“Ralph S. Eaton was descended from the Planter Eatons who came to Kings County after the expulsion of the Acadians, and like most of the Eaton clan, he had scholarly leanings and an interest in the soil,” I wrote in an Advertiser column over a decade ago.

“He was a prominent pioneer fruit grower,” I continued, “and his Hillcrest Orchards were undoubtedly a show place of national repute.”  I concluded that column with the observation that aside from the praise for Eaton and his orchards – he’s mentioned prominently in Arthur W. H. Eaton’s history of Kings County – little information about him exists.

Now, some 12 years later, I’m pleased to report that Ralph Stanley Eaton is no longer a mystery man.  Digging through that massive collection of scrapbooks in the Kings County Museum recently, I discovered a copy of Eaton’s obituary.  But some comments first on his famous Hillcrest Orchards before looking at the obituary.

The next time you see a piece of the now very collectable Blossom Time China, take a look at the orchard depicted on it.  This is Eaton’s Hillcrest Orchards, which were a showplace in the 1920s and 1930s and were said to have once been the largest mixed fruit stand in Canada.  The original orchard was located north east of Kentville on Middle Dyke Road, roughly where the Stirling orchards stand today.  That it was a tourist attraction may be assumed by the write-up and photographs of the orchard in a 1923 tourist guide published by the provincial government.  The government obviously felt Hillcrest Orchards would lure American tourists to Nova Scotia.

As I said above, Ralph S. Eaton is featured prominently in the history of Kings County fruit growing.  Taking Arthur W. H. Eaton at his word, since he included Ralph S. in his list of prominent Kings County fruit growers and pioneers, when it came to horticulture the gentleman was indeed noteworthy.  His obituary salutes him as “one of the most prominent orchardists in the Valley” on his death in 1933, indicating he was a pioneer in his field.  The following, taken from that obituary, offers some little known details on Eaton’s life:

“Mr. Eaton was born in Canard, son of the late Leander Eaton.  He studied at the Canard public school, later continuing his studies at Acadia.  For a number of years he taught school, first at his home section at Canard and for some years at Halifax.  Forty years ago he came to Kentville, and ever since has been identified with the town in all its varied interests.  He was president for a number of years of the Hillcrest Orchards Ltd., this fine orchard property being one of the show places of the Valley, and a popular resort of tourists.

“Mr. Eaton was ever zealous in placing the attractions of the Valley before visitors, and it was he who first saw the possibility of apple culture, and perhaps more than any other man, was instrumental in having the Experimental Station located here.  He was president of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association for a number of years and always took a leading part in the deliberations of that organization.”

A man widely known for his outstanding ability and integrity has passed, his obituary concluded.


Readers of this paper who follow my column will recall the name of Keith Barry of Edmonton, whom I’ve mentioned numerous times; especially Barry’s connection with the noted Canard horticulturist and historical writer, the late Ernest L. Eaton.  Mr. Barry created and maintains a website on Eaton with many of the latter’s historical sketches on Kings County.

Recently Barry e-mailed me about the column on Edmond J. Cogswell, sending along information that gives us a better picture of this little known historical writer.

“I read with interest your article and have a few items to mention” Barry wrote, pointing out Cogswell is mentioned several times in Arthur W. H. Eaton’s Kings County history.  On page 31, for example, Eaton quotes from Cogswell’s research on the Acadian settlement in New Minas.  Readers interested in the early day in New Minas and haven’t seen this quote will find it interesting.  (One of my future projects will be to locate the complete paper from which Eaton quoted.)

Getting back to Barry’s letter, he writes that Cogswell graduated from Harvard with a Bachelor of Law degree with the Class of 1868-1869; that while he’s not mentioned in the Nova Scotia Census of 1861, the 1871 Census found him at age 32 living in Centreville with Gideon and Ruth Reid.  In the 1881 Census he is living with his mother and a housekeeper in Centreville.  The 1891 finds him in the same situation. In this Census his first name is incorrectly given as Edward.  As for his religion, Edmond is listed as a Baptist in both 1881 and 1891.

