Saturday, 11 January 2014

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, province of eastern Canada, consisting of a peninsula on the Canadian mainland, Cape Breton Island, and numerous smaller islands. The peninsula is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land called the Isthmus of Chignecto. Cape Breton Island is separated from the peninsula by the Strait of Canso. Nova Scotia is one of the Maritime provinces of Canada, along with Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick; it is also one of the Atlantic provinces (the Maritimes plus Newfoundland and Labrador). Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital and largest city.
Nova Scotia juts out into the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland, and no part of the province is far from the sea. Teeming with fish and shellfish, the sea has always been central to life in Nova Scotia. The province’s many fine harbors and close proximity to sea lanes have given Nova Scotia an important role in Canada’s defense. The harbor at Halifax, one of the world’s largest, is open year-round and is one of Canada’s busiest ports.
Long before Europeans arrived, Nova Scotia was inhabited by the Mi'kmaq and Abenaki, Algonquian-speaking indigenous peoples. Seafaring Vikings, who explored the coast of northeastern North America in the 10th century, were likely the first Europeans to see Nova Scotia. About five centuries later, in 1497, the Italian navigator John Cabot made a landing in the area, possibly at Cape Breton Island. Cabot was followed by many other explorers and fishers who plied Nova Scotia’s coastal waters.
In 1605 the French explorers Samuel de Champlain and Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts established a settlement in Nova Scotia at Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal)—the first permanent French settlement in Canada. Nova Scotia was part of a maritime colony that France called Acadia, possibly after the Mi’kmaq word meaning “plenty.” The British, too, laid claim to Acadia, which they later called Nova Scotia (Latin for “New Scotland”). In the imperial rivalry that ensued, the territory passed back and forth between the two countries until 1713, when France ceded Acadia to the British (apart from Cape Breton Island and other areas). During the 1750s, French Acadians in Nova Scotia who refused to swear allegiance to the British crown were forcibly deported by British troops. In 1867 Nova Scotia became one of Canada’s four original provinces, along with New Brunswick, Ontario, and Québec.
Nova Scotia is the second smallest Canadian province (only Prince Edward Island is smaller). Nova Scotia is about 560 km (about 350 mi) long, averages 110 km (70 mi) in width, and has an area of 55,284 sq km (21,345 sq mi), including 1,946 sq km (751 sq mi) of inland water. No part of the province is more than 80 km (50 mi) from the sea.
A Natural Regions
The Maritime provinces are part of the Appalachian Region, a geographic zone that extends over much of eastern North America. More than half the area of Nova Scotia lies within the Atlantic Upland, a large upland plateau that gradually rises from the Atlantic coast. The Atlantic Upland stretches from the southern tip of the peninsula to Cape Breton Island in the northeast. Underlain by granites, quartzites, and some slates, the upland consists of five main sections that are separated by lowlands. The most important lowlands are in the southwest, along Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy, and in the north, along Northumberland Strait. Thick glaciers covered the entire province during the last ice age, and in many areas the hills were stripped of their soil as the glaciers retreated. In other areas, the action of glaciers produced numerous bogs and lakes.
The highest elevations in Nova Scotia are found in the Northern Highlands, areas of uplands that reach across northern parts of the province. The highest point, 532 m (1,745 ft) above sea level, is found in Cape Breton Highlands National Park near the extreme northeastern end of the island. However, the average elevation of the uplands is less than 300 m (1,000 ft), with occasional rounded knobs rising above the general level. In the north central region are the Cobequid Mountains, which rise to slightly more than 300 m (1,000 ft) and extend about 140 km (about 90 mi) from east to west. Further to the west a steep ridge, called North Mountain, separates the Annapolis Valley from the Bay of Fundy.
The largest and most important lowland in Nova Scotia is the fertile Annapolis Valley, which is drained by the Annapolis and Cornwallis rivers. The valley is about 130 km (about 80 mi) long and varies in width from 5 to 15 km (3 to 10 mi). The valley consists mainly of red sandstones and shales. The valley’s tidal marshes were the first lands cultivated by European settlers in Canada, and some of the original dikes built to control tidal flooding survive to the present day.
East of the Annapolis Valley and extending southward toward the interior of the peninsula is another lowland that contains shales and sandstones. Most of the southern half of Cape Breton Island is a region of lowlands underlain by sandstones, limestones, and coal. Bordering Northumberland Strait are the Northumberland coastal lowlands, which are generally marshy and much cooler than the Annapolis Valley. These lowlands are underlain by old sedimentary rocks that give the soil a red color in some places. Many of the sediments contain coal.
B Coastline
Nova Scotia’s rugged Atlantic coast in the south is deeply indented with many coves and harbors, and numerous small islands dot the shoreline. It is a good example of a drowned coastline, the land having been depressed by the weight of the ice during the last glacial period. Halifax and Lunenburg, centers of the fishing industry, are located on deep inlets on the coast. In the west the shores are swept by the Bay of Fundy, which records among the highest tides in the world. The difference between high tide and low tide may be as much as 18 m (60 ft).
