This Built Heritage Resource Guide brings to the Internet, information about the primary and secondary source materials routinely used to trace the history of houses and buildings in Nova Scotia, and the land on which they sit. We believe these research tools will encourage many more, both residents and visitors, to explore the province's rich built-heritage mosaic 'Quality of life and pride of place second to none.'
Why Built Heritage?
"Historic buildings are landmarks of the lifestyles and achievements of past eras. In Nova Scotia, historic landmarks are as strong and varied a resource on the landscape as the layers of rocky strata that run deep beneath its surface.... Buildings of historical and architectural significance should be doubly prized for their cultural and environmental worth.... Commitment to the preservation of Nova Scotian heritage should be unquestioned and unwavering."
- Elizabeth Pacey, heritage advocate, writer and architectural historian, in Landmarks: Historic Buildings of Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1994)
"Once you demolish your built heritage – you're from anywhere."
"[Increasingly Nova Scotians] want to know about some old house they have bought or... visited.... More Nova Scotians have been travelling in the United States and in Europe, and seeing how historic landmarks [are] preserved; and [have noticed] photographs and short articles in the newspapers about the many old houses in this province..."
- Phyllis Blakeley (Provincial Archivist, 1980-85) commenting forty years ago on growing public interest in the province’s built heritage
Today, Nova Scotia Archives helps a wide audience to explore our province's rich built heritage:
- students with project assignments in archaeology, architecture, history and urban design/planning
- homeowners wanting to know the age and background of their home; planning restoration projects; or curious about the history of their property
- developers submitting mandatory information on past land-use — especially potential contaminants — as part of the project approval process
- architects planning adaptive re-use of land or existing structures
- genealogists and genealogical tourists, wanting to locate family homesteads and explore family property
Looking for more information?
Try the Nova Scotia Register of Historic Places, which in turn is linked to the larger national Canadian Register of Historic Places. The Nova Scotia Register is a content-rich online database offering photographs, descriptions, histories and location details for officially registered heritage buildings and places in Nova Scotia.
Created and administered by the Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative, the Register provides 'one-stop-shopping' for information about houses, churches, canals, cemeteries and other historic places throughout the province.
If you own a heritage home, you may also want to find out more about Heritage Property, Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.