THE 1909 DIARY OF A VALLEY FARMER (September 30/05)

“October 26, Tuesday. Digging potatoes. I went to a raising.”

This is a typical entry in the diary of Dempsey Corner farmer Dimock Freeman Bowlby in that it is brief, at times cryptic, and at the same time a revelation.

For a full year in 1909 when Bowlby’s age was 40 kept an account of his daily activities. All of the entries are similar to the one quoted above and for the most part, refer to work activity on the farm and in the woods.

Reading the diary, I got the impression that life in the period Bowlby chronicles was a constant struggle to wrest a living from the land. With the exception of the period in which Bowlby refers to a stint in the militia, he is constantly working the land and there is scant mention of recreation, leisure time or social activities. “I went to the woods in the morning,” “I got the oxen shod,” and “we were hauling manure and packing apples,” read typical entries.

Dimock Freeman Bowlby was born on January 11, 1869, and died on April 25, 1933. He was undoubtedly too old to serve in the armed forces during world war one since he would have been approaching 50; but as mentioned, he had militia training which was obligatory in that period. Bowlby lived in a time when most people dwelt on and worked the land and his diary indicates it was a life of constant labour. At the time, the majority of Nova Scotia’s population lived and worked in rural areas and enjoyed what economists referred to as a “agrarian economy.”

So what was life like in rural Kings County early in the 20th century? Mr. Bowlby may have been stinting with words but his diary entries said enough to glimpse farm life at the time. In the era before tractors were in common usage his beast of burden was the ox; he had horses as well since he mentions going for a drive and there is an entry referring to the cost of pasturing a mare and colt.

We can also infer that the barter system was in effect in 1909. There are various references to receiving goods for goods and apparently, money didn’t change hands.

Bowlby was typical of farmers in that period in that he practised mixed farming. He had cattle and sheep, was a fruit grower, and grew a mixture of vegetables, among them turnips, potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes.

Another revealing entry is the one quoted above about the “raising.” I assume this referred to the raising of a barn or some sort of farm building on the property of a neighbour. In Bowlby’s day it was common for friends and neighbours to come from miles around to assist in the raising of a building; actually, it was one of the few social events in that era.

However, despite the almost daily entries about farm work, it wasn’t entirely all labour and no play in the early 20th century. There are references in the diary to evening drives, presumably with horse and carriage, visits by friends, the occasional trip into Kentville, and church on Sunday. There is even time for activities that possibly were of a charitable nature but the entries were too brief to determine this.

Mr. Bowlby’s diary for 1909 was transcribed by his daughter, Janet Parker Vaughan of Middleton, who donated a copy to the Kings County Museum. I’ll take another look at Mr. Bowlby’s diary next week, concentrating on his militia career. As mentioned, Bowlby spent time in the county militia and the diary contains interesting details on this aspect of farm life nearly 100 years ago.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE PORT WILLIAMS WHARF (September 23/05)

It lies dormant today but there was a time when the Port Williams wharf linked Valley apple growers with markets around the world.

In fact, it was the apple industry seeking cheaper access to markets that led to the wharf being constructed. Several history books tell the story about the conflict between fruit growers and the shipping lines, among them Anne Hutten’s Valley Gold, W. C. Milner’s The Basin of Minas and Its Early Settlers and the community-written history, The Port Remembers.

These and other histories document that Valley apple growers, threatened by exorbitant rates of shipping lines that apparently reduced farm profits to zero, lobbied the government to build a wharf at Port Williams. On the conflict and the important role played by the Hon. J. L. Illsley in having the wharf constructed these histories agree; they differ, however, on exactly when the wharf was opened and who was behind the movement to have the wharf built.

Anne Hutten writes, for example, that “with characteristic Valley independence, George Chase decided to fight the shipping monopoly.” Hutten said that Chase, a prominent local farmer and entrepreneur, exerted pressure on Illsley, then Minister of National Revenue, to have a wharf built at Port Williams.

Hutten indicates that the wharf at Port Williams was operational by 1930 but gives no firm date for its construction. In The Port Remembers the editors write that apples were being shipped out of Port Williams in the late 1920s, indicating there was some sort of meagre wharf at this time, and that a larger wharf was built in 1930. “A new 230 foot wharf was built in 1930,” they write, “and along with it a steamer berthing bed, 310 feet in length and 43 feet in width.” This book also credits George Chase as the moving force behind the move to build the wharf.