C Rivers and Lakes
Nova Scotia has hundreds of rivers and small streams and several thousand lakes. Most rivers are narrow and short, generally less than 80 km (50 mi) long. All have their origins in the Atlantic Upland. The Annapolis, Sissiboo, and Shubenacadie rivers flow into the Bay of Fundy. Among other rivers, the Mersey drains Lake Rossignol, and the Saint Mary’s flows into the Atlantic Ocean east of Halifax.
Located on the western side of Cape Breton Island, Lake Ainslie is the largest natural freshwater lake in Nova Scotia. Even larger is Bras d’Or, a saltwater tidal lake linked to the Atlantic Ocean that covers nearly one-fourth of Cape Breton Island. Extensive bogs are found throughout the province.
D Climate
Although Nova Scotia is almost entirely surrounded by water, its location on the eastern side of the continental landmass results in a climate that is distinctly continental, rather than maritime. The weather systems that influence the climate of Nova Scotia generally originate over the mainland. Halifax, for example, has average January temperatures that range from a high of 0°C (32°F) to a low of -9°C (16°F). Moist Atlantic air often brings mild weather in winter and cooling squalls in summer.
Nova Scotia receives an average of more than 1,140 mm (45 in) of rain annually, with the Atlantic shore receiving 1,400 mm (55 in) or more. Most of the province receives about 1,900 mm (about 70 in) of snow, and considerable winter precipitation comes in the form of rain or ice storms. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is generally about -4°C (about 25°F) near the coast and somewhat colder toward the interior. The average temperature in July, the hottest month, is about 18°C (about 65°F) in the interior and about 16°C (about 60°F) near the shore. Thick fog from the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Fundy is common during the early summer months.
E Soils
The soils of Nova Scotia are generally thin and stony as a result of glacial erosion. The mature soils are all podzols, which are soils that form in moist climates and have a high content of aluminum and iron compounds. They are also highly acidic and relatively infertile. There are exceptions, as in the Annapolis Valley, in the marshlands of the Bay of Fundy, and along Northumberland Strait. The most fertile soils are found in the river valleys.
F Plant Life
The forests of Nova Scotia are extensive and commercially valuable. About three-fourths of the province’s land area is forested. In northern areas, sugar maple, yellow birch, beech, red maple, black ash, and white ash are common. In the south, black spruce, red spruce, tamarack (American larch), hemlock, white pine, and fir are widespread. The northern half of Cape Breton Island is an extension of the great coniferous forest of northern Canada, where white spruce and balsam fir are the dominant species.
Nova Scotia is noted for its profusion of wildflowers, including the mayflower, wild rose, and several species of violet. In bogs and shallow water are found the pitcher plant and white water lily. Bracken, wintergreens, and shrubs abound, as do many kinds of berries, including blueberries and cranberries. A variety of marsh grasses thrive in low-lying areas along the Bay of Fundy.
G Animal Life
The wildlife of the province consists principally of small animals such as fox, muskrat, mink, otter, groundhog, weasel, skunk, and porcupine. White-tailed deer are among the most common large animals. Other large animals include black bear, moose, and wildcat. Seals, whales, and porpoises live in offshore waters, as do many kinds of fish and shellfish, including cod, halibut, flounder, herring, mackerel, lobsters, clams, and scallops. The province’s plentiful birdlife includes the partridge, duck, grouse, pheasant, heron, plover, loon, and woodcock. Eagles, hawks, owls, kingfishers, and several species of woodpecker are also common. Salmon and trout are found in streams and lakes.
H Environmental Issues
One of the most serious environmental issues facing Nova Scotia is acid rain, a form of air pollution that is harmful to many types of plant and aquatic life throughout the Maritime provinces. A principal component of acid rain is sulfur dioxide, which is emitted by local coal-burning power plants. Prevailing winds also bring sulfur emissions from the northeastern United States. Domestic production of sulfur dioxide has dropped considerably since the early 1980s due to more advanced pollution prevention technology at power plants, and acid rain has declined since that time. However, many scientists believe that acid rain still poses a threat to Nova Scotia’s environment, and they advocate further emission reductions to protect the long-term health of vulnerable areas.
Another environmental concern in the province is water pollution, which results mainly from untreated domestic sewage, discharges from industry (including pulp and steel mills), and highway deicing salts. Untreated sewage is routinely pumped directly into the sea, degrading near-shore habitat and the associated fisheries, including those of Halifax and Sydney harbors. In 2002 the federal and provincial governments pledged funds to begin building three sewage-treatment plants in Halifax to help the city clean up its harbor. Water pollution has also contaminated groundwater in some areas and affected the water quality in wells from the Annapolis Valley to Cape Breton Island.
Nova Scotia’s department of natural resources manages efforts to conserve and protect forests, mineral resources, and wildlife habitat. Much of the department’s work is focused on reforestation and forest management. Hunting and the inland salmon and trout fisheries are closely regulated in the province. In addition, Nova Scotia is widely considered a leader in recycling in Canada. A deposit-refund system ensures that nearly all beverage containers are recycled, and most households and businesses have access to a curbside recycling program.
