Nova Scotia History

Nova Scotia history dates back more than 11,000 years to the times when Native Indian settlers (the Mi'kmaq were the first of all tribes) had established camps throughout the province, from present-day Cape Breton to the wilderness region of Yarmouth where the weather and geographical conditions allowed for excellent hunting and fishing. Though the Halifax Explosion is indeed the most predominant aspect of the province's history, what has happened economically and politically in the region set the foundations for the situation.

Though history can always be called ambiguous between different-minded historians, it is widely accepted that the English were the first to sail to the beaches of Nova Scotia, slightly before the turn of the sixteenth century. It wasn't until more than 100 years later that many more Europeans arrived and it was the French who were busy establishing fishing ports and capitals. Nova Scotia facts deem the French set up the tiny fishing village of Canso, an area connecting to now heavily touristed Cape Breton, near Sydney. Sailing on the waters, they made incredible catches of every kind of seafood, which is still an aspect widely enjoyed in province-wide dining. The French colonial empire established land all over North America and New England that was called Acadia, or in French Acadie.

Many of the most important Nova Scotia facts circling province history occurred during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Mid-Atlantic settlements and the Acadian coastline were all deemed New England by Scottish King James VI in the early 1600s. The English and Scottish forced the returning French out at Port Royal less than a decade later, solidified by the charter deeming Nova Scotia to be a lawful part of Scotland. The war lasted as the French returned and took over once again, with rights restored to them by the Treaty of Suza, established by King Charles I. The French enjoyed powerful advantages in Nova Scotia history; they took power over all First Nations lands.

Nova Scotia facts illustrate a deluge of violent events between several European colonies throughout the seventeenth century. Lands bounced around between the French, the Scottish and the British, eventually belonging permanently to the British in 1713 when it became an official colony of Britain. In 1749, the history of Halifax Nova Scotia was ignited upon an inauguration of the province's main army and naval based established to protect the British from French invasions.

The Halifax Explosion is the most renowned part of Nova Scotia history. December 6, 1917, will always be remembered as the most devastating event in Nova Scotia history, and as the largest explosion in the world. The accident happened along the Halifax waterfront, when the Mont Blanc, a Nova Scotia-bound French ship, arrived without time to enter the harbor so instead dropped anchor and sailed in early the next morning. Another ship named Imo was simultaneously preparing to pull anchor and head out into open water toward New York. The bottom line is Mont Blanc, more than 300 feet long and forty wide, was fully loaded with explosive cargo. The two vessels experienced mixed directional signals and collided in the most unfortunate and desecrating accident in Canadian history. The Halifax Explosion saw almost 2,000 men, women, and children dead, almost 10,000 injured and more than 20,000 buildings damaged or wrecked. The entire harborfront was destroyed. The wreckage reached as far as Dartmouth and Fort Needham. The explosion covered almost 400 acres of land.

Over time, the Halifax Explosion had less of an effect on the province as cities were rebuilt and lands were reclaimed. Since that time economic downturn and unsteady industry has cast a shadow over the standard of living in Nova Scotia. Jobs have been scarce and real estate virtually worthless in some areas. Since the mid-1990s, Nova Scotia's economy has experienced a resurgence, adding film and tourism as two major economic contributors. Today, when visiting Nova Scotia, the good spirits of the locals, the proud hospitality, and the striking scenes and settings combine to make it one of the top travel destinations in the country.

Image: Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

Bay of Fundy

Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy separates Nova Scotia from its neighboring province of New B...

Dartmouth Nova Scotia


Dartmouth Nova Scotia is Halifax's unpopular little sister. Both cities are l...

Nova Scotia Beaches


Nova Scotia beaches are located all around the province. Wherever your vacati...

Latest Topics

More Forum Posts »