Kings County, situated on Nova Scotia's northwestern shore bounded by the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin, has long been known for the influence of the French explorers. However, the first extensive agricultural development began with the arrival of the French Acadians who settled the Minas Region in 1675. This wave of immigration represented an expansion of the colony at Port Royal at the mouth of the Annapolis River some seventy years previously.

The Region offered the newcomers rich soil deposits and the Acadians were quick to recognize the productive potential of the area and proceeded to dyke the tidal marshes, reclaiming several hundreds of acres from the sea. The dyked land readily yielded wheat, rye, hay and other field crops. Imported fruit trees from France were planted, producing orchards that were to gain international recognition. Field crops and vegetable production, livestock and poultry raising, and tree fruit cultivation combined with hunting and trapping enabled the Acadians to become somewhat self sufficient and made the Minas Region the most prosperous area of Nova Scotia. Evangeline statue with sunshine rays behind

By 1713, the British, in their struggle with the French, finally gained control of North America. The Acadians refused to swear allegiance to the throne of Great Britain and thus were expelled in 1755. The lands in Kings County vacated by the Acadians were given to New England Planters, and were divided into two townships, Horton and Cornwallis, with the Cornwallis River serving as the boundary between them. This group proceeded to reclaim additional land from the sea and improve the orchards.

The arrival of the Empire Loyalists, after the American Revolution in 1775 - 1783 provided the greatest stimulus to development. Many of these refugees settled in Aylesford township and although they were not primarily farmers, they soon turned to the land. Some of them were actively engaged in experimentation, particularly with different varieties of fruit.

The increase in the population resulted in an expansion of the economic base and new trade markets. The export of farm products, wood, fish, and hides to Halifax, New Brunswick and New England saw the rise in shipbuilding in 1790 which lasted more than a hundred years. Such communities as Scots Bay, Halls Harbour, Baxter's Harbour, Horton Landing, Black Rock, Kingsport, and Canning became the trade and shipbuilding centres of the era.

Wolfville became the education centre of the County in 1839 with the establishment of Acadia University comprising Horton Collegiate Academy, Acadia College and Acadia Ladies Seminary. Elsewhere, small manufacturing establishments sprang up including flour mills, cheese factories, tanneries, and a brick-making plant in Avonport by 1877.

The completion of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway in 1869 stabilized apple production by opening access to new markets, both locally and abroad. Once the County had penetrated the British market in the 1890's, Port Williams served as the origin for much of the overseas apple shipments. However, with the advent of the railroad, shipbuilding and the coastal communities dependent upon that industry began their decline.

Kings County was officially incorporated as a Municipality in 1879 with the consolidation of the townships of Horton, Cornwallis and Aylesford. This paved the way to the establishment of the present local government structure in the County. The Towns of Kentville in 1886, Wolfville in 1893 and Berwick in 1923 were later incorporated out of the Municipality.

Until the Second World War when export markets almost collapsed entirely, apples and other tree fruits continued to be a major source of income for County farmers. The establishment of the Aldershot Militia Training Camp in 1904, and the Agricultural Research Station in 1913 at Kentville marked a government commitment to the economic base of the region. This was strengthened in 1941 with the construction of a Canadian Forces Base at Greenwood which has grown to include almost 2,000 servicemen and their families on the base and provide employment for nearly 650 residents in the west end of the County (1990).

Hundreds of farms line the valley floor in Kings County and account for over a third of the Provincial farm cash receipts.

The last twenty-five years have witnessed the agricultural base strengthen its links with food processing industries. Although there has been a diversification of economic activity and the County is not solely dependent on agriculture, over 50% of the estimated value of production in the manufacturing sector is in industries like meat and poultry or fruit and vegetable processing. This fact alone is a reflection of the dominance and continuing importance of the County's natural resource base.

The growth in the development of agriculture as well as forestry and other resources in Kings County has been equalled by urban growth. Communities which originally developed as market centres to serve the primary industrial sector had, by 1970, grown into financial, commercial and institutional centres.

Kentville had become the government and financial centre of Kings County and New Minas was quickly surpassing both Kentville and Wolfville in becoming the regional commercial centre. This urban development boom had been accompanied by a demand for residential lots which were readily available throughout the County. The relatively inexpensive rural land combined with the increasing preference for a rural living environment had encouraged development in the rural areas.