Nova Scotia Archives

Built Heritage Resource Guide

Keys to Unlocking a Building's History

At some point, most people who live in older homes or own land that has been settled for generations, want to know more about the space they inhabit and share with the past. Who built this house? When? How did they furnish it? What were their lives like? Who was the first person to own this piece of land? What were its original measurements and boundaries? How did it change shape and ownership over the years? When was a house first built on it? What did the neighbourhood look like then?

There are ways to explore all these questions — and archival records can provide the answers. Archival research, however, is not always easy — you're not likely to be presented, for example, with a fat file containing the complete history of your house on your first visit to Nova Scotia Archives . Most heritage homeowners have already learned that it takes determination, patience — and a certain strategy — to restore and live with their house. So too, researchers should design a strategy for delving into the history of their homes and properties.

This section of the Built Heritage Resource Guide is designed to introduce and briefly describe the major types of records available at Nova Scotia Archives for researching the history of homes, properties and land in general, throughout Nova Scotia. Some of the resources we describe are available elsewhere in the province, for example at local Deed Registries, Probate Offices, or community museums and archives; others are unique to Nova Scotia Archives .

Digitized examples of each resource are presented here, but these are only the proverbial 'tip of the iceberg' — you'll need to visit Nova Scotia Archives in person to explore the resources fully. We're here to help... and along the way you'll learn much more about your home, your land, your community — and Nova Scotia's rich built heritage.