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May 1, 1883
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May 8, 1756
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May 8, 1834
May 9, 1864
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May 11, 1936
May 11, 1891
May 12, 1926
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May 13, 1770
May 13, 1751
May 13, 1955
May 13, 1861
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May 24, 1861
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May 30, 1989
May 31, 1820
May 31, 1867
May 1, 1883

May 1, 1883

Nova Scotia artist Frances Jones Bannerman (1855–1944), was the first Canadian artist to exhibit her work at the Paris Salon. She was one of the first North American artists to incorporate impressionism into her paintings. She was the daughter of the Honourable Alfred Alpin Jones (1824–1906), a successful Halifax-based businessman, who served as lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1900 to 1906. In 1886, Frances married a fellow artist, Englishman Hamlet Bannerman. (Painting:  The Conservatory, by Francis M....
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May 1, 1896

May 1, 1896

Sir Charles Tupper (1821–1915) formed the federal government in Ottawa as the sixth prime minister of Canada seven days after Parliament had been dissolved. He had led Nova Scotia into Confederation and was Premier of Nova Scotia from 1864 to 1867. He lost the June 23 election and resigned on July 8, 1896, making his sixty-nine day term as prime minister the shortest in Canadian history. He became the last living Father of Confederation. (Image: Charles and Lady Tupper, October 1896.)
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May 2, 1927

May 2, 1927

Award-winning Nova Scotian author Budge Wilson was born in Halifax. Author of thirty-four books, she started being published in 1984, with many of her works encompassing stories for young people. She has won over twenty-three Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Our Choice” selections, as well as a Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award and many other recognitions. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004, and the Order of Nova Scotia in...
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May 2, 1797

Abraham Gesner (d. 1864) was born at Chipman Corner. He was a noted geologist, inventor, physician, surgeon and the discoverer of kerosene. He received patents on kerosene from US Patent Office on June 27, 1854.
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May 3, 1933

May 3, 1933

Judson Graham Day was born in Halifax. After appearing as a singer on Singalong Jubilee, he went on to become a corporate lawyer and a director of numerous companies, later serving as chairman and CEO of British Shipbuilders in the mid-80s and later the Rover Group, and in Canada, was a chairman of Hydro-One. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989, received the Order of Nova Scotia in 2011, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2014....
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May 3, 2017

May 3, 2017

Father Greg MacLeod died in Sydney (b. in Sydney Mines, 1935). He was a lifelong educator, ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1961 and become involved in community economic development initiatives in Cape Breton. He founded the Tompkins Institute in 1974 at the University College of Cape Breton (now Cape Breton University — CBU) and had a close association with the founding of CBU’s Centre for Community Economic Development in 1986. He is best known as the founder of New Dawn Enterprises in 1976, the oldest...
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May 4, 1783

The first fleet of four hundred settlers from New York arrived at Port Roseway, among them, disbanded soldiers and black regiments. Soon the area’s population would swell to between 9,000 and 10,000 refugees.
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May 4, 1913

May 4, 1913

A fire in North Sydney destroyed over forty-one businesses. It was noted to be similar to a fire that took place in December of 1881. (Image: Beaton Institute).
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May 5, 1783

J.F.W. DesBarres’ Atlantic Neptune charts of Nova Scotia were advertised for sale by Thomas Freeman, Halifax. Considered “. . . the most important collection of maps, charts and views of North America published in the eighteenth century.” Four editions of the folios were published — 1777, 1780, 1781 and 1784 — that covered different geographic areas from the coasts of Nova Scotia to New England, to the coasts and harbours of the St. Lawrence and, lastly,...
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May 5, 1892

May 5, 1892

Edwin Borden (1869–1953) was the first African Nova Scotian to graduate from Acadia University. He was also among the first athletes of African descent to graduate from a Canadian university. He went on to complete his master’s and doctorate degrees.
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May 6, 1985

May 6, 1985

Academy Award–winning actress (and six-time nominee) Shirley MacLaine received an honorary doctorate from Acadia University. MacLaine’s mother, Kathlyn Corinne (née MacLean) was a drama teacher who had been born in Wolfville and educated at Acadia (1928). Her grandmother was also a former dean of women at Acadia. MacLaine grew up in Wolfville till the age of twelve when she moved with her family to the United States. Sister to well-known actor Warren Beatty. (Photo: Former Wolfville resident and Academy...
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May 6, 1815

