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Nova Scotia: The Province that has been Passed By
By Beckles Willson (1911)


I suppose Canadians of the First Immigration should he very well pleased to see their farm lands overrun by the mongrel hordes of Kurope who, we are told, are presently to assimilate the manners, institutions, and amenities which our British forefathers so slowly and painfully through the centuries established for us.

It is a magnificent spectacle the West is offering to the world—this great trek of a hundred thousand families a year—these cities arising in a single night, this flux and tumult, this noisy abandonment of effete conventions and ideals. Perhaps ir is all going to end, as the optimists tell us it will end, to the glory of the race—our race. But some of them do not deny a certain element of risk in the process. It is a big price we may have to pay. It is the price the Egyptians paid to the Semites; the Greeks paid to the Macedonians; the Romans paid to the Goths; the Persians paid to the Saracens; the Gauls paid to the Franks, and the Americans have paid to the Irish, Italians, and Poles. And always the price is—Character.

“When,” once wrote a distinguished American to me, “I think of the early nineteenth-century promise of New England, of its race of scholars and gentlemen, of its thousands of quiet God-fearing homes, and the contented industry of the countryside, I could wish that a great gulf had cut us off on the West and an impassable barrier had arisen on our Eastern sea-board.” But we are going to win through—We are going to assimilate these alien peoples. Our civilisation will suffer as our neighbours have suffered; our serenity will cloud for a time, and when the contents of the melting-pot have cooled the alloy may be a permanent part of our whole national being. But We shall not falter.

There is this to be said. The current gospel of altruism and greed will—nay, must—yield to other and higher notions of progress. Nor will this restless ethnological flux continue. We shall not always be touting for Slav and Hun and Celtic immigrants, and soon, tout as we may, they will not come. Europe will settle herself. Europe, in turn, will have her own “boom.” And, in the meanwhile, all CanaJa will not suffer alike, and the part which will longest retain its fundamental likeness to Britain, its moral unity with the people of the Mother land, is that province which is the subject of this book

It is not enough to say that I would rather live in Nova Scotia than in any other part of Canada. I do say that; and I show why in these pages I believe in Nova Scoria’s future, as I have long delighted in her past.

Nova Scotia has not been exempt from sacrifices. Great as the boon of Confederation doubtless was, and is, to the Provinces of the Dominion, it has been a small boon to Nova Scotia. She has had to play the part of Cinderella while her sisters went to the ball. But her comparative seclusion, added to her intelligence, her frugality, her gentle character, and far greater natural beauty, may commend her to the thousands of English and Scottish men and women who wish to migrate from the British island to the equally British peninsula on the other side of the ocean—the nearest to them of the provinces of Canada.

One is warned of the imprudence of hanging so thorny a bush at the door of one’s little shop, hut perhaps few will trouble to read this prefatory note.

Heartily, then, do I wish—for that we travel such dusty political highways nowadays, and in such sultry weather—I could promise good drinking within. Let me hope the wayfarer will be glad to lay hold of inferior vintage if only it help to quench his thirst.

Quebec House, Westerham,

March 1911


Chapter I. Canada’s “Front Door”
Chapter II. New Scotland’s Beginnings
Chapter III New Scotland’s Characteristic
Chapter IV. Halifax and the Haligonians
Chapter V. Windsor and “Sam Slick”
Chapter VI. Grand Park and Evangeline
Chapter VII. Annapolis Royal and Digby
Chapter VIII. Yarmouth and Shipbuilding
Chapter IX. Shelburne and the Loyalists
Chapter X. Bridgewater and Lunenburg
Chapter XI. On the Government’s Farm
Chapter XII. Pictou and New Glasgow
Chapter XIII. Cape Breton
Chapter XIV. The Sydneys
Chapter XV. Louisbourg
Chapter XVI. A New Inverness
Chapter XVII. Amherst

Return to our History of Nova Scotia Page

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