Nova Scotia Constitutional Timeline

An expanded version of what’s put forth by the Nova Scotia legislature.

1493 – May 4, Alexander VI, Pope of Rome, issued a bull, granting the New World. Spain laid claim to the entire North American Coast from Cape Florida to Cape Breton, as part of its territory of Bacalaos.

1496 – March 5, Henry VII, King of England issued a commission to John Cabot and his sons to search for an unknown land

1498 – March 5,  Letters Patents of King Henry the Seventh Granted unto John Cabot and his Three Sonnes, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius for the “Discouerie of New and Unknowen Lands”

1502 – Henry VII commissioned Hugh Eliot and Thomas Ashurst to discover and take possession of the islands and continents in America; “and in his name and for his use, as his vassals, to enter upon, doss, conquer, govern, and hold any Mainland or Islands by them discovered.”

1524 – Francis I, King of France, said that he should like to see the clause in Adam’s will, which made the American continent the exclusive possession of his brothers of Spain and Portugal, is said to have sent out Verrazzano, a Florentine corsair, who, as has generally been believed, explored the entire coast from 30° to 50° North Latitude, and named the whole region New France.

1534 – King Francis commissioned Jacques Cartier to discover and take possession of Canada; “his successive voyages, within the six years following, opened the whole region of St. Lawrence and laid the foundation of French dominion on this continent.”

1578 – June 11, Letters patent granted by Elizabeth, Queen of England to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, knight, for “the inhabiting and planting of our people in America”.

1584 – March 25, Queen Elizabeth renewed Gilbert’s grant to Sir Walter Raleigh, his half-brother. Under this commission, Raleigh made an unsuccessful attempt to plant an English colony in Virginia, a name afterwards extended to the whole North Coast of America in honor of the “Virgin” Queen.

1603 – November 8, Henry IV, King of France, granted Sieur de Monts a royal patent conferring the possession of and sovereignty of the country between latitudes 40° and 46° (from Philadelphia as far north as Katahdin and Montreal). Samuel Champlain, geographer to the King, accompanied De Monts on his voyage, landing at the site of Liverpool, N.S., a region already known as “Acadia.”

1606 – April 10, King James claimed the whole of North America between 34° and 45° North latitude, granting it to the Plymouth and London Companies. This entire territory was placed under the management of one council, the Royal Council for Virginia. The Northern Colony encompassed the area from 38° to 45° North latitude.

1620 – November 3, Reorganization of the Plymouth Company in 1620 as the Council of Plymouth for New England, encompassing from 40° to 48° North latitude.

1621 – September 29, Charter granted to Sir William Alexander for Nova Scotia

1625 – July 12, A grant of the soil, barony, and domains of Nova Scotia to Sir Wm. Alexander of Minstrie

1630 – April 30, Conveyance of Nova-Scotia (Port-royal excepted) by Sir William Alexander to Sir Claude St. Etienne Lord of la Tour and of Uarre and to his son Sir Charles de St. Etienne Lord of St. Denniscourt, on condition that they continue subjects to the king of Scotland under the great seal of Scotland.

1632 – March 29, Treaty between King Louis XIII. and Charles King of England for the restitution of the New France, Cadia and Canada and ships and goods taken from both sides. Made in Saint Germain

1638 – Grant to Charnesay and La Tour

1654 – August 16, Capitulation of Port-Royal

1656 – August 9, A grant by Cromwell to Sir Charles de Saint Etienne, a baron of Scotland, Crowne and Temple

1667 – July 31, The treaty of peace and alliance between England and the United Provinces made at Breda

1668 – February 17, Act of cession of Acadia to the King of France

1689 – English Bill of Rights enacted

1691, October 7, A charter granted by king William and Queen Mary to the inhabitants of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England

1713 – March 31, Treaty of peace and friendship between Louis XIV. King of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, made in Utrecht

1713 – April 11, Treaty of navigation and commerce between Louis XIV, king of France, and Anne, Queen of Great Britain

1719 – June 19, Commission to Richard Philips to be Governor (including a copy of the 1715 Instructions given to the Governor of Virginia, by which he was to conduct himself)

