In 1802, James Barry Sr. of Perthshire, Scotland built a saw mill and a grist mill on a 400 acre grant of land in Six Mile Brook, Pictou County, Nova Scotia.

MacKinley's Map of Nova Scotia - 1868.
Six Mile Brook (lower left), Pictou and New Glasgow.
From the David Rumsey Map Collection.

One of his twelve children, James Burns Barry Jr. (1819-1906) (also written as Barrie or Berrie) lived a hard and notably varied life. For many years, he worked the mills his father had built. He was an accomplished fiddle player, piper, artist and printer of renown. Barry turned out many books by authors such as Bunyan and Goldsmith on a printing press he built himself.

An example of a 19th century common press and moveable type.
Files Source: Wikipedia Commons.


He kept five volumes of meticulous diaries which contain almost daily accounts of his life from 1849 until his death in 1906. It contains a record of the social and economic conditions of the day as well as many artistic sketches on the pages and in the margins.

Unretouched digital images of pages from James Barry's diary taken from microfilm.
Microfilm images NSARM. (see footnote)


Retouched digital images of James Barry's artistic drawings.
Microfilm images NSARM. (see footnote)


A page of James Barry's diary with entries regarding his marriage
to Isabella (Bell) McLellan of Roger's Hill on November 24, 1859.

James Barry was also a composer and collector of Scottish fiddle tunes. An important part of his legacy consists of two hand-written volumes of music. Volume I (9" x 6") contains 19 original compositions. Volume II (9" x 12") contains a violin primer and a compilation of 2,248 tunes - all manner of traditional jigs, reels, hornpipes, waltzes and strathspeys along with many original tunes by Barry and his contemporaries - fully indexed. Some of the tunes were "improved" and contain written instructions on how to correctly play the passages.

Index pages:

The original diaries and music Volumes I and II were donated to Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM) by Mrs. Freda Munroe of Salt Springs, Pictou Co., N.S. in the 1970s. They were preserved on microfilm and are now housed at the Hector Exhibit Centre in Pictou, N.S., under the care of the Pictou County Genealogy and Historical Society (PCGHS).

Lo-Res (200 dpi Grayscale JPEG) Samples.
These images are from microfilm transferred to 600 DPI Bitmap TIFF digital files
by the Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) lab in Winnigeg, Manitoba.
James Barry music images NSARM. (see footnote)




"Blair's Reel" - Tune 1227

"Stewart's Reel" - Tune 910

Please note: Although the content of James Barry's diaries and music volumes are in the public domain, the images, which were obtained from microfilm, are not. They are copyright Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management (NSARM) and are used with permission.

The terms "retouched" and "unretouched" are relative only to the digital images on this website. All images are derived either from hard copy duplications or digital files transferred from microfilm and are at least three or four generations removed from the original James Barry diaries and music volumes.

| Main | Jazz Guitar | Shakespeare Sonnets | Halifax Explosion | About SVP | Links | SVP News | Contact SVP |

2009 SVP Productions. All rights reserved.