Four parallel pillars guard an old, white relic in Arichat, Nova Scotia. The once-busy building still has the words “court house” printed on its face, but sits empty these days.

No case has been heard here for six years, but as the population in the area dwindles, its residents are still hoping to salvage what they consider to be a key part of their community.

"It is a centrepiece in town,” says Victor David, warden of the county containing the old artifact. “As far as I'm concerned, while Richmond County exists, it will be a centrepiece in Richmond County."

Nova Scotia historic buildings


But the building is a burden on the town’s budget, and is now for sale – a similar story to another defunct courthouse a couple of hours up the road.

In Victoria County, the courthouse helped the town of Baddeck bustle. Its doors are also shutting.

"We see an increase in traffic certainly on court days,” says Susan Matheson, a local shop owner. “And that's a big help, throughout winter especially, so it will be a negative impact for sure."

The province saved half a million dollars with that decision, but residents say they’re the ones eating the cost.

Nova Scotia historic buildings

"It saves them money, but it costs our residents money, because they have to incur the cost of travelling elsewhere," says county warden Bruce Morrison.

It’s the same story for an old jail in Antigonish, where the cells sit empty after being replaced by a new facility. As the province builds toward its future, the tiny towns seem to keep getting smaller.

"There's nothing left in small communities. It's all going to bigger areas,” one local woman told CTV Atlantic. “We keep losing it piece by piece."

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Todd Battis