Narrative and critical history of America

“ALL through its early history Acadia, or Nova Scotia, suffered from the insecurity to life and property which arose from its repeated changes of masters. Neither France nor England cared much for a region of so little apparent value ; and both alike regarded it merely as debatable ground, or as a convenient make-weight in adjusting the balance of con quests and losses elsewhere. Nothing was done to render it a safe or attractive home for immigrants ; and at each outbreak of war in the Old World its soil became the scene of skirmishes and massacres in which Indian allies were conspicuous agents. Whatever the turn of victory here, little regard was paid to it in settling the terms of peace. There was hardly an attempt at any time to establish a permanent control over the conquered territory. In spite of the capture of Port Royal by Phips in 1690, and the annexation of Acadia to the government of Massachusetts in 1692, it was only a nominal authority which England had. In 1691, the French again took formal possession of Port Royal and the neighboring country. In the next year an ineffectual attempt was made to recover it ; and this was followed by various conflicts, of no historical importance, in different parts of this much-harassed territory. In August, 1696, the famous Indian fighter, Captain Benjamin Church, left Boston on his fourth eastern expedition. After skirting the coast of Maine, where he met with but few Indians and no enemies, he determined to proceed up the Bay of Fundy. There he captured and burned Beaubassin, or Chignecto, and then returned to St. John. Subsequently he was superseded by Colonel John Hathorne, a member of the Massachusetts council, and an attack was made on the French fort at Nachouac, or Naxoat, farther up the river ; but for some unexplained reason the attack was not pressed, and the English retreated shortly after they landed. “No notice,” says Hutchinson in his History of Massachusetts Bay, “was taken of any loss on either side, except the burning of a few of the enemy’s houses; nor is any sufficient reason given for relinquishing the design so suddenly.” By the treaty of Ryswick in the following year (1697) Acadia was surrendered to France.” The French were not long permitted to enjoy the restored territory. In May, 1704, Church was again placed in command of an expedition fitted out at Boston against the French and Indians in the eastern country. He had been expressly forbidden to attack Port Royal, and after burning the little town of Mines nothing was accomplished by him. Three years later, in May, 1707, another expedition, of one thousand men, sailed from Boston under command of Colonel March. Port Royal was regularly invested, and an attempt was made to take the place by assault ; but through the inefficiency of the commander it was a total failure. Reembarking his little army, March sailed away to Casco Bay, where he was superseded by Captain Wainwright, the second in command. The expedition then re turned to Port Royal ; but in the mean time the fortifications had been diligently strengthened, and after a brief view of them Wainwright drew off his forces. In 1710 a more successful attempt for the expulsion of the French was made. In July of that year a fleet arrived at Boston from Eng land to take part in a combined attack on Port Royal. In pursuance of orders from the home government, four regiments were raised in the New England colonies, and sailed from Boston on the 18th of September. The fleet numbered thirty-six vessels, exclusive of hospital and store ships, and on board were the four New England regiments, respectively commanded by Sir Charles Hobby, Colonel Tailer, of Massachusetts, Colonel Whiting, of Connecticut, and Colonel Walton, of New Hampshire, and a detachment of marines from England. Francis Nicholson, who had been successively governor of New York, Virginia, and Maryland, had the chief command. The fleet, with the exception of one vessel which ran ashore and was lost, arrived off Port Royal on the 24th of September. The garrison was in no condition to resist an enemy, and the forces were landed without opposition. On the 1st of October three batteries were opened within one hundred yards of the fort ; and twenty-four hours afterward the French capitulated. By the terms of the surrender the garrison was to be transported i to France, and the inhabitants living within cannon-shot of Port Royal were to be protected in person and property for two years, on taking an oath of allegiance to the queen of England, or were to be allowed to remove to Canada or Newfoundland.1 The name of Port Royal was changed to Annapolis Royal in compliment to the queen, and the fort was at once garrisoned by marines and volunteers under the command of Colonel Samuel Vetch, who had been selected as governor in case the expedition should prove successful. Its whole cost to New England was upward of twenty three thousand pounds, which sum was afterward repaid by the mother country. Acadia never again came under French control, and by the j treaty of Utrecht (1713) the province was formally ceded to Great Britain u according to its ancient limits.” As a matter of fact, those limits were never determined ; but the question ceased to have any practical importance after the conquest of Canada by the English, though it was reopened long afterward in the boundary dispute between Great Britain and the United States.

By the treaty of Utrecht, France was left in undisputed possession of Cape Breton ; and in order to establish a check on the English in Nova Scotia, the French immediately began to erect strong fortifications at Louisbourg, in Cape Breton, and invited to its protection the French inhabitants of Acadia and of Newfoundland, which latter had also been ceded to Great Britain. Placentia, the chief settlement in Newfoundland, was accordingly evacuated, and its inhabitants were transferred to Cape Breton ; but such great obstacles were thrown in the way of a voluntary removal of the Acadians that very few of them joined their fellow countrymen. They remained in their old homes, to be only a source of anxiety and danger to their English masters. At the surrender of Acadia to Great Britain, it was estimated by Colonel Vetch, in a letter to the Board of Trade, that there were about twenty-five hundred French inhabitants in the country ; and even at that early date he pointed out that their removal to Cape Breton would leave the country entirely destitute of inhabitants, and make the new French settlement a very populous colony, ” and of the greatest danger and damage to all the British colonies, as well as the universal trade of Great Britain.” l Fully persuaded of the correctness of this view, the successive British governors refused to permit the French to remove to Canada or Cape Breton, and persistently endeavored to obtain from them a full recognition of the British sovereignty. In a single instance — in 1729 — Governor Phillips secured from the French inhabitants on the Annapolis River an unconditional submission ; but with this exception the French would never take the oath of allegiance without an express exemption from all liability to bear arms. It is certain, however, that this concession was never made by any one in authority ; and in the two instances in which it was apparently granted by subordinate officers, their action was repudiated by their superiors. The designation ” Neutral French,” sometimes given to the Acadians, has no warrant in the recognized facts of history.

Meanwhile the colony remained almost stationary, and attracted very little notice from the home government. In August, 1717, General Richard Phillips was appointed governor, which office he retained until 1749, though he resided in England during the greater part of the time. During his absence the small colonial affairs were successively administered by the lieu tenant-governor of Annapolis, John Doucette, who held office from 1717 to I726, and afterward by the lieutenant-governors of the province, Lawrence Armstrong (1725-1739) and Paul Mascarene (1740-1749). Phillips was succeeded by Edward Cornwallis ; but Cornwallis held the office only about three years, when he resigned, and General Peregrine Thomas Hopson was appointed his successor. On Hopson’s retirement, within a few months, the government was administered by one of the members of the council, Charles Lawrence, who was appointed lieutenant-governor in 1754, and governor in 1756.

In 1744 war again broke out between England and France, and the next year it was signalized in America by the capture of Louisbourg. Immediately on learning that war had been declared, the French commander despatched a strong force to Canso, which captured the English garrison at that place and carried them prisoners of war to Louisbourg. A second expedition was sent to Annapolis for a similar purpose, but through the prompt action of Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, it failed of success. Aroused, no doubt, by these occurrences, Shirley formed the plan of capturing Louisbourg ; and early in January, 1745, he communicated his de sign to the General Court of Massachusetts, and about the same time wrote to Commodore Warren, commanding the British fleet in the West Indies, for cooperation. His plans were favorably received, not only by Massachusetts, but also by the other New England colonies. Massachusetts voted to raise 3,250 men ; Connecticut 500 ; and New Hampshire and Rhode Island each 300. The chief command was given to Sir William Pepperrell, a wealthy merchant of Kittery in Maine, of unblemished reputation and great personal popularity ; and the second in command was Samuel Waldo, a native of Boston, but at that time also a resident of Maine.1 The chief of artillery was Richard Gridley, a skilful engineer, who, in June, 1775, marked out the redoubt on Bunker Hill. The under taking proved to be so popular that the full complement of men was raised within two months. The expedition consisted of thirteen armed vessels, under the command of Captain Edward Tyng, with upward of two hundred guns, and of about ninety transports. They were directed to proceed to Canso, where a block house was to be built, the stores landed, and a guard left to defend them. The Massachusetts troops sailed from Nantasket on the 24th of March, and reached Canso on the 4th of April. The New Hampshire forces had arrived four days before ; the Connecticut troops reached the same place on the 25th. Hutchinson adds, with grim humor, “Rhode Island waited until a better judgment could be made of the event, their three hundred not arriving until after the place had surrendered.”

The works at Louisbourg had been twenty-five years in construction, and though still incomplete had cost between five and six millions of dollars. They were thought to be the most formidable defences in America, and covered an area two and a half miles in circumference. A space of about two hundred yards toward the sea was left without a rampart ; but at all other accessible points the walls were from thirty to thirty-six feet in height, with a ditch eighty feet in width. Scattered along their line were six bastions and three batteries with embrasures for one hundred and forty-eight cannon, of which only sixty-five were mounted, and sixteen mortars. On an island at the entrance of the harbor was a battery mounted with thirty guns ; and directly opposite the entrance of the harbor was the grand battery, mounting twenty-eight heavy guns and two eighteen-pounders. The entrance to the town on the land-side was over a draw-bridge defended by a circular battery mounting sixteen cannon. It was these strong and well-planned works which a handful of New England farmers and fishermen undertook to capture with the assistance of a small English fleet.

