people aren’t aware of the fact that the village honoured two Cannings, both of whom were Governor-Generals of India. Few if any historians and travel writers mention this fact.

Canning in its heydey was quite a place, by the way. Ells writes that when large towns like Kentville “were settlements of about 200 people, when villages like Sheffield Mills had scarcely a track through them, Canning was a prosperous village of two thousand inhabitants.”

What led to that prosperity, Ells explained, was “harbour room for as many as eleven one-hundred-and-fifty-ton freighters,” a ship building industry second to none, and potato farming. “The village of Canning was ‘made’ by the potato industry,” Ells said, noting that an excellent port and fine ships opened up a huge market for potatoes. She describes a busy Canning harbour at harvest time when the “farmers came for miles around, their ox-carts piled high with good Bluenose potatoes, to load on the vessels moored at the landing, sometimes eleven deep.”

Since we know what made Canning prosperous, its a wonder that when villagers sat down to select a new name they didn’t pick something honouring the port, the shipbuilders and the lowly potato. Why they decided to honour two British statesmen “can only be conjectured,” Ells wrote.


The Ambrose F. Church map of Kings County shows that a Catholic Church existed in Centreville at the time this area was surveyed and the map made up – which may have been as early as 1864 for the survey and possibly a decade or two later when the map was prepared.

There is a cemetery where the church once stood and this undoubtedly is the burial ground that according village folklore is of Irish origin. After talking with several people about Centreville’s “Irish cemetery” and looking at records in the Kings County Museum, I’ve turned up some interesting facts about the old burial ground.

First of all, there are no records to indicate the cemetery is of Irish origin (whatever that means) but folklore says Centreville originally was an Irish settlement. The burial ground is one of three Roman Catholic Church cemeteries in this immediate area and is the oldest of the three and possibly the oldest in the county. The cemetery has been the property of the Catholic Church since 1856. Allan Cyr, who is on a Church committee currently involved in restoring the cemetery, tells me that Registry of Deeds records indicate one William Ruscoe, a blacksmith and possibly a Justice of the Peace, conveyed a portion of land to the Roman Catholic Church in 1856, said portion being the site of the cemetery.

Mr. Cyr confirmed that as is indicated on the Ambrose Church map, a Catholic Church definitely was located there. I have been unable to pinpoint the date it was built. Mabel Nichols’ Kentville history has it that a Catholic Church was built here in 1842 but doesn’t give the location. Nichols may have been referring to the chapel in Centreville since she states that later another Catholic Church was built, this one in Kentville in 1853. Eaton in his Kings County history also has 1853 as the year the Kentville chapel was completed. Further confirmation that the Centreville chapel existed is on record at the Kings County Museum and there is a note saying that it was removed in the early 1900s.

As for the site being an Irish cemetery, I can see by looking at records in the Kings County Museum how this notion may have originated. As can be seen from existing records, Irish families in this area favoured the cemetery as a resting place for their deceased.

In 1995 the Kings County Genealogical Society surveyed the Centreville cemetery and recorded inscriptions on the stones. Wayne Baltzer, a member of the Society, said they found many stones with Irish names, one dating back to 1858. The Society made a list of inscriptions on some 30 stones and 25 contain Irish surnames; these surnames are Hagerty, Sarsfield, O’Brien, Cavanagh, O’Keefe, Slautery, Power and Lynch. Several of the stones give the origin of the deceased as being various parts of Ireland.

The cemetery in Centreville apparently is much older than its stones indicate. The Genealogical Society records indicate the cemetery’s “period of use” is 1858 to the present. However, Allan Cyr tells me that when William Ruscoe gave a portion of his land to the Catholic Church in 1856 “the burying ground was already there.”

In other words, no one knows how old this cemetery is. It’s also possible that Irish immigrants were the first to establish a cemetery there; existing records suggest that this is a possibility.


According to Nova Scotia Legislature records, the Blomidon Railway Company was incorporated in 1911. There’s little doubt that our own Sir Frederick Borden was behind plans to build this railway and he may have had his lumbering interests in mind. Sir Frederick owned a considerable tract of woodland in the Cape Blomidon/Cape Split area; and while the records aren’t clear on it, he may have been harvesting timber there when the idea of a new railway line was floated.

