Nova Scotia, one of the three Maritime and one of the four Atlantic provinces of Canada, bordered on the north by the Bay of Fundy, the province of New Brunswick, Northumberland Strait, and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and on the east, south, and west by the Atlantic Ocean. Nova Scotia consists primarily of a mainland section, linked to New Brunswick by the Isthmus of Chignecto, and Cape Breton Island, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Canso. On July 1, 1867, Nova Scotia became one of the founding members of the Canadian Confederation. The province's name, which is Latin for New Scotland, was first applied to the region in the 1620s by settlers from Scotland.
Nova Scotia can be divided into four major geographical regions-the Atlantic Uplands, the Nova Scotia Highlands, the Annapolis Lowland, and the Maritime Plain. The Atlantic Uplands, which occupy most of the southern part of the province, are made up of ancient resistant rocks largely overlain by rocky glacial deposits. The Nova Scotia Highlands are composed of three separate areas of uplands. The western section includes North Mountain, a long ridge of traprock along the Bay of Fundy; the central section takes in the Cobequid Mountains, which rise to 367 m (1204 ft) atop Nuttby Mountain; and the eastern section contains the Cape Breton Highlands, with the province's highest point. The Annapolis Lowland, in the west, is a small area with considerable fertile soil. Nova Scotia's fourth region, the Maritime Plain, occupies a small region fronting on Northumberland Strait. The plain is characterized by a low, undulating landscape and substantial areas of fertile soil.
The area now known as Nova Scotia was originally inhabited by tribes of Abenaki and Micmac peoples. The Venetian explorer John Cabot, sailing under the English flag, may have reached Cape Breton Island in 1497.
The first settlers of the area were the French, who called it Acadia and founded Port Royal in 1605. Acadia included present-day New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The English, rivals of the French in Europe and the New World, refused to recognize French claims to Acadia, which they called Nova Scotia (New Scotland) and granted to the Scottish poet and courtier Sir William Alexander in 1621. This act initiated nearly a century of Anglo- French conflict, resolved by the British capture of Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) in 1710 and the French cession of mainland Acadia to the British by the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. Thus, the bulk of the Roman Catholic French-Acadians came under Protestant British rule. In order to awe their new subjects, the British founded the town of Halifax as naval base and capital in 1749. Distrusting the Acadians' loyalty in the French and Indian War, however, in 1755 the British deported them. This ruthless action was described by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Evangeline (1847). The British replaced the Acadians with settlers from New England and, later, from Scotland and northern England. In 1758 the British conquered the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton, which was joined to Nova Scotia and ceded to them in 1763.
During the American Revolution, the British colony of Nova Scotia was a refuge for thousands of Americans loyal to Britain, including many blacks. In 1784 the colony of New Brunswick was carved out of mainland Nova Scotia to accommodate these United Empire Loyalists. Cape Breton also became separate. The remaining Nova Scotians, augmented by some returned Acadians and many Scots and Irish immigrants, lived by fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding, and trade. Some attained great wealth as privateers during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.
After prolonged political struggle, Britain granted Nova Scotia (which included Cape Breton after 1820) local autonomy, or responsible government, in 1848. Economic uncertainty and...