Pepperrell was detained by the ice at Canso for nearly three weeks, at the end of which time he was joined by Commodore Warren with four ships, carrying one hundred and eighty guns. The combined forces reached Gabarus Bay, the place selected for a landing, on the morning of the 3Oth of April ; and it was not until that time that the French had any knowledge of the impending attack. Two days later the grand bat tery fell into Pepperrell’s hands through a fortunate panic which seized the French. Thus encouraged, the siege was pressed with vigor under very great difficulties. The first battery was erected immediately on landing, and opened fire at once ; but it required the labor of fourteen nights to draw all the cannon and other materials across the morass between the landing-place and Louisbourg, and it was not until the middle of May that the fourth battery was ready. On the iSth of May, Tyng in the ” Massachusetts ” frigate captured a French ship of sixty-four guns and five hundred men, heavily laden with military stores for Louisbourg. This success greatly raised the spirits of the besiegers, who, slowly but steadily, pushed forward to the accomplishment of their object. Warren’s fleet was reinforced by the arrival of three large ships from England and three from Newfoundland ; the land-gate was demolished ; serious breaches were made in the walls ; and by the middle of June it was determined to attempt a general assault. The French commander, Duchambon, saw that further resistance would be useless, and on the i6th he capitulated with the honors of war, and the next day Pepperrell took possession of Louisbourg.

By the capitulation six hundred and fifty veteran troops, more than thirteen hundred militia, and other persons, to the number in all of upward of four thousand, agreed not to bear arms against Great Britain during the war, and were transported to France in fourteen ships. Seventy-six cannon and mortars fell into the hands of the conquerors, with a great quantity of military stores and provisions. The number killed on the side of the French was three hundred, and on the side of the English one hundred and thirty ; but subsequently the latter suffered heavily by disease, and at one time so many as fifteen hundred were sick from exposure and bad weather. Tidings of the victory created great joy in New England, and the news was received with no small satisfaction in the mother country. Pepperrell was made a baronet, Warren an admiral, and both Shirley and Pepperrell were commissioned as colonels. Subsequently, after a delay of four years, Great Britain reimbursed the colonies for the expenses of the expedition to the amount of £200,000.

The capture of Louisbourg was by far the most important event in the history of Nova Scotia during the war, and the loss of so important a place was a keen mortification to France. As soon as news of the fall of Louisbourg reached the French government, steps were taken with a view to its recapture and to the punishment of the English colonists by destroying Boston and ravaging the New England coast. In June, 1/46, a fleet of eleven ships of the line, twenty frigates, thirty transports, and two fireships was despatched for this purpose under command of Admiral D’Anville ; but the enterprise ended in a disastrous failure. Contrary winds prevailed during the voyage, and on nearing the American coast a violent storm scattered the fleet, driving some of the ships back to France and others to the West Indies, and wrecking some on Sable Island. On the 10th of September D’Anville cast anchor with the remaining vessels -two ships and a few transports — in Chebucto ; and six days later he died, of apoplexy, it is said. At a council of war held shortly afterward it was determined to attack Annapolis, against the judgment of Vice-Admiral D’Estournelle, who had assumed the command. Exasperated, apparently, at this decision, he committed suicide in a fit of temporary insanity. This second misfortune was followed by the breaking out of the small-pox among the crews ; and finally after scuttling some of the vessels the officer next in command returned to France without striking a single blow. In the spring of the following year another expedition, of smaller size, was despatched under command of Admiral De la Jonquiere ; but the fleet was intercepted and dispersed off Cape Finisterre by the English, who captured nine ships of war and numerous other vessels.

Meanwhile, and before the capture of Louisbourg, the French had made an unsuccessful attempt on Annapolis, from which the besieging force was withdrawn to aid in the defence of Louisbourg, but they did not arrive until a month after its surrender. In the following year another army of Canadians appeared before Annapolis ; but the place seemed to be so strong and well defended that it was not thought prudent to press the attack. The French accordingly withdrew to Chignecto to await the arrival of reinforcements expected from France. While stationed there they learned that a small body of New England troops, under Colonel Noble, were quartered at Grand Pre, and measures were speedily adopted to cut them off. The attack was made under cover of a snow-storm at an early hour on the morning of the 4th of February, 1747. It was a complete surprise to the English. Noble, who was in bed at the time, was killed fighting in his shirt. A desperate conflict, however, ensued from house to house, and at ten o’clock in the forenoon the English capitulated with the honors of war.1 This terminated active hostilities in Nova Scotia, from which the French troops shortly afterward withdrew. By the dis graceful peace of Aix la Chapelle (1748) England surrendered Louisbourg and Cape Breton to the French, and all the fruits of the war in America were lost.

After the conclusion of peace it was determined by the home government to strengthen their hold on Nova Scotia, so as to render it as far as possible a bulwark to the other English colonies, instead of a source of danger to them. With this view an advertisement was inserted in the London Gazette, in March, 1749, setting forth “that proper encouragement will be given to such of the officers and private men, lately dismissed his Majesty’s land and sea service, as are willing to accept of grants of land, and to settle with or without families in Nova Scotia.” Fifty acres were to be allotted to every soldier or sailor, free from the payment of rents or taxes for the term of ten years, after which they were not to be required to pay more than one shilling per annum for every fifty acres ; and an additional grant of ten acres for each person in a family was promised. Larger grants, with similar conditions, were to be made to the officers; and still further to encourage the settlement of the province the same inducements were offered to ” carpenters, shipwrights, smiths, masons, joiners, brickmakers, bricklayers, and all other artificers necessary in building or husbandry, not being private soldiers or seamen,” and also to surgeons on producing certificates that they were properly qualified. These offers were promptly accepted by a large number of persons, but apparently by not so many as was anticipated.

In the following May Edward Cornwallis, then a member of Parliament, and uncle of the first Marquis of Cornwallis, was appointed captain-general and governor in chief, and at once embarked for Nova Scotia with the new settlers. On the 21st of June he arrived in Chebucto harbor, which all the officers agreed was the finest harbor they had ever seen ; and early in July he was joined by the transports, thirteen in number, having on board upward of twenty-five hundred immigrants. The shores of the harbor were wooded to the water’s edge, ” no clear spot to be seen or heard of.” But by the 23d of the month more than twelve acres were cleared, and preparations were made for building. A month later the plan of the town was fully laid out, and subsequently a line of palisades was erected around the town, a square fort was built on the hill, and a space thirty feet wide cleared outside of the defensive line. By the end of October three hundred houses had been completed, a second fort had been built, and an order had been sent to Boston for lamps to light the streets in the winter nights. Halifax, as the new town was called, had already begun to wear the appearance of a settled community ; and in little more than a year its first church was opened for religious services. From the first, the growth of Halifax was strong and healthy ; and it soon became a place of considerable importance. So early as 1752 the number of inhabitants amounted to more than four thousand. Stringent rules were adopted to insure public order and morality ; and very soon the governor and council proceeded to exercise legislative authority. But their right to do this was expressly denied by the law officers at home. Accordingly, in the early part of 1757 a plan was adopted for dividing the province into electoral districts, for the choice of a legislative body, and was sent to England for approval. Some exceptions, however, were taken to the plan ; and it was not until October, 1758, that the first provincial assembly met at Halifax, nineteen members being present.

In the mean time, in 1755, occurred the most memorable and tragic event in the whole history of Nova Scotia. Though England and France were nominally at peace, frequent collisions took place between their adherents in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in America. Early in 1755 it was determined to dispossess the French of the posts which they had established on the Bay of Fundy, and a force of eighteen hundred men was raised in New England, for that purpose, under Lieutenant-Colonels Scott and John Winslow. The chief command of the expedition was given to Colonel Robert Monckton, an officer in the .English army. The first and most honorable fruits of the expedition were the capture of the French forts at Beausejour and at Gaspereau, both of which surrendered in June. A few weeks later Winslow became a chief instrument in the forcible removal of the French Acadians, which has given his name an unenviable notoriety. It was a task apparently at which his whole nature relucted ; and over and over again he wrote in his letters at the time that it was the most disagreeable duty he had had to perform in his whole life. But he did not hesitate for a moment, and carried out with unfaltering energy the commands of his superior officers.

