Reading and Writing
The following list identifies various fundamental books on Nova Scotia's built heritage. Most are available in the Nova Scotia Archives Library — we've included their call numbers, in case you’re planning to visit the Archives in person.
Community histories, both published and unpublished, invariably contain a wealth of information on local homes and buildings; architectural studies are also available for many significant heritage structures around the province. When you're at the Archives, check the Library Card Catalogue carefully, as well as the card drawers for 'Halifax' and for 'Communities' — and don't forget to explore our online Library Catalogue.
Many other areas of our Website contain rich content expanding on the story of Nova Scotia's built heritage — check out 'The Port Royal Habitation', 'A Vision of Regeneration', 'Lunenburg by the Sea', and 'Rogers' Photographic Advertising Album', to name a few. And if you want to take an armchair tour of heritage structures around the province, be sure to visit The Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative sponsored by the Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage.
Archibald, Stephen, and Sheila Stevenson, Historic houses of Nova Scotia, 2003 [not held by Nova Scotia Archives ]
Carter, Margaret (Parks Canada), Researching Heritage Buildings, 1983 [V/F, vol. 237, no. 24]
Department of Culture, Recreation & Fitness, Heritage Unit, A Nova Scotian's guide to built heritage: architectural styles, 1604-1930, 1985 [V/F, vol. 339, no. 3]
Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, Researching a building in Nova Scotia, 1984 [V/F, volume 288, no. 5]
Martin, Margaret Burn, "Deeds and documentation of early Nova Scotian buildings" in Nova Scotia Museum's The Occasional, vol. 3, no. 1, Summer 1975, pp. 10-20 [AM 1/ O 15/ vol. 3, no. 1]
Pacey, Elizabeth, Landmarks: historic buildings of Nova Scotia, [FC 2312/ P33/ 1994]
Penney, Allen, Houses of Nova Scotia: an illustrated guide to architectural style recognition, 1989 [NA 7242/ N6/ P46]
Rosinski, Maud, Architects of Nova Scotia: a biographical dictionary, 1605-1950, 1994 [NA 60/ C3/ R68/ 1994]
Writing the History of Your Home or Property
The holdings at Nova Scotia Archives are incredibly rich for built-heritage research — but as we've demonstrated many times in this Resource Guide, additional resources to feed your research can be found in many other locations around the province — in town or county museums, archives and libraries; in land registration and probate offices; and in town or municipal-planning offices. Some municipalities in Nova Scotia, aware of the responsibilities and opportunities brought by built heritage, now employ a Heritage Officer or have an active Heritage Advisory Committee.
Once you've finished exploring the obvious research sources for your home, property or special built-heritage interest, you should compile the results into an organized format for yourself and your family, perhaps arranging the information in chronological order or by type of document. We also strongly encourage you to take your project to its logical conclusion by writing an actual history of your home or property — and then depositing a copy with your local archives, museum or library. In this way you can share the rewards of your research and help preserve the knowledge of built heritage within your community.
Perhaps you'd like to read samples of other histories? By going to the Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative website and clicking on 'Search for Properties', you'll find various histories of registered heritage properties around the province, with accompanying photographs. You can search for buildings there by county, by Tourism Trail (Evangeline Trail, Marine Drive, Sunrise Trail, etc.) or by the name of the heritage property.
You'll probably never be able to answer every question that you have regarding the past life of your home or property. However, as your research unlocks various doors, yielding bits and pieces of useful information, you'll gradually be able to construct a satisfying history of the place that shapes your present life — and along the way, you'll learn a great deal about the built heritage of this province. We wish you good hunting and rewarding results!
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.