Waverley (2011 population: 2,468) is an suburban community located in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada. It has a rich history in gold mining.


Waverley was first settled by Charles Pillsbury Allen who established a chair factory in the area. Waverley was named after the Waverley novels by Sir Walter Scott. Allen’s original land purchase included about 700 acres (2.8 km2) of land in 1847 for the price of 50 pounds. Although there have been extensive renovations since it was first built, his original house still stands today at 2550 Rocky Lake Drive as “An Olde Manor House Bed and Breakfast” near the junction of Lakes Thomas and William. A nearby high school, Charles P. Allen High School in the neighbouring town of Bedford carries his name.

Allen’s son-in-law, Cornelius Blois, is often credited with discovering gold in Waverley. Two major gold mining periods ensued between 1861 through the early 20th century. Waverley became a boom town with highly skilled gold miners coming from Germany and England. Saloons, hotels, camp followers and the usual trappings of a gold town sprang up quickly, and there were even instances of murders and riots. A third attempt to restart the gold industry occurred years later in the 1930s, but it proved unprofitable and lasted only a few years. Other industries in Waverley have included millworking and forestry. It is also worthy of note that the Shubenacadie Canal system runs through Waverley, between Lake William and Lake Thomas.

Many street names in Waverley reflect families that have been long established in the area. From the early 1930s until the mid-1980s, there existed in Waverley near the bridge, a service station operated and owned by Warren H. Isnor (deceased), and was up until the mid-1980s, the oldest existing service station with the same owner, in the province.
Modern day and landmarks

Modern-day Waverley is mostly a bedroom community. Major landmarks included one elementary school, newly built in September 2010, a post office, the Waverley Manor retirement home, the Waverley Heritage Museum; which is housed in the former St. John’s Anglican church, Charles P. Allen House, and the Waverley Gold Mining Manager’s House, which now operates as “The Adelaide Respite Care”. There is a gravel quarry in the area, as well as the Nova Scotia Firefighters School. There is also the Cheema Aquatic Club; a canoe and kayak club which consistently produces high caliber National and Olympic Team athletes.

Gold Rush Days

Each Labour Day weekend, Waverley holds a celebration at a park known as “The Village Green” called ‘Gold Rush Days’, to commemorate its gold-mining history. Highlights include the Gold Rush Days Parade, karaoke, an arts and crafts show, fireworks, and the Miss Waverley Gold Rush contest.

Gold Rush Gus

The mascot of Gold Rush Days is a cartoon character resembling Yosemite Sam called “Gold Rush Gus”. Until the amalgamation of Waverley into the HRM in 1996, all fire apparatus of the Waverley Fire Department had a picture of him painted on the side. WFD vehicles also had the distinction of being the only ones in the local fire district at the time of being painted yellow; an homage to the village’s gold mining history. Presently only those vehicles remaining in service from per-amalgamation with their original yellow paint still carry Gus’ image.

Halifax Regional Search and Rescue

Waverley is the original home of Halifax Regional Search and Rescue. On September 3, 1998, the organization undertook the largest Mutual Aid Search operation in Nova Scotia’s history. With the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Search and Rescue was charged with primary responsibility for all ground operations including military operations and other ground SAR teams. On November 5, 1998, 64 days later, volunteers had contributed 48,780 hours with 3,141 person days. The current headquarters of HRSR is located at 116 Lakeview Rd in the nearby community of Lakeview just over 4 kilometers from their original location.


The Duke William


The Duke William  was a ship which served as a troop transport at the Siege of Louisbourg and as a deportation ship in the Île Saint-Jean Campaign of the Expulsion of the Acadians during the Seven Years’ War. While the Duke William was transporting Acadians from Île St Jean (Prince Edward Island) to France, the ship sank in the North Atlantic on December 13, 1758, with the loss of over 360 lives. The sinking was one of the greatest marine disasters in Canadian history.