For more than a generation the French inhabitants had refused to take the oath of allegiance to the king of England, except in a qualified form. Upon their renewed refusal, in July, 1755, it was determined to take immediate steps for their removal, in accordance with a previous decision, ” to send all the French inhabitants out of the province, if they re fused to take the oath ; ” and at a meeting of the provincial council of Nova Scotia, held July 28th, ” after mature consideration, it was unanimously agreed that, to prevent as much as possible their attempting to return and molest the settlers that may be set down on their lands, it would be most proper to send them to be distributed amongst the several colonies on the continent, and that a sufficient number of vessels should be hired with all possible expedition for that purpose.” Accordingly orders were sent to Boston to charter the required number of transports ;and on the nth of August Governor Lawrence forwarded detailed instructions to Lieutenant-Colonel Winslow, commanding at Mines, and to Major John Handfield, a Nova Scotia officer, commanding at Annapolis, to ship off the French inhabitants in their respective neighborhoods. As the crops were not yet harvested, and there was delay in the arrival of the transports, the orders could not be executed until the autumn. At that time they were carried out with a sternness and a disregard of the rights of humanity for which there can be no justification or excuse. On the same day on which the instructions were issued to Winslow and Handfield, Governor Lawrence wrote a circular letter to the other English governors in America, expressing the opinion that there was not the least reason to doubt of their concurrence, and his hope that they would receive the inhabitants now sent ” and dispose of them in such manner as may best answer our design in preventing their reunion.” According to the official instructions five hundred persons were to be transported to North Carolina, one thousand to Virginia, five hundred to Maryland, three hundred to Philadelphia, two hundred to New York, three hundred to Connecticut, and two hundred to Boston.

On the 4th of September Winslow issued a citation to the inhabitants in his immediate neighborhood to appear and receive a communication from him. The next day, he recorded in his journal, ” at three in the after noon, the French inhabitants appeared, agreeably to their citation, at the church in Grand Pre, amounting to four hundred and eighteen of their best men ; upon which I ordered a table to be set in the centre of the church, and, having attended with those of my officers who were off guard, delivered them by interpreters the king’s orders.” After a brief preamble he proceeded to say, ” The part of duty I am now upon is what, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you who are of the same species. But it is not my business to animadvert, but to obey such orders as I receive, and therefore without hesitation shall deliver you his Majesty’s orders and instructions.” He then informed them that all their lands, cattle, and other property, except money and household goods, were forfeited to the Crown, and that all the French inhabitants were to be removed from the province. They were, however, to have liberty to carry their money and as many of their household goods as could be conveniently shipped in the vessels ; and he added, “I shall do everything in my power that all those goods be secured to you, and that you are not molested in carrying them off, and also that whole families go in the same vessel, and make this remove, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, as easy as his Majesty’s service will admit, and hope that in whatever part of the world you may fall you may be faithful subjects, a peaceable and happy people.” Mean while they were to remain under the inspection of the troops. Toward night these unhappy victims, “not having any provisions with them, and pleading hunger, begged for bread,” which was given them, and orders were then issued that for the future they must be supplied from their respective families. ” Thus ended the memorable 5th of September,” Winslow wrote in his journal, ” a day of great fatigue and trouble.”

Shortly afterward the first prisoners were embarked ; but great delay occurred in shipping them off, mainly on account of the failure of the con tractor to arrive with the provisions at the expected time, and it was not until November or December that the last were shipped. The whole number sent away at this time was about four thousand. There was also a great destruction of property ; and in the district under command of Winslow very nearly seven hundred buildings were burned. The presence of the French was nowhere welcome in the colonies to which they were sent ; and they doubtless experienced many hardships. The governors of South Carolina and Georgia gave them permission to return, much to the surprise and indignation of Governor Lawrence ; 2 and seven boats, with ninety unhappy men who had coasted along shore from one of the Southern colonies, were stopped in Massachusetts. In the summer of 1762 five transports with a further shipment of these unfortunate people were sent to Boston, but the General Court would not permit them to land, and they were ordered to return to Halifax.

The removal of the French Acadians from their homes was one of the saddest episodes in modern history, and no one now will attempt to justify it ; but it should be added that the genius of our great poet has thrown a somewhat false and distorted light over the character of the victims. They were not the peaceful and simple-hearted people they are commonly supposed to have been ; and their houses, as we learn from contemporary evidence, were by no means the picturesque, vine-clad, and strongly built cottages described by the poet. The people were notably quarrelsome among themselves, and to the last degree superstitious. They were wholly under the influence of priests appointed by the French bishops, and directly responsible to the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church at Quebec. Many of these priests were quite as much political agents as religious teachers, and some of them fell under the censure of their superiors for going too much outside of their religious functions. Even in periods when France and England were at peace, the French Acadians were, a source of perpetual danger to the English colonists. Their claim to a qualified allegiance was one which no nation then or now could sanction. But all this does not justify their expulsion in the manner in which it was executed, and it will always remain a foul blot on the history of Nova Scotia. The knowledge of these facts, however, enables us to understand better the constant feeling of insecurity under which the English settlers lived, and which finally resulted in the removal and dispersion of the French under circumstances of such heartless cruelty.

In May of the following year, war was again declared between France and England ; and two years later Louisbourg again fell into the hands of the English. In May, 1758, a powerful fleet under command of Admiral Boscawen arrived at Halifax for the purpose of recapturing a place which ought never to have been given up. The fleet consisted of twenty-three ships of the line and eighteen frigates, beside transports, and when it left Halifax it numbered one hundred and fifty-seven vessels. With it was a land force, under Jeffery Amherst, of upward of twelve thousand men. The French forces at Louisbourg were much inferior, and consisted of only eight ships of the line and three frigates, and of about four thousand soldiers. The English fleet set sail from Halifax on the 28th of May, and on the 8th of June a landing was effected in Gabarus Bay. The next day the attack began, and after a sharp conflict the French abandoned and destroyed two important batteries. The siege was then pushed by regular approaches ; but it was not until the 26th of July that the garrison capitulated. By the terms of surrender the whole garrison were to become prisoners of war and to be sent to England, and the English acquired two hundred and eighteen cannon and eighteen mortars, beside great quantities of ammunition and military stores. All the vessels of war had been captured or destroyed ; but their crews, to the number of upward of twenty-six hundred men, were included in the capitulation. Two years later, at the beginning of 1760, orders were sent from England to demolish the fortress, render the harbor impracticable, and transport the garrison and stores to Halifax. These orders were carried out so effectually that few traces of its fortifications remain, and the place is inhabited only by fishermen.

A year after the surrender of Louisbourg a fatal blow was struck at the French power in America by the capture of Quebec ; and by the peace of Paris, in February, 1763, the whole of Canada was ceded to Great Britain. The effects of this cession, in preparing the way for the independence of the principal English colonies, cannot easily be overestimated ; but to Nova Scotia it only gave immunity from the fear of French incursions, without in the slightest degree weakening the attachment of the inhabitants to England.”

Winsor, Justin. “Narrative and critical history of America”. Boston, New York : Houghton, Mifflin and Company; etc., etc. 1884. https://archive.org/details/narrcrithistory05winsrich

“American history: comprising historical sketches of the [indigenous] tribes”

“The [Mi’kmaq], first called by the French Souriqu’ois, held possession of Nova Scotia and the adjacent isles, and were early known as the active allies of the French.

Marquis de la Roche
In 1598, the Marquis de la Roche, a French nobleman, received from the King of France a commission for founding a French colony in America. Having equipped several vessels, he sailed with a considerable number of settlers, most of whom, however, he was obliged to draw from the prisons of Paris. On Sable island, a barren spot near the coast of Nova Scotia, forty men were left to form a settlement.

La Roche dying soon after his return, the colonists Fate were neglected; and when, after seven years, a vessel was sent to inquire after them, only twelve of them were living. The dungeons from which they had been liberated were preferable to the hardships which they had suffered. The emaciated exiles were carried back to France, where they were kindly received by the king, who pardoned their crimes, and made them a liberal donation.

De Monts
In 1603, the king of France granted to De Monts, a gentleman of distinction, the sovereignty of the country from the 40th to the 46th degree of north latitude; that is, from one degree south of New York city, to one north of Montreal. Sailing with two vessels, in the spring of 1604, he arrived at Nova Scotia in May, and spent the summer in trafficking with the natives, and examining the coasts preparatory to a settlement.

Selecting an island near the mouth of the river St. Croix, on the coast of New Brunswick, he there erected a fort and passed a rigorous winter, his men suffering much from the want of suitable provisions. ‘In the following spring, 1605, De Monts removed to a place on the Bay of Fundy; and here was formed the first permanent French settlement in America. The settlement was named Port Royal, and the whole country, embracing the present New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the adjacent islands, was called Acadia.

North and South Virginia
In 1606 James the 1st, of England, claiming all that portion of North America which lies between the 34th and the 45th degrees of north latitude, embracing the country from Cape Fear to Halifax, divided this territory into two nearly equal districts; the one, called North Virginia, extending from the 41st to the 45th degree; and the other, called South Virginia, from the 34th to the 38th.

The former he granted to a company of “Knights, gentlemen, and merchants,” of the west of England, called the Plymouth Company; and the latter to a company of “noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants,” mostly resident in London, and called the London Company. The intermediate district, from the 38th to the 41st degree, was open to both companies; but neither was to form a settlement within one hundred miles of the other.


…Early in the following year, 1690, Schenectady was burned; the settlement at Salmon Falls, on the Piscataqua, was destroyed; and a successful attack was made on the fort and settlement at Casco Bay. In anticipation of the inroads of the French, Massachusetts had hastily fitted out an expedition, under Sir William Phipps, against Nova Scotia, which resulted in the easy conquest of Port Royal.

Early in 1692 Sir William Phipps returned with a new charter, which vested the appointment of governor in the king, and united Plymouth, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nova Scotia, in one royal government. Plymouth lost her separate government contrary to her wishes; while New Hampshire, which had recently placed herself under the protection of Massachusetts, was now forcibly severed from her.

