• A Not-For-Profit Museum & Archives

About Us

Our History

Founding of the Colchester Historical Society

In January 1954, a circular letter appeared in the Truro Daily News suggesting that a Truro or Colchester Historical Society be formed to preserve and promote local history. It was written by Dr. Loran Arthur DeWolfe, a retired educator who was for many years a professor at the Provincial Normal College and Director of Rural Science Schools for Nova Scotia. “I am not a self-appointed chairman,” he wrote, “I merely take the liberty of throwing the first ball. I hope we have a number of good catchers.”

And he did. The response to DeWolfe’s letter was enthusiastic, and he soon called a meeting
for the 22nd of February, to be held in the Normal College. When the day came, 29 citizens
gathered to show their support, including Grace Archibald, Arnold E. E. Blackburn, Mayor John G. Glassey, Dr. Nelson B. MacLeod, Frank H. Patterson, and Lloyd K. Smith. The discussion
centred around various historical documents scattered in attics and basements throughout the county—if only a building could be dedicated to the safe-keeping of these precious records.
A motion was made to form a society, to be called the Colchester Historical Society.

The society soon began to hold monthly meetings and amassed 74 members in it’s first year.
A typical meeting consisted of one or two historical talks and a period of general discussion.
A cast of characters began to form, with their passion for local history uniting them: Newsman William Foster told the story of Colchester’s earliest newspapers; Arnold Blackburn brought in
a century-old account book belonging to a Clifton merchant; Lena Elliot shared her history of Lower Onslow and Belmont; and it was common to see photographer James E. Sponagle
arriving with a bundle of old pictures tucked under his arm.

In 1976, the society opened the Colchester Historical Museum, located in the former science building of the Normal College—finally, a depository for Colchester’s precious artifacts and historical documents. Like many of the society’s founding members, DeWolfe did not live to see the museum, but it was an apt location in which to fulfill the dream of an old science professor, and the dream of so many citizens who left us their stories and records, so that our history may not be forgotten.

Our Building

Our building was constructed in 1900 to serve as the Science Building for teachers-in-training at the Provincial Normal School (est. 1855).  It was also used by the School of Agriculture (est. 1885) and featured a greenhouse at the south end for botanical studies.

The Science Building served teacher education until 1961—the year that the Teachers College relocated to the site of the present-day NSCC Truro Campus.  After 1961, the building continued to be used by the local school system for
industrial arts classes.

Since 1976, this building has been the home of the Colchester Historical Society. Because of its important link to the educational and architectural heritage of Colchester County and Nova Scotia, the building became a Registered Heritage Property in 2004.

With its subtle polychrome finish, unique combination of building materials
and a respect for all things symmetrical, the Science Building is a good example of the Beaux-Arts Movement in Canadian architecture.  Amherst red sandstone, combined with red brick and cast iron detail, would have been an unusual sight on earlier neoclassical structures. By mixing local materials and European forms, this building represents a truly North American style.