I mentioned in the earlier column that there was confusion about Edmond’s marital status.  An extract from the Berwick Register, dated April 3, 1913, clears this up:  “Cogswell, Mrs. Bessie Randall, d/o Charles D. Randall, wid/o Edmund J. Cogswell, died at Wolfville, 23 March 1913.”

Barry writes that he can find no other record of her death or marriage. A challenge as well, Barry says, is determining when Cogswell married Bessie. “There are several options.  He married early, between 1869 and 1871.  Between any one of the Censuses.  Late in life between 1891 and 1901.  (His mother died 31 March 1894, so possibly after that?)

“In any event,” Barry concludes, “it would have been a brief marriage.”

What is even more puzzling about Cogswell is his lack of recognition as a historical writer.  From what I’ve read of his work he apparently delved deeply into the Acadian settlement in New Minas and did a lot of research.  He had an interest as well into the early road and trails of Kings County and published an article or two on them in the Kentville newspaper that preceded the Advertiser.


I like to think of it as the Irish Project, the search for the Irish of Kings County. The project was started just over a year ago and is an effort by the Community and Family History Committee of the Kings County Museum to trace Irish families.

As mentioned in this column last year, the main focus of the Committee is on tracing families that emigrated from Ireland and settled in Kings County during the 1700s and 1800s. I spoke recently to Committee member Glenda Bishop and she said their efforts to date generated 27 responses. “The project is going well,” Bishop said, “but a lot of research still has to be done.”

I assume that at a future time a database will be created on the Irish families of Kings County. If you have Irish roots, your ancestors settled in Kings County and you have a story to tell, I urge you to contact the museum so you can be included. Nelson Labor is the chair of the Committee and he can be reached via email at genealogy@okcm.ca.

One of the intriguing questions about the Irish that came to Kings County, by the way, is why most of them settled in outlying areas. Were they outcasts and unwelcome? Was religion a factor in why the Irish appear to have been relegated to hardscrabble areas on the North Mountain and far out on the New Ross Road? Is it a fact that most of the good farm land had already been claimed by Planters and Loyalists and as latecomers, there was little left for Irish settlers?

Perhaps some of these questions will be answered after the Community and Family History Committee finishes its Irish project. Glenda Bishops tells me there were many interesting stories in the responses received to date by the Committee. What stands out in these tales is that Irish families usually wound up in unsettled places, never or hardly ever on or even near the prime farmlands of Kings County.

Of course this isn’t true of all the Irish who arrived here. Take Henry Magee, for example. A Loyalist who was chased out of the States when the American Revolution succeeded, Magee became a prominent Kentville businessman. In 1788 Magee built a home, a store and a mill here. In his time, to quote from a Kings County Vignette, Magee was saluted as a “merchants, miller, trader, pawnbroker and friend of the whole community.”

There were few Irishmen like Magee, of course. Most were like my great grandfather, David Coleman, who according to family lore was a rough farmer who scratched out a living on the North Mountain. David was like those other Irish settlers who came here before, during and after the famines in Ireland. Hopefully, once the Irish project of the Community and Family History Committee is completed, the stories of the likes of David Coleman will be recorded for posterity.


Clarke’s history of the railway, written by a Kentville train conductor and published circa 1920 is difficult to find today. The Dominion Atlantic Railway’s website notes that the book was printed in a limited run “on inexpensive acidic paper,” meaning I suppose that time eroded and destroyed most of the copies.

I’ve only seen one copy of Clarke’s work and it occupies a special place in my bookshelf. I was told by a long-time railroader, whose father worked with Clarke, that 200 to 300 copies were printed, some of which were given to friends and fellow employees. While produced inexpensively and not made to last, surely more than a few of those books are extant, most likely in stored away belongings of old railroad families.

Beside my copy of Clarke’s work, another can be found in the book collection at the Kings County Museum. Don Foster, a railway collector in Grafton, has two copies, one autographed by Mr. Clarke. This makes the book rare indeed. As for the dollar value of the book, it would depend on what a railroad buff/collector would be willing to pay for it.

Above, I mentioned the circa 1920 publishing date. The late Leon Barron, an avid collector or railway artefacts in his day, told me the book may have been printed in Windsor in 1925, by the printing company that published the Hants Journal. Based on employee lists published in the book, Don Foster believes that 1925 was the year of publication.

