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The Esker

296 No. 3 Highway, Sable River, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/01/25

Front and south-east side of The Esker, Sable River, NS, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS. Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Front and south-east elevation
South-east side of The Esker, Sable River, NS, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS. Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
South-east elevation
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/01/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Esker is located on a hill overlooking the west side of Sable River, Shelburne County. This Cape Cod Style house was built by Stephen Harrington, a master shipbuilder, around 1825. The building and property are included in the provincial designation.

Heritage Value

The Esker is valued for being one of the few "full Cape" colonial style houses remaining in Nova Scotia, appearing much the same as it did when it was originally built.

The Esker is closely connected with the history of Sable River, a community settled by New England Planters from the Liverpool area. Among these settlers was Stephen Harrington, a master shipbuilder, who established a shipyard on his lot where it fronted the river and launched his first schooner from there in 1828. The house, built around 1825, was built further back on his lot and remained in the possession of his decendants until 1963.

The touch of a master shipbuilder is evident in the superb craftmanship of the parlour mantel and minister's cupboard which have remained intact. The stairs and keeping room hutch, exposed ceiling beams and much of the wainscoting are all original.

The Esker was so named as Harrington had built the house on an esker (a long, winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel occuring in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions of Europe and North America). The Esker is a landmark in the Sable River area.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 65, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of The Esker relating to its Cape Cod style include:

- steeply pitched gable roof;
- large central chimney;
- five bay symmetrical facade with a central Bible door and transom;
- four 6/6 windows;
- stone fireplace;
- interior decorative elements such as the still intact, handcrafted parlour mantel and minister's cupboard;
- interior structural elements such as the original stairs, keeping-room hutch and exposed ceiling beams;
- landmark location on an esker hill with river access.



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



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Stephen Harrington

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 65, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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