Located on Canada’s east coast and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia is one of our favourite provinces to explore. It’s home to the booming city of Halifax, the beautiful scenery of Cape Breton Highlands, charming towns such as Lunenburg, and a thriving wine region in the Annapolis Valley. It’s also home to one of the best road trips in the world, some of the best whale watching in the country, some of the most beautiful seaside scenery you can find, and lots of interesting Nova Scotia facts.
While we’ve written many travel guides for Nova Scotia, this article is focused on the many cool, fun, and interesting Nova Scotia facts.
Fun Facts about Nova Scotia
With so many cool Nova Scotia facts, we’ve decided to break them down into different categories to make them easier to read. Let’s start with facts that represent the province.
- Nova Scotia is the second-smallest province in Canada in terms of total area with 52,942 square kilometers (20,441 square miles).
- However, Nova Scotia has 13,300 kilometres of coastline. No wonder they call it Canada’s Ocean Playground!
- In fact, no point in Nova Scotia is more than 60 km from the sea.
- As of 2019, the population of Nova Scotia was estimated to be close to one million people. It is the 7th most populous province in Canada.
- The name Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. Way back in 1621, King James I of England named the territory Nova Scotia, and granted the land to the Scottish colonizer Sir William Alexander.
- The flag of Nova Scotia is a simple figure-ground reversal of the flag of Scotland (a white saltire, Saint Andrew’s cross, on a blue field), charged with an inescutcheon bearing the royal arms of Scotland, a gold shield with a red lion rampant surrounded by a loyal double tressure (a double border decorated with fleurs de lis).
- The Nova Scotia tartan was designed by Bessie Murray back in 1953 for the agricultural exhibition in Truro and is comprised of 5 colours: blue and white for the sea, greens for the forests, red for the royal lion on the Arms of Nova Scotia, and gold for the province’s historic Royal Charter.
- Residents are called Nova Scotians and are often nicknamed Bluenosers, which according to retired Cape Breton University Professor Bill Davey, was first coined back in 1760s. This term likely refers to early Nova Scotian sailors who would be out in the cold weather and get a blue nose or from the early settlers who would eat a lot of blue potatoes and herring.
- Native Mi’kmaq lived and fished in Nova Scotia’s rich waters for at least 5,000 years before John Cabot became the first documented European to sail along Nova Scotia’s coast in 1497.
- However, French colonists established the first permanent European settlement in 1605 at Port Royal which became known as Acadia.
- The British followed and obtained control of the region between 1710 and 1758, establishing Halifax as the new capital in 1749.
- Nova Scotia was one of the founding four provinces to join Confederation with Canada in 1867.
- Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides. Twice a day, 160 billion tonnes of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy, creating one-of-a-kind adventures that literally can’t be had anyplace else on earth! We highly recommend going Tidal Bore Rafting if you’re in the area or visiting Hopewell Rocks, which is on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy! The Bay of Fundy is a bay on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the US state of Maine.
- With so much ocean, Nova Scotia is also home to 12 whale species, including the rare right whale, making it a great place to go whale watching. Summer and fall are the best times to go whale watching in Nova Scotia.
- 50,000 tonnes of lobster are hauled from Nova Scotia waters every year. Plucked straight from the sea year-round, Nova Scotia lobster is world famous and easily found in many restaurants across the province. For tourists, Nova Scotia has created the Lobster Trail, which showcases over 40 Nova Scotian restaurants serving up everything from traditional lobster dinners to lobster rolls, lobster poutine and even lobster pizza.
- It’s not just ocean though. The hills and low mountains ranges of Nova Scotia are all located within the Appalachian Mountains, a chain of eroded mountains that extend about 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) in length, from central Alabama in the US, through Canada’s maritime provinces.
- White Hill is the province’s highest point at 532 meters (1,745 feet) above sea level.
- The Margaree and Mira are the largest rivers on the island, but many smaller rivers and streams drain into Atlantic Ocean.
- The official flower of Nova Scotia is the trailing arbutus or mayflower (Epigaea repens L).
- Nova Scotia’s official bird is the Osprey, which is larger than a hawk but smaller than an eagle. This bird of prey primarily eats fish, and can often be seen flying over lakes, rivers, and even the sea.
- The official tree of Nova Scotia is the Red Spruce – able to survive in virtually any terrain and under every condition – it was chosen to represent the resilience and strength Nova Scotians.
- There are 23,000 kilometres of roads in Nova Scotia: This includes 100 series highways, secondary highways, local paved and gravel roads.
- With so much water, there are also 4,100 bridges that connect these roads together.
- Although Nova Scotia is one of the mildest provinces in Canada in terms of weather, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Nova Scotia was -41.1°C on January 31, 1920 in Upper Stewiacke. Stewiacke also holds the honour of being half way between the equator and north pole.
- Like the rest of Canada, our summers are as extreme as our winters. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Nova Scotia was 39.0°C, which occured on August 20, 2009 in Collegeville. Collegeville is located about 15km southwest of Antigonish.
