Welcome to Strathlorne, Mr. Thompson

              Strathlorne, Upper Stewiacke

Nova Scotia’s property naming tradition was enjoying a healthy and rich existence at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Many image-conscious citizens gave their properties a name in order to make a statement about themselves and their home.  A named home carried a sort of cachet that indicated a degree of respectability and culture among its inhabitants.  Such esteemed families would choose a name based on any number of inspirations, though the most common dealt with geography, flora and fauna, family name, or lifestyle.  By way of example, Oaklands, Maple Leaf Cottage, and Elmhurst all derive inspiration from notable trees associated with the property.

Alexander Graham Bell’s, Beinn Breagh, is very likely the best known named estate in Nova Scotia.  The English translation, beautiful mountain, lacks the romantic lyric of the Gaelic language – the use of which somehow lends credence to Bell’s assertion of it being the most beautiful place in the world.

Vineberg & Fulton, is seeking information on the property names of historic homes of Nova Scotia.  We are also interested in learning the stories behind the names as some origins are less than obvious. While Hillcrest and Riverside are no-brainers, Tivoli and Struan are certainly both head-scratchers and remain puzzling without associated context.

If you have any historic house naming traditions to share from your local area, please assist with this interesting research that will add to our understanding of Nova Scotia’s rich built heritage.  Please send information to housestories@eastlink.ca.

Posted by Joe Oct 29, 2011 Posted in Publications & Research 1 Comment


Annapolis Royal, 1878 / Asher Benjamin’s Architecture, c1840

Vineberg & Fulton Ltd. is committed to ongoing research in the field of historic preservation. This commitment means a significant amount of resources is invested in continually improving our understanding of historic building technology and local building traditions.  Vineberg & Fulton has assembled an impressive database of Nova Scotia’s rich and varied architectural history.  This dynamic database forms our doctrine, comprises our reference material, and informs our recommendations and advocacy.  Valuable, startling, and even contradictory information is constantly being peeled back like so much old linoleum.

Research is producing a better understanding of the built environment of the past few centuries here in Nova Scotia. Research is answering questions as well as raising new ones. What sort of influence did the American landscape architect, A. J. Downing have in this province? What paint colors were used in what towns and on what parts of a house and in what period? Why do so many old houses appear to have kitchen additions built on the back? Where did our stained glass, ceramic tile, wallpaper, pressed steel, and awnings come from and what styles were popular and when? What sorts of shrubs and trees were planted in urban areas? Why were our parks created and how were they intended to be used?  Why is there eel grass in my walls and should I remove it? Why does any of this matter?  The questions that can be asked are infinite. Answers will help Nova Scotians authentically preserve one of their greatest cultural resources—their built heritage.

Vineberg & Fulton Ltd. is always interested in viewing or acquiring day books, catalogues or other books and printed material that deal with the various building trades in Nova Scotia. Period photographs of homes and commercial buildings are also sought to help identify and interpret construction practices and local trends.

The vestibule and stairway lights are of rich shades of opal and Senetian glass and cut jewels designed and executed by Messrs. Castle & Son of Montreal, who also supplied the Mosaic pavement for vestibule floor.

Local newspaper, 1893

Greater knowledge of this province’s architectural history will help ensure appropriate and honest treatments for historic places.  Renovations undertaken with good intentions and historical assumptions often lead to regrettable outcomes.  Be sure that appropriate research and documentation comprise any intervention.

Many people love to live in Nova Scotia and many others love to travel here. Sure, it’s the “down home” lifestyle of locals that is always cited as the key to bluenose charm.  But since we’re products of our environment, let’s ensure that our built environment is preserved so that we might be as charming as a country cottage.

Posted by Joe Jul 11, 2011 Posted in Atlantic Canada, Built Heritage, Publications & Research Comments Off

Early Paint Colors

The Red House on the Corner

This delightful photograph and descriptive caption are but one example of documentary evidence that have been gathered in an ongoing research project at Vineberg & Fulton that serves to collect paint color references of early Nova Scotia in a database used for identifying color palettes and related paint history for different periods and corners of the province.

Mr. Rogers, a man from Shelburne or Cape Negro, has been here some time jobbing, is come to work to paint the roof of my house with tar and spanish brown.

Simeon Perkins Diary, August 17, 1790

Photograph captions, diaries, newspapers, account books, and travel writings are among a wide range of resources that have been tapped for insight into this incredibly rich area of study. We invite your assistance in this huge undertaking. If you know of any pre-1905 paint color references, we encourage you to contact us so that we might add to our growing database.


Posted by Joe Jul 04, 2011 Posted in Built Heritage, Featured, Publications & Research Comments Off