W. C. Milner, who was chief archivist of the province at one time, tells a slightly different story on the origin of the Port Williams wharf. He credits Planter descendant William H. Chase with bringing the wharf to Port Williams. “Believing that the railway toll on apples, enroute to England, was excessive,” Milner writes, “(Chase) secured wharf extension at Port Williams and contracted with steamship companies to load with apples at Port Williams.”

Within a year of the wharf being completed Valley growers were shipping half a million barrels of apples out of Port Williams. “Vessels from abroad were… able to come in on the highest tides in the world, right past Valley orchards laden with fruit,” Anne Hutten writes, saving “millions of dollars in freight charges over the long haul.”

The wharf at Port Williams was constructed by Canard native Charles Wright, a Valley builder who is the subject of a soon-to-be-released book by Daphne Frazee. The wharf probably was completed around 1926 or 1927. These years are arrived at by talking with Edgar Bezanson of Aldersville. Mr. Bezanson remembers working on the wharf when he was about 17 years old; he is 97 and will be 98 next March.

IN BLOMIDON’S SHADOW: KINGSPORT HOTELS (September 16/05)

When Hutchinson’s Nova Scotia Directory was published in 1864, Oak Point, or Kingsport as it was later to be called, didn’t rate a listing. But some 30 years later, Kingsport had a rail line terminating at a bustling wharf and connecting in Kentville with the provincial railway system.

Looking at Kingsport today it’s difficult to picture a time when it had several hotels and one of the best-known shipyards in eastern Canada. W. C. Milner pays tribute to Kingsport’s shipbuilder Ebenezar Cox in The Basin of Minas and Its Early Settlers (published in either the 1920s or early 1930s) noting that “in the shadow of Blomidon” he “built in about 30 years thirty vessels measuring, on the average, 1000 tons each.”

A. W. H. Eaton in his Kings County history practically ignores Kingsport, mentioning only that is a “favorite summer resort” and including a poem mourning the loss of its famous oak tree. Eaton also neglects to mention Ebenezar Cox in the few lines he devotes to Kingsport shipbuilders.

However, despite this oversight by Eaton, Kingsport’s importance in the late 19th and early 20th century can been seen by the number of hotels it once boasted. In my notes, I recently found a reference to Kingsport having as many as three hotels in its heydey. When I mentioned this to that walking encyclopaedia, Leon Barron, he pointed out that there were more than three establishments that operated as hotels or inns. “Cora Atkinson only mentions three in her book (Kingsport by the Sea, which is out of print)” Leon said, “but there were actually four.”

One of the hotels only operated for a few years, Leon said. This was the Longspell Inn – some sources spell it Longspeil – which opened in 1910 and burned down in 1913. Atkinson mentions the Longspell Inn in her book, briefly describing the opening on a “glorious day” on Friday, July 1, when a large crowd gathered. Nothing like it was seen “since shipbuilding days,” Atkinson observed.

Immediately south of the United Church was the Sunnyside Inn, which is mentioned by Atkinson. Leon speculates that the Sunnyside Inn likely sprung up around the time the Cornwallis Valley Railway was completed.

“To the east of the Daniel Cox house, now owned by Mrs. Stockall,” Atkinson writes, “is the E. C. Borden hotel.” Leon believes this was called the Kingsport Hotel and it opened in 1891. “It was demolished some time ago,” he adds.

The Central House was another Kingsport hotel and around 1898 it was owned by a gentleman called Pryor Corkum. Leon recalls that for a time the Central House was managed in the 1890s by one Stevie Repetto.

Besides operating a hotel in Kingsport, E. C. or Elijah Borden also has another claim to fame. Leon tells me he was the first station agent in Kingsport; he was also the collector of customs for the port of Kingsport.

THE “MYSTERY ROCK” OF BOOT ISLAND (September 9/05)

In a letter describing a tragic airplane crash in her area during the last war, Hants shore historian Edith Mosher mentioned Boot Island. “There is a Boot Island mystery, by the way,” she said without telling me what it was.

Unfortunately, Ms. Mosher passed away before I could ask for details on the Boot Island mystery. I mentioned her comment several times in columns about the island, hoping that a reader might be aware of what Mosher was referring to. There was no feedback and I assumed that any knowledge of a Boot Island mystery died with Ms. Mosher.

A few days ago, however, Ted Sanford of Woodville called to ask if I’d be interested in reading an account about Boot Island and its mystery rock. The account was written in 1985 by George Spencer of Summerville. A copy of the account was found in the papers of Mr. Sanford’s late wife.