- The most snow to fall in 24 hours was 101 cm in Yarmouth. White Juan was the name given to the nor’easter that blew in from the Atlantic paralyzing the majority of Atlantic Canada. It occurred between February 18 -19, 2004. Halifax and Dartmouth came in second with 95.5 cm of snow at the same time.
- Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless message from North America To Europe from Glace Bay, Cape Breton, on December 17th, 1902.. Marconi chose this location because of the unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean. Today, you can visit the Marconi Wireless Station National Historic Site in Glace Bay. This is not to be confused with Marconi’s other great achievement, which came on December 12, 1901, when he received a message sent from England at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
- One of the most iconic sailboats in the country is also from Nova Scotia. The Bluenose, which was built in Lunenburg and is featured on the Canadian Dime, became one of the most famous racing sailboats in history. After taking home her first Fishermen’s Trophy in October of 1921, the legend began. During the next 17 years, no challenger — American or Canadian — could take the trophy from Bluenose. She earned the title “Queen of the North Atlantic” and was well on her way to becoming a Canadian icon, symbolizing Nova Scotia’s prominence in the fishing and shipbuilding industries and representing Canada around the world. In 1933, Bluenose appeared at the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, and sailed to England’s Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. The majestic image of the Bluenose has adorned the Canadian dime since 1937 as well as three postage stamps and the Nova Scotia license plate.
- While the original Bluenose now lies at the bottom of the sea, Nova Scotia is still home to the Bluenose II, which is an exact replica of the famous sailboat. Funny enough, the replica was built by the Oland family in 1963 to promote their Schooner Lager beer. The Oland’s sold Bluenose II to the Province of Nova Scotia for $1 in 1971, which has now become the maritime ambassador for Nova Scotia. If you happen to visit Lunenburg when the boat is docked, they do offer tours!
- Chester, Nova Scotia is known as the Christmas Tree Capital of Canada
- Plenty of famous folks hail from Nova Scotia including Mega Award Winning Recording Artist Anne Murray, Hockey phenom Sidney Crosby, Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page, and Country Music Legend Hank Snow just to name a few.
Fun Facts about Tourism in Nova Scotia
Considering the importance of tourism, these Nova Scotia facts can make your next visit more interesting.
- Peggy’s Cove has one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.
- However, it’s not the only one. In fact, Nova Scotia has more than 150 lighthouses, more than any other province in Canada.
- Tourism has become one of Nova Scotia’s most important industries alongside fishing and shipbuilding.
- Nova Scotia is home to one of the best Canada road trips. The Cabot Trail, a 298-kilometre highway weaving through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, is known as one of the most scenic drives in the entire world. It features incredible jaw-dropping coastal views, stunning hikes, picturesque villages and towns, and is one of the best places to experience the Fall in Canada.
- Nova Scotia is also known for its wine and is the only place on earth that produces Tidal Bay wines. The province has a long and rich tradition of growing grapes for wine that dates back to the 1600s when this was one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America. The climate and soil conditions in Nova Scotia favour unique and distinctive grape varietals such as L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Lucie Kuhlmann, New York Muscat, and Baco Noir.
- Nova Scotia is also famous for its east coast music. Kitchen parties, ceilidhs (a celebration of song), live music venues and music festivals are all a part of the Nova Scotian experience. Their vibrant music scene includes traditional fiddles and reels but also rock concerts, eclectic small town music festivals, jazz and even a symphony serving up beer and Beethoven. We even got a taste of it while touring the Alexander Keith’s Brewery in Halifax.
- Nova Scotia is home to two national parks and more than 100 provincial parks.
Fun Facts About Halifax
When it comes to Nova Scotia facts, many of them can be tied to Halifax, the largest city in Atlantic Canada.
- Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia. It is a major international seaport and transportation centre as well as the economic and cultural hub of the region.
- This may seem odd but the offical snack of Halifax is the donair.
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport was an emergency landing site for the space shuttle. Also on the list was Shearwater Air Force Base near Halifax Harbour. However, the shuttle never did land here.
- One of the most popular sites to visit in Halifax is the historic Halifax Citadel. Overlooking downtown Halifax, this hilltop fortress is the remnant of a British garrison that was first established in the 18th-century. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, which itself was built in 1856, never saw a battle. However, the warren-like tunnels, powder magazine, and barracks have been preserved, and living-history guides give tours, making this one of the top tourist attractions in the city.
- The Halifax Public Gardens, another must-visit, are Victorian era public gardens formally established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. The gardens are located near the popular shopping district of Spring Garden Road and opposite Victoria Park. The gardens were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984.
- The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts including 70 small craft and a steamship: the CSS Acadia, a 180-foot steam-powered hydrographic survey ship launched in 1913. It can be found on the Halifax waterfront.
- Another wonderful museum along the Halifax waterfront is Pier 21. Almost one million immigrants passed through Pier 21 between 1928 and 1971.
- Despite its crude language, Trailer Park Boys, which was filmed near Halifax, became one of the most successful Canadian Television series of all time.
Want More Facts?
We hope you enjoyed these cool, fun, and interesting Nova Scotia facts. If you know of any other cool facts, please let us know in the comments or by sending us an email. In addition, we’ve written many other fun fact guides, which you can find below.