Nova Scotia’s economic development has been shaped largely by its natural resources and geographic location. The economy was initially dominated by mining, fishing, forestry, and farming. Since the 1930s, manufacturing industries have grown in importance. Most manufacturing jobs, such as fish processing and pulp and paper production, are closely tied to the province’s natural resources. The service sector, which includes the increasingly important tourism industry, grew rapidly in the 20th century and today is the leading source of income and employment in the province.
Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate is higher than in most other provinces, 7.8 percent in 2006, and per-capita incomes are below the national average. This is due mainly to fluctuating demand for many of Nova Scotia’s products and to the seasonal nature of employment in industries such as tourism. Federal financial support in the form of transfer payments and grants helps compensate the province for these fluctuations.
A Agriculture
The climate and geography across Nova Scotia are suitable for growing a variety of crops. The Annapolis Valley is the largest and most fertile agricultural region in the province and is suited to horticulture, livestock production, and livestock feeds. Livestock and livestock products generate a majority of farm income in Nova Scotia. Dairying is the largest sector, accounting for one-quarter of total farm production. The production of poultry, beef, and pork are also important.
The most common field crop in Nova Scotia is hay, which is not a market crop, but is used to support livestock. Grain crops are of only minor importance.
Nova Scotia is one of a handful of areas in the world where wild blueberries are harvested commercially. Blueberries thrive throughout much of the province and account for nearly half of Canada’s annual blueberry crop. Considerable quantities of apples and strawberries are also grown.
B Fisheries
Excellent fishing banks lie a few miles offshore, and fishers have long made a living from the sea. Among the Canadian provinces, Nova Scotia ranks second only to British Columbia in the value of its annual fish production. The most valuable species are shellfish—especially lobsters, scallops, and crabs. Other important species include haddock, herring, and pollock. In recent years dwindling cod stocks have nearly decimated the cod fishery—once a leading industry in the province. Since 1992, cod-fishing bans and strict quotas imposed by the federal government have caused hardship for many cod fishers throughout the Maritimes.
Aquaculture (fish farming) is a rapidly growing industry in Nova Scotia. The provincial department of agriculture and fisheries encourages aquaculture development through training and financial assistance. Among the species raised are Atlantic salmon, steelhead, blue mussels, scallops, rainbow trout, and oysters.
In 1984 the United Nations International Court of Justice (World Court) resolved a long-standing dispute between Canada and the United States over ownership of the Georges Bank, a fishing bank located near the coast of Massachusetts. Although the World Court awarded Canada just one-sixth of the disputed territory, Canada’s portion contained the richest fishing grounds. The decision gave Nova Scotian and other Canadian fishers exclusive fishing rights to an area long fished by both countries.
C Mining
Mineral production in Nova Scotia remains an important activity. Historically, Nova Scotia’s most valuable mineral product was coal. Mines in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality contain excellent coking-quality coal, which was long used to generate electricity and to produce iron and steel. However, much of the coal is expensive to extract, and in 2001—after years of financial difficulties—the last of Cape Breton’s once-numerous coal mines was forced to shut down.
Other valuable minerals found in Nova Scotia are salt and gypsum. Important salt deposits are located in north central Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia leads all the other Canadian provinces in the production of gypsum, which occurs in outcroppings throughout the northern half of the province. Much of Nova Scotia’s gypsum is exported to the United States.
Nova Scotia has large deposits of barite, used primarily in oil well drilling. The province also produces sand and gravel, cement, stone, and clay. Offshore deposits of petroleum and natural gas are mined near Sable Island.
D Forestry
Some 37,700 sq km (14,600 sq mi) of Nova Scotia is productive forestland. Most of the forests are privately owned, and many can best be called farm woodlots. Large sawmills are found primarily in northern Nova Scotia. The principal forestry products are pulpwood and sawn lumber. Many woodlot owners, especially in northern areas, produce maple syrup from the sugar maple.
Forestry has been important to the economy of Nova Scotia since the early 18th century. In the 19th century, Nova Scotia’s forests provided timber for wooden ships and planking that was carried to British markets overseas. The development of the pulp and paper industries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries greatly added to the value of the province’s forests.
E Manufacturing
Manufacturing is a leading economic activity in Nova Scotia. In 2004 manufacturing employed 10 percent of the province’s workers. Most manufacturing employment is based on the processing of local resources. The primary industries are food processing and pulp and paper production. Food-processing industries include the processing of fish and seafood, milk, fruits and vegetables, and livestock. Fish-processing plants are found throughout Nova Scotia. Important plants are located in Lunenburg, Yarmouth, Chéticamp, and Digby. Forest-based industries have had a historic role in the development of Nova Scotia, and they are still significant. Besides pulp and paper mills, there are a number of sawmills and furniture manufacturing plants.
