Antigonish, Nova Scotia

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"Antigonish" redirects here. For other uses, see Antigonish (disambiguation).
View of Antigonish
View of Antigonish
Official seal of Antigonish
Coat of arms of Antigonish
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): "The 'Nish"[1]
Motto: The Heart of the Highlands
Antigonish is located in Nova Scotia
Location of Antigonish in Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 45°37′N 61°59′W / 45.617°N 61.983°W / 45.617; -61.983
Country  Canada
Province  Nova Scotia
County Antigonish County
Founded 1784
Incorporated January 9, 1889
 • Type Town Council
 • Mayor Carl Chisholm
 • Governing Body Antigonish Town Council
 • MLA Randy Delorey (Liberal)
 • MP Peter MacKay (C)
 • Town 5.15 km2 (1.99 sq mi)
 • Urban 6.01 km2 (2.32 sq mi)
Highest elevation 34 m (112 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Town 4,524
 • Density 879.2/km2 (2,277/sq mi)
 • Urban 5,084
 • Urban density 846.0/km2 (2,191/sq mi)
Demonym Antigonisher
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC-3)
Canadian Postal code B2G
Area code(s) 902
Telephone Exchanges 318 735 863 867 870 872 948 968 971
Median household income, 2000 (all households) $41,773
NTS Map 011F12

Coordinates: 45°37′35.48″N 61°59′53.71″W / 45.6265222°N 61.9982528°W / 45.6265222; -61.9982528 (Antigonish) Antigonish /ˌæntɨɡəˈnɪʃ/, Scottish Gaelic: Am Baile Mór; "The Big Town" is a Canadian town in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. The town is home to St. Francis Xavier University and the oldest continuous Highland games outside of Scotland. It is approximately one hundred miles (161 km) northeast of Halifax.


Antigonish had been the location of an annual Mi'kmaq summer coastal community prior to European settlement;[2] although the original definition of the name has been lost as the Mi'kmaq language has undergone many revisions over the last two centuries. The first European settlement took place in 1784 when Lt. Colonel Timothy Hierlihy of the Royal Nova Scotia Volunteer Regiment received a large land grant surrounding Antigonish Harbour. Hierlihy and his party founded the Dorchester settlement, named for Sir Guy Carleton, who was Governor General of Canada and subsequently Lord Dorchester. In 1796 another settler, with the assistance of a First Nations guide, blazed a trail from Antigonish Harbour to Brown's Mountain, using the shortest route. This trail became a guide for travellers and eventually evolved into a winding Main Street. By the late 1820s, Dorchester was commonly referred to as Antigonish. In 1852, a newspaper, The Casket, began publication and continues to this day as an independent paper.[3]

Antigonish Highland Games

St. Francis Xavier University was established in Antigonish in 1855, having been founded in 1853 in Arichat, Cape Breton and originally called the College of East Bay after East Bay, Nova Scotia where an earlier institution had once existed (1824–1829). St.F.X. was originally a Catholic seminary and was granted full university powers in 1866 by an act of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. The town is also the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish.

The first hospital in Antigonish opened on June 10, 1906.

Antigonish is notable for having a social movement named for it, the Antigonish Movement, launched from St. Francis Xavier University in the 1920s by local priests and educators including Rev. Dr. Moses Coady and Father Jimmy Tompkins.

St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Canada.


St. Francis Xavier University is located in Antigonish. St. Francis Xavier has 4,267 full-time students and 500 part-time students. It was named as the best undergraduate university in Canada by Maclean's magazine for five consecutive years (2002–2006). St. Francis Xavier is also well known for the X-Ring and the Coady International Institute

The elementary and secondary schools in Antigonish fall under the jurisdiction of the Strait Regional School Board. Antigonish is home to three public schools: Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, St. Andrew Junior School and the Antigonish Education Centre.

There has been a large Scottish Gaelic revival in the area and as of September 2013, more than 260 children in Antigonish were studying Gaelic at 4 of the local schools.

Sports and culture[edit]

The annual Antigonish Highland Games have been held since 1863. The first games were held to raise funds for the construction of St. Ninian's Cathedral.


Antigonish is a service centre for the surrounding region that includes Antigonish and Guysborough Counties and many local businesses are based in the service sector. There are no major industrial operations located in the town or county. The workforce is primarily white collar with the largest employers being St. Martha's Regional Hospital and St. Francis Xavier University. Until 2011, Antigonish accommodated Canada Post's National Philatelic Centre, which provided mail-order services for worldwide collectors of Canadian stamps.

