The Shelburne Museum Complex – Protecting and Interpreting History


A dozen historic buildings and several gorgeous green spaces make up the Shelburne Museum Complex at the heart of historic waterfront. Many are open to the public with interpreters to bring history alive.


Since 1976, the non-profit Shelburne Historical Society has been overseeing an expanding collection of important properties and artefacts, as well as researching and writing the history of Shelburne. Early members like Marion Robertson, Mary Archibald and Eleanor Smith published many books.


Today, these are valuable reference works. In partnership with the Province of Nova Scotia, the Society created the Ross-Thomson House and Store in 1784 , as well as the J. C. Williams Dory Shop Museum, opened by Prince Charles and Princess Dianna in 1983.


The Society also created the Shelburne County Museum in the historic Nairn House to exhibit important holdings and to encourage research. In 2001, the Society took ownership of the Nairn House, as well as the Coyle House, where it established Tottie’s Crafts. Volunteers sell their own fine handicrafts like quilts and hooked rugs, as well as other gifts.


In 1986, the Society took over the Cox’s Warehouse, the building crowned with a steeple that dominates the waterfront. And in 2000, renovation work began on Cox’s Shipyard at the south end of the district where three major buildings took on new life. The Society created the Muir-Cox Shipbuilding Interpretive Centre – now closed – and kept the Sawmill as an important heritage building. 


The Shelburne Historical Society sees itself as a vital part of the community as it works to protect, restore and interpret the evolving heritage of this historic town and its waterfront. The Society and its holdings are an important economic driver, not just for attracting visitors, but for instilling pride in the community’s heritage and natural features, thus enriching the quality of life for those lucky enough to live here.

Shelburne's Historic Waterfront

Museums by the Sea

20 Dock Street, P.O. Box 39

Shelburne, Nova Scotia   B0T 1W0

Ph: 902-875-3219

Fax: 902-875-4141


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