Nova Scotia Archives

People of Nova Scotia


Margaret Perry: A Life in Film

Film maker Margaret Perry (1905-1998) spent her prolific career working in both national and provincial film agencies, creating a remarkable and award-winning body of work. This resource is a launching point to explore Perry’s films, to learn more about her life and career, and to visit a Nova Scotia that feels both familiar and long past.

The Way We Were: Nova Scotia in Film, 1917-1950

Calling all early film and home-movie fans! From the extensive collection of archival footage held at the Nova Scotia Archives, we've selected 87 films that highlight the first forty years of amateur and professional filmmaking in Nova Scotia. Watch the Virtual Cinema here on our Website or on our new YouTube channel…. You'll be amazed and amused at what you find!

Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall Jr. Prosecution

Exhibits, witness testimony, and other records offer a window into a justice system unprepared and unwilling to accommodate the legal needs of First Nations and other cultural groups. This collection is vitally important, both for its vindication of wrongfully-convicted Marshall Jr., and for its role in shaping the Canadian and Nova Scotian justice systems we know today.

King vs. Sylliboy, 1928

In 1927 Gabriel Sylliboy was arrested near Port Hastings for hunting muskrat and possessing pelts out of season – offences under the Lands and Forests Act. He was subsequently convicted in a Magistrate's Court. He appealed his conviction to the County Court, arguing that as a Mi'kmaq the Treaty of 1752 recognized the right of his people to freely hunt and fish. The appeal was heard in July of 1928 and the documents presented here constitute the case file for the appeal.

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond was an African Nova Scotian businesswoman, who in 1946 challenged the province's systemic racial discrimination in a way that marked a watershed moment for civil rights in Canada. These records include surviving legal documents from the Magistrate’s Court and the Supreme Court, representative provincial newspaper coverage from the time, and background information.

Women of Digby County, 1950

Take a step back in time and explore over 40 photographs of women in Digby County, taken by the renowned American photographer John Collier. These remarkable images honour the daily lives of women, working in their homes, caring for their children, and sharing special occasions with family and friends. The images reveal both change and continuity in the patterns of community life in rural Nova Scotia during the years immediately after the Second World War.

Fishing Fundy Waters

A selection of 44 black-and-white photographs from the early 1950s, honouring and celebrating the people of southwestern Nova Scotia and the work of John Collier Jr., one of America's leading twentieth-century photographers.

John Collier Jr. - Photographer, Digby County

John Collier Jr. was one of the outstanding photographers of the 20th Century. He came to Nova Scotia at the invitation of the Dr. Alexander Leighton, whose love for South West Nova Scotia led him to want to provide future generations with a pictorial history of Digby County in 1950 and 1951.

Nova Scotia on Display: Honeyman, International Exhibitions, and the Roots of the Nova Scotia Museum

The Nova Scotia Museum was established 150 years ago. View a series of exhibits highlighting the role of Rev. Dr. David Honeyman, International Exhibitions, and the Roots of the Nova Scotia Museum.

Honeyman Album

Honeyman’s album is a collection of memorabilia from the International Exhibitions consisting of stereoscopic images, carte de visites, and invitations to dinners, as well as documents pertaining to his achievements, involvements and awards.

Nova Scotia Museum Artifacts from International Exhibitions

View items from the Nova Scotia Museum selected by Dr. Rev. David Honeyman to display at the International Exhibitions as representation of Nova Scotia’s rich Cultural and Natural diversity.

Halifax Mechanics' Institute

The Halifax Mechanics’ Institute was formed in 1831. A Journal, that recorded the meetings of the Institute, and an Inventory, that recorded the objects and specimens presented to the Institute have survived and are digitized here.

Louis de Mezangeau

Louis de Mezangeau was born in 1766 in Brittany in France. He served in the French navy. He became a British subject and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Nova Scotia militia in 1797. He served as an officer in the 2nd Battalion of Halifax militia and he took a regiment to Chezzetcook and Lawrencetown to defend the coast from an attack by Napoleon's navy in 1804. In 1802, owing to his education, he received a license to teach in Nova Scotia.

Photographs by A.E. Cornwall, Hantsport and Area collected by B.R. Alexander

Photographer A. E. Cornwall gives us a vibrant view into life in Hantsport and its surrounds at the turn of the century, capturing the people and industry of these thriving communities both in formal portraiture and in more casual shots.

Dr. George Edward Buckley

Dr. George Buckley practiced as a physician in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia for 69 years. Consists of business records in daybooks and ledgers and photographs of family members, including himself.

George Creed - Mi'kmaq Petroglyphs

In 1887-88, George Creed, the postmaster in South Rawdon – but also a keen amateur ethnologist – spent time in Queens County, where he carefully made some 350 tracings from the Mi'kmaq petroglyphs cut into the rocks at Fairy Lake, Kejimkujik. These petroglyphs record and illustrate the period in history, just after European contact, when the Mi'kmaq were turning from traditional beliefs and old ways to a new faith and new ways.