May 6, 1815

Black refugees (upwards of 200) from the War of 1812 Chesapeake Bay area were quarantined on Melville Island due to concerns about the spread of disease. Many later settled in Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Lucasville and the Campbell Road Settlement area, which later became known as Africville (est. in 1848). Gabriel Hall was amongst those who arrived at that time. (Photo: Gabriel Hall, in the only known image of a black refugee from the War of 1812. N.S....
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May 6, 2014

Sinclair Williams of East Preston died (age seventy-one). He was the first black police officer in Dartmouth. At age twenty-five he was hired in July of 1968. Looking back over the years, a fellow officer, George Beck, said of Williams, “He would take the lead as a senior officer so I learned so much in the way he would handle the calls at the initial state and, generally, becoming a good policeman.” The Williams family established a memorial scholarship in his name to...
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May 7, 1980

May 7, 1980

Terry Fox (age 21) arrived in North Sydney from Port aux Basques on his cross-country Marathon of Hope. He had started from St. John's on April 12. Due to his illness, he had to stop the marathon on September 1 in Thunder Bay. (Photo: Terry Fox. terryfox.org).
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May 7, 1945

May 7, 1945

Germany surrendered and VE Day Riots occurred on May 7 to 8 in Halifax. Several thousand servicemen, merchant seamen and civilians went on a looting rampage of the City of Halifax. Twenty-five thousand servicemen were in the city at the time and wanted to celebrate the war’s end — the only problem was authorities decided to shut down the liquor commission outlets to prevent “trouble,” and restaurants, retailers, and movie theatres followed suit. (Photo: The unofficial VE Day celebrations and riots in Halifax, May...
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May 7, 2011

May 7, 2011

Harry Bruce was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Atlantic Journalism Awards. His family roots in Nova Scotia stretch back to the late eighteenth century. He began his journalism career in 1955 in Ottawa, later working for Maclean’s, Saturday Night, the Canadian, and the Star Weekly. Moving to Nova Scotia in 1971, he wrote for national and regional newspapers and magazines. He was the founding editor of Atlantic Insight magazine in April 1979. He authored...
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May 7, 1915

May 7, 1915

While en route from New York to Liverpool, England, the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German submarine, U-20, with 1,198 lives lost. Fears for the safety of Lusitania and other liners that also sailed from ports such as Halifax ran high during this time due to the state of war with Germany. There were a number of Canadians as well as American citizens, onboard the ship. It...
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May 8, 1756

May 8, 1756

Mi’kmaq and Maliseet warriors raided two islands on the northern outskirts of the fortified Township of Lunenburg, (John) Rous Island and Payzant Island (later renamed Covey Island). French reports tell of twenty settlers being killed and five taken prisoner. This raid was the first of nine the warriors would conduct against the peninsula over a three-year period. Louis Payzant was killed in one attack, while his wife, Marie-Anne, and their four children were kidnapped to Aukpaque (near what became Fredericton, NB), and taken later to...
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May 8, 2013

Bill Langstroth died (b. 1930). He was a well-known musician, artist, writer, photographer and CBC producer. After a brief stint in the navy, he worked as a producer for CBC-TV in the 1950s in Halifax on The Don Messer Show, and later produced and co-hosted Singalong Jubilee. He continued to work for CBC in Halifax and later in Toronto for over forty years. In 2011, Langstroth was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of...
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May 8, 1834

The Irish immigrant ship Astrea ran aground near the community of Little Lorraine, Cape Breton — 248 lives were lost.
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May 9, 1864

May 9, 1864

Irish-born Canadian artist Forshaw Day (1831–1903) presented his work, The Waverley Goldfields, Nova Scotia, at the international Dublin exhibition. Gold had been discovered in Waverley in 1861 and the Waverley Gold Mining Company included Day’s work in the provincial submission to the exhibition. Day had arrived in Halifax in 1862, opening a studio in the city and teaching art for a number of years. He later taught drawing at the Royal Military College in Kingston. In 1880 he was a founding member of the Royal Canadian...
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May 9, 1931

May 9, 1931

The first recorded flight at the Halifax Airport, Chebucto Road, took place — now known as Saunders Park in the West End of Halifax. (Photo: The Halifax Municipal Airport, 1931. N.S. Archives).
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May 9, 1992

