Research Holdings

Nova Scotia Archives

Research Holdings

In today’s online environment, information about archival holdings is increasingly available in searchable database catalogues to help researchers find their way. In Nova Scotia, there is a shared provincial catalogue called MemoryNS, which includes information about the holdings of over 40 different archives located across the province.

The area of MemoryNS.ca devoted specifically to the Nova Scotia Archives provides a guide to the records held at the Nova Scotia Archives in Halifax. This includes both the archival records of the Government of Nova Scotia and private-sector records of provincial scope or significance.

MemoryNS does not make the actual documents available online, but instead provides descriptions of (i.e. information about) these holdings. The descriptions will help you identify records that interest you, and design appropriate research strategies to explore them.

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 MemoryNS.ca , our online catalogue — then make plans to visit the Nova Scotia Archives for a closer look.


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

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

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.


Our onsite searchable Library Catalogue describes holdings from the Library at the Nova Scotia Archives. It currently includes 40,000 entries – updated February 2018.

Please note that items in the Nova Scotia Archives Library do not circulate and are only available for onsite use.



banner image: Woolford - 200715024   Surveys of the Roads from Halifax to Windsor and from Halifax to Truro

Nova Scotia Archives — https://archives.novascotia.ca/research-holdings/

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