Description of Historic Place
The Grand Pré Heritage Conservation District is located in and around the hamlet of Grand Pré in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia. Grand Pré is particularly noted for its attractive setting amidst rolling hills and dykeland, extending from a double crossroads in the hamlet centre. Heights of land at the west end of Grand Pré Road, Horton Cemetery and the Covenanter Church define the western, eastern and southern limits of the village, while the railway and the Grand Pré National Historic Site situated at the very edge of the dykeland define its northern limit. A mixture of residential properties, community buildings, croplands, pasture and orchards are incorporated in the district. The municipal heritage designation of this district includes the buildings, landscape features and the properties they occupy.
Grand Pré’s value as a Heritage Conservation District lies in its deep historical associations with the settlement of Nova Scotia and the resulting cultural landscape. The name “Grand Pré” is synonymous with the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755 and in many respects is the symbolic heartland of Acadian culture in North America. It is also the cradle of pre-Loyalist settlement in Nova Scotia as the point of disembarkation for the New England “Planters” who arrived in the area in the 1760s to resettle confiscated Acadian lands. The modern landscape still carries the imprint of early Acadian and Planter settlement, which can be perceived through patterns of roads, fields, dykes, agricultural uses and historic structures.
While no Acadian-era buildings survive in Grand Pré, numerous other buildings ranging in age from the 1760s to early 1900s add to the heritage value of the District. Residential architectural styles are varied and include vernacular expressions of Neo-Classical, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Modified gothic and early twentieth-century styles. Two converted schoolhouses, a church, a general store, an early twentieth-century service station are also considered to have heritage value for the District. Numerous barns and outbuildings are also noted as contributing to the District’s heritage value.
As a cultural landscape, Grand Pré’s heritage value also lies in its agricultural setting amidst rolling hills overlooking the dykeland. The hamlet extends in a broad crucifix form with well-defined edges to the community provided by heights of land at three of its extensions and the railway and National Historic Site at the other, giving the visitor a sense of ‘entering the village’ at these points.
The development form of the hamlet is quite linear, with residential properties arranged one lot deep along the roads and with agricultural land immediately behind. Cropland, pasture and orchards surround and penetrate the hamlet, creating an intimate sense of connection with the landscape. A large, open hillside pasture directly opposite the crossroads forms a particularly significant landscape element in the heart of the hamlet. A small seasonal brook flows through the centre of the hamlet. Mature roadside trees, small wooded areas, property line trees and hedgerows, and post-and-wire line fences further reinforce the pastoral, rural character of the district.
The hamlet of Grand Pré is framed by dykelands originally built to improve the agricultural productivity of the surrounding marshlands by the Acadians, the first European settlers in the area. Along with the fields that they protect, the dykes continue to define the agricultural use of the land in this region and are the most evident reminder of the Acadian population that lived in the Grand Pré area in the 1600s and 1700s.
Source: “Grand Pré Heritage Conservation District Plan, Bylaw & Design Guidelines,” Municipality of the County of Kings, 1999.
The character-defining elements of the Grand Pré Heritage Conservation District reflect the settlement patterns and continued agricultural use of the land within the district, including:
- various architectural elements in styles representing a span of settlement and growth from the 1760s to early 1900s, shown in forty-one residential, commercial, agricultural and ecclesiastical buildings within the Heritage Conservation District boundaries;
- all cultural landscape elements representing the historic agricultural patterns of European settlement in the area, agricultural pastures and crop fields, orchards and vineyards;
- linear road systems, in particular the Old Post Road with its narrow, tree-lined width;
- linear placement of residential lots in relation to the road system and within the original town boundaries;
- natural elements that are incorporated into the broader settlement pattern, including the brook running through the centre of the hamlet, wooded areas behind the residential lots and marshlands delineated by the dyke system;
- unobstructed view points, including looking eastward and northward for the crest at the west end of Grand Pré Road; westward from Horton Cemetery downhill along the Old Post Road and toward the dykelands and National Historic Site; northward from the centre of the hamlet and the corresponding southward view looking southward from the railway tracks; into the centre of the hamlet from the Covenanter Church; westward from the crossroads across open pasture and hilltop vineyards; and various views from Highway 1 as it follows its ‘S’ curve through the community.