In 1707 Massachusetts attempted the reduction of Port Royal; and a fleet conveying one thousand soldiers was sent against the place; but the assailants were twice obliged to raise the siege with considerable loss. Not disheartened by the repulse, Massachusetts spent two years more in preparation, and aided by a fleet from England, in 1710 again demanded the surrender of Port Royal. The garrison, weak and dispirited, capitulated after a brief resistance; the name of the place was changed to Annapolis, in honor of Queen Anne; and Acadia, or Nova Scotia, was permanently annexed to the British crown.

The most important event of (King George’s War) in America, was the siege and capture of Louisburg. This place, situated on the island of Cape Breton, had been fortified by France at great expense, and was regarded by her as the key to her American possessions, William Shirley the governor of Massachusetts, perceiving the importance of the place, and the danger to which its possession by the French subjected the British province of Nova Scotia, laid before the legislature of the colony a plan for its capture. Although Strong objections wore urged, the govenor’s proposals were assented to; Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, furnished their quotas of men; New York sent a supply of artillery, and Pennsylvania of provisions. Commodore Warren, then in the West Indies with an English fleet, was invited to co-operate in the enterprise, but he declined doing so without orders from England. This unexpected intelligence was kept a secret, and in April, 1745, the New England forces alone, under William Pepperell, commander-in-chief, and Roger Wolcott, second in command, sailed for Louisburg.

At Causcau they were unexpectedly met by the fleet of Commodore Warren, who had recently received orders to repair to Boston, and concert measures with Governor Shirley for his majesty’s service in North America. On the 11th of May the combined forces, numbering more than 4000 land troops, came in sight of Louisburg, and effected a landing at Gabarus Bay, which was the first intimation the French had of their danger. On the day after the landing a detachment of four hundred men marched by the city and approached the royal battery, setting fire to the houses and stores on the way. The French, imagining that the whole army was coming upon them, spiked the guns and abandoned the battery, which was immediately seized by the New England troops. Its guns were then turned upon the town, and against the island battery at the entrance of the harbor.

As it was necessary to transport the guns over a morass, where oxen and horses could not be used, they were placed on sledges constructed for the purpose, and the men with ropes, sinking to their knees in the mud, drew them safely over. Trenches were then thrown up within two hundred yards of the city,—a battery was erected on the opposite side of the harbor, at the Light House Point and the fleet of Warren captured a French gunship, with five hundred and sixty men, and a great quantity of military stores designed for the supply of the garrison. A combined attack by sea and land was planned for the 29th of June, but, on the day previous, the city, fort, and batteries, and the whole island, were surrendered. This was the most important acquisition which England made during the war, and, for its recovery, and the desolation of the English colonies, a powerful naval armament under the Duke d’Anville was sent out by France in the following year. But storms, shipwrecks, and disease, enfeebled the fleet, and blasted the hopes of the enemy.

In 1748 the war was terminated by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle. The result proved that neither party had gained any thing by the contest; for all acquisitions made by either were mutually restored. But the causes of a future and more important war still remained in the disputes about boundaries, which were left unsettled; and the “French and Indian War” soon followed, which was the last struggle of the French for dominion in America.

Expeditions of Monckton, Braddock, Shirley, and Sir William Johnson.
Early in 1755, General Braddock arrived from Ireland, with two regiments of British troops, and with the authority of commander-in-chief of the British and colonial forces. At a convention of the colonial governors, assembled at his request in Virginia, three expeditions were resolved upon; one against the French at Fort du Quesne, to be led by General Braddock himself; a second against Niagara, and a third against Crown Point, a French post on the western shore of Lake Champlain.

While preparations were making for these expeditions, an enterprise, that had been previously determined undertaken. upon, was prosecuted with success in another quarter. About the last of May, Colonel Monckton sailed from Boston, with three thousand troops, against the French settlements at the head of the Bay of Fundy, which were considered as encroachments upon the English province of Nova Scotia. Landing at Fort Lawrence, on the eastern shore of Chignecto, a branch of the Bay of Fundy, a French block-house was carried by assault, and Fort Beausejour surrendered, after an investment of four days. The name of the fort was then changed to Cumberland. Fort Gaspereau, on Bay Verte, or Green Bay, was next taken; and the forts on the New Brunswick coast were abandoned. In accordance with the views of the governor of Nova Scotia, the plantations of the French settlers were laid waste; and several thousands of the hapless fugitives, ardently attached to their mother country, and refusing to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain, were driven on board the British shipping, at the point of the bayonet, and dispersed, in poverty, through the English colonies.


Nova Scotia, according to its present limits, forms a large peninsula, separated from the continent by the Bay of Fundy, and its branch Chignecto, and connected with it by a narrow isthmus between the latter bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The peninsula is about 385 miles in length from northeast to southwest, and contains an area of nearly sixteen thousand square miles. The surface of the country is broken, and the Atlantic coast is generally barren, but some portions of the interior are fertile.

The settlement of Port Royal, (now Annapolis) by De Monts, in 1605, and also the conquest of the country by Argall, in 1614, have already been mentioned. France made no complaint of Argall’s aggression, beyond demanding the restoration of the prisoners, nor did Britain take any immediate measures for retaining her conquests. But in 1621 Sir William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Stirling, obtained from the king, James I, a grant of Nova Scotia and the adjacent islands, and in 1625 the patent was renewed by Charles I., and extended so as to embrace all Canada, and the northern portions of the United States. In 1623 a vessel was despatched with settlers, but they found the whole country in the possession of the French, and were obliged to return to England without effecting a settlement.

In 1628, during a war with France, Sir David Kirk, who had been sent out by Alexander, succeeded in reducing Nova Scotia, and in the following year he completed the conquest of Canada, but the whole country was restored by treaty in 1632.

The French court now divided Nova Scotia among three individuals, La Tour, Denys, and Razillai, and appointed Razillai commander-in-chief of the country. The latter was succeeded by Charnise, between whom and La Tour a deadly feud arose, and violent hostilities were for some time carried on between the rivals. At length, Charnise dying, the controversy was for a time settled by La Tour’s marrying the widow of his deadly enemy, but soon after La Borgne appeared, a creditor of Charnise, and with an armed force endeavored to crush at once Denys and La Tour. But after having subdued several important places, and while preparing to attack St. John, a more formidable competitor presented himself.

Cromwell, having assumed the reins of power in England, declared war against France, and, in 1654, despatched an expedition against Nova Scotia, which soon succeeded in reducing the rival parties, and the whole country submitted to his authority. La Tour, accommodating himself to circumstances, and making his submission to the English, obtained, in conjunction with Sir Thomas Temple, a grant of the greater part of the country. Sir Thomas bought up the share of La Tour, spent nearly 30,000 dollars in fortifications, and greatly improved the commerce of the country; but all his prospects were blasted by the treaty of Breda in 1667, by which Nova Scotia was again ceded to France

The French now resumed possession of the colony, which as yet contained only a few unpromising settlements, the whole population in 1680 not exceeding nine hundred individuals. The fisheries, the only productive branch of business, were carried on by the English. There were but few forts, and these so weak that two of them were taken and plundered by a small piratical vessel. In this situation, after the breaking out of the war with France in 1689, Acadia appeared an easy conquest. The achievement was assigned to Massachusetts, In May, 1690, Sir William Phipps, with 700 men, appeared before Port Royal, which soon surrendered; but he merely dismantled the fortress, and then left the country a prey to pirates. A French commander arriving in November of the following year, the country was reconquered, simply by pulling down the English and hoisting the French flag.

Soon after, the Bostonians, aroused by the depredations of the French and [indigenous] on the frontiers, sent a body of 500 men, who soon regained the whole country, with the exception of one fort on the river St. John. Acadia now remained in possession of the English until the treaty of Ryswick in 1697, when it was again restored to France.

It was again resolved to reduce Nova Scotia, and the achievement was again left to Massachusetts, with the assurance that what should be gained by arms would not again be sacrificed by treaty.

The peace of 1697 was speedily succeeded by a declaration of war against France and Spain in 1702. It was again resolved to reduce Nova Scotia, and the achievement was again left to Massachusetts, with the assurance that what should be gained by arms would not again be sacrificed by treaty. The first expedition, despatched in 1704, met with little resistance, but did little more than ravage the country. In 1707 a force of 1000 soldiers was sent against Port-Royal, but the French commandant conducted the defence of the place with so much ability, that the assailants were obliged to retire with considerable loss. In 1710 a much larger force, under the command of General Nicholson, appeared before Port Royal, but the French commandant, having but a feeble garrison, and declining to attempt a resistance, obtained an honorable capitulation. Port Royal was now named Annapolis. From this period Nova Scotia has been permanently annexed to the British crown.

The [Mi’kmaq] of Nova Scotia, who were warmly attached to the French, were greatly astonished on being informed that they had become the subjects of Great Britain. Determined, however, on preserving their independence, they carried on a long and vigorous war against the English. In 1720 they plundered a large establishment at Canseau, carrying off fish and merchandise to the amount of 10,000 dollars; and in 1723 they captured at the same place, seventeen sail of vessels, with numerous prisoners, nine of whom they deliberately and cruelly put to death.

