Roads that were once only used for horses and wagons became very busy with automobiles. The dirt roads were narrow and full of twists, turns, holes and bumps, so by the 1930s, road improvements were greatly needed for safer travelling.
Springtime was always a time when the dirt roads were at their worst. Once the frozen ground had thawed, the roads would become a sea of mud. In 1936, it was noted in newspapers that cars were getting stuck in deep mud and “had to be hauled out”. The condition of the roads was also a political tool; the Tories blamed the Liberals and vice versa.
By March 1936, a number of graders used to level out the dirt and potholes, were placed on the main road through South Queens. In April of the same year, the Queens County council decided to obtain a steel rock breaker and a steamroller to work on the roads. These were necessary to get them ready for paving.
The hard surfacing, as paving was referred to back then, had begun on the road from Cameron’s Corner (corner of Main Street and Old Port Mouton Road) to the second railway crossing on White Point Road. This began in May 1936. The next month, hard surfacing was being done on the road from Mill Village to Brooklyn. By mid July, it was almost completed. Also in July, the road from White Point to Broad River was prepared for its topcoat and was finished by late August.
A section of White Point Road was being replaced with a diversion road to eliminate many dangerous turns. It was also completed by late August 1936, and had opened to traffic; however, paving was not planned until 1937.
The hard surfacing on the road to the Lunenburg County line was also finished by the end of July. The Liverpool Advance recorded that “It should be easier next year to keep the rattles out of a car.”
The road at the corner of Bristol Avenue and Milton Road West, near the former Super Service Station (later a Petro Canada Station demolished in 2007), was also paved.
Work done on the paved road from Liverpool to the North Queens area was completed as far as Middlefield by 1952. Then, the Advance (June 19, 1952) had for its headline, “Caledonia Road to be Paved This Year”. There was discussion of calling tenders for the completion of paving including South Brookfield to Kempt. Next calls for tenders went out in 1958 for paving to be done through to Greenfield, South Brookfield and to Lunenburg County and Kempt to Maitland Bridge. The newspaper projected that there would be a paved road all the way from Liverpool to Maitland Bridge completed within a two-year frame of their 1952 article. Later, the road from Maitland Bridge was completed to Annapolis Royal.
While Queens County was enjoying much-improved roads in 1936, the road from the Queens-Lunenburg County line to Bridgewater was not in great condition. In January 1937, it was recorded in the Advance that this road was “not so hot”. Paving for that section of highway was scheduled for the summer of 1937.
The entire main road (Route #3) through South Queens to Bridgewater was only 2 lanes and was narrow compared to the highways that we have today. It twisted and turned through all of the villages including Danesville, Mill Village, Brooklyn, White Point, Hunts Point, Summerville, Central Port Mouton and the Town of Liverpool. Speed limits were much slower then and a drive to Halifax from Liverpool was said to take up to three hours or more. Some sections of that old Route #3 still exist; however, most was replaced with the Provincial Highway #103, which began construction in the 1970s.
Nowadays, we tend to complain about the condition of our roads but imagine a time when the entire drive was on bumpy, twisty dirt roads. Or even worse, imagine a time when you travelled by horse and wagon and a journey to Bridgewater took at least 2 days.
We have come a long way from the dusty, bumpy gravel roads of the earlier days. Perhaps we should think again before we complain about the condition of our roads today!