Military Wiki
Part of a series on the
Military history of
Nova Scotia
Citadel hill.jpg
Battle of Port Royal 1690
Conquest of Acadia 1710
Battle of Jeddore Harbour 1722
Northeast Coast Campaign 1745
Battle of Grand Pré 1747
Dartmouth Massacre 1751
Bay of Fundy Campaign 1755
Fall of Louisbourg 1758
Headquarters established for Royal Navy's North American Station 1758
Burying the Hatchet ceremony 1761
Battle of Fort Cumberland 1776
Raid on Lunenburg 1782
Halifax Impressment Riot 1805
Establishment of New Ireland 1812
Capture of USS Chesapeake 1813
Battle at the Great Redan 1855
Siege of Lucknow 1857
CSS Tallahassee Escape 1861
Departing Halifax for Northwest Rebellion 1885
Departing Halifax for the Boer War 1899
Imprisonment of Leon Trotsky 1917
Jewish Legion formed 1917
Sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle 1918
Battle of the St. Lawrence 1942–44
Sinking of SS Point Pleasant Park 1945
Halifax VE-Day Riot 1945
Walter Callow Wheelchair Bus established 1947
Notable military regiments
Mi'kmaq militias 1677-1779
Acadian militias 1689-1761
40th Regiment 1717-57
Troupes de la marine 1717-58
Gorham's Rangers 1744-62
Danks' Rangers 1756-62
84th Regiment of Foot 1775-84
Royal Fencible American 1775-83
Royal Nova Scotia Volunteers 1775-83
King's Orange Rangers 1776-83
1st Field Artillery 1791-present
Royal Nova Scotia 1793-1802
Nova Scotia Fencibles 1803-16
The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) 1860-present
The Princess Louise Fusiliers 1867-present
78th Highlanders 1869-71
Cape Breton Highlanders 1871-present
Nova Scotia Rifles 1914-19
No. 2 Construction Battalion 1916-19
West Nova Scotia 1916-present
The Nova Scotia Highlanders 1954-present

Nova Scotia (also known as Mi'kma'ki and Acadia) is a Canadian province located in Canada's Maritimes. The region was initially occupied by Mi'kmaq.[1] During the first 150 years of European settlement, the colony was primarily made up of Catholic Acadians, Maliseet and Mi'kmaq. During the latter seventy-five years of this time period, there were six colonial wars that took place in Nova Scotia (see the French and Indian Wars as well as Father Rale's War and Father Le Loutre's War). After agreeing to several peace treaties, this long period of warfare ended with the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony between the British and the Mi'kmaq (1761) and two years later when the British defeated the French in North America (1763). During these wars, Acadians, Mi'kmaq and Maliseet from the region fought to protect the border of Acadia from New England. They fought the war on two fronts: the southern border of Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine.[2] The other front was in Nova Scotia and involved preventing New Englanders from taking the capital of Acadia, Port Royal (See Queen Anne's War), establishing themselves at Canso (See Father Rale's War) and founding Halifax (see Father Le Loutre's War).

During the French and Indian War, Halifax was established as the British Headquarters of the North American Station (see Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax). As a result Nova Scotia was active throughout the American Revolution and the War of 1812. During the Victorian Era, Nova Scotians also played prominent roles in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. The province also participated in the Northwest Rebellion and the Second Boer War. During the twentieth century the province produced numerous heroes who fought in World War I and World War II. There was a small number of Nova Scotians who also participated in the Spanish Civil War, the Korean War and the war in Afghanistan.

Seventeenth century

Port Royal established

The first European settlement in Nova Scotia was established in 1605. The French, led by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts established the first capital for the colony Acadia at Port Royal, Nova Scotia.[3] Other than a few trading posts around the province, for the next seventy-five years, Port Royal was virtually the only European settlement in Nova Scotia. Port Royal (later renamed Annapolis Royal) remained the capital of Acadia and later Nova Scotia for almost 150 years, prior to the founding of Halifax in 1749.

Approximately seventy-five years after Port Royal was founded, Acadians migrated from the capital and established what would become the other major Acadian settlements before the Expulsion of the Acadians: Grand Pré, Chignecto, Cobequid and Pisiguit.

Until the Conquest of Acadia, the English made six attempts to conquer Acadia by defeating the capital. They finally defeated the French in the Siege of Port Royal in 1710. Over the following fifty years, the French and their allies made six unsuccessful military attempts to regain the capital.[4]

Scottish and French Conflict

From 1629-1632, Nova Scotia briefly became a Scottish colony. Sir William Alexander of Menstrie Castle, Scotland claimed mainland Nova Scotia and settled at Port Royal, while Ochiltree claimed Ile Royale (present-day Cape Breton Island) and settled at Baleine, Nova Scotia. There were three battles between the Scottish and the French: the Raid on St. John (1632), the Siege of Baleine (1629) as well as Siege of Cap de Sable (present-day Port La Tour, Nova Scotia) (1630). Nova Scotia was returned to France via theTreaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1632).[5]

The French quickly defeated the Scottish at Baleine and established settlements on Ile Royale at present day Englishtown (1629) and St. Peter's (1630). These two settlements remained the only settlements on the island until they were abandoned by Nicolas Denys in 1659. Ile Royale then remained vacant for more than fifty years until the communities were re-established when Louisbourg was established in 1713.

Acadian Civil War

Siege of St. John (1745) - d'Aulnay defeats La Tour in Acadia

Acadia was plunged into what some historians have described as a civil war between 1640–1645. The war was between Port Royal, where Governor of Acadia Charles de Menou d'Aulnay de Charnisay was stationed, and present-day Saint John, New Brunswick, where Governor of Acadia. Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour was stationed.[6]

In the war, there were four major battles. la Tour attacked d'Aulnay at Port Royal in 1640.[7] In response to the attack, D'Aulnay sailed out of Port Royal to establish a five month blockade of La Tour's fort at Saint John, which La Tour eventually defeated (1643). La Tour attacked d'Aulnay again at Port Royal in 1643. d'Aulnay and Port Royal ultimately won the war against La Tour with the 1645 siege of Saint John.[8] After d'Aulnay died (1650), La Tour re-established himself in Acadia.

Marker commemorating the Dutch conquest of Acadia (1674), which they renamed New Holland. This is the spot where Jurriaen Aernoutsz buried a bottle at the capital of Acadia, Fort Pentagouet, Castine, Maine

In 1674, the Dutch briefly conquered Acadia, renaming the colony New Holland.

Wabanaki Confederacy

In response to King Phillips War in New England (which included the first military conflict between the Mi'kmaq and New England), the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people from this region joined the Wabanaki Confederacy to form a political and military alliance with New France.[9] The Mi'kmaq and Maliseet were very significant military allies to New France through six wars.

King William's War

During King William's War, the Mi'kmaq, Acadians and Maliseet participated in defending Acadia at its border with New England, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine.[2] Toward this end, the Maliseet from their headquarters at Meductic on the Saint John River, joined the New France expedition against present-day Bristol, Maine (the Siege of Pemaquid (1689)), Salmon Falls and present-day Portland, Maine. In response, the New Englanders retaliated by attacking Port Royal and present-day Guysborough. In 1694, the Maliseet participated in the Raid on Oyster River at present-day Durham, New Hampshire. Two years later, New France, led by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, returned and fought a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy before moving on to raid Bristol, Maine again. In retaliation, the New Englanders, led by Benjamin Church, engaged in a Raid on Chignecto (1696) and the siege of the Capital of Acadia at Fort Nashwaak. After the Siege of Pemaquid (1696), d'Iberville led a force of 124 Canadians, Acadians, Mi'kmaq and Abanakis in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. They destroyed almost every Engish settlement in Newfoundland, over 100 English were killed, many times that number captured, and almost 500 deported to England or France.[10]

At the end of the war England returned the territory to France in the Treaty of Ryswick and the borders of Acadia remained the same.

Eighteenth century

Queen Anne's War

Raid on Grand Pré (1704)

During Queen Anne's War, the Mi'kmaq, Acadians and Maliseet participated again in defending Acadia at its border against New England. They made numerous raids on New England settlements along the border in the Northeast Coast Campaign, the most famous being the Raid on Deerfield. In retaliation, Major Benjamin Church went on his fifth and final expedition to Acadia. He raided present-day Castine, Maine and then continued on by conducting raids against Grand Pre, Pisiquid and Chignecto. A few years later, defeated in the Siege of Pemaquid (1696), Captain March made an unsuccessful siege on the Capital of Acadia, Port Royal (1707). The New Englanders were successful with the Siege of Port Royal (1710), while the Wabanaki Conferacy were successful in the nearby Battle of Bloody Creek in 1711.

