Pro­posed plans

Kentville her­itage cen­tre could be es­tab­lished in for­mer train sta­tion build­ing

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA [email protected]

Kentville land­mark could be turned into a her­itage cen­tre.

With the es­tab­lish­ment of a so­ci­ety fo­cused on pro­mot­ing the town’s his­tory, a well-known Kentville land­mark could soon be repur­posed as a her­itage cen­tre.

Kentville town coun­cil re­cently ap­proved grant­ing the Kentville His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety a lease for the for­mer train (and bus) sta­tion prop­erty on Sta­tion Lane to be used as a her­itage cen­tre. So­ci­ety board chair­man Erik Deal said the ten­ta­tive lease will be pre­sented to town coun­cil for con­sid­er­a­tion at the Novem­ber coun­cil ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee ses­sion.

The vi­sion for the sea­son­ally-op­er­ated cen­tre is a well-rounded, ded­i­cated fa­cil­ity con­cen­trat­ing solely on any and all as­pects of the town’s rich his­tory, in­clud­ing the rail­way, ath­let­ics and much more.

Deal said there is a lot of talk these days about build­ing “com­plete com­mu­ni­ties” and he sees the es­tab­lish­ment of a her­itage cen­tre for Kentville as a com­po­nent of this. He be­lieves it could help fos­ter a greater sense of com­mu­nity spirit.

Dur­ing the past decade, many coun­ties, towns, vil­lages and smaller com­mu­ni­ties have es­tab­lished his­tor­i­cal so­ci­eties. Kentville, be­ing a town of more than 6,000 peo­ple, was one of the few in the prov­ince with­out its own ded­i­cated so­ci­ety or her­itage cen­tre.

“Kentville’s his­tory has been ne­glected and it’s been de­mol­ished,” Deal said, point­ing to many ex­am­ples of ar­chi­tec­turally sig­nif­i­cant built her­itage that have been lost over the years.

He said that as mem­bers of the older gen­er­a­tion pass on and ar­ti­facts sit closed away in base­ments and at­tics, the town’s his­tory is be­ing lost to time. With projects such as the resur­gence of the Corn­wal­lis Inn, for ex­am­ple, there seems to be a bur­geon­ing at­mos­phere in the town of want­ing to cel­e­brate its past.

He said it’s pos­si­ble the first of­fi­cial do­na­tion made to the so­ci­ety will be the old Via Rail train sta­tion sign.

“I found that sign at the Hal­i­fax & South­west­ern Rail­road Mu­seum in Lunen­burg,” Deal said.

His­to­rian and board mem­ber Louis Comeau has lived in Kentville all his life and has wit­nessed first-hand a lot of the de­vel­op­ment and evo­lu­tion. How­ever, he rec­og­nizes that isn’t the case for many cur­rent res­i­dents as a lot of peo­ple liv­ing in Kentville are un­aware of the town’s his­tory. Es­tab­lish­ing a his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety is a way to help ed­u­cate res­i­dents, many who have come from away, about the town’s past.

“We’ve got to teach peo­ple who don’t know, who aren’t old, what hap­pened here,” he said.

Comeau said if you were to sud­denly wake up to­mor­row and didn’t re­mem­ber who you were, you would be quite in­ter­ested to learn. Peo­ple should know where they came from so they can bet­ter un­der­stand where they are go­ing.

So­ci­ety mem­ber Lynn Pul­sifer said the so­ci­ety be­gan in April 2017. There was a group of peo­ple in­ter­ested in pro­mot­ing Kent- ville’s her­itage and this was the gen­e­sis of the so­ci­ety. When it comes to sav­ing the town’s past, she be­lieves that it’s “now or never.”

“We were a core group of vol­un­teers and, ba­si­cally, we’re pas­sion­ate about the his­tory of Kentville and our ob­jec­tive was to col­lect, pre­serve and dis­play this rich his­tory,” she said.

For ex­am­ple, Pul­sifer ap­pre­ci­ates the town’s rail­way his­tory, hav­ing worked in the of­fice of the old Kentville train sta­tion build­ing for a decade be­fore it closed and was torn down. She said the her­itage cen­tre could serve as a great ed­u­ca­tional re­source for stu­dents at­tend­ing KCA School and for oth­ers.

The Kentville so­ci­ety cur­rently has about 40 mem­bers but they’re look­ing for more. The an­nual gen­eral meet­ing is tak­ing place up­stairs at the Kentville Rec Cen­tre on Main Street on Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Every­one is wel­come to at­tend, es­pe­cially those in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing to serve as board direc­tors or in other ca­pac­i­ties or sim­ply be­com­ing a mem­ber. Other projects in the works The ex­ist­ing for­mer train sta­tion build­ing is in close prox­im­ity to the White Fam­ily Funeral Home’s mu­rals fea­tur­ing his­toric im­ages of the town and there is a vi­sion to es­tab­lish a green space or her­itage park ad­ja­cent to the for­mer train sta­tion. This would cre­ate an­other her­itage-themed des­ti­na­tion or at­trac­tion.

With the sup­port of Aca­dia Univer­sity’s Dr. David Duke and his stu­dents, the Kentville so­ci­ety has an on­go­ing project where se­nior res­i­dents of the Kentville area are be­ing in­ter­viewed to record and help pre­serve the oral his­tory of the town.

An­other project in­volves erect­ing a se­ries of his­toric story boards or in­ter­pre­tive pan­els in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions. This could evolve into a her­itage walk­ing tour for Kentville.

The Kentville His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety rep­re­sen­ta­tives said they are look­ing for­ward to work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Kings His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety on var­i­ous ini­tia­tives, cre­at­ing a syn­ergy to the ben­e­fit of each or­ga­ni­za­tion.

KIRK STARRATT

Kentville His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety board mem­ber and his­to­rian Louis Comeau and board chair­man Erik Deal out­side of the for­mer Kentville train sta­tion build­ing, which could soon be repur­posed as a her­itage cen­tre for the town.

KIRK STARRATT

Kentville His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety board mem­ber and his­to­rian Louis Comeau and board chair­man Erik Deal with a photo of the old Kentville train sta­tion build­ing that was de­mol­ished many years ago. The ex­ist­ing for­mer train sta­tion build­ing could soon be re­vi­tal­ized as a her­itage cen­tre.

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