Captain William Nichols of Norfolk, England, was the commander and co-owner of the Duke William when it sank. Nichols survived the sinking and received international attention when his journal recounting the tragic incident was published in popular print throughout the 19th century in England and America. Several years after the sinking of the Duke William, Nichols also received international attention when he was taken captive by American patriots during the American Revolution.

Noel Doiron (1684 – December 13, 1758) was one of over three hundred people aboard the Duke William who were deported from Île St. Jean. William Nichols described Noel as the “head prisoner” and the “father of the whole island”, a reference to Noel’s place of prominence among the Acadian residents of Île St. Jean. For his “noble resignation” and self-sacrifice aboard the Duke William, Noel was celebrated in popular print throughout the nineteenth century in England and America. Noel Doiron also is the namesake of the village of Noel in Hants County, Nova Scotia.

Jacques Girrard was a priest who also sailed on the fatal voyage. Girrard had been the parish priest for Noel Doiron and other Acadians who lived on Île St. Jean. He was one of the few who survived the sinking of the Duke William.

Louisbourg fell to the British on July 26, 1758 and within two weeks a deportation order was issued for the Acadians of Île St. Jean (Prince Edward Island). The English authorities had given up on their earlier attempts to assimilate the Acadians into the thirteen colonies and now wanted them returned directly to France.

On October 20, 1758, the Duke William left Île St. Jean for France with over 360 Acadians on board. The ship sailed in a convoy with nine other vessels, two of which were the Violet (with over 280 Acadians) and the Ruby (with approximately 310 Acadians). The ship sailed through the Canso Strait and moored off Canso, Nova Scotia, for almost a month because of foul weather. During the time in Canso, the Acadians helped the ship narrowly escape a raid by the Mi’kmaq.

On November 25, the Duke William sailed out of the bay of Canso. On the third day at sea there was a storm and the Duke William became separated from the other two ships. The Ruby ran aground in a storm on the island of Pico in the Azores, which caused the death of 213 of the Acadians on board.

Almost two weeks after the ships were separated, late in the day on December 10, the Duke William re-encountered the Violet. The Violet was sinking; during the night the Duke William sprung a leak and the Acadians assisted at the pumps. In the morning on December 11, after a brief squall, the Violet sank with all the Acadians on board.

The Acadians and crew on the Duke William tried for three days to pump the water from her. Captain Nichols recorded: “We continued in this dismal situation three days; the ship, notwithstanding our endeavours, full of water, and expected to sink every minute.” Captain Nichols reports that he gave up and announced to the Acadians and crew: “I told them we must be content with our fate; and as we sure certain we had done our duty, we should submit to Providence, to the Almighty will, with pious resignation.”

Despite this resignation, Captain Nichols dispatched both the long boat and cutter that were on board so that they might approach any passing vessels. On the morning of December 13, two English vessels were within sight of the Duke William. Captain Nichols records: “I went and acquainted the priest [Girard] and the old gentleman [Noel Doiron] with the good news. The old man took me in his aged arms, and cried for joy.” The ships did not stop. During the possible rescue, the Duke William almost got separated from the long boat and the cutter. As the long boat and cutter returned, a Danish ship appeared in the distance. Again those aboard thought they were saved, but the Danish ship, like those before, sailed away from them.
Noel Doiron’s decision

Ship’s boats in the 18th century were designed for work, not lifesaving.[8] Intended to load cargo and supplies as well as shuttle people ashore, the three small boats aboard Duke William could hold only a handful of those aboard.

Captain Nichols then recorded Noel Doiron’s decision:

About half an hour after, the old gentleman [Noel Doiron] came to me, crying; he took me in his arms, and said he came with the voice of the whole people, to desire that I and my men would endeavour to save our lives, in our boats; and as they could not carry them, they would on no consideration be the means of drowning us. They were well convinced, by all our behaviour, that we had done everything in our power for their preservation, but that God Almighty had ordained them to be drowned, and they hoped that we should be able to get safe ashore.

