Pictou County, Nova Scotia

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Pictou County
Location of Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Location of Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 45°30′N 62°36′W / 45.5°N 62.6°W / 45.5; -62.6Coordinates: 45°30′N 62°36′W / 45.5°N 62.6°W / 45.5; -62.6
Country  Canada
Province  Nova Scotia
Towns New Glasgow / Pictou / Stellarton / Trenton / Westville
Established                 1835
Electoral Districts      

Central Nova
Provincial Pictou Centre / Pictou East / Pictou West
 • Type Municipality of Pictou County
 • Land 2,845.26 km2 (1,098.56 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1][2]
 • Total 45,643
 • Density 16.0/km2 (41/sq mi)
 • Change 2001-06 Decrease1.0%
 • Census Rankings
 - Census divisions
 Subdivision A
 Subdivision B
 Subdivision C
 - Towns
 New Glasgow
 - Reserves
 Fisher's Grant 24

6,412 (566 of 5,008)
6,103 (588 of 5,008)
9,038 (421 of 5,008)

9,455 (404 of 5,008)
4,717 (720 of 5,008)
3,813 (844 of 5,008)
3,805 (846 of 5,008)
2,741 (1,060 of 5,008)

429 (3,222 of 5,008)
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC−3)
Area code(s) 902
Dwellings 21,768
Median Earnings* $43,475 CDN
Website county.pictou.ns.ca
  • Median household income, 2005 (all households)

Pictou County is a county in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It was established in 1835, and was formerly a part of Halifax County from 1759 to 1835. It had a population of 45,643 people in 2011, which represents a decline of 1.9 percent from 2006. Furthermore, its 2011 population is only 91.93% of the census population in 1991. It is the sixth most populous county in Nova Scotia.


Hector Pioneer by renowned sculptor John Wilson, Pictou, Nova Scotia

The origin of the name "Pictou" is obscure. Possible Mi'kmaq derivations include "Piktook" meaning an explosion of gas, and "Bucto" meaning fire, possibly related to the coal fields in the area. It might also be a corruption of Poictou, an old province in France. Nicolas Denys named the harbour La rivière de Pictou in the 1660s.[3][4][5]

Pictou was a receiving point for many Scottish immigrants moving to a new home in northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island following the Highland Clearances of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Consequently, the town's slogan is "The Birthplace of New Scotland"; the first wave of immigrants is acknowledged to have arrived on September 15, 1773, on the Hector.


Pictou County includes the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Pictou, Westville and Trenton.



Pictou County is wholly within the federal electoral district of Central Nova. The county has been represented federally by Conservative MPs since 1957, with the exception of 1993-1997 when a Liberal MP was elected.

Pictou County is divided into three provincial electoral districts, namely Pictou Centre, Pictou East and Pictou West. All three are currently held by PC MLAs in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

The towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Pictou, Westville and Trenton each have their own town councils. The Municipality of Pictou County serves the remaining rural areas, including Pictou Island. Amalgamation of these six municipal units is occasionally considered.[10][11] Pictou County District Planning Commission provides planning, development and waste disposal services to all the communities in the county.

Pictou Landing First Nation has reserves at Pictou Landing, Fisher's Grant and Merigomish Harbour.


Resource based industries include coal mining, forestry, fishing and agriculture. Manufacturing industries include Michelin Tire, Northern Pulp and Scotsburn Dairy. Convergys Inc operate a call center in New Glasgow. Tourism is an important part of the economy during the summer, and in 2006 employed 1200 people and brought 45 million dollars to the economy.[12] Rail car manufacturer Trenton Works was closed in 2007 when owners Greenbrier moved production to Mexico. There are 2,400 small and medium-sized businesses that collectively generate more than 15,000 jobs.[13]

The Pictou County Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy group that speaks as a united voice on behalf of the business community.


Two highways designated as part of the national Trans-Canada Highway system provide the only controlled-access roads in the county. They are Highway 104, which traverses the county from west to east, and Highway 106 the short north-south spur to the Northumberland Ferries Limited terminal at Caribou.

