Nova Scotia Shaped By the Sea: A Living History by Lesley Choyce

New world opportunity has been rankled with misfortune for centuries. It’s the main gist of any introduction we read as school children on the textbook history of Canada. Seldom do we entertain a deep dive into the making of any province or territory at that age. When we’re older and ready to explore our country in more meaningful ways, we are not reaching out for our old textbooks, but perhaps a quick top ten list of interesting things through an internet search or nicely presented brochure. And that’s if we make the time to do any sort of preliminary research, even if a marginal attempt.

“…most poignantly, it offers a history of the people brought to Nova Scotia by sea.”

Pre-pandemic, we were making plans to visit some friends who had just relocated from the west coast to their new forever home in Halifax. And to be honest, I had a scarce amount of time on my hands and thought I would leave it to them to be tour guides, in their eyes and words as new Haligonians. However, time became my friend in 2020 to the present. Not only do I have true stories of bold criminalities and the seedy history of alcohol stamped as landmarks on my virtual map, but I can now patrol the Eastern shoreline and see tales unfold as if the sea could speak.

A #ReadAtlantic Book!

Lesley Choyce spares no detail and presents a unique must-read history for anyone wanting to understand present-day Nova Scotia through previous journeys of the sea in the latest edition of his book, “Nova Scotia Shaped by The Sea”. To know the endurance of Acadian culture is to know the strength of Acadian women, not just through Longfellow’s Evangeline, but how they adapted their french influence to build community. To know the Mi’kmaq is to know their humanity and generosity in the face of barbaric exploration. Mass murder, poverty, riots, exploitation, racism, environmental degradation…are we speaking of history, or what we see today? This book follows a chronological timeline from early exploration, the establishment of governing rule from lands abroad, Confederation to present-day politics, industrial growth plied by early merchant trade, alcohol import and local distilleries, from bounty to threats of extinction through over-fishing.

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Perhaps most poignantly, it offers a history of the people brought to Nova Scotia by sea. A cultural shift and sharing of the land amongst the indigenous, European settlers, and non-white immigrants is documented in a way you would never see in a “Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Maritimes” list. But to truly experience Nova Scotia, to know the people is to know their pain and struggle through adversity.


Lesley Choyce is the author of over 100 books, including The Coasts of Canada, The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander MacNeil, and Broken Man on a Halifax Pier.

  • Publisher : Pottersfield Press; 4th edition (Nov. 17 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 360 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1989725155
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1989725153

*Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2PxIiaZ Thanks! 


Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry

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