Fonds MS-4-92 - Bigelow family fonds

Photograph of Officers and Executive of the Halifax Curling Club, 1929-1930 Letter from Carrie (granddaughter) Letter from Caroline Button (Bigalow) Letters from Jean Bigelow (granddaughter) Letter from M.H. Beatrice Bigelow (granddaughter)

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Bigelow family fonds

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  • Architectural drawing
  • Graphic material
  • Technical drawing
  • Textual record

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1865-1976 (Creation)

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Physical description

1.5 m of textual records

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Biographical history

The Bigelow family was involved in shipbuilding in the Kings County region of Nova Scotia for five generations. Amasa Bigelow (1755-1799) arrived in Cornwallis c. 1762 with his New England Planter father and became a ship’s carpenter, later operating a sawmill on Deep Hollows Mountain. He married Roxana Cone in 1775. The eldest of their eleven children, Ebenezer (1776-1860), established a shipyard at Oak Point, Kingsport, where he designed, built and sailed a variety of small vessels. He was married in 1804 to Nancy Rand, with whom he had six children.

Ebenezer Jr. (1815-1899) followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1838 established his own shipyard in Canning, Nova Scotia. Over the next fifty years he was the master builder on 67 ships, from 12-tonne sloops to the 1164-tonne Arbela, designed by his son Gideon.

Ebenezer, Jr. married Waite Sanford in 1834 and had 10 children, three of whom (John, Gideon and Samuel) joined him in the Bigelow Shipyard, eventually taking it over after his death in 1860. They in turn were joined by Ebenezer, Jr.’s grandsons, Scott and Halle, whose vessels included 4 tern schooners and one steamship, the Brunswick (1909). The last ship built in the Bigelow Shipyard was the Cape Blomidon, which was launched in 1919.

Custodial history

The records were held by members of the Bigelow family until they were received by Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections in a number of accessions, dating between 1985 and 1999. Donors included John Robert Bigelow, his sister Laurabel Taylor, and his daughter Mary Skerrett.

Scope and content

Fonds contains the personal and professional records of four generations of the Bigelow family of Nova Scotia. It includes correspondence, legal and financial documents, diaries and memoirs, and photographs that document primarily the family's shipbuilding activities as well as the genealogical interests of John Robert Bigelow.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The fonds comprises six series, reflecting four generations of Bigelows:

Ebenezer Bigelow

Carrie Coalfleet

John Emerson Bigelow

Halle Bigelow

John Robert Bigelow


Some series are further divided into sub-series. Arrangements were created and applied by the archivists.

Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

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No further accruals expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Bigelow family fonds, MS-4-92, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

November 2013

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