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° The Maritime Provinces: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

Maritime Provinces

Maritime Provinces. 1878. RoeMaritime Provinces antique map. Roe. 1878.

Maritime Provinces.

The Maritime Provinces -- Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick -- cover just a little more than 1% of Canada's land surface.

The populations of Nova Scotia at 913,462, New Brunswick at 729,997 and Prince Edward Island at 135,851 constituted about 5.6% of the Canadian total of 31 612 897 (2006c). As part of a nation that has placed great stress on unlimited size, almost limitless space, and also on western development, Maritimers often found themselves, as the 20th century unfolded, pushed to the periphery of Canadian development, a trend that has continued into the next century.

The Maritimes constitute a cluster of peninsulas and islands which for much of its human period - both before and after European settlement - the Maritime region was a homeland for a distinctive group of people. Before the arrival of the first Europeans, the Micmac, who constituted a single linguistic and cultural entity, inhabited all of present-day peninsular Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, PEI and southern and eastern New Brunswick. Only in the upper Saint John River valley were the Maliseet, who spoke a somewhat different Algonquian dialect but had much in common with their Micmac neighbours.

With the coming of the French, especially in the early 17th century, the Micmac-Maliseet hegemony over the region was challenged.

From its beginnings in 1604 French Acadia gradually came into existence, a territory roughly encompassing that now covered by the Maritime provinces. Though made up largely of isolated settlements, Acadia was united by a common language, culture and economy.

By 1763 France was compelled to surrender its last remaining outpost in Acadia-Nova Scotia to the British. Thus, in 150 years, the region had passed from Micmac-Maliseet control to the French; then, after 1713, to the dual sovereignty of France and Britain; and finally, after 1763, to undisputed British control.

French Acadians being Deported.

French Acadians being deported.

The historical boundaries of Acadia included most of what is now Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island (then called le Royale), New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (then called le St-Jean). Under the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713, mainland Acadia was ceded to Britain. The treaty made provision for the resettlement of the Acadians, but, for a number of reasons, this never occurred.

In July 1755, the deportations began. The total Acadian population at the time was around 12,000 and it is estimated that as many as 10,000 were expelled. The British seized farms, goods, livestock and pillaged and ruined Acadian homesteads to ensure that they would not return. This continued until 1762.

Exile of the Acadians.

When the British won control of most French possessions in North America under the Treaty of Paris, 1763, French settlers on le Royale and le St-Jean were also expelled. While those on the islands were returned to France, however, the Acadians were sent to other British colonies along the eastern seaboard of North America. Many of those deported died in the process; perhaps 1000 managed to remain by hiding in the woods.

Britain eventually gave many Acadians permission to return, once the military threat had passed and they agreed to the oath of allegiance. As many as 3000 Acadians eventually returned, but their farms and homesteads had been claimed by British settlers. As a result, they were forced mainly into unsettled areas of what is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The largest number settled in eastern New Brunswick. They remain there to this day and represent a strong cultural force. Small numbers also settled on what is now Cape Breton (le Royale) and Prince Edward Island (le St-Jean).

Acadians, New Englanders, foreign Protestants from present-day Germany and Switzerland, English, Irish, Scots and a mixture of Loyalists provided Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (created in 1784 for the Loyalists) and PEI with their unique ethnic composition.

Mines Basin and Land of the Acadians.
Canada. 1885.

Mines Basin and Land of the Acadians. Canada. 1885.

At Confederation in 1867, the Maritime provinces had little in common with Canada. The region's development had been radically different, and furthermore a Maritime distinctiveness had been significantly influenced by the interplay of 3 major forces: those of the Atlantic, New England and Britain.

It may be that the Maritime provinces have never fully recovered psychologically from the traumatic experience of Confederation and the sudden end in the late 19th century of the golden age of "Wooden Ships and Iron Men." Before Confederation, many Maritimers believed that their region had unlimited economic potential.

November 29, 1887, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

Canadian Annexation.
The Maritime Provinces Elated Over the Purchase Proposition.

St. John (N.B.) November 28th. The maritime provinces have been set wild with excitement over the publication of Mr. Atkinson's proposed plan of the annexation of Eastern Canada by purchase. With few exceptions, the scheme is universally applauded. The Globe, the most influential paper in the Province, which heretofore has been very conservative, openly commends the idea. It says, editorially:

"lt would be better for the American and Canadian people, and it would not be to the disadvantage of Great Britain if all the English-speaking people on this continent were united in one great nation. The great objection to annexation is a purely sentimental one. There is a feeling that England might feel hurt by any expression or a desire on our part to exchange her flag for another, but an expression from her that she had no objection would add very largely to the number of people in the maritime provinces who now believe annexation is their ultimate destiny.

"If these provinces of themselves decide to enter the Ameiican Union and become self-governing States, Ontario and Quebec wculd have to follow. That these provinces might act of themselves is quite within the bounds of possibility, and if they did act of themselves and for themselves, Canada and Great Britain could not stop them any more than they can stop our people from removing into the United States."

March 16, 1890, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

He Predicts Disaster for the Whole Civilized World.

Ottawa, March, 15th. Professor E. Stone Wiggins, the Canadian weather sharp, predicts a violent storm, which, he says, will be felt all over the civilized world, and will reach Europe from the 17th to the 19th inst. It is to burst over this continent between the 21st and 22d inst., and volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are to take place in the South.

During the last two years, Wiggins says, there have been unusual planetary actions over the Northern Pacific Ocean, and in Japan and China. This powerful attraction has contracted those parts of the planet, causing earthquakes, valcanio eruptions and an overflow of the Yellow River, which swept over a large area and drowned thousands of people. The trouble is to originate in the Northern Pacific, and it will be most dangerous on the ocean on account of tidal waves.

The Wiggins storm will be very heavy in America. One part of it will move up the Mississippi Valley, and tbe northeast current will move over to Quebec to meet and welcome it. The gale will blow as heavily as its prophet has been wont to do, but from the southeast and east in the maritime provinces and the eastern United States.

April 5, 1890, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California

Bitter Opposition to the Proposed Increase in the Tariff.

Ottawa. April 4. ln the tariff debate in Parliament last night Mr. Ellis, the member from St. John, N.B. said that owing to the increased burdens the Government was placing on the people of the maritime provinces he did not think it worth while for New Brunswick to remain in the Confederation. Hon. Peter Mitchell received a telegram signed by all the lumber merchants in his county Northumberland, New Brunswick Liberals and Conservatives condemning additional taxation upon flour, beef, pork, hardware and clothing. In addition, dispatches from British Columbia stated that the newspapers of that province, regardless of political bias, condemn the tariff increases as unjust and oppressive.

April 15, 1899, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Following His Country's Example

The seat of political power in the dominion is also passing westward. The first parliament after the union contained ninety-nine members from east of the Ottawa river and eighty-two from west of that line. In the present house there are 104 members from the east and 109 from the west. The maritime provinces are losing population, Quebec is at a standstill, and the far western provinces are all gaining. Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican.

November 14, 1899, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

An Atlantic Storm

Halifax, N. S., Nov. 13. A heavy snow and rainstorm, accompanied by gales of wind, causing loss of life and damage to shipping, prevails in the maritime provinces and Newfoundland. A dispatch from Cape Hood, Cape Breton, says that a fishing boat was swamped off the northern entrance and that another boat is missing. It is possible that at least a dozen souls have perished.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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