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Nova Scotia, Canada

NOVA SCOTIA, (originally ACADIA,) a province of the Dominion of Canada, lying between 43 25" and 47 N. lat., and between 59 40' and 66 25' W. lon. It consists of a long, narrow peninsula called Nova Scotia proper, and the Island of Cape Breton, which is separated from the mainland by the Strait of Canso. It is bounded N. by Northumberland Strait (which separates it from Prince Edward Island) and by the Gulf of St. Lawrence; N.E., S. and S.E., by the Atlantic Ocean; W. by the Bay of Fundy; and N. by New Brunswick, with which it is connected by an isthmus only 11 miles wide, separating the Bay of Fundy from Northumberland Strait. Greatest length from S. W. to N. E., 350 miles; greatest breadth, about 120 miles; area 21,731 square miles, equal to 13,332,003 acres.

The country is beautifully variegated by ranges of lofty hills and broad valleys, both of which run longitudinally through the province. Its Atlantic frontier, for 5 to 10 miles inland, is composed chiefly of a poor soil, though rich in gold and other minerals. The Cobequid range of mountains, as they are called, run through the interior of the Province. The summits of a few of the conical mounts of this range ascend 1,100 feet and are cultivable nearly to their tops. On each side of these mountains are two extensive ranges of rich arable lands, where agricultural operations are carried on extensively and with profit. From Briar Island, at the extremity of Digby Neck, and Capes Split and Blomedon, a distance of 130 miles along the Bay of Fundy, extends a ridge of mural "precipices," many places presenting over-hanging masses of trap rocks from 100 to 600 feet in height. These frowning crags, with their crowded forests of fir, are first seen by the mariner in crossing the Bay of Fundy; their height serves to protect the interior from the driving fogs of the bay. Beyond this barrier lies the rich and beautiful valley of the Annapolis.

The south eastern coast of Nova Scotia is remarkable for the number of its capacious harbors, there being no fewer than 12 ports capable of receiving ships of the line, and 14 of sufficient depth for merchantmen, between Halifax and Cape Canso, a distance of not more than 110 miles. There are also some excellent harbors on the S.W. coast and on the N. side of the province. The Island of Cape Breton is second only to Nova Scotia proper in the number and capacity of its harbors. The Big Bras d Or is one grand harbor, while around the coast and in the Strait of Canso there are many fine harbors.

Nova Scotia is beautifully diversified with rivers and lakes, covering an area estimated at 3,000 square miles. The largest lake in Nova Scotia proper is Lake Rossigaol, being twenty miles in length; the next largest is Ship Harbor Lake, 13 miles long; Grand Lake, discharging its waters northward through Shubenacadie River to Cobequid Bay; and College Lake, in the eastern part of the peninsula. The lakes of Cape Breton are much larger and more important. The principal of these, however, are inland seas, rather than lakes. The great Bras d'Or Lake is a magnificent expanse of water, of great depth, about 50 miles in length, and abounding with the best quality of fish. Of the rivers of Nova Scotia 15 flow into Northumberland Strait; four into St. George's Bay; 17 into the Atlantic, and 24 into the Bay of Fundy. The most important are the Shubenacadie, the Avon and the Annapolis, flowing into the Bay of Fundy: the St. Mary's, Musquodoboit, La Have and Liverpool, flowing into the Atlantic. All the rivers are, with few exceptions, navigable for casting vessels for distances varying from two to twenty miles. The most remarkable body of water in the province is Minas Basin, the cast arm of the Bay of Fundy, penetrating 60 miles inland and terminating in Cobequid Buy. The tides here rush in with great impetuosity, and form what is called the bore. At the equinoxes they have been known to rise from 40 to 50 feet while in Halifax harbor, on the opposite coast, the spring tides rise only from 6 to 8 feet. The other principal bays are St. George's Bay and Chedabucto Bay in the E., connected by the Gulf of Canso; St. Mary's Bay and Townsend Bay in the extreme west of the peninsula; and Mahone and St. Margaret's Bays on the S. coast.

The province of Nova Scotia is rich in geological resources, all the racks from the crystalline granites up to the new sandstone series being here met with. In the isthmus connecting the peninsula to New Brunswick, the under-lying rocks consist of gray, red, and buff colored sandstones of the coal measures, containing innumerable seams of good bituminous coal, many of which are of sufficient magnitude to be profitably worked. Lofty cliffs abutting upon the sea coast at the South Joggins present the most beautiful sectional profiles of the coal-bearing strata, with curious fossils, both of vegetable and animal origin. Large trunks of trees, such as are at present unknown in a living state, are here seen at various points, standing at right angles to the sands to le strata. Alternate beds of excellent bituminous coal are seen cropping out along the shore, and a company has for years being working extensive mines in one of these coal beds. The rocks of this coal formation also furnish an abundance of excellent material for building and for grindstones. Large quantities of beautiful and compact gray, buff colored and blue sandstone, and an immense number of grindstones are annually exported to the United States. Coal is elsewhere found more abundantly in Pictou co., and on the Island of Cape Bre on. The province possesses great resources in gold and iron, aid in copper and, silver, tin and other minerals. The gold yield of Nova Scotia from the first working of the mines in 1800 to the close of 1872, is estimated at 237,000 ozs., valued at 948,000 stg. Number of mines opened in 1872, 35. Iron is al so a stable production, the business done by a company at Londonderry being extensive. The quantity of ore on their property is inexhaustible, and the quality of iron manufactured is at least equal to the best Swedish. Manganese is abundant, and gypsum is extensively worked near Wind or and in Cape Breton. The slate hills furnish good . roofing slates, and hones of a superior quality are obtained in some of the spates of the coal series. Beautiful agates, amethysts, chalcedonies, jaspers, cairngorms, and the entire group of zeolite minerals abound in the amygdaloidall trap along the Bay of Fundy.

The climate of Nova Scotia is remarkably temperate considering its northern latitude. The extreme of cold is 20 below zero; the extreme of heat 98 above, in the shade. The climate varies considerably in the different counties. The western counties average from 6 to 8 degrees warmer than the eastern. In Annapolis county, for instance, the mercury in the coldest winters rarely falls below zero. The coldest season is from the fist week in December until the first week of March. The springs are tedious, the summer heals being for a brief season excessive; vegetation is singularly rapid, and the autumn is delightful. Dense fogs are at certain seasons prevalent along the Atlantic coast. Wheat, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, Indian corn, potatoes, turnips, mangel wurtzel, tomatoes and other grains and roots grow in abundance and perfection. Apples, pears, plums, cherries and other garden fruits attain the utmost perfection. In some sections of the country peaches and grapes ripen in the open air. The apple orchards of Annapolis and King's counties are very productive, and extend along the roadsides in an un-broken line for 50 miles.

The manufactures of Nova Scotia are yet but very limited. Coarse cloths, called "homespuns" are made by the peasantry, and are generally worn by that class. Coarse flannels, bed linen, blankets, carpets and tweeds, are also manufactured. Tanning is carried on to some extent; and in the towns and villages boots, shoes, saddlery, harness, house-hold furniture and agricultural implments are made in large quantities. In the neighborhood of Halifax, tobacco, printing and wrapping paper, machinery, nails, pails, fuse, gunpowder, carriages, and some other articles are manufactured.

The geographical position of Nova Scotia is highly favorable to commercial pursuits, and as the natural resources become more fully developed there is no doubt her commerce will very largely increase. The imports of the province for 1872 amounted to $12,433,747, of which $6,113,204 were from England, and $3,090,501 from the United States. The exports during the same period amounted to $7,538,401. The largest portion of the exports were drawn from the fishing and mining interests. If we except Newfoundland, Nova Scotia may be said to possess the finest fisheries in the world. There is no part of its coast of 1,000 miles where a profitable fishery may not be pursued. Its bays and harbors, and inland lakes and rivers, teem with salmon, cod, halibut, had-dock, mackerel, herring, shad, lobsters, &c. The value of fish caught in 1871 amounted to $5,101,030; number of men employed in the fisheries, 20,313.

Shipbuilding is very extensively engaged in in Nova Scotia. In 1872, 188 vessels were built, with an aggregate burthen of 52,882 to is.

There are 306 miles of railway in operation in the province. The Inter-colonial proceeds from Halifax to Amherst, 138 miles, and thence to St. John, N.B.; and from Truro to Pictou 52 miles. The Windsor and Annapolis proceeds from Windsor Junction to Annapolis, 116 miles. The extension of the latter road to Yarmouth is projected. Another line, to run from New Glasgow to Louisburg, is also projected. Louisburg is one of the finest harbors in the Island of Cape Breton. It is open all the year round, and admirably adapted as a winter port. There are two canals in the province one from Halifax to Cobequid Bay, and the other connecting St. Peter's Bay, on the Atlantic coast of Cape Breton Island, with Bras d'Or Lake; length 2,300 feet.

The Electric Telegraph is established all over the province, and extends through all the other provinces. A message may be sent from Halifax direct to California, the Atlantic Cable gives Nova Scotia telegraphic communication with Europe.

The public affairs of the Province are administered by a Lieutenant Governor, an Executive Council of 9 members, a Legislative Council of 21 members, appointed for life, and a Legislative Assembly of 33 members, elected every four years. The laws are dispensed by a Supreme Court, composed of a Chief and 9 assistant justices, a Court of Error, of Vice-Admiralty, and of Marriage and Divorce. In each county there is a Court of Probate, which has control of the property of deceased persons.

The following table shows the counties of Nova Scotia aid Cape Breton, wish the capitals and population of each in 1871:

Counties Pop Capital
Annapolis 18,121 Annapolis
Antigonish 10,512 Antigonish
Cape Breton 26,454 Sydney
Colchester 23,331 Truro
Cumberland 23,518 Amherst
Digby 17,037 Digby
Guysborough 16,555 Guysborough
Halifax 50,903 Halifax
Hants 21,301 Windsor
Inverness 23,415 Port Hood
Kings 21,510 Kentville
Lunenburg 23,834 Lunenburg
Pictou 32,114  
Queens 10,554 Liverpool
Richmond 14,168 Arichat
Shelburne 12,417 Sheiburne
Victoria 11,346 Baddeck
Yarmouth 13,550 Yarmouth



Total area of the above counties 18,882,020 acres.

Halifax is the chief city in Nova Scotia. Its harbor is the finest in America, and protected by a fortress armed with powerful batteries of three and six hundred pounders Armstrong rifled guns. Small towns and villages are scattered over the province, which are accessible from the most remote districts by railway or steamboat, or good carriage roads.

Education is free to the children of all classes in Nova Scotia. There are numerous public school and academies, besides a normal and model school, several convents, and 6 colleges, viz: Dalhousie College and University, St. Mary's College, (R.C.,) and the Presbyterian College, Halifax; Acadia College, (Baptist,) Wolfville; St. Francis College, (R.C.,) Antigonish; and King's College and University, Windsor. The latter, belonging to the Church of Eng-land, was founded in 1787.

There are two Roman Catholic Dioceses in the province the Archdiocese of Halifax, and the diocese of Arichat; and one Church of England Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The following table, taken from the census returns of 1871, shows the various religious denominations and the number of their adherents:

Church of England 55,124
Church of Home 102,001
Church of Scotland 2,159
Presbyterians 82,000
Baptists 73,430
Wesleyan Methodists 38,683
Other Methodists 2,094
Congregationalists 2,538
Other Denominations 9,822
Jews 0
Of no religion 116
No creed stated 1,353



Nova Scotia was first visited by John Cabot and his son Sebastian in 1497, but was not colonized by Europeans until 1604, when De Monts, a Frenchman, and his followers, and some Jesuits, attempted for 8 years to form settlements in Port Royal, St. Croix, &c, but were finally expelled from the country by the English governor and colonists of Virginia, who claimed the country by right of the discovery of the Cabots. In 1621, Sir William Alexander applied for and obtained from James I., a grant of the whole country, which be proposed to colonize on an extensive scale, and in 1623 the attempt was made; but the proposed colonists finding the various points where they wished to establish themselves thronged by foreign adventurers, did not think it prudent to at-tempt a settlement, and therefore re-turned to England. During the reign of Charles I., the Nova Scotia baronets were created, and their patents ratified in Parliament; they were to contribute their aid to the settlement, and to have portions of land allotted to them; their number was not to exceed 150. In 1654,Cromwell sent an armed force and took possession of the country, which remained with the English till 1667, when it was ceded to France by the Treaty of Breda. But the English from time to time attacked the French colonists at various points, till 1713 when the country was finally ceded to England. In 1763 the Island of Cape Breton was annexed to Nova Scotia. In 1784, the province of New Brunswick was created; and in 1867, Nova Scotia became a member of the Dominion of Canada.

Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America, Edited by P.A. Crossby, 1873


Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America

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