The Islands and Shorelines of Mahone Bay
have a rich history worth protecting.

A Brief History of the Mahone Bay Islands…

Approximately 15,000 to 10,000 years ago a kilometre-thick sheet of ice covered the Mahone Bay area. The inner Mahone Bay islands are drumlins formed as the retreating glacier melted. The soils and wide variety of rocks found on these islands resulted from that glacial activity. Over the last 1000 years sea levels have risen approximately three metres along our coast causing increased erosion and the loss of a number of islands.

Thousands of years before the Europeans arrived in Mahone Bay, the Mi’kmaq were the first people to settle here. They arrived after the last glaciation when the abundance of food and other resources would have been a major attraction. Many sites of their occupation have been found throughout Mahone Bay.

The French arrived in Mahone Bay in the early 17th century and when Nova Scotia became a British colony, there was an influx of immigrants in the 1750s. They found this area an ideal one for farming, fishing, logging and ship building. Many of the larger islands are named after the families that settled on them. The complex coastal waterways and islands made it easy to journey by canoe and small boat.

The islands became a haven for colonial French, British and American privateers, and later in the 20th century for rum runners during the Prohibition era. The conflicts that lasted over 100 years between the British, French and Americans contributed to the historical fabric. There are stories about privateers, buried treasure and burning ghost ships in the bay that are both the oral and written history of those times.


We have lots of beautiful photos illustrating just how amazing the Mahone Bay Islands are, and why they are worth saving.

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Learn more about the history of the islands through the eyes of some local residents. We have slideshows, videos and more.

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We have put together a compiled list of written material covering the geographical area of Mahone Bay since MICA formed in 2003.

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Map From 1879

Are there 365 islands in Mahone Bay?

“Chester, with its 365 emerald-carpeted islands-one for each day of the year-is a veritable elysium”
(DesBrisay, Miles B., History of Lunenburg County, 1895, p.254)

Desbrisay did not acknowledge the origin of the above statement. So in an attempt to answer the question, the MICA Resource Documentation Committee has compiled this list of named islands from historical archives.

Do you care about the islands of Mahone Bay like we do? Get involved!