Evacution Of Port Royal 1710 by CW Jefferys

During Queen Anne's War, the Conquest of Acadia (1710) was confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. Acadia was defined as mainland-Nova Scotia by the French. Present-day New Brunswick and most of Maine remained contested territory, while New England conceded present-day Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton Island, which France quickly renamed Île St Jean and Île Royale (Cape Breton Island) respectively. On the latter island, the French established a fortress at Louisbourg to guard the sea approaches to Quebec.

40th Regiment of Foot

The 40th Regiment of Foot was the first British regiment to be raised in Nova Scotia and was commanded directly by four consecutive Governors of Nova Scotia over a period of forty-two years. The regiment was raised by General Richard Philipps in August 1717 out of independent companies stationed in North America and the West Indies. The Regiment was first known as Philipp's regiment (1717-1749), Cornwallis' Regiment (1749-1752). In 1751, the regiment was numbered the "40th Regiment of Foot" and became known as 40th Hopson's Regiment (1752-1759). The 40th fought through Father Rale's War, King George's War, Father Le Loutre's War and then the French and Indian War.[11]

Father Rale's War

During the escalation that proceeded Father Rale's War (1722–1725), Mi'kmaq raided the new fort at Canso, Nova Scotia (1720). Under potential siege, in May 1722, Lieutenant Governor John Doucett took 22 Mi'kmaq hostage at Annapolis Royal to prevent the capital from being attacked.[12] In July 1722 the Abenaki and Mi'kmaq created a blockade of Annapolis Royal, with the intent of starving the capital.[13] The natives captured 18 fishing vessels and prisoners from present-day Yarmouth to Canso. They also seized prisoners and vessels from the Bay of Fundy.

Duc d'Anville Expedition: Action between HMS Nottingham and the Mars.

As a result of the escalating conflict, Massachusetts Governor Samuel Shute officially declared war on July 22, 1722.[14] The first battle of Father Rale's War happened in the Nova Scotia theatre.[15] In response to the blockade of Annapolis Royal, at the end of July 1722, New England launched a campaign to end the blockade and retrieve over 86 New England prisoners taken by the natives. One of these operations resulted in the Battle at Jeddore.[16] The next was a raid on Canso in 1723.[17]

The worst moment of the war for the capital came in early July 1724 when a group of sixty Mikmaq and Maliseets raided Annapolis Royal. They killed and scalped a sergeant and a private, wounded four more soldiers, and terrorized the village. They also burned houses and took prisoners.[18] The British responded by executing one of the Mi'kmaq hostages on the same spot the sergeant was killed. They also burned three Acadian houses in retaliation.[19]

As a result of the raid, three blockhouses were built to protect the town. The Acadian church was moved closer to the fort so that it could be more easily monitored.[20]

In 1725, sixty Abenakis and Mi'kmaq launched another attack on Canso, destroying two houses and killing six people.[21]

The treaty that ended the war marked a significant shift in European relations with the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet. For the first time a European Empire formally acknowledged that its dominion over Nova Scotia would have to be negotiated with the region's indigenous inhabitants. The treaty was invoked as recently as 1999 in the Donald Marshall case.[22]

King George's War

Siege of Louisbourg (1745) by Peter Monamy

News of war declarations reached the French fortress at Louisbourg first, on May 3, 1744, and the forces there wasted little time in beginning hostilities, which would become known as King George's War. Concerned about their overland supply lines to Quebec, they first raided the British fishing port of Canso on May 23, and then organized an attack on Annapolis Royal, then the capital of Nova Scotia. However, French forces were delayed in departing Louisbourg, and their Mi'kmaq and Maliseet allies decided to attack on their own in early July. Annapolis had received news of the war declaration, and was somewhat prepared when the Indians began besieging Fort Anne. Lacking heavy weapons, the Indians withdrew after a few days. Then, in mid-August, a larger French force arrived before Fort Anne, but was also unable to mount an effective attack or siege against the garrison, which was relieved by the New England company of Gorham's Rangers. In 1745, British colonial forces conducted the Siege of Port Toulouse (St. Peter's) and then captured Fortress Louisbourg after a siege of six weeks. France launched a major expedition to recover Acadia in 1746. Beset by storms, disease, and finally the death of its commander, the Duc d'Anville, it returned to France in tatters without reaching its objective.

Father Le Loutre's War

Fort Edward (built 1750). The oldest blockhouse in North America.

Despite the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, Nova Scotia remained primarily occupied by Catholic Acadians and Mi'kmaq. To prevent the establishment of Protestant settlements in the region, Mi'kmaq raided the early British settlements of present-day Shelburne (1715) and Canso (1720). A generation later, Father Le Loutre's War began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports on June 21, 1749.[23] By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.[24] The British quickly began to build other settlements. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected in Halifax (Citadel Hill) (1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), Lunenburg (1753) and Lawrencetown (1754).[25] There were numerous Mi'kmaq and Acadian raids on these villages such as the Raid on Dartmouth (1751).

Within 18 months of establishing Halifax, the British also took firm control of peninsula Nova Scotia by building fortifications in all the major Acadian communities: present-day Windsor (Fort Edward); Grand Pre (Fort Vieux Logis) and Chignecto (Fort Lawrence). (A British fort already existed at the other major Acadian centre of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Cobequid remained without a fort.)[25] There were numerous Mi'kmaq and Acadian raids on these fortifications such as the Siege of Grand Pre.

French and Indian War

St. John River Campaign: Raid on Grimrose (present day Gagetown, New Brunswick). This is the only contemporaneous image of the Expulsion of the Acadians

The final colonial war was the French and Indian War. The British Conquest of Acadia happened in 1710. Over the next forty-five years the Acadians refused to sign an unconditional oath of allegiance to Britain. During this time period Acadians participated in various militia operations against the British and maintained vital supply lines to the French Fortress of Louisbourg and Fort Beausejour.[26]

During the French and Indian War, the British sought to neutralize any military threat Acadians posed and to interrupt the vital supply lines Acadians provided to Louisbourg by deporting Acadians from Acadia.[27]

The British began the Expulsion of the Acadians with the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755). Over the next nine years over 12,000 Acadians were removed from Nova Scotia.[28] During the various campaigns of the expulsion, the Acadian and Native resistance to the British intensified.

British deportation campaigns

Bay of Fundy (1755)

Sambro Island Lighthouse - oldest lighthouse in North America (1758)

The first wave of the expulsion began on August 10, 1755, with the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755) during the French and Indian War.[29] The British ordered the expulsion of the Acadians after the Battle of Beausejour (1755). The Campaign started at Chignecto and then quickly moved to Grand Pre, Piziquid (Falmouth/ Windsor, Nova Scotia) and finally Annapolis Royal.[30]

On November 17, 1755, during the Bay of Fundy Campaign at Chignecto, George Scott took 700 troops and attacked twenty houses at Memramcook. They arrested the Acadians who remained and killed two hundred head of livestock, to deprive the French of supplies.[31] Many Acadians tried to escape the Expulsion by retreating to St. John and Petitcodiac rivers, and the Miramichi in New Brunswick. The British cleared the Acadians from these areas in the later campaigns of Petitcodiac River, St. John River, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1758.

Cape Sable

Cape Sable included Port La Tour and the surrounding area (a much larger area than simply Cape Sable Island). In April 1756, Major Preble and his New England troops, on their return to Boston, raided a settlement near Port La Tour and captured 72 men, women and children.[32]

In the late summer of 1758, Major Henry Fletcher led the 35th Regiment and a company of Gorham's Rangers to Cape Sable. He cordoned off the cape and sent his men through it. One hundred Acadians and Father Jean Baptistee de Gray surrendered, while about 130 Acadians and seven Mi'kmaq escaped. The Acadian prisoners were taken to Georges Island in Halifax Harbour.[33]

En route to the St. John River Campaign in September 1758, Moncton sent Major Roger Morris, in command of two men-of-war and transport ships with 325 soldiers, to deport more Acadians. On October 28, his troops sent the women and children to Georges Island. The men were kept behind and forced to work with troops to destroy their village. On October 31, they were also sent to Halifax.[34] In the spring of 1759, Joseph Gorham and his rangers arrived to take prisoner the remaining 151 Acadians. They reached Georges Island with them on June 29.[35]

