The exhibit, called Witnesses To A New Nation, features photographs of 150 historic buildings from across Nova Scotia that existed at the time of confederation in 1867.
They include residences, places of worship, commercial and industrial structures and public buildings.
The buildings featured are illustrative of the various cultural groups that made Nova Scotia their home. After more than 150 years, many of the buildings continue to make a significant impact in their communities.
The exhibit, curated by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia in conjunction with other heritage societies across the province, includes several examples of Kings County’s built heritage. The Kings County Museum in Kentville hosts the travelling exhibit from Aug. 18 to Sept. 22. An official opening is being held Aug. 17 from 7 to 8 p.m.
The Borden House of Upper Canard is among the buildings being featured. Proprietor Ken Bezanson, who purchased the property in 2001, said he’s “excited, tremendously pleased and honoured” that it’s been included in the exhibit.
He said he’s always liked the house. Bezanson appreciates the New England Georgian style of architecture. He would drive by it and sense that there is something great about it.
“There is a spirit to this place and when I go in it, I feel it,” Bezanson said.
After purchasing the house, Bezanson felt that he had acquired “the ultimate antique” and this has a lot to do with his passion for “sympathetically and respectfully” restoring it. It’s not just an old house: it’s a historically significant old house with connections to Sir Frederick Borden, once Canada’s Minister of Militia and Defence; Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden and others.
“Old houses are wonderful and fabulous but when something has a historical connection to your province and to your country, that makes it a little different,” Bezanson said.
Bezanson has undertaken several restoration projects on the house, using old wood, other materials and tools to maintain historical integrity and original antiquity. He said he hasn’t rushed into the restorations to ensure he isn’t making decisions he’ll regret later.
Bezanson said he feels that the historical significance of the house has been underestimated if not dismissed.
About “The Maples”
The Borden House was built circa 1790 on 200 acres of land purchased by Jacob Walton in 1788. The kitchen addition was moved onto the property and joined to the main house circa 1810 to accommodate a private tutoring school. Dr. Jacob Walton, Jr. added the Victorian extension across the back circa 1840.
Dr. Jonathan Borden purchased the property in 1847 and lived there until his death in 1875.
“The Maples”, as it was called, was the birthplace and childhood home of Sir Frederick Borden, Minister of Militia and Defence from 1896 to 1911. Dr. Jonathan Borden’s nephew, Sir Robert Borden, Canada’s Prime Minister from 1911 to 1920, was a frequent visitor.
Original architectural features in the New England Georgian structure include “nine-over-six” windows, “Christian doors” with large iron locks, “H&L” hinges, interior corner posts, moldings and a “dumb waiter” servicing the cellar kitchen. There are Georgian fireplaces, a regency staircase with delicately turned spindles and servants’ quarters above the kitchen.
Interesting aspects of the 1840’s extension include the tin ceiling in the dining room and the bay window, which provides a panoramic view of the dyke lands.
Artefacts from Dr. Borden’s era, including Sir Frederick and Sir Robert memorabilia, have been reinstated and a pictorial perspective was assembled with the assistance of the late Joan (Starr) Murray, great granddaughter to Dr. Jonathan Borden.
- Information courtesy Ken Bezanson
Did you know?
Other Kings County buildings being featured in the exhibit include…
- The William Campbell House, Port Williams
- The Leard-Stewart House, Grand Pre
- The James Crane House, Grand Pre
- The DeWolf-Barss House, Wolfville
- The Andrew Borden House, Grand Pre
- The Mayfield, Wolfville
- The Jeremiah Calkin House, Grand Pre
- The Joseph and Richard Starr House, Starrs Point
- The Planters’ Barracks, Starrs Point
- The Covenanter Church, Grand Pre
- The Judge Elisha DeWolf House, Wolfville
- The Borden House, a.k.a. “The Maples”, Upper Canard
- The Stage Coach Inn, Kentville