William W. Clarke was an employee of the Dominion Atlantic Railway and the Windsor & Annapolis Railway, where he started as a water boy. On his demise in Kentville at age 64 he had been a railway employee for about 50 years. He was hailed as an “outstanding figure in railway history” by The Advertiser when his death notice was published in 1929.

While I have many details on the life of William W. Clarke (thanks to the scrapbook collection at the Kings County Museum) I can’t say the same about the author of another rare historical book.

At sometime in the 1930s W. C. Milner published a collection of historical sketches in Wolfville. The Basin of Minas and its Early Settlers is the title of his collection. Like Clarke’s book, I’ve quoted from Milner’s work many times in this column. Also like Clarke’s work, Milner’s book is difficult to find. I’m aware of the existence of only four copies. One is in the rare book collection at Acadia University; another copy is in the collection of Wolfville historian Ivan Smith, the creator and caretaker of the Nova Scotia History Index; a third copy is in my bookcase and the forth in the hands of a book collector in Truro.

Milner was the head archivist for the province of Nova Scotia, having at his fingertips sources some historians would kill to access. In his book are some 70 short historical essays in 132 pages, many of them about towns, villages and historical events in the Annapolis Valley. The essays apparently were first published as a series in Wolfville’s weekly newspaper, the Acadian, and then put together and published as a book.

What’s the Wolfville connection with Milner? Apparently Dr. Milner retired to this town, possibly in the 1920s. John Whidden, who recently published a book on the older homes of Wolfville, tells me he found a reference to Milner in his research. Whidden say that in 1926, L. Fairn designed and E. S. Langille built a house for Dr. Milner at 147 Main Street in Wolfville.

We can speculate that after retiring to Wolfville, Milner wrote his series of historical essays in his new home. Exactly when the book was published is anyone’s guess but I believe it was in the early 1930s. As I said, the book is rare, extremely rare. And costly as well compared to Clarke’s book. One of those four copies I mentioned sold for $125 over a decade ago when it was offered for sale by an Ottawa bookdealer.


In 1887, in Prince Edward Island, Charles Dalton began raising foxes commercially. In yet another little-known Maritime first, Dalton and other farmers in P.E.I. laid the foundation for successful fox farming, creating and pioneering techniques eventually used world-wide.

The success Dalton and others enjoyed apparently created an interest in fur farming here in Kings County. The folklore about long ago attempts to set up a fox farm on Boot Island in Grand Pre mention a Prince Edward Island connection, suggesting P.E.I. farmers and stock were involved.

In its heyday, when clothing markets world-wide were clamouring for wild animal pelts, the success of fox farming in places like P.E.I. led to serious attempts to commercially raise mink and other furbearers. A 1945 report on miscellaneous fur farms in Canada indicates besides mink and fox, Canadians attempted to commercially breed raccoon, marten, fisher, coyote, badger, fitch, beaver and lastly, the muskrat. In 1927 alone there were 172 muskrat farms in Canada. By 1938, according to Dominion Bureau of Statistics reports, most had folded.

There was a little known attempt here in Kings County to commercially raise muskrats. Muskrat farming was tried in Lower Canard in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The farm failed for various reasons and all that remains of it today are a few memories and a sign marking the ranch site. I discovered the site over 50 years ago. Puzzled by what seemed to be large pieces of sheet metal in a swamp off the Canard River, I asked around and was told I had found the fencing of a muskrat farm.

Information about the ranch has been hard to come by. Local talk has it the ranch failed in short order, leaving says local folklore a few embarrassed Kings County farmers in its wake. I have the names of people supposedly involved in the ranch but have been unable to confirm they were involved or how far along the enterprise got before it shut down.

Besides the folklore – call it folksy country gossip if you wish – and the sign marking the site near Jawbone Corner, the only concrete evidence of the muskrat farm’s existence I have is a letter dated November 23, 1944. I discovered the letter tucked in a book I was thumbing through at a yard sale; the letter was a reply from the Department of Lands and Forests to an inquiry about the legality of pelting muskrats kept in captivity.