Was it mere coincidence that while the Blomidon Railway’s main service area would be north and northwest of Wolfville (Port Williams, Canard, Starr’s Point, Canning, Woodside, Pereau, etc.) a spur line would also run to the top of Cape Blomidon and continue to Scots Bay and out to Cape Split? Probably not, but there’s no documentary evidence that the Blomidon line was proposed solely to harvest timber.

Yet why build a railway in the area unless its main purpose was to harvest the thousands of acres of timberland atop Blomidon. The Cornwallis Valley Railway (CVR) connecting Kingsport to Kentville already existed at the time and there appears to have been no need for another line. I suppose we can conclude that creating a new railway simply to help Sir Frederick Borden harvest lumber wouldn’t have been popular. Hence the new line offered service to areas on the Valley floor not covered by the CVR along with spurs to Blomidon, Scots Bay and Cape Split.

It’s known that before the Blomidon Railway Company was incorporated, Sir Frederick was already busy lumbering on Cape Blomidon. As early as 1899 Sir Frederick was operating there and according to records found by Leon Barron, this led to the establishment of a small self-contained community on Cape Blomidon. Barron tells me there may have been twelve families established there as a result of Borden’s lumbering operation and there were a store and a school.

Another record of Borden’s lumbering activities on Blomidon exists in a story written some 30 years ago by G. David Dwyer. Mr. Dwyer’s article (published I believe in this newspaper in 1974) describes Borden’s operation in detail, mentioning a sawmill, a cookhouse, a general store on the mountaintop, and a “thriving community both under the mountain and on top.”

Dwyer writes that Borden first located his sawmill on Blomidon and “sluiced” timber down the mountainside “a distance of half a mile” to the shore. The mill was later relocated to the base of the mountain. Even later, Dwyer says, “the logs were moved tree-length down the mountain and floated to a mill at Kingsport.” A tug, the Millie K, was built at Blomidon solely to “tow the boomed tree-length logs” to Kingsport.

No tracks were ever laid for the Blomidon Railway but Borden, operating under the name of “The Supply Company” may have pioneered telephone service in the Blomidon area. According to Leon Barron, Borden connected his lumber camps and probably the mill as well with telephones. Dwyer writes that the “village of Lower Blomidon or Whitewaters also boasted a telephone company and connected the village under the mountain with those person employed in the woods.”

Government records indicate that when Borden was active on Cape Blomidon there were several telephone companies in communities he had planned to service with his railway. One was the Scots Bay Telephone Company servicing Scots Bay, South Scots Bay and vicinity; there was also the Blomidon Mutual Telephone Company, which may have been Borden’s and the Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company servicing Canning, Berwick and Kentville.


“Canning, on the road to the Lookoff, was once called Apple Tree Landing, and later it was known as Habitant Corner,” writes Dorothy Duncan in the 1946 book, Bluenose, A Portrait of Nova Scotia.

In what is probably the handbook for historians, genealogists and other dabblers in local lore – Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia – Charles Bruce Fergusson also writes that Canning’s early names were Apple Tree Landing and Habitant Corner.

Fergusson’s work was published in 1967, so obviously, Dorothy Duncan accessed another source in her travel guide. The same can be said of one of our most famous authors when he referred to Canning. In Off-Trail in Nova Scotia, Will R. Bird mentions that Canning was once called Apple Tree Landing. Unlike Duncan who gives no source, Bird attributes his information on the village’s former name to a Canning resident.

Another travel writer who predates Bird but writes similar travel books also refers to Canning and Apple Tree Landing in the same breath. However, in Down in Nova Scotia (published 1934) Sara Dennis intimates that Apple Tree landing and Habitant Corner were not one and the same place. Dennis says that the tree in the village’s early name referred to “an old French apple tree that grew there.” Then she adds that “nearly one hundred years ago the citizens of Apple Tree Landing and the citizens of Habitant Corner decided to change both names to the one, Canning, in honour of the British statesman of that name.”

