About Us

We are a small community museum run by a registered non-profit charity, Mahone Bay Founders Society, which is led by a Board of dedicated volunteers and a small staff.

The Mahone Bay Museum is located on unceded land in the territory of Mi’kma’ki. ‘L’Nu’k,’ meaning ‘the people’ in the Mi’kmaw language, have occupied and honoured these lands for over 10,000 years. For more information about our Mi’kmaw history, click here.

Our Mission: The Mahone Bay Museum protects and provides on-site and online access to the history of the Mahone Bay area to save it from becoming forgotten or lost for the benefit of future generations.
Our Mandate: The Mahone Bay Museum focuses on the history of Mahone Bay and surrounding areas of Blockhouse, Clearland, Martins River, Oakland, Strum Island, Indian Point, Maders Cove, Westhaver’s Island, Fauxburg, and Big Lots. (Note: History and items from other areas may be considered on a case by case basis if they have another connection to Mahone Bay and its surrounding area).

Our Latest Annual Reports

Click the document title below to view a pdf of our Annual Reports
2022-2023 Mahone Bay Founders Society AGM Annual Report
2021-2022 Mahone Bay Founders Society AGM Annual Report

2020-2021 Mahone Bay Founders Society AGM Report
2019-2020 Mahone Bay Founders Society AGM report

Our 2024 Board of Directors:

Anne Palfreyman, Tracey Sayer, Kody Dagley, Antoinette Bouchet, Annette St-Onge, Dr. Kenneth Paulsen, Kathleen Fischback, Dr. Sandra Barney, and Joan Russo.

Interested in volunteering with us as a Board Member, Committee Member, or Museum Host? You can fill out our online volunteer application form by clicking here

Our Staff:

Lyne's picture for bioLyne was hired in Spring 2016 as our Manager and Curator. Lyne graduated with Honours in Anthropology from Saint Mary’s University in 2011, completed a Certificate in Arts Management in Quebec in 2012, and graduated from the University of Toronto with a Masters Degree in Museum Studies in 2014. Over the years, Lyne has worked at the Joggins Fossil Institute as an Interpreter and Administrative Intern, at the Museum of Natural History as a Marketing Assistant, and volunteered at the Toronto Railway Museum. She spent a couple years out West, where she managed a Volunteer Centre in Alberta and worked as a Marketing Assistant and Visitor Services Representative at the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame before deciding to return to the Maritimes. Lyne is now living on the South Shore and thrilled to be part of Mahone Bay’s community.

History the Goldfish – Official Mascot
Energetic and flashy, History has been living his dream for several years now, and runs our social media.  Check out our FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube pages to see what he’s been up to or visit him in person!

Each summer, with apply for help from the Government of Canada’s Young Canada Works and Canada Summer jobs programs and the Provincial Government’s NS Student Summer Skills Incentive program, to hire youth with interest in history and museums. You can view photos of our staff teams in our hall of fame on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MahoneBayMuseum/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10157937940724030

Our Committees and Organizational Chart:

View our organizational chart with out list of committees here:
Mahone Bay Founders Society Organizational Chart -Oct 2020

Our History:

The history of the Mahone Bay Museum begins in 1979. The Mahone Bay Founders Society formed in 1979 to organize the celebration of Mahone Bay’s 225th Anniversary of the settlement in 1754. Included amongst the festivities was a re-enactment of the landing of the first settlers in 1754.

Various members in the community worked together to plan this event. Afterwards, the Founders Society started collecting and borrowing items to display in small exhibits. These exhibits were first housed during the summer months in the Pioneer Hall, located in the basement of Trinity United Church. However, the Society was determined to have a permanent home to open a permanent museum.

In the 1980s, the Society became actively involved in discussions regarding the disbursement of a major collection of antiques gathered by the local Inglis/Quinlan family. The society acted as a resource body to the Nova Scotia Museum and as the guardians of the collection during the negotiations and transferal of the purchased items from the Percy Inglis/Clara Quinlan collection.

Percy Inglis was born in 1875 and attended King’s College in Windsor, N.S. After completing his education, Percy returned home to Mahone Bay to work in his father’s store, which was known as the C.J. Inglis store, with his sister Grace. When his father died in 1915, Percy assumed full responsibility for the business and it became known as the Percy W. Inglis store. He expanded the merchandise of the store to include fine china, locally hooked rugs, and floral arrangements. Percy was named a local notary republic and from the store issued marriage licenses, witnessed deeds and other legal documents. In his spare time Percy became an avid collector of fine antique china and furniture, and occasionally offered interested visitors tours of his house to view his collection. When he passed away in 1950, his niece Clara Quinlan returned to Mahone Bay to care for her mother Grace and to run the family business previously managed by her uncle Percy. Clara also continued her uncle’s tradition of showing visitors around the family home to view his china collection. Clara owned the home, the business, and kept the collection until 1985. In 1986, the Mahone Bay Founders Society purchased a small selection and the Nova Scotia Museum purchased a large selection from the collection of china and antique furniture from the Percy Inglis/Clara Quinlan home. However, our Founders Society had hopes that the Nova Scotia Museum’s items from the collection could stay in Mahone Bay.

