Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Gilbert Nickerson House is located on sloping lot, across from the Chapel Hill Museum in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. The house, also known as the Old Chairmakers House, and property (including graveyard) were designated a heritage property by the Municipality of Barrington on July 4, 1984.
The Gilbert Nickerson House and property is valued for its association with many generations of the Nickerson family and its relatively unaltered exterior appearance.
A definite date of construction has not been determined, however it is thought the house was built in the 1840s. The land on which the house was built originally belonged to Joshua Nickerson, an original township grantee. Nickerson is thought to have been part of one of the first groups to settle in the area, arriving from England in 1762 with a cow and three members of his family. He is known for being the first Keeper of the Town Grant; framing the Old Meeting House in Barrington; as an excellent ship carpenter; and for building the area’s first grist mill. Nickerson died in 1821 and it is thought he was buried in a family graveyard along the shore of this property, followed by his wife, their sons Levi and Zenus and their families. The family plot also served as a graveyard for victims of the steamer “Hungarian” who washed ashore in Shag Harbour in 1860. Markers for this graveyard have not survived.
Levi Nickerson, a grandson of Joshua acquired the property in the 1840s and built this house for himself and his family. From Levi, the house passed to Gilbert, Levi’s son, who, like his grandfather Joshua, was closely involved in his community. He collected and wrote stories of local events and history, many of which were published in a local newspaper. Living so close to the ocean Gilbert developed a habit of collecting wood that floated ashore from shipwrecks and using them for carving. He is best known locally for his carved shipwreck chairs, one of which is in the Chapel Hill Museum in Shag Harbour and another in the Archelaus Smith Museum in Centreville. Maple leaves were his favourite motif and he recorded the name and history of each ship on the back of his work.
The house remains in the Nickerson family and has undergone relatively few changes, with the exception of vinyl siding. It is a simple gable roof house with a side and rear ell.
Source: Municipality of the District of Barrington, Municipal Heritage Property files, Gilbert Nickerson House file.
Character-defining elements of the Gilbert Nickerson home are:
- wood frame construction;
- gable roof with large overhang;
- large bay window to the left of the front door with overhang;
- front door with bracket support under a wide overhang;
- one-storey gable roof side ell;
- set back from road;
- burial ground near shore;
- unobstructed view of Shag Harbour and beyond from rear elevation.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Municipality of Barrington, P.O. Box 100, Barrington, N.S. B0W 1E0
Cape Sable Historical Society, P.O. Box 67, Barrington NS B0W 1E0
Cross-Reference to Collection