“The spirited Conduct and Debates of the Halifax House of Representatives in opposing Measures of His Majesty’s Council we offer to our Readers, as we are persuaded that the Spirit of Liberty wherever breathed, is agreeable to the Citizens of these States. On the thirteenth of May, 1790, the above quotation appeared in a Boston newspaper. There followed an extract from the Journal of the Nova Scotia Assembly for the twenty-seventh of March of the same year. It was the representative branch of the sixth Nova Scotia Assembly that was credited with this “Spirit of Liberty”. This House, the first Nova Scotian legislature in which the United Empire Loyalists were represented, had been elected in 1785 and was now in its fifth session. The previous four had witnessed a gradually increasing hostility between House and Council, which reached a climax in 1790. The debates that called forth the Boston editor’s …

Nova Scotian “Sparks of Liberty” Read More…

“The constitution of Nova Scotia is a representative provincial government. The Lieutenant-Governor, who is subordinate to the Governor-General of British North America, is commander within the province; and the supreme civil as well as military authority under him, is a council of twelve members, of whom the bishop and chief justice are members ex officio, and the rest appointed by the Crown. The legislative assembly consists of a body of forty-one members, elected by 40s. freeholders. It is elected, like the British House of Commons, for seven years, but may be prorogued or dissolved by the Lieutenant-Governor. It meets every year, and all money bills must originate in this assembly; other bills require the consent of the Governor and council before they become law. For the purposes of election, Nova Scotia is divided into ten counties. The counties have two members each, and the other representatives are returned by the …

Statistics Relative to Nova Scotia in 1851 Read More…

“List of Contributors: … P. McNab, Dartmouth – barley and oats.” “On the east side of the harbor is situated the town of Dartmouth, settled in 1750. The town is well situated, and is admirably adapted to the employment of ship-building. It is connected with the city by steamboats.” “Prior to 1719 (at which time Annapolis was the seat of government) the management of the civil affairs of the province was vested solely in the Governor; and, in his absence, in the Lieutenant-Governor or the Commander-in-Chief. In 1719, Governor Phillips, who succeeded Mr. Nicholson, received instructions from the British Ministry to choose a Council from amongst the principal English inhabitants, and, until an Assembly could be formed, to regulate himself by the instructions of the Governor of Virginia. This Council was composed of twelve members, principally officers of the garrison and the public departments. The Governor and Council, from the …

Nova Scotia in 1862: papers relating to the two great exhibitions in London of that year Read More…

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

“It will be our pride to make Nova Scotia a Normal School for the rest of the colonies showing them how representative institutions may be worked so as to secure international tranquility and advancement in subordination to the paramount interests and authority of the crown.” Joseph Howe. “… It is a political organism informed with the same spirit that has shaped the Constitution of the United States and has been influenced itself by this document and this people, both directly and indirectly…This volume by Professor Livingston reveals the fact that Nova Scotia stands first among the colonies to assist the Empire to the safe democratic course of representative government.” 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.89080043730

“In the year 1799 the Bishop of Nova Scotia reported to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts that the Province was being troubled by “an enthusiastic and dangerous spirit” among the sect called “Newlights”, whose religion seemed to be a “strange jumble of New England Independency and Behmenism.” Through the teaching of these “ignorant mechanics and common laborers”, the people were being excited to a “pious frenzy,” and a rage for dipping” prevailed over all the western counties. It was further believed by the Bishop and the Anglican clergy that these sectaries were engaged in a plan for “a total Revolution in Religion and Civil Government.” “…as Bishop Inglis recognized, the movement was a continuation of the great revival or religion which occurred in New England between 1740 and 1744, it may be properly called “The Great Awakening in Nova Scotia.” “Although laws (such as …

The Great Awakening in Nova Scotia, 1776-1809 Read More…

“Constitutional scholarship in Canada since Confederation has been characterized by two primary narratives. The dualist narrative, which characterized constitutional scholarship between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, focused on the parallel developments of provincial and federal constitutions. The monist narrative, which has become the dominant model of interpretation since the mid-twentieth century, focuses on the federal constitution as a singular foundation of constitutionalism in Canada. As a result of the shift from dualism to monism, provincial constitutions have become largely ignored in Canada and subsumed by the “mega-constitutional” politics of the federal constitution. This paper examines provincial constitutions to highlight the significant reorientation of constitutional scholarship in Canada over the past 150 years, which has become primarily focused on post-Confederation constitutional history and written constitutionalism.” “The diminishment of provincial constitutions in Canada is less a reflection of their secondary significance than the changing narratives of the constitution in Canada, which over …

