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Investigation of a "chamber" in Nova Scotia

Investigation of a “Chamber” in Nova Scotia

Whenever I attend the NEARA conference I'm often asked if we have any "chambers" in Atlantic Canada. For anyone new to NEARA who is not familiar with a "chamber", they are underground rooms with stone walls, a stone roof, and a stone doorway. These "chambers" can be found throughout New England. They are controversial because some of them are believed to be pre-Columbian, while others are clearly Colonial in origin; but a lot of them are hotly debated as to which is which. The Colonial ones are typically root cellars, spring houses (actually built over a spring or a brook), ossuaries, powder houses, or tool sheds.

The historic record in Nova Scotia talks about a number of such colonial structures, but the ones I've checked so far have not survived. For example, Ozwald Eastwood was supposed to have had a root cellar or spring house near his cranberry farm in Bedford; as far as I can tell, this no longer exists. There was also supposed to have been a spring house or root cellar on the Sieur de la Bouladerie estate on Cape Breton Island; I’m told it probably still exists, but myself and others who are interested have been unable to locate it so far. I don't know about any in the other Maritime Provinces, however there are some very interesting ones in Newfoundland.

The village of Elliston, Newfoundland, has 135 root cellars, some almost 200 years old. They also have a great website all about them. http://www.rootcellars.com/

Click on one of the two root cellar "doors" to enter the web site, the select "Root Cellars" from the menu box on the left. There are several pages then accessible from tabs along the top of the page.

It does appear, however, that at least one Colonial “chamber” of some type can be found in Nova Scotia after all. It can be reached quite easily in Wentworth Municipal Park, Moody’s Corner, Municipality of Clare, Digby County. Someone recently posted a photo of it on Facebook, which can be viewed here.

After seeing this Facebook photo on October 12, 2011, I started making enquiries and on November 5 I made the three hour trip down to this remote area in Clare to locate this structure myself. I've attached a map, along with some of the photos that I took; the colored segments in the metre stick are each 10 cm long.

The "chamber" is a poured concrete box, with a mortared stone facade. It is built on the side of a bulldozed platform (but doesn't extend into it). The platform appears to have had a driveway fronting on the highway at some time in the past, but that’s gone now. The platform has a depression on top that appears to be the remains of a building (like a camp). It was probably put there sometime around the 1940's or 50's. I imagine that the "chamber" formerly had a door and was used for cold storage in the summer months. The door faces the lake (i.e., east).

If anyone knows about any other similar structures that may exist in Atlantic Canada, please let me know.

Terry Deveau --

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