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Gwen Tuinman

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Canadian History

Scots in Nova Scotia

I’m currently writing a novel set in Nova Scotia which translated means New Scotland. The Canadian province is revered for its rich Scottish culture. Here I’m sharing an early sweep of research that’s helping me establish the underpinnings of my Scottish characters.

As early as the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots adventured to England, Scandinavia, France, Germany and Russia in search of better lives. The first Scottish immigrants arrived in the 1600s to settle Nova Scotia. After the 1746 defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden, many Jacobites crossed the Atlantic for a new life in the Thirteen Colonies. Following the American Revolution, the majority of the Scots who supported the British king, fled the Thirteen Colonies migrated as Loyalists to Nova Scotia (or New Brunswick and Québec).

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Indentured Servitude in Canada

In mid-1800s Canada, there existed the core ingrained settler values of independence and self-reliance that dissuaded municipalities from lending financial assistance to the poor in rural areas. As urban populations grew, the incidence of poverty and crime escalated. Poor laws, like the ones that obligated Englands municipalities to assist impoverished locals, did not exist in Canada. With no effective welfare infrastructure, communities responded by “auctioning off” able-bodied poor children and adults who had neither family nor local relations to help them.

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Winter Pastimes for Pioneers

Early settlers in Upper Canada, particularly those living in rural areas, sought ways to break the isolation and monotony of long winters and heavy snows. Dog sleds and snow shoes that we regard as entertainment today were common 1800s instruments of travel over frozen lakes and rivers. So what did pioneers do for fun?

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