From the letter’s content it was obvious a muskrat farm was being contemplated here. The letter was addressed to a Kings County farmer, a man local talk says was involved in the muskrat farm and was a major investor. That same local folklore says the farm failed soon after being established, the muskrats being excellent tunnelers quickly fleeing the ranch site despite the sheet metal fencing.

I’m still digging into the history of the muskrat farm and would like to hear from anyone familiar with it. I can be reached by email at edwingcoleman@gmail.com.

Muskrat Farm Marsh

This sign in Lower Canard marks the site of an early attempt to set up a muskrat farm in Kings County. (E. Coleman)



The Cogswell family of Kings County has always “ranked among the county’s foremost families,” writes Arthur W. H. Eaton.  Eaton’s Kings County history gives one Hezekiah Cogswell as the founder of the family here.  Hezekiah was a Cornwallis grantee; when he arrived here in 1761, writes Eaton, he received a land grant of one and a half shares, the equivalent of about 1000 acres.

I mention Hezekiah since one of his descendants, as well as being a prominent Kentville citizen, was also a historical writer and researcher.  For the most part, Edmond John Cogswell’s historical research and writing has gone unrecognised.  Much of his work was printed in the newspapers of the time, in particular the Kentville based Western Chronicle, but nothing was published in book form except for a genealogy of the Cogswells.*

In addition to numerous newspaper articles on the history of Kings County, Cogswell also wrote a short history of Kentville.  The history was published in 1895 in the Western Chronicle.  Later, some unknown and enterprising soul copied this history from the newspaper and made several copies of it, at the same time including an invaluable index.

Most of Cogswell’s historical writing can be found at the archives in Halifax.  However, a few years ago Kings County Museum curator Bria Stokesbury visited the archives and photocopied many of Cogswell’s articles.  These are on file at the Museum; Thanks to Stokesbury, I have a number of them and these have been my source, along with the Kentville history, when I quoted Cogswell in this column. At least one of his historical essays is reproduced in a 1930s book, W. C. Milner’s The Basin of Minas and its Early Settlers.

In his Kings County history, Eaton includes a sketch of the Cogswell family line, beginning as I said with Hezekiah Cogswell.  But Eaton only follows Hezekiah’s line for a few generations, and I was unable to discover from this work how Edmond J. is descended from him.  However, the Cogswell file at the Kings County Museum was helpful.  According to the file, Edmond’s father was Gideon; Gideon’s father was Mason, a son of Hezekiah.  Mason was around 11 years old when he arrived here in 1761 along with his brothers and sisters.

Edmond John Cogswell was born on May 25, 1838, apparently in Cornwallis, Kings County, since the records indicate his parents resided there.  I’ve been unable to find anything on his early years but two sources indicate he obtained a law degree from the University of Halifax (Dalhousie?) and a similar law degree from Harvard.  Apparently he practiced in Kentville where he was a probate court judge from 1887 until the time of his death.  Edmond died in 1901 (another source says the year of his death was 1900) and is buried in the Billtown Cemetery.

There appears to be confusion about his marital status.  I have a letter from an American relative of Cogswell who writes that a genealogy on the family, compiled in 1998, indicates Edmond was unmarried since no spouse or children are listed.  On Google, however, is a Cogswell blog where Edmond’s name comes up.  Mentioned there is discovery of a death notice for his widow.  Some sources spell Edmond’s name as Edmund but I believe my usage is the correct one.

*Cogswell’s book, titled The Cogswell Family Genealogical Material, 1881-1882, was published in the early 1880s.


According to the signs, Highway 341 ends at what is known locally as Jawbone Corner, which if one must be historically correct is also given as Hamilton’s Corner in Eaton’s Kings County history.

When you drive along Highway 341, heading towards Jawbone Corner, you pass through farm land favoured by the Acadians and Planters.  At the corner (a crossroad actually) the road crosses Highway 358 and continues eastward to Lower Canard, through more land farmed by Acadians and Planters.  Along Highway 341 and into Lower Canard, by the way, you are likely following an old trail first blazed by the Mi’kmaq.

Drive down this historic piece of highway called Canard Street and before you reach the Wellington Dyke Road, you’ll see a left hand turn that a highway sign proclaims is Clark Lane.  Turn into Clark Lane and you’re driving in a northerly direction towards Saxon Street, again crossing farmland once utilised by the Acadians and Planters. After roughly a kilometre, Clark Lane ends as a t-junction connecting with Saxon Street.

