Robie Tufts nature centre

Situated in Robie Tufts park on Front Street in downtown Wolfville, the Robie Tufts Nature Centre provides a gathering space for community events, an educational resource on local nature and natural history, & a roosting site for endangered chimney swifts.

Robie Wilfred Tufts

The nature centre is dedicated to Robie Tufts (1884-1982) who lived his whole life in Wolfville.

Robie acquired an interest in nature from an early age, accompanying his older brother, Harold, and his mother on her plant collecting trips. Robie became particularly interested in birds, but to make a living he worked in the local branch of the Bank of Montreal. When the Migratory Birds Conservation Act came into place between Canada and the United States, Robie was appointed the first Chief Federal Migratory Birds Officer for the Maritime Provinces, a position he held for 28 years. He wrote, among others, “The Birds of Nova Scotia” (1962) and “Nova Scotia Birds of Prey” (1975).

Photo: Wolfville Historical Society.

The Acadia Dairy

The site of the Robie Tufts Nature Centre was once the location of the Acadia Dairy.

The business was first conceived of in 1895. The manager, F. M. Logan, won a $34 butter prize at the St. John Exhibition that same year. The dairy was located on railway property on what was then called Water St. The machinery all came from Boston. Products produced included butter, cream, cheese, and ice cream. It was acclaimed for its products, though some locals complained about the smell. The name Acadia Dairy Co., Ltd. was registered in 1937.

A new dairy was built in 1957. The business closed in the 1980s and the nature centre opened in July 1990 so the dairy chimney (of the ‘new’ dairy) could be preserved as a roost for the chimney swifts.

Acadia Dairy, circa 1948. This black and white photograph shows 18 people outside the Acadia Dairy Co., many of whom are in work overalls. There are also several trucks and 3 horse drawn carriages/vehicles. Photo courtesy of the Wolfville Historical Society & The Randall House Museum.

Acadia Dairy, c. 1930-40. The photo shows two flatbed trucks full of milk cans outside of the Dairy, with its large chimney stack. There are five men, two in coveralls, three in white aprons. Photo courtesy of the Wolfville Historical Society & the Randall House Museum.

Chimney Swifts

Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are endangered migratory birds. They are small aerial insectivores that migrate from South America to breed in central and eastern North America in the spring and summer. It is thought that chimney swifts used to use large old hollow trees for nesting and roosting. However with logging and habitat loss these old forests and thus trees have become rare, so swifts adopted masonry chimneys for roosting and nesting. The spectacle of swifts pirouetting and tumbling into a chimney to roost as dusk is a sight to behold!