Museums and Historical Research

  • Ragged Island Historical Society
    157 Locke St. – Beach Centre

    The society was formed in 1985 to research, establish, and maintain a collection of historical materials pertaining to the Ragged Islands area and to make them available for the use of the interested public. 
    The Ragged Islands area includes: The Town of Lockeport, Osborne, Pleasant Point, Allendale, Little Harbour, Rockland, East Ragged Island, Louis Head, West Middle Sable, Sable River, East Sable River, Little Port L’Hebert, West Green Harbour, East Green Harbour, and West Head. 

  • Little School Museum
    The Little School Museum in the Town of Lockeport came into being as the Centennial Project of the Lockeport Garden Club.  The club saw an opportunity to make the former school an historic site so that the children of the area might learn more of their past.  Through donations from former Lockeport students, the school was purchased by the Garden Club in 1967. 

    Club members undertook to care for the gardens, the town agreed to mow the lawns and the Ragged Island IODE donated a Nova Scotian flag to be flown during open hours.  The Nova Scotia Museum helps with the cost of operation. 

    The museum is open every day, from Canada Day to Labour Day with special visits arranged in the Fall for children from the Elementary School.  The reports they write on these visits are kept as one of the treasures of the museum.

    The little house was used as a school from 1845 to about 1880 when it was succeeded by a recently demolished elementary school whose bell was marked with that date.  The little school then became a dwelling and a front porch and back room were added.

    A new building, the marine annex, was added in the mid 1990’s to house the Visitor Information Centre.  When the Crescent Beach Centre was built, the VIC was relocated to that building. The marine annex building was built with the same architecture as the old school house.

  • Black Loyalist Heritage Centre
    One of Canada’s best kept secrets, the largest free Black settlement in the 1780’s where people voted with their feet for freedom. This unique historical site is nestled in beautiful Birchtown Bay on the western shores of Shelburne Harbour, the third largest natural harbour in the world. Explore our amazing archaeological pit which embodies this extraordinary narrative of the past and present. Have fun examining the archaeological artifacts excavated here in Birchtown.

    Enter into the centre’s Lindsay Gallery and dive into the multimedia presentation of the Black Loyalist journey from Africa to the US then to Nova Scotia and back to Africa. Explore the virtual copy of the Carlton’s Book of Negroes and search for your ancestors who may have experienced part of this incredible journey.

  • Historic Shelburne Museum Complex
    Shelburne’s harbourfront Heritage District retains the look and feel of a bustling 18th century port. Stroll down Dock Street to enter this world through 3 fascinating museums. learn the time-honoured craft of dory building at the Dory Shop, just as they have since the 1870’s.

    The Shelburne County Museum features one of the oldest fire pumper in North America and exhibits on shipbuilding and the Shelburne Loyalist. And at the Ross-Thomson House and Store on Charlotte Lane, you can see the tobacco, molasses and dry goods that were sold to the townsfolks in exchange for cod and pine timber!!

  • Shelburne County Archives & Genealogical Society
    168 Water St.
    Tel: 902-875-4299 email wwwInternet

    We are your resource for research in Shelburne County. Whether you’re tracing your family roots or just interested in this history rich part of Nova Scotia, the Society has a huge collection of records to help you in your quest. Open year round, however, hours are reduced in the winter months.

  • Cape Sable Historical Society
    Tel: 902-637-2185 email
    Our museums are opened from June to September
    9:30 to 5:30 Monday to Saturday;
    Sunday 1:00 to 5:30.
    Admission charged.
    Winter hours for research are Wednesday’s 9:30 to 4:00 at 2401 Highway 3, Barrington NS.

    The Cape Sable Historical Society was formed in 1937 with the mandate to preserve the heritage of the area. Since formation, the society has collected genealogy of the families who settled this area in he 1760’s. We have as part of our collection, The Seal Island Light Museum, which houses a 1915 Fresnel lens from Seal Island Light as well as a Fresnel lens from Bon Portage Light.

    The society is honoured to be the custodians of Old Meeting House Museum built in 1765 and the Barrington Woolen Mill Museum, part of Nova Scotia Museum family.