New Ross: From Family to Community

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, deeds, etc. accumulated by Captain William Ross, the diaries of Edward Ross, the second son of William and Mary, and land papers relating to the military settlement and the property in New Ross.

Isaac Deschamps

Isaac Deschamps was born circa 1722, presumably of Swiss descent, and arrived in Halifax, N.S. in 1749. He was employed by Joshua Mauger and in 1754 he ran Maugher's truckhouse at Pisiquid (Windsor) where he traded with local Acadians and First Nations.

Sydenham Howe's Scrapbook: Joseph Howe and His World

Step back in time, to explore Joseph Howe and the world that he lived in, captured on the pages of his son's very Victorian scrapbook.

Don Messer

Remember 'Don Messer's Jubilee'? Back in the 1960s, it was one of the most popular programs on CBC Television. Come now for a stroll down Memory Lane! Read about Don Messer, view lists for his personal papers and his rich library of recordings and sheet music and tour a virtual exhibit presenting 'Don Messer and His Islanders' as Canadians remember them best. ''Goin' to the Barn Dance tonight' ....

Helen Creighton

Over 900 black-and-white photographs taken by pioneer folklorist Helen Creighton have now been digitized and added to the existing online resource exploring her life and career. Taken between 1914 and 1951, these images cut a wide geographic path from small communities throughout Nova Scotia to Toronto, Trinidad and Mexico, and reveal a life filled with family, friends and meaningful work.

Harry Piers: Museum Maker

The Nova Scotia Archives and the Nova Scotia Museum are pleased to present 'Harry Piers: Museum Maker' – our first jointly-produced virtual exhibit. Come and explore a selection of the earliest items collected by Mr. Piers in his dual capacity as Keeper of the Public Records and Museum Curator. View Harry Piers: Museum Maker on YouTube.

An Acadian Parish Reborn

Calling all those with family links to Yarmouth County! Explore this wonderfully rich research product created by the Argyle Township Court House and Archives, and hosted on this website — a searchable database providing the names of all Roman Catholics baptized, married or buried, 1799-1849, in the predominantly Acadian French township of Argyle.

Charitable Irish Society

In celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Charitable Irish Society, we are pleased to launch a virtual exhibit celebrating the Halifax institution. It draws from minute-books, petitions and letters, photographs, print material and memorabilia to showcase the Society's activities and interests across its history. Nearly 100 items are featured and include photographs of parades and a gallery of presidents from over the years. Two background articles provide additional information on the long life of the institution.

'An East Coast Port': Halifax in Wartime, 1939-1945

Step back in time to explore a city at war with 'An East Coast Port': Halifax in Wartime, 1939-1945. East Coast Port is a collection of seven virtual exhibits that contain over 5,800 photos, film clips, and print material that documents the lives of Nova Scotians living with war. Highlighted topics include Halifax on the eve of war, wartime censorship, women and families responding to war, and entertaining the troops. A separate film clips section includes footage of a German U-Boat being captured off Shelburne, clips of the V.E. Day Riots, and more.

Cemetery Records at NS Archives: A Searchable Database

Background information for over 2000 cemeteries in Nova Scotia for which tombstone data has been transcribed and copies filed at the NS Archives — plus a separate virtual tour of Lunenburg's Hillcrest and Old French cemeteries, two of the oldest in Nova Scotia.

Chipman Family Papers: Planters of Cornwallis

The year 2010 marks the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the New England Planters in Nova Scotia. To celebrate this milestone, we are pleased to present an online resource built around the Chipman family papers, one of the largest and most significant document collections surviving from the Planter period.

Aileen Meagher: Olympic Medallist and 'Canada's Flying Schoolmarm'

Celebrate the Olympic spirit by exploring the career of this outstanding Canadian athlete, artist, schoolteacher and world traveller. Over eighty digitized photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, event programs, and works of art showcase her accomplishments, including a bronze medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Ernest Buckler: A Remarkable Nova Scotia Novelist

Ernest Buckler's The Mountain and the Valley has been described as possibly 'the best novel written anywhere in the last 50 years.' Now, on the 25th anniversary of his death, explore the life and work of this remarkable author through our newest virtual exhibit.

J.A.D. McCurdy and the Silver Dart: Canada's 'First Aerial Navigator'

Experience again the thrill of the first successful airplane flight in Canada, 23 February 1909 in Baddeck, NS! Explore photographs, contemporary documents, and the pilot's first-hand accounts of the event.

Gideon White Family Papers: Loyalists of Shelburne

Welcome to the Loyalist world of Gideon White and his circle of family, friends and colleagues — political refugees to Nova Scotia in the years after the American Revolution. Come and explore information about 1650 items of personal correspondence, bills, receipts, licences, powers of attorney, election papers and local government documents, covering 150 years of family and provincial history. Over 80 original records have been digitized in full, including extensive tax and assessment rolls for Shelburne, 1786 and 1787.

