Many families may have lived in the same house over the years, sharing the joys and tragedies of family life. Are you curious who they were and perhaps what their experiences were? Who built your house and when? Who were the previous owners and residents? 

The Hantsport & Area Historical Society may be able to help with trained volunteers using resources like Property Online1 which allows access to historical deeds and property records. In combination with genealogical research an interesting profile can be developed as the following example illustrates.

The McDade Heritage Centre was contacted by the current owners of the house at 11 Willow Street in Hantsport, Will and Jane Kerr. They knew a little about the history of their property; that it once was the parsonage for the Baptist Church and that it may have been a boarding house at one time. They noted several odd occurrences and thought the house might be haunted. In June 2021 the house was featured in a half hour episode of Sight Seers on the AMI Network. You can watch that “investigative documentary” here.

The property description according to the Registry of Deeds is as follows:

ALL that certain lot, piece or parcel of land situate, lying and being in the Town of Hantsport, County of Hants, Province of Nova Scotia and shown as Lot C on a plan of subdivision of the lands of Ernest F. Myles Construction Limited, Willow Street, Hantsport, Nova Scotia, dated November 17, 1978, prepared by Victor E. Swinamer, N.S.L.S. and approved by the Municipal Council of the Town of Hantsport on March 6, 1979.

Lot C is more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING at a point on the southern boundary of Willow Street so-called and at the northwestern boundary of lands now or formerly of Ella R. Ells; THENCE on a bearing S 47 deg 21.4 min W a distance of 267.26 feet to an iron post located on the northern boundary of Lot 8 of the subdivision of the Pearson property as shown on the plan; THENCE on a bearing N 44 deg 10.0 min W a distance of 163 feet to an iron post; THENCE on a bearing N 46 deg 38.0 min E a distance of 218.49 feet to a point; THENCE on a bearing N 51 deg 01.1 min E a distance of 47.66 feet to a point on the southern boundary of Willow Street and at the northeastern corner of Lot C as shown on the plan; THENCE on a bearing S 44 deg 35.9 min E a distance of 162.75 feet to the place of beginning. CONTAINING an area of 43,808 square feet2, more or less.

THE ABOVE DESCRIBED LOT having been conveyed to Arthur G. Lawrence and Melba Lawrence by Gene Mumford and Linda Mumford by Deed dated the 29th day of September, 1982 and recorded at the Registry of Deeds for Hants County in Book 444 Page 690 as Document No. 5799.

Arthur G. “Leif” Lawrence and Melba (Hunt) Lawrence owned the property from 1982 to 2004. Leif Lawrence of Falmouth was a career army officer.

Gene and Linda Mumford owned the property from 1979 to 1982.

Ernest F. Myles Construction Limited purchased the property on 9 June 1978 from Eleanor M. and Sara A. Metzler.

Eleanor Margaret and Sara Arabel Metzler were sisters, daughters of George Metzler and Annie Shaw. Eleanor was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Sara was born in Ashdale, Hants County. Sara was a Registered Nurse, served overseas during the First World War with the U.S. Army and was later employed in the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. They are both buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Windsor NS. They purchased the property, then larger in size (running three hundred and thirteen feet along Willow Street and back two hundred and sixty feet to lands of William Pearson, this being prior to subdivision), on 26 April 1965 from Marion L. Phillips (widow).

Marion Louisa (Bedwin) Phillips was born in 1906 at North Sydney, Cape Breton. She married Arthur Clarence Phillips in 1926 at Halifax. Arthur C. Phillips was a Quartermaster during the Second World War and died in 1943 from complications of diabetes. He is buried in Camp Hill Cemetery, Halifax NS. Marion L. Phillips (widow) died in 1991 at Scarborough, Ontario. She purchased the property on 29 September 1945 from Arthur J. Brady.

Arthur James Brady was a retired manager who resided in Hantsport with his wife, the former Sarah MacDonald of Halifax, from the 1930’s until the time of his death in 1950. He purchased the property on 21 June 1932 from Mary Coffin and Ezra Coffin.

Ezra Alonzo Coffin of Horton, a ship caulker, and Mary Elizabeth Burgess of Summerville were married in the Hantsport Baptist Church on Saturday, 9 July 1881. They purchased the property on 15 March 1915. In the 1921 Census of Canada Ezra Coffin age 66 and Mary age 53 are the owners of a single house on Willow Street. Only one of their nine children was living with them at the time, Isabelle Laura age 14. Their neighbours on Willow Street can be seen in the census enumerator’s report.

The Coffins purchased the property from John W. Churchill for W. C. Churchill and Mary A. Churchill (his son and daughter-in-law) who in turn had purchased it from the Trustees of the Hantsport Baptist Church on 12 September 1902.

The 1885 deed for the sale from George W. Churchill to the Trustees of the Hantsport Baptist Church is somewhat difficult to read so a partial transcript follows. The description of the property is most interesting.

This Indenture made this tenth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty five Between Geo W Churchill of Hantsport Hants County Province of Nova Scotia shipbuilder and Susanna Churchill his wife and John W Churchill of Hantsport County and Province aforesaid shipbuilder and Mary Churchill his wife of the one part and W A Porter, John W Churchill, Peter Coalfleet, Whitman Holmes and John A Borden (as Trustees of the Hantsport Baptist Church) … of the second part … for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar of lawful money of the Dominion of Canada … in hand well and truly paid … do grant sell convey and confirm … that certain lot or parcel of land situate in Hantsport … and bounded and described as follows. Commencing at the south side of road leading direct from the Mount Denson road to Lockhartville and running southwesterly along lands of Nelson Pearson twelve rods3 thence southeasterly along said land eighty five feet thence northeasterly parallel with the first mentioned boundary twelve rods to the aforementioned road thence northwesterly along said road eighty five feet to the place of beginning containing one half an acre more or less and being one half of lands … owned by the late William Crowell and conveyed to the said Geo W Churchill and John W Churchill by J. E. Newcomb together with … the easements and appurtenances to the same belonging with the rents issues and profits .. to have and to hold the said land … without hindrance or disturbance .. signed sealed and delivered …

The Hantsport Baptist Church at times went without a permanent minister according to a history of the church written by W. A. Porter in 1894 and available here.

“Thus matters continued until December, 1884, when the church, realizing fully the need of a regular pastor, extended a call to the Rev. J. McLean, which was accepted, and he immediately entered upon his duties. The new and commodious parsonage being completed the new pastor was the first to occupy it. During the autumn of 1885 the village of Hantsport was visited with a scourge, commonly know as the black fish fever, when many of the members of the church and others were called upon to mourn the death of parents, children and friends. Our pastor, physically weak as he was, was constantly at the bedside of the sick and dying, or speaking words of consolation to the afflicted.

The health of Brother McLean continued to fail so, that in May, 1886, the church granted him a vacation, hoping that a change of climate might improve his health and enable him to resume his labours. After four months’ absence in Southern California he returned … to continue his pastorate until his death, which occurred April 2nd, 1887, much lamented by the church and community. The church was again without a pastor until August, 1887, when Rev. D. Simpson came. He laboured acceptably for one year … Rev. P. S. McGregor accepted a call and has continued a faithful pastor until the present time (1894).”


  1. Property Online (POL) is an internet browser application that provides online access to land ownership and related information collected through the province’s Land Registration Offices and other sources. The Property Online database, which is available to subscribers, contains ownership information, including property maps for the entire province. – Access Nova Scotia
  2. One acre is 43,560 square feet
  3. A rod is 16.5 feet