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Captain James Embree House

209 Granville Street, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, B9A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/03/21

Street elevation, Captain James Embree House, Port Hawkesbury, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Front Facade
Side elevtion showing side door with roof, Captain James Embree House, Port Hawkesbury, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Side Elevation
Rear elevation, Captain James Embree House, Port Hawkesbury, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Rear Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1880/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/09/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Captain James Embree House was built in 1880 in the town of Port Hawkesbury, NS. It faces the Port Hawkesbury Harbour and is a mix of Classic Revival, Neo-classical and Bracketed styles. Only the house and the land are included in the provincial designation. The circa 1999 motel units located behind the house are not included.

Heritage Value

The Captain James Embree House is valued for its association with the establishment in 1859 of the first regular ferry service across the Strait of Canso, connecting Cape Breton Island with mainland Nova Scotia; for its architecture; and for its relatively unaltered appearance since its construction in 1880.

Captain James Embree was the great-grandson of Westchester, NY Loyalist Captain Thomas Embree who came to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution. Embree’s grandfather and great uncles were among the founders of Port Hawkesbury (then called Ship Harbour) and by 830 they had established a substantial shipbuilding industry. In 1858 Embree’s father Isaiah established the first regular ferry service between present day Port Hawkesbury and McNair’s Cove. He was the recipient of a government grant to build ferries and maintain a service across the Strait of Canso. Upon Isaiah’s death in 1885, his son James continued to the service. In 1908 he began to operate ferries that could carry automobiles across the Strait powered by gas engines. This ferry service not only provided transportation for mail and but offered transportation between Cape Breton Island and the mainland for the increasing number of settlers on the Island. Captain James Embree built his house in 1880 close to his father’s ferry wharf and facing the Harbour, no doubt to assist his father with the ferry service.

The Captain Embree House is one of only a few older buildings left in Port Hawkesbury and only a handful of buildings left relatively unaltered. The house is a one-and-one-half storey wood frame building with a gable roof facing the street and a cross gable side ell. The house is a combination of a number of styles, including Bracketed, Classic Revival and Neo-classic. One of the more unusual elements in the house are the hipped roofs over most of the rectangle-shaped windows. Brackets run along eaves and under either corner of window roofs and corners are accentuated with corner pilasters. Many original interior elements remain including trim, oak staircase and railing.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property Program file no. 191.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the exterior of the Captain Embree House include:

- brackets under eaves and widow and door roofs;
- dentils under window and door roofs;
- hipped roof over windows and doors;
- wooden clapboard cladding;
- sandstone foundation;
- one-and-one-half storeys;
- gable roof;
- cross gable ell;
- corner pilasters;
- original side and front doors.

Character-defining elements of the interior of the Captain Embree House include:

- original doors;
- hardware such as knobs and window latches;
- trim and mouldings;
- oak staircase and railing.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn


Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Property Program files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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