AMHERST – That oft repeated phrase, “If these walls could talk, they would tell you a story” certainly reflects the passages within Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia’s latest book, Witnesses to a New Nation: 150 Nova Scotia buildings that saw Canada’s Confederation of 1867.
The book, which was published by Nova Scotia based SSP Publications, will be launched on Saturday at Dayle’s Grand Market in Amherst. Festivities take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the actual book launch happening at noon.
The book features six properties from Amherst.
Amherst and Area Heritage Trust will also have 2019 calendars for sale for $15. The calendars feature photos of the buildings in the book.
Witnesses to a new Nation is a collection of the images that were shared during an exhibition of the same name that toured the province in 2017. The images reflect diverse buildings, from a stonemason’s cottage in Dartmouth to the “Lazaretto” in Pictou County, a quarantine station for maritime travellers.
“The book, and the collection of stories and images is so quintessentially Nova Scotian,” says Michal Crowe, Witnesses Project Chair with Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. “The tales of each of the buildings, and the people who have walked through their halls, were all meticulously researched and written by volunteers across the Province, people who wanted to make sure these stories would be heard throughout the ages.”
Crowe cites the story of the Lazaretto as just one of the powerful stories within the book. For years residents of Pictou County had heard the legend of the hospital caring for those arriving by ship with infectious diseases, and that locals would prepare meals and leave them carefully on the steps to avoid catching ailments.
The two doctors who founded the hospital themselves took ill, but were miraculously cured. No one could quite pinpoint where the Lazaretto was located – or if its building still existed. Finally, someone happened upon the small site, and discovered it is now used as a part-time summer home for an American resident.
“There are so many beautifully woven stories throughout this book, all told from different perspectives, and images captured through various eyes,” said Linda Forbes, also with Heritage Trust and who worked alongside Crowe on the book. “You get a first-hand look at how people from different backgrounds – architects, parishioners, art students and homeowners – experience the structure and history of each of these sites. The result is an exceptional and endearing literary adventure.”
The book is also available at local Chapters, Indigo and Coles locations as well as online.