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Kings County Museum


Accession number: 2015.003.027
Object subtype: Container
Date: circa 1778
Materials: Flax or canvas
Measurements: 35 cm L x 36 cm W x 35 cm H
Culture: New England Planter
Narrative: A History of the Barracks

The Barracks is valued for its Georgian style, age and for its role in the settlement of the area. Between 1760 and 1763 a group of settlers from New England, known as the Planters, arrived in Nova Scotia. Shortly after the American Revolution began, coastal Nova Scotian towns feared raids from American privateers. To protect settlers in the Cornwallis area, the colonial government built The Barracks on a piece of land belonging to Samuel Starr, a Planter from Norwich, Connecticut and militia officer. The building was erected close to the militia parade grounds and served as a temporary residence for militiamen who came from a distance to train. It was constructed in three phases over eighteen years. The first section was built in 1778 as a one-and-one-half-storey, two-room building with a loft above, and could accommodate forty men. The building was expanded later that year with the addition of a larger two-and-one-half-storey building on the east elevation, possibly constructed using an existing house frame. The complex now offered room for fifty-six men, storage, infirmary and an officers’ quarters in the original smaller building.
It was sold by the government in 1780 after the threat of American privateers had ended and again by Samuel Starr in 1782 to John Widden, an influential Planter who was a militia officer, judge in the Court of Common Pleas, and a Customs Officer, who operated the Customs Office from the building. A third addition, another half storey, was added in 1796 following the sale of the property to David Whidden. The Barracks passed through the Whidden family until 1849. Since that time The Barrack has continued to function as a residence and later an inn.
Following the third addition, the building took on a decidedly Georgian appearance with a central entrance, five bay symmetrical façade and two large chimneys. The building has changed very little since its final alteration in 1796.

*Information provided courtesy of Canada’s Historic Places Registry (

“The story continues…

In 1850, Joseph Whidden, youngest son of David Whidden senior was named administrator of the John Whidden estate and records state “the personal estate of John Whidden is insufficient for payment of debts due to and owing by said estate and is deemed necessary that the administrator of the same have leave to pick up and sell at public auction the real estate of the said deceased.” This was given thirty days notice in the newspaper, “The Royal Gazette”, in Halifax with the property to go to the highest bidder. The auction was held on March 23, 1850 with the highest bidder being James Heales.
In 1869 Charles Heales, a ship’s carpenter from new Brunswick, purchased the property for 225 pounds. Mr. Heales had a wooden leg. At one point he sold a piece of land to a member of the Starr family. The price of the land immediately went up, but the bargain was sealed, and as Mr. Heales felt he should have more, the two families were not on good terms. As Charles got older, he spent his winters in Saint John, and New Brunswick, and after his death, his widow remained there.
Around 1921, Mr. H.J.B. (Jack) Marriott from London, England, visited the area staying with the Crawley family. He saw the house was vacant, became interested and in 1921 purchased the property, consisting of the house and six acres of orchard from Alicia De V. Heales, daughter of Charles Heales. The Marriott family resided there for many years and Mr. Marriott left in 1984 at the age of 96 and entered a nursing home where he remained until his death on December 28, 1986. By his interest in drama, music, and photography Mr. Marriott contributed much to the cultural life of the community.
Allen and Jennie Sheito purchased the property in 1973, but Mr. Marriott was entitled to quiet enjoyment of the lands and premises as long as he lived. After Mr., Marriott left the property in 1984 the Sheitos began to restore the building, initially as a private home for themselves. It soon became evident that the Barracks represented a relatively intact piece of Planter history, hence other options were studied and it was possible to retain much of the integrity of the original structure. In 1987 the building was open to the public as a six room bed and breakfast inn. The adjacent Customs House had been essentially rebuilt as it was beyond restoration. The Barracks was designated a Provincial Heritage Property in 1986 and the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia awarded the Sheito’s with a Built Heritage Award in 1992.

Today the Barracks is once more a bed and breakfast.

*Information courtesy of Jennie and Allen Sheito.
Description: Hand sewn bag made of heavy coarse woven material with brown wooden handles. Bag has square bottom and opens into a square shape. Inner fabric lid closes with metal buttons.