2004-06 building boom[edit]

The Antigonish area experienced great deal of economic growth and retail development between 2004 and 2006 when the retail landscape of the town and county changed significantly. Much of the growth took place in the Post Road area, just outside of town. Atlantic Superstore, Walmart, and Central constructed new stores while the former Atlantic SuperValue, also located in this area, was redeveloped as a Staples Business Depot.

Other areas also saw growth. In June 2005, Shoppers Drug Mart opened a new store downtown while the NSLC opened a new store attached to the existing Sobeys store, located next to mall. The following month a new GM dealership opened on the outskirts of town.

A multi-unit retail annex was constructed at the local shopping mall in the spring of 2006. This complex houses a new Cleve's sporting goods store, Herbal Magic, and a Blockbuster. The mall area also saw the construction of a Boston Pizza restaurant which opened in late 2006. The new A&W restaurant that opened in February 2007, could also be considered part of the building boom as construction began in late 2006.

Antigonish Landing Wildlife Area
Main Street
St. James United Church on Main Street

Annexation controversy[edit]

For several years, the Town of Antigonish has engaged in a dispute with Antigonish County over the issue of annexation and amalgamation. The issue primarily relates to availability of land within town boundaries. Constant development has reduced the amount of undeveloped land within the town. According to Town officials, there is no longer enough land remaining for future expansion of the town. Town officials also suggest that this lack of vacant land is forcing new development into the 'fringe area' of the county that immediately surrounds the town. In an effort to address this situation, the Town applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (a quasi-judicial body that rules on issues related to government in Nova Scotia), on May 7, 2001, for permission to annex 6,503 acres (26.32 km2) of Antigonish County.


North-west of Antigonish

On May 28, 2001, several weeks after the Town made its application, the County of Antigonish applied to the NSURB to amalgamate with the town. The rationale for the application, as the county cited, were adverse effects related to the loss of tax revenue from annexed lands.

By January 2002, the town had reduced the amount of land area sought for annexation to 3,814 acres (15.43 km2). The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board consolidated the two applications and a public hearing was held over the span of three weeks, from January 26 to February 11, 2004. The hearing was designed to gauge public opinion of the issue. A total of 97 members of the public spoke at the hearings, representing both sides of the issue. After the public hearings were completed, the board was left to deliberate with the evidence it had collected.

On February 7, 2005, the board released its preliminary opinion (see Antigonish annexation and amalgamation decision). The 213 page report stated that area residents would be best served by amalgamation. It further ordered that a plebiscite be held in the town and county, no later than September 17, 2005, to determine the degree of support for amalgamation. The board would add the results of the plebiscite to the other evidence and then render a final decision.

However, the town soon appealed the ruling on the grounds that the NSURB did not have the authority to force two municipal units into amalgamation. The plebiscite was postponed while the issue was before the courts.

On October 17, 2005, the Town announced that it would be willing to back off its application for annexation if the County would drop its application for amalgamation. The County declined the offer on the 26th, indicating that it believed it was time to gauge public opinion of the issue with a plebiscite. Related to this, the County has asked that the Town drop its appeal of the NSURB authority and accept a plebiscite.

Street sign denoting the Gaelic heritage of modern Antigonish.

The Town did not drop its appeal and the issue remained in the courts for another five months. Finally on March 7, 2006, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal rejected the Town's appeal. This decision paved the way for a plebiscite. Soon after the court ruling, the plebiscite was scheduled for June 17.

Antigonish is the seat of the Coady International Institute.


Historical populations
Year Pop. ±%
1901 1,838 —    
1911 1,787 −2.8%
1921 1,746 −2.3%
1931 1,784 +2.2%
1941 2,157 +20.9%
1951 3,196 +48.2%
1961 4,344 +35.9%
1981 5,205 +19.8%
1986 5,291 +1.7%
1991 4,924 −6.9%
1996 4,860 −1.3%
2001 4,754 −2.2%
2006 4,236 −10.9%
2011 4,524 +6.8%

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Corey LeBlanc (October 18, 2011). "Silver to serve in Yukon". The Casket. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Micmac Locations". Micmac Tribe. Access Genealogy. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  3. ^ The Casket
  4. ^ [1], Canada Year Book 1932
  5. ^ [2], Canada Year Book 1955
  6. ^ [3], Canada Year Book 1967
  7. ^ [4], 1996 Census of Canada: Electronic Area Profiles
  8. ^ [5], Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
  9. ^ [6], Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2011 and 2006 censuses
  10. ^ Stringer Sergeant Lewis John Stringer, C.V., C.D.
  • Walsh, Patrick (1989). The History of Antigonish. Antigonish, N.S.: Scotia Design Publications. p. 320. ISBN 0-920147-02-X. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Antigonish, Nova Scotia at Wikimedia Commons