Enfield History


The History of Enfield, insofar as European settlers are concerned, covers a period of over one hundred and seventy-five years.

It might be dated from the time Benjamin Franklin was given a grant of land. Mr. Franklin was a member in the First Council of Government in 1758. No grants were given until after 1760, so it was sometime after this date, that he was granted land which is now a part of Enfield.

This grant only took in land on the side of the Shubenacadie River opposite the main part of the present village.  Mr. Franklin hired a man named Mr. Hall to take charge of this grant, and operate a Wayside Inn.

Another grant was given to a man by the name of Uniacke.  This grant included 1100 acres of land, which fronted on Grand Lake East.  This land is now owned by several men of which Mr. Arch McDonell and Mr. Edward C. McDonell are included.

Another grant of land was given to Jacob Horne Sr., a German who enlisted in the 42nd Highland Regiment.  He had a little coasting vessel running out of New York in 1758 – at which time the British came to Halifax to take Louisburg.  Since Horne was familiar with the coast of Nova Scotia, he accompanied General Wolfe as a pilot, fighting under him at Quebec in 1759.  After the end of the war in 1763 he returned to Halifax.  H. H. Hewitt, in his paper on McNab’s Island, stated that Jacob, on applying for a grant of land, was given the choice between McNab’s Island, and a large grant on the Eastern Mainland.  He chose the Island and built a log house on it. Finding the Island inconvenient for taking cattle to the Halifax Market, he gave up his possessions and received a grant on the Mainland at Eastern Passage.

His son, Andrew Horne was the first settler in Enfield District clearing a farm in the wilderness near the lock at Horne Settlement.

Enfield became a village comparatively late in the History of Nova Scotia, it does not appear in any early census of the Province.  Early people living in the area were probably listed under Nine Mile River, Douglas or “The Crossing”.

Brown’s “Place Names of Nova Scotia” says Enfield was named at a Public Meeting, called at Malcolm’s Pottery in 1862.  The name was suggested by Thomas Donaldson, after his home town Enfield, in the Connecticut River Valley.  It was previously known as “The Crossing”.


Ball at Enfield

Acadian Recorder February 9, 1872

Friday Evening

The Ball given by Mr. Henry Donaldson at Enfield, on Wednesday evening on the occasion of the opening of his hotel, was a decided success. Quite a large party left Halifax by the afternoon train, and arrived there in time to meet the various teams coming from various districts.    There were four-in-hand from Oldham; Unicorn from Mine Mile River; Texdence from Renfrew; and a dozen single sleighs from neighbouring places. Shortly after the arrivals, the company was invited to a lunch by the proprietor. It is unnecessary to say that it was quite acceptable to the ladies especially after their journey. Lunch being over, the party proceeded to a large Ball Room, which was tastefully decorated with evergreens,  flags,  etc., over the entrance was the word “Welcome” , artistically wrought in evergreen.

The Ball was commenced with a real old country dance young and old participating. The formal opening of the house being concluded, the lads and lassies tripped the light fantastic toe until summoned to supper about midnight; 70 couples then sat down to one of the most beautiful tables laid in Hants County. Jacob Miller, Esq., occupied the seat as head of the table assisted by Oswald Hornsby, Esq., of Greenfield, Dartmouth,    After ample justice had been done toasts were enthusiastically received: The Queen, God Bless Her, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the land we live in, Our Guests; Our Host and Hostess; all of which were aptly responded to. After supper dancing was resumed, and kept up until the wee small hours and daylight shone on the parties assembled.

After a few hours of rest the different teams were harnessed and as each one started three rousing cheers were given to the occupants by those assembled on the platform. The Halifax guests on leaving on the down train, were also cheered by a large party living in the vicinity.

It is certain that Enfield House, with its large accommodations, will sustain reputation among the traveling public.


Work on the Shubenacadie Canal and the Railway brought more people into the area, particularly an influx of Irish construction men.  Thus, Enfield undoubtedly, became a village after the Railway to Truro was built and opened.

