Ottawa House Museum

We are very happy to be celebrating the life and times of Sir Charles Tupper at the Ottawa House Museum this season. Sir Charles Tupper was noted for being an accomplished pharmacist, physician and true Nova Scotian as one of the Father's of Confederation from Cumberland County.  Dedicated to his political career he was a noted supporter of confederation, Premier of Nova Scotia, Commissioner to the Queen and Prime minister of Canada.  Sir Charles Tupper was also instrumental in the founding of free school for all children and the railway coming into Nova Scotia.

This being the 100th anniversary of the passing of Sir Charles Tupper, we will be focusing on many new events and displays at the museum. 

Please call the museum at 254-2376 and talk to one of our helpful and friendly staff for featured events and info.

Parrsborough Shore Historical Society Update


Our summer season here at Ottawa House is now upon us.  We wish to take this opportunity to update our valued members by attaching a copy of the summer schedule, as well as a copy of our 2015 membership renewal form, for those of you that haven't renewed already.


With the announcement of the Legacy Fund, through the Federal Government  comes the huge task of planning for the future of our historic site.  The current board is working hard with professionals making decisions, that are the right fit for insuring that Ottawa House By the Sea Museum and Archives will be available for  future generations to reflect on the past.


In this period of transformation, we ask that we can count on your continued support through your annual membership renewal, and we also welcome anyone who would like to volunteer a few hours of time in whatever capacity you are comfortable with. 



June Wagstaff

Click on the Image below to read the Global Preservation Assessment Report

Click on the Video Below - Enjoy a Guided Historical Tour!

Early settlement at Partridge Island with British blockhouse overlooking the basin


The Ottawa House By-The-Sea Museum is a unique attraction along the Parrsborough Shore.   It contains an assemblage of over 450 artifacts which are on display in an open, visitor friendly environment.    You can walk through the rooms of this historic building, and step from time period to time period, from walking the decks of a schooner to entering the summer boudoir of Mrs Tupper.   From the huge windows overlooking the front verandah you can enjoy the magnificent vista of the Minas Basin with its daily 40 foot tides.

The Ottawa House and the Community of Partridge Island was once a pivotal Crossroads for early travel and commerce on both land and sea.   This site was used as a crossing point by all succeeding waves of human occupants from Native Americans to Acadians, New England Planters, Loyalists, and European Immigrants on up to present times.

The structure as it stands now is a blend of archtectural styles, based on a core structure which has been the subject of intense speculation over the years.   Oral tradition has it that the central 'core' of the building was built in a unique Acadian style of vertical planking which could well make it one of the very few Acadian structures to have survived the expulsion of the Acadians.

Until very recently this had remained as speculation concerning the original building date of the Ottawa House and its builders.  However, Tree Ring analysis done in October of 2005 by Professor Colin Laroque of Mount Allison University strongly suggests that the original center of the building was built in 1773.    He also suggested the belief that while the construction method used is similar to Acadian building methods that the frame structure was reflective of English methods of that period.

It should be noted too, that there has been some confusion created by local oral history concerning the original owner of the building. Most writers of local history in the past have referred to the building as being the home of James Ratchford. This is not completely correct for although he owned the building, his actual residence was a large building on an adjacent lot that survived until fire destroyed it in 1903.
Old site maps and letters refer to the present Ottawa House as the store of James Nobel Shannon.   Shannon was the first merchant at Partridge Island.    He later took into his business, James Ratchford, who eventually succeeded him and became the leading merchant in the area.    Thus there still remains some confusion caused when trying to confirm the construction dates of Ottawa House to the important dates of James Ratchford’s life.   Other pages on this site will explore the history of the early Partridge Island Community, and the owners of the Ottawa House.

This early image shows what appears to be James Ratchford's house adjacent to the Ottawa House (left)
Destroyed by fire:  1903


Through the use of Images, Models, Text, Maps, artefacts and Interpretive Guide Explanations…. Our Museum will give you an understanding of the once great importance of this site to early Maritimes and Canadian History

Feel free to look around, wander through the building, explore our, and your past.     Learn about the background of the Ottawa House itself, the Historical Society and the efforts being made to preserve this piece of our national heritage.

In the other pages of this site you can view exhibit highlights, with some of the stories behind the artifacts, take a virtual tour or discover the policy for contributing to this growing, changing and vibrant collection of pieces of our history.


The museum is a seasonal operation for the Society.   It opens to visitors in late May and stays open as late as possible in the fall, usually until late September or early October.   Entrance Admission is $2.00 which goes toward maintaining the operations of the Museum.

Hours of Operation:    10:00 am - 6:00 pm.   Special tours can be arranged after hours.

Ottawa House Museum By-the-Sea