Monday, April 29, 2013

Shelburne's Historic Waterfront

The town of Shelburne, on Nova Scotia's scenic South Shore, was one of several communities that were destinations for the United Empire Loyalists who fled the United States during and after the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1812. Known in the U.S. as Tories, they had remained loyal to Britain and had not supported the efforts of the revolutionaries, sometimes actively opposing them. On May 4 of 1783, ships carrying 3073 Loyalists from New York anchored in the harbour of what was then known as Port Roseway, dramatically changing the course of southwestern Nova Scotia's history.

Prior to their landing, the entire territory of Nova Scotia, which then included the present-day province of New Brunswick, had a population of less than 20,000.  By the end of 1783, over 35,000 Loyalists had arrived, overwhelming both the limited infrastructure and the ability of the government in Halifax to cope with the arrivals.

In July of 1783, the name of Port Roseway was changed to Shelburne to honour Lord Shelburne, Secretary of State for the colonies who had served briefly as Britain's Prime Minister in 1782.

By 1784, the population of Shelburne had swelled to over 10,000 -- the largest town in British North America and more than twice the size of Halifax. Eventually most of these Loyalists either returned to the United States as the political climate became less hostile, or moved on to other areas of Canada. They left behind a carefully laid-out town with streets named after members of the Royal Family, and a number of handsome and well-constructed homes and businesses. Today, Shelburne provides an interesting stop for the cultural explorer, with its cluster of museums and restored buildings. Shown here, from the top, are the Shelburne County Museum, the Ross-Thomson House, the Old Dory Shop Museum, and the impressive Cox's Warehouse, its cupola and spire added for the filming of The Scarlet Letter in 1995. 

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