At 5:18 a.m. the Westray mining disaster occurred in Plymouth, Pictou County, killing the entire shift of twenty-six miners. Many people in the area felt their homes shake as a result of the explosion. It was Canada’s worst mining disaster since the Springhill mining disaster in 1958 that claimed seventy-five miners. The Westray mine opened in September 1991 and was owned and managed by Curragh Resources Inc. Of the twenty-six killed, eleven bodies were never recovered. Over a million dollars was raised in donations to...
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May 9, 1758

Admiral Edward Boscawen (1711–1761), with his fleet, and troops under the command of General Jeffery Amherst, arrived in Halifax from England prior to the planned British attack on Fortress Louisbourg. Also with Boscawen was Brigadier General James Wolfe. The fleet consisted of 120 transport ships, twenty-three ships of the line and eighteen frigates, with a total combined army and naval force of over 27,000. They would spend the month in Halifax preparing plans for their attack on Louisbourg. General Amherst did not arrive...
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May 9, 1914

May 9, 1914

Hank Snow was born in Brooklyn, Queens County, NS. He grew up in Liverpool. He later became a celebrated Canadian and US country music artist, known as The Yodelling Ranger and The Singing Ranger. He got his start performing live on CHNS radio in Halifax. Later he began touring and went to Nashville. He had a career spanning fifty years, 140 albums and eighty-five singles on Billboard from 1950 to 1980. He died in Nashville...
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May 10, 1773

May 10, 1773

The British Parliament passed the Tea Act, taxing the US colonies. By December 16, it would ignite the American Revolution when the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Mohawk Indians, boarded three ships in Boston Harbour and destroyed 92,000 pounds of British East India Company tea. Within ten years, in the heat of the American conflict, Nova Scotia would receive a flood of more than 25,000 Loyalist refugees, adding to the...
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May 10, 1758

Building the Halifax Dockyard, or the Royal Naval Dockyard as it was also known, began under the supervision of James Cook. He had arrived with Admiral Boscawen in preparation for the British attack on Louisbourg (see Boscawen, May 9, 1758). It was the first royal dockyard in North America, officially commissioned in 1759. The dockyard was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1923 and part of Canadian Forces...
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May 11, 1936

Edith Jessie Archibald died in Halifax (b. 1854). She was a leading feminist of her time, a writer and novelist who led the Maritime Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the National Council of Women of Canada and the Local Council of Women of Halifax. From 1897 to 1901 she was president of the Halifax VON (Victoria Order of Nurses), and served as vice-president of the NS Red Cross in 1914, chairing...
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May 11, 1891

Noted Nova Scotian author, historian and First World War veteran Will R. Bird was born in East Mapleton, Cumberland County. He was the author of twenty-five books and 600 short stories. Many were historical fiction, war stories, memoirs and travel accounts.
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May 12, 1926

May 12, 1926

Nova Scotia’s first radio station, CHNS, broadcast for the first time from a tiny room at the Carleton Hotel in Halifax using a 500-watt transmitter. The station was created by the Halifax Radio Listeners’ Club with technical assistance from the Northern Electric Co. Later in November, Bill Borrett, who also was a member of the club, would do the first live hockey broadcast. Later that year, station ownership came under...
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May 12, 1802

King’s College in Windsor received a royal charter from King George III, becoming the first university in what would become Canada. It was founded in November 1788 as the King’s Collegiate School by resettled Anglician Loyalists as a boys’ residential school (called the Academy). In 1788, it opened with seventeen students. A year later, the University of King’s College emerged from the collegiate. A major fire would occur in February...
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May 13, 1770

With encouragement from Michael Francklin (lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1766 to 1772), the Mi’kmaq restored their celebrations of Saint Aspinquid, in what became Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. It was an annual festival of old times, now lost, that recognized a faithful Mi’kmaq chief named Aspinquid (Aspenquid) who had converted to Catholicism. Saint Aspinquid appeared in the Nova Scotia almanacs from 1774 to 1786. The festival also has...
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May 13, 1751

Sixty Mi’kmaq warriors and Acadian insurgents attacked the Dartmouth settlement, leaving twenty settlers killed and scalped. Some were also taken prisioner. Bodies were later taken to Halifax and buried in the Old Burying Ground. Governor Cornwallis reported to his superiors on the attack (June 24, 1751), expressing his frustration with the poor protection his soldiers had provided. A wooden palisade was subsequently built around the vulnerable settlement. A ferryman, John...
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May 13, 1955