But does Clark Lane actually terminate there?  Pause at the stop sign for a moment and look north.  Across the road is the Ron Clarke farm.  In the distance behind the farm it is the Habitant River and along it northern bank you can see some of the houses and stores that make up the village of Canning.  Look straight ahead and you’ll see a farm road that lines up perfectly with Clark Lane, a farm road that runs in a straight line for about a kilometre down to the Habitant River.

That farm road once was what people call a “government road.”  And while it’s exactly what it appears to be today, a well-used truck and tractor road, it was once an old thoroughfare connecting Canning and area with some of the richest farm land in Kings County.  If you follow this old road cum farm track down to the banks of the Habitant you’ll eventually come to the site where an aboiteau once bridged the river.

After it reaches the Habitant, the old road swings west around a huge bend in the river and then turns north towards Canning.  The river is narrow there, making it a logical site to construct a bridge or an aboiteau.  A long time ago, perhaps as early as the Acadian period,  people in this area opted to build an aboiteau rather than a bridge; the aboiteau crossed the Habitant approximately where the Canning branch of the Royal Canadian Legion now stands on the north bank of the river.

You’ll note that I’m speaking in the past tense.  Like the old road that’s no longer a busy thoroughfare, the aboiteau is no longer there and we have to go back to the 1940s to find what happened to it.  In 1943, after countless twice daily tides, the Habitant River aboiteau was swept away. Newspaper accounts from the time note that the aboiteau had been crumbling for several years. Hundreds of tons of rock were used to reinforce the aboiteau but it wasn’t enough; when it finally gave away, nearly 400 acres of dykeland was flooded and the main highway into Canning eroded.  Unleashed by the aboiteau’s collapse, the waters of the Minas Basin surged upstream for several miles, flooding land that hadn’t seen the tides since the Acadian period.

I’ve attempted unsuccessfully to determine the age of the old road that runs through Ron Clarke’s farm; it may date back to the period when the Acadians were farming the area.  Eaton’s Kings County history gives a few vague clues as to when the aboiteau was constructed.  Eaton writes that “about three years ago a new aboiteau was built behind the Baptist meeting house in Canning.”  If by “three years ago” Eaton means three years before he published the county history, then the Canning aboiteau was built circa 1907.  However, Eaton also notes that the Acadians had built aboiteaus and dykes on the river around Canning.  This leaves the possibility that the Canning aboiteau was Acadian in origin.


“Kentville for a long time consisted of nothing but the old Horton Corner and was composed of nothing but Main Street, or the old military road, and the street from Cornwallis (Township) running into,” wrote Kentville magistrate Edmond J. Cogswell in 1895.

The quote is from a lengthy article Cogswell wrote on Kentville for the town’s then paper of record, the Western Chronicle.  I’ve quoted Cogswell several times here about roads in and around Kentville.  In other articles stored at the Kings County Museum, Cogswell goes into detail on the origin of Kentville streets that run north and north east immediately after crossing the Cornwallis Street bridge over the Cornwallis River.

The quote above about the “street from Cornwallis” is interesting since it might refer to a road or trail I’ve been researching.  This could be what Cogswell refers to as the Dry Hollow road in an 1892 article.  In the article he wrote that “the old trail coming down the Dry Hollow was not a very good road but there was a creek or stream coming down from the north ….”

Now, on to the author of the History of Kings County, Arthur W. H. Eaton who also mentions the Dry Hollow road.  Before he published his history in 1910, Eaton wrote a series of historical articles for the Western Chronicle.  In one of these articles Eaton notes that a “road came into Kentville through the Dry Hollow, by Charles Jones’ and over the Joe Bell Hill.”

In his Kings County history Eaton again mentions the Dry Hollow road:  “Through the ‘Dry Hollow’ a road ran from Cornwallis (township) into Kentville, a little to the west of the main Cornwallis road.”  This road, which Eaton says began in Centreville and probably is of Acadian origin, runs through Steam Mill and along the edge of Aldershot Camp, eventually entering Kentville after crossing Gallows Hill or Joe Bell Hill.