Provincializing Constitutions: History, Narrative, and the Disappearance of Canada’s Provincial Constitutions Read More…

Though not explicitly mentioned since it hadn’t yet been claimed or founded as such, parts of Nova Scotia are included in the first charter of Virginia, the second colony of which (otherwise known as the Popham Colony) was defined as the land lying between 38°N and 45°N latitude. Hence, Thomas Jefferson’s notes on cessions of Nova Scotia from Virginia (A grant of Nova Scotia to Sir William Alexander. 1621, Sep. 10-20., A grant of the soil, barony, and domains of Nova Scotia to Sir Wm. Alexander of Minstrie. 1625, July 12) in his Notes on the State of Virginia. JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. WHEREAS our loving and well-disposed Subjects, Sir Thorn as Gales, and Sir George Somers, Knights, Richard Hackluit, Clerk, Prebendary of Westminster, and Edward-Maria Wingfield, Thomas Hanharm and Ralegh Gilbert, Esqrs. William Parker, and …

The First Charter of Virginia (1606) Read More…

This charter is written as one block of text, without punctuation or break in period English. I did my best to find any natural breaks in the text, and corrected what are now misspellings in order to ease its legibility. Any mention of Nova Scotia or Acadia are in bold in order to make it easier to pick them out, not as a representation of how they are presented in the original text. GEORGE BY THE GRACE OF GOD of Great Britain France and Ireland king Defender of the Faith &c To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting Whereas Our late Royal Predecessors William and Mary King and Queen of England &c Did by their letters Patents under their Great Seal of England bearing Date at Westminster the Seventh day of October in the Third year of their Reign for themselves their Heirs and Successors Unite Erect and …

Explanatory Charter of Massachusetts Bay (1725) Read More…

This charter is written as one block of text, without any punctuation or break, and a lot of “olde English”. I did my best to find the natural breaks in the text, as well as correcting what are now misspellings, in order to ease its legibility. Any mention of Nova Scotia or Acadia are in bold in order to make it easier to pick them out, not because that is how they are presented in the original text. WILLIAM & MARY by the grace of God King and Queen of England Scotland France and Ireland Defenders of the Faith &c To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting. Whereas his late Majesty King James the First Our Royall Predecessor by his Letters Patents under the Great Seal of England bearing date at Westminster the Third Day of November in the Eighteenth year of his Reign, did Give and Grant …

The Charter of Massachusetts Bay (1691) Read More…

“The colonies now belonging to the Crown of Great Britain, exclusive of those under the government of the East India Company, (to which this work does not profess to extend,) are as follows: In the West Indies and South America: Antigua, including Barbuda Barbadoes British Guiana Dominica Grenada Jamaica Montserrat Navis St. Christopher’s, including Anguilla St. Lucia St. Vincent Tobago Trinidad Virgin Islands In North America, continental and insular: Bahama Islands The Bermuda, or Somer’s Islands Canada, Lower Canada, Upper Prince Edward’s Island New Brunswick Newfoundland, with part of Labrador Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton Africa: Cape of Good Hope Sierra Leone, with the settlements on the Gold Coast In the Indian Seas: Ceylon Mauritius, with the Seychelles In the South Seas: New South Wales, with Norfolk Island Van Dieman’s Land Western Australia (In this enumeration of the colonies nothing has been said of Honduras, which has been decided expressly …

A summary of colonial law Read More…

“In the Royal Charter granted in 1621 to Sir William Alexander lies the origin of Nova Scotia as a Province and of the name it bears. It is with the conditions leading up to this grant and consequent upon it, as well as with the Charter itself, that the present article is concerned.” “The grant was to Sir William, his heirs, and assigns, or “to any other that will join with him in the whole or in any part thereof,” to be held of the crown as part of Scotland. The royal warrant was signed by the King at Windsor on the tenth of September, 1621, and was registered on the 29th of that month. The land thus conveyed was of large extent, though of course much smaller than the original grant to New England, of which it formed but a surrendered part.” “The rights and privileges conferred on Sir …