In the account, Mr. Spencer describes an unusual rock that lies on a ledge just off Boot Island. The rock is unusual in that it is granite and normally wouldn’t be found on the Minas Basin mudflats. It’s also unusual in that it has markings that are either in an unknown language or are markings typical of those created by the Mi’kmaq. Embedded in the rock is a large metal ring, which Mr. Spencer refers to as “horseshoe shaped.” Accompanying the account are photographs of the rock showing the ring embedded in it.

Mr. Spencer writes that the rock can be found off the south-easterly tip of the Boot, “about three-quarters of the distance from the (bell) buoy. I’m not familiar with marine navigation in this area but apparently the bell buoy, and what Mr. Spencer calls the red buoy, mark the channel in the approach to the Avon River.

The first thought that comes to mind is that the huge rock described by Mr. Spencer – which has what appears to be a mooring ring and is described as such by Spencer – is simply a discarded buoy anchor. It appears to be fairly close to two buoys marking the channel leading to the Avon River.

However, some sort of inscriptions are on the rock and attempts to have them deciphered by Spencer and his brother were unsuccessful. Spencer’s brother Charles copied the inscription and took it to Kings College in Windsor. “No one there could interpret it,” Spencer writes, adding that the “faculty at Kings sent it away to someone they thought might be able to (translate) it,” but nothing came of it and interest died down.

Later Mr. Spencer said he saw a newspaper account of unusual markings on rocks on an island off Shelburne Harbour, which are believed to be of Mi’kmaq origin. Spencer said in effect that the markings on the Boot Island rock were similar.

Mr. Spencer mentions that the rock can only be seen at extreme low tides. Near the rock, about 100 yards away in the mud is another curiosity described by Spencer as a “large millstone.”

EARLY MILITIA REGIMENTS OF KINGS COUNTY (September 2/05)

In last week’s column on the early apple industry, I mentioned that service in the county militia apparently was mandatory, even for people working in the vital agricultural field. In his Kings County history, A. W. H. Eaton writes that one of the early acts of the provincial governor was to establish a “universal militia” in which “all male persons, planters and inhabitants and their servants between the ages of six and sixty” were required to serve.

By the time Aldershot Camp was up and running, mandatory militia service had come down to attending annual summer training exercises. In his history of Aldershot Camp (published 1983) Advertiser columnist Brent Fox writes that militia outfits were “paid the grand sum of fifty cents a day” per man, a sum later increased (in 1902) to 75 cents.

Eaton’s history devotes an entire chapter to the Kings County militia. I’ve read it a couple of times and I find it slightly confusing and rather hard to follow. There seems to be no clear timeline on how the militia evolved and exactly which military group followed which. There’s little doubt, however, that the county’s most famous military regiment is the Kings Canadian Hussars. With apologies of course to the better known West Novies, which while operating here is a regional and not solely a Kings County outfit.

You’ll find when reading Eaton that Kings County had several of its own regiments almost from the time the Planters arrival. Eaton says there was a period when the Kings County regiment had as many as three battalions. What is little known is that at one time a military regiment, the 68th., was based here with headquarters in the town of Kentville.

At least, it appears that the 68th was a Kentville-based regiment. A badge collector recently gave me an excerpt from a Canadian military history which shows that the 68th was formed in 1869, less than a decade after the arrival of the Planters. “The regiment was raised as the Kings County Battalion of Infantry with headquarters at Kentville,” reads the excerpt. Of course in 1869 Kentville didn’t exist so this must refer to a later period in the regiment’s when there was a town.

Eaton writes that during the American Revolution it was feared that the 68th and other militia regiments would fight against the British. “It would be perfectly natural if the people of the midland counties of Nova Scotia had sympathized with New England (in their revolt against Great Britain)” Eaton observed. As the Revolution progressed, however, the Nova Scotia government found there was nothing to fear.

Perhaps the best known of local regiments is the Kings Canadian Hussars. It’s often assumed that the “kings” in the regiments name refers to Kings County and the “C” in the regiment’s badge to County. Thus we read of the Kings County Hussars, which is incorrect. I found it amusing when at a ceremony at the Harold Borden monument in Canning a few years ago the speaker referred to the Kings County Canadian Hussars; which was playing it safe and covering all bases, in other words.

However, A. W. H. Eaton is guilty of the same reference to the regiment. In his history, he calls the regiment the “King’s County Canadian Hussars.” Of course, he may have referred to the two squadrons of Canadian Hussars headquartered in Kings County since there were squadrons in at least two other counties. The “Kings” in the regiments name must be a reference to the British monarch and not the county.

