Kentville, Nova Scotia
Traveling Tuesdays is heading to a small town in Kings County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Kentville is one of the main towns in the Annapolis Valley. Kings County is one of the most beautiful and richest agricultural districts in the heart of Nova Scotia’s apple industry.
Kentville is located next to the fordable Cornwallis River used the earliest inhabitants, the indigenous Mi’kmaq. The river was first known as the Grand Habitant by the Acadians. A large sand hill stretched to the banks of the Cornwallis River. This mound caused the banks to narrow and made a convenient place for fording the stream at low tide. This narrow spot also made it a great place to build a bridge which the settlers did in the 1870’s.
This area was developed under the skillful hands of the French, who cultivated lands using a technique of diking (including aboiteaus) to reclaim salt marshes from the sea and turn them into fertile farmlands. Later, after the expulsion of the Acadian population in 1755, the land was settled by the New England Planters called United Empire Loyalists. Some 8,000 came to Nova Scotia between 1760 and 1768. The area was also called the “Devil’s Half Acre” due to rowdy drinking and the horse-racing.
Today, Kentville has the highest year-round population of any residential centre in the Annapolis Valley. Kentville is a special place where you feel at home. This rich and diverse community of friendly, helpful and connected people enjoy sharing experiences with each other at festivals, sporting events or just bumping into each other while exploring the compact town centre on foot. There are wide sidewalks, unique shops, live theatre, museums, and historic sites. The town is home to much of the Annapolis Valley’s legal, professional, financial, government, and health services. Yes a place to work but it is also surrounded by a diverse and fertile natural beauty so there are many parks and places to play too.
There are many things to do in Kentville. There are a number of arts and culture organizations for one to enjoy. From live theatre to art galleries to museums, there is always something on display.
- Centre Stage Theatre
- Hardware Gallery
- Kings County Courthouse Museum
- Kentville Historical Society
- Blair House Museum
Here is a list of some of the parks and trails in the Kentville area.
- Miner’s Marsh is located in a wetland habitat. It is home to a variety of wildlife and is an ideal location for birdwatchers and nature lovers. This protected site includes a 1.7 km maintained trail and their are games and activities that can transform your walk around the Marsh into an adventure!
- The Gorge was first developed in 1930. It is part of a 64.5-acre natural woodland. There are trails for mountain biking, and ones for walking and hiking in the summer. The Gorge is also offers a challenging space for cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
- Kentville Memorial Park is one of Kentville’s most valued recreational spaces. This park is an important part of Kentville’s athletics and recreation programming. Memorial Park has three tennis courts, two basketball courts, five ball fields, four soccer fields, an outdoor pool, splash pad, a skating pond, running track, skatepark, playbox, and the Walter Wood Playground. Everything from swimming lessons to baseball games and fireworks are held here. The 25-meter swimming pool was opened to the public in 1960. The purpose was to teach water safety to both children and adults. It is dedicated to those who gave their lives in defense of Canada. Over ten thousand swimmers use the pool for recreational swimming each year.
- Oakdene Park includes a large open space with a stage, a natural playground, a basketball court, two soccer fields, a community playbox (with equipment users are free to borrow), a community garden, and a duck pond—which is used for skating in the winter. The award winning natural playground has swings, slides, a serpent cave, spider web net, two ziplines, and a mud kitchen. There are also trails and footpaths which are perfect for walking, cross country skiing, and tobogganing.
- Burgher Hill is a wonderful park space for picnics, sledding, and biking. It is home Kentville’s 4X (four-cross) track. The track includes features like bridges, rollers, a rock garden, berms, and jumps. A raised start ramp helps riders get off to a fast start! Riders are reminded that helmets are required at all time. The track takes up only a portion of the east side of the hill. A large area of the hill was reserved as a “sledding zone”. In the winter months there is a community playbox with sleds to borrow.
- Harvest Moon Trail is 7.5 km long and offers an enjoyable outing with opportunities to enjoy nature to walkers, runners, bikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
- Ravine Trail winds along and over the stream towards a waterfall. Head up the hill and follow the signs to the picnic area. At the picnic shelter you’ll see the trail that leads you to down into the Ravine. Some of the growth on this trail is over 250 years old.
Besides all the parks and trails in Kentville, one indoor facility needs to be mentioned. Centennial Arena is an all-season facility which hosts various events such as hockey and figure skating. Hey, this is Canada! We make the most of winter and the sports that come with it! Hockey and ice skating are on the top of the list. Besides this indoor facility there are three outdoor skating ponds located in three of the Parks listed above. Duck Pond is in Oakdene Park, Frog Pond is in Memorial Park, and the third is in Miners Marsh. Of course they can only be used when the ice is thick enough. Ice thickness needs to be at least 15 cm for walking or skating alone. For skating parties or games it should be 20 cm thick. Be safe and check conditions before venturing out. Ice needs to be 25 cm thick to safely use a snowmobile. People using the ponds and lakes do so at their own risk.
Kentville holds a number of Festivals and there are three I want to tell you about. One is taking place as this post is being written.
- Devils Half Acre Motorcycle Rally – June 20 – 21, 2020
In the Spring, the motorcycle community comes to Kentville. In the beginning of this article I told you Kentville was called Devils Half Acre. Motorcyclists come to show off their bikes, their skills and their merchandise. There are bike shows, displays, vendors, stunt shows, burnout competitions and community breakfasts and BBQs.
Lots of things to do and enjoy if you have the chance to travel to Kentville. As many of you know I grew up in Dartmouth, NS and have relatives who live in the Annapolis Valley. I have stopped in Kentville many times. It is a lovely spot and well worth a visit.
Be sure and return next week as Traveling Tuesdays will be visiting a place starting with the letter ‘L’.