Nova Scotia Essay, Research Paper
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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.