History of Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia is a Canadian province located on Canada's Maritimes. Originally part of New England, it became self-governing in 1848 and joined the Canadian Confederation in 1867.

[edit] Early history

Paleo-Indians camped at locations in present-day Nova Scotia approximately 11,000 years ago. Archaic Indians are believed to have been present in the area between 1,000 and 5,000 years ago. Mi'kmaq, the First Nations of the province and region, are their direct descendants.

Some believe that the Vikings may have settled in Nova Scotia at some time, though there is little evidence of this and the claim is deeply disputed. The only authenticated Viking settlement in North America is L'Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, which establishes the fact that Vikings explored North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

[edit] Early European Explorations

While there is some debate over where he landed, it is most widely believed that the Italian explorer John Cabot visited present-day Cape Breton in 1497.[1] The first European settlement in Nova Scotia was established in 1604. The French, led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts established the first capital for the colony Acadia at Port Royal in 1604 at the head of the Annapolis Basin.

In 1620, the Plymouth Council for New England, under King James I (of England) & VI (of Scots) designated the whole shorelines of Acadia and the Mid-Atlantic colonies south to the Chesapeake Bay as New England. The first documented Scottish settlement in the Americas was of Nova Scotia in 1621. On 29 September 1621, the charter for the foundation of a colony was granted by James VI to Sir William Alexander and, in 1622, the first settlers left Scotland.

This settlement initially failed due to difficulties in obtaining a sufficient number of skilled emigrants and in 1624, James VI created a new order of Baronets; admission to this order was obtained by sending 6 labourers or artisans, sufficiently armed, dressed & supplied for 2 years, to Nova Scotia, or by paying 3,000 merks to William Alexander. For 6 months, no one took up this offer until James compelled one to make the first move.

In 1627, there was a wider uptake of baronetcies, and thus more settlers available to go to Nova Scotia. However, in 1627, war broke out between England and France and the French re-established a settlement at Port Royal which they had originally settled. Later that year, a combined Scottish and English force destroyed the French settlement, forcing them out. In 1629, the first Scottish settlement at Port Royal was inhabited. The colony's charter, in law, made Nova Scotia (defined as all land between Newfoundland and New England) a part of mainland Scotland, this was later used to get around the English navigation acts. However, this did not last long: in 1631, under King Charles I, the Treaty of Suza was signed which returned Nova Scotia to the French. The Scots were forced by Charles to abandon their mission before their colony had been properly established and the French assumed control of the Mi'kmaq and other First Nations territory.

In 1654, King Louis XIV of France appointed aristocrat Nicholas Denys as Governor of Acadia and granted him the confiscated lands and the right to all its minerals. English colonists captured Acadia in the course of King William's War, but England returned the territory to France in the Treaty of Ryswick at the wars end. The territory was recaptured by forces loyal to Britain during the course of Queen Anne's War, and its conquest confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. France retained possession of Île St Jean (Prince Edward Island) and Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), on which it established a fortress at Louisbourg to guard the sea approaches to Quebec. This fortress was captured by American colonial forces then returned by the British to France, then ceded again after the French and Indian War of 1755.

[edit] British Colony

From 1691 to 1696, what is now Nova Scotia was included as part of the territory of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Thus mainland Nova Scotia became a British colony in 1713, although Samuel Vetch had a precarious hold on the territory as governor from the fall of Acadian Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) in October 1710. British governing officials became increasingly concerned over the unwillingness of the French-speaking, Roman Catholic Acadians, who were the majority of colonists, to pledge allegiance to the British Crown, then George II. The colony remained mostly Acadian despite the establishment of Halifax as the province's capital, and the settlement of a large number of foreign Protestants (some French and Swiss but mostly German) at Lunenburg in 1753. In 1755, the British forcibly expelled the over 12,000 Acadians in what became known as the Grand Dérangement, or Great Expulsion.

The colony's jurisdiction changed during this time. Nova Scotia was granted a supreme court in 1754 with the appointment of Jonathan Belcher and a Legislative Assembly in 1758. In 1763 Cape Breton Island became part of Nova Scotia. In 1769, St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony. The county of Sunbury was created in 1765, and included all of the territory of current day New Brunswick and eastern Maine as far as the Penobscot River. In 1784 the western, mainland portion of the colony was separated and became the province of New Brunswick, and the territory in Maine entered the control of the newly independent American state of Massachusetts. Cape Breton became a separate colony in 1784 only to be returned to Nova Scotia in 1820.

