The town of Hantsport, incorporated in 1895, today has 1254 citizens. The growth of 19th century shipbuilding was helped by Fundy’s tides, which gave Hantsport one of the world’s few Natural Dry Docks. From the Public Wharf you can look down river to the former site of the Churchill & Sons shipyard which is now the location of the Minas Basin Pulp and Power and CKF Inc. The faithful old tug, the Otis Wack, guides ocean-going gypsum freighters to the dock. From Fundy Gypsum Centennial Park, you can watch as ships load up to 24,000 tons of gypsum in less than 3 hours before sailing on the high tide, which has just risen between 50 and 60 feet.
The community was first called Halfway River for its position midway between Pisiquid (Windsor) and Grand Pre. In 1849 it was renamed by Ezra Churchill since it was the chief seaport of Hants County. Hants County was named in 1781 for the colloquial expression for England’s Hampshire, and was divided into the municipalities of East Hants and West Hants.
Fundy Gypsum Company, Canadian Keyes Fibre, Minas Basin Pulp and Power, and Octopus Diagnostics are companies located in this pleasant town nestled in the beautiful Annapolis Valley, midway between Windsor and Wolfville on Highway # 1. The business district of Hantsport is located along Main and Williams Streets. Services include restaurants, bank, post office, drug store, liquor store, hardware store, clothing and antiques. Located just outside of the town, Bishopville is a small community which boasts a one room school house built in 1875a century old Baptist Church still is use today and is the home of the Horton Reserve.
Churchill House – “The Cedars”
contains the Marine Memorial Room Museum and is home to the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre. In 1860, Senator Ezra Churchill, owner of Churchill & Sons shipyards, built the house for his son John. In 1966 the house was restored to the glory of its classic 19 century architecture.
The Marine Memorial Room was established as a memorial to this seafaring era and has on display ship models and mementos to commemorate men and ships of Hantsport’s past. During summer months the house is open to the public. A Portuguese stowaway, Francis da Silva, painted murals on the walls of the Red Carriage House and the basement of the main house depicting everyday life, politics, seafaring traditions and scenery. The carriage house murals have been relocated to the Nova Scotia Art Gallery Folk Art Collection (in Halifax) but visitors can still see de Silva’s work on the basement walls of the main house.
The William Hall V.C. Memorial
On the lawn of the Hantsport United Baptist Church as you enter the town.
William Hall, the first black and the first Canadian to win the Victorian Cross, is buried in Hantsport. He was born in Nova Scotia, and was the son of an escaped Virginia slave. In the Indian Mutiny, during the Relief of Lucknow, Hall continued to use the heavy naval guns, even after the rest of the gun crew was killed, until the wall was breached and stormed.
Robert Pope Foundation Gallery
339 Hwy 1, Hantsport
Gallery with a panoramic view of the Avon River exhibits Robert Pope’s groundbreaking series “Illness and Healing: Images of Cancer”. Studio and fibre works of Janet Pope also on site. Rates: No charge Open: July 1 to August 31