At Jubilee Park, we are in the western end of the Annapolis Valley. Formed by the Annapolis River in the western end and the Cornwallis River in the east, the Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Canada. Apple and pear orchards, in particular, have brought prosperity to local farmers for generations.
The Annapolis River rises in the Aylesford bogs and runs westerly to the Annapolis Basin at Annapolis Royal. Annapolis means “Queen Anne's town”. The river was tidal to slightly upriver from Bridgetown until the construction of the tidal dam and causeway at Annapolis Royal. Now that tidal power is being produced at Annapolis, the tides have returned.
The Park, a mix of upland and tidal marsh, was dedicated to Her Majesty for her Silver Jubilee in 1977. It has been a joint project of the town, the Bridgetown Lions' Club, Britex Ltd. and the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as the generosity of former residents. Interestingly, the Park was available because a former owner of the house across the street, formerly Captain Crosskill's (1815), imposed a ban on building on the area to preserve his view, allegedly to allow him to see when the steamers were coming into port.
The first settlers in this area were the French, who settled about a mile east of the park in the 1630's. They had made their way upriver from the settlements at Annapolis Royal, partly because it was safer. The French industriously turned the tidal salt marshes into extremely fertile and protective lands through dykes to keep out the saltwater and aboiteaux to let the freshwater escape when the tides went out. Until the 1950's the "marsh" land was substantially more valuable than the upland. The brook at the Park, now known as Solomon Chute Brook, was for years called simply Aboiteau Brook, as it was the site of a very old aboiteau. (English pronunciation tended to a form like arbitoe, and sometimes so does the spelling.)An aboiteau was a dam that contained a wooden sluice with a "clapper", a one-way door that would let out the fresh water but seal up and prevent salt water entering when the tide came in.
The river provided the pathway for both imports and exports; it was the focus of the commercial life of the community. It also became a focus of social life, including ice fishing and even trotting races on the ice.
Here, at the Park, you can imagine horsedrawn mowing machines and wagons taking bountiful hay off the marsh. Just a few feet upriver, across the brook, there are remains of some of the old wharves, and an old warehouse that served Longmire's (agents for the Valinda that traded to Saint John as late as the 1930's) for decades. Across the river, there is more of the hay marsh and just downriver there was a major shipbuilding enterprise, where the Cyprus herself was built.
To your left as you look at the river is Solomon Chute Brook, named after an early farmer who cultivated its upper reaches in the mid-1800's. As indicated, for locals it was always referred to as Aboiteau Creek. Once, the brook defined one of the centres of industry in Bridgetown. There were wharves at its mouth, and it was not unusual for ships to be anchored in the creek. Saw mills and grist mills were located on the upper reaches of the brook.