Ile St. Jean and Ile Royale

The second wave of the Deportation began with the French defeat at the Siege of Louisbourg (1758). Thousands of Acadians were deported from Ile Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) and Ile Royale (Cape Breton). The Ile Saint-Jean Campaign resulted in the largest percentage of deaths of the Acadians deported. The highest single event total of fatalities during the Deportation occurred with the sinking of the Violet, with about 280 persons aboard, and the Duke William, with over 360 persons aboard.[36] By the time the second wave of the expulsion had begun, the British had discarded their policy of relocating the Catholic, French-speaking colonists to the Thirteen Colonies. They deported them directly to France.[37] In 1758, hundreds of Ile Royale Acadians fled to one of Boishebert's refugee camps south of Baie des Chaleurs.[38]

Petitcodiac River Campaign

This was a series of British military operations from June to November 1758 to deport the Acadians who either lived along the river or had taken refuge there from earlier deportation operations, such as the Ile Saint-Jean Campaign. Benoni Danks and Joseph Gorham's Rangers carried out the operation.[30]

Contrary to Governor Lawrence's direction, New England Ranger Danks engaged in frontier warfare against the Acadians. On July 1, 1758, Danks himself began to pursue the Acadians on the Petiticodiac. They arrived at present day Moncton and Danks’ Rangers ambushed about thirty Acadians, who were led by Joseph Broussard (Beausoleil). Many were driven into the river, three of them were killed and scalped, and others were captured. Broussard was seriously wounded.[39] Danks reported that the scalps were Mi’kmaq and received payment for them. Thereafter, he went down in local lore as “one of the most reckless and brutal” of the Rangers.[40]

St. John River Campaign

Colonel Robert Monckton led a force of 1150 British soldiers to destroy the Acadian settlements along the banks of the Saint John River until they reached the largest village of Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas (present day Fredericton, New Brunswick) in February 1759.[41] Monckton was accompanied by New England Rangers led by Joseph Goreham, Captain Benoni Danks, Moses Hazen and George Scott.[42] The British started at the bottom of the river with raiding Kennebecais and Managoueche (City of St. John), where the British built Fort Frederick. Then they moved up the river and raided Grimross (Gagetown, New Brunswick), Jemseg, and finally they reached Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas.[42]

Contrary to Governor Lawrence's direction, New England Ranger Lieutenant Hazen engaged in frontier warfare against the Acadians in what has become known as the "Ste Anne's Massacre". On 18 February 1759, Lieutenant Hazen and about fifteen men arrived at Sainte-Anne des Pays-Bas. The Rangers pillaged and burned the village of 147 buildings, two Mass-houses, besides all the barns and stables. The Rangers burned a large store-house, and with a large quantity of hay, wheat, peas, oats, etc., killing 212 horses, about 5 head of cattle, a large number of hogs and so forth. They also burned the church (located just west of Old Government House, Fredericton).[43]

As well, the rangers tortured and scalped six Acadians and took six prisoners.[43] There is a written record of one of the Acadian survivors Joseph Godin-Bellefontaine. He reported that the Rangers restrained him and then massacred his family in front of him. There are other primary sources that support his assertions.[44]

Gulf of St. Lawrence Campaign

Raid on Miramichi Bay - Burnt Church Village by Captain Hervey Smyth (1758)

In the Gulf of St. Lawrence Campaign (also known as the Gaspee Expedition), British forces raided French villages along present-day New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula coast of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Sir Charles Hardy and Brigadier-General James Wolfe commanded the naval and military forces, respectively. After the Siege of Louisbourg (1758), Wolfe and Hardy led a force of 1500 troops in nine vessels to the Gaspé Bay arriving there on September 5. From there they dispatched troops to Miramichi Bay (Sept. 12), Grande-Rivière, Quebec and Pabos (Sept. 13), and Mont-Louis, Quebec (Sept. 14). Over the following weeks, Sir Charles Hardy took four sloops or schooners, destroyed about 200 fishing vessels, and took about 200 prisoners.[45]


The Acadians took refuge along the Baie des Chaleurs and the Restigouche River.[46] Boishébert had a refugee camp at Petit-Rochelle (which was located perhaps near present-day Pointe-à-la-Croix, Quebec).[47] The year after the Battle of Restigouche, in late 1761, Captain Roderick Mackenzie and his force captured over 330 Acadians at Boishebert's camp.[48]


Monument to Imprisoned Acadians on Georges Island (background), Bishops Landing, Halifax

After the French conquered St. John's, Newfoundland in June 1762, the success galvanized both the Acadians and Natives. They began gathering in large numbers at various points throughout the province and behaving in a confident and, according to the British,"insolent fashion". Officials were especially alarmed when Natives concentrated close to the two principal towns in the province, Halifax and Lunenburg, where there were also large groups of Acadians. The government organized an expulsion of 1300 people, shipping them to Boston. The government of Massachusetts refused the Acadians permission to land and sent them back to Halifax.[49]

Before the deportation, Acadian population was estimated at 14,000 Acadians. Most were deported.[50] Some Acadians escaped to Quebec, or hid among the Mi'kmaq or in the countryside, to avoid deportation until the situation settled down.[51]

The war ended and Britain had gained control over the entire Maritime region.

Acadian, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq resistance

During the expulsion, French Officer Charles Deschamps de Boishébert led the Mi'kmaq and the Acadians in a guerrilla war against the British.[52] According to Louisbourg account books, by late 1756, the French had regularly dispensed supplies to 700 Natives. From 1756 to the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, the French made regular payments to Chief Jean-Baptiste Cope and other natives for British scalps.[53]

Annapolis (Fort Anne)

Charles Deschamps de Boishébert et de Raffetot

The Acadians and Mi’kmaq fought in the Annapolis region. They were victorious in the Battle of Bloody Creek (1757).[54] Acadians being deported from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia on the ship Pembroke rebelled against the British crew, took over the ship and sailed to land.

In December 1757, while cutting firewood near Fort Anne, John Weatherspoon was captured by Indians (presumably Mi'kmaq) and carried away to the mouth of the Miramichi River. From there he was eventually sold or traded to the French and taken to Quebec, where he was held until late in 1759 and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, when General Wolfe's forces prevailed (See Journal of John Witherspoon, Annapolis Royal) .[55]

About 50 or 60 Acadians who escaped the initial deportation are reported to have made their way to the Cape Sable region (which included south western Nova Scotia). From there, they participated in numerous raids on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.[56]

Piziquid (Fort Edward)

In the April 1757, a band of Acadian and Mi'kmaq raided a warehouse near Fort Edward, killing thirteen British soldiers. After loading with what provisions they could carry, they set fire to the building.[57]

Chignecto (Fort Cumberland)

The Acadians and Mi’kmaq also resisted in the Chignecto region. They were victorious in the Battle of Petitcodiac (1755).[54] In the spring of 1756, a wood-gathering party from Fort Monckton (former Fort Gaspareaux), was ambushed and nine were scalped.[58] In the April 1757, after raiding Fort Edward, the same band of Acadian and Mi'kmaq partisans raided Fort Cumberland, killing and scalping two men and taking two prisoners.[59] July 20, 1757 Mi'kmaq killed 23 and captured two of Gorham's rangers outside Fort Cumberland near present-day Jolicure, New Brunswick.[60] In March 1758, forty Acadian and Mi'kmaq attacked a schooner at Fort Cumberland and killed its master and two sailors.[61] In the winter of 1759, the Mi'kmaq ambushed five British soldiers on patrol while they were crossing a bridge near Fort Cumberland. They were ritually scalped and their bodies mutilated as was common in frontier warfare.[62] During the night of 4 April 1759, using canoes, a force of Acadians and French captured the transport. At dawn they attacked the ship Moncton and chased it for five hours down the Bay of Fundy. Although the Moncton escaped, it’s crew suffered one killed and two wounded.[63]

Others resisted during the St. John River Campaign and the Petitcodiac River Campaign.[64]


Eastern Battery Plaque, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

By June 1757, the settlers had to be withdrawn completely from the settlement of Lawrencetown (established 1754) because the number of Indian raids eventually prevented settlers from leaving their houses.[65]

In nearby Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in the spring of 1759, there was another Mi'kmaq attack on Eastern Battery, in which five soldiers were killed.[66]


In present-day Maine, the Mi’kmaq and the Maliseet raided numerous New England villages. At the end of April 1755, they raided Gorham, Maine, killing two men and a family. Next they appeared in New-Boston (Gray) and through the neighbouring towns destroying the plantations. On May 13, they raided Frankfort (Dresden), where two men were killed and a house burned. The same day they raided Sheepscot (Newcastle), and took five prisoners. Two were killed in North Yarmouth on May 29 and one taken captive. They shot one person at Teconnet. They took prisoners at Fort Halifax; two prisoners taken at Fort Shirley (Dresden). They took two captive at New Gloucester as they worked on the local fort.[67] During the French and Indian War, on June 9, 1758, Indians raided the Woolwich, Maine, killing members of the Preble family and taking others prisoner to Quebec.[68] This incident became known as the last conflict on the Kennebec River. On 13 August 1758 Boishebert left Miramichi, New Brunswick with 400 soldiers, including Acadians which he led from Port Toulouse. They marched to Fort St George (Thomaston, Maine) and Munduncook (Friendship, Maine). While the former siege was unsuccessful, in the latter raid on Munduncook, they wounded eight British settlers and killed others. This was Boishébert’s last Acadian expedition. From there, Boishebert and the Acadians went to Quebec and fought in the Battle of Quebec (1759).[69]


