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A mini history of Jawbone Corner


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In earlier times, the crossroads where Canard Street (Route 341) is crossed by the Port Williams to Canning highway (Route 358) was known as Hamilton’s Corner. Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton in his Kings County history writes that this was the local name for the crossroads.

However, Malcolm (Mac) Eaton, a farmer whose family has owned the house on the northwest corner of the crossroads since 1919, tells me he and others in the area often refer to the crossroads as Canard Corner. Relatively few people – and most of them are history buffs - know that the crossroads was once called Hamilton’s Corner. Canard Corner seems more appropriate, but it never caught on. Instead, the crossroads is known locally by another name, and a colourful one at that, for a set of whale jawbones that once rested in what is now Mac Eaton’s driveway.

Most local people know how Jawbone Corner got its name, but few know the details. Even fewer people know that the corner was once the commercial center of the area. Like most crossroads in the county, the corner attracted local industry, holding a postal station, a blacksmith and carpenter shop, and a factory that made sleds and wagons. Also, a carding mill once operated nearby on the Canard River. A medical practice was situated there as well, conducted by the gentleman after whom the corner was named; Dr. Charles Cottnam Hamilton.

I got this information from Mac Eaton, who told me about the blacksmith shop and factory when we were talking recently about the history of Jawbone Corner. Mac said the equipment in the factory was operated by horsepower. Not the kind of horsepower generated by engines, but actual horses that were harnessed to a turntable. Mac remembers seeing the grooves ground into the floor of the factory by the constant circular motion of the horses as they moved the turntable.

Mac told me as well that the whale of jawbone fame was stranded on the Canard River just above the highway that runs between Port Williams and Canning. The jawbones were placed on either side of what is now the Eaton driveway and rested there for decades before ending up at a residence on Church Street. This incident occurred when the Minas Basin tides were unrestricted and ran well up the Canard River; this would be before the Wellington Dyke was completed in 1825.

When I was talking with Mac about Jawbone Corner, he gave me a tour of his house. Built in the early 1800s, the house was purchased in 1835 by Dr. Charles Cottnam Hamilton. Mac showed me the area in his house where Dr. Hamilton had his practice from 1825 until 1880. Mac’s grandfather, Charles Cottnam Hamilton Eaton (who was named after Dr. Hamilton), purchased the property in 1919.

The area around Jawbone Corner apparently was once part of a major Acadian settlement. Jawbone Corner was the junction of two main travelways between Acadian villages north and south of Canard. The Corner is significant historically, but this has never been recognized.

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