Posted by on 11 June 2010 in General, Record Collections

We launched over one million Nova Scotian birth, marriage and death indexes between 1763 and 1957 this week – a collection of huge significance to anyone with an ancestor who emigrated to Nova Scotia or other parts of Canada. And as a significant number of Scottish names that can be found, I decided to dig a little deeper to understand the reasons behind this.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, subsistence farmers (known as crofters) who lived in the Scottish Highlands and worked hard to make an honest living, were forced by rich land owners to leave their homes and make way for large scale, more profitable sheep farming. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were made to leave their homes in the Highlands, often with brute force!

Interestingly, I found an article on the BBC website featuring a photo of a reconstruction of the township of Raitts at the Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore – it is fascinating as it helps us to visualize the homes that these hard-working farmers would have lived in. Click here to take a look and scroll down the page to find the photo.

Following the clearances there was a mass exodus of Scots to ‘new’ countries around the world. Canada was one of the most popular destinations, with many settling in their port of arrival, Halifax, which was also the capital of the Northern province of Nova Scotia. There was plenty of land for all in Nova Scotia, not to mention great employment prospects, making the decision easy for thousands of Scots to put down roots and create ‘New Scotland’.

We spent some time searching the indexes for interesting names, and one we found was none other than Alexander Graham Bell – the Scottish inventor of the telephone who was born in Edinburgh and died on the 2nd of August, 1922 at Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia.

Start searching our indexes now and see if you can find an ancestor in the records, at www.ancestry.co.uk/NovaScotia. If you do, then we would love to know about it so please comment below and share your discovery!