Other industries include the manufacture of motor vehicle tires, transportation equipment, metal containers, concrete products, petroleum products, and electronic equipment. Historically, shipbuilding was important to the provincial economy although it has declined in recent years. Halifax is a center for the assembly of automobiles and the manufacture of railroad cars, aircraft, and aerospace equipment.
F Services
Most of the labor force in Nova Scotia is employed in service industries, which include personal and business services, wholesale and retail trade, banking and finance, communications, government administration, and public utilities. Taken together, services accounted for 79 percent of Nova Scotia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2001.
With an economy based largely on the extraction and processing of natural resources, Nova Scotia depends heavily on trade with other provinces and foreign countries to provide markets for its products. Fish and fish products and forest products are leading exports. Most sales outside Canada are to the United States.
More than 1 million tourists visit Nova Scotia annually, with June to October being the most popular travel months. About one-quarter of all tourists arrive from foreign countries. Visitors are attracted to the province’s scenic areas and to its many cultural institutions and historic sites. Nova Scotia is often called Canada’s Ocean Playground because of its numerous beaches. There is excellent sport fishing in offshore waters, and inland streams offer trout and salmon fishing. The provincial department of tourism and culture plays an active role in marketing Nova Scotia at home and abroad as a tourism destination.
G Electricity
More than 90 percent of Nova Scotia’s electrical energy comes from coal-fired power plants, with waterpower and oil-fired plants providing the rest. The major steam-driven power plants are at Lingan Bay, in Cape Breton; Tufts Cove, in the city of Dartmouth; Point Aconi; and Trenton. There are more than 30 small hydroelectric power plants, of which the largest is at Wreck Cove in the Cape Breton Highlands.
The absence of long rivers and high elevations precludes any extensive development of conventional waterpower in Nova Scotia, but sea tides have enormous potential to generate electricity. In 1984 Nova Scotia opened a tidal power plant at the estuary of the Annapolis River on the Bay of Fundy—the first such facility of its kind in North America. The plant uses the largest turbine ever constructed for hydroelectric production.
H Transportation
Nova Scotia’s earliest transportation route was the sea, with road construction beginning only in the late 18th century. Construction of railroads began in the mid-19th century, with most major rail lines completed by World War I (1914-1918). Today, Nova Scotia has an extensive network of roads, air routes, and rail lines, but maritime transportation and shipping remains important. Of the Atlantic ports of Canada, Halifax, with its year-round ice-free harbor, is second only to Montréal in the number of ships calling. Halifax Harbour is located a full day closer to Europe than any major U.S. port and is renowned for its international shipping business. The harbor has excellent facilities and is deep enough to permit easy entry to the largest oceangoing vessels. Cape Breton and Windsor also have excellent harbors. Nova Scotia has the second largest number of vessels with Canadian registry, although most are small fishing craft.
Nova Scotia’s mainline railroad carrier is Canadian National (CN) Railways, which connects international shippers in Halifax to the major urban centers of Montréal and Toronto in Canada and Chicago in the United States. Nova Scotia also has two privately owned short line railway carriers that offer service to regional and local shippers, as well as some passenger service. They are Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway (CBNS), which links Truro in central Nova Scotia with Sydney on Cape Breton Island, and the Windsor and Hantsport Railway, which offers service between Windsor Junction and New Minas. In addition, VIA Rail provides transcontinental passenger service between Halifax and Montréal six days a week. Acadian Lines offers bus service to most major communities in Nova Scotia. Several smaller bus companies also provide regional and local transportation services.
There are more than 48,700 km 30,260 mi>) of roads in Nova Scotia, although just over half are paved. The highway system includes more than 400 km (250 mi) of the Trans-Canada Highway, which links Cape Breton with Moncton, New Brunswick, via a causeway across the Strait of Canso. Halifax has an international airport. There are also airports at Cape Breton and Yarmouth. Automobile and passenger ferries connect Nova Scotia to locations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Maine.
A Population Patterns
According to the 2001 Canadian census, Nova Scotia had a population of 908,007, an increase of less than 1 percent over the 1991 figure of 899,942. Although the population density is 18 persons per sq km (45 per sq mi), most settlement is in coastal or valley locations. The interior regions of the province are largely unoccupied.
In the 2001 census, 31 percent of Nova Scotians claimed only British descent, 5 percent claimed French ancestry, and 7 percent claimed European ancestry. Some 51 percent said they were of Canadian origin, and about 3 percent identified themselves as aboriginal peoples. English is the first language of almost all the residents. During the colonial period, large numbers of Scots immigrated to Nova Scotia, and many people of Scottish ancestry still speak Gaelic as a second language, especially in eastern areas. French is the first language of a small minority. The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have about 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) of reserve land set aside for their use. According to the 2001 census, 7,770 Mi’kmaq lived on this reserve land.
B Principal Cities
In 2001, 56 percent of Nova Scotians resided in urban areas, which are communities of 1,000 or more inhabitants. The major cities in Nova Scotia, with their 2006 populations, are Halifax (372,679) and Cape Breton Regional Municipality (109,330).
