A Trip to Ross Farm, by Leenie Brown

A Trip to Ross Farm, by Leenie Brown

This past August, I was fortunate enough to have my dad and youngest sister come for a visit. It really was a special treat since I don’t get to see them very often, and they have only ever been up to visit me a total of three times in the past twenty or so years. (South Dakota is a long way from Nova Scotia, after all.)  Anyway, while they were here, we, of course, did some sight-seeing.  One of the places we visited was Ross Farm Museum.  This is a living heritage farm, where interpreters dress in period clothing and perform tasks that would have been part of everyday life back when the farm was established by Captain William Ross in 1816.

Captain Wiliam Ross was originally from Cork, Ireland and became a member of the 16th Regiment of Foot during the Napoleonic Wars.  It was during the War of 1812 that Lieutenant Ross and his family moved to Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec.  From there, he transferred to the Nova Scotia Fencibles and received a captaincy.  The Nova Scotia Fencibles were under orders at that time for Halifax to be disbanded.  The Earl of Dalhousie, Governor of Nova Scotia, persuaded Captain Ross to take charge of a group of 172 former soldiers (My story brain wonders if one of them could have been a banished Wickham?) with the purpose of clearing forest and establishing a settlement at Sherbrooke (now named New Ross) in Lunenburg County. The men were given land grants and three years of provisions for undertaking the task.  Captain Ross received 800 acres, and it is on this land where you will find Ross Farm which is now part of the Nova Scotia Museum.

Below are some of the pictures that I took when visiting with my father in August as well as a couple from when my husband took me there for their Christmas in the Country in early December.

This is the original hearth that is starting to show definite signs of wear. When we were there, they were still using it to cook.




This is a courting candle holder. That heart on the handle, when turned, will raise or lower the candle. If the parents liked you, they would raise the candle so that you would have a longer time to stay.


The cooper was busy making barrels, but he took time to answer questions and tell us about the barrels in his shop as well as the process to make them.



We took this wagon ride down by the lake and got off for a bit at the blacksmith and cooper’s shops. That’s my hubby sitting on the wagon waiting.


This is the stove in the summer kitchen being used to heat apple cider. One of the ladies at the cottage was good enough to let me see her clothing up close and described the layers she was wearing. It is all hand stitched and the stitches were so small, even, and straight.


The door between the piano and the writing desk in the sitting room leads to what is called the stranger chamber. This is where travellers could find a place to sleep. It was also used for a sick room and for birthing.


This is the fenced area on the side of the chicken coop.


Sadly, Captain Ross never got to spend much time at Rosebank Cottage.  One night, when trying to locate where a road from the settlement to Halifax should be made, he was caught in an autumn rainstorm and spent the night with only a soggy log for his pillow. This exposure to the elements caused him to become very ill, and eventually, he succumbed to a violent disease in the spring of 1822 at the age of 39, leaving behind his wife and six young children. The farm remained in the care of Captain Ross’s family and descendants until it was transferred to the Province of Nova Scotia in 1970.

Rosebank Cottage, built in 1816
A couple of things before you go:

First, if you would like to see more pictures of the farm, you can find them here on the Ross Farm Museum website.If you like pictures as much as I do, I would recommend taking a look since their pictures are better than mine and span the seasons.

Second, one of the sources that I read while trying to refresh my memory about the story the wagon driver told us as we toured the farm can be found here. It is called a History of the County of Lunenburg and was published in 1895. I found this source particularly enjoyable since it was written so close to when the events took place.


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6 Responses to A Trip to Ross Farm, by Leenie Brown

  1. Eileen, I love places like this. Living Villages, so to speak. We have one not too far from us here in Indiana and all the local elementary school kids often have a field day there. How nice for your family to make the visit. Visual history is so fun. Jen

    • I love them, too, Jen. Both of my sons had the opportunity to visit a living village for a three-day experience of living in the past when they were in grade six. I have some lovely pictures of them in period-esque costume and performing various tasks like sewing and working in the blacksmith shop. My husband even got to go along as a chaperone with my eldest and had to dress in the time period clothing. Lots of fun and great educational experiences for sure!

  2. Wonderful info. This interesting to me because both my parents are from Nova Scotia, though their from Cape Britton island near Sydney. The house in your pic looks just like my grand parents house including the fence. Thanks for a lovely history.

    • Oh, Cape Breton is beautiful, although I have not spent a great deal of time there. Often we just pass through on our way to the Newfoundland ferry. 🙂 I would love to visit the highlands and Louisbourg, but life never seems to give me the time for such a trip. Maybe this year?

    • You’re welcome, Debbie. 🙂 I love living history museums, too. It is such a great way to gain a better understanding of what life was like. This museum has moved a small one-room school onto its land from down the road. It looks like it could only fit about ten students, but I have been told there were more and the parents would pile in to watch programs there.

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