About Ottawa House Museum

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The Ottawa House By-The-Sea Museum is owned and operated by the Parrsborough Shore Historical Society. Ottawa House represents an important segment of Cumberland County’s history at the time of Confederation and illustrates mid-eighteenth century architecture, economic and cultural development. It is believed to be the oldest building on the Parrsboro Shore and one of the oldest in the province of Nova Scotia.

The museum is a member of the Association of Nova Scotia Museums and the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. The Museum also houses impressive genealogical and archival resources. Our goal is to have materials available as a valuable resource for all types of researchers. This will contribute to the online database, named MemoryNS, through Council of Nova Scotia Archives (CNSA).

With the support of volunteers, donors and contributions from all levels of government, the building has been renovated extensively and restored to much of its former glory.


Ottawa House is a 2 ½ storey wood-frame house, the central core of which was built in the 1780s in the Georgian style. The exterior has undergone some changes, including an additional wing and the addition of another building moved to the site and attached at the side. Many original interior and historic elements remain, such as fireplaces, hand-hewn beams, and lathe work. The original beams have been exposed in the hall and stairway.

Museum Artifacts

Ottawa House contains many items from the past including tools, glass, china and furniture. It also contains a transportation display and many models of seafaring vessels.

A “Tupper Suite” is devoted to the era of Sir Charles Tupper, who named it “Ottawa House-By-The-Sea” in honour of Nova Scotia’s entry into Confederation.

Notable Occupants

  • James Ratchford, who became a leading merchant in the area.
  • Cumberland Railway and Coal Company and its successors.
  • Sir Charles Tupper, who was a Premier of Nova Scotia, Father of Confederation and sixth Prime minister of Canada. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1879.
  • Captain Carl Merriam, who ran a hotel and dance pavilion and is believed to have operated a rum-running business from this property.