Description of Historic Place
The Old Place is located on Main Street in Canning, Nova Scotia. Originally a simple Gothic Revival style structure dating from around 1864, this house went through a major renovation in 1902 and now embodies the Queen Anne Revival style. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Old Place is valued because of its historical association with Sir Frederick Borden, M.D., and because it is one of the finest examples of the residential work by architect, William Critchlow Harris.
Jacob Lockhart, a shipbuilder, had the Old Place built around 1864. Although Lockhart's shipyard was at Scott's Bay on the Minas Basin, he lived in Canning and left the day to day operations of the yard to his son, Jonathan. Jonathan Lockhart was a ship's carpenter and may well have been the principal carpenter in the construction of the Old Place.
The house passed to Sir Frederick Borden, who in 1902 engaged William Critchlow Harris, the well known Canadian architect famous for his houses and churches, to remodel the house. Borden was born in Canard, a farming district of about two hundred people located north of Wolfville on the Minas Basin and was educated at Kings and Harvard. He set up practice in Canning and in 1874 was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal representing Kings County. Borden was Minister of Militia and Defence in the Laurier Cabinet from 1896 to 1911. He married in 1873 to Julia Clark and they had three children. He was also created a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1902. Sir Frederick died in Canning in 1917.
The Old Place in some ways is two buildings, a simple Gothic Revival structure dating from around 1864 and a major renovation in the Queen Anne Revival style, designed by William Harris in 1902. Remnants of the original structure can be noted in the three gable dormers of the street elevation. Most of the exterior, however, is the work of Harris and incorporates several design details typical of his residential work and of this phase of the Queen Anne Revival style generally. Such design elements include the round, squat tower, with a steeply pitched, conical roof, a form echoed in the corner dormers; the broad shallow arched window openings; and wood shingle cladding, in a variety of patterns and textures.
With the exception of the front drawing room, the building is also predominantly Queen Anne Revival style. The principal element of the ground floor plan is the large hall, from which the stairway rises. Opposite the stair is a large, rustic stone fireplace, with a characteristic inglenook adjacent. Separated from the kitchen by a large waiting pantry is the dining room. As well, all the Harris rooms are finished with darkly stained oak.
Architecturally, the Old Place is of particular note. It is one of the best Nova Scotian examples of the residential work of William Harris, a major architect whose influence extended throughout the Atlantic Region; and it is one of the best examples in Nova Scotia of the Queen Anne Revival style, with both exterior and interior elements, combined in a well executed design, demonstrating the principal characteristics of this style.
The Old Place has a commanding presence located on the main street in the village, set back and surrounded by considerable tree growth.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 172, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of The Old Place include:
- two-and-a-half storey wood construction;
- round, squat tower, with steeply pitched, conical roof;
- corner dormers;
- broad, shallow arched window openings;
- wood shingle cladding;
- large hall, from which the stairway rises;
- large, rustic stone fireplace, with inglenook adjacent;
- prominent location on a main street surrounded by mature trees.