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Monday, May 1, 2017

Historical designation sought for Great Beech Hill

Lower Sackville resident wants area preserved from company’s development.

Posted By on Mon, May 1, 2017 at 1:04 PM

click to enlarge Jane Zathey wants to preserve Great Beech Hill's history. - THE COAST
  • THE COAST
  • Jane Zathey wants to preserve Great Beech Hill's history.

When Jane Zathey first moved to Great Beech Hill 12 years ago, she became fascinated by its history.

“I consider myself a steward of the area,” she says. “I’ve been, I don’t know if you’d call it talking, or praying, or meditating on that path pretty much ever day for 12 years.”

But now she’s worried a local developer might alter a place she’s come to care about deeply.

Great Beech Hill is located just off Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville. The gravel path on the hill was originally part of the old Cobequid Road. All that remains of the old road is a small crescent with a new street sign, specially installed by the Halifax Regional Municipality at Zathey’s request. Her house is the only one on the path.

Recently, Stoneridge Properties has purchased a piece of Crown land on one side of the former road. Stoneridge already owned a parcel on the opposite side. Company owner Kevin Saunders was contacted but declined to comment about his plans for the property.

Zathey is worried that the developer might get rid of the path entirely, redeveloping it—and the surrounding woods—and destroying what she says is a site of historic importance.

She says Great Beech Hill has archaeological evidence of past Mi’kmaq presence, which is why she’s been seeking municipal historic designation for the land. Zathey has a signed statement from a former neighbour that reads, “I, Timmy Thompson, was born in 1956. I remember, as a child, children of the neighbourhood of Great Beech Hill, hunting for arrowheads and artifacts... ”

Local historian and former regional councillor Bob Harvey says he’s not surprised that people may have found Indigenous artifacts on Great Beech Hill. He hasn’t encountered any himself, but he says the area is “very likely to have been travelled by the Mi’kmaq people.”

In his book, Historic Sackville, Harvey describes how the origin of Cobequid Road was a trail leading through the woods, originally travelled by the Mi’kmaq.

Zathey is hoping any development can be held off while archaeologists dig up the area and see what else can be found.

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