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Heritage Buildings and Awards

Heritage Buildings and Awards

Please download our Building and Design Awards Program 2012.

Annapolis Royal has an unusual treasure of heritage buildings, including the oldest wooden frame buildings in Canada. Much of Annapolis Royal has been designated a National Historic District, with one hundred and thirty-five Municipal Heritage Properties, possibly the highest concentration of heritage buildings in Canada. Several buildings have also been designated as Provincial Heritage Properties or National Historic Sites.

For more information about museums in Annapolis Royal and about community history, visit: www.annapolisheritagesociety.com or The Historic Places Initiative.

Disclaimer: The information shown has been obtained from various historical records and archives. While we wish to portray an accurate picture of the history of the Town, we were not able to verify all the facts and information herein contained.

477 St. George Street deGannes – Cosby House

The oldest wooden house in Canada – the original house was built in 1693, but was burned in 1707 when the British attacked Annapolis Royal. The house was destroyed by the French to prevent the British from occupying it during the first of two attacks on Port Royal in 1707. The owner Louis de Gannes de Falaise claimed compensation for the house and personal effects. The existing house was re-built on the original foundation in 1708 at the King of France’s expense, and was subsequently lived in by a string of local notables. In particular, Alexander Cosby, a Lieutenant Governor later owned the property and it remained in his family for many years. Its unusual age is evident from the daub and wattle walls and the very wide floor boards visible in the ceiling of the main floor. It has a gambrel roof clapboard siding. The house is a provincially and municipally designated heritage building, and is especially significant for being constructed in the Acadian period. It is privately owned. Go to http://collections.ic.gc.ca/port_royal/house.html for a virtual tour of this house.

377 St. George Street – Annapolis Royal Courthouse

The Annapolis Royal Courthouse is the oldest operating Courthouse in Canada. It was re-built in 1836-37 after a fire demolished the previous building on the same location . The Courthouse was built by Francis Lecain, a master builder, the son of a master artificer at Fort Anne. The total cost of the new building was 500 pounds. The Town has an illustrious legal history in that on April 20, 1721 the Governor and Council sat as a General court to try cases, civil and criminal, patterned after the laws of Virginia, and hence was the first Court of Judicature to administer the common law of England within Canada. There was an enormous old French willow tree at the Court House lane which served as the whipping tree – here punishment of minor crimes was publicly administered. The building has been designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

342 St. George Street – St Luke’s Anglican Church

The old church on St. George Street and Church Street (just north of the old post office, which formed part of the old Anglican Glebe lands (which was located on the site of old Acadian Catholic Church glebe lands) was in a dilapidated condition and was not fit for service in the early 1800s. On August 11, 1811, “an acre of White House Field, so called, was granted for a church” by the government. The present St. Luke’s was started in 1815, and used everything that could be salvaged from the old church, such as the vane and the canopy. The new Church, which was opened in 1822, was consecrated in 1826 and The Reverend John Milledge was the first rector. The spire was added on August 24, 1837. The church bell was the only one available for the Town fire department for many years. At one time one side of the gallery was reserved for the impressively dressed soldiers. On part of the lower side of the gallery sat the servants, some of them black, being descendants of the original black loyalists and slaves. The structure is designated as a Provincial and Municipal Heritage Property.

232 St. George Street – Sinclair Inn National Historic Site

The Sinclair Inn is another unusually old wood frame building constructed in the Acadian era. It consists of 2 buildings brought together in 1781 when Frederick Sinclair purchased the property and turned it into the Sinclair Inn. (Prior to that time, Sinclair had been operating a hotel in the old Adams-Ritchie building). On the property at that time was the front portion of the present building, built in early 1710 by Jean Baptiste Soullard and his Acadian wife Francoise Comeau. He was a silversmith and gunsmith, but moved back to Quebec after the British took over Port Royal in late 1710. Sinclair moved a building (possibly the Doctor Skene building which was located nearby) and attached it to the rear of the Soullard house. Again the age of the building is evident from the daub and wattle walls and the very wide planks in the ceiling, along with the very old style of lath, and may derive from the 1690s.