As the [Mi’kmaq] still continued hostile, the British inhabitants of Nova Scotia were obliged to solicit aid from Massachusetts, and in 1728 that province sent a body of troops against the principal village of the Norridgewocks, on the Kennebec. ‘The enemy were surprised, and defeated with great slaughter, and among the slain was Father Ralle, their missionary, a man of considerable literary attainments, who had resided among the [Mi’kmaq] forty years. By this severe stroke the [Mi’kmaq] were overawed, and for many years did not again disturb the tranquility of the English settlements.

In 1744 war broke out anew between England and France. The French governor of Cape Breton immediately attempted the reduction of Nova Scotia, took Canseau, and twice laid siege to Annapolis, but without effect. The English, on the other hand, succeeded in capturing Louisburg, the Gibraltar of America, but when peace was concluded, by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle, in 1748, the island of Cape Breton was restored to France.

After the treaty, Great Britain began to pay more attention to Nova Scotia, which had hitherto been settled relation almost exclusively by the French, who, upon every rupture between the two countries, were accused of violating their neutrality. In order to introduce a greater proportion of English settlers, it was now proposed to colonize there a large number of the soldiers who had been discharged in consequence of the disbanding of the army, and in the latter part of June, 1749, a company of nearly 4000 adventurers of this class was added to the population of the colony.

To every private was given fifty acres of land, with ten additional acres for each member of his family. A higher allowance was granted to officers, till it amounted to six hundred acres for every person above the degree of captain, with proportionable allowances for the number and increase of every family. The settlers were to be conveyed free of expense, to be furnished with arms and ammunition, and with materials and utensils for clearing their lands and erecting habitations, and to be maintained twelve months after their arrival, at the expense of the government.

The emigrants having been landed at Chebucto harbor, under the charge of the Honorable Edward Cornwallis, whom the king had appointed their governor, they immediately commenced the building of a town, on a regular plan, to which the name of Halifax was given, in honor of the nobleman who had the greatest share in funding the colony. The place selected for the settlement possessed a cold, sterile and rocky soil, yet it was preferred to Annapolis, as it was considered more favorable for trade and fishery, and it likewise possessed one of the finest harbors in America. “Of so great importance to England was the colony deemed, that Parliament” continued to make annual grants for it, which, in 1755, had amounted to the enormous sum of nearly two millions of dollars.

But although the English settlers were thus firmly established, they soon found themselves unpleasantly situated. The limits of Nova Scotia had never been defined, by the treaties between France and England, with sufficient clearness to prevent disputes about boundaries, and each party was now striving to obtain possession of a territory claimed by the other. The government of France contended that the British dominion, according to the treaty which ceded Nova Scotia, extended only over the present peninsula of the same name; while, according to the English, it extended over all that large tract of country formerly known as Acadia, including the present province of New Brunswick. Admitting the English claim, France would be deprived of a portion of territory of great value to her, materially affecting her control over the River and Gulf of St. Lawrence, and greatly endangering the security of her Canadian possessions.

When, therefore, the English government showed a disposition effectually to colonize the country, the French settlers began to be alarmed; and though they did not think proper to make an open avowal of their jealousy, they employed their emissaries in exciting the [Mi’kmaq] to hostilities in the hope of effectually preventing the English from extending their plantations, and, perhaps, of inducing them to abandon their settlements entirely. The [Mi’kmaq] even made attacks upon Halifax, and the colonists could not move into the adjoining woods, singly or in small parties, without danger of being shot and scalped, or taken prisoners.

In support of the French claims, the governor of Canada sent detachments, which, aided by strong bodies of [Mi’kmaq] and a few French Acadians, erected the fort of Beau Sejour on the neck of the peninsula of Nova Scotia, and another on the river St. John, on pretence that these places were within the government of Canada. Encouraged by these demonstrations, the French inhabitants around the bay of Chignecto rose in open rebellion against the English government, and in the spring of 1750 the governor of Nova Scotia sent Major Lawrence with a few men to reduce them to obedience. At his approach, the French abandoned their dwellings, and placed themselves under the protection of the commandant of Fort Beau Sejour, when Lawrence, finding the enemy too strong for him, was obliged to retire without accomplishing his object.

Soon after, Major Lawrence was again detached with 1000 men, but after driving in the outposts of the enemy, he was a second time obliged to retire. To keep the French in check, however, the English built a fort on the neck of the peninsula, which, in honor of its founder, .was called Fort Lawrence.Still the depredations of the [Mi’kmaq] continued, the French erected additional forts in the disputed territory, and vessels of war, with troops and military stores, were sent to Canada and Cape Breton, until the forces in both these places became a source of great alarm to the English.

At length, in 1755, Admiral Boscawen commenced the war, which had long been anticipated by both parties, by capturing on the coast of Newfoundland two French vessels, having on board eight companies of soldiers and about 35,000 dollars in specie. Hostilities having thus begun, a force was immediately fitted out from New England, under Lieutenant Colonels Monckton and Winslow, to dislodge the enemy from their newly erected forts. The troops embarked at Boston on the 20th of May, and arrived at Annapolis on the 25th, whence they sailed on the 1st of June, in a fleet of forty-one vessels to Chignecto, and anchored about five miles from Fort Lawrence.

On their arrival at the river Massaguash, they found themselves opposed by a large number of regular forces, rebel Acadians, and [Mi’kmaq], 450 of whom occupied a block-house, while the remainder were posted within a strong outwork of timber. The latter were attacked by the English provincials with such spirit that they soon fled, when the garrison deserted the block-house, and left the passage of the river free. Thence Colonel Monckton advanced against Fort Beau Sejour, which he invested on the 12th of June, and after four days bombardment compelled it to surrender.

Having garrisoned the place, and changed its name to that of Cumberland, he next attacked and reduced another French fort near the mouth of the river Gaspereau, at the head of Bay Verte or Green Bay, where he found a large quantity of provisions and stores, which had been collected for the use of the [Mi’kmaq] and Acadians. A squadron sent against the post on the St. John, found it abandoned and destroyed. The success of the expedition secured the tranquility of all French Acadia, then claimed by the English under the name of Nova Scotia.

The peculiar situation of the Acadians, however, was a subject of great embarrassment to the local government of the province. In Europe, the war had begun unfavorably to the English, while General Braddock, sent with a large force to invade Canada, had been defeated with the loss of nearly his whole army. Powerful reenforcements had been sent by the French to Louisburg and other posts in America, and serious apprehensions were entertained that the enemy would next invade Nova Scotia, where they would find a friendly population, both European and [Mi’kmaq].

The French Acadians at that period amounted to Seventeen or eighteen thousand. They had cultivated a considerable extent of land, possessed about 60,000 head of cattle, had neat and comfortable dwellings, and lived in a state of plenty, but of great simplicity. They were a peaceful, industrious, and amiable race, governed mostly by their pastors, who exercised a parental authority over them; they cherished a deep attachment to their native country, they had resisted every invitation to bear arms against it, and had invariably refused to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain. Although the great body of these people remained tranquilly occupied in the cultivation of their lands, yet a few individuals had joined the [Mi’kmaq], and about 300 were taken in the forts, in open rebellion against the government of the country.

Under these circumstances, Governor Lawrence and his council, aided by Admirals Boscawen and Mostyn, assembled to consider what disposal of the Acadians the security of the country required. Their decision resulted in the determination to tear the whole of this people from their homes, and disperse them through the different British colonies, where they would be unable to unite in any offensive measures, and where they might in time be-come naturalized to the government. Their lands, houses, and cattle, were, without any alleged crime, declared to be forfeited; and they were allowed to carry with them only their money and household furniture, both of extremely small amount.

Treachery was necessary to render this tyrannical scheme effective. The inhabitants of each district were commanded to meet at a certain place and day on urgent business, the nature of which was carefully concealed from them; and when they were all assembled, the dreadful mandate was pronounced,—and only small parties of-them were allowed to return for a short time to make the necessary preparations. They appear to have listened to their doom with unexpected resignation, making only mournful and solemn appeals, which were wholly disregarded. When, however, the moment of embarkation arrived, the young men, who were placed in front, absolutely refused to move and it required files of soldiers, with fixed bayonets, to secure obedience.

No arrangements had been made for their location elsewhere, nor was any compensation offered for the property of which they were deprived. They were merely thrown on the coast at different points, and compelled to trust to the charity of the inhabitants, who did not allow any of them to be absolutely starved. Still, through hardships, distress, and change of climate, a great proportion of them perished. So eager was their desire to return, that those sent to Georgia had set out, and actually reached New York, when they were arrested.

They addressed a pathetic representation to the English government, in which, quoting the most solemn treaties and declarations, they proved that their treatment had been as faithless as it was cruel. No attention, however, was paid to this document, and so guarded a silence government was preserved by the government of Nova Scotia, upon the subject of the removal of the Acadians, that the records of the province make no allusion whatever to the event.

Notwithstanding the barbarous diligence with which this mandate was executed, it is supposed that the banished number actually removed from the province did not exceed 7000. The rest fled into the depths of the forests, or to the nearest French settlements, enduring incredible hardships. To guard against the return of the hapless fugitives, the government reduced to ashes their habitations and property, laying waste even their own lands, with a fury exceeding that of the most savage enemy.