Dennis’ assertion that there was an area called Apple Tree Landing and one called Habitant Corner in a way supports the argument of historian Bruce Spicer re Canning’s old names. Despite what the likes of Bird, Fergusson, and Duncan have written, Mr. Spicer argues that there’s no evidence Canning was ever officially called Apple Tree Landing.

I tend to side with Mr. Spicer, a well-known historian who has been recognised and honoured for his research on Canning and the surrounding area. Mr. Spicer grants that the main wharf in Canning once had an apple tree standing near it. “That’s what they called Apple Tree Landing and Canning was Canning,” Spicer says. “They were separate.”

Mr. Spicer refers to an old postcard, printed in the early 1900s, that shows the old Canning wharf where ships came in and refers to it as Apple Tree landing. The postcard reads, “A glimpse of Habitant River from Apple Tree Landing, Canning, Nova Scotia,” clearly indicating that the landing and Canning are separate entities.

“I could be wrong about this,” says Spicer. However, he’s willing to discuss Apple Tree Landing and Canning with anyone who wishes to dispute his claim. “I’d like someone to call and argue the point with me.”

Of course, anyone disputing Mr. Spicer’s claim will undoubtedly use the bible of historians, Eaton’s history of Kings County. Eaton says that “the hamlet that finally grew into the town of Canning was first called Apple-Tree Landing.” It may be heresy to say this but Eaton used local folklore in parts of his history and we’re all aware of how unreliable this can be. Eaton simply could be wrong about Canning’s earlier names.


“Up to the present time the Windsor and Annapolis Railway has had a remarkable record as to serious accidents occurring along its line,” reported the Acadian in July of 1894.

The Wolfville newspaper was reporting on what might have been a serious accident when an engine hauling passenger cars on an excursion from Windsor to Digby ran headlong into another train out of Kentville. Several crewmen on the trains were injured, some seriously. Some 50 passengers on the excursion train escaped injury, reported the Acadian.

In the future, communications along the railway line would improve and the odds of trains meeting headlong would drop considerably. However, mishaps plagued the railway right from the start. In her Dominion Atlantic Railway history, Marguerite Woodworth writes that “accidents of some sort began to occur with almost daily regularity.” Woodworth mentions derailments, sparks from engines setting fires along the line, and minor injuries to trainmen.

One of the first serious accidents on the line is reported by Valley man W. W. Clarke in Clarke’s History of the Earliest Railway. Clarke writes that on January 14, 1894, a special train that had left Kentville for Annapolis was returning when it broke through a bridge near Wilmot, killing the driver Obediah Pudsey and the fireman, Frank Smith. Other crewmen on the train escaped serious injury.

Historians dubbed this accident as “one of the most notable wrecks in the road’s history.” A much-reproduced photograph of this wreck exists, taken by one Lewis Rice of Windsor. Railway buff Leon Barron has a copy of the photograph in his railway collection, along with a detailed description of the accident.

Both Woodworth and Clarke note that the railway was plagued by a series of “minor accidents” involving cows and horses wandering onto the line. Some of the collisions involving livestock led to serious injuries, however.

In Leon Barron’s railway file, for example, is a copy of a letter written to the Berwick Register in 1935 by Addy Nichols of Kentville. In the letter, Nichols describes an accident involving a cow that had taken place some 50 years earlier between Waterville and Berwick.

Nichols, a boy at the time, was picking potatoes near the railway line outside Berwick. He said that as a train approached, he saw a cow wander on the track. “The engineer blew his whistle or cattle alarm,” he wrote, “but there was no time to stop the train, and in running over the animal the engine was thrown off the track.”

Nichols rushed to the scene and to his horror found that one of the passengers on the train had been severely injured. “Looking around, I saw this man with both legs off. His name was Bauer; he was going to old Aldershot (Camp) where the annual drill was in progress.”

There was an odd twist to this accident. The railway apparently was found responsible for the death of the cow, owned by one Mr. Chipman, and had to pay for its loss. Nichols writes that the fence the railway had erected to keep cattle off the line was down, allowing the cow to wander on the tracks.


