Our history is filled with the famous and the infamous, the brave and the righteous, storytellers and artists, warriors and peacemakers. Below are just a handful of the great people who helped to shape this province into what it is today. Some you may know, some you may not – either way there’s a clear sign that people from this part of the province have made a major impact on our society.
HANTS COUNTY Thomas Chandler Haliburton (17 December 1796 – 27 August 1865) – became one of the first famous Canadian writers for his writings on a clockmaker named Sam Slick. Following his education, Haliburton became a lawyer and opened a practise in Annapolis Royal, eventually rising to the position of judge. What he’s known for is his writing career. He wrote a number of volumes on history, politics, and agriculture, but things really took off when he penned the Clockmaker series. Distributed across the British Empire, it tells the humorous adventures and hijinks of Sam Slick. It became Canada’s first international bestseller.
QUEENS COUNTY Joseph Benjamin Noil (1841 – March 21, 1882) was an African-Canadian born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia who served in the United States Navy and received the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving a shipmate. Noil received his medal after he saved a drowning shipmate while serving on the USS Powhatan at Norfolk, Virginia on Dec. 26, 1872.
SHELBURNE COUNTY Malcolm Sterling Davis (October 10, 1956) Born in Lockeport, Nova Scotia, Davis is known for his time with the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. Before that Davis played for the Amherst Ramblers and then the Huskies at Saint Mary’s University. Davis won the Les Cunningham Award for 1983–84. The award is given to the American Hockey League's ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the regular season, as voted on by AHL media and players.
YARMOUTH COUNTY Izaak Walton Killam (July 23, 1885 – August 5, 1955) was one of Canada’s most eminent businessmen and philanthropists. Born in Yarmouth, Killam went from being a paperboy to one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals. Starting as a junior employee with the Union Bank of Halifax, by 1919, Killam bought out the owner and took full control of the company. Killam's major business dealings primarily had to do with financing large pulp and paper and hydroelectric projects throughout Canada and Latin America. Killam was believed to be the richest man in Canada at the time of his death in 1955.
DIGBY COUNTY Samuel "Sam" E. Langford (March 4, 1883 – January 12, 1956) known by his monikers Boston Tar Baby, Boston Terror, and Boston Bonecrusher was a Black Canadian boxing standout of the early part of the 20th century. Born in Weymouth Falls, he quickly made a name for himself in the boxing world. He fought in almost every boxing class from lightweight to heavyweight, defeating world champions in each class. Langford is considered by many sport historians to be the greatest Canadian boxer of all time.
ANNAPOLIS COUNTY Joseph Broussard (1702–1765) born in Port Royal, Broussard, also known as Beausoleil, which translates into English as Beautiful Sun, was a leader of the Acadian people during some of the most intense aspects of the British and French conflict in Canada. Broussard organized a resistance of Mi'kmaq and Acadian militias against the British during King George's War, Father Le Loutre's War and during the French and Indian War. During Dummer’s War (also known as Father Rale's War), Broussard participated in a raid on Annapolis Royal in 1724. After the loss of Acadia to the British, Broussard led the first group of Acadians to southern Louisiana. Broussard is widely regarded as a hero and an important historical figure by both Acadians and Cajuns.
KINGS COUNTY Alex Colville (24 August 1920 – 16 July 2013) was a painter and soldier during the Second World War. Born in Toronto and eventually moving to the Maritimes with his family, Colville graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University before enlisting into the Canadian Army, where he eventually obtained the rank of lieutenant. He continued to paint throughout the war. He returned to New Brunswick to teach and eventually paint full time before moving to Wolfville in 1973 with his wife and children. His notable works include ‘To Prince Edward Island,’ ‘Horse and Train,’ and ‘Infantry at Nijmegen, Holland.’
QUEENS COUNTY Margaret Marshall Saunders (May 13, 1861 – February 15, 1947) was a well-known author of children's stories and romance novels, a lecturer, and an advocate for animal rights. She was born in Milton just outside of Liverpool although she spent most of her childhood in Berwick, Kings County. Saunders is most well known for her novel Beautiful Joe, which tells the true story of a dog from Meaford, Ontario that had his ears and tail chopped off by an abusive owner. In the story, which is told from the dog’s perspective, he is eventually rescued by a caring family in Meaford and in a heartfelt twist of fate, the dog ends up saving them. In 1934, at age 73, Margaret was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), which at that time was Canada's highest civilian honour.
KINGS COUNTY William Hall (28 April 1827 – 27 August 1904) was the first African Canadian, first Nova Scotian, and third Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross medal. Hall was born in Horton, Nova Scotia to parents who had escaped American slave owners during the War of 1812. Hall volunteered for the Royal Navy in 1852 and fought in many battles throughout his career. During the Siege of Lucknow in India, Hall volunteered to join one of the gun crews that was short a man. The ensuing battle was a hard-fought one and despite the odds managed to breach key defenses of mutineers. Hall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
YARMOUTH COUNTY Brian Mackay-Lyons (born 26 August 1954) was born in Arcadia, just outside Yarmouth, and is well known for incorporating his Nova Scotia roots into his architectural designs. Mackay-Lyons is a five-time winner of the Governor General's Medal for architecture, fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is known for designing rural homes in Nova Scotia and larger commissions at Dalhousie University and the Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro.