How did the acre come into being?
In medieval times, King Edward I (1272-1307) decreed that an acre would be 66' wide called a chain or "acre-width" by 660' deep called a furlong or "acre-length". The word "acre" comes from a Latin word for field "ager". The area of an acre became 66 x 660 = 43,560 square feet.
Why did the King decide on the configuration of 66 x 660'? The world 700 hundred years ago was quite a different place, turns out, the "acre" was based on a day's plowing by a team of oxen.
Now, turning a plow around was a lot of work and so a long straight away of 660', called an acre-length, was welcome. That is why these parcels were long and narrow. If you have seen the movie "War Horse" you can imagine the labour. By mid-day a 1/2 acre could be plowed, the team was feed and rested, before, finishing another 1/2 acre in the afternoon. What back breaking work that must have been!
The acre remains 43,560 square feet in size but today the shape of an acre can vary.
In Chilliwack* the 66' "acre-width" or "chain" has been used in many parts of the City with the result that lots 66' wide are common.
Is it time for the "acre' to be replaced with the "hectare"? The next post will look at this issue and who should take the lead.
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