OLD LETTER OFFERS INSIGHT INTO APPLE INDUSTRY (August 26/05)

Thanks to a railway system that connected the Valley’s fruit growing belt with distant ports, the apple industry was flourishing in the late 19th century. In her Dominion Atlantic Railway history, Marguerite Woodworth notes that between 1871 and 1893, approximately 1,400,000 barrels of apples were exported to England, using the railway lines to reach shipping points in Halifax.

But great Britain wasn’t the only market for Valley apples. Woodworth writes that there was a period when the bulk of the Nova Scotia apple crop went to the United States. For a time apple growers appeared to have a choice of markets. While the United States slapped duties on apples in 1888, causing growers to turn to the English market, Nova Scotian fruit growers were still shipping to America as late as 1892.

Having a choice of markets for their apples in both Great Britain and the States should have been beneficial to Valley fruit growers. However, this may also have meant that farmers often couldn’t agree on where to ship their apples.

That there was a disagreement of sorts is revealed in an interesting letter on display in the Blair House Museum at the Kentville Research Station. Dated September 7, 1892, the letter from fruit grower Harold Gates is addressed to C. R. H. Starr (possibly Charles Richard Henry, a fourth generation Planter grantee of the prominent Starr family who were Kings County fruit growing pioneers) and it deals with the mundane business of making apple barrels.

Gates wrote to Starr asking him to supply “1,200 flat hoops as soon as you conveniently can” as he wanted to “get the (apple) barrels made at once.” Gates then reveals that he is heavy into growing and exporting apples and was active in promoting the British market.

“Before I left,” writes Gates who is at Camp Aldershot on a militia exercise, “I canvassed for a car (of) Gravensteins to London.” But with so many of his fellow apple growers being away, Gates wrote, and with American agents attempting to buy “and soliciting consignments,” no one was willing to commit to the British market. Farmers were “waiting to see how much is going to be paid for the Boston market,” Gates explained. Gates also mentions a disagreement among apple growers on the best time to ship fruit. “None wanted to ship (on) the 19th (of September?) as nearly all thought it a bit too early.”

Gates’ reference to “so many of his friends being away” is also interesting since it appears he is referring to the annual call out of militia to Camp Aldershot for summer training. Apparently, even farmers had to attend the annual training exercises at the camp and from what Gates wrote, the training interfered somewhat with farming. You could read that militia training came first, farming second.

Gates noted in his letter that he was writing from Aldershot Camp. This puzzled me at first since I thought that the camp had opened much later. Advertiser columnist Brent Fox cleared this up for me, explaining that Aldershot Camp was first located on the barrens between Kingston and Aylesford – which I had forgotten – and moved to its present location in 1904.

CAUSEWAY 50th – PIPING WITH A GRANDSON (August 19/05)

When we were lined up to march across the Canso Causeway 50 years ago a friend stopped to talk with of our band’s director, Pipe Major Carl King. “We invited 100 pipers to march and we just did a count,” he said. “There’s 140, not counting drummers.”

Oddly, this is one of the moments that stick in my mind. That and the march across the Causeway when those 140 pipers along with 50 to 60 drummers officially opened the Causeway. As a teenager who until then had never played with more than five or six pipers and a few drummers, I also remember that the volume of sound and the size of that pipe band momentarily stunned me.

Over the years I’ve seen numerous references to the Causeway opening and mention is never made of the “140 pipers, not counting drummers,” that participated. Usually the reference is to the “grand march of the 100 pipers.” That mass of pipers and drummers actually failed to march across as a single group, splitting into two groups halfway over, but this isn’t part of Causeway lore.

Last weekend the province celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Causeway opening and as one of the original pipers I was invited to participate. I look upon this as a unique event and unlike anything else I’ve done with the pipes in the more than 50 years I’ve been playing; it was an occasion made even more special because a grandson participated in the anniversary celebrations with me as a piper.

Just over two years ago I started to give Sam piping lessons. When they announced the upcoming anniversary celebrations last year I entered Sam’s name so we could pipe across the Causeway together. I thought that the two of us participating in the celebrations would be a memory he’d cherish but for a while it didn’t look like it would happen. Sam’s dentist had fitted him with braces and he had to give up the pipes for nearly a year. Fortunately, the braces came off in time for Sam to get back on the pipes and learn the mandatory tunes.

