How We Take Care of Ourselves

Gates Invigorating Syrup 80.123.32, Phrenology Head, Gates Life of Man Bitters 87.26.7

A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body

For thousands of years, the Mi’kmaq people relied on traditional medicines along with family and community support to stay healthy, as did many more generations of Nova Scotians that followed. Our approach to health care has changed dramatically over the past 150 years. The Medical Care Act, which implemented a nationally funded single-payer system in Canada, took effect in Nova Scotia on April 1, 1969. And change continues at a dizzying pace. Today, we sometimes turn to “Dr. Google” and mobile health apps even before calling our doctor.

Gone are the days when being healthy simply meant not being sick or dying. We want to feel better and live longer. What does being healthy mean for you?

We are placing increased demands on our health care system – better hospitals, more specialists, and increased mental health programs. What will this system look like to future generations?


Taking Care

We’ve been collecting objects for 150 years, but objects, on their own, often fall short of telling the human stories we want to share. As a result, we work closely with archives to gather letters, diaries, and oral histories that provide greater insight into peoples’ lives, including their health concerns. Adding these stories to our collection records, even about something as mundane as a head cold, helps to humanize the objects.

Museums as public spaces have been shown to help us feel mentally and physically better by strengthening our connections to the past and each other. They also provide a “third space,” away from work and home, where people can gather and re-energize.

Consider how we take care of ourselves when you visit museums sites, including those featured here.

  • The Fisherman’s Life Museum on the Eastern Shore, where a sick room was built onto the house to help Ida Myers, one of thirteen daughters, recover from tuberculosis
  • Contrast this with Prescott House, an elegant Georgian home in the Annapolis Valley, where Charles Prescott moved to convalesce after falling ill in Halifax
  • Consider the serious health concerns of today’s first responders as you visit the Firefighters’ Museum in Yarmouth
  • Cossit House Museum in Sydney, where you can learn about herbs grown by the family in their garden for medicine