Nova Scotia Archives

New Research Holdings

New Research Holdings

Below is a listing of the latest archival records available for research. If what you see here interests you, find more information about each on, our online catalogue — then make plans to visit the Nova Scotia Archives for a closer look.


December 2017

Jean Davis fonds​. –​ 1989-1994. –​ 10 cm of textual records; 14 photographs​. (accession 2001-001​)

In 1989 Jean Davis considered the idea of organizing a reunion of Halifax Explosion survivors and was interviewed on this topic in a March 1989 newspaper article published in the local Nanaimo newspaper. The story was picked by the Canadian Press and subsequently appeared in a number of Canadian newspapers. In December of 1989 Bill Paul of the Halifax Chronicle Herald did a follow up story on her project. While the reunion never happened Jean Davis did hear from 44 people who recounted their experiences of the Halifax Explosion through letters sent to her. Jean sent Christmas cards to Explosion survivors and a correspondence developed with a number of them. Consists of a scrapbook into which were pasted newspaper articles on her project to organize a reunion of Halifax Explosion survivors, and cards or notes, including the envelopes, from individuals who had contacted her, as well as 44 additional letters received from Halifax Explosion survivors or those interested in the explosion. The fonds also contains 14 pictures of individual Explosion survivors or their families.​

Joseph Settle fonds. – 21 December 1917. – 6 pages, 1 envelope of textual records. (accession 2014-040)

Joseph Settle was born on December 28, 1877 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England to Richard Settle and Sarah Anne (Bradley) Settle. He and his wife Margaret (Corkhill) Settle emigrated to Montreal in 1903. They had three children, Dorothy born in 1912, Richard born in 1914, and Victor born in 1918. He worked as a stenographer. Joseph and Margaret were living in Verdun, Montreal when he enlisted during World War I. In December 1917, during the Halifax Explosion, Joseph Settle was stationed at the Halifax Armouries awaiting deployment overseas. Consists of one handwritten letter written by Private. Joseph Settle, while stationed at the Halifax Armouries, to Mr. F. Frankum, Montreal, on December 21, 1917. The letter provides a firsthand account of the Halifax Explosion and its aftermath.

W.G. MacLaughlan collection. – ca. 1914- ca. 1922. – 153 photographs: 30 panoramas and 2 small albums, sepia tone and b&w; 25 x 135 cm and smaller. (photographs 1983-284, 1988-034, 2004-014, 2007-003, 2007-063 and 2014-031)

Walter G. MacLaughlan, professional photographer, was born on 9 August 1871 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After finishing school he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, United States where he opened his first photographic studio and married Ella Jane Murray of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada. He subsequently moved to Pugwash and opened a photographic studio there in 1895. He travelled west circa 1908 and opened a photographic studio in Vancouver, British Columbia, but returned to Halifax in 1914, just prior to World War I, to open a studio at 237 Barrington Street. MacLaughlan was appointed the official military photographer of the City of Halifax and he also began making motion pictures. He appears to have worked for both British-Canadian Pathe News and International Newsreel until late 1922. He was subsequently employed by Fox Films from 1923 to 1926. In 1926 he and his wife moved to Florida for health reasons where he continued to work part-time in still photography until his death on 9 May 1935.​ Collection consists of photographs, including panoramas, of Nova Scotia soldiers in World War I and scenes of the city of Halifax immediately after the Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917. The images include wide angle views of the North End of the city, the shipyard or ‘graving yard’, and 5x7 images in 2 small albums of individual homes (some with people in doorways), stores, warehouse and a church. The photographs in the albums bear MacLaughlan’s name and a sequential number. Some also have the name of the property owner and street name written in pencil. The fonds also includes large group portraits, mostly of soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force for World War I. Most soldiers are identified by name.​

Archibald MacMechan fonds. – 1909-[193-], predominant 1917-1918. – 34 cm of textual records. (MG 1 volumes 572a, 1468 and 2124)

Archibald McKeller MacMechan, eldest son of Reverend John and Mary Jean MacMechan, was born on 21 June 1862 at Berlin (now Kitchener), Ont. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1880 with a BA and taught school in Brockville and Galt for the next two years. In 1886, he entered Johns Hopkins University where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1889. That same year he was appointed professor of English language and literature at Dalhousie University, Halifax, where he remained until retirement in 1931. In 1889 he married Edith May Cowan; they had three daughters: Jean, Grace and Edith. MacMechan served as council member, 1896-1911, and president of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1907-1910, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1916. Following the Halifax Explosion of 1917, he was requested by authorities to prepare an official history of the explosion and was given the title of director of the Halifax Disaster Record Office, 1917-1918. MacMechan authored several books and wrote numerous articles, essays, and poems for newspapers and magazines. He died 7 August 1933.​ Consists of records created and accumulated by MacMechan in the course of his employment at the Halifax Disaster Record Office, 1917-1918, including correspondence, copies of reports, memoranda, journals containing typed notes and press clippings, and personal reminiscences detailing events of the Halifax Explosion, including damages, injuries, and medical and relief activities. Much of the material was used in MacMechan's history of the explosion. Also contains draft manuscripts of MacMechan's history and related correspondence. Correspondence includes letters discussing D. Fraser Harris's publication of the medical history of the explosion. Fonds also contains notes, newspaper clippings, lectures, and other items pertaining to MacMechan's research and writings on Nova Scotia history, including ships, navy, Acadians, and St. Andrew's Church, Halifax.​

Halifax Relief Commission fonds. – 1917-1978. – 58.9 m of textual records and other material. (MG 20, MG 36, accession 2004-040; photographs 1976-166)

The Halifax Relief Commission was appointed by federal Order-in-Council on 22 January 1918, in part to oversee the expenditure of nearly $21,000,000 donated by Canadian, British and other governments and by the general public, following the Halifax Harbour explosion of 6 December 1917. The commission included T. Sherman Rogers, KC, Halifax, as chairman; W.B. Wallace, judge of the County Court, Halifax; and F.L. Fowke, merchant of Oshawa, Ont. Ralph P. Bell was the secretary. A subsequent act passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature on 26 April 1918 incorporated the Halifax Relief Commission and broadened its duties and powers. The commission was given the power to spend relief monies in any manner it deemed appropriate, stating that it "may repair, rebuild or restore any building or property damaged, destroyed or lost in or by reason of the said disaster, or compensate the owner thereof, or any person having an interest therein...". Also at its discretion, the commission provided compensation for the financial and physical relief of victims suffering personal injury or who lost family members as a result of the disaster. The act also granted the commission the power to prepare a town planning scheme and by-laws and to expropriate lands in the devastated area. Numerous workmen and professionals were hired by the commission to assist in the reconstruction of Halifax-Dartmouth, notably town planner Thomas Adams and Ross and Macdonald, architects of Montreal and Halifax. The Halifax Relief Commission was dissolved in 1976 and responsibility for administering pensions was transferred to the federal Canadian Pension Commission. Consists of records documenting the commission's role in overseeing the expenditure of relief funds and the reconstruction of Halifax and Dartmouth following the 1917 explosion. Records also document the work of the Halifax Relief Committee, which was superceded by the commission in 1918.

• Appraisal Board minutes and other material
• Commissioners' correspondence, minutes and financial records
• Pension claims case files and other material
• Reconstruction committee case files and other material
• Architectural plans for the reconstruction of Halifax and related cartographic materials,
• Halifax Relief Committee minutes, and relief fund record books