Shag Harbour is a small fishing village of about 450 located on the Southwestern tip of Nova Scotia that gets its name from the double crested cormorant, a type of sea bird that is commonly referred to as ‘shag’. The village was once referred to as the Cap de Sable (Cape Sable) region when French Explorer, Samuel de Champlain, sighted our coastline during his 1604-1612 expedition. In the 1600’s to the mid 1700’s, the Acadians called the Shag Harbour region home, and Chapel Hill was the site of the first Acadian Trading post in the area. However, the Acadians were expulsed by the British in 1755 for their neutrality and refusal to pledge their loyalty to Britain.
This region remained vacated until 1760 when fishermen living in the Cape Cod region of Massachusetts responded to British Governor Charles Lawrence’s offer of 1000 acre land grants. These Cape Cod fishermen were familiar with this region as many were already benefiting from the area’s rich fishing grounds. These early settlers were called the New England Planters. Many of Shag Harbour’s inhabitants today are descended from the original grantees and many Planter names are still in use: Crowell, Hopkins, Kenney, Kendrick, Nickerson, Smith, etc.
Shag Harbour was officially incorporated as a village in 1785, and the village had celebrations to mark its 200th birthday in 1985. 2010 marked the year of the New England Planters as they arrived here 250 years ago. Events to celebrate this anniversary are taking place throughout the area all year.
An intriguing aspect of Shag Harbour’s past is the October 1967 UFO incident. The Shag Harbour Incident Society Museum has more information on this event.
Today, Shag Harbour’s main industry is certainly lobster fishing, which is no surprise given that it’s part of the Municipality of Barrington, the Lobster Capital of Canada. Most make their living as captains or deckhands aboard the famous Cape Islander fishing boats or are employed in fish plants and boat building shops.
Off Shag Harbour’s Coast is Bon Portage Island, home of Governor General award-winning author Evelyn Richardson. The Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School (E.R.M.E.S.) is named in her honour. Bon Portage Island is currently owned by Acadia University and as it is rich with wildlife, it is the site of a bird observatory and a field school for Acadia biology students at the end of the summer.
Another island worth mentioning is known today as Stoddart’s Island. It was the site of a potential murder and came close to housing the largest nuclear plant in the world!
Shag Harbour has been lauded for its visual appeal and natural, country atmosphere. The country side is green, the air is clear, and the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean is literally at our doorstep.
Need a place to stay? Shand’s Lookoff is a charming bed and breakfast offering a prime ocean view. Check out http://www.shandslookoff.com/index.html for more information.