At age 13 Sam may not have been one of the youngest pipers or drummers to participate in the Causeway anniversary celebrations. But I wonder if any of the other original pipers from the 1955 opening played at the 50th celebration with a grandchild. I’m delighted that we did. For me it was the culmination of many decades of piping; for Sam it was a beginning.

In a way we did receive special recognition for being grandfather and grandson pipers. The piping director for the anniversary celebrations arranged for Sam and I to play a duet that was recorded for CBC television. Sam was interviewed as well; and for a fleeting moment that evening on supper television you could hear us skirling away on the pipes.

CANNING MONUMENT SALUTES FAMED SHIPBUILDERS (August 5/05)

Immediately east of the Bruce Spicer Park on Canning’s main street stands a stone monument dedicated to a family of shipbuilders. This stone marks the area around and in Canning where five generations of Bigelows toiled at shipbuilding. The inscription tells how Amasa Bigelow came to Cornwallis with his father Isaac, a Planter grantee. Amasa is mentioned as a shipbuilder in Eaton’s Kings County history but the monument tells us that as well, he built and operated a mill on “Deep Hollow Mountain,” which is either the mountain behind Sheffield Mills or the mountain above Deep Hollow Road in Greenwich.

Amasa was the first of the five generations of Bigelow shipbuilders. The Bigelow monument says he came to this area in 1762. He would have been a boy of seven at the time since Eaton gives his birth date as 1755. However, Eaton’s history says that Amasa’s father, Isaac arrived in the township of Cornwallis “in 1760 or ’61,” which differs from the monument. Elsewhere in his history Eaton appears to contradict himself since he writes that Isaac received his Cornwallis grant in 1764.

We’ll let the historians sort out what appears to be discrepancies in the Eaton account of the Bigelow family. We know for sure that Amasa was the first of the Bigelow shipbuilders here. Following the story as told on the monument, we find that Amasa was involved in shipbuilding in Wolfville. He met a tragic end while working on a ship but this isn’t mentioned on the monument. Eaton says that Amasa was killed in 1799 while working on a vessel; he would have been 44 at the time. Marine historian Leon Barron tells me that according to folklore, Amasa was killed during a fall from the mast of a vessel. that was being constructed.

Following his father’s footsteps, Amasa’s oldest son, Ebenezar Sr. operated a shipyard in Kingsport. His son, Ebenezar Jr. was the first to operate a shipyard in Canning. The area around the Bigelow monument and Bruce Spicer Park was the site of the shipyard. Ebenezar Jr. operated the shipyard there for about 50 years, building some “67 vessels of various rigs and tonnage.”

“The last vessel built by the Bigelows,” the monument reads, “was the tern schooner Cape Blomidon in 1919.” You can read about the Cape Blomidon in the display at the Bruce Spicer Park.

On the Cape Blomidon, there appears to be a slight discrepancy in documentation on this vessel. Recently Leon Barron showed me a copy of the Cape Blomidon’s certificate of registration, which indicates it was built in Canning in 1919 as per the Bigelow monument. The certificate of registration indicates that the builder was one Harvey MacAloney. In the book, Sails of the Maritimes, Captain John P. Parker also gives the builder of the Cape Blomidon as being MacAloney. According to Leon Barron, the records show that MacAloney’s construction foreman at the time the Cape Blomidon was being built was one Russell Hatfield.

While this appears to contradict the Bigelow monument, a newspaper article from 1919, which is in Leon Barron’s files, notes that the Bigelows were busy building ships at the time in the Canning yard. However, Barron has another newspaper article from the same year which appears to indicate that the Bigelows were busy at the time building ships in another area.

Again, we’ll leave it to the historians to sort this out, keeping in mind that in 1919, newspaper were notorious for printing gossip as fact.

BIOGRAPHY COMING ON VALLEY PIONEER (July 29/05)

Internet historian Ivan Smith, Canning, calls him “an important figure in the industrial development of Kings County.” Mr. Smith notes that along with famed Valley industrialist R. A. Jodrey, he pioneered the production of electric power in Kings and Hants County in the early 1920s.

He was a builder as well and many “landmark buildings” exist here as testaments to his accomplishments in this field. He is one of our unsung and little-known heroes, a Kings County native who but for his tragic demise in an automobile accident would now be as recognised and celebrated as R. A. Jodrey.

He was Charles Hemmeon Wright, a native of Canard whose life work will be commemorated in a soon-to-be published biography being written by one of his grandchildren. Daphne Frazee, Gaspereau, already has two historical books to her credit and she’s currently working on a biography on Mr. Wright who was her grandfather.