In one district, 236 houses were at once in a blaze. The Acadians, from the heart of the woods, beheld all they their homes possessed consigned to destruction; yet they made no movement till the devastators wantonly set their chapel on fire. They then rushed forward in desperation, killed about thirty of the incendaries, and then hastened back to their hiding-places.

But few events of importance occurred in Nova Scotia during the remainder of the French and Indian War, at the close of which, France was compelled to the transfer to her victorious rival, all her possessions on the American continent. Relieved from any farther apprehensions from the few French remaining in the country, the provincial government of the province made all the efforts of which it was Capable to extend the progress of cultivation and settlement, though all that could be done was insufficient to fill Up the dreadful blank that had already been made.

After the peace, the case of the Acadians naturally came Under the view of the government. No advantage had been derived from their barbarous treatment, and there remained no longer a pretext for continuing the persecution. They were, therefore, allowed to return, and to receive lands on taking the customary oaths, but no compensation was offered them for the property of which had been plundered. Nevertheless, a few did return, although, in 1772, out of a French population of seventeen or eighteen thousand which once composed the colony, there were only about two thousand remaining.

In 1758, during the administration of Governor Lawrence, a legislative assembly was given to the people of Nova Scotia. In 1761 an important [indigenous] treaty was concluded when the natives agreed finally to bury the hatchet, and to accept George III, instead of the king formerly owned by them, as their great father and friend. The province remained loyal to the crown during the war of the American Revolution, at the close of which, its population was greatly augmented by the arrival of a large number of loyalist refugees from the United States. Many of the new settlers directed their course to the region beyond peninsula, which, thereby acquiring a great increase of importance, was, in 1784, erected into a distinct government, under the title of New Brunswick. At the same time, the island of Cape Breton, which had been united with Nova Scotia since the capture of Louisburg in 1748, was erected into a separate government, in which it remained until 1820, when it was re-annexed to Nova Scotia.

The most interesting portions of the history of Nova Scotia, it will be observed, are found previous to the peace of 1763, which put a final termination to the colonial wars between France and England. Since that period the tranquillity of the province has been seldom interrupted, and, under a succession of popular governors, the country has continued steadily to advance in wealth and prosperity.

In 1729 the colony (of Newfoundland) was withdrawn from its nominal dependence on Nova Scotia, from which period until 1827 the government of the island was administered by naval commanders appointed to cruise on the fishing station, but who returned to England during the winter. Since 1827 the government has been administered by resident governors; and in 1832, at the earnest solicitation of the inhabitants, a representative assembly was granted them.”

Willson, Marcius. “American history: comprising historical sketches of the Indian tribes”. Cincinnati, W. H. Moore & co.; 1847. https://www.loc.gov/item/02003669/

Carte de la coste de l’Acadie

dartmouth logo

An incredibly detailed map, again showing Chibouctou on the Dartmouth side. Mcnabs Island and George’s are fairly easy to spot for those who’ve seen them on a map before. Perhaps the hatchings next to the seven buildings is meant to represent the “1/2 acre of improved land” that de Gargas notes in his 1687-1688 census of Acadie (including Chibouctou).

I have attempted to transcribe it as best as I can, being mostly unfamiliar with French, certainly the 17th/18th century variety. Following that is my attempt at a translation, thanks to Google Translate along with the ARTFL project at the University of Chicago.

My reading of a word or words I’m not familiar with will be in brackets, with what I think it means in context located previous to the brackets in italics. Example (as seen below): closely to (extremely tidy). I wasn’t sure at first if the text spanned both sides of the harbor but I’m assuming it does since it seems to make more sense. If anyone has a better read of this, please let me know.

“Le Port de Chibouctou la plus belle recoinissance du monde est celle du port de chibouctou par la montagne SenSembre qui estant fort haute en est dautant plus facille adistinquer. Son entree est nord 1/4 nord est et sud 1/4 ouest. Il faut extrement ranger la coste du ouest. Jusques a ce que vous ayes ouvert deux petits islets en maniere de grave qui tienne arajere grand isle que vous howees apres quoy vous ales moniller a une demie portee de canondeldits. Islets nord et sud d’une petite isle toute ronde qui pariott au found de la baye. Pour ceux qui viennent du coste du ouest et qui veulenyt donner. Dans Chibouctou il fait bien qui le donne de garde d’aproacher de l’isle SenSembre accouse des roches et basses soundres qui sont a lentour de cette isle a un lieue et demie ou deux , la pesche est fort bonne partout a l’entree”

“The Port of Chibouctou

The most beautiful view (recognition) in the world is that of the port of Chibouctou from (by) the Sambro (SenSembre) mountain which, being very high, is all the more easy to distinguish.

Its entrance is north 1/4 north east and south 1/4 west.

You must adhere closely to (extremely tidy) the western coast until you see (have opened) two small islets in a grave manner which hold a large isle which you ?? (howees?) after which you go up to them at half a reach of ?? (cannondeldits?) islets north and south of a small isle all round which ?? (pariott?) at the bottom of the bay.

For those who come from the west coast and who want to enter (give in) Chibouctou it is good who gives him the guard to approach from the island Sambro (SenSembre). Watch out for (accommodate) rocks and low soundings (soundres) which are around this island at a league and a half or two. The fishing is very good everywhere at the entrance”

“Carte de la coste de l’Acadie” La Borde, Jean-Benjamin de. 17?? https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53089980h

See also:

Carte particulière de la coste d’Accadie

The Development of Public Health in Nova Scotia

Throughout the history of Nova Scotia, epidemics and infectious diseases have been recurring challenges, shaping legislation and public health measures. From as early as Champlain’s account of scurvy in 1606 to the smallpox outbreaks in the 18th and 19th centuries, diseases like smallpox, cholera, and typhus have had significant impacts on the region’s population.

Similarities can be drawn between past responses to epidemics and the modern approach to managing COVID-19. Social distancing measures, such as quarantine and isolation, were enforced through legislation dating back to the 18th century. Centralized decision-making, often led by governmental bodies or health officials, played a crucial role in implementing and enforcing these measures. For instance, laws were passed to regulate the entry of infected vessels into ports, mandate quarantine procedures, and appoint health officers to oversee public health initiatives.

Over time, legislation evolved to address specific diseases and public health challenges. Measures included the establishment of quarantine stations, vaccination programs, and the creation of boards of health to oversee public health initiatives at the local and provincial levels.


“Disaster is frequently the parent of legislation. In surveying the long history of Nova Scotia, we find this saying particularly true.”

“The first recorded instance of illness in Nova Scotia is the account of Champlain of an outbreak of scurvy at Port Royal in 1606. His group of settlers had spent the winter of 1605 at St. Croix Island, where, of a group of seventy-nine, forty-four died of scurvy. In Port Royal in the following year twelve of forty-five died.”

“Of all the epidemics, that of smallpox carried with it the greatest destruction and terror. In 1694 an epidemic was present among the [Mi’kmaq] of Acadia, but we have no knowledge of the number dying as a result. We may be sure it was large, however…”

“There was again an outbreak in Acadia in 1709 where there is evidence to suggest that the disease was of the hemorrhagic type. It was present in Louisburg in 1749. In October of the same year, a few months after the founding of Halifax, it broke out in this settlement. It was particularly destructive in type and during the autumn and winter months about one thousand persons died.”

“In 1801 we find it again in Nova Scotia and there is definite evidence that it was present the previous year. The total number of deaths in 1800 was one hundred and eighty-two, of which one hundred and thirty-eight contracted the disease in the ordinary manner and fourty-four by direct inoculation. In the epidemic of 1801, there were over 8,500 cases in and about Halifax of which accounts are scanty.

The early records indicate that a large number of persons were immunized by inoculation. Vaccination with cowpox was first used in Nova Scotia in the early spring of 1802 by Dr. Joseph Norman Bond of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.”

“A terrible epidemic, that was in all probability typhus, prevented a successful French invasion in the summer of 1746. A fleet of seventy sailing vessels, having on board 3,150 disciplined troops under the command of the Duc D’Anville, was sent from France to join a force of 1,700 French troops in Nova Scotia. The expedition was to first take Annapolis Royal and then Boston, proceeding thereafter to the West Indies. The fleet arrived in Halifax Harbor, or as it was then known, Chebucto Harbor, ninety days after leaving France. During the voyage, 1,270 men had died and the remainder were ill. The Canadian force had, in the meantime, grown tired of waiting and had retraced its steps to Quebec. After landing the troops an additional number, probably about 1,200, died. The [Mi’kmaq] who approached the camp on the shore of Bedford Basin contracted the disease and in the months following, it is estimated that at least one third of the whole [Mi’kmaq] tribe in the province died.”

“On September 7, 1827, the brig “Fame” arrived in Halifax with 130 persons on board ill with typhus. Smallpox was prevalent in the city at the same time. There was a great loss of life from the two diseases. A large number of deaths were amongst the poor. Some 800 persons of the 11,000 inhabitants died. From Halifax the disease spread to other parts of the province. The first mention of cholera in Nova Scotia is in 1834. It continued for two or three months, particularly in Halifax and about twenty persons died daily.”

