Nova Scotia


Nova Scotia Essay, Research Paper

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, one of the three Maritime and one of the four Atlantic provinces of

Canada, bordered on the north by the Bay of Fundy, the province of New Brunswick,

Northumberland Strait, and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and on the east, south, and west

by the Atlantic Ocean. Nova Scotia consists primarily of a mainland section, linked to

New Brunswick by the Isthmus of Chignecto, and Cape Breton Island, separated from the

mainland by the Strait of Canso.

On July 1, 1867, Nova Scotia became one of the founding members of the Canadian

Confederation. The province’s name, which is Latin for New Scotland, was first applied

to the region in the 1620s by settlers from Scotland.

Physical Geography

Nova Scotia can be divided into four major geographical regions-the Atlantic

Uplands, the Nova Scotia Highlands, the Annapolis Lowland, and the Maritime Plain.

The Atlantic Uplands, which occupy most of the southern part of the province, are made

up of ancient resistant rocks largely overlain by rocky glacial deposits. The Nova Scotia

Highlands are composed of three separate areas of uplands. The western section includes

North Mountain, a long ridge of traprock along the Bay of Fundy; the central section

takes in the Cobequid Mountains, which rise to 367 m (1204 ft) atop Nuttby Mountain;

and the eastern section contains the Cape Breton Highlands, with the province’s highest

point. The Annapolis Lowland, in the west, is a small area with considerable fertile soil.

Nova Scotia’s fourth region, the Maritime Plain, occupies a small region fronting on

Northumberland Strait. The plain is characterized by a low, undulating landscape and

substantial areas of fertile soil.


The area now known as Nova Scotia was originally inhabited by tribes of

Abenaki and Micmac peoples. The Venetian explorer John Cabot, sailing under the

English flag, may have reached Cape Breton Island in 1497.

Colonial Period

The first settlers of the area were the French, who called it Acadia and founded

Port Royal in 1605. Acadia included present-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and

Prince Edward Island. The English, rivals of the French in Europe and the New World,

refused to recognize French claims to Acadia, which they called Nova Scotia (New

Scotland) and granted to the Scottish poet and courtier Sir William Alexander in 1621.

This act initiated nearly a century of Anglo-French conflict, resolved by the British

capture of Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) in 1710 and the French cession of mainland

Acadia to the British by the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. Thus, the bulk of the Roman

Catholic French-Acadians came under Protestant British rule. In order to awe their new

subjects, the British founded the town of Halifax as naval base and capital in 1749.

Distrusting the Acadians’ loyalty in the French and Indian War, however, in 1755 the

British deported them. This ruthless action was described by the American poet Henry

Wadsworth Longfellow in Evangeline (1847). The British replaced the Acadians with

settlers from New England and, later, from Scotland and northern England. In 1758 the

British conquered the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton, which was joined to

Nova Scotia and ceded to them in 1763.

During the American Revolution, the British colony of Nova Scotia was a refuge

for thousands of Americans loyal to Britain, including many blacks. In 1784 the colony

of New Brunswick was carved out of mainland Nova Scotia to accommodate these

United Empire Loyalists. Cape Breton also became separate. The remaining Nova

Scotians, augmented by some returned Acadians and many Scots and Irish immigrants,

lived by fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding, and trade. Some attained great wealth as

privateers during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.

After prolonged political struggle, Britain granted Nova Scotia (which included

Cape Breton after 1820) local autonomy, or responsible government, in 1848. Economic

uncertainty and political unease at the time of the American Civil War stimulated some

interest in associating with the other British North American provinces, but many

tradition-minded Nova Scotians distrusted the Canadians of Ontario and Q?ebec. In

1867, without consulting the electorate, the Nova Scotia government took its reluctant

people into the Canadian Confederation.

Post-Confederation Period

Although joining the union failed to arrest Nova Scotia’s economic decline, it

resulted in rail connections to the west and a federal tariff that encouraged local

manufacturing. An iron and steel industry developed in Pictou County and on Cape

Breton, near extensive coal mines. Agricultural areas found export markets, especially

for apples. From the end of World War I through the depression of the 1930s, Nova

Scotia suffered industrial decline and accompanying unemployment and labor unrest.