I must acknowledge that such gratitude, for having done only our duty, in endeavouring to save their lives as well as our own, astonished me. I replied that there were no hopes of life, and, as we had all embarked in the same unhappy voyage, we would all take the same chance. I thought we ought to share the same fate. He said that should not be; and if I did not acquaint my people with their offer, I should have their lives to answer for.

The two boats on board were lowered into the English channel carrying only the Captain, his crew, and the parish priest Girrard. Upon lowering the life boats, Noel Doiron sharply reprimanded a fellow Acadian Jean-Pierre LeBlanc for trying to board a lifeboat while abandoning his wife and children. As Priest Girrard got in the lifeboat he saluted Noel Doiron. After Captain Nichols could no longer see the ship, four Acadians got into a third boat and arrived safely in Falmouth, England.

The Duke William sank about 20 leagues (97 km; 52 nmi) from the coast of France shortly after 4:00 p.m. on December 13, 1758. Noel Doiron, his wife, Marie, five of their children with their spouses and over thirty grandchildren were lost – 120 family members in total.
Acadian Remembrance Day

The Federation des Associations de Familles Acadiennnes of New Brunswick and the Société Saint-Thomas d’Aquin of Prince Edward Island has resolved that December 13 each year shall be commemorated as “Acadian Remembrance Day” to commemorate the sinking of the Duke William and the nearly 2,000 Acadians deported from Ile-Saint-Jean who perished in the North Atlantic from hunger, disease and drowning. The event has been commemorated annually since 2004 and participants mark the event by wearing a black star.

Bedford Magazine Explosion


Halifax, having been previously devastated by the Halifax Explosion, had emergency plans in place for such an incident, leading to an orderly and widespread evacuation of Halifax’s northern half. The damage resulting from this incident was far less than that of the Halifax Explosion, however the blasts shattered windows, crumpled roofs, and cracked structures. Very few injuries were reported, with none severe. Patrolman Henry Raymond Craig, a naval seaman on watch that night, was the lone casualty, having rushed to the pier upon noticing a fire, just prior to the initial barge explosion.

The community was still resentful towards the navy for the VE-Day Riots, however the efforts of voluntary firefighting by naval personnel at the ammunition depot helped to alleviate these lingering feelings.

The barge responsible for starting the explosion presently lies on the seabed near the eastern shoreline adjacent to the CFAD Bedford magazine dock.

Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour

Port Royal Nova Scotia
Port Royal Nova Scotia

Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, the French King’s appointed Governor of Acadia from 1631–1642 and again from 1653–1657, was born in France in 1593 and died at Cap de Sable (present-day Port La Tour, Nova Scotia) in 1666. The communities of Port La Tour, Nova Scotia and Upper Port La Tour, Nova Scotia are named after Charles La Tour.

Early history

In 1610, at the age of 17, Charles arrived at Port-Royal in Acadia with his father, Claude de Saint-Étienne de la Tour, in an expedition that was led by Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt who had been one of the original settlers in 1604 at Saint Croix and 1605 at Port-Royal. The habitation had been previously abandoned in 1607 by Biencourt de Poutrincourt and others due to financial troubles. The 1610 expedition also included Poutrincourt’s 19-year-old son Charles de Biencourt de Saint-Just, and a Catholic priest who set about himself the task of baptizing the local Mi’kmaqs, including their chief Membertou.

Battle of Port Royal (1613)

In 1613, the settlement, or habitation, at Port Royal was attacked by colonists from Virginia led by Captain Samuel Argall. Several settlers were killed, others taken prisoner and the fort and goods were destroyed. Poutrincourt who had wintered in France to gather supplies returned to Port Royal the next spring. He was forced to return to France with the surviving settlers. The young Biencourt and Charles de la Tour remained, living amongst the Mi’kmaq, engaging in the fur industry. At this time, la Tour migrated from Port Royal to establish himself at both Cap de Sable (present-day Port La Tour, Nova Scotia) and Saint John, New Brunswick.

