Nova Scotia Land and Property Records

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Published Sources[edit | edit source]

  • A list of the Americans who received land as refugees from the American Revolution is found in: Whereabouts of Some American Refugees, 1784-1800: the Nova Scotian Land Grants, by Clifford Neal Smith. 7 vols. McNeal, Ariz: Vestland Publications, 1992. (FHL book 971.6 R2s). WorldCat

Introduction[edit | edit source]

  • Land records up to about 1900 in Nova Scotia are available at land registry offices and at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.
  • The Nova Scotia Archives has an alphabetical file of draft land grants and petitions for land. This file covers the years from 1763 onward. There are indexes for 1784–1877. Petitions often mention a petitioner's name, country of origin, date of arrival in Nova Scotia, and other information.
  • Records after 1910 are only found in the Registry Offices. Deeds found in the registry offices generally mention dates, names, locations, occupations, and so forth.

History[edit | edit source]

A particular situation in Nova Scotia played a large role in land development. The better timber suited for the construction of ship masts belonged to the crown for the use of the royal navy. The government was hesitant to grant large tracts of land because of this very necessary resource. In the mid-eighteenth century, they changed the policy to allow large land grants to associations and individuals who would agree to bring settlers in. The years 1760 to 1773 witnessed almost 5½ million acres granted under this system. At that time no more than 13,000 people lived in the colony. In 1774 they decided to stop these free grants and would sell land instead. This only lasted for one year and in 1775 the land granting system started again.

The first contingent of 1,000 United Empire Loyalist men, women and children left Boston, USA, and headed for Nova Scotia in March 1776. By 1783 Nova Scotia saw 30,000 more United Empire Loyalists enter their colony. Some 14,000 settled in Sunbury County (which became New Brunswick in 1874) and the remainder stayed in Nova Scotia. These refugees were given free land grants by the British authorities.

Nova Scotia Archives[edit | edit source]

Nova Scotia Archives
6016 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1W4
Telephone: 902-424-6060

The Nova Scotia Archives (NSA) offices have extensive files on grants and petitions for land for Nova Scotia. The Registry of Deeds for each county has indexes to grantors and grantees for all the different types of transactions; mortgages, deeds, leases, releases, liens, sheriff’s deeds, court orders, and some wills involving real estate. med by the Genealogical Society of Utah and copies are available at the Nova Scotia Archives and on loan through any FamilySearch Center.

Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry Offices[edit | edit source]

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources maintains records and maps tracking crown land transactions. It also maintains a collection of Ambrose Finson Church (A.F. Church) maps dating back to the mid to late 1800s. These materials reside in either the Department’s library or in the Provincial Crown Lands Record Centre. The following brief description will explain how these two resources can be of use for you.

The Library[edit | edit source]

The A.F. Church maps indicate the names of the heads of households in each community, as well as listing tradesmen and prominent citizens. These maps are about four and a half feet square, or a little larger, include insets of Nova Scotia and adjacent provinces, plans of the various townships, and names of residents.

Crown Land Grant Maps[edit | edit source]

Crown Land Grant Index maps provide a graphic representation of the layout of the original land grants and over the years they have been meticulously updated by government staff. They show the locations of all land grants and townships. Each map is 26" x 36". The series consists of 138 maps and may be viewed or downloaded. These index sheets are updated on a daily basis. The crown commenced issuing grants in the 1730s, so the names found on this series can predate the A.F. Church maps by over 100 years.

Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry Offices
1701 Hollis Street 3rd Floor, Founders’ Square
P.O. Box 698 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2T9
Telephone: 902-424-8633

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Murphy, Sharon L., Brenda Dougall Merriman, and Frances Coe. "Nova Scotia Land Records (National Institute)," National Institute for Genealogical Studies (2012),