Thousands migrated to central and western Canada or immigrated to the United States.

The Maritime Rights movement of the 1920s, protesting Nova Scotia’s unfavorable

economic position in relation to the rest of Canada, accomplished little.

After a revival of shipbuilding in World War II, Nova Scotian industry faced

problems of obsolete equipment, heavy freight costs, and dwindling resources. Local

government attempts to reverse the trend through investment and diversification were

disappointing. In 1956 the electorate ended 26 years of Liberal rule by returning the

Conservatives to power. Although the government subsidized industrial development to

rejuvenate the local economy, the initiatives were unsuccessful, and failures in the

electronics and nuclear energy industries proved to be very expensive. In 1967 the

government took over a failing steel plant in Sydney, which added steadily to the

provincial debt. Later governments-first Liberal (from 1970-1978) and then Conservative

(since 1978)-have been unable to bring the local economy up to parity with the rest of

Canada. Despite a rate of economic growth that exceeded the national average from the

mid-1980s through the early 1990s, Nova Scotia, like other Maritime provinces, remains

one of the less advantaged areas in the Canadian union.

Historical Sites

Nova Scotia has preserved or reconstructed a number of historical sites. These

include Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Park, in Baddeck, with exhibits

relating to Bell’s inventions while he lived here; Fort Anne National Historic Site, in

Annapolis Royal, including the remains of a French fort built from 1695 to 1708; Fort

Edward National Historic Site, in Windsor, containing the remains of a mid-18th-century

earthen fortification; and Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, near Louisbourg,

including a partial reconstruction of a large French fort (built 1720-45; destroyed by the

English, 1760). Grand Pr? National Historic Site, near Grand Pr?, encompasses the site of

a former Acadian village; York Redoubt National Historic Site includes a defense battery

(begun 1790s) guarding Halifax Harbour; and Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, in

Halifax, contains a massive 19th-century stone fortress. Also of interest is Sherbrooke

Village Restoration, in the Sherbrooke area, a restoration of a lumbering and mining

community of the 1860s.

Provincial Government

Government and Politics

Nova Scotia has a parliamentary form of government.


The nominal chief executive of Nova Scotia is a lieutenant governor appointed by

the Canadian governor-general in council to a term of five years. The lieutenant

governor, representing the British sovereign, holds a position that is largely honorary.

The premier, who is responsible to the provincial legislature, is the actual head of

government and presides over the executive council, or cabinet, which also includes the

attorney general, minister of finance, minister of education, and about 15 other officials.


The unicameral Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly is made up of 52 members,

each popularly elected to a term of up to five years. The lieutenant governor, on the

advice of the premier, may call for an election before the 5-year term has been



Nova Scotia’s highest tribunal, the supreme court, is composed of an appeal

division with eight justices (including the chief justice) and a trial division with 15

justices. Supreme court justices are appointed by the Canadian governor-general in

council and serve until the age of 75.

Local Government

Nova Scotia is divided into 18 counties. Other units of local government include

3 incorporated cities and 39 incorporated towns, most of which are governed by a mayor

and council.

National Representation

Nova Scotia is represented in the Canadian Parliament by 10 senators appointed

by the Canadian governor-general in council and by 11 members of the House of

Commons popularly elected to terms of up to five years.


Since Nova Scotia became a province in 1867, the Liberal party has been most

successful in obtaining control of the provincial government. From 1956 to 1970,

however, the Progressive Conservative party held a majority in the Legislative Assembly,

and it regained this position in 1978.



In the 19th century Nova Scotia was known for trading, shipbuilding, and fishing.

During the 20th century the province’s economy was expanded and diversified, in part

through the establishment of war-related industries in the two world wars. In the early

1990s services constituted the leading economic activity; manufacturing, fishing, mining,

and farming were also important.