1725 – August 26, Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay

1725 – December 15, A treaty with the Indians (Peace and Friendship Treaty, ratification at Annapolis)

1727 – July 25, Ratification at Casco Bay of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1728 – May 13, Ratification at Annapolis Royal of the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1725

1748, October 7–18, The general and definitive treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle

1749 – September 4, Renewal of the Peace and Friendship treaty of 1725

1752 – November 22, Treaty between Thomas Hopson, Governor in Chief in and over His Majesty’s Province of Nova Scotia and Major Jean Baptiste Cope, Chief Sachem of the Tribe of the MickMack Indians inhabiting the Eastern Coast…

1758 – Nova Scotia Legislature established (consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, his Council and the newly established, elected legislative assembly called the House of Assembly)

1760 – March, Treaty of Peace and Friendship concluded by the Governor of Nova Scotia with Paul Laurent, Chief of the La Heve tribe of Indians

1761 – November 9, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis

1763 – February 10, France ceded, for the last time, the rest of Acadia, including Cape Breton Island (‘île Royale), the future New Brunswick and St John’s Island (later re-named Prince Edward Island), to British (Treaty of Paris) and it was joined to Nova Scotia

1763 – October 7, Royal Proclamation

1769 – Prince Edward Island established as a colony separate from Nova Scotia

1779 – September 22, Treaty signed at Windsor between John Julien, Chief and Michael Francklin, representing the Government of Nova Scotia

1784 – Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick established as colonies separate from Nova Scotia

1820 – Cape Breton Island re-joined to Nova Scotia

1838 – Separate Executive Council and Legislative Council established

1848 – Responsible government established in Nova Scotia (Members of the legislature had the ability to elect a majority of those in the Legislative council)

1867 – “Union” of provinces of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the “self-governing” federal colony of the Dominion of Canada (British North America Act, 1867 — now known in Canada as Constitution Act, 1867) & the Parliament of Canada established (consisting of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons)

1928 – Abolition of the Legislative Council (leaving the Legislature consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and the House of Assembly)

1931 – Canadian independence legally recognized (Statute of Westminster, 1931)

1960 – Canadian Bill of Rights enacted

1982 – patriation of the amendment of the Constitution of Canada & adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada Act 1982)

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. J. Stockdale, 1787. https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/service/gdc/lhbcb/04902/04902.pdf

Legislature of the State of Maine. “The Revised Statutes of the State of Maine, Passed August 29, 1883, and Taking Effect January 1,1884.”, Portland, Loring, Short & Harmon and William M. Marks. 1884. https://lldc.mainelegislature.org/Open/RS/RS1883/RS1883_f0005-0017_Land_Titles.pdf

Kennedy, William P. Statutes, Treaties and Documents of the Canadian Constitution: 1713-1929. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1930. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_03428

Harvard Law School Library. “Description Legislative history regarding treaties of commerce with France, Spain relating to New Foundland, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton,” ca. 1715? Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library. https://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HLS.LIBR:19686447, Accessed 07 June 2021

Thorpe, Francis Newton. “The Federal and State constitutions: colonial charters, and other organic laws of the States, territories, and Colonies, now or heretofore forming the United States of America” Washington : Govt. Print. Off. 1909. https://archive.org/details/federalstatecons07thor/page/n5/mode/2up

Murdoch, Beamish. “Epitome of the laws of Nova-Scotia” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1832 (Halifax, N.S. : J. Howe) Volume One: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59437, Volume Two: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59438, Volume Three: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59439, Volume Four: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.59440

Marshall, John G. “The justice of the peace, and county and township officer in the province of Nova Scotia : being a guide to such justice and officers in the discharge of their official duties” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1837 (Halifax [N.S.] : Gossip & Coade) https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.36869, Second Edition: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.38224

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

Bourinot, John George. “The constitution of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia” [S.l. : s.n., 1896?] https://archive.org/details/cihm_10453/page/141, https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.10453/14?r=0&s=1

Laing, David, editor. “Royal letters, charters, and tracts, relating to the colonization of New Scotland, and the institution of the Order of knight baronets of Nova Scotia. -1638“. [Edinburgh Printed by G. Robb, 1867] https://archive.org/details/royallettersc11400lainuoft

