Published Books

Merchant Princes: Halifax's first family of finance, ships and steel

James Lorimer & Co., 2003 - Business & Economics



This book tells the story of an extraordinary family of merchants and entrepreneurs. It begins in 1810, when William Stairs opened a small general store on the Halifax waterfront. Over the next 150 years, successive generations of businessmen were engaged in a surprising range of mercantile and industrial activity. The Stairs family saga includes sugar refining, banking, steel making, a mammoth and highly successful rope manufacturing plant, and a company that for a time was the world's leading manufacturer of skates. The Stairs family were also active in politics, starting with William who was a long-time, loyal and influential backer of Nova Scotia's pre-eminent reformer Joseph Howe. The Stairs have been involved in many of the major issues in Nova Scotia politics, and this book often offers surprising information on what was going on in back rooms over the past two centuries. Through this family history, author James Frost sheds new light on many aspects of Nova Scotia's business and political history. The story of the Stairs family -- their readiness to accept risk, their commitment to industrial development, their interest in manufacturing -- challenges many of the stereotypes often used to explain Nova Scotia's economic decline after Confederation. Frost's many years of research and his unparalleled access to family records for this book have produced a major new book.


Where to find Merchant Princes


Halifax Public Library

Toronto Public Library



Canada's Atlantic Gateway: An Illustrated History of the Port of Halifax, 1749-2007

Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 2008


Halifax has long been lauded for having one of the largest and most impressive natural harbours in the world. The harbour's depth, sheltered location, and proximity to Europe make it an ideal location for an Atlantic port. Since its earliest beginnings, the Port of Halifax has been integral to both the city and the rest of Canada, acting simultaneously as a commercial and cultural centre and a gateway for goods entering the country. It has also played a vital role in Canada's export trade, war efforts, and immigration strategies.

In Canada's Altantic Gateway: An Illustrated History of the Port of Halifax, James D. Frost chronicles the events, both fortuitous and disastrous, that have helped shape the port and the city throughout history, from the building of the first wharves in the mid-eighteenth century ot the containerization revolution of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Featuring detailed maps and never-before-seen photos, Canada's Atlantic Gateway is the definitive history of one of the country's most important cultural and commercial landmarks.


Where to find Canada's Atlantic Gateway: An Illustrated History of the Port of Halifax

Halifax Public Library

Toronto Public Library

Port of Halifax