Archives bring historic aerial views of Nova Scotia communities online

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A new online exhibit by the Nova Scotia Archives will allow Nova Scotians to explore unique historic views of the province.

Yarmouth Waterfront (Yarmouth, Nova Scotia)
Date: 31 July 1931

In the summer of 1931, a pilot and a photographer flew over Nova Scotia, taking camera shots along the way. The result was 221 black-and-white images showing 39 different communities from Yarmouth to Amherst, Truro to Halifax, and the South Shore.

 "The collection of aerial photos is yet another example of how the Nova Scotia Archives is preserving our heritage through valuable documents and photos from our past," said Communities Culture and Heritage Minister Leonard Preyra. "The archives are pleased to present the images online in a high-resolution, zoomable format for Nova Scotians to explore and enjoy."

Nova Scotia from the Air: The Richard McCully Aerial Photograph Collection, 1931, is named after the man who pioneered commercial aerial photography in Atlantic Canada. The camera captured communities, homes, businesses, churches, farms and waterfronts as they looked in the early 1930s. Many of the structures photographed no longer exist or have been significantly altered.

"These rare aerial views are a fascinating look at the port of Halifax when some of the present installations were very new," said Mac Mackay, author of Shipfax, a blog about ships and shipping from Halifax and beyond. "The views of the ocean terminals and seawall at Pier 21, with the White Star liner Olympic alongside, show very clearly the original infrastructure from which the present day port has evolved.

"Some vanished landmarks are also visible, such as the National Harbours Board cold storage plant. A very barren looking Halifax Shipyard, before the onslaught of wartime repair and shipbuilding activity hints at things to come. The clarity of the images is remarkable and will provide hours of interesting study."

The collection provides significant aerial coverage of contemporary industrial activity and buildings including the Yarmouth cotton mill, Canadian Car and Foundry Co. in Amherst, Stanfield's Limited and Eastern Hat and Cap in Truro, and the Imperial Oil Refinery in Dartmouth. Other images show the experimental farms in Nappan and Kentville, the Kentville sanitorium, the exhibition grounds and Chebucto Road airport in Halifax, the RMS Olympic in Halifax Harbour, and Oak Island in Mahone Bay. The photos also depict Acadian sites, such as the Grand Pré memorial and Université Sainte-Anne.

Various colleges and universities were also photographed from the air as well as the original Public Archives of Nova Scotia building, opened in 1931.

To view Nova Scotia from the Air, click here .

Nova Scotia Archives acquires, preserves and makes available the province's documentary heritage.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Archives, National Harbours Board, Canadian Car and Foundry Co. Stanfield's Imperial Oil Refinery Public Archives of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax, Yarmouth Amherst Truro South Shore Atlantic Canada White Star Dartmouth Nappan Chebucto Road Oak Island Mahone Bay

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