CNSA’s 2023-2028 Strategic Plan

The CNSA’s 2023-2028 Strategic Framework was developed in the winter of 2023 by members of the 2022-2023 CNSA Executive and staff plus representatives for the Nova Scotia Archives:

  • Jane Arnold, President
  • Catherine Fancy, Vice President
  • Christine Hines, Treasurer
  • Krystal Tanner, Secretary
  • Heather Adams, Membership & Nominations Member-at-Large
  • Sharon Murray, Archives Advisor
  • Lisa Snider, MemoryNS Support Specialist
  • Patti Bannister, Provincial Archivist representative for the Nova Scotia Archives
  • John MacLeod, representative for the Nova Scotia Archives

Big thanks to Sherie Hodds from Plum Group for facilitating the planning process and distilling our thoughts and ideas into a framework for the CNSA. Thanks, too, to the Nova Scotia Archives with providing funds and space for our team to gather.

1 Comment

  1. Mark Robertson on June 12, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    We are very excited as to how our 2022 report dovetails into your new strategic plan.
    (About a 10 minute read)

    2022 Year-end report for the Bridgetown and Area Historical Society (BAHS)

    Governance & Management


    Collection & Access



    Marketing & Revenue

    The 2022 reopening of the James House was affected by the Annapolis County (Queen St., Bridgetown) water and sewer revitalization program. Although the project itself was successfully and beautifully finished before October of 2022 it was not without cost to our downtown’s foot traffic from June to October. Queen Street was blocked off, heavy equipment was brought in, and foot traffic had to choose from between east and west sidewalks serviced by east and west parking as work progression allowed. Coupled with slow economic recovery in general coming out of the thick of Covid, the entire downtown was kept in a temporary micro economic depression and the James House remained closed to walk-by foot traffic.

    There was an Annual General Meeting and ad hoc Director’s meetings as required. Evaluation Directive # 136 wording regarding the governance of the Board being “burnt out” is found in the Interpretation directives, but the Board is no longer exhausted. Discouraged may be a more appropriate description. In particular, we do not have enough Board members to strike sub-committees. The Governance directives do remain an ongoing challenge, all Boards are finding it more and more difficult to attract committed Directors. We have approached community leaders advocating a consolidated “super board” concept eliminating common Board responsibilities overlap. Our recruiting efforts are ongoing, including the investigation with other stakeholders into the possibility of hiring professional employees cooperatively. Further, the Board has hired a bookkeeper for reporting and management of financial records.

    Concerning Facility maintenance activity: the entire electrical fuse panel had been upgraded to a breaker box as reported last year as a major part of our upgrading safety plans. This year, our investment was directed largely by the need to address our mandatory County fire inspection and Assembly permit which resulted in further electrical issues (which proved to validate our maintenance decisions of the year prior). The inspector’s order is attached. The directives within the order were satisfactorily completed and our Assembly permit re-approved.

    This Order was accomplished at the cost of the Society having to utilize their emergency account to pay for the work and which exhausted the funds. Consequently, the Society took the decision to completely shut the facility down for the winter months. By turning off the heat and having the water shut off, we had an additional immediate financial burden to absorb the preparation costs for these arrangements and protecting our archives; but we were also well advised by the actuality of the failed sub-pump and burst water pipes of the O’Dell Museum and the St. James Anglican Church the winter prior. Further, this cost-saving measure has proved successful and allowed us to head into the new year with some working capital, further helping to facilitate the continued addressing of Evaluation points such as improved lighting.

    The total cost of addressing our Facility needs and directives for the year was a crippling 8000.00 plus. The exterior has not been addressed, apart from undergoing some cost analysis of needed repairs and painting.

    Further addressing of our ANSM Evaluation points regarding Interpretation and Display, the lowest score of our evaluation: all the exhibits had been taken down (for 2021 painting) and the newly installed permanent exhibit was begun, beginning with the decision to curate the exhibition geographically. Seven large full color (1947 town survey cartography) panels have been printed and framed and more exhibition photos and interpretive text panels have been reframed and correlated around each of the cartography panels. The front lobby, our receiving area is complete, and we have moved out further into our exhibition space. The front hall entrance is also complete, and we will now be continuing up the large stairwell and up to our upper display area. The large Ballroom on our second floor which previously (and poorly) housed our Branch 33 collection will be retrofitted as a community space. Although we have spent over 2400.00 facilitating the related ANSM interpretation and display evaluation directives #119 & 120 & 122; there is still much work to be done.

    The end goal of this renewed permanent exhibition will be the addition of handheld hard-copy interpretation guides and audio-visuals which will allow for self-guided tours through 100 years of Bridgetown and area history and eliminate the need for student interpretive guides which are becoming more and more difficult to recruit and train on a student/part-time basis. This hard copy self-guided tour will be developed virtually for our upgraded website as future funding allows and will address directive # 123 & 131. There seems to be an endless routine of hiring, training and supervising year after year with little benefit other than the wages for the students. We have never been in the financial position to take advantage of Provincial student hiring grants and consequently have previously been utilizing the Federal program which is 100% funded. We have been refused that funding since Covid and we find that the atmosphere around these grants have flipped from the sponsors being asked by government to assist students to the government doing a favor for the sponsors. Student hiring has become a responsibility for an already strained volunteer base.

