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Research: Nova Scotia Ancestors
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Nova Scotia, first settled in 1604 (although it did not remain), has some of the oldest history in what is now Canada. Its early history reflected the ongoing conflicts between France and England, resulting in an era of New France and ultimately, becoming part of British colonial territory that included the thirteen colonies in what became the United States. By the official end of the American Revolution in 1783, Acadia, as it was then known, was redrawn with the state of Maine becoming part of the new US Republic.

Connections with New England, or what Nova Scotians called “the Boston states,” remained close through family on both sides of the border. Indeed, some of the United Empire Loyalists who sought refuge in Nova Scotia returned years later to rejoin parts of their family who remained across the border. The easy trip by schooner between Halifax and Boston or New York was more feasible than overland travel to other parts of Canada. In later years, as economic difficulties in Nova Scotia led to crossing the border for work opportunities, connections increased as half of a family might be living in Boston. Many went to work only and families remained in Nova Scotia. In family history research in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it is not uncommon to find people on a US Census in 1880 and a Canadian Census in 1891. Back and forth migration was a strategy for some families. Ultimately, Nova Scotians who remained in New England married, had children, moved across the United States and lost their connections with family back home.

Many people in other parts of Canada and in the United States have an ancestor who resided in Nova Scotia for five years or several generations. For this reason, the course will focus on distance research although resources available only on-site at archives or local history museums will also be explored.

Course Content

Module 1

Introduction to Nova Scotia Research
Overview of Nova Scotia History & Its People

General Sources of Genealogical Information
  • Birth, Marriage and Deaths
  • Civil Registration
  • Religious Records
  • Cemeteries
  • Probate
  • Census Records
  • Poll Taxes and Assessments
  • Land
  • Immigration
  • Military Records

    Geography and Administrative Constructs
    Recommended Resources


    Module 2

    Aboriginal Peoples - The Mi’kmaq
    The Mi’kmaq
  • Vital Statistics

    The Acadians

    Module 3

    British Colonial Era
    New England Planters
    Tracing a Planter from Horton Township
    United Empire Loyalists
    The Hessians
    Recommended Resources

    Module 4

    The Celtic People - Scots & Irish
    The Scots
    The Irish

    Module 5

    Settlement by the English
    The English

    British Home Children
  • Searching for Alice

    Industrial Cape Breton
    Halifax and Area
    Out-migration or Moving On

    Module 6

    Research Strategies
    Developing a Research Strategy
    Nova Scotia Research
    Distant Cousins - A Case Study
    A Research Trip to Nova Scotia

    Social Media
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


    Recommended Resources
  • Local Genealogy Societies/Museums/Archives
  • Facebook Groups & Pages


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