History and Culture

The Williams Lake area has a long and fascinating history.  Below are some documents, full of rich historical detail, that researchers have written about the region’s lakes, landscapes, and the impact of human activities.

Heather Watts. 1979. Beyond the NW Arm: A local history of Williams Lake.  Compiled for the Williams Lake Conservation Co. 1979




Marcos Zentilli. 2015. Historical importance of the Purcell’s Cove Quarries. Summary Nov. 201, 2015, with photos from NS Archives.

Rachael Nicholls. 2015. Exploring Halifax’s Industrial Heritage: The Williams Lake Historic Corridor Honours thesis in School of Planning Dalhousie University, April 10, 2015 View/Download

Archival photos A set of 12 photos taken over the period 1870 to 1943, e.g., of iceboating on Williams Lake (1920), the Atlantic sugar house (ca. 1900). View/Download

Rachael Groat, 2016. Interpretation Planning for Purcell’s Cove Quarries (Rachael Groat).Bachelor of Community Design Honours Thesis (Dalhousie University. “This project explores the geologic history of the Purcell’s Cove quarries through the lens of interpretation planning, with the intent of establishing the cultural and heritage significance of the site.”
View/Download View/Download Summary
View/Download Thesis

Cole Grabinsky, 2016  Interpretation Planning for Purcell’s Cove Quarries (Cole Grabinsky). Bachelor of Community Design Honours Thesis (Dalhousie University).”This project focuses on the industrial history of the Purcell’s Cove granite quarries and follows an interpretation planning process to identify character defining elements. I collaborated with Rachael Groat who explored the geologic history of this area.”
View/Download Summary
View/Download Thesis

The Halifax Field Naturalists have a set of photos that illustrates the regeneration of vegetation over 16 months after an intense fire swept through forest and barrens in the vicinity of Spryfield, Nova Scotia on April 30, 2009. Note that this article was written some years before the establishment of the Shaw Wildnerness Park on land adjacent to the affected area. There was also a smaller fire on lands between Colpitt and Williams Lakes in 2012.
Regeneration of Forest and Barrens after the Spryfield Fire of April 30, 2009View/Download

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Environmental Planning Studio II. 1995. A Community Study of the Wildlands Area. NSCAD, 36 pages.
“Environmental Planning Studio II set out to prepare background studies to support detailed area planning for the Wildlands [the Backlands]. Our objectives included: 1. to analyze current and historic land uses, including recreational and resource uses of the Wildlands; 2. to determine the attitud es, values and perceptions that community members hold about the Wildlands area.” View/Download

In addition, the following materials are available through libraries, booksellers, or online:

John W. Ragan.1908. Sketches and traditions of the Northwest Arm. McAlpine, Halifax. Available online at Open Library. A facsimile edition was published in 1978 and is available at some used book stores.

Janet Kitz and Gary Castle. 1999. Point Pleasant Park. An illustrated history. Pleasant Point Publishing, Halifax.

Heather Watts and Michele Raymond. 2003. Halifax’s Northwest Arm. An illustrated history. Formac Press, Halifax

Elsie (Purcell) Millington. 2000. Purcell’s Cove. The little place that helped build Halifax City. Self published. ISBN 1-895332-25-7