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Work crew unearths horseshoes, other items by Kentville’s Cornwallis River bridge

Several old horseshoes and other artifacts were recently unearthed by a work crew digging up the sidewalk in preparation for the Cornwallis River bridge replacement in Kentville. - Town of Kentville photo
Several old horseshoes and other artifacts were recently unearthed by a work crew digging up the sidewalk in preparation for the Cornwallis River bridge replacement in Kentville. - Town of Kentville

KENTVILLE, NS - It’s a discovery with historical significance to the Town of Kentville and a reminder of a simpler time when the horse and wagon was a common sight on local roadways.

A work crew from Howard Little Excavating digging up the sidewalk by the Cornwallis River bridge in December uncovered several horseshoes and other artifacts.

Town of Kentville engineering and public works director Fred Whynot said there were at least two-dozen horseshoes found that were apparently discarded in a pile years ago. The discovery was made when they were digging a trench for water and sewer infrastructure in preparation for the bridge replacement project.

Some of the horseshoes are badly corroded but others are in better condition. Whynot said what appears to be an old wagon wheel hub, a couple of hooks and an “interesting looking rake” were also found.

“It isn’t your typical rake and there wasn’t any obvious place where another attachment would be on it, so I’m not sure exactly what it was for but that’s something they’ll figure out,” he said.

The items were gathered up and taken to the Kings County Museum. Whynot said they would go through the artifacts and let the town know what they plan to do with them when the museum reopens in the spring. The Kings Historical Society and the Kentville Historical Society will likely each keep some of the horseshoes.

Whynot said the assumption is that the horseshoes and other items most likely originated from a blacksmith shop that used to be located near the site. However, it remains a mystery when and why the items were cast aside.

Whynot said this is the only discovery of its type made during his time as Kentville’s director of engineering and public works. With progress being made in town such as the construction of a new bridge, he said the find serves as a reminder of the community’s past.

Although a time capsule from the late-1980s was discovered when the former library and police station were demolished to make way for a new bridge, no artifacts relating to the old blacksmith shop were found. Whynot said his hat goes off to the contractor for saving the items.

Howard Little Excavating foreman Donnie MacIsaac said they were excavating to move water and sewer mains and to put in new pipes when the discovery was made on Dec. 12.

Several horseshoes came up in the bucket. MacIsaac guesses that they uncovered some sort of dumping site related to the former blacksmith shop. He said they don’t normally find horseshoes but it isn’t uncommon to find old bottles or other items discarded in the past while excavating.

MacIsaac said that if you were aware of what to look for and sifted through all the dirt, you’d probably find other things. After all, metals rust and deteriorate but “horseshoes are pretty obvious.”

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

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