Our  Google Map of the  Cornwallis River Greenway is a great way to familiarize yourself with the geography of the area. On the map we have indicated the major features with "pushpin" labels.

Dominion Atlantic Railway

An excellent resource for people wishing to learn about the history of the railway through the Annapolis Valley is the "Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Initiative"

This website has a large archive of historical photos including pictures of Coldbrook Station and Cambridge Station.

Bird and Plant Checklists

We plan to do a detailed survey of the wildlife and plantlife  along the greenway but, for now, we can offer lists of birds and wildflowers that you can expect to see. If you identify something not on the lists, please let us know giving as much detail as possible.

List of Birds

List of Wild Flowers

These lists were prepared by Bernard Forsythe of the Blomidon Naturalists Society.

About the Greenway

The greenway is more than a place to enjoy healthy physical recreation; it is also a place where we can enjoy nature and learn something about the history of this area. We hope that this page will enhance your enjoyment of the greenway and its immediate surrounding area.

Early History

The earliest settlers in this area were the Mi'kmaq people. Before the arrival of the first European settlers they were semi-nomadic and followed seasonal foes sources. They mostly lived in coastal areas but there is evidence of seasonal fishing camps in several areas including "Chijiwtook", now known as the Cornwallis River.

They travelled by canoe except in winter when they used snowshoes and sleds to carry heavy loads over snow. The word "toboggan" derives from the Mi'kmaq word, "tepaqan". The Mi'kmaq canoe was wide-bottomed with raised ends. The sides curved upwards in the middle. This shape allowed them to venture far out to sea as well as navigate shallow rivers. They were made of birchbark stretched over a wooden frame and were anywhere foam 3m to 8m in length.

Respect is the basic element of Mi'kmaq spirituality and the belief that all living things have a spirit, including mankind and animals. They believe it is important to show reverence to all forms of life and hunting and fishing practices were based on this. 

The Railway

In 1993, after 124 years, rail service was abandoned along the line running through Coldbrook and Cambridge. The first service, the Windsor and Annapolis started in 1869. Over the next 20 years the rail lines were gradually extended and by 1889 the Annapolis Valley was linked to both Halifax and Yarmouth.

The earliest trains would carry passengers in one car, their horses in another and wagons and carriages on a third one. This way, passengers had a means of transport at their destination.

Young people have always looked for a place to "hang out" and back in the early days of the railway, Cambridge Station was a favourite gathering place, especially when there was an evening train. The locations of Cambridge and Coldbrook stations are shown on our Google Map.

The railway was also a source of employment for young men. As Stuart Johnstone noted in the Berwick Register, "After the railway tracked its way westward from Windsor to Yarmouth, many young men eager to make a good living and be part of the new mode of transportation looked to the railway.

The railway men knew the tracks well, the curves and when to shovel more coal to make a grade, pulling a heavy load. Railway men were humanitarians in those days. Many times, bags of coal would be thrown off to those in need.

A lot of people would look for the train, day or night.  At night when all was in darkness, they would wave a flashlight and the train would TOOT, TOOT the whistle.

The trains were so loaded with passengers, many had to stand until others got off a various places.  Very often, the conductor couldn’t make his way through the cars to pick up fares.”

The last steam train ran through the Annapolis Valley in 1957 and passenger service was provided by the diesel powered "Dayliner" until the DAR ceased operations in 1993.

A Few Notes on the History of Coldbrook and Cambridge

Coldbrook is located near the Cornwallis river approximately seven kilometres west of Kentville Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. It was possibly named after a place in Wales and was known as Cold Brook Station for a while after the railway was completed in 1869.

The first settler in the village may have been Asa Davidson sometime between 1764 and 1782.  In 1792, an English farm known as "Colebrook” was a stopping place on the road between Windsor and Annapolis.

A school-house was built soon after 1866.  It was replaced by a new building erected about 1884-85, but this building burned down during the winter of 1903-1904 and a new school was built soon after.

Coldbrook Way Office was established on September 1, 1870 under the care of Henry Porter.

Heading west along the railway, Cambridge Station was the next stop after Coldbrook.  The railway station used to be a favourite gathering place, especially when there was an evening train.  Practically all the young people considered it their duty to be present on its arrival.