Halifax, the capital and chief port of Nova Scotia, is situated on a small peninsula in Halifax Harbour. The city is Nova Scotia’s administrative center, chief port, and major manufacturing center. Across the harbor and connected to Halifax by the Angus L. Macdonald and A. Murray MacKay bridges is Dartmouth, an industrial and commercial center that merged with Halifax in 1996. Cape Breton Regional Municipality, situated on the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island, was formed through the consolidation of several cities and towns, including Sydney and New Waterford. Historically, the municipality was a center for coal mining and the iron and steel industries, as well as an important center for fishing. With the collapse of these traditional activities, the region has struggled to attract new industries. Truro, in central Nova Scotia, and Amherst, in the northwest, are strategically located trade and transportation centers. New Glasgow, in the north, was long an important shipbuilding center. Today, New Glasgow’s most important industries are the manufacture of railroad cars and automobile tires.
C Religion
Almost two-thirds of the population belong to Protestant denominations, the largest being the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church, Baptists, and Presbyterians. About one-third of the population is Roman Catholic.
A Education
Public education in Nova Scotia is free for primary and secondary students, and nearly all students attend public schools. Attendance is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. Public schools are administered by the provincial department of education, but regional school boards, whose members are locally elected, are responsible for their operation. The schools are supported by provincial grants and local taxes.
Higher education is provided by a number of nonsectarian and denominational institutions. The major degree-granting universities are Acadia University in Wolfville; Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax; St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish; and the University College of Cape Breton in Cape Breton.
Located on Dalhousie University’s campus is the University of King’s College. Another institution of higher education is the Université Sainte-Anne at Church Point, the province’s only French-language university. There are also a number of institutes of post-secondary study, as well as the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), which offers vocational and job-specific training at campuses located throughout the province. Special institutes of NSCC include the Nautical Institute at Port Hawkesbury and the Aviation Institute at Shearwater.
Among Nova Scotia’s other specialized education institutions are the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. The Institute of Marine Biosciences (IMB), a branch of the government-funded National Research Council of Canada, is also located in Halifax.
B Museums and Libraries
The Nova Scotia Museum (NSM), a part of the provincial department of tourism and culture, contains 26 museums across the province. It includes specialized museums, historic buildings, and other historically significant sites. The NSM is highly decentralized, with many branches operated by local boards or societies. The NSM also provides financial grants to dozens of community museums. Among the NSM’s specialized museums are the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Museum of Natural History, both in Halifax; the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, in Lunenburg; Ross Farm Museum; the Museum of Industry at Stellarton; and the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro. Historic sites include Barrington Woolen Mill, Sherbrooke Village, and Haliburton House.
The Nova Scotia Provincial Library, a part of the provincial department of education, coordinates public library services throughout Nova Scotia. The public library system includes nine regional libraries, each with many community branches. Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to offer free Internet access in all public library branches. Specialized libraries include the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Legislative Library, and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Library.
C Communications
Canada’s oldest newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, was first printed in 1752; in 1867 the newspaper became an official publication of the province under the name Nova Scotia Royal Gazette. The principal daily newspapers in Halifax are the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and its afternoon edition, the Mail Star. Cape Breton is served by the daily Cape Breton Post. There are also daily papers in New Glasgow, Truro, and Amherst. In 2002 there were 15 AM and 11 FM radio stations and 2 television stations in Nova Scotia.
D Arts
For many years Nova Scotia’s relative geographic isolation and undeveloped transportation left it somewhat outside the main currents of Canadian culture. Transportation improvements and the development of national media have helped bring Nova Scotia into the Canadian mainstream and diminished some aspects of traditional life. Today, Nova Scotia is home to a flourishing arts community, and the provincial government is an active supporter of cultural activities.
Halifax is the center for much of the province’s cultural activity, including visual arts, theater, and music. The portrait painter Gilbert Stuart Newton, a nephew of the noted U.S. painter Gilbert Stuart, was born and lived for a time in Halifax, and the city is home to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design—a respected instructional institute. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, an agency of the government based in Halifax, acquires and exhibits a wide range of historic and contemporary visual arts. Halifax’s Neptune Theater and Mermaid Theatre are among the premier theater companies in the province, and Symphony Nova Scotia, also in Halifax, is the only professional symphony in the Maritimes. The Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, located in Halifax, was founded in 1991 to support a wide variety of work in crafts and design, and it maintains studios in jewelry, woodworking, weaving, and other arts.
Scottish culture remains strong in the province, particularly in eastern areas, where Celtic bagpipe bands, singing, dancing, and handicrafts are popular. An Acadian festival, held annually at Clare, features Acadian crafts, theater productions, and music.
