History by Ed Coleman: Jaw Bone Corner folklore and facts

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While the province calls it highway 341, the route that runs from Upper Dyke to Porter’s Point, about 12 kilometres in total, is known locally as Canard Street. The area from Upper Dyke to where Canard Street meets highway 358 has traditionally known as the community of Upper Canard.  The area Canard Street runs through, east from highway 358 to Porters Point, makes up the community of Lower Canard.

I’ve given you this little geography lesson, which is well known to long-time Canard residents, to establish the location of Jaw Bone Corner.  The corner is the junction where highway 341 meets highway 358 and it is the halfway point between Upper and Lower Canard.

Of course, anyone living here any length of time knows exactly where Jaw Bone Corner is. However, there are no signposts and Jaw Bone Corner won’t be found on county maps –the corner’s name is a colloquialism based on folklore often mentioned in tourist literature and county history books.

If seems that if we wanted to be correct, Jaw Bone Corner really could be known as Hamilton’s Corner. You will find Hamilton’s Corner indexed in Eaton’s Kings County History, with the historian noting the general area was once an Acadian community. But if you made the assumption that Hamilton’s Corner is correct and Jaw Bone Corner isn’t, you might be wrong. Eaton also points out that what was known in his time as Hamilton’s Corner “at first and for a long time (was) known as ‘Jaw Bone Corner’, or more simply ‘The Whalebone’.”

Before getting into the folklore about the origin of Jaw Bone Corner, let’s first see why Eaton also calls it Hamilton’s Corner. Immediately to the northwest of Jaw Bone Corner stands the former residence of Planter descendant Dr. Charles Cottnam Hamilton. The grandson of a Horton Township grantee, Dr. Hamilton (1813-1880) was, for a time, one of the most prominent citizens of Kings County. As well as carrying on a medical practice for over 40 years, Dr. Hamilton was the first president of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association when it was formed in 1863, a position he held for 17 years. He served in the provincial Legislature and was president of the provincial medical board.

In the yard of Dr. Hamilton’s old residence, on either side of the driveway once rested the huge jawbones of a whale; said whale, believed to have been a blue whale, according to one area resident, that had been beached along the Canard River. This was “sometime in the late 1880s,” according to Zeke Eaton, who grew up in Canard. 

“After the carcass rotted away,” Eaton says, “the jawbones were salvaged and set up as gateposts at the property at the northwest angle of the crossroads.” 

The jawbones remained there until “the early 30s, at which time they were removed to a location in a fence row on the north side of Church Street, about a mile east of Chipman’s Corner.”

Now you know why Hamilton’s Corner is called Jaw Bone Corner.  Also, a long-time resident of Canard says the area is known as Canard Corner to many people, and I’ve heard this reference more than a few times.

You could say that Hamilton’s Corner as a designation for the crossroads has been forgotten, Canard Corner is rarely used to refer to the area, and long-time residents of Kings County mostly know it as Jaw Bone Corner.

Writing about travelling through the province in 1933, Clara Dennis, in Down in Nova Scotia, mentions Jaw Bone Corner. Dennis confirms this is what residents called the crossroads some 80 years ago. Writing in Blomidon Rose, published in 1957, Esther Clarke Wright also confirms the crossroads was known then as Jaw Bone Corner.

Finally, to read more about this topic, go to Google and search for “A mini-history of Jawbone Corner.” You’ll find one of my columns from 2006 on NovaNewsNow.com. Featured is an interview with a former residence of the Hamilton house and some general history of the immediate area around the corner. 

Organizations: Horton Township, Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, Google Hamilton house

Geographic location: Canard Street, Upper Dyke, Lower Canard Upper Canard Kings Canard River Church Street Chipman Nova Scotia

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