Battle of Castine (1626)

In 1625, Charles married an Abenaki Indian, from one of the local First Nations’ tribes and the family built a trading fort at the mouth of the Penobscot River in present-day Castine, Maine. In 1626, the fort was attacked and destroyed by New England colonists. Charles returned to Port-Royal.

In 1631, Charles had become governor of Acadia and moved to the mouth of the Saint John River in present-day Saint John, New Brunswick where he built a new fort. In 1635, he was formally granted a seignory.

Historian M. A. MacDonald writes about La Tour’s possession at the mouth of this river:

Down this river highway came fleets of canoes, bringing the richest fur harvest in all Acadia to Charles La Tour’s storehouses: three thousand moose skins a year, uncounted beaver and otter. On this tongue of land his habitation stood, yellow-roofed, log-palisaded, its cannon commanding the river and bay. (p. 183)

In 1632, Isaac de Razilly the new Lieutenant-general of all New France and governor of Acadia, arrived in Port-Royal, sent by his cousin Cardinal Richelieu. La Tour and Razilly agreed to divide control of Acadia, the latter controlling the south-western corner of Nova Scotia and the territory along the Saint John River]]. Razilly died in 1636, and his successor, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, began a series of violent and costly confrontations.

During these confrontations, La Tour was accused of treason and crimes against Acadia.

Acadian Civil War

Battle of Port Royal (1643)

In the Spring of 1643, La Tour led a party of English mercenaries against the Acadian colony at Port Royal. His 270 Puritan and Huguenot troops killed three, burned a mill, slaughtered cattle and seized 18,000 livres of furs.

Battle of St. John (1645)

D’Aulnay was able to retaliate in 1645 by seizing all of La Tour’s possessions and outposts, especially Fort La Tour at Saint John and Cape Sable. In the Battle of St. John (1645), La Tour’s second wife, Marie Jacquelin La Tour, defended the fort for three days. On April 17, despite losing thirty-three men, d’Aulnay took control of the fort. La Tour’s men were sent to the gallows. Madame La Tour was taken prisoner and died three weeks later. Meanwhile, La Tour was in the English port city of Boston, drumming up more support for his cause. Nicolas Denys’ letters and journals give vivid descriptions of the drama.

In 1645, while La Tour was in Boston seeking reinforcements, d’Aulnay attacked Fort La Tour. La Tour sought refuge at the Chateau Saint-Louis in Quebec City. D’Aulnay became governor-general and seigneur of Acadia.

In 1650, d’Aulnay died when his canoe capsized. His widow, Jeanne Motin was heavily in debt. La Tour, hearing of the death of d’Aulnay, returned to France and was rehabilitated, going on to become governor of Acadia once again.

On February 24, 1653, Charles La Tour married a third time, to Jeanne Motin, the widow of his former enemy, d’Aulnay. La Tour died at Cap de Sable (present-day Port La Tour, Nova Scotia) in 1666.

Sébastien Rale

Death of Sebastien Rale, French Jesuit missionary in America, 1724 (c1880).
Death of Sebastien Rale, French Jesuit missionary in America, 1724 (c1880).

Sébastien (or Sebastian) Rale (or Râle, Rasle, Rasles) (January 20, 1657 – August 23, 1724) was a Jesuit missionary and lexicographer who worked among the eastern Wabanaki people. He was stationed on the border of Acadia and New England and helped protect the border of Acadia by encouraging raids upon the British settlements in present-day Maine. He fought throughout King William’s War and Queen Anne’s War, eventually being killed by the British during Father Rale’s War.

