Fonds MS-4-86 - Powers Brothers fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Powers Brothers fonds

General material designation

  • Graphic material
  • Sound recording
  • Textual record

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Reference code


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1858–1987 (Creation)
    Powers Brothers.

Physical description area

Physical description

24.3 m of textual records. - 52 photographs. - 5 audio discs. - 46 oversize items.

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator

Administrative history

Powers Brothers was established by Frank Powers in 1874, at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Originally the business consisted of a small hardware store and a sheet metal shop; they specialized in tinsmithing, but soon branched out into plumbing. Frank's brother James T. Powers was an early partner in the firm, leaving the business in 1884 to start a hardware store in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

In 1904 Frank Powers' son Archibald F. ("Archie") Powers took over as President, and in 1906 Archie's brother William T. ("W.T.") joined as Secretary-Treasurer. By 1911, the year of Frank's death, the firm was thriving. With continued expansion, the company became incorporated in 1926. By the early 1960s, they had become one of the largest contractors in Nova Scotia and beyond, providing service in the fields of plumbing, heating, air conditioning, hardware, and marine supplies in the Atlantic Provinces and beyond. Their contracts included work on private residences, government buildings, schools, commercial properties, churches, and universities, etc.

Beginning with just a handful of men, the firm grew to have as many as 150 people on the payroll at any given time, with a typical average of 80-100. By 1953 many of the employees had been with the company 25 years and longer. In 1957 Archie Powers was rewarded for the work he has done in his associations by becoming the sole awardee of the simultaneous honours of Honourary Life Chairman of the Nova Scotia Branch and Life Member of the National Association of Master Plumbers and Heating Contractors of Canada, Inc. Frank Powers III and Jack Powers, sons of Frank Powers II, joined the company in 1938 and 1953 respectively, working through the ranks to become Vice-President and Director of the company as of 1957, and ultimately partners at the helm by 1976.

The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1974, and at that time it was believed to be the oldest mechanical contracting firm in Canada. Powers Brothers closed permanently in September 1985.

Murphy and Wharton was a plumbing company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was acquired by Powers Brothers in 1978.

Custodial history

Fonds was acquired in a series of accessions between 1973 and 1988. Items were donated by Jack Powers and, after his death, Mrs. Jack Powers. Accession number 1988-015.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of administrative files, community involvement details, contract records, correspondence, employee records, financial documents, job estimates and job files, legal documents, photographs, plans, printed material, notes on solar heating projects, sound recordings, and union/association documents, as well as a series with material from the Murphy and Wharton Company. This material spans over 100 years from 1858 to 1987, and illustrates how business was conducted (meetings, annual reports, accounting and financial statements) and the relationship with the community (both charitable and with other businesses). There are also very detailed accounts of the work done by the company, from initial quotes through to project planning, blueprints, product literature, and finishing. Together the items demonstrate the organizational structure, management, and operations of the Powers Brothers company. These items provide insight into business operations in Nova Scotia throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The records have been arranged thematically, with order imposed by the processing archivist.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Most records are open.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related materials


Further accruals are not expected.

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Name access points

Control area

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions

Rules for Archival Description


Level of detail

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area