Lou Collins was a prominent Halifax, Nova Scotia heritage activist, historian, educator and writer. Louis William Collins was born July 26, 1922 at home on Liverpool Street in Halifax. His parents were William Snowden Collins (1882-1965) and Amy Louisa (Higgins) Collins (1889-1975). Collins attended Chebucto Road School and Bloomfield High School, and later Dalhousie University where he earned a B.A. (1944) and M.A. (1945) in English and History, and a Diploma of Education (1946). On July 23, 1955, he married Pamela Betty Ventham and had three children with her: Margaret, Heather and Diane.
Collins began his long career in education in 1948, working first at King’s Collegiate School before moving into the Halifax public school system in 1950. Collins served as a teacher, administrator and/or principal at Richmond School Junior High, Westmount School, and Cornwallis Junior High before retiring in 1983. He continued to teach night classes for the Continuing Education Department and lecture on historical and architectural topics at local universities and institutions. In the course of his career as an educator, Collins was involved in several professional associations and unions, including being a founding member of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union and Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union Credit Union.Throughout much of his adult life, Collins was heavily involved in the Halifax and Nova Scotia heritage communities. In the 1960’s Collins began advocating for the preservation of numerous historic buildings in Halifax which were threatened by demolition under the new development practice of urban renewal. His efforts were pivotal in stopping the proposed Harbour Drive and preserving the Halifax waterfront area that became the Historic Properties development. Collins was chair of the City of Halifax’s Civic Advisory Committee on the Preservation of Historic Buildings and helped establish its successor, the Halifax Landmarks Commission, which he also chaired for a number of years. Later he was a member of the Heritage Advisory Committee and the Halifax Foundation. Collins’ extensive involvement in heritage societies and associations across the province included tenure as President of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society and membership on several boards including those of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia and the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. For his heritage preservation efforts, Collins received a number of awards, among them an honorary doctorate from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1979, the Heritage Canada Lieutenant-Governor's Gold Medal in 1981 (with his wife Pamela), and investiture in the Order of Canada in 1996.Collins was appointed Honorary Civic Historian for the City of Halifax from 1968-1996, and in this capacity was consulted by the Mayor and other city officials on various historical and heritage-related matters. Throughout his life Collins developed and delivered historical tours of Halifax, gave speeches and lectures at various events and functions, and worked as a research associate and historical consultant for local institutions. He was also active as a writer and journalist, producing a book, poems and many columns and articles for local newspapers and magazines. His wife Pam assisted Collins with his research and took many of the photographs he used to illustrate his lectures. In addition, Collins was active in the Boy Scouts of Canada for a number of years, and served as president of the Nova Scotia Camping Association and the Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Association of Nova Scotia. He died in Halifax on September 1, 2007.