The earliest evidence of a mill in Cambridge is found on a map dated 1818 - 1819, by John Harris.  It shows Sharpe’s Tavern and Mill on the south side of Highway 1, east of where the road passes over Sharpe Brook.

On a map of Kings County drawn by A.F. Church in 1864 a Mr. J. Duncanson is mentioned and his occupation is stated as miller - the mill shown to be at the same location as where Sharpe’s Mill had been.

Church’s map also shows a mill located close to where Sharpe Brook empties into the Cornwallis River with a Borden family as proprietors. Later there were three mills in Cambridge, all located on Sharpe Brook and all in operation during the same time period. 

In 1927 , a new factory building, known as the Cambridge Jam Factory started up for the first time.  It was a two and a half story structure of sanitary, fire proof construction throughout and situated within a few yards of the railway station at Cambridge.  The ground floor was given over to the manufacture of “Scotian Gold” cider. The foundation of this building can be found in the woods near Sharpe Brook Bridge.

On the second floor “Jones’ Pure Preserves” were made.   A refrigerator house at the rear of the main plant completed the equipment. The products of this plant were marketed as “Jones Pure Preserves” and as “Scotian Gold Cider” included jams, jellies,marmalades, fruit syrups, and apple cider.

Mr. Jones ran into financial problems and soon the Jam Factory closed.

There was renewed activity when Scotian Gold Limited, a company of local men incorporated for the purpose of manufacturing cider and allied lines.    By 1930 the equipment was transferred to the Middleton plant, so ending the Cambridge production.

 Natural History

The landscape you see while travelling along the greenway is the result of geological and biological processes which has been modified in recent times by human activity.

The ridges, hollows and plains were formed from glacial deposits as the glaciers melted after the last ice age. These sand and gravel deposits are now the basis of large-scale resource extraction activities in the surrounding area. Not always apparent from the ground, a satellite view shows numerous sand pits.

The greenway runs alongside a number of flood plains created by the Cornwallis River and its tributaries, Tupper Brook, Spidle Brook and Sharpe Brook.

It is interesting to see how different types of vegetation are supported by specific habitats. Sandy slopes are home to mature and regenerating white pine forests with a few red pine while deciduous mixed forests are found on disturbed land and moist slopes, dominated by red oak, maples, birches, popular and cherries. Alders, willow, a few white spruce, and apples are the dominant species on the floodplains along Tupper and Sharpe brooks.

The Cornwallis River floodplain which can be seen along the greenway in Cambridge was farmed for pasture and hay and is now in transition to a floodplain woodland. The vegetation that is developing during this multi-year transition is tolerant to the periodic flooding which occurs.

There are stands of hemlock near the rest areas between Spidle Brook and Sharpe Brook. Hemlock grow where undisturbed and can live for hundreds of years.

Approximately half way between Spidle Brook and Sharpe Brook there is a fen wetland with a distinct community dominated by moss, sedge, and leatherleaf shrubs, which flowers in early spring. Stunted larch, a deciduous conifer, and black spruce are also present as well as orchids.

Roses, blackberry, blueberry, golden rod and asters are common all along the greenway as are dozens of lichen species and mushrooms. Nova Scotia’s provincial flower, the Mayflower or trailing arbutus, can be found in the woods near the rest site at the eastern end of the greenway.

The plant communities provide habitat for many species of birds and mammals. Some birds and mammals are limited to certain habitats, such as conifer or deciduous forest, alder thickets, open fields, fens or open water. Blue jays, crows chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, woodpeckers and hawks maybe seen year round. In summer many species of warbler, thrush and other migrants can be found. Ducks, herons, shorebirds and king fishers frequent the rivers, which also have beaver, muskrat and otter. Deer, fox, coyotes, porcupines, squirrels, voles, native mice and shrews are widespread. A few hundred species of insects also occur, with wasps, ants, bees, butterflies and beetles being the most evident. However, many species are harder to find with some inhabiting the water such as mayflies, mosquitoes and black flies. 

Blomidon Naturalists Society Walk - August 2010

Click here to read Murray Colbo's report which provides more detail of the plant and animal life which can be seen while walking on the Greenway.

The information on this page was put together with the generous help of Bria Stokesbury and Bernice Naylor of Kings Historical Society and Bernard Forsythe and Murray Colbo of Blomidon Naturalists Society.