Nova Scotia is renowned for its varied scenery, from the lush orchard country of Annapolis Valley to the rocky shores of Peggy’s Cove on the Atlantic Coast. The sea is never far away, and there are many sandy beaches, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
A Parks and Historic Sites
Nova Scotia has 2 national parks and 122 provincial parks. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, near the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, is renowned for its rugged coastline and mountain scenery. Kejimkujik National Park, in southwestern Nova Scotia, attracts hikers, campers, and canoeists. There are 16 national historic sites, including Fort Anne at Annapolis Royal, Canada’s oldest fort; Louisbourg National Historic Site on Cape Breton Island, a reconstruction of a walled town built by the French; Halifax Citadel in Halifax; Port Royal, near Annapolis Royal, the reconstructed Habitation of 1605; Grand Pré, with its statue of Evangeline, the heroine of Longfellow’s poem; and Alexander Graham Bell Museum at Baddeck.
Nova Scotia has many well-preserved historic houses and buildings that are maintained by the provincial government and open to the public; many of these historic sites are part of the Nova Scotia Museum (NSM) system. They include the Perkins House, located in Liverpool and built in 1766; the Ross-Thomson House at Shelburne, erected in the 1780s; Uniacke House, built at Mount Uniacke near Halifax, from 1813 to 1815; and the Wolfville Historic House at Wolfville.
B Annual Events
Nova Scotia is host to numerous festivals and special events. At the Antigonish Highland Games in July and the Nova Scotia Gaelic Mod at Saint Ann’s, many Scottish games, dances, and songs are performed. The Apple Blossom Festival, held in the Annapolis Valley each June, features parades, music, dancing, foods, and crafts. Among the many other festivals and events in Nova Scotia are the Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax, a military and civilian extravaganza; the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival; the Nova Scotia Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Festival at Ardoise; the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, a weeklong celebration of chamber music; and the Nova Scotia International Air Show in Shearwater.
Nova Scotia has a parliamentary system of government that is similar in structure and powers to those of other Canadian provinces. It consists of a lieutenant governor, a cabinet composed of a premier and about 20 other ministers, and an elected legislature. All citizens 18 years of age and older may vote.
A National Representation
Nova Scotia is represented in the Canadian Parliament by 11 elected representatives in the House of Commons and by 10 senators, appointed by the federal government, in the Senate.
B Executive
The nominal head of government is the lieutenant governor, who is appointed by the federal government and represents the British monarch. Real power resides in the premier, who is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties that holds a majority of seats in the legislature. The premier appoints a cabinet, or executive council, from among the members of the legislature. These cabinet members head the various government departments. The premier and cabinet must resign if they lose the confidence of a majority in the legislature.
C Legislature
Nova Scotia’s unicameral (single-chamber) legislature, or House of Assembly, consists of 52 popularly elected members. The members serve for five years unless early elections are called by the lieutenant governor, on the advice of the premier, or in the event the government loses a vote of confidence. The legislature meets annually in regular sessions, each lasting several weeks. Established in 1758, the House of Assembly is the oldest elected legislative body in Canada.
D Judiciary
The highest provincial court is the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, with 11 justices. The court hears appeals from lower criminal and civil courts in the province. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia is the highest trial court in the province, with authority to try a wide range of criminal and civil matters. There are 25 justices on the Supreme Court, including a chief justice and associate chief justice. All justices of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are appointed by the federal government.
Nova Scotia has various provincial courts. The most important of these are the Family Court, which hears issues relating to the family, and the Provincial Court, which hears most criminal proceedings involving persons aged 16 or older. The province also has a Bankruptcy Court, Probate Court, and Small Claims Court.
E Political Parties
Historically, the two main political parties in Nova Scotia have been the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party. The Liberals have administered provincial affairs most of the time since 1848, when responsible government (local self-government) was first established in Nova Scotia. During the 20th century, the Liberals governed until 1925, from 1933 to 1956, 1970 to 1978, and 1993 to 1999; the Progressive Conservatives were in power during the other periods. The Progressive Conservatives regained control of the provincial government in 1999.
Two groups of Algonquian-speaking indigenous peoples, the Abenaki and the Mi'kmaq, inhabited Nova Scotia when the first Europeans arrived. Both groups established friendly relations with the French and traded with them. During the many wars between France and England for control of the region, the indigenous peoples generally sided with the French. When the wars ended with British victories, they made peace with the British.
A Exploration
Vikings may have been the first Europeans to reach Nova Scotia, having explored coastal areas of northeastern North America about ad 1000. In 1497 John Cabot, an Italian navigator sailing in the service of England, made a landing in the region. Cabot believed he had reached northeastern Asia, and he claimed the lands for the English crown. French claims to Nova Scotia were established by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524 and by Jacques Cartier ten years later. Located near rich fishing grounds, the peninsula soon became an outpost for French and Portuguese fishers. The French also made two unsuccessful attempts to establish colonies on the sea-lashed and windswept Sable Island, in 1518 by Baron de Léry, and in 1598 by Marquis de la Roche.
B French Settlement
In 1604, Pierre du Gua, Sieur de Monts, holder of a French royal fur monopoly and land grant, set out for North America with Samuel de Champlain, Baron de Poutrincourt, and a group of colonists. The colonists endured a difficult winter on Saint Croix Island in Passamaquoddy Bay, and many died of scurvy. In the following spring the 44 survivors moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal in the Annapolis Basin. However, de Monts lost his monopoly in 1607 and Port Royal was briefly abandoned. In 1610 Poutrincourt returned to the site and established what became the first successful agricultural settlement of Europeans in present-day Canada. The settlement of Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) marked the beginnings of Acadia, a French colony encompassing Nova Scotia and the lands around it.