Early years

Born in Pontarlier, France, Sébastien Rale studied in Dijon. In 1675 he joined the Society of Jesus at Dole and taught Greek and rhetoric at Nîmes. He volunteered for the American missions and came to the New World in a party led by Governor-general Frontenac of New France in 1689. His first missionary work was at an Wabanaki village Saint Francois, near Quebec. (Upon the eventual defeat of Rale and the Wabanaki at Norridgewock, Maine, the Wabanaki retreated to St. Francois). He then spent two years ministering to the Illinois Indians at Kaskaskia. The former teacher of Greek would learn and speak the Wabanaki language, and in 1691 began compiling an Wabanaki-French dictionary.

King William’s War

In 1694 Râle was sent to direct the Wabanaki mission at Norridgewock (now in Maine) on the Kennebec River. (He had been preceded in the area by other priests, the first in 1646. Râle made his headquarters at Norridgewock, where in 1698 he built a church.

The New England colonists regarded with suspicion the arrival of a Catholic French missionary in the midst of a tribe for the most part hostile to the English. They presumed that the Frenchman would do his best to stoke this hostility. Hence the attacks perpetrated on the eastern frontier of New England during Râle’s long residence amongst the Abenaki were for the most part attributed, either directly or indirectly, to him.

Queen Anne’s War

When Queen Anne’s War broke out, with New France and New England again fighting to control the region, Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley arranged a conference with tribal representatives at Casco Bay in 1703 to propose that they remain neutral. However, in August, a party of the Norridgewock tribe joined a larger force of French and Indians, commanded by Alexandre Leneuf de Beaubassin, to attack Wells in the Northeast Coast Campaign. While the English suspected Father Rale of inciting the tribe against them, the French minister, Pontchartrain, wrote to the Jesuit superior Pierre de La Chasse to have Father Rale recalled, as he was suspected of being lukewarm about the war.

Governor Dudley put a price on his head. In the winter of 1705, 275 British soldiers under the command of Colonel Winthrop Hilton were dispatched to seize Rale and sack the village. Warned in time, the priest escaped into the woods with his papers, but the militia burned the village and church.

By 1710, however, Rale had returned to the mission whose members called him “Black Robe.” The Jesuit’s instruction of the tribe in Catholicism was accomplished, and Mass was celebrated in the Abenaki tongue each morning and Vespers each evening. Rale wrote to his nephew that:

“…as it is needful to control the imagination of the savages, too easily distracted, I pass few working days without making them a short exhortation for the purpose of inspiring a horror of the vices to which their tendency is strongest, and for strengthening them in the practice of some virtue.

My advice always shapes their resolutions.”

Rale also succeeded in attaching the tribe to the New France cause. Combined with years of rough treatment by British border settlers who acted as if Indians were “vicious and dangerous wild animals”, the French induced in the tribe a deep distrust of English intentions, despite Abenaki dependence on English trading posts to exchange furs for other necessities.

Treaty of Utrecht

The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht brought some peace, and at the Treaty of Portsmouth, the Indians ostensibly swore allegiance to Britain. But historian Francis Parkman observes that they would not have known what a promise of subjection to England meant. Meanwhile, the boundary between New France and New England remained contested. England claimed all lands extending to the St. George River, but most Abenaki inhabiting them were sympathetic to the French, and through their missionaries, to the Catholic Church. In August 1717, Governor Samuel Shute met with tribal representatives of Norridgewock and other Abenaki bands in Georgetown on a coastal island, warning that cooperation with the French would bring them “utter ruin and destruction”. Nevertheless, in 1720 Governor-general of New France Vaudreuil writes that:

“Father Rale continues to incite Indians of the mission at [Norridgewock] not to allow the English to spread over their lands.”

Braves began to kill cattle, burn haystacks and otherwise harass English settlers below them on the Kennebec. But upon the death of Chief Taxous, his successor Wissememet advocated peace with the English, offering beaver skins as reparation for past damages, and four hostages to guarantee none in the future. Rale was chagrined at the offer of peace, even dismissing the new chief as a “cipher”. He declared that:

“Any treaty with the governor… is null and void if I do not approve it, for I give them so many reasons against it that they absolutely condemn what they have done.”

