Start­ing from the ground up

Re­tired Truro teacher’s work forms ba­sis for ed­u­ca­tional web­site

Truro Daily News - - COLCHESTER COUNTY - BY LYNN CUR­WIN lynn.cur­win@truro­

When Jan Zann first ar­rived in Truro, she was cap­ti­vated by the streetscapes, with the large old build­ings.

Her in­ter­est in the past led her to re­search build­ings across the prov­ince, and the in­for­ma­tion she com­piled is now part of an ed­u­ca­tional web­site called Nova Sco­tia: Our Peo­ple and Their Built Her­itage.

“Af­ter liv­ing in Aus­tralia, and spend­ing a year in Saskatchewan, I thought the streets, with the elms and lovely old build­ings, were beau­ti­ful,” she said. “It was so dif­fer­ent from what I was used to.”

She and her hus­band Paul fell in love with an old home, called Doggett House, on Wil­low Street in 1975, and have been liv­ing there since. As a teacher at Truro Ju­nior High School, she re­al­ized stu­dents didn’t have a lot of knowl­edge about ar­chi­tec­ture in their own com­mu­nity. She be­gan tak­ing them on walk­ing tours.

To help pre­serve his­tory, she be­came part of the Truro Her­itage Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, and the Her­itage Trust of Nova Sco­tia.

Af­ter 36 years of teach­ing, Zann re­tired and got in­volved in an or­ga­ni­za­tion to en­cour­age stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion in her­itage fairs. Around 2005, she be­gan putting in­for­ma­tion to­gether to help stu­dents do her­itage fair re­search. This in­for­ma­tion be­came her man­u­script for Nova Sco­tia: Our Peo­ple and Their Built Her­itage. A friend of hers, Arthur Carter, sup­plied many pic­tures.

The project en­cour­ages young peo­ple to learn by be­com­ing mod- ern-day ex­plor­ers, and in­cludes 20 sec­tions cov­er­ing top­ics such as What did an Aca­dian set­tle­ment look like? Who are the Scots of New Scot­land? How did peo­ple of African de­scent first come to Nova Sco­tia? It also cov­ers the first ex­plor­ers, the Mi’kmaq, and why there’s a fort in down­town Hal­i­fax. All are ac­com­pa­nied by pic­tures, and have ques­tions to en­cour­age thought and dis­cus­sion.

“I’d been af­ter the Her­itage Trust about get­ting chil­dren, from an early age, in­ter­ested in build­ings,” she said. “I think you can teach a lot of his­tory through ar­chi­tec­ture.

“It’s sad to see so many of the

build­ings have been turned into apart­ments or torn down.”

The Her­itage Trust had Nova Sco­tia: Our Peo­ple and Their Built Her­itage put on­line, and it was re­cently pre­miered to an au­di­ence of so­cial stud­ies teach­ers from across the prov­ince. These teach­ers are now in­ter­ested in pi­lot­ing it with their classes. Zann said the pro­gram is di­rected to­ward stu­dents in the Grades 4 to 6 stream­lined so­cial stud­ies pro­gram, and more top­ics can be added in the fu­ture.

“I think it’s a start,” she said. “It’s a new, and more ex­cit­ing way for kids to dis­cover what’s around them.”

Nova Sco­tia: Our Peo­ple and Their Built Her­itage can be found on­line at https://our­builther­


Jan Zann is fas­ci­nated by sto­ries that build­ings tell about the past. The Her­itage Trust of NS used her re­search to cre­ate a web­site on the built his­tory of the prov­ince.

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