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Acadie, the home of the happy.”—LONGFELLOW.
“No one who has not witnessed it can imagine the bitterness of party feeling in this colony, or the virulence of the language in which it is expressed.”—THE GOVERNOR OF NOVA SCOTIA.
This little province is one of the most recent acquisitions of Britain, though her claims upon it date from an early period. The peninsular part, or mainland, was ceded to the British by France at the treaty of Utrecht in the year 1713; and the adjacent island of Cape Breton was acquired, along with Canada, at the close of the Seven Years' War, in 1763. Systematic colonization by the British was begun in 1749, when a body of emigrants from England settled at Chebucto, a fine harbour on the Atlantic coast, and gave the name of Halifax to the town they founded there, in honour of the Earl of Halifax, president of the Board of Trade and Plantations. The area of the peninsula is about 15,600 square miles, and that of Cape Breton 3000 square miles. In 1850 the population of
the former was 221,239; of the latter, 54,878; in all, 276,117.
Nova Scotia has a motley population; Scotch, English, and Irish emigrants; French, descendants of the old settlers; a few descended from American loyalists, who left the United States in 1783, when peace was established between Britain and her revolted colony; and some of German extraction. The latter are settled at Lunenburg, where German is still spoken; in Arichat, in Isle Madame, near Cape Breton, three languages may be heard, English, French, and Gaelic; and there are many from the Highlands of Scotland in Cape Breton Isle. The Roman Catholics are the largest religious body in the province, numbering about 70,000. The Church of Scotland in this province was a large and influential body, till broken up by the great feud about patronage, which caused the disruption of the established Church of Scotland in 1843, and spread, with no less bitterness and violence, to the Colonies, where there was no patronage. The Baptists are about 42,000, the Church of England a little less than 40,000. There are also about 24,000 Methodists, 28,000 Antiburgers, and a few Congregationalists, Lutherans, and Universalists. Grand Pré (now Horton) on the Basin of Minas, or Bay of Fundy
coast, was the scene, in 1755, of a sad and celebrated event—the expulsion of numbers of the French Acadians from the country. They were suspected of assisting the French in their contests with the British in America, then commencing, and were forcibly torn from their homes, to the number of several thousands, and dispersed through the other British colonies, families being in some cases separated, never to meet again. This has been taken as the foundation of Longfellow's beautiful tale, “Evangeline."
“ Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers,
too late, saw their children
THE CLIMATE of Halifax, and indeed of the whole of the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, is very peculiar, one of the most singular, I should suppose, on the face of the globe. In England, we are accustomed to regard our climate as extremely fickle; but the changes here are perfect constancy compared with those on the east side of Nova Scotia. We might expect it to be so on considering the geographical position of this little peninsula. It is in the very debateable land of climate, where a variety of opposing forces meet; now one prevails, now another
overcomes it, to be soon overthrown in its turn. In that region, the battle of the climatic influences is continually raging, and if any one wishes to set up as an oracle on the much vexed question of the weather, let him confine him. self to the prediction, that “we shall have a change soon.” Nova Scotia lies on the parallel 45 deg. N. lat., midway between the Equator and the North Pole, and thus is on the very battle ground between tropical and polar influences; it is on the margin of a great continent, characterized by severe cold during the great part of the year, and considerable heat during the remainder, and it borders a vast ocean, temperate during all the year; it receives some of the genial influence of the great gulf-stream, which passes it at a short distance, while it is chilled by the Arctic currents which skirt the coast in their southern course, and by the large body of ice so long pent up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Where so many hostile powers encounter one another, there must be a turmoil.
During four months, December to March both inclusive, the weather is almost continually oscillating between severe frost and thaw. For a great part of that time, besides minor changes, there is a decided change from
frost to thaw, or the reverse, about every three days on an average, one kind of weather seldom continuing above a week, while, occasionally, there are three or four changes in that time. I have sometimes seen the thermometer at about 15 deg. below zero, between seven and eight in the morning, and, in a day or two, at 50 deg. in the shade about noon. Heavy snows fall at times; soon there is a warm wind from the south, the streets of Halifax are one mass of slush, and it is hard and disagreeable work to go but a short way along them. At other times, when the snow has lain a little, the surface, melted slightly during the day, is frozen at night, and the streets are a smooth field of ice; when in this state, not unfrequently, wind and rain supervene; the streets being steep, the ice and rain giving a very slippery basis, and the wind blowing one about at its pleasure over this unstable bottom, it is quite a feat to get home at all; to arrive without a few falls is a great performance. Many wear creepers, with little spikes, on their feet. Notwithstanding these frequent and violent changes, there is reason to believe that Halifax is a very healthy place. The inhabitants do not concern themselves with statistics, but the military find it a healthy station.