Meet Sampoorna Bhattacharya, Herb Stovel Scholar

Sampoorna Bhattacharya, from Guelph ON, is a full-time student and MSc. candidate at the University of Guelph in the collaborative Rural Planning and Development and International Development Studies program. She became involved with the National Trust in 2016, through the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s (ACO) NextGen job shadow program. In 2019 she was awarded a Herb Stovel Scholarship, which supports Canadian students and young professionals pursuing post-secondary or graduate studies in built heritage conservation.

Since becoming a Herb Stovel Scholar: I enhanced my understandings about rural residents and perceptions on rural heritage across Canada. Through the Herb Stovel Scholarship, I was able to attend the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF) Conference in October 2019, in which many workshops and panels had a focus on heritage. In my graduate studies, I now keep in mind specifically Canadian perceptions, challenges and strengths and analyze them alongside global matters.

I care about historic places because: They are living museums. Careful and holistic conservation of historic places provides a window to our truth. They are places that tell stories and teach us about who we are. On a global scale, there is a lot of pressure to modernize and revamp spaces, but this compromises emotional attachment and cultural pride. My hope is to see projects that retain and build on their heritage.

The place that every Canadian should see at least once in their life: The eastern provinces of Canada are often underrated but uniquely beautiful. Specifically, the Halifax region came as a surprise to me. The city itself has the impressive Citadel right in the middle, the Victorian public gardens and the distinctive harbour. Also, a short drive away from the city center is Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with brightly coloured wooden houses. Lunenburg is a place that I could not have imagined from photos I had seen before, but it is an experience to remember.

Buildings in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Photo credit: Sampoorna Bhattacharya.

If I were a historic place, my architecture style would be: I am extremely interested in the first forms of architecture, around the globe. I find it amazing how cultures have used materials directly from the earth. Indigenous places in Canada and elsewhere have a strong connection to nature, growing from it and returning back to it. As an example, the root bridges of Meghalaya have always fascinated me. I also find Moorish architecture such as in the Alhambra unbelievably beautiful.

My idea of “heritage”: Something we all carry within us, something sacred to us. Historic places remind us of our heritage and show us how to move forward in life. Looking at global heritage reminds us that our pasts and futures are shared.


All who knew Herb Stovel understood his commitment to heritage conservation and, more importantly, his strong support for education and preparing a new generation of professionals. The Herb Stovel Scholarship keeps his legacy alive and supports Canadian students or young professionals pursuing post-secondary or graduate studies in built heritage conservation.

Donate today to help fund a Herb Stovel Scholar.


The Trust Questionnaire is the National Trust’s take on the Proust Questionnaire, made famous by writer Marcel Proust.