Sunday, 23 October 2011

McNab's Island

Here are some quick facts that were found on the Friends of McNab's Island website. For more information or to view their photo gallery go to Friends of McNab's Island

•McNabs Island is about 5 km long and up to 1.5 km wide, its 400 ha (1000 acres) present a combination of historical, natural resources and outstanding recreational and educational opportunities. It is about 25 minutes by tour boat from downtown Halifax, or 5 minutes from Eastern Passage.
•Shell middens from about 1600 years ago are evidence of pre-European Mi'kmaq use of the islands.
•Around 1700 the French were using the island as a fishing center. They planned to build "Louisbourg' here but in 1713 ceded mainland Nova Scotia to the British.

•With the founding of Halifax in 1749 the senior British officer granted most of Cornwallis' Island to his nephews. In 1782 it was purchased by Peter McNab for o1000, and parts stayed in the family for 150 years. Tenant farmers cleared the land and assisted in the raising of sheep. The land was divided among Peter's heirs, and over the years parcels were sold.

•By 1860 the range of artillery had increased. To better defend Halifax the Admiralty bought the southern end of the island and the Fort Ives site and began a series of fortifications, the remains of which are part of the attraction of McNabs.

•Most of the northern end remained in private hands. From about 1870 through 1930 the island was a popular recreational destination for the people of Halifax as thousands visited the two pleasure grounds' for picnics, dinner, dancing, sports, and later, amusement rides.

•The island was off limits during the Great War. After the war, as more people acquired automobiles and the province's roads improved, fewer people visited McNabs Island.

•The island was again under military control during WWII, and the period following saw a slow decline in full-time residents.

•The idea of the islands as a park resurfaced in the 1960s to compete with several industrial schemes. In the 1970s a regional parks plan for metro emphasized the islands, and in 1983 the province assumed responsibility for assembling the park.

•Acquisitions of private lands by the province over the past 20 years have left less than 3% in private hands. Most of the Department of National Defense's (DND) former land has been passed to Parks Canada for park purposes. In 1985, and again in 1993, Parks Canada confirmed that its interest was limited to Fort McNab, with the rest to become a provincial park.

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