“In 1854 a severe epidemic of cholera broke out in Saint John, New Brunswick. It fortunately did not reach Halifax, but its proximity brought such anxiety to the minds of the legislators of that day that as a direct result a City Hospital was built. This afterwards became in turn the City and Provincial Hospital, and the Victoria General Hospital.”

“A ship arrived at Halifax with cholera on board in 1866. Dr. Slater of Halifax, one of those who went on board to care for the victims, died as a result of the disease. It does not appear that an outbreak followed. In 1871 the steamship “Franklyn” came to Halifax with cholera on board. The disease was carried ashore to Chezzetcook, on the coast east of Halifax, where two deaths occurred. So far as is known this was the extent of its spread.”

“Since 1749 various outbreaks of the infectious fevers, particularly scarlet fever and diphtheria, have occurred throughout the province. Diphtheria was particularly fatal amongst children. As these diseases were almost endemic, the public grew used to them and they did not strike the same terror into the populace as those brought by ships. It was the old story of an evil that became tolerated and as a result, public records contain little reference to the ordinary infectious diseases.”

“As previously mentioned, legislation, often temporary, was enacted from time to time following the appearance of epidemic diseases. While there is little doubt that the medical profession from time to time played a part, a great deal Of credit must be given the official bodies of Government for their efforts to meet the recurring dangers.

A perusal of the Uniacke Edition of the Statutes (1758 to 1804) of Nova Scotia, reveals that in the year 1761 an Act was passed which provided that vessels entering the port of Halifax with an infected person or infected persons on board, must anchor at least two miles from town, having an ensign with the Union down at her mast head; no persons were to land and the master was to give notice to the Governor and conform to his orders. Before infected persons were landed, the master was required to give security to pay attending charges; masters violating this Act were to forfeit 100 pounds, to be recovered in a court of record. In other towns one or more of the nearest justices were charged with the responsibility of preventing persons landing from or going on board infected vessels and of transmitting intelligence to the Governor for instructions.

In 1775 authority was given to two justices and the overseers of the poor to make provision for the care of persons coming from infected places and of local persons infected. If such persons were unable to pay the incidental expenses, the town of residence was made liable; if strangers, the charge was to be recovered from the Provincial Treasury.

Provision was made for “inoculating” such persons as desired it against smallpox in houses 160 rods from any dwelling. During the period of resulting illness they were not allowed to go farther than 80 rods from the inoculation houses and flags were to be flown on the premises in order that others might avoid the places.

In 1779 reference is made to the neighboring States of America having been, for several years, visited by yellow fever or “Putrid Fever” or other “Infectious Distempers” and as a consequence, the desirability of requiring persons coming from infected places to “perform” quarantine in such manner as may be ordered by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief for the time being and “for punishing offenders in a more expeditious manner than can be done by the ordinary course of law”. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief was given authority and was obliged to appoint during pleasure, health officers in all counties and districts of the province ; such officers, duly sworn, were to be paid out of the provincial treasury a reasonable sum for services rendered upon presentation of the accounts to the General Assembly. The 1799 legislation was quite drastic and gave wide powers to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Commander in Chief and health officers, to compel quarantine, to punish offenders, to use force if necessary, and to burn or purify goods, wearing apparel, beds, etc. It was provided that “two justices, with the overseers of the poor, where authorized by Governor’s proclamation and after consulting skillful persons, might make provision for treating persons, storing and airing goods on vessels, for removing persons and goods to houses, tents or lazarets appointed for the purpose”. “Skillful persons” as defined in the Act, meant “one or more physicians, surgeons, apothecaries or other skillful persons living in or near the place.” Persons refusing to conform were liable to imprisonment for 6 months or a fine of 50 pounds. “Persons concealing from health officers or emerging letters or goods from a vessel, shall be guilty of a felony, without benefit of clergy”. “Governor’s orders respecting quarantine to be published by proclamation and read the first Sunday in every month in places of public worship.”

In 1809 legislation was enacted which obliged persons within the “town” of Halifax, to keep gutters and streets before their houses, buildings or lots, clear of dirt, filth and nuisances of all kinds. A fine of 20 shillings was imposed on anyone permitting such nuisances and the expenses incurred in removing them.

On the 14th day of April, 1832, two important pieces of public health legislation were placed upon the Statute books of the province. Both appear to demonstrate how apprehensive the authorities of that time were respecting the spread of communicable diseases and particularly their desire to prevent the entry of these from without. By their introduction all previous legislation on the same subject was repealed. One was termed “An Act to prevent the spreading of contagious diseases and for the performance of quarantine” and the other “An Act more effectually to provide against the introduction of infectious or contagious diseases and the spreading thereof in the province”.

The first Act provided for quarantine at definite anchorage points of all vessels coming from ports declared to be infected by the Governor-in-Council. Plague, smallpox, yellow fever, typhus and cholera morbus were mentioned. Power was given the chief officers of the crown to make orders dealing with any health emergency which might arise. Masters of infected vessels were required to report their state and to hoist signals when meeting other vessels, or when within two leagues of land; the day signal—”a large yellow flag of six breadths of bunting at the main top mast head”, and the night large signal lantern, with a light therein at the same mast head”. Penalties up to 200 pounds could be imposed for disobedience or refractory behavior. Provision was made for appointing health officers, superintendents of quarantine and assistants at the several ports, by the Governor.

In the second Act reference is made to a highly dangerous disease called “Cholera” or “Spasmodia” or “Indian Cholera”, which had prevailed on the continent of Europe and in Great Britain. Power was given the Governor to appoint, when expedient, at the several ports of the province, not only health officers, but boards of health for “carrying out and enforcing regulations made by the Governor-in-Council and generally to preserve the public health.” Sweeping powers were given the chief officers of the Crown to make regulations in emergencies.

All ships entering port were required to anchor at quarantine and remain there until boarded by a health officer and given a permit, which permit had to be shown the customs officer. Fees for the health officer’s services in this particular were collected from the masters by the customs officers and paid to the health officers; such fees were fixed by the Governor-in-Council.

This Act also gave the Governor power to appoint “Health Wardens” in Halifax and Justices of the Peace authority to appoint such wardens in any county or district of the province, the wardens to act gratuitously and to be sworn to the due performance of their duties. Wardens were required to examine in day time, as often as they deemed necessary, all houses, buildings, lots, stores, wharves, yards, enclosures and other places and all vessels and boats lying at any place in the province and to ascertain and report to the Governor, or such other persons as might be appointed to receive such reports, “the state and condition of all such buildings, places and vessels in regard to any substances, articles or animals there or therein being, or any trade or business, matter or thing there or therein used, followed or transacted, whereby or by means whereof any nuisance might be occasioned or the public health might be endangered or affected”. The wardens were given power to order the removal of all nuisances and to order any premises “lime washed”, disinfected or “purified”. Penalties of 5 to 100 pounds could be imposed for any infringement of the act.

The two Acts just referred to were to be in force for one year. From this time on and for many years both Acts were, at each session of the legislature. continued for another year.

Chapter 71 of the Acts of 1833 made provision for the destroying. by any constable, of dogs by whose bite the disease “Canine Madness” might be occasioned. Two Justices of the Peace were empowered to make and put into execution such rules and regulations as they thought proper to prevent dogs or other animals, by whose bite the disease “Canine Madness” might be caused, going at large and to destroy them if necessary.

In the year 1850 authority was vested in general sessions of the Peace, or special sessions, consisting of not less than seven magistrates on requisition of the Board of Health, or whenever they considered such measures necessary to prevent the spread of smallpox, to order a general vaccination of persons in a county or district, or any portion thereof ; persons unable to pay to be vaccinated at the expense of the county or district concerned.

On April 8, 1852, a statute was passed empowering the Governor-in-Council to select a site and erect a building for a lunatic asylum.

On the 28th day of March, 1861, legislative enactment was given for the incorporation of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. In the act of incorporation, the following were named : Rufus S, Black, James C. Hume, Edward Jennings, Daniel McNeil Parker and William B. Webster.

In the year 1862 legal provision was made for the appointment of a medical officer for the City of Halifax by the Board of Health of the City. This medical officer was not to interfere with the health officer for the port of Halifax, appointed by the Provincial Government. The city medical officer was to be under the control and subject to the orders of the Board of Health. He was given power to remove from dwellings in the city, or from boats at wharves within the city, persons having infectious diseases. If the sick persons should not, in his opinion be taken out, then the other occupants could, by him, be removed. He was also authorized to call in consultants; such consultants to be paid out of city funds. In the following year (1863) it was enacted that hereafter the mayor and aldermen of the City of Halifax should constitute the Board of Health of the city and any Acts previously passed and inconsistent with this ruling were thereby repealed.

Three years later (1866) provision was made for the establishment of a quarantine station at the port of Halifax. That Act empowered the Governor to expend $30,000.00 for the purchase of a site and the erection of a hospital, the City of Halifax having agreed to bear one-third of the expenses of the site and the building. Persons within the city having infectious diseases were to be eligible for treatment in and subject to removal to this station. All vessels over 100 tons burden entering the port were made liable to a fee of one cent per ton towards the expenses of maintaining such quarantine station and hospital. Mail steamers were required to pay this fee once a year. Vessels sent into quarantine with infectious diseases were held responsible for all expenses on account of crew or passengers aboard suffering from such diseases.

