Kentville, Nova Scotia

Kentville, Nova Scotia

Kentville is a town in Kings County, Nova Scotia. It is one of the main towns in the Annapolis Valley, and it is the county seat of Kings County. As of 2006, the town of Kentville had a population of 5816 people.


Kentville owed its location to the Cornwallis River which downstream from Kentville becomes a large tidal river. Kentville was the limit of navigation of sailing ships and more importantly was the most accessible crossing place on the river. The ford and later the bridge at Kentville made the settlement an important crossroads for settlements in the Annapolis Valley.

Acadian settlement

The area was first settled by Acadians, who built many dykes along the river to keep the high Bay of Fundy tides out of their farmland. These dykes created the ideal fertile soil that the Annapolis Valley is known for. The Acadians were expelled from the area in 1755 by the British authorities because they would not swear allegiance to the British King. The area was then settled by New England Planters. Settlement was expedited by the United Empire Loyalists during the American Revolution.

English settlement

The town was originally known as Horton's Corner, but was named Kentville in 1826 after Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (brother of King George III and father of Queen Victoria), who visited the area in 1794. The village was at first relatively small and dwarfed by larger valley towns with better harbours such as Canning and Wolfville. The crossroads location did attract early shopkeepers and several stagecoach inns. Kentville developed a reputation for rowdy drinking and horseraces in the early 19th century, earning the nickname "the Devil's half acre."


When the Windsor and Annapolis railway (later named Dominion Atlantic Railway) established its headquarters in Kentville in 1868 and began shipping Annapolis Valley apples to British markets, the community began to thrive. The railway not only employed a large number of people, up to a third of the town's population, but also attracted other industries such as mills, dairies, a large foundry, and a carriage works which even entered autombobile production. A branchline of the Dominion Atlantic, the Cornwallis Valley Railway, was built north to Canning and Kingsport in 1889 furthering developing the apple industry and creating a suburban line for workers, shoppers and schoolchildren to commute to Kentville. The railway also attracted large institutional developments such as a large regional TB hospital, the Kentville Sanitorium, a federal agricultural research station and an army training base at Camp Aldershot. The town became a major travel centre highlighted by the large Cornwallis Inn built at the town's centre by the railway. The town boomed during World War I and World War II with heavy wartime railway traffic on the Dominion Atlantic and the training of thousands of troops at Camp Aldershot. Many residents fought overseas in the local West Nova Scotia Regiment as well as other branches of service. A Royal Canadian Navy minesweeper HMCS Kentville was named after the town and her crew often took leave in Kentville.

Post war challenges

Kentville faced serious challenges after World War II. The dominant apple industry suffered severe declines due to the loss of its British export market. The near-by military training base at Camp Aldershot was significantly downsized and the town's major employer, the Dominion Atlantic Railway suffered serious declines with the collapse of the apple industry and the growth of highway travel. Further decline followed in the 1970s as the town lost its retail core to the growth of shopping malls and later "big box" stores in near-by New Minas. The town was also eclipsed in restaurant, upscale retail and cultural institutions by the near-by university town of Wolfville. Kentville lost many heritage buildings in the postwar period and is one of the only towns in Nova Scotia without a single designated heritage building. Major losses included the large railway station, one of the most historic in Canada which was demolished in 1990. In July 2007 the town demolished the last railway structure in town, the DAR Roundhouse, despite a province-wide protest, a move which earned the Town of Kentville a place on the "2008 Worst" List of the Heritage Canada Foundation. [ [ Heritage Canada Foundation 2008 Worst List] ]


Kentville's 2006 population of 5816 people reflects a modest population growth of 4.7% which has been lower than Kings County as a whole (7.1%) but slightly higher than the provincial average (3.0%). [Clairmont, Lynda and Anthony Thomson: "Kentville Police Service: Structure and Organization", 1990, Atlantic Institute of Criminology, Occasional Paper Series, page 1.] Kentville's own population however is closely integrated with adjacent communities of Coldbrook and New Minas making for a combined population of 14,613 and forming part of the fast-growing area of eastern Kings County with an overall population of 25,969.


. Kentville is home to numerous professional services such as lawyers offices, doctors, and investment firms. On the outskirts of the town is the Valley Regional Hospital, built in 1991. The town is also home to the Annapolis Valley Regional Industrial Park which employs numerous people in the area through a variety of different businesses.

Agriculture, especially fruit crops such as apples, remain a prominent industry in the Kentville area, and throughout the eastern part of the valley. Kentville is home to one of the largest agricultural research facilities in Nova Scotia founded in 1911, known to the locals as The Research Centre. The site now employs over 200 people and sits on convert|473|acre|km2 of the land at the east end of the town.

Kentville shares its northern boundary along the Cornwallis River with Camp Aldershot, a military training base founded in 1904. At its peak during World War II, the camp housed approximately 7000 soldiers. Kentville native Donald Ripley wrote a book chronicling Camp Aldershot and its effect on the town entitled "On The Home Front" [Ripley, Donald: "On the Home Front: Wartime Life in Camp Aldershot and Kentville, N. S." Halifax: Nimbus, 1991] Today the camp functions as an army reserve training centre and is the headquarters of The West Nova Scotia Regiment.

Community events

The Apple Blossom Festival, founded in 1933 is held each May to celebrate the blossoming of local apple orchards. It is centred primarily in Kentville, and often referred to by local residents as the Kentville Blossom Festival, with very few events occurring in other close communities that can afford to make a large enough cash sponsorship to take part. The biggest event is the Grand Street Parade, lasting about 2 hours, and made up of floats from local businesses, and organizations and community groups. The annual fireworks display is sponsored by one of the region's largest employers, the Michelin tire company, which has a large plant in Waterville, a village to the west of Kentville. In the early 1990s, at Michelin's request, the Thursday night fireworks show which had always kicked off the weekend long Apple Blossom Festival, was moved to Saturday night. It was at about this time the festival started to experience lower attendance numbers to all events and often questions the future of the festival. [] .

Famous residents

(From in or near Kentville, including the former Township of Cornwallis)
* Composer Robert Aitken
* Former NHLer Jerry Byers
* Actor Peter Donat
* Inventor of kerosene Abraham Gesner
* Comedian Jay Malone
* Linguist Silas Tertius Rand
* Zoologist Austin L. Rand


Education in the area is serviced by Kings County Academy in Kentville, serving grades primary through eight, the local high school is Northeast Kings Education Centre, located 20-25 minutes away in Canning. There are also several post secondary institutions, the Kingstec campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is located on the north fringe of town and Acadia University [] , is located in nearby Wolfville. The town operates a small library. Kentville is also home to the Kings County Museum, located in Kentville's former courthouse.


Kentville also boasts a number of high quality recreational facilities. The Kentville Arena (now the Kentville Centennial Arena) is thought to have hosted the first ever summer ice hockey school. The town also houses a large indoor soccer arena and numerous other outdoor baseball and soccer fields, and playgrounds for local children. Kentville Memorial Park (considered to be one of the best baseball parks in Canada east of Montreal) is home to the Kentville Wildcats, a senior baseball team, who have won several NSSBL championships and one Canadian championship.

ister city

The town of Kentville has a sister city named Camrose in Alberta.


*"The Devil's Half Acre: A Look at Kentville's Past" Mable Nichols, Kentville Centennial Committee, 1968.
*"Historic Kentville" Louis V. Comeau, Nimbus, 2003.

External links

* [ Town of Kentville Official Site]
* [ Kings County Museum]
* [ Kentville Nova Scotia]

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