Quaker Whaler House
Links and documents
1786/01/01 to 1786/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Quaker Whaler House is a two-and-a-half storey, wood frame building with a gabled roof, closely related in style to the early houses of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The house is located in a busy area of Downtown Dartmouth, NS, not far from the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour. Originally the roof was salt-box in form, but an addition accounts for the current gable roof. The heritage designation applies to the building and its surrounding land. Today the Quaker Whaler House is operated by the Dartmouth Heritage Museum and is open to the public during the summer months.
The Quaker Whaler House is valued for its association with William Ray, a Quaker and cooper from Nantucket. Ray and his family moved to Dartmouth in 1785-86 from Nantucket after the American Revolution to avoid heavy tariffs imposed upon the whaling industry by Britain. As a cooper he serviced the local whaling industry operated by other Quaker families who moved to Dartmouth from Nantucket. William Ray purchased a large plot of land in Dartmouth where he built his home, which is known as the Quaker Whaler House. Approximately 300 Quakers departed from Halifax in 1791 when British authorities removed them to Milford Haven in South Wales. In 1849 the house was purchased by George Jackson, a local shipwright, whose family owned the property until 1971 when it was purchased by the former City of Dartmouth and operated as a museum.
Valued for its materials and construction methods, the house closely resembles Quaker architecture in Nantucket. The asymmetrical facade design and stone foundation are also characteristic of the Nantucket style of architecture. The building interior has a massive central chimney, narrow stairwells, and large rooms for designed for working and cooking; all of which reflect its practical and functional design.
The house is documented as the oldest building in Dartmouth and one of the oldest in Halifax Regional Municipality. As such, it holds an important place in local architectural history. The Quaker Whaler House is located in the middle of a streetscape with buildings of similar scale, style, and materials.
Source: A Preliminary Investigation of the Dartmouth Quaker House. Brown, Wayde. Heritage Inventory Co-ordinator, Dartmouth Heritage Advisory Committee found in Heritage file 57-59 Ochterloney Street at HRM Planning and Development Services.
Character-defining elements of the Quaker Whaler House include:
- heavy timber framing, with double beams running along the centre of the building;
- wood shingled cladding and plain corner board trim;
- two and a half storeys, with gable roof;
- asymmetrical facade with six-over-six wooden windows and off-centre door;
- original stone foundation;
- remaining interior features which are evidence of the Quaker Whalers including the fireplaces, doorways, and narrow staircases;
- historic side addition with slight bellcast roof.
Local Governments (NS)
Heritage Property Act
Municipally Registered Property
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
HRM Planning and Development Service, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1
Cross-Reference to Collection