An historical and statistical account of Nova Scotia

“The beauty and the safety of this (Halifax) harbor attracted the notice of speculators at a very early period, and many applications were at different times made, for a grant of land in its vicinity. The famous projector, Captain Coram, was engaged in 1718, in a scheme for settling here; and a petition was presented by Sir Alexander Cairn, James Douglas, and Joshua Gee, in behalf of themselves and others, praying for a grant upon the sea coast, five leagues S.W. and five leagues N.W. of Chebucto, upon condition of building a town, improving the country around it, be raising hemp, making pitch, tar and turpentine, and of settling two hundred families upon it within three years. This petition received a favorable report from the Lords of Trade; but as it was opposed by the Massachusetts’s agents, on account of a clause restricting the fishery, it was rejected by the Council.”

“Dartmouth -Opposite at Halifax, on the eastern side of the harbour, which is there about nine tenths of a mile wide, is situated the town of Dartmouth, which was laid out and settled in the year 1750. In the war of 1756, the [Indigenous people] collected in great force on the Bason of the Minas, ascended the Shubenacadie river in their canoes, and at night, surprising the guard, scalped or carried away most of the inhabitants. From this period, settlement was almost derelict, till Governor Parr, in 1784, encouraged 20 families to remove thither from Nantucket, to carry on the south sea fishery. The town was laid out in a new form, and £1,500 provided for the inhabitants to erect buildings. The spirit and activity of the new settlers created the most flattering expectations of success. Unfortunately, in 1792, the failure of a house in Halifax, extensively concerned in the whale fishery, gave a severe check to the Dartmouth establishment, which was soon after totally ruined. About this period, an agent was employed by the merchants of Milford, in England, to persuade the Nantucket settlers to remove thither; the offers were too liberal to be rejected, and the Province lost these orderly and industrious people.

During the late war the harbour became the general rendezvous of the navy and their prizes, which materially enriched the place, and extended the number of buildings. Between Dartmouth and Halifax a team boat constantly plies, for the accommodation of passengers. The whole of the eastern shore of the harbour, though by no means the first quality of soil, is much superior to the western… On the eastern passage there are some fine farms, chiefly settled by Germans, and every cove and indent contains a few families of fisherman, who supply Halifax with fresh and cured fish. A chain of lakes in this township, connected with the source of the Shubenacadie River, suggested the idea of uniting the waters of the Bason of Minas with Halifax harbour, by means of a canal. Of these lakes Charles, or the first Shubenacadie Lake, is distant from Halifax about three miles and a half.”

“In England there are many books written on the constitution of the Country, but in Nova Scotia, the inquisitive reader, while he finds enacted laws, will search in vain for any work professedly treating the origin of the authority that enacts them. The labor of examining the History of other colonies analogous to our own for this information is very great, and the means of doing so not always attainable.”

“In British America there were originally several kinds of governments, but they have been generally classed under three heads.

1st. Proprietary governments, granted by the Crown to individuals, in the nature of feudatory principalities, with all the inferior regalities and feudatory powers of Legislation, which formerly belonged to Counties Palantine, on condition that the object for which the grant was made should be substantially pursued, and that nothing should be attempted in derogation of the authority of the King of England. Of this kind were Pennsylvania, Maryland and Carolina (now Louisiana.)

2nd. Charter Governments, in the nature of civil corporations, with the power of making bye laws, for their own internal regulations, and with such rights and authorities as were especially given to them in their several acts of incorporation. The only charter Governments that remained at the commencement of the Civil War, were the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Providence and Connecticut.

3rd. Provincial governments, the constitutions of which depended on the respective Commissions, issued by the Crown to the governors, and the instructions which accompanied those commissions -Under this authority Provincial Assemblies were constituted, with the power of making local ordinances not repugnant to the laws of England. Of the latter kind is Nova Scotia, which is sometimes called the Province and sometimes the Colony of Nova Scotia. For some time previous to the Revolution in America, the popular leaders affected to call the Provincial establishments, or King’s governments on the Continent, Colonies instead of Provinces, from an opinion they had conceived that the word Province implied a conquered Country. But whatever distinction there might once have been between the terms Province, Colony and Plantation, there seems now to be none whatever, and they are indiscriminately used in several acts of Parliament. A Provincial government is immediately dependent upon the Crown, and the King remains sovereign of the Country. He appoints the Governor and Officers of State, and the people elect the Representatives as in England. The orders of judicature in these establishments are similar to those of the mother country, and their legislatures consist of a governor, representing the crown, a council or upper house, and an assembly chosen by, and representing the people at large.”

“It is worthy of remark, that when England was herself a Province, the colonies of London, Colchester, &c. enjoyed the same privilege of being governed by a legislative magistracy, which the American colonies always contended for.”

“Although copyholders and even freeholders, within the precincts of boroughs (not being burgesses) have no vote, yet the property of the copy-holders is represented by its lord, and the property of the borough is represented by the corporation, who choose the member of Parliament; while those persons who are not actually freeholders, have the option of becoming so if they think proper. But the Colonies are neither within any county or borough of England.”

Rules of precedency compared and adjusted from the several acts and statutes, made and provided in England, for the settlement of the precedency of men and women in America

Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. “An historical and statistical account of Nova-Scotia : in two volumes” Halifax [N.S.] : J. Howe, 1829.