Nova Scotia Tourism

Nova Scotia Tourism

May 01, 2008 19:31 ET

It's a Family Affair: Exploring Nova Scotia Genealogy on a Maritime Vacation

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - May 1, 2008) - World-renowned Nova Scotian hospitality welcomes everyone like a well-loved cousin from away, perhaps because so many people are just that. Tracing Nova Scotia genealogy is among the most popular reasons visitors are drawn to this province on the East Coast of Canada. There are currently an estimated 25 million people in North America with a family connection to Nova Scotia, and an entire Maritime vacation can be planned around discovering more about this fascinating heritage.

It's pretty typical to find a listing for a family reunion of some kind in any Nova Scotia newspaper. Take this notice from The Amherst Citizen, for instance: "This year marks the 19th year members of the extensive Yorke family have gathered for a pot-luck lunch." Dig a little deeper to discover that the Yorkes, almost all Yorkes with a Nova Scotia connection, are descended from Captain Edward Yorke of Rhode Island who relocated to Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley in 1760 with the first wave of New England Plantars immigration. Often, visitors will find it enlightening to travel to the region of their heritage-Annapolis Valley, Bay of Fundy, Cape Breton Island, and more-where they find a Nova Scotia attraction or museum to bring this heritage to life.

The family trees of the immigrants who shaped this province are broad and far reaching-and a Nova Scotia genealogy tends to be rich in history and culture. There are the descendants of Black Loyalists who founded the community of Birchtown 1783 in Southwest, Nova Scotia, and descendants of the New England farmers who picked up arms and came to fight with the British in the battle for Louisbourg. There are relatives of the Scottish immigrants of the 1700s whose original accents can still be identified in some Cape Breton communities, and proud Acadians scattered across the globe coming back to immerse themselves in the living culture of their forefathers. However that first seed of family took root in this province, there seems to be a particular penchant for connecting with family in Nova Scotia.

While internet resources for Nova Scotian genealogical research are extensive (start with the Nova Scotia Genealogy Association found at or - "research you roots" section for several other links), there is nothing like a visit to the place where personal family history lives. For example, there are six thousand surnames with a direct connection to Lunenburg County, a favorite Nova Scotia attraction. Walking the streets of historic seaside towns, visiting the ancient cemetery tucked beneath a canopy of trees overlooking the action of the working waterfront, listening to the local accent still rich with German influence more than two hundred and fifty years after the first Zincks, Meisners, Zwickers, and Whynachts laid out the neat hillside streets of this UNESCO World Heritage town, and finding out that the teenager serving your coffee is probably a fifth cousin a couple of times removed - well, these are the connections that just can't be made online.

Beyond the usual ways to unearth family roots - searching archives, churchyards, and vital statistics registries - visitors can dig a little deeper on a Nova Scotia vacation. Descendants of the Black Loyalists and Acadian descendants can visit archaeological digs related to their heritage in Birchtown and Grand Pre, respectively. Relatives of the 189 Scottish Highlanders who founded the first Scottish settlement in Nova Scotia can step aboard a replica of the Ship Hector - the vessel that transported their ancestors to a new life. Relatives of the million immigrants who passed through Pier 21 Halifax, along the waterfront, en route to becoming Canadian can retrace those first footsteps into a new country in Canada's last surviving ocean immigration shed, now a National Historic Site with research centre and museum, interactive and multimedia exhibitions. The easiest way, of course, to experience your Nova Scotia roots, is simply to say to your cab driver, your bartender, your seat mate on a tour bus, "So where are you from?" Chances are good that you'll discover some common ground-and a little more about your Nova Scotia genealogy!

About Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture, and Heritage

Nova Scotia Tourism is responsible for promotion of this maritime province on Canada's Atlantic Coast. Nova Scotia Tourism emphasizes interactive tools and online education to assist visitors in learning about the province and planning Nova Scotia vacations, including colourful videos and eye-catching photos. The organization's website is among the first in North America to provide a Google Earth(TM) overlay that allows visitors to virtually visit Nova Scotia and its many destinations and experiences.

Media are encouraged to experience Nova Scotia Tourism's new videos by visiting

Contact Information

  • For more information, including interviews, please contact:
    Nova Scotia Tourism
    Tina Thibeau, Tourism, Culture and Heritage
    (902) 424-4817 or Cell: 902-483-6104