A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #2: Settlement, Revolution & War. TOC
Part 1, "Pre-Revolutionary Settlement" TOC
Ch. 1 - Introduction

It is London, February 9th, 1760. There are a half dozen English military officers arriving at the steps of a stately building. Their earnestness is reflected in their faces and in their walk as they mount the steps and enter into the halls of government. It is war time.

(The triumphant news of the fall of Quebec was now a few months old. Of the seven years it was to last, the war had three more years yet to run, though, in America, the fighting was just about over. For 1760, what remained was for the English forces to mop up. Remembering that France was a cagey adversary, Great Britain wanted to take steps in America which would secure its new possession of Canada and prevent France from getting a foothold in the future.)

After picking up escorts at various points along the corridors, the growing group were to come to a set of large wooden doors crowned with carved escutcheons. The group came to a halt; knocks were made; words were heard; a measured amount of timed passed; then, a large impressive room came into view as the doors swung wide. A few of the officers entered, then stopped. The vast chamber was sparsely furnished; rugs were on the walls; and chairs, seemingly not meant to be sat upon, were here and there at the perimeter of the room. At the center, a large table around which were another half dozen men, not looking so military as did the guests, bewigged, some with eyeglasses pinching there noses. On the table were an assortment of maps, charts and reports. At the center, overlying all, was a parchment upon which the group was focusing. One of the gentlemen at the center had a plume in hand and was being directed by at least two of the others as to just where his signature was to be placed. Upon the mute signal from certain of those at the table two individuals of the visiting group came forward, expectantly. The parchment having been briefly studied and carefully blotted by those at the center was expertly rolled by another at the end of the table and almost in the same movement placed into the hands of the waiting officer who was now before the table. No words were spoken, though plainly everyone in the room knew exactly what was expected of them. The officer acknowledged the gentlemen at the table, then, with a step back and a bow, turned smartly to the door and made his exit with the rest, who, equally as smartly, made their about turns and carried on down the long hallway. The order to raze the fortifications at Louisbourg was thus to be given.

A number of weeks later, on May 26th, a fleet of navel ships would have been seen beating their way into Louisbourg harbor. The ships were loaded with miners and powder. Once in, the men disembarked and the materials unloaded. The royal navy was there to give effect to the demolishment order. Prime Minister Pitt's resolution was that all of the works and defenses at Louisbourg, "be most effectually and most entirely demolished." It was intended that the French installations be so "thoroughly destroyed, as that no use may, hereafter, be ever made of the same." That fall, October 17th, the British navy finished its work. Louisbourg, the pride of the French nation, "lay in utter ruins; the walls were totally overthrown; the ditch was filled with debris."1


With the taking of Louisbourg in 1758, the French authority in North America retracted back to its citadels of Montreal and Quebec. Quebec fell in 1759, Montreal in 1760. With the fall of Montreal, excepting its southern Spanish parts, all of North America was to come under British control. France had had enough and so generally did England. There was great pressure to bring the war to an end. Pitt however, with a view to keeping the English gains in America, was of the view that the war with France should continue so as to soften her up. Pitt could see no sense in ending the war, by England giving up her hard fought gains in America. France invited Spain (both kings were of the same royal family, the Bourbons) to declare war on England. England however, in a preemptive act, on January 2nd, 1762, six years into the Seven Years War, declared war on Spain. At the same time she strengthened her forces already at sea and which were heading for the rich islands of the Caribbean. On February 4th, an attack on the French island of Martinique met with success. The French determined to take another stab at the northern parts, and, in April of that year, with but a force of 900, overwhelmed the small English garrison at St. John's, Newfoundland and captured the place. That autumn, on September 18th, St. John's was retaken by the British. In the meantime, Spain was to feel the effects of the superior sea power of England. In June, a British force laid siege to Havana. It eventually fell and proved to be a valuable chip in the negotiations which were soon started up. On November 3rd, preliminary articles for peace between England and France were signed. With the signing of the Treaty Of Paris on February 10, 1763, the Seven Years War was brought to an official end. By this war, England's rivals had been decisively beaten. The world was not to see another war like it until the First World War came along one hundred and fifty years later.2 The principal gains for England were those in America. A new government under British control was established at Quebec. The existing governments of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were given additional territory to govern. "Labrador, from St. John's to Hudson Bay, Anticosti, and the Magdalen Islands, were placed under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland, and the islands of St. John (Prince Edward Island), and Cape Breton (Ile Royale), with the smaller islands adjacent thereto, were added to the government of Nova Scotia."3

Zeroing in on Nova Scotia, we return now to an earlier point in time.

After long having neglected its territory to which it had legitimate international rights since 1713, only in 1749, did the English bring colonists to Nova Scotia. Cornwallis came with English settlers in 1749. It was then that Halifax was founded. The English settlers which had come in with Cornwallis in 1749 amounted to approximately 2,500, the majority of whom, in turn, took themselves off to the settled English colonies to the south. The 2,500 German/Swiss immigrants ("The Foreign Protestants") which came over from Rotterdam during the years 1750-1753, were, by and large, to stick to Nova Scotia. Most were sent to establish Lunenburg in 1753.

Just as the war was to get under way, the British governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence, as a military man with military objectives, took steps which led to the deportation of the French population in Nova Scotia. The French population at war's end was down to but a few hundred. The farm lands located on the banks of the fertile creeks of the Annapolis River, the Minas Basin and the Chignecto Isthmus, which had been worked by successive generations of French families were let to lie fallow. The live stock, which had grazed these dyked grass lands, were, in our opening scene of 1760, no where to be seen, their caretakers now having been absent for five years. Even the ruins of the numerous Acadian farms were now not much to be seen. The wooden structures had been set ablaze by the English and the layers of charcoal were now washed out and spread to mix in with the rich Acadian soil. The stone foundations had folded in on themselves and had become the places of yellow flowers and alder bushes. The English had marked these Acadian valleys for the settlement of English speaking people. But because of the continuing war in America, no steps were taken until 1760.


[NEXT: Bk. 2, Pt. 1, Ch. 2 - "The Situation before The Third Wave (1760)."]

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