Prior to settlement by Europeans, the Micmac and Abenakis Indians of the east coast were building "wigwams", conical structures with wood frames and covered with bark or skins. The first French colonists to settle in Nova Scotia built wooden houses that they dismantled and rebuilt in the more sheltered location of Port Royal (Annapolis Royal) after the first hard winter. Later French settlers, known as Acadians, built simple houses using local timber in a technique called pièce sur pièce.
The next wave of settlers, the British, also established settlements in the area in much the same way. The English and Scottish were later joined by the United Empire Loyalists, who left the United States in the mid-18th century. The Loyalists from New England introduced the Cape Cod Cottage, a simple wood frame house with a gabled roof and shingle siding that was characteristic of east coast architecture in the United States. This way of building was inexpensive and well adapted to the climate, qualities that helped it become the most widely used style in the Maritimes.