CANADA: Nova Scotia

A Bit of History

Long before John Cabot made landfall in 1497 (possibly on Cape Breton Island), Norse adventurers may have reached Nova Scotia. Scores of other explorers and fishermen plied its coasts before Pierre Du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain established Port-Royal in 1605 — the first agricultural settlement by Europeans in Canada, and the beginnings of the French colony of Acadia.

In 1621 King James I of England named the territory New Scotland (or Nova Scotia, as it was called in its Latin charter) and granted the land to the Scottish colonizer Sir William Alexander…  a small but steady stream of immigrants continued to arrive from France for a new life in Acadia.  Aside from maintaining a small garrison at Port Royal, renamed Annapolis Royal, the British did little with Nova Scotia until 1749, when Halifax was founded as a military town and naval base.

“Originally, most of the province was covered by forest, but little of the virgin forest remains, except in the plateau of northeast Cape Breton Island. Secondary growth has tended to be coniferous because of the acid soil and the slow growing season, but hardwoods continue to exist in sufficient abundance to produce a colourful display in the autumn. About 3 % of the land is used for agriculture with the apple growing region in the Annapolis Valley along the Bay of Fundy, with its famous tides.

Concerning timber-cutting along the Saint John River.  26 March 1780.  Nova Scotia Archives

From Michael Francklin, Superintendant of Indian Affairs, Windsor, permitting Galispie [Gillespie] to pass to and from the Gulf St. Lawrence, “being employed by me on the King’s Service.”  25 March 1779.

Vital Statistics:  Births        Marriages        Deaths


Nova Scotia Immigrants by 1867 – Hugh Gillespie, Sgt, Loyalist, drew boards (?), Botsford grant.

Interview of J C Gillespie,  Conductor of CG Railway, regarding the Halifax Explosion, 1917  by Halifax Disaster Record Office. – Gillespies died in that explosion.


1901 census

Thomas Gillespie birth Oct 10, 1835, Ireland, residence Halifax City, head, immigrated 1886

  • Mary Ann Gillespie, birth March 8, 1835 Ireland, wife, immigrated 1886
  • Thomas H Gillespie, birth March 18, 1879 BERMUDA, son, immigrated 1898 – (He would have been 19 when he came to Canada) 

Total Records This Page:    5

Source of record Film T-6450, Division 1, Page 17, entries 1, 2, 3