I’ve been attempting to determine exactly where the so-called Dry Hollow road ran.  Eaton says it’s a “little west of the main Cornwallis road,” which is puzzling.  From Eaton’s description, the “main Cornwallis road” must be Cornwallis Street and what’s a little west of this is a high bank.

Oakdene Vale, the road that runs into what old-timers call Mosquito Hollow is a candidate except for one thing:  Dry it isn’t, nor has it ever been. Harold Quigley tells me when he built the Valley Tire store at the mouth of the hollow the area was all swamp and there was an artesian well on a nearby high bank.  According to several sources a stream once ran through Mosquito Hollow and into the Cornwallis River.  A watering trough for horses and oxen, fed by an underground source, was once located on the site of the Emergency Health Services building next to Valley Tire.

This leaves one other possibility as the old Dry Hollow road and that’s Belcher Street.  As you start up Belcher Street from Cornwallis Street you are traversing a hollow with two old roads, one now eliminated, and the Catholic Church on your right and a high bank on your left.  The only problem is that most sources indicate the Dry Hollow road and the old road from Cornwallis Township came in from the north.  Belcher Street runs sort of north but runs east once it reaches the top of the hill; Oakdene Avenue, which joins Belcher Street part way up the hill, does run north.  This may suggest that the old road is the course followed by Belcher Street and Oakdene Avenue and the east running section of Belcher Street was a much later addition.

It’s all puzzling and I’ll probably never clear it up.  Checking into the Dry Hollow road, by the way, I ran into another puzzle.  Above Mosquito Hollow lies Oakdene Terrace and Oakdene Place, and down below, the street that runs into Mosquito Hollow is called Oakdene Place.  Do all these “Oakdenes” suggest a onetime connection?  You tell me.  There’s a well used trail running parallel to Oakdene Vale and terminating on Oakdene Terrace; and at the far end of Mosquito Hollow you can find remnants of an old trail that wanders in a northerly direction towards Exhibition Street and Oakdene Terrace.

As I said, you tell me.  Too much time has gone by to accurately determine where the old Dry Hollow road is located.


When Edith Quinn passed away on June 22 in Guelph, Ontario, her obituary noted that her “heart belonged to Nova Scotia.”  Indeed, it did. Quinn lived most of her long life here – she was in her 101st year at the time of her death – and was a Greenwich native.

Surprisingly, Quinn’s obituary failed to mention her great accomplishment.  Quinn researched and compiled one of the most scholarly, in depth histories ever written about communities and villages in Kings County.  Her book is unrivalled for interest and as a historical source on early times in Kings County and the area in and around Greenwich.  In my opinion, only Arthur W. H. Eaton’s history of Kings County surpasses her book for historical content.

That book is Greenwich Times, the history of Greenwich, a community with important links to the Planter settlement of Kings County.  Quinn begins her book with a brief look at the period just before arrival of Planters in Kings County, taking us on a historical adventure through the 18th and 19th century, closing her work midway through the 20th century.

Quinn deserved high praise for the research she conducted in writing the history of Greenwich.  Some of what she includes in her book may be familiar to us through Eaton’s work.  However, Eaton attempted to cover the entire county and it was beyond him perhaps, and beyond the scope of his book to enter into detail about the countless communities comprising Kings County.

Quinn, on the other hand, concentrated solely on Greenwich and the immediate surrounding area.  As a result, we are given an intimate history of a community, something Eaton had to forgo doing due to the scope of his county history.

Until her obituary appeared in the Kings County Advertiser on July 3, Edith Quinn was to me a woman of mystery.  From reading her book I knew she was a Greenwich native.  But by the time I got involved in writing historical columns and inquiring about her, she was living with her immediate family on Ontario.  Many people around Greenwich and Wolfville knew her, of course, since she spent most of her life here until her late years.  I belatedly discovered she had been invited to our wedding in Greenwich over 50 years ago and my wife still treasures her shower gift.

