Kentville is a town in Kings County, Nova Scotia. It is one of the main towns in the Annapolis Valley,and it is the county seat of Kings County.
Kentville owes its location to the Cornwallis River which downstream from Kentville becomes a large tidal river. Kentville was the limit of navigation of sailing ships and more importantly was the most accessible crossing place on the river. The ford and later the bridge at Kentville made the settlement an important crossroads for settlements in the Annapolis Valley.
When the Windsor and Annapolis Railway (later named Dominion Atlantic Railway) established its headquarters in Kentville in 1868 and began shipping Annapolis Valley apples to British markets, the community began to thrive. The railway not only employed a large number of people, up to a third of the town’s population, but also attracted other industries such as mills, dairies, a large foundry, and a carriage works which even entered automobile production. A branchline of the Dominion Atlantic, the Cornwallis Valley Railway, was built north to Canning and Kingsport in 1889 furthering developing the apple industry and creating a suburban line for workers, shoppers and schoolchildren to commute to Kentville. The railway also attracted large institutional developments such as a large regional TB hospital, the Kentville Sanitorium, a federal agricultural research station, and an army training base at Camp Aldershot.
The town became a major travel centre highlighted by the large Cornwallis Inn built at the town’s centre by the railway. The town boomed during World War I and World War II with heavy wartime railway traffic on the Dominion Atlantic and the training of thousands of troops at Camp Aldershot.Many residents fought overseas in the local West Nova Scotia Regiment as well as other branches of service. A Royal Canadian Navy minesweeper HMCS Kentville was named after the town and her crew often took leave in Kentville.