Arichat, Nova Scotia

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Not to be confused with West Arichat, Nova Scotia.
The island community of Arichat, Isle Madame, Nova Scotia as seen from Cannon Look-Off. These cannons commemorate the eighteenth century period of the community's long history.
The island community of Arichat, Isle Madame, Nova Scotia as seen from Cannon Look-Off. These cannons commemorate the eighteenth century period of the community's long history.
Arichat is located in Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 45°30′40.17″N 61°0′46.5″W / 45.5111583°N 61.012917°W / 45.5111583; -61.012917
Country  Canada
Province  Nova Scotia
District Richmond County
Established 1785
 • Type Village
Time zone EST (UTC-4)
 • Summer (DST) AST (UTC-4)
Postal code span B0E
Area code(s) 902
Front entrance of the Cathedral, displaying the twin towers and two story windows

Arichat is a Canadian village in Nova Scotia. It is one of the oldest communities in the province, dating back to the 18th century.

It is a district of Richmond County on Isle Madame.


Arichat is located on what forms a protected natural harbour. As such, it was an important gem in the maritime province of New France, along with the contemporary capital of Ile Royale, Louisbourg.

After the British victory in the Seven Years' War, Arichat would be a gem in the fishery trade, the emperors of which were Charles Robin and John Janvrin, amongst others.

During the American Revolution, on 22 September 1776, Canso, Nova Scotia was attacked by American privateer John Paul Jones - the Father of the American Navy. The privateer sailed on the USS Providence and destroyed fifteen vessels, and damaged much property on shore. There he recruited men to fill the vacancies created by manning his prizes, burned a British fishing schooner, sank a second, and captured a third besides a shallop which he used as a tender. Jones then pillaged the community of Petit-de-Grat and Arichat and then returned to Boston.

Jerseyman Island[edit]

Jerseyman Island protects Arichat harbour, acting as a natural breakwater. Having been used by the local Mi'kmaq for thousands of years. With the arrival of the Europeans to the area in the 1500s, the island would become a haven for the cod fishery, with the first North American branch of the Robin Company being established in 1764. During the American Revolution, the island as well as villages on Isle Madame were attacked by Jones' crew and the stores were pillaged and burned, eventually being rebuild in Arichat.[1]

The island remains uninhabited to this day, with the lighthouse becoming unmanned in 1978.

LeNoir Forge Museum[edit]

The LeNoir Forge was originally built in 1793 by Thomas LeNoir and his brother Simon. Both were natives of France. They were skilled locksmiths; however the monetary return for their labor was not as rewarding as hoped and they eventually returned to regular blacksmithing. During this period of history shipbuilding and repair was flourishing on Isle Madame. The forge produced materials that were used in this industry. By the end of the 19th century the heyday of wooden sailing ships was over, business dwindled and the forge eventually fell into disrepair. The Isle Madame Board of Trade took on the sponsorship to restore this stone building as a 1967 centennial and municipal project.[2]

Educational Institutions[edit]

On July 20th, 1853, Dr. Colin Francis Mackinnon founded the Arichat Seminary, after being appointed Bishop of Arichat by Pope Pius IX. In need of Catholic Priests, the Seminary remained in Arichat for two years until moving to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, which would later become St. Francis Xavier University [1]

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

The Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame de l'Assomption was first constructed in 1835, with its first Mass being celebrated in 1837. The original building was destroyed and rebuilt. In 1894, it underwent significant structural changes, seeing the lone steeple being replaced with the two towers and two story stained glass windows which have become symbols of Arichat, and is easily the most visible structure from most points in the village.[3]

The building reflects a combination of Neo-Classical and Gothic architectural styles and is considered to be the oldest surviving Roman Catholic Church in Nova Scotia.[4]

Since 1884, it was the episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arichat, as its former cathedral Église Notre Dame de l’Assomption testifies.

However the see was moved in 1886 to Antigonish, and the title of the diocese was adapted.

Arichat is also home to St. John's Anglican Parish. Originally build in 1828, the church was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1985. It was designed by the famous architect William Harris.[5]


Dating back to 1847, the Arichat Courthouse was designed by Alexander McDonald, known for his Greek-inspired facades similar to those he designed in Sherbrooke and Antigonish. The rear addition was built in 1978 to house municipal offices. Court has not sat at the building since 2009, but it still remains a symbol of the reach of law on Isle Madame.[6]


Lighthouse of Marche Point, standing at the edge of Cap Auguet

Two lighthouses stand at the entrances to Arichat Harbour, Marche Point, originally built in the 1850s, after a petition signed by fisherman, merchants and members of the community was sent to the Legislature. The structure was replaced in 1869 and then again in 1949 by the current structure, along with a bungalow which has since been moved into Arichat.

A second lighthouse stands at Jerseyman Island, established in 1872, at the South West entrance to the harbour and placed the initial call for help during the 1970 sinking of the SS Arrow.[7]

St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Center[edit]

St. Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre (also known as St. Anne Centre) is located at 2313 Highway 206 in Arichat, Nova Scotia. The Nursing Home component consists of twenty-four Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness Continuing Care Long Term Care beds and five Veterans Affairs Canada beds.The Acute Care component, St. Anne Centre Emergency/Outpatient Department and the Diabetes Education Centre, are located on the east side of the Centre. All the components of St. Anne Centre are accredited by Accreditation Canada.[8]

Sinking of the Arrow[edit]

On February 4, 1970, the SS Arrow struck Cerberus Rock, a navigational hazard which lies just below the surface of the Chedabucto Bay. The ship would eventually split in two, releasing over 10,000 tons of oil into the Bay, coating 75 miles of shoreline and devastating the local fishing industry. Currently, the wreck remains a popular dive site for locals and members of the international community.[9]

In 2015, the Arrow began to leak fuel nearly 40 years after sinking. Divers began to remove approximately 20,000 liters of leftover oil to prevent further harm to the fishery.[10]


  1. ^ "Jerseyman Island". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  2. ^ "LeNoir Forge Museum"
  3. ^ "Grow Isle Madame". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  4. ^ " -". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  5. ^ "Grow Isle Madame". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  6. ^ "Historic Cape Breton courthouse for sale - Local - Cape Breton Post". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  7. ^ "Guiding Lights of Isle Madame | Isle Madame Lighthouse Preservation Society". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  8. ^ "– St Anne Community and Nursing Care Centre – Arichat, NS". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  9. ^ Atlantic, Maritime Museum of the (2005-06-30). "On the Rocks: Shipwrecks of Nova Scotia - Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  10. ^ "Why shipwreck divers are racing to clean up a ship that sank 45 years ago". CBC News. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°30′40.17″N 61°0′46.5″W / 45.5111583°N 61.012917°W / 45.5111583; -61.012917