EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT ON THE SHUBENACADIE RIVER
A River to Explore
Early Europeans, such as the French, learned of the Shubenacadie Waterway route from the Mi’kmaq, who taught the newcomers how survive and travel through the Nova Scotian wilderness. The Mi’kmaq and the Acadians traveled back and forth on the river, while Acadians established settlements along the banks of the Waterway in the 1740s.
The French & Acadians
The first Europeans to explore the Shubenacadie River were French Missionaries, lead by Father Abbey in the early 1700s. Sometime around 1720 the Mission Sainte-Anne was established upriver at Shubenacadie. In the 1740s, the Acadians settled along the banks where the Shubenacadie and Stewiacke Rivers meet. The main settlement was known as Ville Hébert. The Acadians formed a good relationship with the Mi'kmaq based on trade and interdependence between the two groups until the Acadians were expelled from their lands by the British in 1755.
The British Settlement of Halifax
The British founding of Halifax took place in 1749 and served as a strategic military response to the establishment of the Fortress of Louisbourg, by the French, in Cape Breton. As the new city of the British colony grew in population, its merchants and leaders would look to the Shubenacadie River as a main water highway for trade and inland settlement.
“Captain Owen’s Safari”
As early as 1767, Captain William Owen of the Royal Navy became one of the first Europeans to travel and survey the Shubenacadie River. He confirmed that the Shubenacadie waterway was a navigable route between Dartmouth and the Bay of Fundy. His survey mission was referred to as “Owen’s Safari" and would be the basis for the planning of the Shubenacadie Canal in the early 1800s.