Labaree, Leonard Woods. “Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670–1776“. Vol. I and Vol. II. The American Historical Association. (New York : D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935) https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0001laba, https://archive.org/details/royalinstruction0002laba

Beamish Murdoch, “On the origin and sources of the Law of Nova Scotia” (An essay on the Origin and Sources of the Law of Nova Scotia read before the Law Students Society, Halifax, N.S., 29 August 1863), (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1399&context=dlj

Shirley B. Elliott, “An Historical Review of Nova Scotia Legal Literature: a select bibliography”, Comment, (1984) 8:3 DLJ 197. https://digitalcommons.schulichlaw.dal.ca/dlj/vol8/iss3/12/

Albany Congress: Representation of the Present State of the Colonies, 9 July 1754

“That the Province of Nova Scotia or Accadie hath known and Determinate Bounds by the Original Grant from King James the 1st. and that there is Abundant Evidence of the Sense which the French had of these Bounds while they were in Possession of it, and that these Bounds being then known, the said Province by the Treaty of Utrecht according to its Ancient Limits, was ceded, to Great Britain, and remained in Possession thereof until the Treaty of Aix La Chapelle, by which it was confirmed, but by said Treaty it is Stipulated, that the Bounds of the said Province, shall be determined by Commissaries, &c…

That the French have most unjustly taken Possession of Part of the Province of Nova Scotia, and in the River St. John’s and other parts of said Province, they have built Strong Fortresses, and from this River they will have during the Winter and Spring Season, a much easier Communication between France and Canada, than they have heretofore had, and will be furnished with a Harbour more Commodiously Situated, for the annoying the British Colonies by Privatiers and Men of War than Louisburgh itself.”

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-05-02-0103

The Albany Plan of Union, 1754

“Delaware’s status was ambiguous: with the same governor and council as Pennsylvania, though with its own unicameral legislature, it was often omitted from lists of the separate colonial governments. The exclusion of Nova Scotia and Georgia can be explained not only because of their sparse English-speaking populations in 1754 but more importantly because their civil administrations and military garrisons were supported by annual parliamentary appropriations.”

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-05-02-0104

History of the United States, or Republic of America

1620:

1643:

1692:

1776:

“1524: Smitten by the common passion of the sovereigns of Europe, for American discovery, Francis I. of France turned aside alike from his elegant and his warlike pursuits, and one year before his defeat at Pavia, he found for his service another Italian discoverer. This was John Verrazani, a Florentine, who reached the continent in the latitude of Wilmington, North Carolina. He then sailed fifty leagues south, but finding no convenient harbor, he returned and cast anchor; being the first European who had afforded the astonished natives the spectacle of the white race. They were received with rude, but fearless hospitality. The color of the Indians, the French compared to that of the Saracens. They looked with wonder upon their wild costume, made of the skins of animals, and set off by necklaces of coral and garlands of feathers. As they again sailed northward along the coast, their senses were regaled by the verdure of the forests, and the perfume of the flowers which they scented from the shores.

At a fine harbor, supposed to be that of Newport in Rhode Island, Verrazani remained fifteen days, and there found “the goodliest people he had seen.” From thence he followed the north-eastern shore of New England, finding the inhabitants jealous and hostile. From the peninsula of Nova Scotia, he returned to France, and wrote a narrative of his voyage, which is the earliest original account of the coast of the United States.”

“1692: In none of the colonies did the Revolution in England produce a greater change than in Massachusetts. In 1692, king William, who had refused to restore its former government, granted a new charter, which, extending its limits, but restricting its privileges, commenced a new era in the history of this colony. Massachusetts now embraced, besides the former territory, Plymouth, Maine, and Nova Scotia; extending north to the river St. Lawrence, and west to the South Sea, excepting New Hampshire and New York; and including, also, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Elizabeth islands. Almost the only privilege which the new charter allowed the people, was that of choosing their representatives. The king reserved to himself the right of appointing the governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary; and of repealing all laws within three years after their passage.”