While researching the life of Edward Ross for a talk on his diaries before the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, Deborah Trask came across an event dubbed the “horse race affair.”

Ms. Trask was researching in the records of the Nova Scotia Archives when she “found this interesting case” from the early days of Kentville. The “case” involves one George N. Rockwell, Aaron Anderson, Edward Ross, who at the time was a Kentville Justice of the Peace, and a horse race that may or may not have taken place.

Her interest piqued, Ms. Trask inquired at the Kings County Museum and learned there was no reference to the affair in its files. I was told about the inquiry and the “Horse race affair” and must admit that while I’ve been writing a history column for nearly 20 years and doing a lot of research meanwhile, I never came across a single reference to it.

This is where you, the reader, comes in. Somewhere out there so is someone who’s heard about the race. Perhaps you have some family folklore, possibly a newspaper clipping, or you’ve come across mention of the event in a historical work. If you know anything at all about the event I’d like to hear from you. Read the following, which Ms. Trask e-mailed me about the horse race, and it may prompt your memory.

“From court records in the Nova Scotia Archives,” Ms. Trask wrote, “I found this interesting case: ‘The Horse Race Affair.’ “In 1867, I think September, Aaron Anderson challenged his friend George N. Rockwell to race his horse against Anderson’s ‘at or near the Town House, Cornwallis.’ The challenge was a written one, with a bet of 75 pounds. Both gave a local justice of the peace, in this case Edward Ross, a deposit of $20. (Note the currency change, which adds to the confusion).

“I’m not sure exactly what happened next except that another race was run that day, and that Edward Ross paid Anderson the whole deposit, which amounted to $40., without consulting Rockwell even thought the race was never run.

“Rockwell sued Ross to recover the money. Ross eventually declared insolvency and left the province a broken man, returning to Kentville about 1879 where he again became a JP for a while. Edward in a few notes refers to newspaper coverage, so I wonder if any has survived from the 1867-68 period.”

I checked several sources for references to Ross, Anderson and Rockwell and for references to racetracks in the Cornwallis township and didn’t have much luck. A. W. H. Eaton’s Kings County history mentions a “Kentville Trotting Park” near the Aldershot Camp grounds, and its existence was confirmed by Advertiser columnist/assistant editor Brent Fox in his Aldershot Camp history. There was no reference to Rockwell or to Ross as a Kentville JP in an 1864-65 directory, nor any reference to either man in papers written on Kentville around the period the race took place.

One George N. Rockwell is shown as a grandson of Planter grantee Joseph Rockwell in Eaton’s Kings County history. This may be the Rockwell Ms. Trask refers to but there’s no way to tell for certain.

Anyway, I hope to hear from a reader or two about this historical tidbit from Kentville’s early days. Please contact me if you have anything on the race.


He was born on a farm in Canard, left school to become a ship’s carpenter after receiving a grade 8 education and rose to become one of the most renowned builders of his time in the Annapolis Valley.

As I had written in an earlier column on Charles Hemmeon Wright, many “landmark buildings” still stand in this area as testaments to his accomplishments. Among them are churches in Wolfville and Kentville and War Memorial Gymnasium at Acadia University. In partnership with prominent Valley industrialist R. A. Jodrey, Mr. Wright also pioneered the generation of electric power in this region.

The story of Charles Wright’s rise to fame as a builder, and his tragic demise at the height of his career, has been told in a book written by his granddaughter, Daphnee Frazee of Gaspereau. Charles H. Wright, Building Memories, will be launched at the Kings County Museum on Friday, October 22. Ms. Frazee traces the career of Charles Wright whom I believe has been overlooked when it comes to recognising Valley builders and pioneering entrepreneurs. Hopefully, this work on his career will bring Wright the recognition he has long deserved.

The book launching will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Ms. Frazee will be on hand to autograph books and talk about her grandfather.