C French and English Conflicts
Poutrincourt’s son, Charles de Biencourt, differed with the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order that tried to settle on Port Royal. He expelled them, and they founded a mission on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The English, basing their claim to Nova Scotia on Cabot’s voyage and on charters to the London and Plymouth companies, sent Sir Samuel Argall to the area. He destroyed the mission, expelled the colonists, and burned Port Royal. Biencourt and several companions, including his successor, Charles de La Tour, escaped to Cape Sable.
In 1621 James I of England gave the land to Sir William Alexander. The royal charter granting Alexander the land referred to the area as Nova Scotia (Latin for “New Scotland”). To encourage colonization, Nova Scotia was endowed with an order of baronets and a coat of arms in 1626. Scottish colonists soon established two settlements in Nova Scotia—at Charlesfort, near Port Royal, and at Rosemar, on Cape Breton Island—but both proved unsuccessful. The French drove the settlers from Rosemar, and Charlesfort was abandoned in 1632, after the Treaty of Saint Germain awarded Nova Scotia to France. In the same year, Isaac de Razilly brought a number of French settlers to the peninsula to supplement the small French Acadian population. With him came Sieur d’Aulnay Charnisay, with whom La Tour fought over royal privileges. La Tour moved his Cape Sable settlement to a fort on the site of Saint John, New Brunswick, but the rivalry continued.
D Wars for Control of Nova Scotia
Twice more in the 17th century the English captured French settlements in Nova Scotia, only to later return them. In 1654 Robert Sedgwick, leading an English fleet from Boston, seized Port Royal and Fort La Tour. Three years later the Treaty of Breda restored Acadia to France. Similarly, Sir William Phips’s capture of Port Royal in 1690, during King William’s War, was reversed by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697.
In 1710, during Queen Anne’s War, Francis Nicholson led an American colonial force and captured Port Royal for a fourth and final time—despite a brave defense made by Sieur de Subercase, the last French governor. In 1713 the Peace of Utrecht, which ended Queen Anne’s War, confirmed British control and transferred Acadia to Great Britain. Under the terms of the treaty, French Acadians were permitted to stay in Nova Scotia if they agreed to pledge an oath of loyalty to Britain within one year. The French retained Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island, and to protect their territorial possessions, they built a fortress at Louisbourg.
When Britain entered King George’s War in 1744, the French believed they could easily drive the British from Nova Scotia. A French force captured Canseau (now Canso) and marched on Annapolis Royal (formerly Port Royal), but failed to take the town. One year later New England troops commanded by Sir William Pepperell and a British fleet under Sir Peter Warren avenged the French attacks by seizing Louisbourg. France then sent a great fleet to attack British possessions in Canada and the West Indies, but the sailors were beset by plague and famine and returned to port without having fired a shot. In 1746 Jean-Baptiste-Nicolas-Roch de Ramezay, aided by the Mi’kmaq, who were organized by a Jesuit priest, Pére le Loutre, captured Grand Pré but not Annapolis Royal.
To the dismay of the British colonists, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, signed in 1748, returned Louisbourg to France. The British government, however, had resolved to make Nova Scotia an undisputed British possession. Although Acadians still refused to take the oath of allegiance, the character of the peninsula changed. Nearly 3,000 European immigrants to Nova Scotia were joined by a steady flow of New Englanders. Halifax was founded as a fishing port and naval station, and other towns were planned.
The French, fearful that the growing British population was a threat to their empire in North America (see New France), sought to strengthen their military presence in the maritime region. In 1751 the French built two more forts—Fort Beauséjour, near Aulac, and Fort Gaspereau, near Port Elgin, both in New Brunswick.
In 1755, during the French and Indian War, Fort Beauséjour fell under an American attack and Fort Gaspereau fell to the British. Although only a few Acadians participated in the prolonged conflict, the British governor, Charles Lawrence, gave them a final opportunity to declare their loyalty to England. When they refused, more than 6,000 were deported to the American colonies, although about 2,000 escaped. Three years after the Acadians’ expulsion a British force captured Louisbourg, weakening French control over the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the interior.
E British Colony
By the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the French and Indian War, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick were joined to Nova Scotia. However, Prince Edward Island was separated from Nova Scotia in 1769 and Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick were detached in 1784. Cape Breton Island was reannexed in 1820.
By 1758 nearly 2,000 colonists from the British Isles had moved to Nova Scotia, but the vast majority of immigrants were from New England. This American influence led to the introduction of the town meeting and Canada’s first representative assembly election, which took place in 1758 in Halifax. The influx of New Englanders expanded in 1760 and continued for several years. At the same time, many more settlers arrived in Nova Scotia from the British Isles. Beginning in the 1770s, large numbers of Scots immigrated to Nova Scotia, and they continued to do so for the next five decades, establishing numerous communities in eastern Nova Scotia.