May 13, 1955

The Cape Breton Causeway opened with 40,000 people in attendance and twenty-five lines of pipers. (Photo: The Cape Breton Causeway.)
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May 13, 1861

Margaret M. Saunders was born in Berwick (d. 1947). She was an author of children’s stories and romance novels, as well as the million-plus bestseller Beautiful Joe (1894).
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May 14, 1847

Sir Frederick Borden, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence (1896–1911), was born at Cornwallis. He was a cousin of the eighth prime minister of Canada, Sir Robert Borden. CFB Borden is named after Frederick Borden.
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May 14, 1960

The federal government’s Bill C-150 was passed, amending the criminal law and criminal procedure in Canada. Among a number of changes, it decriminalized homosexuality and allowed abortion under certain conditions, decriminalized the sale of contraceptives, and established the regulation of lotteries and rules on gun possession.
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May 14, 1756

Governor Charles Lawrence issued a bounty proclamation for scalps of Mi’kmaq warriors after the native raid on Lunenburg. Women and children were to be taken prisoner, not killed. (Also see, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet warriors... May 8, 1756.)
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May 15, 1754

May 15, 1754

The French and Indian War begins — later (1756) officially becoming The Seven Years’ War between England and France. In Nova Scotia, it started with a series of conflicts in June of 1755, namely the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, with the deportation of the Acadians in the fall. By July 1757, there were in excess of 20,000 soldiers and sailors in Halifax with plans to attack the French at Louisbourg....
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May 15, 1851

May 15, 1851

Joseph Howe spoke to the idea of constructing an intercolonial railway at the Mason’s Hall in Halifax. “I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, yet I will venture to predict that in five years we shall make the journey hence to Quebec and Montreal, and home through Portland and St. John, by rail; and I believe that many in this room will live to hear the...
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May 16, 1604

May 16, 1604

Pierre Dugua, sieur de Mons (de Monts), with Baron de Poutrincourt, Samuel de Champlain and their crew, sailed into what is now known as the Annapolis Basin. They later crossed the Baie Françoise (Bay of Fundy) and settled for their first winter on the island of St. Croix (located on what became the border between New Brunswick and eastern Maine). After much hardship, in the spring of 1605 they moved...
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May 17, 1799

Edward, Duke of Kent, was made commander in chief of British Forces in North America. The duke had arrived in 1796 from St. Kitts to be commander of the garrison at Halifax.
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May 18, 1904

May 18, 1904

The Kambria is abandoned at sea. It had been built in 1882 at Kingsport, Nova Scotia by Peter R. Creighton and registered at Windsor. (Painting from N.S. Archives.)
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May 18, 1850

May 18, 1850

A picture was taken of Molly Muise, Mi’kmaq elder, who lived to a great age at Annapolis Royal. It is considered one of the earliest portraits of a Mi’kmaw person by a photographic process.
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May 19, 2006

DHX Media began trading as a public company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) — headquartered in Halifax, the company was formed as a merger between DECODE Entertainment and the Halifax Film Company, joining forces to be the leading children’s and family entertainment program distributor, producer and co-producer. As of 2016, the company maintained one the world’s largest independent libraries of children’s and family content at more than 11,500 hours,...
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May 19, 1995

May 19, 1995

Nova Scotia declared the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever to be the provincial dog. (Photo: The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. YouTube.com.)
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May 20, 2008

May 20, 2008

Pumpkin king Howard Dill died in Windsor (b. 1934). He was a legendary farmer and winner of largest pumpkin weigh-offs, as well as a world-renowned grower of giant gourds. Dill was also an avid hockey historian and enabled Windsor’s claim to the title “Birthplace of Hockey.” (Also see Garth Vaughan, September 1, 1996.). (Photo: Howarddill.com.)
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May 21, 1944

The Halifax-Chronicle reports that on the occasion of their 2000th performance, the Halifax Concert Party Guild has collected supplies valued at $11,510,000. which were made available to ships of any country and to all military units in transit through Halifax. As Patrick O'Neill noted in The Halifax Concert Party in World War II; "...a little office in the rear of Mills Brothers clothing store on Spring Garden Road was action-central...beginning...
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May 21, 1992

From May 21 to 23, St. Francis Xavier University hosted the first annual conference of the Celtic Studies Association of North America. It was organized under the leadership of Ken Nilsen, the first chair of Gaelic Studies, and Sister Margaret MacDonell, retired chair of the Department of Celtic Studies. The endowment for the chair of Gaelic Studies is named in honour of Sister Saint Veronica (Mary MacDonald), who was a...
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May 22, 1611

