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Ross-Thomson House

9 Charlotte Lane, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/08/04

Ross-Thomson House, Shelburne, stor - front elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Store Elevation
Ross-Thomson House, Shelburne, residential entrance, 2004; Heritage Division, Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Main Entrance to House
Ross-Thomson House, Shelburne, store and house Perspective, 2004.; Heritage Division, Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Store and House Perspective

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1785/01/01 to 1786/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/08/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Built in 1785-1786, the Ross-Thomson house is a large two-and-a-half storey, wood framed structure with a gable roof at the south end and gambrel roof at the north. The former shop and residence was built with its narrow end facing one of Shelburne's main streets. A residential extension was connected to the original structure by one door at ground level. Both the building and its surrounding property are included in the heritage designation.

Heritage Value

Historical Value:

The historical value of the Ross-Thomson House is associated with its builders and earliest residents. It was built between 1785 and 1786 by brothers George and Robert Ross. The brothers came to Shelburne as Loyalists wanting to escape the American Revolution, as did many of Shelburne’s earliest settlers. The brothers operated an international trading business from the house, ran a small store for local residents, and lived in the residential rear section of the building. In 1815 the store was sold to the brother's former clerk Robert Thomson whose son Robert Ross Thomson continued to operate a store there until his death in 1880. Robert Ross Thomson served for a time as Shelburne’s post master and the post office was located in the store. He also was a lieutenant-colonel of the local militia in the late 1860s, during the Fenian raids, and the room above the store was used at that time as the militia room. The building is currently operated as a museum.

Architectural Value:

The Ross-Thomson house is valued for its age, as a typical example of buildings constructed during the first years of Loyalist settlement in the area, and as the only remaining eighteenth century store in Nova Scotia. It reflects the history of trade and commerce in Nova Scotia and its contribution to the development of Shelburne. The building also shows a New England architectural influence, typical of many of Nova Scotia's earliest homes.

Source: Nova Scotia Provincial Registry, Heritage Property Program, file no. 016.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Ross-Thomson House include:

- form and massing of the store and the house;
- heavy plank doors, studded, barred and double-locked;
- windows flashed with birch bark cut only in north and west sides of house except for small window high in east wall;
- wood construction on granite foundation;
- fireplace in store with mouldings reminiscent of Italian art recorded 300 years earlier;
- mouldings in Scottish styles and shapes recorded 500 years earlier;
- mail slot in the shutter of north window;
- early hardware.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type




Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

The financial records of the Ross-Thomson store are held by Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management, MG1 vol.911-913A.

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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