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 large file containing the complete history of your house on your first visit to the 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 the 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 the 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.
- Oral History
- Genealogies, Community and County Histories
- Land Records
- Nova Scotia Registry of Deeds
- Map Collection
- William Mackay's 'Great Map'
- Nautical Charts
- A.F. Church Co. Maps
- Geological Survey Maps
- Topographical Maps
- Fire Insurance Plans
- Bird's Eye Views
- Architectural Plans
- City, Provincial, Telephone and Business Directories
- Nova Scotia Census Records
- Nova Scotia Court of Probate
- Municipal Records - Assessment Rolls
- Municipal Records - Halifax City Works Department
- Documentary Art and Photographs
- Miscellaneous - Real Estate Registers
- Miscellaneous - Halifax Relief Commission
- Miscellaneous - Dendochronology (Tree-rings)