“1755: General Braddock was to attack Fort du Quesne ; Gov. Shirley was to lead the American regulars and Indians against Niagara; the militia of the northern colonies were to be directed against Crown Point; and Nova Scotia was to be invaded.

Early in the spring, the French sent out a powerful fleet, carrying a large body of troops, under the Baron Dieskau, to reinforce the army in Canada.

For the expedition against Nova Scotia, three thousand men, under generals Monckton and Winslow, sailed from Boston on the 20th of May. They arrived at Chignecto, on the Bay of Fundy, the first of June. Here they were joined by 300 British troops, and proceeding against BeauSejour, now the principal post of the French in that country, invested and took possession of it, after a bombardment of five days. The fleet appearing in the river St. Johns, the French set fire to their works, and evacuated the country. Thus, with the loss of only three men, the English found themselves in possession of the whole of Nova Scotia.

Col. Washington, on his return from the Great Meadows, had public thanks voted him by the house of burgesses. He rejoined his regiment at Alexandria, and was ordered by the governor to fill up his companies by enlistments — go back immediately — conquer the French, and build a fort beyond the mountains. He wrote to a member of the council, showing the folly and impracticability of the scheme; and it was given up.”

“1756: The campaign of 1756 had been, during the preceding autumn, provided for by the colonists ; but the bad arrangements of the British cabinet palsied their efforts. Although Shirley had been appointed by the crown, commander-in-chief of the forces, yet Winslow, in consequence of his success in Nova Scotia, had the confidence of the people, without which troops could not be raised. The generous Shirley ceded his claim, and the unfinished plans of the preceding campaign were to be again attempted.”

Willard, Emma. History of the United States, or Republic of America. [ New York, Barnes, 1847] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://archive.org/details/historyofuniteds00willuoft/

The British & French dominions in North America: particularly shewing the French encroachments through all the British plantations from Nova Scotia down to the Gulf of Mexico

Bowles, Thomas, -1767, and John Bowles & Son. The British & French dominions in North America: particularly shewing the French encroachments through all the British plantations from Nova Scotia down to the Gulf of Mexico. [London: Printed for T. Bowles in St. Pauls Church Yard & John Bowles & Son at the Black Horse in Cornhil, ?, 1758] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2004631557/

Green Lane, Old Ferry Road, Lawrencetown Road

old ferry road

Here is one of, if not the earliest plans available showing Old Ferry Road as far as Cole Harbour (at left), which was originally known as the road to Lawrencetown. Now, Old Ferry Road, Portland Street and Cole Harbour Road. A few modern features added at right to give context. More on this road as it traversed through Woodlawn in the 1780s and 1820s.

The initial construction of this road, at least the part beyond the hill according to Martin, is noted in the Halifax Gazette on June 8th, 1754:

Thursday the 16th past, the Settlers of Lawrence Town set out from this Town in order to go by Land for that Place, having a strong Guard of 200 Regular Troops, exclusive of Officers, commanded by Capt. Stone, with a Number of Rangers; which Place they arrived at the Saturday following, having made a Road from Dartmouth Side to the said Town, which is but little more than 11 Miles distance from us…

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

Old Ferry Inn. Farmers stabled horses here, and sailed to Halifax with produce. Road in foreground extended easterly to the Passage. This sketch was made about 1820.

This is the lower part of Old Ferry Road, once known as “Green Lane” The curve in the foreground leads to the Old Ferry Wharf. The fence on the left encloses the South End Lawn Tennis Courts, and from there to the shore stood Regal willow trees. Two of them were named for King George III and Queen Charlotte, and two others for Mr. and Mrs. James Creighton of “Brooklands” who had them planted perhaps in the late 1700’s. When this picture was taken about 1900, they were of an enormous size. The whole road was a beautiful shady walk from the wharf all the way up to the present Portland Street.

The fence on the right borders Dr. Parker’s fields at “Beechwood”, and ran along near the location of the new house at 71 Newcastle Street.

The route of the obliterated road to the shore is identified by manholes of the sewer pipe running to Parker’s Wharf.

The remains of what used to be the Old Ferry Wharf at the foot of Old Ferry Road still remain visible, particularly at a very low tide – seen here the morning after Hurricane Juan:

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