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Our History and Culture
Ours is a history of discovery and fortitude; of invention and industry; of gold found in the hills and rich harvests found in the sea and the forests; of Novas Scotia’s first people – the Mi’kmaq, steadfast Acadians, brave Scots, and indefatigable African-Canadians who both found fresh freedom and faced age-old struggles in a new country.
Our story starts almost a hundred years before Columbus laid claim to discovering a new world. It is said that in 1398 Prince Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney first set foot on North America’s shores right here in Guysborough County. Legend even has Sinclair’s arrival intertwined with the Mi’kmaq myths of their man-god Glooscap. Visit the 15-tonne monument granite monument at Halfway Cove paying tribute to the stories of Sinclair’s voyage into history.
Skip ahead a couple of hundred years and there’s no debate that the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, with her waters rich with cod, was a key French foothold in the new world in the early 1600s. Canso and the Canso Islands played a central role in the bold battle for control of North America waged between the British and the French. Take a visit to Canso Islands National Historic Site and delve into incredible stories of smuggling, fishing, and fighting.
From those earliest days, the sea and her bounty shaped our history. Generation after generation of fishermen, from Canso to Dartmouth, took to the sea to support their families. The very first Acadians who settled these shores – farmers by tradition – soon discovered that the sea had as much or more to harvest as the land. You’ll find the legacy of the Acadians in places like Pomquet, Tracadie, and Harve Boucher. Visit Chez Deslaurier, an Acadian Historic site in Pomquet overlooking Pomquet Beach for a peek into the early Acadian lifestyle. From the early days of Acadian settlement, atradition of seafaring was born. Visit the Fisherman’s Life Museum at Jeddore Oyster Pond to see how the life in our inshore fishing community’s unfolded for a typical family in the early 1900s.
There were riches to be found on land as well as at sea for the early inhabitants of the Eastern Shore. In the small community of Tangier alone, between the mid-1800s more than 26,000 ounces of gold were mined. Drop in the Goldenville Gold Mining Interpretive Centre to experience this incredible history first-hand or spend a day in Moose River Provincial Park and we bet you’ll get goosebumps when you hear the heart-wrenching story of the 1936 cave-in and heroic rescue effort of the Moose River Gold Mine.
Whether you pick up a pan and hope for a glimpse of gold or stand on a quiet stretch of coast and almost here the gunfire from historic battles and sea the ghosts of ships amidst the sea mists, you’re sure to agree that history here is worth a closer look.
Photograph Copyright: Scott Munn, George Simhoni, Crystal Dorey, NS Dept. of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism