Shelburne, Nova Scotia Canada

Discover Shelburne, Nova Scotia: A Rich Tapestry of History and Culture

The Early History of Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Shelburne, a town nestled in the southwestern corner of Nova Scotia, Canada, boasts a rich history dating back approximately 13,000 years. The Mi'kmaq First Nations were the first to inhabit the region, setting up summer encampments along the Roseway River. The Mi'kmaq referred to Shelburne's sheltered harbour as Logumkeegan or Sogumkeagum.

The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s marked a significant shift in the region's history. The Mi'kmaq communities faced displacement due to European diseases, occupation of unceded land, and the removal of Indigenous children from their homes through the Sixties Scoop and Residential School program. Despite these challenges, Indigenous communities continue to inhabit Shelburne and surrounding areas, with the Acadia First Nation maintaining a sub-office in Shelburne to serve off-reserve members.

European Settlement and the Acadian Influence in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

European settlers, including fishermen from Spain, Portugal, and France, followed the Indigenous Mi'kmaq routes to fish, hunt, and trap in the Shelburne region. The arrival of Samuel de Champlain marked the beginning of French settlement in Nova Scotia, with some settlers establishing the fishing settlement of Port Razoir in Shelburne.

The War of Spanish Succession in 1713 saw the Acadian colonies in Nova Scotia fall under British rule. The Acadians' refusal to fight the French led to their deportation by the British Governor and Nova Scotia council. Many of Shelburne County's Acadian residents ended up in Massachusetts, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or sought shelter with Nova Scotia's Mi'kmaq communities. By 1764, small groups of Acadians were allowed to return, and most reside today within the Maritimes.

The Arrival of the Loyalists in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

In 1783, following the American Revolution, many Loyalists relocated to Nova Scotia, with 5,000 arriving in Shelburne Harbour in the first wave. About 1,500 Black Loyalists settled in Shelburne County and Birchtown, making it the largest community of free black people in North America at the time. However, they faced discrimination and were often forced into indentured servitude.

By 1784, the population of Port Roseway (now Shelburne) reached 10,000, larger than Halifax or Montreal. However, tensions soon rose, culminating in North America's first race riot in 1784 when a mob of white Loyalists settlers stormed the home of a black preacher in Shelburne.

The Shipbuilding Legacy of Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Shelburne's harbour became a hub for shipbuilding in the 19th century, with the first ship built in 1786. The wealth generated from shipbuilding was short-lived, and the Shelburne economy began to decline. Despite this, shipbuilding remains a significant part of Shelburne's history, with visitors able to witness late 19th-century construction methods at the J C Williams Dory Shop.

Present-Day Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Today, Shelburne is a vibrant town known for its historic waterfront and 18th and 19th-century buildings, including the Shelburne County Museum, Christ Church, and Ross-Thomson House. Fishing remains a primary industry, along with lumber, fish processing, barrel manufacturing, granite monuments, and marine supplies.

The Climate and Demographics of Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Shelburne enjoys a warm-summer humid continental climate, with relatively temperate temperatures due to the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2021 Census, Shelburne had a population of 1,644.

Environmental Hazards and Activism in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

The Morvan Road Landfill, established in 1946, has been a source of environmental concern for the African Nova Scotian community living in the south-end of Shelburne. The landfill was used for various types of waste, including industrial, medical, and residential, leading to air and water pollution. The South End Environmental Injustice Society (SEED) was founded to address these issues, leading to the closure of the landfill in 2016.

Film Production in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

Shelburne's historic waterfront has attracted several film productions, including "Mary Silliman's War," "The Scarlet Letter," "Virginia's Run," "Wilby Wonderful," and "The Book of Negroes."

Public Library and Parks in Shelburne, Nova Scotia

The McKay Memorial Library, one of the larger branches of the Western Counties Regional Library, is located in Shelburne. The town is also home to The Islands Provincial Park, offering residents and visitors a chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.