Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia Canada

Discover Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia: A Haven for Entrepreneurs and History Buffs

Nestled on the northwest shore of its namesake bay along the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Mahone Bay is a picturesque town in Lunenburg County. Known for its scenic beauty, the town has recently gained recognition as a hub for entrepreneurs and business startups. According to the 2016 census, Mahone Bay has the fastest-growing population of any municipality in Nova Scotia, experiencing a 9.9% population growth.

The Rich History of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

The history of Mahone Bay dates back to the end of glaciation around 13,500 years ago. The region became largely ice-free 11,000 years ago, and the earliest evidence of Palaeo-Indian settlement in the region follows rapidly after deglaciation.

Mahone Bay is part of the Mi’kma’ki territory of the Mi’kmaq, who have inhabited their traditional lands for over 13,500 years. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the Mi’kmaq lived in and around what is now Mahone Bay. Indian Point, just outside the town, was an important summertime settlement where the Mi’kmaq could enjoy the sheltered waters and plentiful food sources.

In the mid-18th century, British officials placed public notices in Germany, southern France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, offering land grants, food for a year, and a few farm animals to those willing to move to their planned settlement in Nova Scotia. Between 1750 and 1752, more than 2,200 such “Foreign Protestants” made the long journey from Europe to Halifax.

In 1753, most of these new immigrants were brought from Halifax to Lunenburg, which was to be the centre of the planned settlement. The first to arrive were those who lived in the town of Lunenberg and had farm lots throughout the peninsula, including Mahone Bay. They arrived under the leadership of mariner Ephraim Cook. The settlers on the Lunenburg Peninsula, including the present-day village of Mahone Bay, were foreign protestants who were German, Swiss, and Montbéliardais settlers.

Shipbuilding in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Mahone Bay's boat-building history begins with the Mi’kmaq, who built birch bark canoes. The British began the first industrial production of ships, establishing sawmills to produce lumber for shipbuilding. The earliest official registration form found for a vessel built in Mahone Bay dates from 1817.

By 1850, at least 43 vessels had already been built by small shipyards in the Mahone Bay area. Larger shipyards began being established to build mainly schooners and other smaller vessels, primarily for fishing and moving goods. As years passed, the trend was to build larger vessels for longer distance trading with the United States, West Indies, and elsewhere.

Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia Today

Today, Mahone Bay is known for its history of wooden boat building, which was the main industry of the town in its earlier years. The Mahone Bay Museum showcases this history in detail. Until recent years, the town's shipbuilding and boat-building heritage was celebrated by the "Mahone Bay Wooden Boat Festival".

The town is also known for its iconic view across the harbour of three prominent churches: St James' Anglican; St John's Evangelical Lutheran; and Trinity United. This view has become an iconic image of Nova Scotia, frequently photographed and featured on postcards and calendars.

Demographics of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Mahone Bay had a population of 1,064 living in 522 of its 599 total private dwellings, a change of 2.7% from its 2016 population of 1,036. With a land area of 3.12 km2 (1.20 sq mi), it had a population density of 341.0/km2 (883.3/sq mi) in 2021.