The first families to settle in Enfield were Protestant, later, as quoted by Mr. C. H. Donaldson, the Scottish Antigonish MacDonnells moved in and the village was soon converted to the Roman Catholic Faith.  At the present time more than 80% of the population attended St. Bernard’s Church.

Enfield, which included Enfield Proper and Home Settlement is a small village.  The large part of the village is situated in Hants County, the remaining portions are across the Shubenacadie River and thus in Halifax County.  The boundaries of Enfield include Nine Mile River to the North, Renfrew to the Northwest, Elmsdale on the East and Grand Lake to the Southwest of Enfield and flows around the village forming a “U”.  This river serves as a boundary line dividing Hants and Halifax County. Enfield has an area of approximately 5 square miles and had a population of approximately 800 (1941 census).


The present United Church of Canada was built in about 1855 for a Union Church serving under Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican denominations. Regular services were held about three times a month by a Methodist Clergyman who resided in Elmsdale.  There is no cemetery in connection with this church located at Elmsdale.  The Elmsdale Cemetery serves this purpose.

The first Roman Catholic Church was moved from Nine Mile River and was placed directly South of the Memorial Monument in the Catholic grave­yard.  Later, this building was used as a store by Mr. Ryan, and a new church was erected in about 1950.  Later this church was lengthened and remodelled, wings were added on the North, South and East.

The first Parish Priest in the new church was Father Kennedy, while the first Priest in the initial church was Father Welsh.

The Glebe property was purchased by the church in 1875.  The house was originally of square construction, but was remodelled according to modern architecture.  In 1977, the present Glebe house was built to replace the old one, which was sold to R. P. Woodproducts Ltd., who then moved it closer to the tracks.


Acadian Recorder July 18,  1932

A picnic and bazaar, will be held in aid of the Catholic Church at Enfield on Thursday, July 20th. A band will perform a choice selection of music on the grounds during the day. The railway authorities have consented to run a special train from Halifax leaving at 9 A.M., to return leaving Enfield at 7.5 o’clock. For adults 75 cents, for children 25 cents. Ticket good to return by regular train or special.


As Dalhousie was Governor in 1816 -20, this provides a clue to the date of this Inn.  The Dalhousie Inn once belonged to a Mr. Hall, and this may have been the William Hall whom T. J. Brown says was the first settler in what is now Enfield, about 1830.  About 1866 Bennery, a Dutchman from Luxembourg Province, bought it and farmed the extensive land until his death at the age of about eighty-five years, it passed on to his son Donatus, of Enfield.  The above mentioned Inn served as a halfway house on what used to be the old Guysborough Road.  This property was one of the beauty spots of the village.  “The Falls” and brook running through this farm were often visited by fisherfolk and picnicers.  Many local people believe this house is haunted, or at least, echoes and re-echoes the footsteps of former dwellers.



The first school was built at Home Settlement, and serviced young and old alike.  Among some of the school teachers was Miss Sarah Hanson who came out from the State of Maine with other people who were interested in investing in the Shubenacadie Canal.  Later a school was built at Enfield and the school in Horne Settlement was done away with.

Data from Education Office.

1877 – Enfield School Section #19 divided, making new section #55.

1880 – No school this winter, but will have school next year.

1880 – Enfield, South Rawdon, Moosebrook Sections in East Hants have built new schools.

1920 – Only one room schools were used in Enfield. Shortly after this during the first world war a, second room was opened.

1942 – New four room  school in Enfield,  donated by Mr.  E. H. founder of the Noranda Mines.

1944 – A new room – five room school.


Harry Pier’s Provincial Museum Report 1930 – 1931, Page 39:

Describes the Old Bennery House; probably the Dalhousie Inn, on the old and abandoned Cobequid Road, one and a half miles south of Enfield.  This ancient house is fairly large, measuring 30′ 8″, in front, two and a half stories high, with a quaint gambrel roof.  The west end is of heavy logs under the present boards, indicating that this corner is probably older than the other parts.