Many of the houses in Great Village, Nova Scotia, built in the early days of its history were more elegant than the standard country home. Building lumber for ships and houses alike was abundant and the many ships arriving into the “Port of Londonderry,” to which Great Village was sometimes referred, arrived with many fine hardwoods for interior finishing – mahogany, rosewood, teak, and walnut, to name but a few. These houses of various sizes were styled after a variety of architecture: French, Gothic, Italian, and Victorian, with their cupolas, mansard roofs, and gothic windows and doors.
Probably one of the finest examples is that of the late John M. Blaikie, an imposing three-story, twenty-three room Queen Anne Revival home, with its distinctive four-story tower, it is located at the south-eastern end of the village. The tower's four windows face north, east, south, and west and provide an impressive view of the countryside surrounding the village and Cobequid Bay.
Mr. Blaikie was born in Stewiacke in 1837 and came to Great Village from Maitland about 1850. In 1854 he began his mercantile career, taking a position in the store of the late G. W. McLellan, which was situated immediately to the rear of the present residence. In 1863, Blaikie moved his stock to the new McLellan store located close to the centre of the village, (now the Smith Holdings – Quik-Mart store), and went into partnership with the Honourable A.W. McLellan, with whom he would be associated for many years in merchandising and shipbuilding. Blaikie House was built at the beginning of the 1870s, as by the census of 1874, John Blaikie is recorded as paying taxes on what is the new front of the original c.1860 house.
From 1863 through to 1891, Blaikie, first in partnership and later individually, commissioned the building of many fine ships. The greatest of all was the “John M. Blaikie,” a 2000-ton barque that is reputed to be the first four-masted barque built in Canada, launched October 1885 from Great Village. A model of this ship was among the exhibits at the Great London Exhibition in 1886, as well as the World's Fair in Paris . The John M. Blaikie went down off the coast of the Anjer Lighthouse, in Africa, when she was wrecked in May of 1892.
The Blaikie family continued ownership and possession of the family home up until the 1940s. The house is now owned by its sixth family and is a registered Municipal Heritage Property.
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