The Nova Scotia Museum staff numbered and photographed the purchased Percy Inglis/Clara Quinlan items and packed it up for storage with assistance from volunteers from the Founders Society. The collection was then temporarily stored in the back area of the Town Hall. Wanting to keep this incredible collection in its hometown, the Society increased their efforts to find an available facility to develop into a Museum in the hopes that the Nova Scotia Museum would loan them some of the Inglis/Quinlan collection. While still searching for a permanent home, they hosted a small, temporary exhibit in the summer of 1987 in a house owned by Betty & Earl Wood in Mahone Bay.

Later that same year, the Society purchased the house located at 578 Main Street, known as the Begin Family Home, which was later designated a Municipally Registered Property in 1989. Our volunteers launched themselves into a fundraising telethon and renovations campaign to help cover the costs to prepare building ready to open as the Settlers Museum in 1988 with a large portion of the Inglis/Quinlan collection on loan to them from the Nova Scotia Museum.

In the 1990’s, volunteers from our Founders Society spent countless hours assisting the Nova Scotia Museum Staff cataloguing the Percy Inglis/Clara Quinlan collection under the expert tutelage of Marie Elwood, Chief Curator of History for the Nova Scotia Museum.

The Begin family house was built around 1874 for a man named Benjamin Begin, a descendant of Jacques Begin, who came to Lunenburg area from Europe as part of the planned British settlement of 1753. Three generations of the Begin Family lived in this house from 1874 to 1959. The home is a wood frame structure that features a central five-sided dormer entryway forming a “Lunenburg bump” that was added around 1880. On the inside of the home, two areas of the ceiling have paintings on them and also marbling on the faux fireplace. There is also a kitchen with a hearth that is made from bricks, which includes a built-in bread or bake oven. An addition on the back of the house allowed Benjamin, and later his son Charles, to make sails on the property. Charles was a member of the crew of riggers who installed the masts and fitted the rigging and sails on the famous “Bluenose” in Lunenburg. Around 1910, Charles relocated the family sail making business to a larger building on the waterfront. The addition on the back of the home was shortened and the half storey was expanded to a full second storey to expand the living areas.

Nowadays, the upstairs is home to our research library and archival collection. The main floor contains four rooms with exhibits, children’s programming areas, and a small gift shop.

In 2015, the Mahone Bay Settlers Museum received feedback from our community and decided to rebrand as the Mahone Bay Museum and focus on other aspects of Mahone Bay’s history beyond the settlers and Inglis/Quinlan collection. Our name changed to Mahone Bay Museum and we began to develop exhibits on shipbuilding, the 1754 Settler Families of Mahone Bay, the Begin Family and house history, the three churches of Mahone Bay, and more.

Recently, we have added small short-term exhibits on antique toys, kitchen tools, the Second World War and Mahone Bay’s veterans. We are currently working on developing a local Folklore Exhibit and a Mi’kmaq History exhibit.

However, we always find room to display at least a small amount of the Percy Inglis/Clara Quinlan collection, as an important piece of the Museum’s history. Without that collection spurring the Mahone Bay Founders Society to develop a permanent Museum, we might not be here today.

The following are the original members of the Mahone Bay Founders Society:
Hilda Burgoyne
Shirley & Franklyn Burgoyne
Ernestine & Edward Cochran
Maxine & Bruce Cochran
Robert Cox
Isobel Crossland
Beverly & William Dye
Kaye & John Gascoigne
William Hayes
Marion & Alan Langille
Audrey & Philip Lohnes
Elizabeth & Myrnah MacDonald
Barbara & Erc Miller
Marilyn & Dail Millet
Phyllis & Enos Nauss
Lila & Michael O’Connor
Cathy Slauenwhite-Nowe
Arlean Smeltzer
Philip Smeltzer
Gordon Stewart
Carolyn Davis-Stewart
Jacqueline & Herlan Whynot
Elizabeth & Earl Wood
Deirdre & Don Larson


Renovating the museum

grand_openingIn 1987, the Founder’s Society purchased the Begin Home. Our volunteers then launched themselves into a renovations campaign, as well as spending countless hours washing, numbering, photographing and packing the collection under the expert tutelage of Marie Elwood and the staff at the Nova Scotia Museum. The Mahone Bay Museum officially opened its doors as the Settlers Museum in 1988. The museum building itself is now owned by the Founders Society.

Our museum is partially funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage through the Community Museum Assistance Program (see our Annual Report’s financial statements above) and the remainder of our funds is raised by our Society and members of the community. Click here to see our supporters.