Timberlea, Nova Scotia
Timberlea is a community located on the rural/suburban fringe of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia, Canada, along the St. Margaret's Bay Rd (Highway #3), which extends from the Armdale Rotary to the Head of St. Margaret's Bay. It begins about 8 miles/13 km from downtown Halifax. The name means a broad meadow in a forest.
Timberlea is a part of the Timberlea-Prospect provincial electoral district. Bill Estabrooks of the New Democratic Party has been the member of the Legislative Assembly since 1999. It is a part of the "Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea" (BLT) area, and is bounded on the side closer to Halifax by Lakeside, and on the other side (at exit 4 on the 103 highway) by Hubley.
The community was first known as Nine Mile River after the river in the centre of the community which fed several early mills. The St. Margaret's Bay Road was routed through the village in the mid 19th century, relocated from an earlier location further south. Several hotels were established to cater to travelers and later sportsmen and the Nine Mile River was crossed by an arched stone bridge which still survives, one of the only surviving stone bridges in Nova Scotia. After the arrival of the Halifax and Southwestern Railway in 1904, the community was referred to as Bowser's Station, after Angus Bowser, who ran a hotel near the area's train station near Greenwood Heights. It was renamed Timberlea in 1922 to reflect the importance of the forest and lumbering. Aubrey Fraser was an early settler in the area, and he, his father and brothers stationed a saw mill along the Nine Mile River. Almost a decade following the Halifax Explosion, the Bowser's Hotel was sold to Mr. and Mrs. William Miller. It had been a frequent stop for people traveling along the St. Margaret's Bay Road, between Halifax and Yarmouth. The Hotel was leveled in a fire, on the night of December 12, 1947. Until the early 1990s, it was a semi-rural, fairly close-knit community. Subsequently, several large developments such as Greenwood Heights have substantially increased the population, and it is now mostly a suburban community.
Timberlea is fairly flat on the northern side of the St. Margaret's Bay Rd., and the topography rises on the southern side, to the 103 highway. The community is mostly situated within the watershed of Nine Mile River, which empties into Shad Bay, near Peggy's Cove on the St. Margaret's Bay. The western portion of Governor's Lake, and all of Fraser's Lake are with the community. The flora is predominantly softwood and mixed Boreal Forest, and the bedrock is granite throughout, with many outcrops including several areas of barrens which offer good blueberry and huckleberry picking.
The area has good out-door recreational facilities and opportunities. The Beechville Lakeville Timberlea (BLT) Rails to Trails Association (see link below) has turned its 13 kilometres of the old Halifax and Southwestern Railway bed from Beechville to Hubley into well maintained hiking/cycling/ATV rail trail which connects with a similar 32 km stretch maintained by the similar St. Margaret's Bay organization.
The Bluff Trail, a 30 kilometre network of non-motorized wilderness trails, branches off the BLT Trail at Cranberry Lake. Swimming is available at Governor's Lake and, if a good community access point can be re-established on Fraser's Lake, which offers opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. There are tennis and basketball courts and a ball diamond in Greenwood Heights, several basketball nets and a well-build playground at the BLT Elementary School, and tennis courts and a skateboard facility at the Lakeside Community Center. Indoor recreation programs are run year-round at this center as well.
There is discussion over preserving a substantially large area of crown land for a park near the lakes. Tentative plans are being discussed over the prospect of a community library, and construction and restoration of a "Fraser's Mill Museum", commemorating the saw mill at the source of Nine Mile River, which was once owned by the Fraser family. Large-scale developments in the community, such as a planned golf-course and subdivision on the north side of the connector between St. Margaret's Bay Rd. and the 103 highway which is destroying a large forest, have been temporarily halted because of concerns over the ability of Nine Mile River, the main watershed in the area, to handle more sewerage. Loss of wilderness area and increasing suburban burdens have also fed opposition to the planned construction Highway 113, a new highway connector from Timberlea Currently, Timberlea can be considered a "bedroom community", since there are a very limited number of business and services in the immediate area.
- Population - 5477
- Total Dwellings - 1860
- Total Land Area - 6.2885 km²
- BLT Elementary Population - 800 children
- Alfreda Withrow, One City, Many Communities, Nimbus Publishing, Halifax (1999), p. 169
- Tim Bousquet. "Province still dedicated to highway construction", The Coast, Sept. 3, 2009