A History of the “Military Road” through the Backlands
As told by Iris Shea, local historian, additions from Terry DeVeau both of Herring Cove, NS. Compiled by Martha Leary, September 2022.
Although it was the collective action of local fisherman in Ferguson’s Cove that caused the government to build the road, the road became known as the Military Road. In the spring and summer seasons of the 1800s, fishermen along the Northwest Arm took their catch by boat to Halifax. In the Port of Halifax there were public wharves designated as market place for fishermen to sell their catch. At the public wharves, people were able to sell their fish directly from their boats. Most frequently they sold haddock and mackerel.
During the winter months the conditions at sea were too risky to travel by boat to this Halifax Market. The fishermen of Herring Cove and Ketch Harbour had Herring Cove Road as winter access to the markets. However, there was no road available to the Ferguson’s Cove people. In fact, the only winter access to Ferguson’s Cove was by the “Duty Boat” of the Department of National Defence to York Redoubt.
In 1819 the fishermen residing in Ferguson’s Cove petitioned the government for a ‘right of way’ across the Backlands. This road would give the fishermen winter access to the Halifax Market and improve their ability to compete with fishermen from the other local communities. The next year, in 1820, the government built a road across the Backlands connecting Ferguson’s Cove with Herring Cove Road near Spryfield (currently Princeton Rd). The road was well used by local people.