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Nova Scotia History

The First Nations called it Mi'kma'ki, the French called it Acadia, the British called it New Scotland. We hope you’ll call it captivating.

Learn about the lives of Native People before European contact at the Bear River Heritage Museum in Bear River, then travel forward to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, the largest historical reconstruction in North America.

Board the iconic Bluenose II in Lunenburg and navigate your way through the age of sail. Back on shore, walk through the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the harbour warehouse where one million immigrants, refugees and war brides made their own first steps in Canada.

Visit the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown, once the location of the largest free Black community in British North America. In Spring 2015, the new Black Loyalist Heritage Centre opens, and will take visitors on the journey of these earliest Black settlers to Nova Scotia – and for some, back to Africa. Visitors can also trace their heritage through the names in The Book of Negroes, a document containing the names of all Black Loyalists who escaped to Canada.

Our history is not just about graceful schooners and welcoming cultures… there have been battles, social upheaval, and an earth-shaking disaster known as the Halifax Explosion.

Nova Scotia was also (and perhaps still is) home to more than a few rebels, rogues and rum-runners. There were even ‘legalized pirates’ called privateers who haunted the cold waters of the Atlantic, looking to profit by capturing foreign ships.

History for the World to Discover

With 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the Landscape of Grand Pré, Old Town of Lunenburg, and Joggins Fossil Cliffs - discover how Nova Scotia adds to the richness of world culture.

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Living the Past at our Museums and Historic Sites

With 27 provincial museums located throughout the province, explore the history of Nova Scotia and the many cultures that shaped it and still call it home. The Nova Scotia Museum pass can open up all these doors into bygone days.

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Our past becomes a full-on sensory experience at each of the 10 living historical sites in Nova Scotia. Cannons blast and blacksmiths forge as interpreters get in character to make history something you can touch – and even taste.

Nova Scotia's Living History Sites

  • Halifax Citadel Hational Historic Site, Halifax Metro
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    Halifax Citadel Hational Historic Site

    Originally built as a military fort to protect the Empire from enemies, today the Halifax Citadel acts as a reminder of Halifax's storied past. Visit a place where the sounds of a modern, bustling port city are exchanged for the the skirl of bagpipes, and the blast of the noonday gun that is still fired daily.

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  • Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Cape Breton Island
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    Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

    Take a step back in history to a time at the Fortress of Louisbourg, North America's largest historical reconstruction to a time when the French and English crowns fought for control of the New World, and all of Nova Scotia was a battleground.

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  • Port-Royal National Historic Site, Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley
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    Port-Royal National Historic Site

    Port-Royal was one of the first European settlements in North America, which has left a lasting legacy on the area that can still be felt today. Named in recognition of a French king, Port-Royal became the first European settlement north of Florida.

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  • Sherbrooke Village, Eastern Shore
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    Sherbrooke Village

    Travel back to the 19th century at Nova Scotia's largest living history museum, Sherbrooke Village. Our proud heritage is brought to life by costumed interpreters, including blacksmiths, potters, weavers and printers.

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  • Le Village historique acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Yarmouth & Acadian Shore
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    Le Village historique acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse

    "Discover the rich Acadian heritage at this early 1900s seaside village, situated on a beautiful 17-acre site overlooking Pubnico Harbour that was founded in 1653, making it the oldest Acadian region still inhabited by descendants of its founder. "

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  • Memory Lane Heritage Village, Eastern Shore
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    Memory Lane Heritage Village

    "Visit Memory Lane Heritage Village, an award-winning living history village depicting life in rural Nova Scotia during the 1940s, and tour 16 restored buildings with period artifacts and antique vehicles including a 1928 Model A. "

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  • Highland Village Museum, Cape Breton Island
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    Highland Village Museum

    "Visit North America's only living history museum for Gaelic language and culture when you explore the Highland Village Museum in Iona. The breathtaking 43-acre site overlooking the Bras d'Or Lake features 11 historic buildings including a store, church, and carding mill."

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  • Ross Farm Museum, South Shore
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    Ross Farm Museum

    "Discover what life was like on a Nova Scotia family farm over 100 years ago when you visit Ross Farm Museum. Experience yesterday's traditional farming methods, such as wool spinning and ox shoeing, and chat with costumed interpreters as you connect with Nova Scotia's rural heritage. "

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  • Hector Heritage Quay, Northumberland shore
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    Hector Heritage Quay

    "The Hector Heritage Quay, located on the Pictou waterfront, tells the story of the 18th-century Scottish migration to the New World and of Pictou, the "Birthplace of New Scotland"."

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  • Quaker House, Halifax Metro
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    Quaker House

    "Learn the history of Nova Scotia's Quaker settlers when visiting Quaker House (c 1785) in downtown Dartmouth. Guided tours are given during the summer months by costumed interpreters, and a pioneer dress-up trunk is on site for children to enjoy. "

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  • Halifax Citadel Hational Historic Site, Halifax Metro
  • Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Cape Breton Island
  • Port-Royal National Historic Site, Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley
  • Sherbrooke Village, Eastern Shore
  • Le Village historique acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Yarmouth & Acadian Shore
  • Memory Lane Heritage Village, Eastern Shore
  • Highland Village Museum, Cape Breton Island
  • Ross Farm Museum, South Shore
  • Hector Heritage Quay, Northumberland shore
  • Quaker House, Halifax Metro