Power Pioneer

Regarding Mr. Wright as a pioneer entrepreneur, Internet historian Ivan Smith sent me an excerpt from the minutes of a 1920 meeting of Canning ratepayers which illustrates the role Wright played in bringing electricity to this area. At the meeting, the ratepayers discussed the purchasing of electric power from “Messrs Wright and Jodrey of Wolfville at their offer of five cents per kilowatt hour.”

As Ivan Smith points out ” ‘Messrs Wright and Jodrey of Wolfville’ were Roy A. Jodrey and Charles H. Wright, the controlling shareholders in Avon River Power Company Limited, Gaspereau River Light, Heat & Power Company Limited, Gaspereau Valley Electric Light Company Limited, and other companies producing and distributing electric power in Kings and Hants Counties in the early 1920s.”

Smith notes that Wright was R. A. Jodrey’s business partner from about 1910 until Wright’s death in 1929 in a railway crossing accident.

Sham Fights Explained

In last week’s column on the 1909 diary of Dimock Bowlby, I quoted an entry referring to a “sham fight” during militia training at Aldershot Camp. Gordon Hansford called to explain that militia units training before World War 1 often consisted of holding manoeuvres that were like real battles. “They did everything but carry loaded weapons and shoot at each other,” Hansford said. During the heat of the mock battle the competition between units often lead to real fights with fists, he said.


In last week’s column on the 1909 diary of Dempsey Corner farmer Dimock Bowlby I mentioned that in his time mandatory militia training was a fact of life.

Actually, since just before the arrival of the Planters in the 18th century, all male Nova Scotians were required to attend military exercises at least once a year. A so-called universal militia law was proclaimed in Nova Scotia as early as 1758. Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton writes in his Kings County history that under this law, “all male persons, planters, and inhabitants, and their servants, between the ages of sixteen and sixty, residing in and belonging to this province, shall bear arms and duly attend all musters and military exercises.”

What this meant to farmers like Dimock Bowlby was that at least once a year he had to report to Aldershot Camp, sleep in a tent and live the life of a soldier for a few weeks. His daughter, Janet Parker Vaughan, tells me Bowlby received a commission “in the early 1900s as a Lieutenant or Captain,” first training near Aylesford where the camp was then located and later at the site of the current Aldershot Camp. Bowlby’s diary indicates that militia training was held late in the year, running from September 7 to September 18.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, Mr. Bowlby’s diary entries were for the most part sparse in detail and to the point. The entry for October 12, to give an example, is typical: “We were picking and sorting apples.”

However, when Mr. Bowlby was forced by law – right at harvest time – to leave his farm and participate in military exercises, he begins to add a few more details to his usually terse diary entries. The tone of the reports on his militia training period is… well, there are no complaints and no entry that indicates he was a reluctant civilian soldier. In fact, one can sense that he seems to enjoy the break from the never ending labour inherent in life on the farm; he doesn’t complain anyway.

“September 7, Tuesday. I went to camp at Aldershot,” Bowlby writes about the start of his militia training. The next day his diary shows that “we went to Kentville for the arms,” which since he was an officer apparently means he was supervising the removal of firearms from stores for shipment to Aldershot Camp. The same entry indicates there was a medical inspection and a “muster parade and squad drill.”

On the third day of training at Aldershot, there was “squad drill skirmishing (mock warfare?) and “rifle and musketry exercise.” This reference puzzled me since rifle exercises and musketry exercises seem to be the same thing. However, military expert Gordon Hansford cleared this up, explaining that the former refers to drilling with rifles, the latter to firing rifles on a range.

The remainder of Bowlby’s entries refer to ongoing drill and mock war manoeuvres. There’s an interesting entry on September 17, the next to final day of militia training. “A sham fight in the forenoon,” Bowlby writes. Bowlby was probably serving with the Kings Canadian Hussars. In his history of Aldershot Camp, Brent Fox notes that several militia outfits from around the province trained at the camp the same times as the Hussars and rivalry was keen. The sham fight Bowlby blandly refers to may have been what Fox called “spontaneous pugilism between the Nova Scotia militia units.”

Anyway, Mr. Bowlby survived life in the tents and the rivalry and by September 18 his life was back to normal. His entry for that date: “We were picking crab apples and mowing grain.”