The Kentville Heritage Centre Opens its Doors to the Past
By Lynn Pulsifer
The residents of Kentville haven’t heard “a train a-coming, coming round the bend,” since 1990. However, the small Via Station that was originally built in 1988 to sell tickets to ride the train has now taken on a new purpose.
On Saturday, May 18, the Via Station became the new home for the Kentville Heritage Centre. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, and official opening by Town Crier Lloyd Smith, over 80 people, ranging in age from 9 to 90, who had gathered along Station Lane to watch this exciting event, walked from the present day into Kentville’s past.
As you enter into the main foyer of the centre, a beautiful restored railway bench from the former Dominion Atlantic Railway Station greets you. The walls are filled with black and white photos of many of the old buildings and streetscapes of Kentville. An original “Via Kentville” sign hangs high over the back door, and the sounds of steam and diesel engines echo from the Railway Room. The centre also has a sports room with pictures and memorabilia of local sport heroes, along with hockey and baseball teams.
Another room features the Dominion Atlantic Railway, and has pictures and written material from the beginnings of the Windsor & Annapolis Railway in 1869, through to the final day of rail traffic in Kentville. There is also a special exhibit on the Apple Blossom Festival with photos from the first Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival in 1933, up to the present time.
The Kentville Historical Society has brought the former Via Station, which is the only remaining physical reminder of the railway in Kentville, back from the past. It has now become a centre to display the rich heritage of the town, once known as Horton Corner.
The centre is open everyday except Sunday and Monday, from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and invites anyone with a love of history to come and discover Kentville’s heritage.