Nova Scotia Tourism Vacation - Shelburne, Nova Scotia Shelburne, Nova Scotia Museums & heritage

History & Hertiage Links

History Links

Nova Scotia Tourism Vacation - Shelburne, Nova Scotia
Dory Shop Museum Shelburne
JC Williams Dory Shop
Ross Thomson House & Store Shelburne
Ross-Thomson House
Shelburne County Museum
Shelburne County Museum
The Shelburne area has a variety of fine museums and places of historical interest, frequented by residents and visitors alike. Whether your interests lie in the rich and varied Loyalist past of Shelburne, the people and events which shaped Shelburne itself, the proud history of boat building, genealogical research, historical reenactments or the history of the Black Loyalists, you will see why Shelburne is known as the place "Where Canada's History Comes Alive!"

The links below should lead to to many areas of interest.

MUSEUMS:  The Dory Shop Museum - Ross-Thomson House & Store Museum - Shelburne County Museum - Black Loyalist Heritage Centre

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JOHN C. WILLIAMS DORY SHOP MUSEUM: June 1-Oct. 15 |  9:30 am-5:30 pm daily (about admission fees)

For almost one hundred years the dory was one of the most important small boats in the Atlantic Provinces and parts of New England. When JC William's Dory Shop was established in 1880, it was part of a dory-building industry, which, at its peak, included at least seven shops along the Shelburne waterfront. During the early part of this century the Williams Shop employed five to seven men and produced 350 dories per year. Most of these dories were sold to Nova Scotian and American fishing captains who called at Shelburne to outfit their schooners before sailing to the offshore fishing grounds.

Visitors to the Dory Shop can see from start to finish how dories were built. The museum is managed by the Shelburne Historical Society for the Nova Scotia Museum.

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ROSS-THOMSON HOUSE & STORE MUSEUM:  June 1-Oct. 15 |  9:30 am-5:30 pm daily

By 1784 Loyalists on the run from the American Revolution had swelled Shelburne's small population to 10,000 - twice as many as Halifax and more than Montreal or Quebec. The new settlers included George and Robert Ross, sons of a Scottish merchant, who opened a store on Charlotte Lane, adjoining their house. They traded Shelburne's pine boards, codfish and pickled herring in foreign ports for salt, tobacco, molasses and dry goods which they then sold to the new settlers. The store eventually closed in the 1880s. Today Ross-Thomson House, the only original store building remaining in Shelburne, is restored as it was in the 1820s. It is operated by the Shelburne Historical Society for the Nova Scotia Museum.

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SHELBURNE COUNTY MUSEUM: Open 9:00am-5:00pm, closed 1:00pm-2:00 for lunch, Wed-Sat in the off season. Open 9:30am-5:30pm: 7 days a week June 1-Oct 15

This museum features one of the oldest fire pumpers in North America, permanent exhibits of Shipbuilding in Shelburne and the Shelburne Loyalists, and temporary and traveling exhibits. There is also a resource centre which includes microfilms of 18th to 20th century Shelburne newspapers, private papers and Court of Session records. Genealogy of many Shelburne County families is also available. 

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It was 1775 and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, had a strategy to subdue the rebellious Colonists. He offered freedom to any slave who would escape from his rebel master and fight on the side of those loyal to the British Crown. More than 300 Blacks immediately found their way behind British Lines and formed The Ethiopian Regiment

The British extended their offer of freedom to include grants of land and provisions to the former slaves once the rebellion was defeated. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 slaves had taken refuge behind British Lines. By the summer of 1782, it became evident that the Americans were winning the war and the British began to make preparations for their departure.

They left a number of blacks behind as they retreated, who were recaptured into slavery. Other Black Loyalists were resettled in Florida, the West Indies, and British North America ( Canada). More than 3,500, the largest group of Black Loyalists, were transported to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

With a population of more than 2,500, Birchtown Nova Scotia became the largest settlement of free blacks outside Africa. There were 649 male heads of families in Birchtown during the muster of 1784. Out of bureaucratic incompetence and racial inequality, only 184 heads of families received the promised crown land. Their granted lands measured an average of 34 acres. 

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Shelburne Dory Shop Nova Scotia

Shelburne Museum Complex Admission


  • $10.00 Complex Ticket which includes:

  • Ross-Thomson House, J. C.
    Williams Dory Shop, Shelburne County Museum 

  • $4.00 per person for each museum

  • $46.85: Adult  Single Passes to Nova Scotia Museums throughout the Province

  • $92.65: Family Passes to Nova Scotia Museums throughout the Province

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