May 22, 1611

First Jesuits arrived in Port Royal, Father Pierre Biard and Father Énemond Masse. An earlier Jesuit mission had been established in 1609 on Penobscot Bay. In 1632–33, two Jesuits would also reside at St. Anne’s Bay in Cape Breton. The Jesuit Order, known as the Society of Jesus, had been approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.
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May 23, 1916

The 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) was mobilized at Aldershot. They embarked for Great Britain on October 12.
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May 24, 1861

May 24, 1861

The Halifax Yacht Club was renamed the Royal Halifax Yacht Club (and, later, again renamed the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron). The club was the oldest yacht club in North America having come into being on July 27, 1837. In 1860, as a nineteen-year-old, His Royal Highness Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, had visited Halifax. An enthusiastic yachtsman, he participated in a regatta in his...
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May 24, 1758

May 24, 1758

While in Halifax preparing for the British attack on Fortress Louisbourg, Brigadier General James Wolfe (age thirty-one) hosted a party for forty-seven of his men at the Great Pontack Inn (built prior to 1754, located at the corner of Duke and Water Streets). The event included ten musicians and plenty of food and liquid refreshments. Wolfe would return to the Pontack a year later on a stopover on his way...
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May 25, 1925

May 25, 1925

The Habitation at Port Royal was designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board. It was established by France in 1605 as the first successful settlement in North America, serving as the capital of Acadia till its destruction by British military forces in 1613. A replica of the Habitation, based on Champlain’s original plans, was constructed from 1939 to 1941 and was the first National Historic...
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May 26, 1989

May 26, 1989

Reverend Dr. William Pearly Oliver died died (b. 1912). He was a leading African Nova Scotian who, with his wife, Pearleen Borden Oliver, was a strong advocate for social justice. A graduate of Acadia University (1934), and minister at Cornwallis Street Baptist Church (1937–1962), he was instrumental in developing many progressive organizations, including the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1945), the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission...
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May 26, 1989

Reverend William Pearly Oliver died (b. 1912). He was a leading African Nova Scotian who, with his wife, Pearleen Borden Oliver, was a strong advocate for social justice. A graduate of Acadia University (1934), and minister at Cornwallis Street Baptist Church (1937–1962), he was instrumental in developing many progressive organizations, including the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1945), the NS Human Rights Commission (1967), the Black...
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May 27, 1945

May 27, 1945

On CBC Radio this day, Nora Bateson, the former Nova Scotia Director of Libraries (1938–1945), championed a vision of libraries as agents of personal and community development. It was twenty days after Germany had surrendered, and the VE Day riots had occurred earlier in the month in Halifax. A month earlier, Premier Macmillan had fired her when she had made a public remark that Nova Scotia was a “library desert.”...
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May 28, 1782

May 28, 1782

During the American Revolution, the Battle of Halifax took place between the American privateer Jack and the 14-gun Royal Naval brig HMS Observer off Halifax Harbour’s Sambro Light. The Jack lost the battle, striking its colours the next day. The battle was one of several in the area. (Painting: The American privateer Jack and the 14-gun Royal Navy brig HMS Observer engage in battle off Halifax Harbour’s Sambro Light. From...
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May 29, 1852

May 29, 1852

George Wylie Hutchinson was born in Great Village, NS (d. 1942). He left the province as a young ship-cabin’s boy. Later he studied art at the Royal Academy School in London (1880–1885). He became a noted painter and an illustrator in Britain, working for such publications as the Illustrated London News, as well as illustrating many works for authors who were at the centre of London literary circles — such...
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May 30, 1989

May 30, 1989

Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) was created, beginning with thirteen full-time players for a January–May season, under the direction of conductor Boris Brott and board president Brian Flemming. In the past, orchestras had been formed in Halifax, beginning in 1897 with the Halifax Symphony Orchestra (disbanded in 1908). SNS grew to employ thirty-seven full-time musicians for a 33-week season under the direction of Bernhard Gueller. (Photo: Symphony Nova Scotia).
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May 31, 1820

Lord Dalhousie presented to the province portraits of George II (later proved to be of George I) and Queen Caroline, both received from his castle in Scotland.
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May 31, 1867

The Pictou Railway opened.
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