Built Churches, Gymnasium

“Charles Hemmeon Wright was born in Canard on October 31, 1882,” Ms. Frazee wrote during our recent e-mail correspondence about this remarkable gentleman. His importance as a builder and industrialist is well illustrated in the brief bio she sent me.

“It was (in Canard) that his career as a builder began. He apprenticed as a carpenter under John Borden. While still a teen he struck out on his own. One of his earliest projects was the Canard Baptist Church, with the laying of its cornerstone in 1909. He was responsible for a number of landmark buildings in Wolfville and Kentville, including the Wolfville Baptist Church, St. Andrew’s United Church, Acadia’s original War Memorial Gymnasium, the Atlantic Theatre building, and both the United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen and St. James Anglican Church. Charles built a number of private homes in this area, including his own at 586 Main Street, Wolfville.

“In 1917 fate threw R. A. Jodrey and Wright together,” Ms Frazee continued. Answering a call from the town of Wolfville for a reliable source of electricity, Jodrey and Wright investigated the possibility of building a hydro station on the Gaspereau River. “This they did with the power station at Stiver’s Falls in White Rock.”

Continuing their partnership, Jodrey and Wright “went on to build dams on the Avon River. The resulting power enabled them to establish Minas Basin Pulp and Power in Hantsport. Charles was the company’s president for the first two years of its existence. The two were involved in many other projects. One was the building of a chain of Super Service Stations around Nova Scotia.”

Jodrey and Wright’s partnership was tragically concluded, Ms. Frazee wrote. “It all came to an abrupt end on July 16, 1929, when Charles’ car was struck by a locomotive.”

(To round out the biography, Ms. Frazee is looking for anecdotes or any information readers may have on Mr. Wright; she can be reached at 902-542-4309.)

HISTORY THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE HISTORY BOOKS (July 22/05)

I call it history that didn’t make the history books; trivia and other facts that if you’re a history buff you really didn’t need to know, but found interesting anyway. For example, on October 22, 1892, the electric lights were turned on for the first time in the town of Kentville and in the shops and offices of the railway which had its headquarters in the town.

I got this bit of trivia from a newspaper clipping I found in scrapbooks in the Kings County Museum‘s family history section. In fact, most of the following history was collected while I was digging through documents, scrapbooks and other papers on file at the Museum. Checking on the story about Kentville’s lights, I found that Mabel Nichols book, The Devil’s Half Acre, gives the date as 1891 as the year when the town started to construct a steam-operated power house; Nichols said the power house was ready to generate electricity in March, 1892, but the town lights weren’t turned on until November.

Who was the first passenger on the Cornwallis Valley Railway? In her history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, Marguerite Woodworth writes that work began on the CVR in 1889 and it began operation in 1890 with a passenger and freight service between Kingsport and Kentville. Local folklore has it that when the first locomotive made a trial run on the CVR line to Kentville before beginning regular service, one “Mrs. Loomer,” a Kingsport teacher, rode up front with the engineer, thus making her the first unofficial passenger on the line.

A newspaper clipping from 1938 proclaims that a hotel erected in Kentville some 123 years previously was in the process of being torn down. The Kentville Hotel, located on “the flat” on east Main Street, is believed to have been built in 1815. The hotel served as the headquarters for the stage line in the pre-railroad days.

In a paper on the Mi’kmaq as they were when the French arrived is mention that among the preferred plant foods of the natives, besides berries, roots and herbs, etc., were “wild potatoes” and/or “wild carrots.” I found one reference to wild potatoes in a book on wild foods but no mention of wild carrots.

In 1938 the Kings County Wildlife Association held a fish and game exhibit in conjunction with the apples blossom festival. What would you think would be some of the obvious things to display at such an exhibit? Among other things, trout and salmon flies, decoys, a gun display and similar artefacts associated with hunting and fishing.

You wouldn’t expect such an exhibit to have live specimens and certainly not exotic ones but it did. According to a letter on file at the Kings County Museum, the Association brought in three live alligators – “just as a curiosity” – for the show!

In the summer of 1929, five people died when an automobile was wrecked in a collision with a train near Falmouth. A newspaper clipping on the accident is in the Kings County Museum files. One of the people killed in the accident was Charles Wright, who was a partner with R. A. Jodrey when they pioneered the start of electrical power generation in this area. Mr. Wright will be the topic of an upcoming book by his granddaughter, Daphne Frazee of Gaspereau.

Readers are invited to contact me if they can expand on any of these items.