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Chapel Hill Museum

5492 Highway 3, Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1984/07/04

Front elevation and cemetery, Chapel Hill Museum, Shag Harbour, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia, 2008
Front Elevation
Side elevation, Chapel Hill Museum, Shag Harbour, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia 2008
Side Elevation
Front elevation of Chapel HIll Museum, Shag Harbour, NS, 2008.; Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Province of Nova Scotia 2008
Front Elevation

Other Name(s)

Chapel Hill Museum
Shag Harbour United Baptist Church

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Chapel Hill Museum is located at 5492 Highway 3, in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. Located on top of a hill facing the ocean and surrounded on three sides by a burial ground; the building and cemetery were designated a municipal heritage property July 4, 1984.

Heritage Value

Chapel Hill Museum is valued for its age, religious role in the community, and for the property’s association with the first European settlers in the area.

The location of the museum is thought to have been the location of a ‘vieux logis,’ or old house, as referenced on Samuel de Champlain’s 1612 map of Acadia. This map shows a trading post near Cape Sable at the mouth of the Shag Harbour Brook on a high hill, easily visible to approaching ships. It is believed that the hill on the map is the one where the museum now stands.

In 1760 one of the first ships carrying English-speaking settlers arrived in the Barrington area. On board was Joshua Nickerson, who became one of the founders of the Barrington Township and was the ‘keeper of the grant,’ a position which required him to record the markings and owners of the first land division. Nickerson also framed the Old Meeting House in 1765, and built one of the first grist mills in the area. While he was originally granted land in Barrington proper, he later moved to Shag Harbour where he established a small ship yard. This land passed through Nickerson’s family to his grandson Levi who donated a portion of the land for the first church and burial ground in Shag Harbour.

The current church on this location was built circa 1856 as a nondenominational church. Eventually the church was solely used by a Baptist congregation and became known as the Shag Harbour United Baptist Church. Its location high on a hill with a central tower and steeple, the church often served as a beacon for mariners. In 1970 the church closed and plans were made to tear the original building down and build a larger one. In response, residents formed the Chapel Hill Society to save the building. In 1979 the congregation voted to offer the building to the society to operate it as a community museum.

Originally the building had a steeple; however it was lost in a winter gale in 1929. The church has changed little since its construction, however it was clad in vinyl siding covering some architectural details.

Source: Municipality of the District of Barrington, Municipal Heritage files

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Chapel Hill Museum include:

- location close to road on hill facing ocean;
- wood frame construction;
- central tower;
- wooden door on either side of tower;
- three large wooden, arched windows on each side;
- two sets of cement stairs leading to the main entrance;
- all original interior elements including: pews, platform for choir and pulpit, floorboards, metallic ceiling with gold coloured dropped metallic squares to hold lamps; and gilt filigree chandelier;
- cemetery on three sides.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type




Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Institution

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Municiepality of Barrington, P.O. Box 100, Barrington NS B0W 10 Cape Sable Historical Society P.O. Box 67, Barrington NS B0W E0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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