Story by Sarah Deveau
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA — Travellers with an interest in the past love Nova Scotia and its rich tapestry of monuments, museums and meticulously preserved architecture. So it’s no wonder that many choose to forego the chain hotels and instead book a stay in one of the province’s numerous historic inns.
These storied establishments are just a few of our favourites across the province (and yes, they all have WiFi).
The Victorian Inn, Antigonish
Built by wealthy merchant Duncan Kirk in the early 1900s, the Victorian Inn was designed by prestigious architect William Critchlow Harris in the Queen Anne style, and is a wonderful example of the turn-of-the-century fascination with ornamentation. In the 1940s the home was sold and served as an annex to the main hospital until the Catholic Church bought the property and used it as the Bishop’s residence for nearly 50 years.
The building was compassionately renovated in 1997, retaining the character and grace throughout, and opened as a bed and breakfast in 1998. Each of the 10 bedrooms and two apartments are decorated in Victorian theme, and the inn itself is surrounded by more than four acres of tranquil parkland.
[box_info]Address: 149 Main Street, Antigonish
Reservations: Telephone 1-800-706-5558 (toll free) or 1-902-863-1103
Room Rates: Nightly rates range from $130-$175, depending on season and room type.
Waverley Inn, Halifax
A downtown landmark, the Waverley Inn was built by merchant Edward W. Chipman. The home was one of the most expensive and extravagant homes at the time it was completed in 1866, and was the site of numerous high-society social events. A change in fortune resulted in the house being turned over to the Sheriff of Halifax in 1870.
The property was bought by a real estate speculator, who in turn sold it to two sisters. They turned the residence into the Waverly Hotel in 1876 and it has remained a commercial business ever since. Guests have included famed Irish poet Oscar Wilde, P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus and financier George Vanderbilt.
While the inn underwent extensive renovations in the 1960s, it retains much of the original charm and Victorian period antiques.
[box_info]Address: 1266 Barrington Street, Halifax
Reservations: Telephone 1-800-565-9346 (toll free) or 1-902-423-9346
Room Rates: September nightly rates begin at $159. Rates vary by season and room type.
DesBarres Manor Inn, Guysborough
In Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, the stately DesBarres Manor Inn in the seaside village of Guysborough was built in 1837 for Supreme Court Justice W.F. DesBarres in a rare Egyptian revival style. Justice DesBarres was the eldest grandson of Joseph Frederick Wallet DesBarres, an army officer, military engineer, surveyor, colonizer and colonial administrator. The inn features several of DesBarres’ rare maps in the Parlour Room as well as other leading cartographers.
The residence was restored as a luxury inn in 2004, and careful attention was paid to every detail. A highlight of the property is the grand deck and gazebo that overlook six beautiful acres.
[box_info]Address: 90 Church Street, Guysborough
Reservations: Telephone 1-888-933-2099 (toll free) or 1-902-533-2099
Room Rates: Bed and Breakfast rates range from $139-$259, depending on season and room type.
Mariner King Inn, Lunenburg
The Mariner King Inn majestically stands in the heart of Old Town Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That honour was bestowed on the locale because it is the best-preserved example of an 18th-century British colonial town plan in North America. The inn, built in 1830, has undergone extensive renovations that have restored the old and melded it with the needs of today’s traveller. The Mariner King has three rooms and two suites in the original building, while the Cranberry and Candy Apple additions add six suites and three rooms with a more contemporary, mariner theme in mind.
In 1830, Dr. Charles Bolman marked the coronation of King William IV of England (known as the Mariner King) by constructing one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture at the time. Sold to sea merchant John Zwicker six years later, the Zwicker family Victorianized the home in the fashionable Italianate style in the 1870s.
Incredibly, the Zwicker family retained ownership of the home until 1953, when it began a series of new beginnings as apartments, a rooming house, a home for the elderly, offices and a restaurant. It has been operating as an inn for 25 years, undergoing renovations in 2007 to restore and beautify it in the original Victorian style.
[box_info]Address: 15 King Street, Lunenburg
Reservations: Telephone 1-800-565-8509 (toll free) or 1-902-634-8509
Room Rates: Standard rates for a weekend night in September start at $152.