About 8 percent of Nova Scotia’s land area is devoted to crops and pasture, with

some of the best farmland located on the Isthmus of Chignecto (connecting the province

with New Brunswick) and the Annapolis Lowland. The province has about 4000 farms,

which have an average size of some 100 hectares (247 acres). Annual cash receipts from

sale of crops and of livestock and livestock products totaled nearly Can.$300 million in

the early 1990s, with livestock and livestock products accounting for about three-fourths

of the income. The leading farm commodities are dairy products, poultry, hogs, beef

cattle, eggs, fruit (especially apples grown in the Annapolis Lowland), greenhouse

products, potatoes and other vegetables, and wheat.


Nova Scotia has a substantial forestry industry, with about 4.2 million cu m

(about 148 million cu ft) of wood harvested per year. Most of the wood is used for

making paper, and the rest is chiefly sawed into lumber. In addition, many trees are cut

for use as Christmas trees.


Nova Scotia and British Columbia have the largest fishing industries in Canada.

In Nova Scotia the yearly fish catch in the early 1990s exceeded Can.$500 million, with

most of the income derived from sales of shellfish, especially scallop and lobster. Next in

value was cod; herring, shrimp, haddock, pollock, hake, flounder, crab, and redfish also

were important. Leading fishing ports include Digby, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Shelburne,

and Yarmouth.


Coal, the most important material mined in Nova Scotia, had a total yearly value

in the early 1990s of Can.$238 million, some 12 percent of the Canadian total. The main

coal mines are on Cape Breton Island. Approximately three-fourths of the gypsum mined

annually in Canada is produced in the province. Other important mineral products of

Nova Scotia include tin, stone, salt, sand and gravel, clay, peat, lead, zinc, and barite.


A leading sector of Nova Scotia’s economy, manufacturing employs about 49,000

persons. The annual value of shipments by manufacturing establishments in the province

is some Can.$5.3 billion. Principal manufactures include processed food (notably fish

products), paper and paper items, transportation equipment (especially ships, aerospace

supplies, and motor vehicles), printed materials, wood products, iron and steel,

nonmetallic minerals, and chemical products. Halifax and the Sydney area are important

manufacturing centers.


The sea moderates the climate of Nova Scotia, which has mild winters compared

to the interior of Canada and slightly cooler summers than many other areas in the

southern part of the nation. Halifax, which is fairly typical of the province, has a mean

January temperature of -3.2? C (26.2? F) and a mean July temperature of 18.3? C (65? F)

and annually receives some 1320 mm (some 52 in) of precipitation, including about 210

mm (about 8.3 in) of snow. The recorded temperature of Nova Scotia has ranged from -

41.1? C (-42? F), in 1920 at Upper Stewiacke, to 38.3? C (100.9? F), in 1935 at

Collegeville, near Sherbrooke. Fog is common along the southern coast of the province in

spring and early summer.


According to the 1991 census, Nova Scotia had 899,942 inhabitants, an increase

of 3.1% over 1986. In 1991 the overall population density was about 16 persons per sq

km (42 per sq mi). English was the lone mother tongue of some 93% of the people; about

4 percent had French as their sole first language. More than 13,000 Native Americans

lived in Nova Scotia. The churches with the largest membership in the province were the

Roman Catholic church, the United Church of Canada, and the Anglican Church of

Canada. About 54 percent of all Nova Scotians lived in areas defined as urban, and the

rest lived in rural areas. Halifax was the biggest city and capital of the province; other

major communities were Dartmouth, Sydney, Glace Bay, and Truro.

Land and Resources

Nova Scotia, with an area of 55,490 sq km (21,425 sq mi), is the smallest

Canadian province except for Prince Edward Island; about 3% of its land area is owned

by the federal government. The province has an extreme length of about 600 km (about

375 mi) and an extreme breadth of about 160 km (about 100 mi); almost 5% of its area

consists of inland water surface. Elevations range from sea level, along the coast, to 532

m (1745 ft), in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The coastline of Nova Scotia is

7578 km (4709 mi) long. Sable Island is situated about 160 km (about 100 mi) offshore

in the Atlantic.

