Description of Historic Place
The Ilsley Homestead is located on a working farm in Somerset, NS, looking out towards the Annapolis Valley and the South Mountain beyond. Built around 1860, the Ilsley Homestead is the birthplace of the Right Honorable James Lorimer Ilsley. The buildings and property are included in the provincial designation.
The Ilsley Homestead is valued because of it association with the Right Honorable James Lorimer Ilsley, Q.C., Chief Justice of Nova Scotia and federal Minister of Finance during World War II.
J.L. Ilsley was born in 1894 at the Ilsley Homestead. The property had been purchased by Ilsley's grandfather, James E. Ilsley, in 1876, and then passed on to Ilsley's father, Randall in 1882. J.L. Ilsley attended high school in Berwick, then Acadia College and Dalhousie University, obtaining a law degree in 1916. In 1926, he successfully ran for the federal seat of Kings-Hants, a seat he maintained in the 1930 election. In the 1935, 1940 and the 1945 elections, Ilsley was returned as the Member of Parliament for Digby-Annapolis-Kings.
During the Second World War, Ilsley served as Minister of Finance, then as Minister of Justice in 1946-48. In 1949, Ilsley was appointed Puisne (Junior Associate) Judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and Chief Justice of Nova Scotia in 1950. In 1966, while returning from a trip to British Columbia, Ilsley fell ill in Winnipeg, and died six weeks later, in January 1967, after being flown back to Nova Scotia.
Although the exact date of construction of the Ilsley Homestead is unknown, architectural details suggest a date of around 1860. The Ilsley homestead is a one-and-a-half storey wood frame structure with end gables and a steeply pitched gable breaking the front eavesline. Within this dormer is a round headed window. There is also a large gable porch. A fire gutted the Ilsley Homestead in the 1990s and the 6/6 sash windows were replaced with replicas of the original. There is also a large chimney on the west end of the house, with a single storey bay window on the east end. The building is clad in clapboard.
The Ilsley Homestead continues as a working farm. There are several farm buildings located on the property.
J.L. Isley's career and place in both national and provincial history have made him Somerset's most distinguished native. The long association of the Ilsley family with the homestead and J.L. Isley's own connections to it add significantly to the homestead's historical relevance.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 243, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of the Ilsley Homestead include:
- one-and-a-half storey wood frame structure;
- end gables and a steeply pitched gable breaking the front eavesline;
- round headed window in front dormer;
- large gable porch;
- 6/6 sash replica windows;
- large chimney on the west end;
- single storey bay window on the east end;
- clad in clapboard;
- ensemble of wood frame construction working farm buildings;
- all landscape features relating to use of land as a farm.