Nova Scotia’s Charter Read More…

(See also: https://cityofdartmouth.ca/nova-scotias-charter/) (Translated by the Rev, Carlos Slafter, A.M., of Dedham). JAMES, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, ‘and Defender of the Faith, to all good men, clerical and lay, of his entire realm,—greeting. Know ye, that we have always been eager to embrace every opportunity to promote the honour and wealth of our Kingdom of Scotland, and think that no gain is easier or more safe, than what 1s made by planting new colonies in foreign and uncultivated regions where the means of living and food abound; especially, if these places were before without inhabitants or were settled by infidels whose conversion to the Christian faith most highly concerns the glory of God. But whilst many other Kingdoms, and not very long ago, our own England, to their praise, have given their names to new lands, which they have acquired and subdued …

Charter In Favor Of Sir William Alexander, Knight, Of The Lordship And Barony Of New Scotland In America Read More…

“I have also thought it due to the pioneers in the religious development of Nova Scotia to give a brief sketch of the establishment of the five great denominations, the Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Church of England and Methodists – who comprise in their membership nearly all the population of the province, where the Church has always exercised a powerful influence on the social and moral conditions of a country where the Puritan and English element of New England has, in the course of over a century, intermingled with English, Scotch and Irish and given birth to the “Nova Scotian.”” “Howe was never in his heart opposed to union in principle as I know from conversations I had with him in later times, but he thought the policy pursued by the promoters of confederation was injurious to the cause itself -that so radical a change in the constitution of the …

Builders of Nova Scotia Read More…

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

An historical and statistical account of Nova Scotia Read More…

“Above 70 years’ legislation has accumulated a mass of provincial enactments (contained in 3 large quarto volumes, down to 1826.) Since 1826, very many acts have passed. Much inconvenience has been felt in referring to them, as it requires intimate acquaintance with their contents, to enable any one to distinguish those directly or virtually repealed, from such as remain in force. This difficulty has been experienced by professional men as well as others, although the small Index published by Chief Justice Marshall afforded some remedy. The variety of instances in which our Provincial acts and usages have altered the laws of England, and the uncertainty as to what English acts are or are not in force here, suggested to the writer the usefulness of such a work in humble imitation of the Commentaries of Blackstone, retaining such English law as we have adopted, and adding under each head or chapter …

Epitome of the laws of Nova Scotia (Volume 1-4) Read More…

“That the township of Dartmouth comprehend all the lands lying to the east side of the harbour of Halifax and Bedford Bason (sic), and extending and bounded easterly by the grant to the proprietors of Lawrence Town & extending from the north easterly head of Bedford Bason (sic), until one hundred thousand acres be comprehended” Kennedy, W.P.M. “Statutes, treaties and documents of the Canadian Constitution, 1713-1929 Constitutional documents of Canada” Toronto : Oxford University Press, 1930. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.9_03428

“This was the first revised edition of Nova Scotia statutes. It contains, session by session, 1758-Oct. 1766, the text of acts passed and still in force, with titles of acts passed but no longer in force. Laws of a temporary character formerly published among the permanent enactments of each session were excluded from this work and published in a separate revised edition (No. 114) a little later. This distinction between Perpetual and Temporary acts was continued in the sessional publications, the laws of each session being published thenceforward in two series, Perpetual and Temporary, paged in continuation of this work and No. 114 respectively.” “And for the better preventing of false Alarms, Be it further enacted by the Authority aforefaid, That no Captain, Master or Commander of any ship or vessel, riding at Anchor or being. within the Harbour of Chebucto, or any other Person or Persons whatsoever, either afloat …

The perpetual acts of the general assemblies of His Majesty’s province of Nova Scotia Read More…

“With regard to our Magistrates, although in general selected from the most suitable persons, yet the greater number, as may reasonably be supposed, are but of ordinary education and attainments, and nearly all, from necessity, being actively engaged in private avocations, they have but little leisure for the acquisition of any particular knowledge of the laws. Moreover, with most of them, the means for obtaining that knowledge are extremely limited. The English Works on the office of a Justice of the Peace, are in general voluminous and expensive, and can hut rarely be procured in this country; and, comparatively, but a small part of them are of any practical use to our Magistrates, especially with reference to any Provincial enactments. No publication for their general in-formation and guidance has yet been afforded in the colony.. The work by Mr. Murdoch, although valuable and generally useful, has, evidently, not been designed …

