Throughout 2017, the Association shines a spotlight on the two men truly responsible for giving the Association the opportunity to create the Annapolis Community Mapping Project. In fact, there would be no COGS in Annapolis County in the first place. And without COGS, none of what has been accomplished by the Association would exist today.

J.B. Hall  and Major James Church  never met, yet it was the vision of the former finally realized by the persistence of the latter - over decades - which resulted in the County landmark institution, now called The Centre for Geographic Sciences.

Our thanks to the Nova Scotia Department of Community, Culture and Heritage and it’s 150 Forward Fund. Our celebration of this not-widely-known example of Nova Scotian innovation and achievement during Canada’s 150 th birthday year is made possible by the Department. It recognized the Association’s idea as a good fit with it’s theme of notable personalities and their achievements in the Province.

Hall and Church, in brief:

1866: a twenty three year old blacksmith from rural Annapolis County who could neither read nor write.

1888: a five year old in India, having lost both parents to cholera, finds himself living in presbyterian Scotland with his aunts. His four siblings were taken in by other relatives, it is thought.

By age 34 the blacksmith had earned a BA from Acadia University, and an MA and a PhD from Boston University, both degrees in a single year.

By age 34, the five year-old has studied at Glasgow Technical School, emigrated to Canada, been a prospector and mining engineer in Alberta, joined the Canadian Army and finds himself tunneling under 1ST World War German trenches, and leading a bomb disposal unit.

Both Hall and Church had Lawrenceton in common. J.B. Hall was born there in 1843 and was a life-long benefactor of his hometown. Major James Church “retired” to the town in 1931 and remained there for the rest of his life. Church came to know Hall, who died in 1928, only by his reputation and through his thoughtful last bequest.

A 30-year career educator, Hall had a high regard for German and other vocational schools he’d visited while traveling in Europe. Perhaps this is why upon his death,  his estate included a $25,000 legacy for the eventual building of a vocational school in Annapolis County. Who would champion the idea and push it forward?

Major Church, fifty eight years old at the outbreak of the 2nd World War, served his country by teaching soldiers surveying, in Halifax. Parlaying that experience (by graduating his last surveying class as civilians in 1946), Church lobbied politicians for a Provincial survey school for veterans. For the next decade and a half, Church taught surveying under various departmental jurisdictions in temporary venues in several Lawrencetown buildings. During the same  period he persevered in his unrelenting campaign of persuasion. That his surveying schools stayed in Lawrencetown during those years demonstrates just how determined he was to fulfill Hall’s vision.

By October, 1958, and using $80,000 of the Hall legacy, the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute (NSLSI) had been built in Lawrencetown. By 1975  a much, much bigger “Centre for Geographic Sciences” (as it was renamed in 1986) was built to meet increasing demand for skilled NSLSI graduates. In the 70s and 80s the Institute became synonymous with Geomatics training excellence nationally and internationally.

The unlikely Hall and Church partnership, a shared innovative vision, and unwavering perseverance, proved to be the formula for the extraordinary development, in rural Annapolis County, of a world-leading technical education facility.


Maps can be about more than roads, waterways, and county lines. Maps can tell far deeper stories about the places where we live.

In 2017, five years since The Age Advantage Association first brought COGS students and volunteer seniors together to learn about and then create an on-line community asset map, the work continues. The vision has widened, the number of instructors and students from the Centre of Geographic Sciences involved has grown, and the volunteer groups mapping their County interests has ballooned.

Originally, stories relied on the oral tradition. Stories were told, remembered, spoken aloud and passed on. With writing came a new way to tell a story, and with the performing arts, yet more ways.

With data visualization - web-based maps - Mapping Project volunteers are telling the stories of their own choosing about Annapolis County.

For instance, over two decades ago, starting in the '80's, our provincial government identified about 2400 pre and post-Confederation heritage homes. Researchers took pictures, wrote a brief history of the buildings' style and traced, as far as was reasonably possible, the owners of the buildings. There were paper records but in many cases, it was neighbours using their own memories who contributed vital information about who lived in the buildings being catalogued, and for how long.

It was this mass of paper information that one group of the Annapolis Community Mapping Project decided to move to an on line, web-based map, entering data point by data point.  Today,  the original 2400 properties have been digitally mapped, and 200 MORE have been added. And the work continues week after week, undertaken by volunteers - volunteers who decided this was a story about where we live which needed to be told,  expanded, preserved, and made easily available to anyone., anywhere. Think of that... Volunteers.

Collaborating with instructors and students from the Centre of Geographic Sciences in Lawrencetown, all volunteers in the Annapolis County Mapping Project learned the technology and software that makes web-based mapping possible. And then, they chose the stories they wanted to tell in this state-of-the-art data visualization form.

A Little Mapping Project History

Conceived in November 2011, the Age Advantage Association - funded by both the federal and provincial governments - successfully created a pilot web-based community mapping project by December, 2012. Delivered in two stages, coincident with the Nova Scotia Community College’s (NSCC) fall and spring terms, separate groups meeting in Annapolis Royal and the Bridgetown area developed web-based, community asset maps. A Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) instructor and his students provided technical expertise and training.

As a result of this project, participants acquired skill and experience in the technology and software needed to create web-based maps. Some of these participants now constitute a cadre of trainers in this specialized area. As the Project has grown, this group has been teaching newcomers, creating new trainers.

Now, a five years later, the Project has grown and its focus has broadened. There are more instructors and students from COGS involved. New communities such as Clementsport and Bear River are now part of the Project. Annapolis Royal and Bear River have mapped commercial interests, artists studios, galleries and accommodations, recognizing their economic importance to their communities.

The Age Advantage Association Purpose

The Age Advantage Association's Mandate

To Sum Up
Community-created asset maps are based on the premise that local residents possess expert knowledge of their local environments which can be expressed in a geographical framework which is easily understandable and universally recognized. Participatory maps often represent a socially or culturally distinct understanding of landscape and include information that is excluded from mainstream or official maps.

Maps created by local communities represent the place in which they live, showing those elements that communities themselves perceive as important, a consolidation of all that is valuable and worthwhile within a community, from a local perspective. Asset or “capacity-based” maps offer to those outside the County a positive way to assess its untapped potential, sufficiency, and local pride of place. Communities can use cultural mapping as a tool for self-awareness to promote understanding of the diversity within a community and to protect and conserve traditions, customs, and resources. Such maps offer powerful insights to potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers, and to government agencies at all levels.

The Asset-Based Community Development approach is based on the assumption that producing strong community-based projects arises out of the ability to connect the community’s assets and the organization’s assets. These maps and the maps yet-to-come are an integral part of that development process.