The first Masonic Lodge in Canada was established by Major Erasmus James Phillips in 1738 in Annapolis Royal. It is speculated that the first meeting of the lodge was held in this building. The building has been used as a public house and hotel from as early as 1747, when Rebecca Whitechurch, wife of Matross James Whitechurch was licensed by the Council “to retail strong Drink.” In 1791-2, Sinclair’s “large room below stairs” was rented for purposes of holding the Supreme and Inferior courts. In the late 1700s and early 1800s the Inn was often used for court ordered property auctions. The building is a National Historic Site, and is also designated as a Provincial and Municipal Heritage Property.

For more information, visit: www.annapolisheritagesociety.com

222 St. George Street – Adams-Ritchie House

This building was constructed in 1712 by John Adams, an early and very prominent merchant in the Town. He was a member of the governing council for many years, and the council often met in this building. It may have been the largest house in Town at the time it was built. The building was extensively damaged in 1745 prior to native attacks on the Town and the Fort. On July 17, 1781, the property was purchased by John Ritchie, a Scottish born merchant who came to Annapolis Royal via Boston just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The Ritchie family would retain ownership for over 90 years. Ritchie was the founder of one of the most important judicial and legislative families in Canadian history. It was likely Ritchie who added the second storey, plastered the interior and added the door trim, etc. and new windows. His son Thomas would become a lawyer and judge, a member of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia, and was actively involved in negotiations leading to Confederation. In 1872, the property was sold to the King family who retained it for over 60 years.

In 1882, the building was much expanded, being made into a 3 storey building (a large ell was added to the rear and a 3 storey addition was built on the front) and was effectively turned into a Victorian style building. It became the King Clothing Hall where ready-made menswear was produced by up to 20 women and their sewing machines. In 1981 the Annapolis Royal Development Commission returned the building to its 1780s Georgian appearance. The building is notable by its large hand hewn beams, wide boards and daub and wattle walls. It is designated as a Provincial and Municipal Heritage Property.

164 St. George Street – Davoue/Dickson/Ruggles House

This property sits just outside of the northerly boundary of the old Anglican Glebe Lands, and was a portion of the properties acquired by Frederick Davoue, a Loyalist from New York, from Pardon and Hannah Sanders in 1783. Davoue then sold the property to another Loyalist, Robert Dickson in 1784. There is no mention of buildings in either of these transactions, although it included the lot across St. George Street which is now occupied by the Pickels & Mills building. However when the estate of Robert Dickson sold the property to Simeon Dwight Ruggles for a much larger price, although the property across the street is missing, buildings are included, so it is likely that Robert Dickson built the house in 1784-85 as his home. The house is considered to have a colonial style, but has Georgian similarities. Charlotte Perkins, in her book on Annapolis Royal, mentions the beautiful gardens which spread out into the street, but which were overlooked by the commissioners. There are many historical names associated with this property: Sanders, Davoue, Ruggles, James W Johnson (a well known Judge and provincial cabinet minister), Amberman, Pickels, Edwards and Owen. The building is designated as a Municipal Heritage Property. It is privately owned.

156 St. George Street – Davoue/Bonnett House

This is another of the properties purchased by Frederick Davoue from Pardon Sanders, and then sold to Daniel Bonnett. All of these individuals were Loyalists. The Bonnett family became one of the leading families of Annapolis Royal for many years. Bonnett purchased the property on July 16, 1784 with a house on it. Frederick Davoue held the property for less than 9 months including the winter, and it is unlikely that a house would have been built in that time period. Hence it is likely that the Bonnett House was built prior to 1783, and may have been the “dwelling house” mentioned in the transfer from Sanders to Davoue. The property included a waterfront property across the road, adjoining what is now known as Pickles and Mills. When David Bonnett sold the property to his son Isaac in 1797, there is mention of Storehouses, which almost certainly were located on the waterfront. In 1805 Isaac mortgaged the property and wharves are almost mentioned. Each of these transactions indicate the trading scope of the family. The building is Georgian in style, and is designated as a Municipal Heritage Property. It is privately owned.