The justice of the peace, and county and township officer in the province of Nova Scotia (1837) Read More…

“The greatest civil blessings which any people can enjoy, are a wise and just system of Laws, and their enlightened and faithful administration. On these, more than on any other political advantages, public prosperity and happiness must depend. But for securing this favorable result, these two advantages must unite. The first however excellent in itself, and pleasing as a matter of mere contemplation, is, when alone, insufficient for the purpose. It is, indeed, by the wise and vigilant application of such a system, not only that the happy effect is produced, but that the laws become the most generally known, and most truly appreciated. The inhabitants of this Colony, possess a very fair portion of the first of those blessings. Although some parts of our Legal Code will admit of considerable correction and improvement, yet upon the whole, there is in this branch of our social system, no very serious …

The justice of the peace, and county and township officer, in the province of Nova Scotia (1846) Read More…

For a few years the government of Nova Scotia was vested solely in a governor, who had command of the garrison stationed at the fort of Annapolis, known as Port Royal in the days of the French regime. In 1719 a commission was issued to Governor Phillips, who was authorized to appoint a council of not less than twelve persons, all of whom held office during pleasure. The governor, in his instructions, was ordered neither to augment nor diminish the number of the said council, nor suspend any of the members thereof, without good and sufficient cause… This council had advisory and judicial functions, but its legislative authority was of a very limited scope. Consequently the year 1758 is the commencement of a new epoch in the constitutional history of Nova Scotia. We find then from that time a civil government duly organized as in other English colonies of America, …

The Constitution of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia Read More…

“It is sometimes said, the mother country has its great charter, its Bill of Rights, and why should we not have a charter, or some such written guarantee for our liberties. Those who reason thus forget that these great securities of Britons are ours also; that we have besides, the whole body of parliamentary precedents accumulated by the practice of the Imperial legislature. We have more; we have our colonial precedents since 1840; the resolutions recorded on the journals of Canada and Nova Scotia, and other authoritative declarations, made with the sanction of the Imperial government, and which cannot be withdrawn.” Didn’t quite work out like that, Joe.

“From the origins of British government in Nova Scotia, there had been a council. The first, established in 1719, combined the roles of cabinet, court of appeal, and upper house of the provincial Legislature. Known simply as the Council or the Council of Twelve (for the twelve members of which it was customarily composed), it came under increasing attack. In 1838, the British Government, finally giving in to popular demands for reform, split the Council of Twelve into separate Executive and Legislative Councils (the judicial functions having for the most part earlier been transferred to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia). Although the Legislative Council was initially accepted as an integral component of Nova Scotia government, as decades passed it came to be seen as increasingly antiquated and unnecessary, especially after Confederation transferred many of the most important (and controversial) concerns to the Dominion Parliament. While an appointed upper house …

The Abolition of the Legislative Council of Nova Scotia, 1925-1928 Read More…

Council of Trade and Plantations to Committee of Privy Council. Representation upon petition of Mrs. Campbell. Continue : We have discoursed hereupon with Coll. Philips, H.M. Governour of Nova Scotia, and likewise with Mrs. Campbell the petitioner, who hath laid before us several papers and affidavits relating to her title to the aforesaid lands and quit rents in Nova Scotia, from whence it appears, That in 1631 the Most Christian King Lewis XIII gave the Government of Nova Scotia or Accadie to Monsieur Charles de St. Estienne, Sieur de la Tour, grandfather to the petitioner, who had Letters Patents granted to him thereupon. What the particulars contained in the said Letters Patent were, does not appear, because no copies of them have been produced to us, but upon the death of Lewis XIII, his son Lewis XIV etc. having been informed of the progress and improvements made in Accadie by …

America and West Indies Colonial Papers: October 1733, 16-31 Read More…

“…to strengthen the Federal Parliament is to start Canada on the way to a dictatorship;” “It has not been the purpose of this article to criticize the Privy Council for the part they have played in this, but merely to emphasize the fact that, to a large extent, the constitution is not so much a historical document as a series of legal decisions, many of them delivered with what would appear to be a certain bias.” Clark, E.R. “The Privy Council and the Constitution” Dalhousie Review, Volume 19, Number 1, 1939 https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/62371/dalrev_vol19_iss1_pp65_75.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y