NOVA SCOTIA, Canada's Ocean Playground

Overview and history

Nova Scotia : points of interest
other provinces

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NOVA SCOTIA is also called Canada's Ocean Playground. It consists of the peninsula Cape Breton, Ile Royale, and several smaller islands. The French called it Acadia, which is a Mi'kmaq word for "many", but the British gave it the name Nova Scotia, the Latin name for New Scotland.

In 1867, Nova Scotia joined the Dominion of Canada, along with New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The capital and largest city is Halifax. It is the second smallest Canadian province, after Prince Edward Island, with a surface of 55,000 km2. Approximately 75% of its surface is forested, and the animal kingdom is represented by smaller animals.

The province has some 900,000 inhabitants, with a density of 17 per km2. However, a large part of the interior is still uninhabited. Originally, the economy was based on mining, fishing and the wood industry.

The tides in the Bay of Fundy are the largest in the world, and the difference between high and low tide can run up to 16 meters!

map of Nova Scotia

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*** Read more about Prehistoric American-Indian cultures ***

The first inhabitants were the Mi'kmaq and the Abenaki, who developed good trade relations with the French, and remained their allies during the many wars with the British.

The Vikings probably explored the island around 1000 AD, but the first written exploration on record was made in 1497 by Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), an Italian explorer, who claimed the area for England. In 1524 and 1534, Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier explored the whole area for France.

In 1604, Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, received the monopoly of the fur trade from the French king, and also a royal gift of land. He sailed with Samuel de Champlain, Baron Poutrincourt and about 125 settlers, to colonize the island. They wintered with much effort on St Croix island, in the Passamaquoddy Bay.

In the following spring, the remaining 44 survivors crossed the Fundy Bay and founded Port Royal, present-day Annapolis. In 1607, Monts lost his monopoly and Port Royal was abandoned. However, in 1610 Baron Poutrincourt returned, and he founded Acadia, the first successful European settlement in Canada.

The British still claimed Acadia, based on Cabot's voyage and their Royal Charters. In 1621, King James I changed the name Acadia to Nova Scotia (New Scotland), and he granted the land to Sir William Alexander. There followed a remarkable story of conquest, loss and reacquisition, which lasted for nearly 100 years!

* In 1627 an army of British and Scots fired Port Royal.
* In 1629 several groups of Scots founded Charlesfort and Rosemar, and the area became Nova Scotia.
* In 1632, and after a European war between England and France was ended, Nova Scotia went to France and it was again called Acadia. At once new French settlers arrived.
* In 1654 Robert Sedgwick from Massachusetts destroyed the settlement Port Royal and Fort La Tour. So the name was changed to Nova Scotia.
* In 1667 a new European treaty brought Nova Scotia back under French rule, hence, Acadia.
* In 1674 the area came under Dutch rule for a few months, when Juliaen Aernouts conquered the French forts. Still Acadia...
* In 1690 Sir William Phips again captured Port Royal and Nova Scotia for the British.
* In 1697 a new treaty gave Acadia back to France...
* After all these fights and conquests, nobody had even the faintest idea anymore whether it was Acadia or Nova Scotia, and who actually controlled the area...
* In 1710 the British again conquered Nova Scotia, and the Peace of Utrecht made this change final in 1713.
* However, during King George's War of 1744-1748 new fighting broke out between the French and the British. But meanwhile, English and Scottish immigrants continued their influx in Nova Scotia.
* In 1750 the French built Fort Beausejour and Fort Gaspereau in New Brunswick.
* In 1755 during the French and Indian War, these were conquered by the British.

By now the British were thoroughly fed up with the French tenacity, and in 1755, all French residents of Acadia (some 12,000 people from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) were forcibly deported to France or to other British colonies. This deportation (le Grand Dérangement) cost many lives. Just in Nova Scotia, more than 6,000 French were deported. Their descendants became the Cajuns.

By 1760 the English controlled the whole of La Nouvelle France. In 1763 the Treaty of Paris added Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. Prince Edward Island became independent in 1769, and in 1784 Cape Breton and New Brunswick became independent. But in 1820 Cape Breton was annexed by Nova Scotia...

During the American Revolution (1775-1783), the Nova Scotians remained fairly neutral. After the revolution many ex-Acadiens returned, together with many new Scots and Irish. The wars of Napoleon (1799-1815) and the War of 1812 stimulated the Halifax shipyards, with orders for the British fleet. In 1848, Nova Scotia became the first British colony to have a self-elected government.

In 1867 Nova Scotia reluctantly joined the Dominion of Canada, although 18 of the 19 representatives voted AGAINST the Confederacy. The leader of the dissenters, Joseph Howe, went to Great-Britain to argue in favour of separation. After "difficult negotiations" (sic...) he gracefully allowed himself to be convinced otherwise, and as a reward he promptly received a seat in the new government...

After the American Civil War (1861-1865) the local economy further developed, when iron ships replaced the old wooden ships. Many residents of Nova Scotia, however, emigrated to the newly opened areas in western Canada and the USA. World Wars I and II helped the economy to pick up somewhat, but not as strongly as in the rest of Canada.

In 1990 erupted a juicy political scandal, when John Buchanan, Prime Minister since 1978, suddenly resigned after allegations of corruption. Nevertheless, his political colleagues made sure that he immediately received a cushy job in the federal Senate...

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