He wrote to Vaudreuil for reinforcements. An infusion of 250 Abenaki warriors from near Quebec, reliably hostile to the English, arrived at Norridgewock to stiffen its resolve. It worked. On July 28, 1721, over 250 Indians in warpaint, and flying French colours from a flotilla of 90 canoes, landed at Georgetown. With them were Rale and the Superior of the Missions, Pierre de la Chasse. They delivered a letter, forwarded to Shute, which demanded the return of the hostages, and withdrawal of all English settlers from Abenaki lands—or the houses would be burned and their occupants slain, together with their livestock. A reply, it read, was expected within two months. The English immediately ceased selling gunpowder, ammunition and food to the Abenaki. Then in January 1722, while most of the tribe was away hunting, 300 soldiers under the command of Colonel Thomas Westbrook surrounded Norridgewock to capture Rale, but he was forewarned and escaped into the forest. Found among the priest’s possessions, however, was his strongbox with a hidden compartment containing letters implicating Rale as an agent of the French government, promising Indians enough ammunition to drive the English from their settlements. Also inside was his three-volume Abenaki-French dictionary, which was presented to the library at Harvard College.

Father Rale’s War

During Father Rale’s War, as revenge for the raid on Norridgewock, the tribe and its auxiliaries on June 13, 1722 burned Brunswick at the mouth of the Kennebec, taking hostages to exchange for those held in Boston. Consequently, on July 25 Shute declared war on the eastern Indians. But on January 1, 1723, Shute abruptly departed for London. He had grown disgusted with the intransigent Assembly (which controlled funding) as it squabbled with the Governor’s Council over which body should conduct the war. Lieutenant-governor William Dummer assumed management of the government. Further Abenaki incursions persuaded the Assembly to act in what would be called Dummer’s War.

Battle of Norridgewock

In August 1724, a force of 208 soldiers (which would split into 2 units under the commands of captains Johnson Harmon and Jeremiah Moulton) left Fort Richmond (now Richmond, Maine) in 17 whaleboats up the Kennebec.[4] At Taconic Falls (now Winslow), 40 men were left to guard the boats as the troops continued on foot. On August 23, 1724 (N. S.), the expedition came upon the village of Norridgewock unexpectedly. Many of the Indians were routed, leaving 26 warriors dead and 14 wounded. Among the casualties was Sébastien Rale. Harmon’s son-in-law, Lt. Jacques, scalped Fr. Rale.

Rale’s body was mutilated, and his scalp redeemed in Boston with those of the other dead. The Boston authorities gave a reward for the scalps, and Harmon was promoted. Thereafter, the French and Indians claimed that the missionary died “a martyr” at the foot of a large cross set in the central square, drawing the soldiers’ attention to himself to save his parishioners. The English militia claimed that he was “a bloody incendiary” shot in a cabin while reloading his flintlock. A Mohawk named Christian, who accompanied the troops, slipped back after they had departed and set the village and church ablaze.

The 150 Abenaki survivors returned to bury the fallen before abandoning Norridgewock for Canada. Rale was interred beneath the altar at which he had ministered his converts. In 1833, Bishop Fenwick dedicated an 11 foot tall obelisk monument, erected by subscription, over his grave at what is today St. Sebastian’s Cemetery at Old Point in Madison.

Rale remains a polarizing figure. Francis Parkman described him as:

“…fearless, resolute, enduring; boastful, sarcastic, often bitter and irritating; a vehement partisan; apt to see things not as they are, but as he wished them to be; given to inaccuracy and exaggeration, yet no doubt sincere in his opinions and genuine in zeal; hating the English more than he loved the Indians; calling himself their friend, yet using them as instruments of worldly policy, to their danger and final ruin. In considering the ascription of martyrdom, it is to be remembered that he did not die because he was an apostle of the faith, but because he was an active agent of the Canadian government.”