Raid on Lunenburg (1756) by Donald A. Mackay

The Acadians and Mi'kmaq raided the Lunenburg settlement nine times over a three year period during the war. Boishebert ordered the first Raid on Lunenburg (1756). Following the raid of 1756, in 1757, there was a raid on Lunenburg in which six people from the Brissang family were killed.[70] The following year, March 1758, there was a raid on the Lunenburg Peninsula at the Northwest Range (present-day Blockhouse, Nova Scotia) when five people were killed from the Ochs and Roder families.[71] By the end of May 1758, most of those on the Lunenburg Peninsula abandoned their farms and retreated to the protection of the fortifications around the town of Lunenburg, losing the season for sowing their grain.[72] For those that did not leave their farms for the town, the number of raids intensified.

During the summer of 1758, there were four raids on the Lunenburg Peninsula. On 13 July 1758, one person on the LaHave River at Dayspring was killed and another seriously wounded by a member of the Labrador family.[73] The next raid happened at Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia on 24 August 1758, when eight Mi'kmaq attacked the family homes of Lay and Brant. While they killed three people in the raid, the Mi'kmaq were unsuccessful in taking their scalps, which was the common practice for payment from the French.[74] Two days, later, two soldiers were killed in a raid on the blockhouse at LaHave, Nova Scotia.[75] Almost two weeks later, on 11 September, a child was killed in a raid on the Northwest Range.[76] Another raid happened on 27 March 1759, in which three members of the Oxner family were killed.[70] The last raid happened on 20 April 1759. The Mi’kmaq killed four settlers at Lunenburg who were members of the Trippeau and Crighton families.[77]


On 2 April 1756, Mi'kmaq received payment from the Governor of Quebec for 12 British scalps taken at Halifax.[78] Acadian Pierre Gautier, son of Joseph-Nicolas Gautier, led Mi’kmaq warriors from Louisbourg on three raids against Halifax in 1757. In each raid, Gautier took prisoners or scalps or both. The last raid happened in September and Gautier went with four Mi’kmaq and killed and scalped two British men at the foot of Citadel Hill. (Pierre went on to participate in the Battle of Restigouche.) [79]

In July 1759, Mi'kmaq and Acadians kill five British in Dartmouth, opposite McNabb's Island.[80]

Bury the Hatchet Ceremony

After agreeing to several peace treaties, the seventy-five year period of war ended with the Burial of the Hatchet Ceremony between the British and the Mi'kmaq (1761). (In commemoration of these treaties, Nova Scotians annually celebrate Treaty Day on October 1.) Despite the treaties, the British continued to build fortifications in the province (see Fort Ellis and Fort Belcher).

Headquarters of the North American Station

Halifax: Royal Navy's North American Station headquarters (1797)

Halifax was the headquarters for the Royal Navy's North American Station for sixty years (1758-1818). Halifax Harbour had served as a Royal Navy seasonal base from the founding of the city in 1749, using temporary facilities and a careening beach on Georges Island. Land and buildings for a permanent Naval Yard were purchased in 1758 and the Yard was officially commissioned in 1759. Land and buildings for a permanent Naval Yard were purchased by the Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax in 1758 and the Yard was officially commissioned in 1759. The Yard served as the main base for the British Royal Navy in North American during the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary Wars and the War of 1812. In 1818 Halifax became the summer base for the squadron which shifted to the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda for the remainder of the year. One of the most famous commanders of the station was Robert Digby (1781–1783) . After the surrender of New York city in 1783, Digby helped to organise the evacuation of some 1,500 United Empire Loyalists to the small port of Conway in Nova Scotia. The settlement he led transformed the tiny village into a town, which in 1787 was renamed Digby, Nova Scotia.

American Revolution

Naval battle off Cape Breton (1781)

Until the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, Nova Scotia's New England-born merchants often sympathize with the rebels in the 13 colonies. But the Nova Scotia government was controlled by an Anglo-European mercantile elite for whom loyalty was more profitable than rebellion. The Yankees remained neutral during the war but experienced a religious revival that expressed some of their anxieties.[81]

Throughout the war, American privateers devastated the maritime economy by raiding many of the coastal communities. There were constant attacks by American privateers,[82] such as the Raid on Lunenburg (1782), numerous raids on Liverpool, Nova Scotia (October 1776, March 1777, September 1777, May 1778, September 1780) and a raid on Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia (1781).[83]

American Privateers also raided Canso, Nova Scotia (1775). In 1779, American privateers returned to Canso and destroyed the fisheries, which were worth £50,000 a year to Britain.[84]

To guard against such attacks, the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants) was garrisoned at forts around the Atlantic Canada. Fort Edward (Nova Scotia) in Windsor, Nova Scotia was the Regiment's headquarters to prevent a possible American land assault on Halifax from the Bay of Fundy. Also raised in Nova Scotia were the Royal Fencible American Regiment and the Royal Nova Scotia Volunteer Regiment. There was an American attack on Nova Scotia by land, the Battle of Fort Cumberland followed by the Siege of Saint John (1777). There was also rebellion from those within Nova Scotia: the Maugerville Rebellion (1776) and the Battle at Miramichi (1779).

Naval battle off Halifax (1782)

During the war, American Privateers captured 225 vessels either leaving or arriving at Nova Scotia ports.[85] In 1781, for example, as a result of the Franco-American alliance against Great Britain, there was also a naval engagement with a French fleet at Sydney, Nova Scotia, near Spanish River, Cape Breton.[86] The British also captured numerous American Privateers such as in the naval battle off Halifax.

As the New England Planters and United Empire Loyalists began to arrive in Mi'kmaki (the Maritimes) in greater numbers, economic, environmental and cultural pressures were put on the Mi'kmaq with the erosion of the intent of the treaties. The Mi'kmaq tried to enforce the treaties through threat of force. At the beginning of the American Revolution, many Mi’kmaq and Maliseet tribes were supportive of the Americans against the British. They participated in the Maugerville Rebellion and the Battle of Fort Cumberland in 1776. (Mí'kmaq delegates concluded the first international treaty, the Treaty of Watertown, with the United States soon after it declared its independence in July 1776. These delegates did not officially represent the Mi'kmaq government, although many individual Mi'kmaq did privately join the Continental army as a result.)

Raid on Lunenburg (1782)

During the St. John River expedition, Col. Allan's untiring effort to gain the friendship and support of the Maliseet and Mi'kmaq for the Revolution was somewhat successful. There was a significant exodus of Maliseet from the St John River to join the American forces at Machias, Maine.[87] On Sunday, July 13, 1777, a party of between 400 and 500 men, women, and children, embarked in 128 canoes from the Old Fort Meduetic (8 miles below Woodstock) for Machias. The party arrived at a very opportune moment for the Americans, and afforded material assistance in the defence of that post during the attack made by Sir George Collier on the 13th to 15 August. The British did only minimal damage to the place, and the services of the Indians on the occasion earned for them the thanks of the council of Massachusetts.[88] Later under the command of Francis McLean, the British conquered Maine, renaming it New Ireland. (Notably, Sir John Moore served under McLean at Halifax (1779-1781) and protected New Ireland from American patriot attacks.) At the same time, the towns people and especially seafarers were constantly on-guard of the press gangs of the Royal Navy.

Francis McLean established and defended New Ireland (Maine), Plaque, St. Paul's Church (Halifax), Nova Scotia

In 1784 the western, mainland portion of the colony was separated and became the province of New Brunswick, and the territory in Maine entered the control of the newly independent American state of Massachusetts. Cape Breton Island became a separate colony in 1784 only to be returned to Nova Scotia in 1820.

