He earned some of Scout Canada’s highest awards and at one time was the oldest active Scout in Canada. To my surprise, I found him profiled in Wikipedia which notes he is “still known as the oldest Boy Scout in the Commonwealth of Nations.”
In a scouting career that spanned nearly 80 years, Wood influenced the lives of several generations of youths in the Kentville area. He is still well remembered today by countless youths, many of them now seniors, who served with him as scouts.
This was Walter Wood (1876-1981) who arrived in Kentville circa 1908 to sign on with the D.A.R. Walter spent his entire career working as a machinist with the railway. During those railway years and well after he retired, he was active in the scouting movement. When he was saluted in his 90th birthday in The Advertiser, the editor wrote that next to scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell, his name “was almost a byword in the Valley’s scouting movement.”
In the spring of 1629, one Richard Guthry marveled that the area around Port Royal abounded in wild game and fish. Oddly, as the unofficial chronicler of the Port Royal settlement, Guthry mentions two game birds that according to biologists, didn’t exist in Nova Scotia at the time – phesents (sic) and wild turkeys.
Now the records show that pheasants were introduced here in the 1900s and Nova Scotia’s climate has always been deemed too inhospitable for wild turkeys. Yet here we have a 17th century historian telling us these game birds were abundant.
It’s a surprise also that Guthry neglects to mention two major game animals found throughout the province in his time – caribou and moose. These game animals were a major food source for the Acadians, thanks to the Mi’kmaq who introduced French settlers to the wildlife harvest there for the taking. So also with the Planters. In accounts about the Planters after the Acadians were booted out, you’ll discover that moose and caribou also were important food sources for them, along with small game animals, waterfowl and fish.
In the years leading up to World War 2, many farms in Kings County were still in a transitional period. In other words, horses and oxen were still being used on more than a few farms, along with gas driven machinery.
This meant that when the war was in full swing and gas rationing arrived, some farmers felt its full effect and some obviously didn’t – if you had horses (or oxen) it was an easy matter to put the tractor in the barn and hitch up old Dobbin. However, farming was vital to the war effort, and this meant that townies and non-farmers were hit harder by gas rationing and it was eased somewhat for farmers.
I was eight years away from my teens when war began and almost oblivious of the fact that a world-wide war was soon raging. Not so my grandfather, Joseph Coleman. While he was more of a hobby farmer by the time the war started, gas rationing meant that his tractor was put away and he hitched up his horse. One of my memories of Grampy was him coming down Aldershot Road with his horse and wagon, passing long lines of soldiers on route marches. More than once there were snickers and catcalls.
In World War 2, late in 1944, Kings County native Pte. Glen Allen, an infantryman with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry was missing during the battle to liberate Holland. Allen’s fate wouldn’t be known for months. Was he wounded and stranded somewhere on the battlefield, a fatality, a prisoner of war? The Canadian military couldn’t provide answers, but a lady did, a Scottish lady who lived over 2,000 miles away from Allen’s home and far from the battlefield. This is Pte. Allen’s wartime story, a story about good arising from Nazi wartime propaganda, and a tale about an amazing connection across the waters.
Midway through 1944 the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) fought their way through Normandy as part of 2nd Canadian Division’s assault on France. In their ranks was a young private from Melanson. He had enlisted in Halifax and after basic training in New Glasgow was posted out of the province to the RHLI, a common practice when regiments were undermanned.
In the spring of 1873, a group of Kentville businessmen pooled financial resources, formed a publishing company and started a semi-weekly newspaper. Joseph A. Cogswell, a prominent local printer, was installed as manager and editor of the newspaper, which was given the grandiose name of The Western Chronicle.
This wasn’t the first newspaper published in Kentville, nor was it the first published in Kings County. That honour possibly belongs to the Kings County Gazette, which was published in Canning for a short while starting in 1864. I say “possibly” since various publications that could be called newspapers started around the time the Kings County Gazette appeared; among them were The Acadian in Wolfville and The Star in Berwick.