  • Western Counties Military Museum
    The Western Counties Military Museum is situated in the Old Courthouse (c 1843) in Barrington in the beautiful South Shore region. 

    Over 4,000 military artifacts and mementos from World War I and World War II are housed in the museum including cannonballs dating back to the 1600s, a Black Watch uniform, Nazi memorabilia, medals and pictures to name just a few. 

    Museum parking and Internet access is available. The Cape Sable Historical Society is custodian to the Western Counties Military Museum, as well as the Seal Island Light Museum, the Barrington Woolen Mill, and the Old Meeting House – all within a short walking distance.

  • Archelaus Smith Museum
    Located at 915, Hwy 330,
    Cape Sable Island, NS
    Tel: 902-745-3361 email
    Open 4 Jul – 28 August
    Partial wheelchair access.

    Answering the British invitation to re-settle Acadia, Archelaus Smith came to Barrington in 1761 then to Cape Sable Island, becoming the first New England settler here to leave descendants. Discover fishing techniques and gear, shipwrecks, the famous Cape Island boat, sea captains and artists. Revisit a way of life now slipping from living memory.

  • Shag Harbour Incident Museum
    Shag Harbour Incident Society Interpretative Centre
    Located at 5616 Hwy 3 Shag Harbour,
    along the beautiful Lighthouse Route.
    The Centre will be open daily from early March to the end of October, 8am to 5pm. There is an admission charge of $2 for adults and children under 12 are free.

    On the night of October 4th 1967 local residents watched a huge object come out of the sky and crash or land in the Shag Harbour Sound.

    This story has gone down in history as one of the world’s great UFO mysteries. It has been used for documentaries, a comic book, novels etc.

    Dark Object a novel by Donald Ledger and Chris Styles tells the story and is for sale in our gift shop. Our friendly attendants will be happy to tell you the story and show you the material we have collected.

    Our festival is a yearly event held in August.

  • Samuel Wood Historical Society
    Located in the former IOOF Hall at 6697 Hwy 3,
    Woods Harbour.
    Open 15 June – 15 September

    Woods Harbour was settled 10 years after Barrington when in 1772 Rev. Samuel Wood received a grant of 1100 acres on the eastern side of what was then called Coquewit Harbour. The name Coquewit Harbour was changed to Woods Harbour in honour of Rev. Samuel Wood. Abner and John Nickerson were reputed to be the first settlers.

    A collection of documents, papers, objects and antiques illustrate the history of the community. Interesting displays and artifacts preserving the colourful history of this community: lobster- and ground-fishing, daily life, schoolroom. Quilting demonstrations. Tourist information.

  • Chapel Hill Museum
    Located at 5492 – Hwy 3, Shag Harbour, NS
    Tel: 902-723-2899email
    Open 15 June – 5 September

    Chapel Hill was formerly a United Baptist Church built in 1856 on the site of the Acadian Trading Post, Le Vieux Logis. Chapel Hill has been a museum since 1980. 
    Come and learn more about Gilbert Nickerson, “The Old Chairmaker,” who made the wreckwood chair from pieces of wood retrieved from various shipwrecks, including the legendary Titanic! Gilbert is only one part of our interesting shipwreck display. 

    Another famous local is Evelyn Richardson, Governor General Award winning author of We Keep a Light. Come see pictures and learn more about life on Bon Portage Island. We also have several of her books for sale. 
    Another island of interest is Stoddart’s Island, site of a murder and a potential nuclear power plant. This is one display certainly worth reading.

    Did you know that U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Shag Harbour twice? Learn about this exciting event from the eyes of the locals who were there!

    Finish your tour with a climb up the old bell tower steps to our Sea Tower and gaze out the windows at the breath taking panoramic view of Shag Harbour. There are three lighthouses visible from the tower and they are Bon Portage, West Head and Cape Light.

    We also have displays on household items, tools, The Sons of Temperance, and the fishing industry.

    We have several new additions to our museum including quilts, pedal cars and enlarged photos!

    All this and more at Chapel Hill!

    Former church (1856) overlooking the village, with panoramic view of sea and lighthouses from former belfry. Exhibits include household utensils, working implements and records of early community life.