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.
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)