On the 7th day of May, 1866, an Act to provide against the introduction of diseases amongst horses and cattle was passed. The Governor-in-Council was given the power to make regulations respecting the introduction of such diseases in horses, cattle, sheep and swine and for the destruction of the animals should these diseases be introduced.

In the same year the mayor and all aldermen in the City of Halifax were made “Health Wardens” with power to expend money in sums found necessary to cleanse, purify and keep clean all sewers, drains, yards and places, or to carry into effect all sanitary orders of the Board of Health or health wardens in the interests of the public health.

Legislative authority in the year 1875 more clearly defined the duties of the city medical officer and the office of surgeon to the city prison was abolished. The following duties were imposed upon the city medical officer:

  • 1. “To perform services heretofore performed by the City Medical Offcer and prison surgeon”.
  • 2. “Act as medical advisor to the Board of Health, the City Council and the Health Inspectors,”
  • 3. ‘Visit City Policemen and other city offcials absent from duty on the plea of ill health and report to proper authority”.
  • 4. “To attend policemen, firemen or other city officials gratuitously, also persons brought to the police station”.
  • 5. “Vaccinate free of charge such persons as the Board of Health may determine”.
  • 6. ‘Visit and report upon cases of contagious disease brought to his notice”.
  • 7. “Generally to perform all such duties as may be reasonably required or prescribed by the Board of Health or City Council”.

In 1832 a Central Board of Health was established for the province. The President was the Honourable Henry H. Cogswell. Vice-Presidents were Doctors Allan and Johnston. Members were the Attorney-General; the Solicitor- General James Foreman, Esq., Doctors Shoreland, Hume, Sterling and Gregor and William Cogswell, Esq. The last named was the Secretary of the Board. This Central Board was given power to make and enforce regulations, to prevent spread of disease and to regulate the observance of quarantine. At the same time, local Boards were established in various places throughout the province, each having the same authority as the Central Board and each required to report its proceedings to the Central authority. At this time, Boards were named at Digby, Arichat, Lunenburg, Liverpool, Yarmouth, Windsor and Annapolis. There was some indication also that County Boards for Pictou, Hants, Kings, Cumberland and Antigonish were established.

A quarantine hospital was opened in Halifax and Dr. James C. Hume was appointed Health Officer with a “salary of twenty pounds a month while employed, with reasonable allowances for expenses.”

In 1851 all previous legislation relating to public health was consolidated. The Central Board apparently ceased to exist about this time and enforcements of quarantine and the administration of public health were vested in the Governor-in-Council, who had authority to “make quarantine orders applicable to vessels, goods, persons and things being within the province or expected hither from abroad ; to make sanitary orders to cover any special conditions that might arise; to appoint persons at the several ports of the province to act as health officers therefor; to establish at any place a Board of Health for carrying such sanitary orders into effect ; and to prescribe the duties of health officers and Boards of Health”. Health inspectors were to be appointed at general or special court sessions and in Halifax and other parts of the province health wardens were appointed.

The legislation of 1851 remained almost without change until 1873. At this time, some change was made with reference to executive officials and the requirements added that a yellow flag should be displayed on the premises where small-pox or “malignant cholera” prevailed. After 1884 the appointment of health wardens was made by the municipal councils instead of by the courts. In 1893 a Central Board of Health was established as a central organization.”

CAMPBELL, P. S., and H. L. SCAMMELL. “The Development of Public Health in Nova Scotia.” Canadian Public Health Journal, vol. 30, no. 5, 1939, pp. 226–238. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41977931. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41977931?seq=1

Settlement previous to 1749

census 1688

From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:

Dartmouth, long before the European explorers and colonizing forces, had a 7,000 year history of occupation by the [Mi’kmaq]. The [Mi’kmaq] annual cycle of seasonal movement; living in dispersed interior camps during the winter, and larger coastal communities during the summer; meant there were no permanent communities in the Euro-centric sense, but Dartmouth was clearly a place frequented by [Mi’kmaq] for a very long time. Whether it was the Springtime smelt spawning in March; the harvesting of spawning herring, gathering eggs and hunting geese in April; the Summer months when the sea provided cod and shellfish, and coastal breezes that provided relief from irritants like blackflies and mosquitos, or during the autumn and its eel season; Dartmouth with its lakes and rivers, both breadbasket and transport route back and forth to the interior, was a natural place for the [Mi’kmaq] to spend their non-winter months.

A fascinating look into what Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada could’ve looked like, from the end of the ice age at 19,000 BCE, until present. By 12,000 BCE, this model shows Cape Cod extending much further into the ocean than it does at present, along what is now Brown’s bank, a ridge which more or less stretches all the way to Sable Island along the continental shelf. A sea level 300 feet lower than it is today was enough to create a kind of land bridge to the parts of western and central Nova Scotia no longer under ice, the Bay of Fundy looking like it was an inshore repository for glacial meltwater until sea levels rose. This could’ve allowed for human exploration and settlement in what is now known as Nova Scotia previous to the retreat of the ice sheet in full.

By 10,000 BCE most of the ice had retreated, which squares with the earliest artifacts found in the area, such as at Debert, which date to the same general period, if not previous to that. That sea levels had risen one hundred feet in this two thousand year period might be instructive as to why artifacts are few and far between from this period, many of the settlements, if coastal, would have long ago been lost to the sea. Assuming the artifacts found (at Debert and Belmont) were not from nomadic hunters, and that this model is somewhat accurate, Nova Scotia could have been settled for 10,000 years or more.

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20210807155606/https://sos.noaa.gov/catalog/datasets/blue-marble-sea-level-ice-and-vegetation-changes-19000bc-10000ad/, https://web.archive.org/web/20130219202242/https://sos.noaa.gov/Docs/bluemarble3000h.kmz

A census of the district of Acadia taken in 1687-1688 attributed to de Gargas shows Chebucto had 1 French family consisting of a man, wife and son; that there were 7 Mi’kmaw men, 7 Mi’kmaw women and 19 Mi’kmaw children, “36 souls” in total. 1 French house, 7 Mi’kmaw homes, 3 guns, 1/2 acre of improved land.

census 1688
Source: https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/15754/MS-6-13A1_DeGargas_Census.pdf?sequence=1
carteacadie6 map
“Chibouctou: https://cityofdartmouth.ca/carte-particuliere-de-la-coste-daccadie/
Source: “Recensements d’Acadie (1671-1752)”, (info), http://139.103.17.56/cea/livres/doc.cfm?livre=recensements, http://139.103.17.56/cea/livres/doc.cfm?retour=R0231&ident=R0040

The St. Malo fishermen who were located at Sambro and at Prospect in the days of French ownership, must often have run to the inner harbor either to dry fish on our long beaches, or to barter furs with the natives who were always their allies. On the Dartmouth side of the harbor, geographical conditions were far more favorable for congregating, with three voluminous streams of never-failing fresh water flowing down to the estuaries of the two little bays, both later known as Mill Cove.

Besides that, there was an abundance of shell fish available at low tide, along with lobsters, crabs, sea-trout, salmon, halibut, codfish, and haddock, with the usual runs of herring and mackerel in warm weather. The woods teemed with wild life. Partridge roosted on trees, moose and deer roamed the forest, and wedges of wild fowl honked high overhead.

The evidence already submitted that the [Mi’kmaq] resorted to the Cove, is borne out by the description of Cobequid (Truro district) by Paul Mascarene about 1721, where he states that “there is communication by a river from Cobequid to Chebucto”. This Implies that the Shubenacadie route had long been in use. Engineer Cowie, after studying several harbor sites for Ocean Terminals a hundred years ago was of the opinion that Chebucto had been used as a trading post over a century before its permanent settlement.

In 1701, when M. Brouillan the newly appointed French Governor, came here from Newfoundland to rule Acadia, he went overland from Chebucto to Port Royal. This is in Murdoch’s History. Dr. Thomas H. Raddall, in his bicentennial story of Halifax, thinks that on this occasion, [Mi’kmaq] transported the Governor by the well-known canoe route of Dartmouth Lakes. (One can’t imagine a viceregal party trudging over a rough black-flied trail from Bedford to Windsor, or portaging through the shallow rivers of that section of country).

One of the early sketches of Dartmouth side is preserved at the N.S. Archives. It is a detailed drawing of the whole shore and harbor, showing the depth of water from the Eastern Passage to the head of the Basin, done by the French military engineer De Labat in 1711.

The indentations of the various inlets seem quite accurate. The soundings must have occupied a full summer, and the work was no doubt done from small boats; otherwise his large vessel would have butted such shoals as Shipyard Point and the one off shore at Queen Street.

dartmouth map

Not sure whether this is the 1711 map Martin attributes to De Labat but it is detailed, especially as it relates to the Dartmouth Cove, and it contains a number of soundings as he describes. From: “Plan de la rivière de Seine et en langage accadien Chibouquetou” http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53089940v/f1.item.r=halifax.zoom