The Surveyor’s Diary – Part 3

Black Bears on Grand Lake

At the time of Valentine Gill’s survey of Shubenacadie Grand Lake, much of the Nova Scotian hinterland was undeveloped and did not have permanent settlements. The area around Grand Lake was most likely wilderness during this time, as evident in this quote:

Friday, July 7th, 1815
Continued the same [survey]. This afternoon [upon] returning to our habitation on rock point, [we were] met by [a] large Bear with a white nose, who seemed to dispute with us the passage but we had no arms, and Mr. Bruin looked rather surly [so] I thought it prudent to leave him in quiet possession of his habitation, and took a circuitous route to my own.


This bear would have caused great concern, even if they had weapons, as musket balls were more likely to make the bear angry than to deter it. Fortunately for Gill and his survey team, the bears that reside in Nova Scotia are black bears, which tend to be much less aggressive than their grizzly and polar cousins. That being said, leaving the majestic animal in peace was the best decision.

It is very unlikely that a visitor to Grand Lake would encounter a black bear at Grand Lake today, as the area has been residentially developed. However, they are abundant across the province, and can be quite problematic in rural areas. Black bears are usually shy and avoid humans, but will venture into settled areas to look for food when they have no other choice. Again, it is very unlikely to see one around Grand Lake, but it never hurts to be prepared! Click here to read more about black bears in Nova Scotia, and what to do if you ever encounter one.

Thanks for reading!

– Martin Earle