The West Hants Historical Society was established in 1973 as a volunteer, not-for-profit organization. The Society grew out of the Fort Edward Restoration Committee, which successfully campaigned to open the blockhouse at Fort Edward to the public. The first meeting of the West Hants Historical Society was held on April 13, 1973, in the Windsor Court House. Twenty-five people attended and Roland E. Meuse was elected as the Society’s first president. On September 25, 1973, the Society was incorporated under the Societies Act of Nova Scotia. On June 1, 1978, the blockhouse officially opened.
In 1984, the West Hants Historical Society opened its first museum on the second floor of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation Building on Water Street in Windsor; this building has since been torn down. It soon became obvious that a larger space was needed, so Trinity United Church was purchased from the Independent Order of Oddfellows on November 28, 1990. The church is now a designated Municipal Heritage Property.
The West Hants Historical Society now manages a collection of over 1,000 artifacts and has approximately 75 members. The Society runs a seasonal museum, archives, and research library as well as a genealogy department, which is open year-round. The museum displays the cultural history of Windsor – one of the oldest European settlements in Nova Scotia – including exhibits on household, industrial, and shipping technologies of a bygone era. The WHHS library contains a large variety of resources including family histories, local newspapers and obituaries, graveyard headstone inscriptions, school registers, community histories, maps, scrapbooks, genealogies and photographs. The Society encourages local schools, day camps, and other organizations to visit the museum. From June through to August, they provide guided tours and special activities. The Society also provides a summer guide service at the Fort Edward Blockhouse, now a National Historic Site and the oldest surviving structure of its kind in Canada.
Areas of special interest covered by West Hants Historical Society collections include:
○ Arrival of the Acadians in 1684 and founding of many villages in the area, and Sainte-Famille Cemetery.
○ Building of the Fort Edward Blockhouse in 1750 and the founding of the town of Windsor.
○ Arrival of the Planters in 1760 and the founding of Falmouth and Newport Townships.
○ First Agricultural Fair held in 1765 at the Blockhouse Hill.
○ Founding of King’s College by Loyalists in 1788 (which later moved to Halifax).
○ The history of many local industries – shipbuilding, gypsum mines, railways (1857), Furniture Factory, and Windsor Wear Clothing.
○ The Great Fire of 1897 that destroyed the whole town.
○ Military training at Fort Edward during World War 1, including the Jewish Legion in 1918.
○ And Windsor is believed by some to be the birthplace of hockey.
Explore the rich history of Windsor-West Hants inside Trinity United Church, one of the fascinating gems of the Town of Windsor!