Travelling Highway 12 along the shores of Gaspereau Lake, most folks are aware of the great fishing, cottage life and pastoral views the land offers.
Some may not know, however, about another very important source of water in the area - the Forest Home cold spring.
The mountain spring is fully back to service, after a brief diversion of its fresh, soothing flow of water to give the site where the water is accessible a much-needed facelift.
After a series of intensive renovations to the spout from which the spring water flows and the receptacle it flows into and drains from (crock), the spring has been restored to its former glory.
Joanne Bezanson, a member of Friends of the Cold Spring, said the cold spring was never really closed. It was out of commission while work went on to refurbish it, with the water diverted away from where it usually flows.
“It’s been by the side of the road for generations. It’s basically a pipe coming out of the hillside and water runs down from there,” Bezanson said.
The spring has served generations of people and animals passing through the uplands near Gaspereau Lake, south of Kentville.
Over those generations, the age of the infrastructure around the spring had started to show.
By the time Bezanson and the other members of Friends of the Cold Spring were recruited by Carmen Legge to the task of cleaning the area up, it was in wretched condition.
While talking to Kings County News out at the site, Bezanson showed old photographs depicting the shambolic condition of the spring before they got to work. Before its restoration, the crock that caught the water was surrounded by muddy, waterlogged ground. The crock was eroded, leaking and crumbling.
“The old crock needed to be replaced,” Bezanson said. “The ground was all muddy and it was really hard to get water.”
Aside from replacing the crock, another significant part of the work done was creating proper drainage, so it wouldn’t make a mess of the ground.
“We had to remove the pipe and divert the water for two and a half weeks to let the cement for a new crock sit,” Bezanson said.
While the water was diverted, the Friends of the Cold Spring set up the groundwork for a new crock and poured the concrete.
Now restored, the spring is an attractive site, with the water flowing out of a spout into a new symmetrical concrete crock, with a smooth surface with ample room to sit.
From that crock, the water drains down into a safe passage of cobbled stones (a French drain), leaving the land around the crock, and the crock itself, quite dry and easily traversable, while allowing the water to drain into the ditch.
It certainly makes collecting water at the spout that much easier, noted Vince Reid, another friend of the cold spring.
“When we were brought on, it was all broken up, and I had a vision when I went home,” Reid said. “It turned out how I envisioned it, from the new crock right down to the French drain keeping the ground around it dry.”
Recalling the old spring before the work was done, Reid said his eagerness to restore the area was galvanized while watching someone lie on the old crock, getting soaked and covered in mud, trying to catch the flow of water from the spring with a bucket.
“Now, you can sit on the cement without getting wet,” he said.
And it was high time someone did something, Bezanson noted, alluding to the history of the crock. The old crock was originally set as a replacement for a wooden crock in 1920.
“That new one should last years and years more,” Bezanson said. “We tried to make it as true to the original as possible.”
Bezanson said the Friends of the Cold Spring have seen a great deal of generosity with many of the materials used to restore the site being donated by businesses in the area.
In addition to the new crock and drainage, the spring site now boasts a place to relax, with a bench set up near the water.
It was hewn out of a section of reclaimed iron railing that was bound for the landfill.
“Carmen is a blacksmith and welder, so he worked with that, and Harold (Redden) donated the boards on the bench,” Bezanson said. “The bench is dedicated to the memory of Carmen’s grandfather, Truman Edwin Costley.”
When asked about the quality of the water, Bezanson said that a long time ago, the Department of Transportation installed a sign on a nearby tree advising visitors to drink the water at their own risk.
“People have been drinking it fresh for years without any problems,” she said.
With the project finished and ready for the official unveiling of the refurbished spring and bench slated for Aug. 3, down the road at the Blue Mountain Hall, Bezanson said it was immensely satisfying to be done the task of restoring the site.
“People have been appreciating it and, mostly, their comments have all been good.”