One of the three Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada, comprising the peninsula of Nova Scotia, extending southeast from New Brunswick into the Atlantic Ocean, and Cape Breton Island, which is separated from the northeastern end of the mainland by the Canso Strait; area 55,500 sq km/21,400 sq mi; population (2001 est) 942,700. The capital (and chief port) is Halifax. Industries include mineral extraction (coal, baryte, gypsum), lumbering, paper-milling, and fishing. Agricultural products include dairy produce, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. Tourism is important.
Geography Nova Scotia comprises a V-shaped, southwest–northeast-oriented peninsula, joined at the Chignecto isthmus to New Brunswick (west); and Cape Breton Island (northeast), separated from the peninsula by the Strait of Canso. The peninsula extends 450 km/280 mi northeast to southwest, and the combined length of the province, including Cape Breton Island, is 560 km/350 mi. Nowhere in the province is more than 56 km/33 mi from the sea. On the peninsula's west is the Bay of Fundy, whose northwest (Chignecto Bay) and northeast (the Minas Channel, Minas Basin, and Cobequid Bay) extensions indent northwest Nova Scotia; the world's highest tides are found here. On the north, the Northumberland Strait separates the province from Prince Edward Island. Cape Breton Island lies on the Gulf of St Lawrence (to the north) and Cabot Strait (to the northeast). It and the peninsula have a long, indented coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Far to the east of the peninsula, near the edge of the Continental Shelf, is Sable Island, a low, sandy spit that was the site of failed attempts at settlement in the 16th century, and that came to be known, from its many shipwrecks, as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’.
Cape Breton Island's landmass surrounds Bras d'Or lake, known as the largest lake in Nova Scotia although it is actually a sea inlet, covering 1,165 sq km/450 sq mi (altogether, water covers some 52,840 sq km/20,323 sq mi of the province's total area). This inland sea effectively divides the island into two parts. The St Peter's Canal links the Atlantic to the lake for small vessels. The sunken valley where the lake is situated is the site of Baddeck and other small ports and residential villages. In the Cape Breton Highland National Park, to the north, is Nova Scotia's highest point (532 m/1,747 ft). Along the peninsula's Atlantic coast, Halifax Harbour and Mahone Bay are among the many inlets that have afforded sites for fishing and commercial harbours, shipyards, and resorts. Nova Scotia's most important river is the Annapolis, which flows into the tidal Annapolis Basin in the northwest of the peninsula; the Annapolis Valley is a noted apple-producing centre, and the site of some of the province's earliest settlements.
Towns and cities include Dartmouth, Sydney, Annapolis Royal, and Truro.
Features Fort Anne, Canada's oldest historic structure, was originally built by the French in around 1643, with British additions in the early 18th century. The oldest nonconformist place of worship in Canada is the Old Meeting House at Barrington, erected in 1765. St Mary's Church at Church Point is the largest and tallest wooden church in North America, constructed in the early 20th century with a 56 m/185 ft spire. Historic reconstructions include the Fortress of Louisbourg, a living and working facsimile of a 250-year-old town, initiated in 1961; the Grand Prehistoric Site, containing a replica of the 1605 French settlement; and the Marconi National Historic Site at Glace Bay, with a model of the station that sent the first radio message in 1902.
Economic activities Nova Scotia's long-established fishing and fish-processing industries have been badly affected by overfishing. Originally most fish, mainly cod and herring, were caught inshore from small family-operated boats, but from 1945, deep-sea trawlers, freezer-ships, and super-trawlers with sonar and satellite fish-locating equipment intensively harvested a widening area. In 1991 the industry was devastated when northern cod stocks virtually disappeared. Moratoriums imposed on cod fishing were extended to include yellow tail and flounder in 1994; fleets now operate on annual quotas. Lobsters, crabs, scallops, and clams continue to form a valuable part of the catch, mainly for sale to the US market. Nova Scotia is seeking to expand catches of other species such as redfish, crabs, and mackerel.
Some 14% of the province is given over to agriculture; the main areas being found in a crescent around the Bay of Fundy, a low-lying region of former marshland and sandy beach deposits. The province specializes in perishable produce such as vegetables, milk, and eggs. Grass thrives in the cool, damp climate, and livestock-rearing, dairy and beef cattle, is widespread. Poultry-farming, also generally practised, is of particular importance in the Annapolis Valley, where an egg-freezing and processing plant has been built. The advent of canning, quick-freezing, and other food-processing techniques have encouraged the cultivation of small fruits and vegetables. Apple-growing in the Annapolis Valley has suffered increasing competition from western and central Canada. Farm numbers are falling as people leave agriculture (5,045 in 1981 falling to 4,021 by 1996).
