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Owl Drug Store

71 Portland Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/08/21

Side elevation, including Scottish dormers, Owl Drug Store, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2005.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2005.
Side Elevation
Side and front elevation from the corner of Queen and Portland Streets, Owl Drug Store, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2005.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2005.
Side and Front Elevation
Rear elevation, Owl Drug Store, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2005.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2005.
Rear Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1840/01/01 to 1840/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Owl Drug Store is a two-and-one-half storey wood frame structure with Scottish dormers, situated on the north corner lot at King and Portland Street in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The designation is for the building and the lot it occupies.

Heritage Value

The Owl Drug Store is valued for its association with it owners, uses and with the 1917 Halifax Explosion. It is also valued for its architecture and a landmark in Downtown Dartmouth.

The Owl Drug Store was one of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia's best known downtown businesses. Located on the corner of King and Portland Streets, the double lot on which the building is situated was originally part of the Lawrence Hartshorne estate; Hartshorne was a prominent merchant and politician. The building was constructed in 1840 by John Kennedy as a hotel and tavern. Kennedy operated the hotel and tavern for several years until financial difficulties forced him to sell his business in 1851 to Dominick Farrell, a prosperous liquor and grocery merchant. Farrell was also a prominent member of the Liberal Party and was appointed magistrate in 1848.

Farrell owned the building until 1886 when he sold it to Dr. Thomas Milsom. At the time King Street was a popular location for medical practitioners of the community. Several doctors lived along the street and following the 1917 Halifax Explosion, many victims were brought to the street where the doctors treated them in their homes and along the sidewalk. After Dr. Milsom died his widow Emily lived in the building until 1913 when it was sold to Dartmouth Developments which sold it to National Trust in 1919. It is believed that the building was used as a bank sometime from 1919 until 1929 when it was sold to A. MacIntosh, a druggist, who opened the Owl Drug Store. The Owl Drug Store remained in operation until the mid 1990s.

Architecturally, the Owl Drug Store is valued as a landmark. Despite alterations to the building’s original Neo-classical style, the building serves as an integral element of the main commercial district. The building is a large two-and-one-half storey wood frame structure with shingle siding. The building has an asymmetrical roofline with a split level form and two dormer windows on the King Street façade. Though the roof lines remain intact, there have been several alterations to the building, including the addition of store windows on ground level. There are two Scottish dormers above a row of windows on the second storey.

Source: HRM Heritage Property File 71 Portland Street, Owl Drug Store, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Owl Drug Store include:

- prominent location in the commercial district of Downtown Dartmouth;
- large two-and-one-half stories;
- wood frame;
- shingle siding;
- two Scottish dormers;
- asymmetrical roofline;
- split level form.



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

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building


Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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