In a book published in 1983, Brent Fox speaks of the “old Camp Aldershot” (at one time on the plain near Aylesford) and the “new Camp Aldershot,” about a kilometer or so north of Kentville.
In what was a history of the military base, Fox said there was little to speak of in the way of facilities in the new Camp Aldershot when it was first opened. As it turns out, there was gold there of a different kind, but Fox gives the impression that the new camp was a barren plain with scattered stands of pines (hence the local name for the area, Pine Woods). He conceded there were “several farms” in the area, a race track and two mills, but that was about it.
However, the research Gary Young is conducting on Pine Woods indicates there were more than several farms in the area comprising the new Camp Aldershot. Most of the 2,500 acres of Camp Aldershot and most of the adjacent land had been farmed for generations and were included in Planter Grants. This is indicated clearly by Young’s meticulous searching of old deeds and land transfers.
It would likely take years of research to dig up and document the historical connections of a unique confluence of roads in Kings County. At this confluence, Upper Church Street, Lanzy Road, Campbell Road, and Oakdene Avenue converge on Highway 341 just north of Kentville. At that point, if two vehicles were driving from the north and from the south on Highway 341, and vehicles on the roads were driving to the highway, it’s possible that all six could meet head on.
All the roads mentioned, including the highway, are historical to some degree. There are Planter and Mi’kmaq connections; at least one of the roads is of Acadian origin and another has connections with Black Nova Scotians.
“Wolfville is likely to have a new industry,” a Maritime trade magazine (The Critic) announced in its November issue in1891. Quoting a piece in Wolfville’s newspaper, The Acadian, the magazine reported that a “laboratory is to be built at once for the preparation of a class of German-American remedies, approved by the best science of the day.
“The Skoda Discovery Company is the name of the corporation. It is composed of a number of American gentlemen, who are putting the same line of remedies on the market in the United States, and under a Dominion patent are about to start a Canadian branch of their business in this village.”
The success of the enterprise may reasonably be expected, the notice in the newspaper concluded. George W. Borden, a prominent Wolfville resident and businessman, whom the Wolfville history, Mud Creek, identifies as a Skoda stockholder, was named as the superintendent of the factory’s construction. Borden was a town councilor for at least seven terms, a position he may have used to ease Skoda’s move to Wolfville.
As reported in the Federal Sessional Papers, dated March 25, 1886, the Kerr Vegetable Evaporating Company of Canning displayed its products at the Canadian exhibit in the International Exhibition, Antwerp, Belgium. In the papers, a letter from Charles Tupper to the Hon. Secretary of State, Ottawa, presented the results of Canada’s participation in the exhibition, noting that the Kerr Company received honorable mention.
In the February 6, 1891, issue of the Canadian Manufacturer Magazine reported that according to the Kentville NS Star, the Kerr Vegetable Evaporating Company “have received an order from the British admiralty office for the supply of nearly 10,000 pounds of evaporated vegetables for the British navy.” Kerr, said the magazine also are “receiving large orders from the United States and Upper Canada.”
That same year, the Kerr Company, again showing its evaporated vegetable line, represented Canada at the 1891 International Exhibition in Kingston, Jamaica. As reported in the Federal Sessional Papers, Kerr, now located in Kentville, received a gold medal for its products.
In the History of Kings County, Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton mentions a little-known historian, Dr. William Pitt Brechin, and his genealogical research. Included in the county history is Brechin’s brief account on the origin of Kings County roads.
However, as Doug Vogler pointed out in a post I received recently, “many do not know that the bulk of the research for the history… was done by Brechin,” which was something Eaton downplayed.
In his ongoing search of earlier newspapers and other publications, Vogler often comes up with little-known historical nuggets like this about Kings County. In a January 1904 issue of the Berwick Register, for example, Vogler found evidence that someone other than Eaton contemplated writing a history of Kings County. The evidence is in a letter J. Calder Gordon wrote to the Register, indicating he was planning a county history based on the “considerable work” done by Brechin. Gordon wrote that he was “gathering additional material to complete (Brechin’s) valuable work.”