Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A visitor from Nova Scotia

Today I met Brian Doherty, who was visiting Northern Ireland in connection with his work with the International Fund for Ireland, on which he represents the government of Canada.  Brian was originally from county Tyrone but set off around the world with his band Barley Bree and settled in Nova Scotia about 25 years ago.  The band eventually broke up but he still performs as one half of the duo Evans & Doherty.  In addition to this he has some business interests and is also president of Music Nova Scotia.  It was useful to hear about the music industry in Canada and the approach of Music Nova Scotia to the development and promotion of the music industry.

During the meeting mention was made of the historic connections between Ulster and Nova Scotia and there are indeed many of them.  Here are just a few.

In 1760 a group of Ulster-Scots from Londonderry in New Hampshire settled in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, and called their new home Londonderry too.  They were joined by a party of Ulstermen who arrived in Halifax from Belfast in 1761, brought over by Colonel Alexander McNutt. The colony grew and prospered and in time they peopled Truro, Onslow and many neighbouring towns.

St Paul's Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was founded in 1749 and is the oldest Protestant church in Canada.  With the arrival of an Ulsterman Charles Inglis as the first Anglican Bishop of Nova Scotia and the first colonial bishop in 1787, Saint Paul’s Church in Halifax was made a cathedral.

In St Paul’s churchyard there is a plain slab that commemorates a famous Ulster solider, Major-General Robert Ross (1766-1814) of Rostrevor, who fought in the American War of 1812. This is the soldier commemorated by an obelisk in Rostrevor.

One of the most famous Nova Scotian political families was named Archibald.  The first of the Canadian branch of the family was David Archibald who emigrated from Londonderry and settled in Truro, Nova Scotia, in 1762. He was a Presbyterian elder and the first Member of Parliament for Truro in 1766.

In Halifax County there is an Antrim, which was settled in 1850 by the McMichaels, Kerrs, McMillens, McDowells and Moores, all from Ulster.  They had set out from county Antrim for the United States of America but diverted to Halifax because of the American civil war.

Orangeism in Canada can be traced back to 1799 when a military Orange lodge was operating in the town of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first non-military lodge in Nova Scotia was established in Halifax in 1845 and was called Roden Lodge after the Earl of Roden. By 1872 there were 55 Orange lodges in Nova Scotia.

Much attention is focused on the Ulster influence in America but there was also a powerful Ulster influence in most of the provinces of Canada.

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