Historical Background
Leading to the Incorporation of IGNS

From the development of public transportation in the early 1800's, came the need for services to travelers. The expanding trade and resulting prosperity late in the century increased the number of leisure travelers and the concept of "tourism" evolved around the 1880's.

The Government of Nova Scotia realized the importance of this new concept and first became involved in promoting the province through advertising along with CN Rail in the 1920's.

In 1931, aerial activity at Halifax airport was described as "developing at a phenomenal rate", with daily arrivals from Boston and New York.

In 1932, one of Nova Scotia's major attractions, the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, was opened. There were 221,000 visitors to the Province that year.

By 1935, all three Maritime provinces began ambitious road construction and paving programs; partly as a relief measure, but also following the example of New England and Upper Canada, in an effort to "capture as much as possible of the expanding and lucrative tourist market".

Tourism grew rapidly despite the devastating effects of the Depression, and this trend continued into the late 1930's.

The significant fact, however, for those interested in the development of the accommodation sector was that very little government money was put into expanding or upgrading facilities, despite the government's public acknowledgement of their importance.

In 1938, the volume of visitors was at an all time high, yet there were neither funds to develop facilities, nor an organization to regulate and ensure standards of quality.

The specific circumstances which provided the rationale for the organization of the Guild, came from the continued high volume of tourists and the lack of facilities, the scarcity of funds for upgrading operations, the nonexistence of quality standards, and the absence of an association to look after the interests of innkeepers.

There were four main factors that set the stage for the organization and the first meeting of the Innkeepers Guild on November 19, 1938;

  1. The obvious need to plan and expand facilities to accommodate visitors due to the advances in modern transportation services and the focus placed on Nova Scotia as a vacation spot in the government's advertising,
  2. The development of quality standards for hotels to meet consumer demands.
  3. The necessity of an organization to look out for the various needs of the accommodation operators, and
  4. The need to secure a place for the accommodation sector to emphasize its importance in the economy of Nova Scotia

Messieurs Robert Pitt and Forbes Thrasher were two of the major initiators who proposed a self-governing trade association which would be operated by the industry and have the power to discipline its members.

The Innkeepers Guild was to be a quality organization with the basic principle that any place which was clean, comfortable and courteous would be eligible for membership.

On April 15, 1939, under a special Act of the Legislature "The Innkeepers Guild of Nova Scotia" was incorporated. Our organization is the only tourism organization that has been formed under Provincial Legislation.

The name "Innkeepers" had been carefully chosen since the organization was to function under the aegis of the Innkeepers' Act. The word "inn" meant any place providing food and rooms to the traveling public. Innkeeper was defined as the person in active control of such an operation.

At the time of incorporation, there were five types of accommodation in the province;

  1. Hotel: an establishment with no less than 20 rooms which provides three meals daily.
  2. Cottage Colony: a hotel which consists of small groups of buildings around a larger building.
  3. Inn: an establishment with at least six bedrooms which provides meals.
  4. Cabin Colony: a small group of buildings around a larger building with at least six bedrooms and eating facilities
  5. Tourist Home: an establishment having at least three bedrooms and a minimum of one meal daily.

The task of administering the Guild objectives was to be the responsibility of an eight member board of Directors. The original directors in 1939 were:

  1. Mr. George Deckman - The Fairview Hotel, Bridgewater
  2. Mr. James Burton - Braemar Lodge, Yarmouth
  3. Mr. Forbes Thrasher - The Lord Nelson Hotel, Halifax
  4. Mr. Robert Pitt - The Nova Scotian Hotel
  5. Mr. Arthur Shatford  - The Gainsborough, Hubbards
  6. Mr. Harry Morris - The Norfolk Hotel, New Glasgow
  7. Mr. Douglas Cossaboom  - The Harbour View House, Smith's Cove
  8. Mr. Robert Ellis - The Pines in Digby, The Lakeside Inn in Yarmouth, and The Cornwallis Inn in Kentville

In its drive for membership, an invitation was given to the members of the Nova Scotia Hotel Association to join the Guild. This resulted in a membership of about 40, and most of the early members were managers of the commercial hotels.