154 St. George Street – Davoue/Robertson

When Davoue purchased these properties (including also the Bonnett and Dickson properties) from Pardon Sanders, a “dwelling house” was included. From the evidence, it seems likely that the “dwelling house” sat on the Bonnett property, and the building on this property was likely built sometime between 1783, when Davoue purchased the property, and 1787, when Davoue sold the property to William Robertson. Hence, it was likely constructed from 1784 to 1786. It stayed in the Robertson family for a number of years. He was a Colonel in the local militia, served in the House of Assembly and established a mercantile business, likely centred around the beach lot across the road. His son John, also became a businessman and was elected to the House of Assembly, but soon his business failed, and he was thrown into jail by some of his creditors. The members of the House of Assembly, using the privileges of the House, demanded and secured his release so that he could attend the sitting of the Legislature. This is a very unusual occurrence in the history of this province. The building is colonial in style, and is designated as a Municipal Heritage Property. It is privately owned.

150 St. George Street – Totten/ Bailey House

This property has been the source of many myths, most of which can be eliminated with careful research. The first available deed shows John Eason selling to Joseph Totten, a Loyalist in 1783 which includes “a certain dwelling house, lying and being in the lower end of the Town of Annapolis Royal with the storehouse, garden spot yard of field thereunto belonging…”. It is not clear that John Easson lived here as he had large holdings in Lequille, but since he worked at the Fort, he may have used this house at least during the week. Based on the date of this sale, it is likely that the house was built no later than the 1770s, and possibly earlier. Charlotte Perkins has much to say about the Bailey House, however, a considerable portion of it is incorrect. It is likely that Joseph Totten, a wealthy trader, lived and operated his business from here and across the road on the shore lot. According to Perkins, the Duke of Kent danced at a ball in this house when he visited in 1794. The property then passed to James Robertson, of whom we have already spoken in the item on the Davoue/Robertson House.

He sold it to Elizabeth Bailey in 1837, and it is from this period that much of the romance and history flows. She established a high quality rooming house or inn and with her three daughters set very high standards. “Sam Slick” was a frequent visitor with “Marm Bailey” here as detailed in Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s novel of the Clockmaker. Haliburton also stayed there. In 1880, the Marquise of Lorne visited Annapolis Royal and asked to visit Mrs. Bailey, and had a long and enjoyable discussion with her. One of Marm Bailey’s specialties was moose muffle soup. The building is designated as a Provincial and Municipal Heritage Property. It is privately owned.

167 St. Anthony Street – Williams House

This property is a remnant of the Thomas Williams house that originally was located on the corner of Victoria Street and St. George Street, where the Royal Bank now stands. The Williams House was separated into pieces in 1874 when the Union Bank, a predecessor of the Royal Bank, acquired the property. Gert Ritchie also claimed that her house on St. James Street was part of the Williams House and also Doreen Lewis’ house on Chapel Street was another remnant. Calnek indicates that it was broken into two pieces one of them going to this property and another to Dalton Street. Although this building has been significantly modified, there is evidence that there were daub and wattle walls, at least on the first floor of the house, which would indicate that the age of that portion of the house would be pre-1720. Major General Sir William Fenwick Williams of Kars, the son of Thomas Williams, became famous for his stand at the Battle of Kars against the Russians in 1855. There is a plaque affixed to the facade of the Royal Bank building placed there by the Nova Scotia Historical Society which indicates that Sir William Fenwick Williams was born on that site. Sir Fenwick was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia in 1865. He was later Governor of Gibraltar and Constable of the Tower. The house is a Municipal Heritage Property. It is privately owned.

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