Nova Scotia History

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Nova Scotia Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Nova Scotia Background
Nova Scotia Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

Introduction[edit | edit source]

You will need some understanding of the historical events that affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. Records of these events, such as land and military documents, may mention your family.

Your ancestors’ lives will be more interesting if you learn about the history they may have been part of. For example, in a history you might learn about the events that occurred the year your great-grandparents were married.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1008-11: Thorfin Karlsefne established a settlement on the Atlantic coast.
  • 1497: Nova Scotia was rediscovered by John Cabot and claimed for England.
  • 1534: Jacques Cartier explored the northern shoreline.
  • 1604–1605: DeMonts and Champlain established a settlement at Port Royal (present-day Annapolis Royal).
  • 1621: The first attempts at British colonization were made; they failed.
  • 1629: First settlements were made by the British at Charlesfort (near Port Royal) and at Rosemar.
  • 1654: French settlements were seized by New Englanders.
  • 1670: The Treaty of Breda gave lost territory back to France.
  • 1686: Ninety French Acadian families were located at Port Royal.
  • 1690: Port Royal was captured by New Englanders.
  • 1713: Through the Treaty of Utrecht, France gave Acadia to Britain.
  • 1749: Halifax was settled by the British.
  • 1752: The first newspaper in Canada, the Halifax Gazette, was published.
  • 1755: Most French Acadians were expelled by the British. Many returned later.
  • 1758: Louisbourg was captured by the British.
  • 1763: Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island were annexed to Nova Scotia.
  • 1773: The first Scottish settlers arrived.
  • 1783: American refugees of the American Revolution, who were also known as United Empire Loyalists, came to Nova Scotia. Cape Breton and New Brunswick enjoyed separate governments.
  • 1815–1850: Some 55,000 immigrants, mostly Scottish and Irish, came to the province.
  • 1818: Dalhousie University was founded in Halifax.
  • 1820: Cape Breton was annexed to Nova Scotia.
  • 1848: Nova Scotia was the first British colony where the principle of responsible government was recognized.
  • 1867: The Province of Nova Scotia was formed, being one of the original four provinces to join the Confederation.
  • 1876: The railway from Halifax to Quebec was completed.
  • 1909: J.A.D. McCurdy was the first man to fly in Canada, taking off from Baddeck.
  • 1917: A French ship collided with a Norwegian steamer. The collision caused an explosion of TNT, explosive acid, and benzine. A large part of the northern section of Halifax was destroyed.
  • 1955: The Canso Causeway connecting Cape Breton Island to the mainland was opened.

Historical Sources[edit | edit source]

These are two of many historical sources:

  • A Short History of Canada [1]
  • The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society, 1712–1857 [2] )

The Family History Library has some published national, provincial, and local histories. See the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog Surnames Search under:


Canadian Sources[edit | edit source]

Encyclopedias also include excellent articles on the history of Canada. Many books and articles on Canadian history are listed in these annotated bibliographies:

  • A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. I. Beginnings to Confederation. [3]
  • A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. II. Confederation to the Present. [4]

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories are some of the most valuable sources for family history research. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also suggest other records to search.

Published histories of towns, counties, districts or other municipalities, and provinces often contain accounts of families. Many district, county, and town histories include sections or volumes of biographical information. These may give information on as many as half of the families in the area. A county history is also the best source of information about a county’s origin.

The Family History Library has about 300 district histories from the Prairie Provinces and fewer township and county histories from the rest of Canada. Similar histories are often at major Canadian public and university libraries and archives.

Bibliographies that list histories for some provinces are in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Morton, Desmond. A Short History of Canada. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1983. FHL book 971 H2md.)
  2. MacNutt, W. S. The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society, 1712–1857. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965. (FHL book 971.5 H2mws.)
  3. Muise, D. A., ed. A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. I. Beginnings to Confederation. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. (FHL book 971 H23r v. 1)
  4. Granatstein, J. L., and Paul Stevens, eds. A Reader's Guide to Canadian History. II. Confederation to the Present. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982. (FHL book 971 H23r v. 2)