On the other hand, historian W. J. Eccles says that since 1945 Canadian historians have discarded Parkman’s view of the history of New France, as characterized by “prejudice in favor of Anglo-American values, institutions, myths, and aspirations,” and corresponding denigration of Catholic, French, and Native American elements.



LaHave, once the capital of Acadia/ Nova Scotia, is located across the river from Riverport and approximately 15 kilometres from the town of Bridgewater. It is now a small scenic village located on Highway 331 at the mouth of the 97 km long LaHave River in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.

Mi’kmaq Settlement and French colony

La Have was an important centre for the Mi’kmaq people, who traded with Europeans. Messamouet, a well-known sakmow, or Chief, of the Mi’kmaq Nation, is reported to have been from the La Have area.

Samuel de Champlain called there in 1604 on his first trip to Acadia. Henry Hudson made landfall there in 1609 on his voyage on behalf of the Dutch East India company. Despite being shown hospitality by the Mi’kmaq, Hudson’s crew staged an unprovoked assault on the Mi’kmaq settlement. As a result, the Mi’kmaq staged a raid on the next Dutch ship to visit in 1611.

LaHave was the capital of Acadia from 1632, when Isaac de Razilly settled on a point of land at the mouth of the LaHave River, until his sudden death in 1636. Razilly established a colony of 300 and built Fort Ste. Marie de Grace. Razilly reported that the fort was capable of standing against all enemy action, and that he had the military supplies necessary to withstand a six-month siege. There was also a chapel, a store and houses for the workmen in the village. Within twelve months of Razilly’s arrival, La Have was a thriving trading post, the centre for a small farming community in the area, and a major port of call for the large fishing fleet. At one point there were five hundred transient fishermen in the settlement. Upon de Razilly’s death, the new Governor Charles de Menou d’Aulnay moved the Acadians from LaHave to Port Royal, Nova Scotia, which had been given up by the Scottish also in 1632 . His wife Jeanne Motin, “daughter of Louis Motin, Sieur de Courcelles, who in addition to owning shares in the Razilly-Condonnier Company, was the controller of salt stores located at one of France’s colonies, perhaps in the Caribbean”, was of great strategic value in the subsequent struggle with La Tour. Ironically, she became Lady La Tour in 1653 after d’Aulnay’s death and La Tour’s triumphant return with Letters Patent as governor of Acadia. Nicholas Denys and his brother Simon, who had come over with de Razilly, in 1632, set up a “wood working plant” near present day Riverport, Nova Scotia and a fishing station at Port Rossignol (now Liverpool, Nova Scotia). They stayed neutral in the war between d’Aulnay (at Port Royal) and La Tour (at Fort La Tour on the Saint John River).

In 1652, LaHave was still a trading post and was raided by Emmanuel Le Borgne.

During Queen Anne’s War, New Englanders raided the community taking 3 Acadians prisoner (1705).

During King Georges War, two French officers, in a letter from Quebec, reported to the Comté de Maurepas that “the English do not dry any fish on the east coast of Acadia since the war, through fear of being surprised there and killed by the Micmacs.” This fear was well founded as these same officers also advised “… a boat belonging to an English merchantman having landed at La Hève for wood and water, these Indians killed 7 of the crew and brought their scalps to Sieur Marin,…”.

The site of Fort Sainte-Marie de Grace was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1924.

Ship building

It was, at one time, the economic centre of fishing, trade and shipbuilding for the surrounding area. The many vessels built in the area include a famous clipper, the barque Stag.

In 1874 LaHave Light Station was built and assisted ships navigating into the LaHave River until the 1950s, when a new lightkeeper’s house was built to replace the aging light station. The light was decommissioned in the 1960s and replaced by a mechanical light on the opposite side of the river. In 1969, the Lunenburg County Historical Society was established to manage this historic site and turned the vacant lightkeeper’s house into a community museum and gift shop. In 2006, the society completed a Renaissance Project, which included the construction and attachment of a new building resembling the original 1874 LaHave Light Station, to the lightkeeper’s house. The new museum is heated and cooled by a geothermal system, one of the first museums in Canada to utilize this technology. The Museum hosts many community events during the year, including the Acadian Mi’kmaq Festival, the LaHave River Folk Festival and a wide range of artistic exhibits.