Timber, sourced from the forests that cover 72% of the land area, originally served an important naval supplies and sawn-timber industry, but this has now been superseded by pulp and paper production. Mills are located at Pictou, Lunenburg, Port Hawkesbury, and Liverpool.
The Springhill, Pictou, and Sydney mines together produced about 2,500,000 tonnes of coal in 1995, and fuel the thermal power stations that generate the majority of the province's electricity. The coal industry in Cape Breton was nationalized in the 1960s. In the mid-1990s the Cape Breton mines employed 2,300 people and exported to 15 countries, though most of the coals went to thermal electricity production. However employment in these mines declined because of flooding, and the last of the mines closed in 2000. There is also a tidal power station at Annapolis. Sydney Steel, Sysco, made mainly railway lines. It closed in 2001, and Cape Breton was left without either of its traditional industrial mainstays, resulting in severe economic and social problems. ] The world's largest single deposit of baryte, used in the paint and chemical industries, occurs at Windsor. Other mineral resources include gypsum, also mined at Windsor, which produces 85% of the Canadian total; salt at Port Hawkesbury; and lead and zinc in the valley of the Salmon River and at Meat Cove. There is also a gold mine at Port Pufferin. Natural gas sources are being exploited off Sable Island and oil is extracted from the Cohassset-Panuke offshore fields nearby.
Industrial development in Nova Scotia is mainly concentrated in five areas. Industries in the urban districts of Halifax and Dartmouth include shipbuilding, oil-refining, electronics, clothing, and engineering; and the manufacture of cars and plastics. Production at Sydney and Glace Bay includes metalware, machinery, and tyres, but no longer coal and steel. After a causeway to Cape Breton Island opened in 1955, the small existing settlement of Port Hawkesbury (founded in the 18th century) experienced rapid development, with the construction of the Strait of Canso Superport, the largest deep-water, ice-free harbour on the Atlantic coast of North America. The industrial complex that grew up around this major port facility includes a pulp mill, power station, and oil refinery.
History The original inhabitants of the area now covered by Nova Scotia (French, Nouvelle-écosse) were the Mi'qmaks and Maliseets, American Indian Algonquian peoples. The region was sighted by the Italian navigator John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto, voyaging on behalf of the English) in 1497, by Verrazano and Cartier (for the French) in the 1520s–30s. In 1621 the British crown granted a charter for the settlement of Nova Scotia (New Scotland), in the same area. Nova Scotia then included present-day New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. In the 17th century, French colonies were established in parts of Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, jointly known as Acadia. Port Royale was founded on mainland Nova Scotia (in the Annapolis Basin) by French settlers from Maine in 1605, following the failure of their first settlement. In 1613 English colonists from Virginia captured Port Royale, and in 1621 Acadia was renamed Nova Scotia by William Alexander, who had been granted the territory by James I. His attempts to colonize the region were a failure, but his royal charter gave Nova Scotia its name, coat-of-arms, and flag.
In 1632 the colony was ceded to the French under the Treaty of St-Germain-en-Laye. Port Royale (now Annapolis Royal) was refounded close to its former site, and Acadian colonization proceeded through the Annapolis Valley to the Chignecto Isthmus, although quarrels among the Acadians prompted Oliver Cromwell to dispatch an occupying force in 1654. Charles II restored Nova Scotia to the French in the Treaty of Breda 1667, but in 1713 the mainland was awarded to the British under the Treaty of Utrecht. The French controlled the Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) and Île Royale (Cape Breton Island). The French fortress at Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island, became the object of British (and American Colonial) assaults in the 1740s, and Halifax was founded as a military center to counter Louisbourg's presence. During the build-up to the Seven Years' War, French settlers were asked to swear an oath of allegiance or leave. Despite professing neutrality, from 1755 to 1763 about 14,600 Acadians were deported, many to American colonies such as Louisiana, where they became the ancestors of the Cajuns. Others went to France, or parts of Québec, Prince Edward Island, or New Brunswick. They were largely replaced with New Englanders, although many returned gradually, settling chiefly along the southwest coast (the ‘French Shore’). In 1763, the French relinquished all claims upon the territory in the Treaty of Paris, and Cape Breton united with Nova Scotia.