    Community was our second lowest score evaluation; yet the evaluation contained very few directives. Membership, such as with ANSM, and collegial engagement were not covered in the evaluation points; we consider networking with colleagues an integral component of the larger community. We are taking the James House into the 21st century with clean multi-purpose premises and refreshed, updated permanent exhibitions. The facility will become community research centered. An estimated 5 years in the making, the Weekly Monitor and Western Sentential fonds are currently being researched and a new textbook of 20th century Bridgetown history is being written. It will be a companion to Ruggles Coward history to 1900. Term representation supplying a Board member to the Annapolis County Heritage Board has finished; we represented the James House at several Heritage ceremonies as well as ad hoc Board meetings facilitating Heritage best practices and community within the County.

    Continuing with our Community and outreach efforts, our social media presence has again grown for the fourth year. In the first month of the new year: we have Reached over 600 followers and more importantly: the engagement of 299 of those followers during the month; one hundred of which were photo views. That kind of walk by foot traffic and physical visitations is unseen to this point. We would argue that an Engagement is value rich and can be equally as effective as a visitor engaged in front of a text panel and exhibition with museum staff. These results have become typical of a monthly average, and we will soon be able to track our numbers on a yearly level.

    We need a more interactive website so we can offer expanded services to our visitors.

    Social media has taken the paramount position in historical and cultural awareness, and we will assume that social media, although time consuming for volunteers, will far outreach in-person visits as well as facilitating research in the coming decades. On-line communities are more and more virtual as the culture shifts. We have over 800 active followers with well over 750 of them located in Canada and nearly 50 international followers. Although modest, we believe growing our audience could eventually lead to attracting people home for the summer tourism season and we will endeavor to track any such influence. Provincially, we naturally have more followers in the County than we do within our immediate community followers. We will review our Mandate to include the boundaries of the former Granville Township rather than (and Area). With the end of our town status, it has become more than obvious that we are now part of the entire County and no longer an isolated separate entity as are our neighbors. We need a stronger County focus, and the former town needs an assimilation plan as it takes its position within the County. We hope to help facilitate that healing process.

    We will strengthen our expanding real-life community influence as well, but the local fund-raising field is crowded. We have been in contact with Wine Nova Scotia, and we will launch our upcoming season with a reception for the astonishing 38 newcomer families within our school catchment boundaries. We are also participating with the local development people with asset mapping and local development planning. We intend to strengthen our involvement with various community tourism initiatives such as the very successful Riverfest and Ciderfest, rather than “going our own way”.

    We have also expanded access to our museum and archives in 2022, offering visits at any time by appointment (or chance) as opposed to set hours; this offer of convenience includes a real time phone contact and has been very well received by researchers and visitors alike, and is far more valuable than the odd tourist visit wandering into the museum.

    Regarding Collection and Access to Information directives. The continuing task of reviewing our former contributions to the ANSM database was suspended resulting from the revised (and daunting) consolidation task of the Bridgetown Legion Branch 33 War Museum collection into our own. As reported, the accession parameters are much more stringent within the James House by-laws consequently the entire collection, which is very large, remains to be re-assessed and re-archived to come in line with our current mandate and will continue to take time into our 2023 year’s archival activities. Branch 33 is really a museum within a museum and this collection contains most of our artifacts. An entirely devoted Branch 33 room will consolidate the collection when completed.

    In general, we have not realized any benefit from contributing to the Collective Access ANSM database and consider two databases (CNSA) obligation to be a burden that is very difficult to meet. Currently, we are turning our attention towards CNSA with our extremely rich archives and have begun to renew training and mentoring within our membership with the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. Given a choice due to time and volunteer constraints, we consider the CNSA database to be more relevant to researchers and although contributing to this database will also be a difficult journey, regardless, we certainly must choose which database is the more relevant to those academics that have need of a provincially comprehensive database. We will also investigate an internal database in addition to our Curator (hand generated) best practices which would allow for easy transfer to any provincial or national database.

    Marketing and Revenue Generation

    For the most part, our Marketing is limited to services we provide and donations; we have no gift shop, and we market our reading materials through our local bookstore. This is a modest but effective full-time arrangement. Standard fundraising, as we have mentioned, is a crowded field where we find ourselves competing with our local library; our churches, our community halls as well as the local Lions, fire hall, Legion Hall, sports organizations, animal welfare organizations and even our school. There are well over two dozen local organizations fundraising constantly. It is neither welcomed nor financially rewarding to compete. For example, in the past it was not unusual for our volunteers to sit for hours selling tickets for donated artwork for pennies per hours of time donated and having to schedule ourselves around overly solicitated organizing facilitators to help our efforts. It costs little to nothing for the Historical Society to exist; our revenue largely goes towards the maintenance and operation of the James House: a Provincially Registered Heritage Property.

    Most of our museum attributes are connected to our archives rather than artifact acquisition. For example, in 2022 we received the County fonds of our revered historian and author Ruggles Coward as well as the fonds of the Annapolis County Home; two very significant historical collections with Provincial parameters. Directing our efforts of hiring any student towards archival interns, which would provide real value community service and gains; and offer continuity for any determined university preparation by history or social science students. Providing local leadership and initiative when developing a complete two-year intern program in 2023, in addition to summer employment, would be a sensible course of action. Advocating this program when seeking Revenue from available Federal, Provincial and Municipal sources as well as investigating possible private partnerships would well serve this community service. We will continue to seek uses for our (ground floor) research facilities and available commercial space within the James House, with a view towards rental income, offering our Ballroom (second level) community space for ad hoc social events and local economic development.