In June 1779, Mi’kmaq in the Miramichi attacked and plundered some of the British in the area. The following month, British Captain Augustus Harvey, in command of the HMS Viper, arrived in the area and battled with the Mi’kmaq. One Mi’kmaq was killed and 16 were taken prisoner to Quebec. The prisoners were eventually brought to Halifax, where they were later released upon signing the Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown on 28 July 1779.[89][90]

Nineteenth century

Prince of Wales Tower - oldest Martello Tower in North America (1796), Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Napoleonic Wars

Halifax was now the bastion of British strength on the East Coast of North America. Local merchants also took advantage of the exclusion of American trade to the British colonies in the Caribbean, beginning a long trade relationship with the West Indies. However, the most significant growth began with the beginning of what would become known as the Napoleonic Wars. Military spending and the opportunities of wartime shipping and trading stimulated growth led by local merchants such as Charles Ramage Prescott and Enos Collins. By 1796, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was sent to take command of Nova Scotia. Many of the city's forts were designed by him, and he left an indelible mark on the city in the form of many public buildings of Georgian architecture, and a dignified British feel to the city itself. It was during this time that Halifax truly became a city. Many landmarks and institutions were built during his tenure, from the Town Clock on Citadel Hill to St. George's Round Church, fortifications in the Halifax Defence Complex were built up, businesses established, and the population boomed. At the same time, the towns people and especially seafarers were constantly on-guard of the press gangs of the Royal Navy.

Press Gang from the HMS Cleopatra started Halifax Riot (1805). Image by Nicholas Pocock

Halifax Impressment Riot

Vice Admiral Andrew Mitchell who orderd the HMS Cleopatra press gang ashore to Halifax

The Navy’s manning problems in Nova Scotia peaked in 1805. Warships were short-handed from high desertion rates, and naval captains were handicapped in filling those vacancies by ;provincial impressment regulations. Desperate for sailors, the Navy pressed them all over the North Atlantic region in 1805, from Halifax and Charlottetown to Saint John and Quebec City. In early May, Vice Admiral Andrew Mitchell sent press gangs from several warships into downtown Halifax. They conscripted men first and asked questions later, rounding up dozens of potential recruits.[91]

The breaking point came in October 1805, when Vice-Admiral Mitchell allowed press gangs from the HMS Cleopatra to storm the streets of Halifax armed with bayonetts, sparking a major riot in which one man was killed and several others were injured. Wentworth lashed out at the admiral for sparking urban unrest and breaking provincial impressment laws, and his government exploited this violent episode to put even tighter restrictions of recruiting in Nova Scotia.[92][93]

The captured Furieuse is taken in tow to Halifax, Nova Scotia by HMS Bonne Citoyenne (1809), a print by Thomas Whitcombe

Stemming from impressment disturbances, civil-naval relations deteriorated in Nova Scotia from 1805 to the War of 1812. The HMS Whiting was in Liverpool for only about a week, but it terrified the small town the entire time and naval impressment remained a serious threat to sailors along the South Shore. After leaving Liverpool, the Whiting terrorized Shelburne by pressing inhabitants, breaking into homes, and forcing more than a dozen families to live in the forest to avoid further harassment.[94]

War of 1812

War of 1812, Halifax, NS: HMS Shannon leading the captured American Frigate USS Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour (1813)

During the War of 1812, Nova Scotia’s contribution to the war effort was communities either purchasing or building various privateer ships to seize American vessels.[95] Three members of the community of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia purchased a privateer schooner and named it Lunenburg on August 8, 1814.[96] The Nova Scotian privateer vessel captured seven American vessels. The Liverpool Packet from Liverpool, Nova Scotia was another Nova Scotia privateer vessel that caught over fifty ships in the war - the most of any privateer in Canada.[97] The Sir John Sherbrooke (Halifax) was also very successful during the war, being the largest privateer on the Atlantic coast. (See Historic Properties (Halifax))

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke - Lt Gov. of Nova Scotia departed Halifax and conquered Maine, renaming the colony New Ireland

Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the war for Nova Scotia was the HMS Shannon's led the captured American Frigate USS Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour (1813). The Captain of the Shannon was injured and Nova Scotian Provo Wallis took command of the ship to escort the Chesapeake to Halifax. Many of the prisoners were kept at Deadman's Island, Halifax.[97] At the same time, there was the HMS Hogue's traumatic capture of the American Privateer Young Teazer off Chester, Nova Scotia.

Gravestones for the casualties of the famous HMS Shannon Capture of USS Chesapeake. The USS Chesapeake (left) and HMS Shannon (right), Stadcona, Halifax, Nova Scotia

On September 3, 1814 a British fleet from Halifax, Nova Scotia, began to lay siege to Maine to re-establish British title to Maine east of the Penobscot River, an area the British had renamed "New Ireland". Carving off "New Ireland" from New England had been a goal of the British government and settlers of Nova Scotia ("New Scotland") since the American Revolution.[98] The British expedition involved 8 war-ships and 10 transports (carrying 3,500 British regulars) that were under the overall command of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, then Lt. Gov. of Nova Scotia.[99] On July 3, 1814, the expedition captured the coastal town of Castine, Maine and then went on to raid Belfast, Machias, Eastport, Hampden and Bangor(See Battle of Hampden). After the war, Maine was returned to America through the Treaty of Ghent. The brief life of the colony yielded customs revenues, called the "Castine Fund", which were subsequently used to finance a military library in Halifax and found Dalhousie College.[100] Dalhousie University has a street named "Castine Way".[101]

The most famous soldier that was buried in Nova Scotia during the war was Robert Ross (British Army officer). Ross was responsible for the Burning of Washington, including the White House. (Other famous Nova Scotians who served in the war are:George Edward Watts, Sir George Augustus Westphal, Sir Edward Belcher, and Philip Westphal - all of whom are commeorated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaques at Stadacona, CFB Halifax.)

Crimean War

Welsford-Parker Monument, Halifax, Nova Scotia - Only Crimean War Monument in North America

Nova Scotians fought in the Crimean War. The Welsford-Parker Monument in Halifax is the second oldest war monument in Canada and the only Crimean War monument in North America. Another Nova Scotian soldier who fought with distinction during the Crimean war was Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet, of Kars.

In the wake of the Crimean War, the second black military unit in Canada (the first in Nova Scotia) was formed, Victoria Rifles (Nova Scotia) (1860).

Indian Mutiny

Nova Scotians also participated in the Indian Mutiny. Two of the most famous were William Hall (VC) and Sir John Eardley Inglis (namesake of Inglis Street, Halifax), both of whom participated in the Siege of Lucknow (namesake of Lucknow St., Halifax). The 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot were famous for their involvement with the siege and were later posted to Citadel Hill (Fort George).

American Civil War

Over 200 Nova Scotians have been identified as fighting in the American Civil War (1861–1865). Most joined Maine or Massachusetts infantry regiments, but one in ten served the Confederacy (South). The total probably reached into two thousand as many young men had migrated to the U.S. before 1860. Pacifism, neutrality, anti-Americanism, and anti-Yankee sentiments all operated to keep the numbers down, but on the other hand there were strong cash incentives to join the well-paid Northern army and the long tradition of emigrating out of Nova Scotia, combined with a zest for adventure, attracted many young men.[102] Perhaps the two most famous Nova Scotians to fight in the war effort were Benjamin Jackson and John Taylor Wood, the latter becoming a naturalized citizen after the war.

Halifax Provisional Battalion Plaque, Main Gate, Halifax Public Gardens, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The British Empire (including Nova Scotia) declared neutrality, and Nova Scotia prospered greatly from trade with the North. There were no attempts to trade with the South. Nova Scotia was the site of two minor international incidents during the war: the Chesapeake Affair and the escape from Halifax Harbour of the CSS Tallahassee, aided by Confederate sympathizers.[103]

The war left many fearful that the North might attempt to annex British North America, particularly after the Fenian raids began. In response, volunteer regiments were raised across Nova Scotia. British commander and Lt Governor of Nova Scotia Charles Hastings Doyle led 700 troops out of Halifax to crush a Fenian attack on the New Brunswick border with Maine. One of the main reasons why Britain sanctioned the creation of Canada (1867) was to avoid another possible conflict with America and to leave the defence of Nova Scotia to a Canadian Government.[104]

North West Rebellion

The Halifax Provisional Battalion was a military unit from Nova Scotia, which was sent to fight in the North-West Rebellion in 1885. The battalion was under command of Lieut.-Colonel James J. Bremner and consisted of 168 non-commissioned officers and men of The Princess Louise Fusiliers, 100 of the 63rd Battalion Rifles, and 84 of the Halifax Garrison Artillery, with 32 officers. The battalion left Halifax under orders for the North-West on Saturday, April 11, 1885, and they stayed for almost three months.[105]