'Canada's Ocean Playground': The Tourism Industry in Nova Scotia, 1870-1970

Take an armchair vacation back in time! Nine virtual exhibits present 6700 digitized images for you to explore — historical photographs, film clips, graphic art and dozens of early travel brochures, timetables and guidebooks, all telling the story of tourism's first century in Nova Scotia. View the Cabot Trail under construction, canoe the backwoods with Mi'kmaq guides, take a tour of Keltic Lodge, and much more. 'Ciad Mile Failte' ... Enjoy!

Clara Dennis

A virtual exhibit showcasing the work of Clara Dennis, Nova Scotia's first woman travel writer. Dennis travelled extensively through mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island during the 1920s and 30s. She had an observant eye, a keen sense of popular history, and captured in her work a Nova Scotia that no longer exists. Nearly eighty black-and-white photographs, along with selected pages from her published works, re-create that world again.

Nova Scotia Information Service

We're pleased to present this significant searchable image database for you to explore — 2200 photographs, 1945 to 1970, capturing Nova Scotia and its people at mid-century, plus a selection of eye-catching colour film clips produced in the 1950s and 60s.

Mary E. Black

If you're a handweaver, you know who Mary Black is! Tour a virtual exhibit celebrating her life and career, then explore over 150 original textile samples based on her book, The Key to Weaving — still a classic, and the standard text for loom-controlled weaving. Each digitized textile sample can be magnified to enable close inspection. This online resource was developed by Atlantic Spinners and Handweavers, in cooperation with Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.

Tom Connors: 'The Old Sport'

Step back in time with Tom Connors, one of Nova Scotia's biggest sports-fans, and explore a collection highlighting amateur athletics in the province, 1830s to the 1940s — photographs, advertisements, engravings and artwork, showcasing star athletes of the day, sports events, a glimpse of the growing city of Halifax, and the natural beauty of Nova Scotia.

The Eassons and the Hoyts: Two Hundred Years of Family and Community Life in Nova Scotia

Explore two of Nova Scotia's founding families, 1734-1933, through correspondence, financial accounts, land records and maps. Investigate family and business connections linking Nova Scotia, New England and Jamaica; read about clandestine trade with Louisbourg and early interactions with the Mi'kmaq; compare annual costs for shoes, schooling and other household expenses; examine grocery lists, dressmaking invoices and records of house construction and equipment purchases; and then follow later generations involved with the arrival of telegraphy in Atlantic Canada.

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

This is our first virtual exhibit, developed to commemorate Halifax's 250th anniversary. It presents some 150 images from our holdings, with accompanying captions and text, and is designed as an educational, reference and general-interest tool.

S. Edgar March: Nova Scotia Bird Watercolours

Ninety years ago, long before the term 'Atlantic Flyway' was coined or Nova Scotia became known as a 'birding destination,' an amateur artist and bird watcher in Bridgewater began a series of watercolour paintings depicting birds that were native to the province. This virtual exhibit celebrates the accomplishments of S. Edgar March (1870-1967) and introduces Internet visitors to nearly sixty images of Nova Scotia's rich bird population.

The Prat Sisters: Free Spirits of the 1890s

Annie, Minnie and May Prat, adventurous sisters from Wolfville, N.S., began unusual artistic careers in the United States in the 1890s. Annie studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Minnie and May apprenticed with North America's first fully-qualified woman bookbinder; by 1900 they had opened the Primrose Bindery in New York City. The sisters had a lively circle of friends, including poets Bliss Carman and Charles G.D. Roberts and Minnie's fiancé, Goodridge Roberts. This virtual exhibit features the sisters' careers; their watercolours, bookbinding, and leatherwork; and letters from Bliss Carman to Annie and Minnie, several never before published. Through an interesting mix of correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia, it illuminates the sisters' creative spirits, warm personal and family relationships, and passion for life.

W.R. MacAskill

Wallace R. MacAskill is one of Nova Scotia's best-known photographers, famous for his seascapes and images of sailing vessels. Search a database containing over 4600 digitized black-and-white photographs with accompanying item descriptions, and experience MacAskill's saltwater world of the early twentieth century.

William E. deGarthe

In 1977 William E. deGarthe (1907-1983), one of Nova Scotia's best-known marine artists, gifted a collection of his representative paintings to the Province of Nova Scotia. These works are on permanent display at the Public Archives Building in Halifax, but making them accessible on this Web site fulfills the larger intent of deGarthe's gift — to ensure that his legacy is available for all Nova Scotians to experience and enjoy.

Buckley Family

The Buckley family photographs depict Guysborough and vicinity, the Buckley family and their friends, and document the growth and development of Guysborough over a fifty-year period, beginning in 1889.

J.A. Irvine

John Irvine was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, active in the period ca.1895 to ca.1905. His views of Halifax and several nearby communities (Fall River, Purcell Cove, Waverley), plus the area around Annapolis Royal (Bear River, Clementsport, Granville Ferry, Smiths Cove) include buildings, street-scapes, picnics and outdoor activities, railways, farm scenes and informal portraits.

Notman Studio

The Notman Studio photographs cover the period ca.1869 to ca.1920, and include photo portraits, Halifax streets, buildings and general views, and similar landscapes from several other Nova Scotia communities.


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