The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway is a freight line connecting Truro to Sydney, with spurs at Stellarton and Trenton serving local industries such as Trenton Generating Station. Via Rail Canada abandoned passenger rail service in the county on January 15, 1990, following nationwide budget cuts.

Maritime Bus provide motor coach service to New Glasgow.

Northumberland Ferries Limited operates a seasonal passenger-vehicle ferry service from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island. A separate passenger-only ferry service is also operated seasonally from Caribou to Pictou Island.[1]

Trenton Aerodrome is a private commercial airport owned and operated by Sobeys.

Access routes[edit]

Highways and numbered routes that run through the county, including external routes that start or finish at the county limits:[14]


Pictou County is served by the daily newspaper The News and the weekly newspaper The Advocate. The only locally based radio station is CKEC-FM, but stations in other counties and Prince Edward Island also provide coverage. A monthly sports and recreation paper is distributed monthly through the mail at no charge.[15]


There are two performance spaces in the county, the deCoste Centre in Pictou and Glasgow Square in New Glasgow. Both house several local musicians and events, including summer sounds series at the deCoste and the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee in August at the Glasgow Square.

Many of the towns and villages host their own parades and events throughout the year.Read By The Sea is an annual one day literary festival held in the village of River John. The New Scotland Days Festival in Pictou each September is a celebration of the county's Scottish heritage. Pictou also hosts the Lobster Carnival every July since 1934. It was voted the best festival in Canada.[16] New Glasgow's Art at Night is an annual one night art event in downtown New Glasgow. Eventide Art Hub in New Glasgow hosts an Art Gallery, Artist Studios, and a retail space for artists and musicians to sell their work.

Museums include the Northumberland Fisheries Museum, the Hector Heritage Quay, and the McCulloch House Museum in Pictou, the Pictou County Military Museum in Westville, the Carmichael House in New Glasgow, and the Museum of Industry in Stellarton.

Pictou County is also known for the regional pizza variant known as Pictou County Pizza, which can be shipped to former residents living across Canada through UPS.[17][18]

Notable people[edit]

There are claims by a Johnston family of Pictou, Nova Scotia that the Mad Trapper of Rat River was Owen Albert Johnston from Pictou County.[21]


For a list of communities in Pictou County, see List of communities.

Incorporated communities[edit]


Native reserves

Census subdivisions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 2006 Statistics Canada Community Profile: Pictou County, Nova Scotia
  2. ^ Statistics Canada Population and dwelling counts, for Canada and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data
  3. ^ "History of Pictou". Town of Pictou website. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  4. ^ "Placenames of Pictou & Antigonish County". Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library website. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  5. ^ "Pictou County Place Names and Origins". www.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  6. ^ Censuses 1871-1941
  7. ^ Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
  8. ^ Statistics Canada: 2011 census
  9. ^ 2006 Statistics Canada Census Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada: Pictou County, Nova Scotia
  10. ^ "Research Articles". pictoucountyamalgamation.com. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Pictou Town Council Minutes, October 24, 2005" (PDF). Town of Pictou website. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  12. ^ "About PCTA". The Pictou County Tourism Association website. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  13. ^ "Planning vital for small businesses". The News website. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  14. ^ Atlantic Canada Back Road Atlas ISBN 978-1-55368-618-7 Pages 53-54, 69-71
  15. ^ http://www.sports-report.ca
  16. ^ "2016 Lobster Carnival". Town of Pictou. Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  17. ^ Graham, Monica (27 April 2014). "Pizza party pays off in Pictou County". The Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  18. ^ "Pictou County's 'brown sauce' pizza shipped to Fort McMurray". CBC. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  19. ^ Bernath, Clive. "Art Hafey: Too Nice A Guy To Fight For The Title". SecondsOut.com. Knockout Entertainment Ltd. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Eisen, Lou. "The Story of Art Hafey". Fight Network. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  21. ^ Interview, Information Morning, CBC Radio 1, Halifax Nova Scotia, 6:20am 15 January 2009

External links[edit]