At the time of the American Revolution, Nova Scotian sympathies were divided, but the colony did not become involved in the struggle. When the revolutionaries triumphed, a massive influx of United Empire Loyalist refugees arrived in Nova Scotia from New England, effectively ending any chance of it joining the new American republic. From 1784 to 1820, Cape Breton Island existed as a separate colony, and in 1784 New Brunswick also was created. As more colonists arrived from Ireland, Scotland, and England, the province grew prosperous on its maritime industries, which included fishing on the Grand and Georges Banks, shipbuilding at Lunenburg and Shelburne (notably, the production of fast, wooden clipper ships), providing naval supplies, and government-sanctioned privateering. In the 19th century, Halifax became Britain's main naval base in the North Atlantic. Representative government was granted in 1758, and a fully responsible legislative assembly was established in 1848 through the efforts of Joseph Howe. In 1867 Nova Scotia was one of the four original provinces to form the Dominion of Canada. The advent of steel steamships caused a sudden collapse in the wooden shipbuilding industry, and economic recession. Mining grew in importance during this period. During World Wars I and II, Halifax was a principal port of departure for North Atlantic convoys. In December 1917, its harbour was the scene of the world's largest non-nuclear human-caused explosion, when the Mont Blanc, a munitions ship laden with TNT, blew up after colliding with another vessel. The blast killed 2,000 people and flattened about 1 sq km/0.5 sq mi of Halifax; windows were broken for over 80 km/50 mi.
Geology The southwest to northeast trend of the peninsula follows the prevailing direction of the northern Appalachian Mountain system, of which Nova Scotia is a hilly outlier. Formed during the late Devonian period, sediments laid down in a geosyncline (inward fold of the Earth's crust) around the edge of the Canadian Shield were uplifted in the last of three mountain-building movements. A series of faulted troughs or basins were created, which have preserved sedimentary deposits; in Nova Scotia, these are represented by the small coalfields at Springhill, Pictou, and Sydney. On the northern side of the province, igneous and metamorphic rocks form highland ridges, and underlie the sedimentary rocks of the broad northern coastal plain. The unusually straight coastline of the Bay of Fundy was formed by the subsequent erosion of a sill (magma sheet), injected beneath these sedimentary rocks.
Glacial erosion has given the terrain of the northern Cape Breton Highlands a rounded relief, and created the indented fjord coastline of the southeast. The shoreline is characterized by a series of wave-cut surfaces at heights of up to 80 m/260 ft, most marked in the glacial deposits and soft sedimentary rocks of the north and northeast. The red sandstone lowlands, such as the Annapolis Valley, and well-drained beach terraces offer the only areas of relatively deep, fertile soil cover. Although slightly acidic, the soils can be made richly productive through the application of lime.
Climate The sea almost surrounds the province, greatly influencing its weather patterns. Temperatures, moderated by the warm North Atlantic Drift and cool Labrador current, average around −7°C/19°F in winter, with minimums as low as −8°C/12°F, and in the summer rarely climb above 21°C/70°F in the interior, 18°C/64°F on the coast. Intense cyclonic activity, experienced throughout the province, reaches a peak in winter, with very changeable weather and between 1,500 mm/59 in and 2,800 mm/110 in of snow. Summer cyclones, though fewer in number, occur with enough frequency to give precipitation levels of 1,400 mm/55 in in the south, and 1,000 mm/39 in the north. During the winter, sea-ice covers the entire Gulf of St Lawrence, and sweeps around Cape Breton where it mixes offshore with the warm waters from the south, keeping the mainland port of Halifax ice-free.
Transport and tourism The two parts of the province are linked across the Canso Strait by the Canso Causeway. The Trans-Canada Highway enters Nova Scotia from New Brunswick at Amherst, runs southeast to Truro and then east, crossing the causeway into Cape Breton Island, where a ferry connects from Sydney with the highway terminal in Newfoundland at Port aux Basques. Air traffic is centred on Halifax International Airport and Sydney Airport, Cape Breton. As traditional industries such as fishing and shipbuilding have declined, tourism has grown in importance, and now employs about 30,000 people. In particular, Cape Breton Island and the numerous coastal villages attract many visitors. In the interior of the southern mainland is the wilderness of Kejimkujik National Park.
People and culture Members of the Mi'qmak nation continue to inhabit the region around the Bras d'Or lakes on Cape Breton Island, their largest reserve being Escasoni. A spiritual and cultural gathering of the Mi'qmak takes place annually in July at the Chapel Island Reserve. There are also some Mi'qmak reserves on the mainland.
Nova Scotia has 12 institutions of higher education, the foremost being Dalhousie University. Museums and galleries include the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg; and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax.
Ile Sainte Croix, Acadia
Nova Scotia – flag
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