A Walking Tour of Hantsport

 

The first deed for Hantsport was registered in 1789 in the name of Edward Barker, founder of the town. Hantsport, however was not incorporated until 1895; it was the smallest incorporated town in Canada.
In the late 1800s Hantsport became a shipbuilding town with two main yards: the E. Churchill & Sons Shipyards and the J.B. North Shipyards, and smaller yards. Hantsport was the fifth most important shipbuilding centre in the world with over 200 of the finest barques, brigs and schooners built here by master craftsmen. Many historic homes and landmarks remain from this time.

Purpose of this Guide

This tour quide was prepared to give visitors and residents an historic, scenic and healthy walk of Hantsport and area. The main walk includes excellent views of the architecture of historic buildings and major landmarks. The walk may be broken down into three tours, for example:

  1. Around the town square and down to the government wharf

  2. Up Holmes Hill to the cemetery or around the town and along Avon St.

  3. Follow the map up Holmes Hill to Rand St. to Hants Border, Route 1 to Avon St. extension past R&G Restaurant, down Avon St. to the Park (approximately 8 km).


Map of 
Hantsport

Historic Walk through Hantsport

Start at the tourist bureau on Main Street. Follow the tree lined driveway to Churchill House. Originally called the "Cedars", Churchill House was built in 1860 by Ezra Churchill, owner of E. Churchill & Sons Shipyard, for his son John. The house is a classic example of Victorian architecture with a widow's walk and cupola. The interior is elegantly decorated with large mirrors, marble fireplaces, French crystal chandeliers, stained glass doors and hand tooled wall coverings. Ornate moldings and handpainted walls and ceilings were done by George Lyons of Falmouth, N.S. in the late 1890's. The exterior and main floor were restored to their original spendor in 1966.

During the shipbuilding era, a Portuguese stowaway, Francis da Silva, painted many murals on the walls of the red Carriage House and the basement of the main house depicting everday life, politics, seafaring traditions and scenery. The carriage house murals have been removed for the Nova Scotia Art Gallery Folk Art Collection but visitors can still see da Silva's work on the basement walls of the main house.

The Marine Memorial Room, a museum dedicated to the shipbuilding heritage of Hantsport, is in the Churchill House.

Crossing the ball fields into Porter Avenue, the house at 17 Porter Ave. was built and lived in by our first mayor, W. A. Porter. 19 Porter Ave. was the home of J. W. Lawrence, customs officer, who had a walking stick with a light in it.

Continue to Prince St., named for Prince Albert Edward, who stopped by on his way to Saint John in 1875. Cross Prince St., then turn left. On the corner of Prince St. and Oak St. there is now a park where stood the Presbyterian Church, erected in 1897. Three doors away is St. James United Church. This church which was originally Methodist, was built in 1865 by Mr. Elder. In 1925 the two churches, Methodist and Presbyterian, joined together and became St. James United Church.

Retrace your steps and go past the park. Down the hill over the railway tracks is a house with a glassed-in sunporch. This house, 41 Prince St., arrived on a scow from across the river and was owned by Mrs. E. A. McCoughan. On down to the waterfront where the Churchill Shipyards were located. Many young men left from here to learn the art of sail, some later becoming marine engineers and captains. On this site the Minas Basin Pulp & Power Co., Ltd. and CKF are now located.

Turn right on to Davison St. At the corner of Davison St. and William St. turn right again and walk on down Wharf Hill to the government pier. On the waterfront find The Spanish Mist, the powerful tug needed to assist the heavy ships being loaded with gypsum for U.S. Markets.

Look up the river to the right towards Aberdeen Beach in Mount Denson, and see a little white house, where once stood the yards of Captain Thomas MacKinlay. It was here in 1904 a three-masted schooner was built called the Bluenose.

Returning to the top of Wharf Hill, on the right is a large apartment building, formerly the Evangeline Hotel. This hotel was one of five hotels in Hantsport, attesting to the prosperity at the height of the shipbuilding era.

The building at 45 William St. was moved to this spot from Foundry Road. Prior to that move, this same building was part of the structure at 35 William St. - the old theatre building, recently renovated to become the Medical Biotechnology Research Centre.

On the left is the Town Hall, and Fire Station No. 5 stands on Oak Street.

Farther along William St. on the left is the Post Office which was built in 1929. Opposite is Station St. The railway came to Hantsport in 1869, the first train arriving on Chirstmas day. In 1995 the old station was made a Heritage Property. The Hantsport and Windsor R.R. Company was formed in 1995.

Continuing up William St. to Willow Creek Antiques, turn right on Main St. and go to Willow Bridge. There find a Welcome to Hantsport sign. Have a short rest on the bench just in on Chittick Avenue. Returning to Main find St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. This church was opened for service on Sunday, October 30, 1955. Up the street is St. Andrew's Anglican Church, which opened for service in November, 1890.

Proceed eastward along Main St. through downtown Hantsport - feel welcome to go into the shops, to browse of have a snack or meal. At 10 Main St. is Lucknow Branch No. 109, Royal Canadian Legion.

At the intersection of Main and Willow St. is a memorial to the late William Hall who won a Victoria Cross at the battle of Lucknow. Follow the driveway to the Hantsport Baptist Church. This large wooden church was built in 1850 and in 1863 was enlarged by splitting it in half, moving the front part twenty feet forward, and building in the space between. The ornate steeple and Carillon chimes were added at a later date. The windows and finish at the back are of interest as well.

From Main St. to Holmes Hill, on the left is a driveway to Riverbank Cemetery. Walk around, read some memorials and spend a queit hour in this God's Acre.

At the top of Holmes Hill is a fine view of the town and area. Turn right (at what used to be called Blacksmith's Corner where Fred Strong's blacksmith shop once stood) to Rand St., named for Dr. Silas T. Rand, a missionary to the Indian people. At the intersection of Rand St. and Riverview Road is the Dr. Silas T. Rand Park, which was dedicated on August 12, 1995. Rand Street connects with the #1 Hightway at Five Points - Willow St., Rand St., #1 Hightway and Lockhartville Road. Turn right and go along to the Hants Border Community Hall on the left. The original structure on this spot was a two-storey school building. Because the original street which ran past this building was a dirt road, the school was known as "Mud Hill College". Today, the hall, build in the 1940's is used by the Lions Club and Poyntz Masonic Lodge to hold their regular meetings. As well, many other community functions take place here.

Walk on to R&G Restaurant, then down the Avon St. extension to the site of the former shipyard of J. B. North. Along Avon St. opposite the intersection of Tannery Road, at 42 Avon St., is a house which too arrived by scow and tugboat.

At the end of Avon St. is the 1995 Centennial Park. Here one can have a swim, see ships load gypsum, sit and watch the tide. At the close of the Centennial celebrations in 1995, a time capsule was buried, to be opened in the year 2095.

To return to the tourist bureau, follow the Bank's Family Walk , dedicated 21 September 1996. At the back of the park to Foundry Road, turn left, then go onto William St. Continue up William St. to Main St., turn left and walk two blocks. You should now have arrived at the tourist bureau.

Please enjoy your visit. Come and see us again.