Shelburne is a town located
in southwestern Nova
It is the
shire town of Shelburne
lies at the southwest corner of Nova Scotia, at roughly the same
latitude as Portland,
The Cox Warehouse on Dock Street,
Shelburne, Nova Scotia.
The early settlers had small subsistence farms
, but most of the
inhabitants' income from that time to the present have been derived
from the sea. The first Europeans to make a settlement on these
shores were the French
. After the French
were expelled by the British in 1755, following the former's defeat
in the Seven Years' War
, there were
no settlers for several decades.
spring of 1783, more than 5,000 settlers arrived on the shores of
Shelburne Harbour from New
York and the Middle
Colonies of the Thirteen
These settlers were Loyalists
(referred to later
in Canada as United Empire
), Americans who had opposed the Revolution
and remained loyal to
Britain. Opposition to the Revolution, as well as government
promises of free land, tools, and provisions lured many to British North America
at that time.
Four hundred families associated to form a town at Port Roseway,
which Governor Parr renamed Shelburne later that year, after Lord
Shelburne, the British prime
. This group was led by the Port Roseway Associates,
who had formed while still in New York and petitioned Governor Parr
for the land.
In the fall of 1783, a second wave of settlers arrived in
Shelburne. By 1784, the population of this new community is
estimated to have been at least 10,000, making it the fourth
largest city in North America. However, the initial prosperity was
short-lived as a lack of agricultural land, poor inland
transportation links, and lack of some necessary skills for
settlement, soon curtailed economic growth. The population fell
sharply by the 1790s, leaving many abandoned buildings. However,
the remaining residents gradually developed the harbour potential
as a fishing
Shelburne Barrel Factory, Coopers Inn,
and historic properties of Dock Street, Shelburne.
Although much smaller today, Shelburne remains the capital of the
county which bears its name. It was incorporated as a town on April
4, 1907. The population in 2007 was 2013. Many descendants of the
original Loyalists still live in the area today.
Shipbuilding is a historically significant industry. The first
vessel launched at Shelburne was the 181-ton Roseway
built for MacLean and Bogle in 1786. Commissary Island, now a
, was the area from which
supplies of flour
were dispensed to the Loyalists by the
Commissary General, Mr. Brinley. Later, this area became the
shipyard of Joseph McGill. The Cox family also built their own
ships and conducted extensive international trade
. The former MacKay
shipyard was located in Shelburne at Black's Brook. Donald McKay, famous in the United States for the clippers which he
built at Boston, began his
shipbuilding career in Shelburne. He was born at Jordan
Falls in 1810, and left the area at the age of 16 to apprentice in
Fishing remains a primary industry today. Other economic activities
, fish processing, and the
manufacture of barrels
monuments, and marine suppliers.
Many of Shelburne's buildings date back to Loyalist times.
Shelburne County Museum is a restored home built in 1787 by David
Nairn, a cooper from Scotland.
present day Christ Church (Anglican) is on the site of the original
building of the same name, which was designed by Loyalist Isaac Hildreth
and consecrated by Bishop
in 1790. The original
structure was destroyed by fire in 1971. Tottie's Store is thought
to have been built by John Tottie about the year 1800.
Visitors can see dories
being built using
construction methods of the late 19th century at the J. C. Williams
Dory Shop. This was officially opened in 1983 by Prince Charles
and Diana, Princess of Wales
The Shelburne County Museum.
Originally owned by David Nairn, a cooper from Scotland.
The Ross-Thomson House and store is an authentically stocked
18th-century store and chandlery
By June of
1785, brothers George and Robert Ross, natives of Aberdeen,
Scotland, conducted their business from here.
brothers traded Shelburne's pine planks, codfish, ship's knees, spars,
and pickled herring for salt from
Turks Island, tobacco from the Carolinas and Virginia, flour from New England, rum, molasses, and sugar
from the West Indies, dry goods and china from England, and wine
Robert Thomson, the Ross brothers' clerk and
accountant, was from Aberdeen as well. The store was closed in the
1880s with the death of Robert Ross Thomson, son of the elder
Robert Thomson. In 1931, Professor K. G.
University, native of Yarmouth, purchased the house to save it from
In 1787, government distribution of provisions to the new settlers
was terminated. Within a few years, houses were put up for
sale, and settlers left for England, New
Brunswick, Upper Canada, and the United States.
In the 1820s, the population of Shelburne
had dwindled to about 300.
The present weekly newspaper, The Coast Guard
published at the same intersection where newspapers had been
published as early as 1784, including the General
, the Port Roseway Gazetteer
, and the American
Dock Street was the location for the filming of Mary Silliman's
War, based on a true story depicting Fairfield,
Connecticut during the American Revolution.
Present day barrel factory
Dock Street and area was the location of a major film, "A" The Scarlet Letter
based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel depicting Puritan New England
in the mid 1600s. Some of the buildings on Dock Street still retain
the grey-tone paint finishes used for the film. Other movies made
in Shelburne were Virginia's
. In 2008 an old naval station in the Shelburne
area was sold to people who plan to make more movies, at a sound
stage located on the old naval station. In 2009, filming for
portions of the 2-part TV miniseries Moby Dick was filmed in
Shelburne. The Whaleman's Chapel was recreated on the waterfront
and the Spouter's Inn recreated in Cox's Warehouse. The movie stars
William Hurt as Ahab, Gillian Anderson as his wife Elizabeth, Ethan
Hawke as Starbuck and Donald Sutherland as Father Mappel.
McKay Memorial Library
Located at 17 Glasgow Street in Shelburne, the McKay Memorial
Library is one of the larger branches of the Western Counties Regional
. It joined the Western Counties Regional Library on
June 5, 1969 but it did not have a physical location in Shelburne
until the first branch opened on February 15, 1970. The branch
relocated to its present site on July 21, 1989.