Prior to Nova Scotia's involvement, the province remained hostile to Canada in the aftermath of the . The celebration that followed the Halifax Provisional Battalion's return by train across the county ignited a national patriotism in Nova Scotia. Prime Minister Robert Borden, stated that "up to this time Nova Scotia hardly regarded itself as included in the Canadian Confederation.... The rebellion evoked a new sprit.... The Riel Rebellion did more to unite Nova Scotia with the rest of Canada than any event that had occurred since Confderation." Similarly, in 1907 Governor General Earl Grey declared, "This Battalion... went out Nova Scotians, they returned Canadians." The wrought iron gates at the Halifax Public Gardens were made in the Battalion's honour.[106]

Twentieth century

Second Boer War

South African War Memorial (Halifax) by Hamilton MacCarthy, Province House, Nova Scotia

During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), the First Contingent was composed of seven Companies from across Canada. The Nova Scotia Company (H) consisted of 125 men. (The total First Contingent was a total force of 1,019. Eventually over 8600 Canadians served.) The mobilization of the Contingent took place at Quebec. On October 30, 1899, the ship Sardinian sailed the troops for four weeks to Cape Town. The Boer War marked the first occasion in which large contingents of Nova Scotian troops served abroad (individual Nova Scotians had served in the Crimean War). The Battle of Paardeberg in February 1900 represented the second time Canadian soldiers saw battle abroad (the first being the Canadian involvement in the Nile Expedition).[107] Canadians also saw action at the Battle of Faber's Put on May 30, 1900.[108] On November 7, 1900, the Royal Canadian Dragoons engaged the Boers in the Battle of Leliefontein, where they saved British guns from capture during a retreat from the banks of the Komati River.[109] Approximately 267 Canadians died in the War. 89 men were killed in action, 135 died of disease, and the remainder died of accident or injury. 252 were wounded.

Boer War Victory Parade, Barrington Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Of all the Canadians who died during the war, the most famous was the young Lt. Harold Lothrop Borden of Canning, Nova Scotia. Harold Borden's father was Sir Frederick W. Borden, Canada's Minister of Militia who was a strong proponent of Canadian participation in the war.[110] Another famous Nova Scotian casualty of the war was Charles Carroll Wood, son of the renoun Confederate naval captain John Taylor Wood and the first Canadian to die in the war.[111]

First World War

The prime minister of Canada during the war was Nova Scotian Robert Borden.

During World War I, Halifax became a major international port and naval facility. The harbour became a major shipment point for war supplies, troop ships to Europe from Canada and the United States and hospital ships returning the wounded. These factors drove a major military, industrial and residential expansion of the city.[112]

Sinking of the HMHS Llandovery Castle

On 27 June 1917, a German U-boat torpedoed a hospital ship from the port of Halifax named the HMHS Llandovery Castle. Escaping lifeboats were pursued and sunk by the German U-boat and the survivors machine-gunned. Of the crew totalling 258, only twenty-four survived.[113] The commander of the ship, Lt.-Col. Thomas Howard MacDonald, was from Nova Scotia as was the nursing Matron, Margaret Marjory Fraser (daughter of Lt. Governor of Nova Scotia Duncan Cameron Fraser). Lt.-Col MacDonald died as did Fraser along with the 13 nurses under her command.

On Thursday, December 6, 1917, when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, that had accidentally collided with a Norwegian ship in "The Narrows" section of the Halifax Harbour. Approximately 2,000 people (mostly Canadians) were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings, and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured.[114] This is still the world's largest man-made accidental explosion.[115]

During World War I the British Army used Fort Edward in Windsor to establish a training depot for Jewish men training to fight against the Ottoman Turks in Palestine. Known as The Jewish Legion, this unit, was "stood up" for service in 1917 manned by Jews from around the world who came to Windsor for training on the slopes of the fort under Major W.F.D Bremner. Bremner lived in Castle Fredericks and is an ancestor of Falmouth’s James Bremner (See Halifax Provisional Battalion). Pictures and first-hand accounts of the time indicate that the men lived in tents on the hillside below the blockhouse.[116]

Jewish Legion, Fort Edward (Nova Scotia), (Yom Kippur, 1918)

Many of these recruits came with Zionist ideals and dreams of a restored Palestinian homeland for the Jews. 1,100 Non-commissioned officers were trained in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Founders of the League included David Ben-Gurion, who became the first prime minister of Israel, and Ze'ev Jabotinsky, both men were trained at Fort Edward. At age 70, David Ben-Gurion reported on his time at Fort Edward: "I will never forget Windsor where I received my first training as a soldier and where I became a corporal."[116]

The Amherst Internment Camp was one of three internment camps in the province. It existed from 1914 to 1919 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. It was the largest POW camp in Canada during World War I; a maximum of 853 prisoners were housed at one time at the old Malleable Iron foundry on the corner of Hickman and Park Streets.[117] The most famous prisoner of war at the camp was Leon Trotsky.

Three Nova Scotian battalions saw combat in Europe as distinct fighting units - The Royal Canadian Regiment, 85th Battalion and 25th Battalion. The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Halifax, was the only unit in existence at the time of the war's outbreak.

The No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was the only predominantly black battalion in Canadian military history and also the only Canadian Battalion composed of black soldiers to serve in World War I. The battalion was raised in Nova Scotia. 56% of the battalion was from Nova Scotia (500 soldiers). (The first black military unit in Canada was the Victoria Rifles (Nova Scotia).)

Spanish Civil War

Roy Leitch,Veteran of Spanish Civil War

The Communist Party of Canada (which included Dr. Norman Bethune) had a significant recruitment effort in Nova Scotia for the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. At the same time, joining the Battalion was illegal in the 1930s. There were 31 volunteers from the Maritimes, 19 from Nova Scotia.[118] (1500 volunteers were recruited across the country and half of them were killed in the defeat.) Perhaps the best known Nova Scotian in the war was rhodes scholar and Dalhousie University professor Roy Leitch who settled in Spryfield, Nova Scotia after the war. He later published the controversial newspaper "The Storm". From 3-18, February 1939, 421 returning soldiers of the Battalion disembarked at Halifax.[119] The last Nova Scotian veteran of the "Mac-Paps" passed away in the 1980s. The Canadian Government has always denied official recognition of these veterans.[120] Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean commemorated a monument to the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion in Ottawa, October 20, 2001.

Second World War

Winston Churchill by Oscar Nemon, Halifax, Nova Scotia

During World War II, thousands of Nova Scotians went overseas. One Nova Scotian, Mona Louise Parsons, joined the Dutch resistance and was eventually captured and imprisoned by the Nazis for almost four years. Another Nova Scotian, William M. Jones was part of the resistance movement in Yugoslavia. From the start of the war in 1939 until VE Day, several of Canada's Atlantic coast ports became important to the resupply effort for the United Kingdom and later for the Allied land offensive on the Western Front. Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia became the primary convoy assembly ports, with Halifax being assigned the fast or priority convoys (largely troops and essential material) with the more modern merchant ships, while Sydney was given slow convoys which conveyed bulkier material on older and more vulnerable merchant ships. Both ports were heavily fortified with shore radar emplacements, search light batteries, and extensive coastal artillery stations all manned by RCN and Canadian Army regular and reserve personnel. Military intelligence agents enforced strict blackouts throughout the areas and anti-torpedo nets were in place at the harbor entrances. Despite the fact that no landings of German personnel took place near these ports, there were frequent attacks by U-boats on convoys departing for Europe. Less extensively used, but no less important, was the port of Saint John which also saw matériel funneled through the port, largely after the United States entered the war in December 1941. The Canadian Pacific Railway mainline from central Canada (which crossed the state of Maine) could be used to transport in aid of the war effort.

SS Point Pleasant Park Monument, Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Although not crippling to the Canadian war effort, given the country's rail network to the east coast ports, but possibly more destructive to the morale of the Canadian public, was the Battle of the St. Lawrence, when U-boats began to attack domestic coastal shipping along Canada's east coast in the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence from early 1942 through to the end of the shipping season in late 1944.

SS Caribou was a Newfoundland Railway passenger ferry that ran between Port aux Basques, in the Dominion of Newfoundland, and North Sydney, Nova Scotia between 1928—1942. It became infamous when it was attacked and sunk by Nazi German submarine U-69 in October 1942, while traversing the Cabot Strait as part of its three weekly SPAB convoys. As a civilian vessel, it had women and children on board, and many of them were among the 137 who died. Its sinking, and large death toll, made it clear that the war had really arrived on Canada's and Newfoundland's home front, and is cited by many historians as the most significant sinking in Canadian-controlled waters during the Second World War.[121] In the Cabot Strait, just off Cape Breton, on 25 November 1944 HMCS Shawinigan was torpedoed and sunk with all hands on board (85 crew) by U-1228.

Surrender of U-889 off Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 13 May 1945.