Despite its large New Englander population, Nova Scotia maintained an uneasy neutrality during the American Revolution (1775-1783). When an invasion seemed likely, the British defenses were strengthened. The revolution had its effects: About 30,000 United Empire Loyalists migrated to southwestern Nova Scotia, which was reconstituted as the province of New Brunswick in 1814.
Although many Loyalists left Nova Scotia for New Brunswick, the loss was almost balanced by returning Acadians who had consented to take the oath of allegiance. Nova Scotia also received many of the 20,000 Scots who immigrated to Canada between 1815 and 1838, as well as many Irish immigrants who arrived after 1830.
The Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815) and the War of 1812 stimulated Nova Scotia’s economy. Halifax became a shipbuilding center for the British fleets engaged in European and American waters. A pioneer in steam navigation, Sir Samuel Cunard, of Halifax, won a contract in 1839 to conduct regular steamship service to carry mail between England and North America.
F Responsible Government
After 1758, Nova Scotia had a bicameral legislature: an elected house of assembly and a legislative council appointed by the governor. The council conducted secret sessions, and by combining legislative, judicial, and executive powers, held most government authority. By 1820 reformers were demanding responsible government that granted local autonomy and representation. Their leader, Joseph Howe, publisher of the Novascotian, used his newspaper and his influence as speaker of the assembly to combat the power of the council. In 1848, during the governorship of Sir John Harvey, Nova Scotia became the first British colony to obtain responsible government. James Boyle Uniacke led the new government as premier.
G Confederation
When a movement began in the 1860s to unite the Maritime colonies, opinion in Nova Scotia was divided. Later, Upper Canada and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Québec, respectively) proposed unification of all the British North American colonies. Nova Scotians generally distrusted the other colonies, disliked the financial terms of union, and had too much local pride to enter the union willingly. Nevertheless, Sir Charles Tupper, Nova Scotia’s premier (and later premier of Canada), agreed to the terms of the Québec Conference of 1864. By the British North America Act of 1867, Nova Scotia entered the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. The formation of this union is known to Canadians as Confederation.
However, 18 of the 19 Nova Scotians elected to the new federal House of Commons opposed Confederation. The chief opposition spokesman, Joseph Howe, went to Britain to negotiate secession for Nova Scotia. When better financial terms were offered, however, he agreed to union and took a seat in the new government, thus weakening the opposition.
At the time of Confederation, Nova Scotia had entered a period of economic turmoil. Its leadership in wood shipbuilding diminished and eventually disappeared as steel and iron replaced wood as the preferred construction material for large vessels. Trade and industry lagged after the American Civil War ended in 1865, and large numbers of Nova Scotians migrated to the newly opened lands of western Canada and the United States. The demands of World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), however, improved the economy, especially in the Halifax area. The port played an important role in both wars.
H Nova Scotia Since World War II
Nova Scotia did not keep pace with the rapid growth experienced elsewhere in Canada after World War II. However, the province made significant gains, especially after 1950, and manufacturing began to play a vital role in the provincial economy. Coal mining remained important, gypsum production on Cape Breton Island increased, and several coal-fired electric power plants were built. Both of the major parties in the province—the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals—worked to bring new industries to Nova Scotia. Traditional industries expanded, and new industries, such as petroleum refining and the manufacture of plastics and electronic equipment, emerged. Industrial and commercial expansion were also encouraged by the 1955 bridging of the Strait of Canso, which connected Cape Breton Island with the mainland, and by the construction of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway through Nova Scotia in the 1960s.
During the 1970s coal mining in Nova Scotia expanded, driven in part by the global energy crisis, and provincial funds were used to build an industrial park on the Strait of Canso and to modernize the port at Halifax. In the 1980s Nova Scotia enjoyed continued economic gains. Additional container-handling facilities were opened at Halifax, the tourism industry expanded, tin mining began near Yarmouth, and exploration for oil and natural gas deposits continued around Sable Island. By the late 1980s, however, the decline of several traditional industries weakened the economy. Dwindling Atlantic fish stocks hurt the fishing industry and brought the centuries-old cod fishery nearly to a halt. At the same time, the coal and steel industries incurred growing losses; by the early 2000s the last of Cape Breton’s once-vigorous coal mines and steel mills were forced to close.
The commercial production of oil, which began off Sable Island in the early 1990s, partially offset these economic hardships, as did the emergence of new employment opportunities in the late 1990s in industries such as telecommunications. Nova Scotia’s large offshore natural gas fields also promised to expand job opportunities and reduce unemployment, and by the late 1990s new efforts were underway to develop this resource.
The late 20th century witnessed the further diversification of Nova Scotia’s economy, as new manufacturing and service industries emerged alongside traditional resource-based industries. Nova Scotia has continued to seek new sources of income to raise living standards, which remain low by national standards. However, these initiatives have met limited success, in part due to reductions in federal economic development funds available to the province.

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