About a decade ago, when she was 92, Edythe Quinn decided to write about her early life in Kings County.  In her “Memories of Edith Forsythe Quinn” she tells us she was born in Greenwich and her family later moved to Greenwich Ridge where she grew up.  In a later column I’ll pass along her account of growing up in an early 20th century farm community where there was no plumbing, no electricity and transportation was by horse and buggy or shank’s mare.

Briefly, after Quinn left school she took a secretarial course at Mack Business College in Kentville and worked at various jobs, including six years at Minas Basin Pulp & Power.  While working there Quinn obtained her pilot’s license at Waterville, an accomplishment she mentions as if it was trivial, even though she had to make a forced landing on her solo flight.  At age 37 she was accepted at the Victoria General Hospital to train as a nurse, graduating in February, 1952. Later, while vacationing in British Columbia, she met James Quinn and they were married in 1953.

Quinn’s daughter, Penny Irish, writes that her mother returned to Greenwich in 1959 with her husband and daughter and took over her father’s farm.  Quinn notes in the introduction to her book that it was the work of Mrs. Burpee L. Bishop who inspired her to write the Greenwich history.  Some of the research Bishop had done on Greenwich and the scrapbooks she kept formed the basis of Quinn’s book.   Additional research – Quinn spent countless hours at the Provincial Archives, digging through old deeds and newspaper files and talking with people – eventually led to publication of Greenwich Times.


In the book Nova Scotia’s Lost Highways, Joan Dawson writes that while many old roads have been absorbed into modern highways, one can still find sections of them; these are the loops and curves bypassed as highways were straightened.

Many of those loops and curves, those old roads used by our earliest settlers, can be found throughout Kings County.  As Dawson notes, many of them exist today as little used side roads, some of them now no more than farm lanes and walking trails.

In an earlier column I covered the work Richard Skinner has done in tracing the remains of early county roads, in particular the old Post Road/Acadian trail that runs through Kentville as Main Street and Park Street and continues westward through Coldbrook and down the Valley.  As mentioned, Skinner found that some pieces of this old road wander away from No. 1 Highway but often are never far from it.

If we search northward from Kentville we can find existing strips of roads that were frequently used by the Acadians, the Planters and in a few cases by the Mi’kmaq   For example, immediately after you head north and cross the bridge on Cornwallis Street in Kentville you are travelling one of the oldest roads in Kings County, a road that originally must have been a Mi’kmaq trail.

In an article he wrote in 1892 (most likely for Kentville’s Western Chronicle) E. J. Cogswell describes the road, noting that it began once you crossed the ford where the bridge now is.  “Starting from the crossing point, whether bridge or ford,” Cogswell writes, “the great trail ran east and ran up over the point of hill and through the Catholic burying ground.”

According to Cogswell, this road eventually was “shoved north” into the hollow where “the road now is.” From this we knows that today, when you leave Kentville and drive up Belcher Street to Port Williams, you are travelling pieces of one of the original roads in Kings County.  Some of this old road may have run closer to the Cornwallis River than it now does.  Cogswell said one branch of this road ran “down along the sides of the hills near the dyke” and in his time long pieces of it could still be seen.

Cogswell also mentions that this road branched off and ran north and then turned east to Chipman Corner.  Actually he wrote that the road “turned east and ran down to the old Chipman corner and a branch of this trail continued down what is now called Church Street.  Now you know when  you drive along these roads – Belcher Street, Church Street, Middle Dyke Road, you are traversing sections of  roads that are centuries old.

Another example of pieces of old roads that still exist can be found about a kilometre or so north of Kentville.  Off Highway 341 the loop known as Upper Church Street is a piece of old road eliminated as a main thoroughfare when it was straightened in the 1930s.  Why this old road took the course it did is puzzling.  Perhaps the Acadians, if it was the Acadians who first used this track, were avoiding a stretch of swampy ground Highway 341 cuts through.

Continue along 341 through Upper Dyke and Upper Canard (passing the mouth of  Newcombe Branch Road which likely was the original road) and you’ll find a short piece of old road in the hollow just below what was the Canard Poultry plant.  Some of this short section of road is still used by farmers as an access to the dykes.  This short piece, its collapsed bridge and all, is still considered to be part of the highway system.  A fact I found out about a few years ago when the Wellington Dyke Body tried unsuccessfully to have the Department of Highways repair the bridge.