Nova Scotia conjures thoughts of pretty coastlines, white lighthouses with red trim, lobster suppers, and kindly locals. Small, cozy, calm. It’s all of those things and more. It’s a province that has been underestimated almost since the arrival of the first Europeans.
There is beauty to be found in small villages with industrial history, rural wharves with bobbing boats, and bustling city streets.
There is a joy for life in Nova Scotia (and throughout the Maritimes) similar to the joie de vivre that makes Quebec special. And as it’s less than a day’s drive from Quebec, it’s perfect for vacations – short and long!
a little nova scotia history
Nova Scotia has a magic of its own. It’s famously misunderstood. In the 18th century, the British saw this area as an opportunity to build something newer and better than the American colonies of the time. Money and resources from the British Parliament poured in, and Protestants were recruited to settle here.
Homeland to Mi’kmaq, Wulstukwiuk, Passamaquoddy, and other Wabanaki Nations, The British used brut force to drive off the Indigenous peoples. Governor Edward Cornwallis (Yeah, the Jacobite rising guy who led some 300 troops into the Western Highlands. They trapped suspected Jacobites in their homes, which were then set on fire). Cornwallis issued a scalping proclamation in 1749, which paid a bounty for every Mi’kmaq adult and child killed.
Cornwallis left Nova Scotia in 1752 (Bye, Felicia), and in 1755, under the command of Governor Charles Lawrence, the French-Acadians were the next target. They were commanded to pledge allegiance to the British crown.
Those who did not would be imprisoned and deported. Over an eight-year period, 10,000 Acadians were deported. Houses and crops were burned. Some Acadians, about 1,500, fled to New France (Quebec). Over 1,600 died by drowning or disease.
In 1764, Acadians were permitted to come back. New Brunswick saw the largest number. The band of land from the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border to the edges of Cape Breton Island also saw the return of Acadian families.
The government of Nova Scotia tried to draw the attention of wealthy landowners to settle in the area. Guys like Benjamin Franklin. They too gave up.
The 18th century ushered in Nova Scotia’s coal mining industry, there was shipbuilding, too. There’s also steel fabrication and the first iron railbeds: paper mills and fishing. Nova Scotia has a fascinating industrial history.
Nova Scotians are hearty people, many with Scottish ancestry (my people, heh). Canada’s civil rights movement was sparked here. You can learn more about Nova Scotia’s history here, and by reading one of these books. Chatting with locals is good, too.
read articles and guides on nova scotia
getting from quebec city to nova scotia
The journey from Quebec City to Nova Scotia is almost as beautiful and intriguing as the destination.
new glasgow: a fascinating low-key destination
New Glasgow is an off-the-beaten-path destination, a place that thrives on being subtle and genuine, where tourism is a bonus and not a driving force.
nova scotia travel planning resources
Travelling from Quebec to Nova Scotia is as easy as travelling to Toronto (and other parts of Ontario). It’s a beautiful and relaxed part of Canada, and planning a vacation to Nova Scotia is almost as fun as being in Nova Scotia. Ha!
There are countless resources these days to help you plan a vacation. Google Maps, guidebooks, blogs, review sites, and social media top the list. When you’re in a destination, locals become an invaluable resource as well.
Here are some of the resources I use when planning a trip to Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Tourism: The tourism board website contains a wealth of knowledge. It’s my first stop when I’m researching activities, historic sites, and itinerary ideas. They also have great suggestions for food and accommodations.
Parks Canada: There are several historic sites and parks to see and explore in Nova Scotia. There are forts (so many forts), and historic towns, too. Visit their website for ideas, and information on fees, operation hours, and educational programs.
Nova Scotia Explorer: A Nova Scotian travel blogger known for her site Travel Yourself, Cailin started Nova Scotia Explorer at the beginning of the pandemic. I highly recommend bookmarking her site, it’s full of great tips and ideas. All Nova Scotia, all the time.
Hecktic Travels: Pete and Dalene Heck spent eight years travelling around the world and now live in Nova Scotia. Their articles are meaty and inspire wanderlust (yes, really). Read their website for ideas, and pop over to Instagram for more inspiration.
Maritime Bus: Travel around Nova Scotia by bus! If you’re flying into Halifax there is no need to rent a car, it is quite easy to travel around Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and New Brunswick by bus.
National Geographic: National Historic Sites of Canada: This little guidebook is one of my favourites. It’s filled with gorgeous photos, histories, and fascinating details on Canada’s National Historic Sites.
DK Eyewitness Canada: I love the D Eyewitness guidebooks as they are filled with interesting histories, and detailed diagrams and maps. It’s great for kids and adults who want to dig a little deeper.
The Great Central Canada Bucket List: I love this book series by travel writer, Robin Esrock. The book is filled with activities and experiences that are often thought of as the best of the best. It’s well-researched, and Robin has done every single thing in this book!
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