Lahave River cable ferry

Since the late 19th century, LaHave has been connected to East LaHave, located on the opposite side of the LaHave river, via a cable ferry.

Today LaHave is home to a 14 car cable ferry that crosses the LaHave River from LaHave to East LaHave. The Ferry is Operated by The Province of Nova Scotia and costs $5.50 for a one-way ticket. The trip lasts about five minutes one way.

On Friday, January 3, 2014, the Ferry broke free from its cable and drifted towards the open ocean, running aground at Oxners Beach.


A volunteer LaHave and District Fire Department provides fire and first responder service to LaHave and the surrounding areas. A federal post office, Saint James Anglican Church and LaHave Seafoods are all located in LaHave.

A longstanding turn of the 20th century riverside chandlery landmark, has in recent years become the LaHave Bakery, which operates as a year-round bakery and cafe. The bakery houses a Craft Co-Op during the summer, where local artists sell their crafts. It is also home to a small custom manufacturer, Homegrown Skateboards.

Further down Highway 331, one will find Crescent Beach, a 2 kilometer long beach (only beach in NS that allows you to drive your car on the sand the length of the beach as if it were a road), the LaHave Islands and Risser’s Beach Provincial Park.

The LaHave Islands Marine Museum (c. 1913), located on the LaHave Islands, is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

CSS Tallahassee


The CSS Tallahassee was a twin-screw steamer and cruiser in the Confederate States Navy, purchased in 1864, and used for commerce raiding off the Atlantic coast.


The iron Confederate cruiser Tallahassee was named after the Confederate state capital of Tallahassee in Florida and was built on the River Thames by J & W Dudgeon of Cubitt Town, London for London, Chatham & Dover Rly. Co. to the design of Capt. T. E. Symonds, Royal Navy, ostensibly for the Chinese opium trade. She was previously the blockade runner Atalanta and made the Dover-Calais crossing in 77 minutes on an even keel. She had made several blockade runs between Bermuda and Wilmington, N.C. before the Confederates bought her.

After the Tallahassee was commissioned and prepared for sea she was placed under Commander John Taylor Wood, CSN. Wood was a grandson of President Zachary Taylor and a nephew of Jefferson Davis, who at the time was President of the Confederate States of America. The officers and crew were all volunteers from the Confederate gunboats on the James River and North Carolina waters.

The Tallahassee went through the blockade on August 6, 1864 from her home port of Wilmington, North Carolina. Her first day out, four cruisers chased the Tallahassee without incident.

She made a spectacular 19-day raid off the Atlantic coast as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Tallahassee destroyed 26 vessels and captured 7 others that were bonded or released. Wood sailed the Tallahassee into Halifax Harbour on August 18 to take on bunker coal and water. Neutrality laws limited her stay in Halifax to 24 hours. Tallahassee was granted an extra 12 hours to fix a broken mast but was only allowed to load enough coal to take her to the nearest Confederate port. Two Federal war ships, the USS Nansemond and USS Huron, had chased her north and were believed to be waiting for the Tallahassee at the harbour entrance. Wood hired a legendary Halifax pilot John “Jock” Flemming, who is believed to have guided the warship through the narrow and shallow Eastern Passage between Dartmouth and Lawlor Island, a route only suited for small fishing vessels. Tallahassee succeeded in negotiating the passage out of the harbour, although no Northern warships were in fact waiting. The first Northern warship, the gunboat USS Pontoosuc, arrived at the harbour entrance several hours after the Confederate cruiser departed.

Being unable to procure enough coal to continue, Wood was forced to return to Wilmington where he arrived safely on August 26.