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Birthplace of Ice Hockey
Windsor,  Nova  Scotia, Canada – c. 1800
by Garth Vaughan © 2001
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Long Pond at Clifton

Haliburton’s Home,
Clifton Grove

The View (Haliburton)
Building Clifton – Penny
Hale 1926
Denis 1934
Hale 1952
Museum Information

Pictures of Clifton

Long Pond at Clifton



Clifton 1926 by Dorothy StevensKatherine Hale –
Clifton, Windsor, Nova Scotia 1952

…Windsor. There another of Nova Scotia’s famous houses has been taken under the care of the government of the Province, which is doing so much to preserve the life and records of the houses of Nova Scotia that were symbolic of people who gave much of their own distinction to the life around them.

Judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a dominant character in the judicial life of his day, was known to the world of literature chiefly by his famous fictional character, "Sam Slick the Clockmaker." He was born in Windsor and lived in "Clifton" (the house which he built) for twenty-five years. The house shows him to have been a gentleman of taste. It’s simple line, very well described as a "spacious durably constructed wooden villa," and was entirely in accord with its surroundings and the temper of the life it sheltered. The Judge was a man of many parts, "historian, jurist, legislator," as the plaque at the entrance gate puts it, and he belonged heart and soul to the little town where he was born, and to the house that he created and loved, where most of his important writing was done.

His literary career, which ran parallel with his life as a circuit judge, and later as a judge of the Supreme Court, began with historical sketches which Joseph Howe printed in the Novascotian. Later he turned to social satire as a means of describing not only his own countrymen but some of the quaint characters from outside who, like Sam Slick the Yankee pedlar [peddler], perambulated the country selling their wares.

The quiet village, the dignified little house, its entrance marked by a keeper’s lodge and a pair of ornamental gates, and the extensive grounds were a perfect setting for the life of an author. Haliburton and his wife were devoted and determined gardeners. A fruit and flower garden was surrounded by a hawthorn hedge and crossed by pathways edged with box. There were pathways through the thin wood leading up to his hill, and shaded walks to the haunted Piper’s Pond – where it is said a Highland piper was drowned as he fell in after an evening of too much celebration.

I can never dissociate Judge Haliburton and his house from the picture of this town, in so many ways an essence of Nova Scotian atmosphere. Here is a reminder of the late years of the seventeenth century, when the Acadians built the dykes that reclaimed the rich marshlands where the Canadian Avon rushes up its tidal lane and brings in the Atlantic. There stands the small brown blockhouse on its little hill, still guarding the site of Fort Edward; and the shady streets and comfortable houses look very much as they did years ago.

But "Clifton," always the pride of the town, was in no sort of shape when I first saw it. It had passed through many hands since Haliburton left it to live in England nearly a century ago, and all traces of his ownership were gradually disappearing when the Nova Scotia government rescued it from what was the beginning of decay. It was thoroughly renovated, and any furnishings belonging to the Haliburtons were patiently sought for and acquired. It is amazing the way these apparently lost possessions sometimes return to their own setting from unexpected sources. "Clifton" looks all alive now under the supervision of its curator, Miss Florence Anslow, who loves and understands the place.

One of its interesting architectural features is the two little stairways that ascend from right and left in the hall and lead to separate apartments. There are several interesting portraits. One, in the reception room, was painted in 1940 by Sir Wyly Grier, who created his own setting; it shows the author on the lawn at the back of the house. He is engaged in writing and several sheets of his manuscript have fallen on the grass beside his sun hat. Sir Wyly, I understand, painted from an etching. At any rate, he shows Haliburton as a young man, and there is a delightful freshness and vitality about the depiction. In the hall there is also a very colourful portrait of the Judges youngest son, Arthur Lawrence, in his Peer’s robes. He was created a baron in 1898.

The library is of course a room of special interest. Here are the Judge’s desk, his wing-chair, sofa, and bookcases. Over the mantel is another Haliburton portrait painted by and English artist, probably William Valentyne, who came out of England to Halifax. Showing the same subject in later life is a likeness in coloured crayons, a beautiful piece of work, and a third portrait is a small oval picture by Betham – this also in later years. Madam Haliburton’s prayer chair in this room is a relic of the days of family devotions. Miss Anslow, when I was there, had just recieved from the Countess of Mayo, who lives in Edinburgh and is the great-granddaughter of Judge Haliburton, photographic copies of portraits of his mother, and also Susanna [Lusanna] Otis of Boston, his great-grandmother.

Excerpt From:
Historic Houses of Canada
by Katherine Hale
With Drawings by Dorothy Stevens
Ryerson Press, Toronto 1952
HRL 917.1 G24h

pg 58 – 61


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