Nova Scotia contains large deposits of coal, gypsum, and salt. Other mineral

deposits include barite, clay, copper, peat, sand and gravel, stone, and zinc. Some

petroleum and natural gas have been found under the Atlantic near Nova Scotia.

Education and Cultural Heritage

Nova Scotia has a number of notable educational and cultural institutions. Its

scenic landscape offers a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor sports and recreation.


Nova Scotia’s first education act, in 1766, provided for public schools, but not

until 1811 did nondenominational, free public education begin here. In the early 1990s

there were 527 elementary and secondary schools with a combined annual enrollment of

approximately 168,800 students. In the same period the province’s 22 institutions of

higher education enrolled about 32,750 students. The institutions included Dalhousie

University (1818), Mount Saint Vincent University (1925), Saint Mary’s University

(1802), the Technical University of Nova Scotia (1907), and the Nova Scotia College of

Art and Design (1887), all in Halifax; Acadia University (1838), in Wolfville; Saint

Francis Xavier University (1853), in Antigonish; Universit? Sainte-Anne (1890), in

Church Point; the University College of Cape Breton (1951), in Sydney; and Nova Scotia

Agricultural College (1905), in Truro.

Cultural Institutions

Many of Nova Scotia’s foremost museums and other cultural facilities are located

in Halifax. Among them are the Nova Scotia Museum, with exhibits covering historical

themes; the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, displaying memorabilia from the Titanic

and other marine artifacts; the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, featuring displays of

documents, paintings, and artifacts of regional historical significance; and the Dalhousie

Arts Centre, which includes an auditorium and the Dalhousie Art Gallery. Also of note

are the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, in Lunenburg; and the DesBrisay Museum, in

Bridgewater, with historical collections. Halifax is the home of Symphony Nova Scotia.

Other Information

Sports and Recreation

Nova Scotia’s national and provincial parks, its lengthy shoreline, and its rivers

and lakes offer ideal conditions for boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, camping, and

hunting. Golf, tennis, skiing, and ice hockey are also popular sports in the province.


In the late 1980s Nova Scotia had 16 commercial AM radio stations, 8

commercial FM stations, and 5 commercial television stations. The first radio station in

the province, CHNS in Halifax, began operation in 1922. CJCB-TV in Sydney, Nova

Scotia’s first commercial television station, went on the air in 1954. The Halifax Gazette,

the first newspaper published in Canada, was initially printed in Halifax in 1752. In the

early 1990s Nova Scotia had seven daily newspapers with a total daily circulation of

about 218,700. Influential newspapers included the Mail-Star of Halifax and the Cape

Breton Post of Sydney.


Each year Nova Scotia attracts more than one million travelers; receipts from

tourism totaled almost Can.$800 million annually in the early 1990s. Tourists are lured

by the province’s lovely scenery (especially on Cape Breton Island) and its many

opportunities for outdoor-recreation activities. Popular tourist areas include Cape Breton

Highlands and Kejimkujik national parks, 14 national historic sites, and 122 provincial

parks, recreation areas, and wildlife preserves. Many people also visit Halifax.


Most coastal areas of Nova Scotia are well served by transportation facilities, but

many places in the interior have poor transport connections. There are 25,740 km (15,994

mi) of roads and highways. The Trans-Canada Highway extends from the New

Brunswick border, near Amherst, to Sydney Mines, on Cape Breton Island, by way of the

Canso Causeway (completed 1955) between the island and the mainland. Nova Scotia is

also served by 705 km (438 mi) of mainline railroad track. Halifax is a major seaport

with modern facilities for handling containerized shipping. Ferries link the province with

New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Maine. Nova Scotia’s busiest

air terminal is Halifax International Airport.


Nova Scotia’s electricity generating capacity is about 2.2 million kw (about 2.1

percent of total Canadian capacity). The province annually produces about 9.4 billion

kwh, or some 1.9 percent of the country’s total electricity. Hydroelectric facilities

represent about one-sixth of the capacity, with the rest largely accounted for by thermal

installations burning refined petroleum or coal.

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