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With lease for former train station in hand, Kentville Historical Society soon to establish heritage centre

Kentville Historical Society board member and historian Louis Comeau, Town of Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips and society board chairman Erik Deal sign a lease for the former VIA Rail station.
Kentville Historical Society board member and historian Louis Comeau, Town of Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips and society board chairman Erik Deal sign a lease for the former VIA Rail station. - Contributed

Work to begin after interior painting completed

KENTVILLE, NS - With a lease signed for the town’s former train station building, the Kentville Historical Society has secured a venue for the “reawakening” of the shire town’s past.

The lease between the Town of Kentville and the Kentville Historical Society for the former VIA Rail train station building on Station Lane was signed on Dec. 7 and the society now has possession of the building.

Society board member Louis Comeau said it feels great to know that the lease has been finalized and that a heritage centre in the former train station will soon be a reality.

Dwayne Porter, owner of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway Museum in Lunenburg, had possession of the original “VIA Kentville” sign that used to hang on the building. Comeau said it’s “excellent” that the sign has been donated back to the society for use in the new centre. It was presented to society board chairman Erik Deal at the first KHS annual meeting on Nov. 20.

KHS member Lynn Pulsifer said the sign has been returned to its proper home, back to the small station that will soon be reincarnated as a heritage centre. She said Porter was kind enough to offer the sign to the society.

“It feels good to know that this forgotten piece of railway history has come back home to Kentville, and this is just the beginning,” Pulsifer said.

Dwayne Porter of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway Museum in Lunenburg presents Kentville Historical Society board chairman Erik Deal with the original “VIA Kentville” sign at the KHS’s first annual general meeting.
Dwayne Porter of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway Museum in Lunenburg presents Kentville Historical Society board chairman Erik Deal with the original “VIA Kentville” sign at the KHS’s first annual general meeting.

She said so much of the town’s history lies dormant beneath the “tsunami of progress and indifference”, waiting for those who want to peel back the pages of time. The KHS will accomplish this through pictures and artifacts but also through personal stories told from the memories of those who made Kentville their home.

Pulsifer said they hope to have the new centre open to the public in time for this year’s Apple Blossom Festival, perhaps sooner. They’ll be starting off small as far as exhibits go but will be concentrating on railway history, Kentville streetscapes of the past and sports photos, banners, trophies and other memorabilia. She pointed out that there hasn’t been a sports hall of fame in the town for quite a few years.

The town will finish painting the building interior over the next month or so. Once that is completed, society members will be in the building, working on the design of the space.

Pulsifer said knowing that the lease has been signed after almost two years of working with the town has given society members a feeling of accomplishment and excitement. They want residents and visitors to recognize the cultural contributions that have been made in Kentville, so the society’s sole focus will be on the shire town’s past.

The historical society is holding a general membership meeting upstairs at the Kentville Rec Centre on Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and everyone is welcome. Some of Dr. David Duke’s History students from Acadia University will be making a presentation on the oral history project they participated in. The students interviewed 15 senior residents of the Kentville area about their lives in and around the town.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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