Nova Scotia is a Canadian province on the east coast of Canada. The name is Latin for New Scotland, and in Scots Gaelic is Alba Nuadh, named of course after Scotland. People of Scottish descent are still the largest ethnic group in the province today. Although Nova Scotia is the 2nd smallest province in Canada (55,284 sq.kilometres or 21,300 sq.miles), it is the 2nd most densely populated, with 940,397 people. The capital and major economic centre is Halifax.

A large penninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with many bays and estuaries, Nova Scotia province also has Cape Breton Island (more below), to the northeast of the mainland, with it's Scots Gaelic speaking community, famous for traditional music and dance.

When the first Europeans arrived, the area was already home to the Mi'kmaq First Nation of Mi'kma'ki(mi'gama'gi), which covered all of the Canadian Maritimes, from Newfoundland in the north to Maine in what is now America. The first permanent European settlement was founded by the French in 1604 at Port Royal, and would become known as Acadia. Between 1713 and 1760, the territory became controlled by the British, who established a new capital at Halifax in 1749.

The Canadian Confederation was founded in 1867 by the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada (which became the separate provinces of Quebec and Ontario).




The explorer John Cabot reportedly visited Cape Breton Island (Eilean Cheap Breatainn in Gaelic) in 1497. The Portuguese established a fishing colony on the island about 1521–22, possibly at the location of present day Ingonish in the northwest. On February 8th 1631, the British King Charles 1 granted Cape Breton Island to Robert Gordon of Lochinvar and his son Robert.
The French were already settled on the island calling it "Île Royale", part of the colony of Acadia, and ceded their lands in Newfoundland and Acadia to the British in 1713, but moved all the residents to Cape Breton, which remained formally part of colonial New France until it was ceded to Britain in 1763, merging with the adjacent colony of Nova Scotia.

Altough some of the first new settlers were Irish, the first permanent Scottish community on Cape Breton Island was Judique, founded by Michael Mor MacDonald in 1775, living under his upturned boat through his first winter there !
In 1784, Britain split the colony into three - Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Cape Breton Island, with Sydney as it's capital. The early economy was based on mining and shipbuilding.
In 1820, Cape Breton Island was merged for the second time with Nova Scotia, leading to industrial development in the Sydney Coal Field.
During the first half of the 1800s, many Highland Scots arrived in Cape Breton Island, possibly as many as 50,000, due to the Highland Clearances. The island culture today is heavily influenced by this, with Gaelic still being the first language of some Cape Bretoners in rural areas, although the provincial school board tried to stop Gaelic culture during the 20th century, fortunately unsuccessfully. The provincial government started encouraging the use of Gaelic again in the 1950s, seeing the importance of the Scottish culture for tourism. There is Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts at St. Ann's.
The Scottish inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, acquired land near Baddeck in 1885, and established research laboratories, working with the deaf, an early iron lung, on hydrofoils, and the first powered flight in the British Empire.

The Scots of the Highland Clearances brought their traditional music with them, and Cape Breton is well known for its traditional fiddle music, wit summer concerts and ceilidhs, and the huge Celtic Colors Festival around the island every October. Mabou and Judique are hot-beds of trad music, Judique being called 'Bhaile nam Fonn' in Gaelic, (Village of Tunes) or the 'Home of Celtic Music', with their Celtic Music Interpretive Centre.

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