During the colonial period, Nova Scotia issued its own postage stamps printed in England. This distinctive diamond shape (issued between 1851 and 1857) was also used by neighbouring New Brunswick.
During the colonial period, Nova Scotia issued its own postage stamps printed in England. This distinctive diamond shape (issued between 1851 and 1857) was also used by neighbouring New Brunswick.

Ancestors of more than half of present-day Nova Scotians arrived in the period following the Acadian Expulsion. Between 1759 and 1768, about 8000 New England Planters responded to Governor Charles Lawrence's request for settlers from the New England colonies. Several years later, approximately 30,000 United Empire Loyalists (American Tories) settled in Nova Scotia (when it comprised present-day Maritime Canada) following the defeat of the British in the American Revolutionary War. Of these 30,000, 14,000 went to New Brunswick and 16,000 to Nova Scotia. Approximately 3,000 of this group were former (freed) slaves of African ancestry, about a third of which soon relocated themselves to Sierra Leone in 1792. Large numbers of Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots migrated to Cape Breton and the western portion of the mainland during the late 18th century and 19th century. About one thousand Ulster Scots and just over a thousand farming migrants from Yorkshire and Northumberland settled central areas of Nova Scotia between 1772 and 1775.

[edit] Canadian Confederation

Nova Scotia was the first colony in British North America and in the British Empire to achieve responsible government in January-February 1848 and become self-governing through the efforts of Joseph Howe. Pro-Confederate premier Charles Tupper led Nova Scotia into the Canadian Confederation in 1867, along with New Brunswick and the Province of Canada.

In the Provincial election of 1868, the Anti-Confederation Party won 18 out of 19 Federal seats, and 35 out of 38 seats in the provincial legislature. For seven years, William Annand and Joseph Howe led the ultimately unsuccessful fight to convince British Imperial authorities to release Nova Scotia from Confederation. The government was vocally against Confederation, contending that it was no more than the annexation of the Province to the pre-existing province of Canada:

"...the scheme [confederation with Canada] by them assented to would, if adopted, deprive the people [of Nova Scotia] of the inestimable privilege of self-government, and of their rights, liberty, and independence, rob them of their revenue, take from them the regulation of trade and taxation, expose them to arbitrary taxation by a legislature over which they have no control, and in which they would possess but a nominal and entirely ineffective representation; deprive them of their invaluable fisheries, railroads, and other property, and reduce this hitherto free, happy, and self-governed province to a degraded condition of a servile dependency of Canada."

from Address to the Crown by the Government (Journal of the House of Assembly, Province of Nova Scotia, 1868)

A motion passed by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1868 refusing to recognize the legitimacy of Confederation has never been rescinded. Repeal, as anti-confederation became known, would rear its head again in the 1880s, and transform into the Maritime Rights Movement in the 1920s. Some Nova Scotia flags flew at half mast on Canada Day as late as that time.

[edit] Other Facts

  • In November 1761 a furious storm sent the merchant ship Auguste to its doom, taking with it 114 people bound for France and all of their earthly possessions. One of seven survivors, Monsieur St. Luc de la Corne, made an epic trek of almost one thousand miles in winter back to his family in Montreal. Almost 250 years later, what is left of the Auguste and her valuable cargo of gold and silver lies at the bottom of Cape Breton's Aspy Bay. Underwater explorer, Joe Amaral, and his team have sifted through the sands of Aspy Bay looking for treasure and answers to what really happened during this devastating shipwreck. So far, they have found several cannons, lead sheathing from repairs to the ship, a few coins, and a spoon.
  • Halifax played a key role in the aftermath of the loss of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912, becoming the final resting place of many of her unclaimed victims. Three Halifax ships were involved in the grim task of recovering victims - many of whom were laid to rest in Fairview Cemetery. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Halifax waterfront has an exhibition of items recovered from the disaster, including the passenger list and one of the few deck chairs from the Titanic known to exist.
  • At 2:00AM on Sunday, April 15, 1923 all drivers on Nova Scotia roads switched from driving on the left side to driving on the right.

[edit] References

  1. ^ University of Virginia - Corcoran Department of History (1991). The Cabot Dilemma: John Cabot's 1497 Voyage & the Limits of Historiography. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
Page last updated 21.06.18