In World War I and World War II, German submarines torpedoed a number of allied ships near Sambro Island Light. For example, in World War II, while mine sweeping near Sambro Light Vessel on 24 December 1944 while preparing to escort a convoy, HMCS Clayoquot was hit by a torpedo aft fired by U-806.[122] She sank quickly and eight lives were lost.[123] A large search force was sent out to deal with the U-boat however they were not successful in finding it.[122] In the early morning of 16 April 1945, just off Halifax harbour, U-190 sunk HMCS Esquimalt (J272), killing 44 crew.

Several RN escorts were attached to the RCN for some months during 1942, with convoys in the St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence being formed between RCN facilities at HMCS Chaleur II in Quebec City, HMCS Fort Ramsay in Gaspé, and HMCS Protector in Sydney. Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft carried out operational patrols from RCAF stations such as Charlottetown, Summerside, Debert, Stanley and Sydney as well as various civilian fields, particularly in the Magdalen Islands. Camp Norway was established at Lunenburg.

Leonard W. Murray Plaque Halifax Nova Scotia - on the corner of South St. and Barrington St

Leonard W. Murray was born at Granton, Nova Scotia on 22 June 1896. Rear Admiral Leonard Warren Murray, CB, CBE was an officer of the Royal Canadian Navy who played a significant role in the Battle of the Atlantic. He commanded the Newfoundland Escort Force from 1941–1943, and from 1943 to the end of the war was Commander-in-Chief, Canadian Northwest Atlantic. He was the only Canadian to command an Allied theatre of operations during World War I or World War II. He resigned his command early as a result of the Halifax VE-Day Riot.

In May 1945, following Germany's surrender, U-889 surrendered to the RCN at Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Korean War

During the Korean War there were 48 Nova Scotians who died in the war and more than 100 were wounded.[124] (See Atlantic Canada Korean War Monument and Cape Breton Korean War Monument). The only Nova Scotian who was a member of the Royal Canadian Navy to die was Robert John Moore. He was killed while in an air crash. He was awarded the United Nations Service Medal (Korea) and is commemorated on the Korean War Memorial at the Naval Museum of Alberta at HMCS Tecumseh, Calgary, Alberta.[125]

Notable Nova Scotian military figures

The following list includes those who were born in Nova Scotia, Acadia and Mi'kma'ki or those who became naturalized citizens. Those who came for brief periods from other countries are not included (e.g. John Gorham, Edward Cornwallis, James Wolfe, Boishébert, Thomas Pichon, etc.)

17th-18th centuries


19th century

Also see

20th century

Nova Scotian Victoria Cross Recipients

      This along with the *, indicates that the Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously

Name Date of action Conflict Unit Place of action Province of origin Notes
Bent, PhilipPhilip Bent 1917* First World War The Leicestershire Regiment Polygon Wood, Belgium Nova Scotia[126]
Croak, JohnJohn Croak 1918* First World War 13th Battalion, CEF Amiens, France Nova Scotia[127]
Hall, WilliamWilliam Hall 1857 Indian Mutiny HMS Shannon Lucknow, India Nova Scotia[128]
Kerr, JohnJohn Kerr 1916 First World War 49th Battalion, CEF Courcelette, France Nova Scotia[129]
Robertson, JamesJames Robertson 1917* First World War 27th Battalion, CEF Passchendaele, Belgium Nova Scotia[130]

See also


  1. The colonial history of Nova Scotia includes the present-day Canadian Maritime provinces and the northern part of Maine (Sunbury County, Nova Scotia), all of which were at one time part of Nova Scotia. In 1763 Cape Breton Island and St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became part of Nova Scotia. In 1769, St. John's Island became a separate colony. Nova Scotia included present-day New Brunswick until that province was established in 1784. (In 1765, the county of Sunbury was created, and included the territory of present-day New Brunswick and eastern Maine as far as the Penobscot River.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 William Williamson. The history of the state of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 27
  3. Also, that same year, French fishermen established a settlement at Canso.
  4. Brenda Dunn. A History of Port Royal, Annapolis Royal: 1605-1800. Nimbus Publishing, 2004
  5. Nicholls, Andrew. A Fleeting Empire: Early Stuart Britain and the Merchant Adventures to Canada. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2010.
  6. M. A. MacDonald, Fortune & La Tour: The civil war in Acadia, Toronto: Methuen. 1983
  7. Brenda Dunn, p. 19
  8. Brenda Dunn. A History of Port Royal, Annapolis Royal: 1605-1800. Nimbus Publishing, 2004. p. 20
  10. John Reid. "Imperial Intrusions". In Buckner and Reid (eds). The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. University of Toronto Press. 1994.p. 84
  11. Harry Piers, "Regiments Raised in Nova Scotia," Nova Scotia Historical Society (1927)
  12. Grenier, p. 56
  13. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia or Acadia, p. 399
  14. A history of Nova-Scotia, or Acadie, Volume 1, by Beamish Murdoch, p. 398
  15. The Nova Scotia theatre of the Dummer War is named the "Mi'kmaq-Maliseet War" by John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia 1710-1760. University of Oklahoma Press. 2008.
  16. Beamish Murdoch. A history of Nova-Scotia, or Acadie, Volume 1, p. 399; Geoffery Plank, An Unsettled Conquest, p. 78
  17. Benjamin Church, p. 289; John Grenier, p. 62
  18. Faragher, John Mack, A Great and Noble Scheme New York; W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. pp. 164-165.; Beamish Murdoch. A History of Nova Scotia or Acadie. Vol. 1. pp. 408-409
  19. Brenda Dunn, p. 123
  20. Brenda Dunn, pp. 124-125
  21. Haynes, Mark. The Forgotten Battle: A History of the Acadians of Canso/ Chedabuctou. British Columbia: Trafford. 2004, p. 159
  22. William Wicken. Mi'kmaq Treaties on Trial. 2002. pp. 72-72.
  23. The framework Father Le Loutre's War is developed by John Grenier in his books The Far Reaches of Empire. War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008) and The first way of war: American war making on the frontier, 1607-1814 (Cambridge University Press, 2005). He outlines his rational for naming these conflicts as Father Le Loutre's War; Thomas Beamish Akins. History of Halifax, Brookhouse Press. 1895. (2002 edition). p 7
  24. Wicken, p. 181; Griffith, p. 390; Also see
  25. 25.0 25.1 John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Oklahoma University Press.
  26. John Grenier, Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia 1710-1760. Oklahoma Press. 2008
  27. Stephen E. Patterson. "Indian-White Relations in Nova Scotia, 1749-61: A Study in Political Interaction." Buckner, P, Campbell, G. and Frank, D. (eds). The Acadiensis Reader Vol 1: Atlantic Canada Before Confederation. 1998. pp.105-106.; Also see Stephen Patterson, Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples, p. 144.
  28. Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc (2005). Du Grand Dérangement à la Déportation: Nouvelles Perspectives Historiques, Moncton: Université de Moncton, 465 pages ISBN 1-897214-02-2 (book in French and English). The Acadians were scattered across the Atlantic, in the Thirteen Colonies, Louisiana, Quebec, Britain and France. (See Jean-François Mouhot (2009) Les Réfugiés acadiens en France (1758-1785): L'Impossible Réintégration?, Quebec, Septentrion, 456 p. ISBN 2-89448-513-1; Ernest Martin (1936) Les Exilés Acadiens en France et leur établissement dans le Poitou, Paris, Hachette, 1936). Very few eventually returned to Nova Scotia. See Faragher (2005)
  29. Faragher 2005, p. 338
  30. 30.0 30.1 John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Oklahoma University Press. 2008
  31. John Grenier, p. 184
  32. Winthrop Bell. Foreign Protestants, University of Toronto, 1961, p. 504; Peter Landry. The Lion and the Lily, Trafford Press. 2007.p. 555
  33. John Grenier, The Far Reaches of Empire, Oklahoma Press. 2008. p. 198
  34. Marshall, p. 98; see also Bell. Foreign Protestants. p. 512
  35. Marshall, p. 98; Peter Landry. The Lion and the Lily, Trafford Press. 2007. p. 555
  36. Earle Lockerby, The Expulsion of the Acadians from Prince Edward Island. Nimbus Publications. 2009
  37. Plank, p. 160
  38. John Grenier, p. 197
  39. Grenier, p. 198; Faragher, p. 402.
  40. Grenier, p. 198
  41. John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760, Oklahoma University Press.pp. 199-200. Note that Faragher (2005), p 405 indicates that Monckton had a force of 2000 men for this campaign.
  42. 42.0 42.1 John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760, Oklahoma University Press. 2008, pp. 199-200
  43. 43.0 43.1 John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760. Oklahoma University Press, p. 202; Also see Plank, p. 61
  44. A letter from Fort Frederick which was printed in Parker’s New York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy on 2 April 1759 provides some additional details of the behavior of the Rangers. Also see William O. Raymond. The River St. John: Its Physical Features, Legends and History from 1604 to 1784. St. John, New Brunswick. 1910. pp. 96-107
  45. J.S. McLennan, Louisbourg: From its Founding to its Fall, Macmillan and Co. Ltd London, UK 1918, pp. 417-423, Appendix 11 (see
  46. Lockerby, 2008, p.17, p.24, p.26, p.56
  47. Faragher 2005, p. 414; also see History: Commodore Byron's Conquest. The Canadian Press. July 19, 2008
  48. John Grenier, p. 211; Faragher 2005, p. 41; see the account of Captain Mackenzie's raid at MacKenzie's Raid
  49. Patterson, 1994, p. 153; Brenda Dunn, p. 207
  50. Griffith, 2005, p. 438
  51. Faragher, p. 423–424
  52. John Gorham. The Far Reaches of Empire: War In Nova Scotia (1710-1760). University of Oklahoma Press. 2008. p. 177-206
  53. Patterson, Stephen E. 1744-1763: Colonial Wars and Aboriginal Peoples. In Phillip Buckner and John Reid (eds.) The Atlantic Region to Conderation: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1994. p. 148
  54. 54.0 54.1 Faragher 2005, pp. 110
  55. The journal of John Weatherspoon was published in Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society for the Years 1879-1880 (Halifax 1881) that has since been reprinted (Mika Publishing Company, Belleville, Ontario, 1976).
  56. Winthrop Bell, Foreign Protestants, University of Toronto. 1961. p.503
  57. Faragher 2005, p. 398.
  58. Webster as cited by bluepete, p. 371
  59. John Faragher.Great and Noble Scheme. Norton. 2005. p. 398.
  60. John Grenier, p. 190; New Brunswick Military Project
  61. John Grenier, p. 195
  62. Faragher 2005, p. 410
  63. New Brunswick Military Project
  64. John Grenier. The Far Reaches of Empire: War in Nova Scotia, 1710-1760, Oklahoma University Press.pp. 199–200
  65. Bell Foreign Protestants. p. 508
  66. Harry Chapman, p. 32; Faragher 2005, p. 410
  67. William Williamson. The history of the state of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 311-112; During this time period, the Maliseet and Mi'kmaq were the only tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy who were able to right.
  69. Phyllis E. Leblanc, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online; Cyrus Eaton's history, p. 77; William Durkee Williamson, The history of the state of Maine: from its first discovery, A. D ..., Volume 2, p. 333 (Williamson's Book)
  70. 70.0 70.1 Archibald McMechan, Red Snow of Grand Pre. 1931. p. 192
  71. Bell, p. 509
  72. Bell. Foreign Protestants. p. 510, p. 513
  73. Bell, p. 510
  74. Bell, Foreign Protestants, p. 511
  75. Bell, p. 511
  76. Bell, p. 512
  77. Bell, p. 513
  78. J.S. McLennan. Louisbourg: From its foundation to its fall (1713-1758). 1918, p. 190
  79. Earle Lockerby. Pre-Deportation Letters from Ile Saint Jean. Les Cahiers. La Societe hitorique acadienne. Vol. 42, No2. June 2011. pp. 99-100
  80. Beamish Murdoch. History of Nova Scotia. Vol.2. p. 366
  81. Barry Cahill, "The Treason of the Merchants: Dissent and Repression in Halifax in the Era of the American Revolution," Acadiensis 1996 26(1): 52-70; G. Stewart, and G. Rawlyk, A People Highly Favoured of God: The Nova Scotia Yankees and the American Revolution (1972); Maurice Armstrong, "Neutrality and Religion in Revolutionary Nova Scotia," The New England Quarterly v19, no. 1 (1946): 50-62 in JSTOR
  82. Benjamin Franklin also engaged France in the war, which meant that many of the privateers were also from France.
  83. Roger Marsters (2004). Bold Privateers: Terror, Plunder and Profit on Canada's Atlantic Coast" , p. 87-89.
  84. Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Hughes stated in a dispatch to Lord Germaine that "rebel cruisers" made the attack.
  85. Julian Gwyn. Frigates and Foremasts. University of British Columbia. 2003. p. 56
  86. Thomas B. Akins. (1895) History of Halifax. Dartmouth: Brook House Press.p. 82
  87. Hannay, p. 119
  88. Rev. W. O. Raymond
  89.; Sessional papers, Volume 5 By Canada. Parliament July 2 - September 22, 1779; Wilfred Brenton Kerr. The Maritime Provinces of British North America and the American Revolution. p. 96
  90. Among the annual festivals of the old times, now lost sight of, was the celebration of St. Aspinquid's Day, known as the Indian Saint. St. Aspinquid appeared in the Nova Scotia almanacks from 1774 to 1786. The festival was celebrated on or immediately after the last quarter of the moon in the month of May. The tide being low at that time, many of the principal inhabitants of the town, on these occasions, assembled on the shore of the North West Arm and partook of a dish of clam soup, the clams being collected on the spot at low water. There is a tradition that during the American troubles when agents of the revolted colonies were active to gain over the good people of Halifax, in the year 1786, were celebrating St. Aspinquid, the wine having been circulated freely, the Union Jack was suddenly hauled down and replaced by the Stars and Stripes. This was soon reversed, but all those persons who held public offices immediately left the grounds, and St. Aspinquid was never after celebrated at Halifax. (See Akins. History of Halifax, p. 218, note 94
  91. Mercer, p. 232
  92. Mercer, p. 236
  93. Thomas B. Akins, History of Halifax City (Halifax, 1895), 137–8; Brian C. Cuthbertson, The Loyalist Governor: Biography of Sir John Wentworth (Halifax: Petheric, 1983), 132–4; Executive Council Minutes, 23 Nov. 1805, 161–2, vol. 191, RG1, nsarm; John George Marshall, A Brief History of Public Proceedings and Events, Legal – Parliamentary –and Miscellaneous, in the Province of Nova Scotia, during the Earliest Years of the Present Century (Halifax, 1879), 22–4.
  94. Mercer, p. 235
  95. John Boileau. Half-hearted Enemies: Nova Scotia, New England and the War of 1812. Halifax: Formac Publishing. 2005. p.53
  96. C.H.J.Snider, Under the Red Jack: privateers of the Maritime Provinces of Canada in the War of 1812 (London: Martin Hopkinson & Co. Ltd, 1928), 225-258 (see
  97. 97.0 97.1 John Boileau. 2005. Half-hearted Enemies: Nova Scotia: New England and the War of 1812. Formac Press
  98. Seymour, p. 10
  99. Tom Seymour, Tom Seymour's Maine: A Maine Anthology (2003), pp. 10-17
  101. D.C. Harvey, "The Halifax–Castine expedition," Dalhousie Review, 18 (1938–39): 207–13.
  102. Greg Marquis, "Mercenaries or Killer Angels? Nova Scotians in the American Civil War," Collections of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, 1995, Vol. 44, pp 83-94
  103. Greg Marquis, In Armageddon’s Shadow: The Civil War and Canada’s Maritime Provinces . McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1998.
  104. Marquis, In Armageddon’s Shadow
  105. The history of the North-west rebellion of 1885: Comprising a full and ... By Charles Pelham Mulvany, Louis Riel, p. 410
  106. David A. Sutherland. "Halifax Encounter with the North-West Uprising of 1885". Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. Vol. 13, 2010. p. 73
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  111. John Bell. Confederate Seadog: John Taylor Wood in War and Exile. McFarland Publishers. 2002. p. 59
  112. The Halifax Explosion and the Royal Canadian Navy John Armstrong, University of British Columbia Press, 2002, p.10-11.
  114. CBC - Halifax Explosion 1917
  115. Jay White, "Exploding Myths: The Halifax Explosion in Historical Context", Ground Zero: A Reassessment of the 1917 explosion in Halifax Alan Ruffman and Colin D. Howell editors, Nimbus Publishing (1994), p. 266
  116. 116.0 116.1 The Valley Today: Independent News for the Annapolis Valley January 07
  118. Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War By Michael Petrou, p. 21
  121. Tennyson & Sarty (2000), pp. 274-275.
  122. 122.0 122.1 German, Tony (1990). The Sea is at our Gates : The History of the Canadian Navy. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Inc. pp. 119, 178–179. ISBN 0-7710-3269-2.
  123. Macpherson, Ken (1981). The ships of Canada's naval forces 1910-1981 : a complete pictorial history of Canadian warships. Toronto: Collins. pp. 113. ISBN 0-00216-856-1. 
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