Pictou County

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Pictou County
Gaelic: Siorramachd Phiogto
Seal of MOPC.svg
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
ProvinceNova Scotia
TownsNew Glasgow / Pictou / Stellarton / Trenton / Westville
IncorporatedApril 17, 1879
Electoral Districts      

Central Nova
ProvincialPictou Centre / Pictou East / Pictou West
 • TypeFive town councils and one rural municipality
 • Land2,844.10 km2 (1,098.11 sq mi)
 • Total43,657
 • Density15.4/km2 (40/sq mi)
 • Change 2011-16
Time zoneUTC−4 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−3 (ADT)
Area code(s)902, 782
Median Earnings*$43,475 CDN
  • 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 43,657 people in 2021, a decline of 0.2 percent from 2016. Furthermore, its 2016 population is only 88.11% 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 (Poitou), a former province of 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.

18th century replica of a wooden Dutch flute ship named Hector floating in harbour
Ship Hector replica floating in Pictou Harbour


Pictou County includes the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Pictou, Westville and Trenton. It is bounded by the Northumberland Strait, Antigonish County, Guysborough County and Colchester County. Pictou Harbour and its three rivers played a vital role in the early days of settlement, as a port of entry, a means of transport and for the export of lumber and coal.


As a census division in the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Pictou County had a population of 43,657 living in 19,735 of its 22,410 total private dwellings, a change of −0.2% from its 2016 population of 43,748. With a land area of 2,844.1 km2 (1,098.1 sq mi), it had a population density of 15.4/km2 (39.8/sq mi) in 2021.[6]

Forming the majority of the Pictou County census division, the Municipality of the County of Pictou, including its Subdivisions A, B, and C, had a population of 20,676 living in 9,146 of its 11,026 total private dwellings, a change of −0.1% from its 2016 population of 20,692. With a land area of 2,795.08 km2 (1,079.19 sq mi), it had a population density of 7.4/km2 (19.2/sq mi) in 2021.[7]


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 exceptions of 1993–1997 and currently (since 2015), when Liberal MPs have been in office. The seat is currently held by Liberal MP Sean Fraser, who was elected in 2015.

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.[12][13] 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.


The former Pictou County pulp mill employed roughly 300 employees directly, with hundreds more indirect jobs in related industries.[14]

Resource based industries include coal mining, forestry, fishing, and agriculture. Manufacturing industries include Michelin Tire, Northern Pulp and Scotsburn Dairy. Web.Com operate a call center in New Glasgow. One of the largest employers in the area is Sobeys. The company started in Stellarton, where its headquarters is still located today.[15] Tourism is an important part of the economy during the summer. In 2006 employed 1,200 people and brought 45 million dollars to the economy.[16] Two provincially-owned museums operate within the county, Stellarton's Nova Scotia Museum of Industry, and the McCulloch House Museum in Pictou. 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.[17]

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.[18]

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:[19]


Pictou County is served by the weekly newspapers The News and The Advocate. Pictou County has two locally based radio station is CKEC-FM & CKEZ-FM. A sports and recreation paper is distributed monthly through the mail at no charge.[20]


The Nova Scotia Museum of Industry

There are two performance spaces in the county: the deCoste Centre in Pictou and Glasgow Square in New Glasgow. Both host 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.[21] 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.[22][23]

Notable people[edit]

Politics / Government[edit]

Music / Arts[edit]


Business / Commercial[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.[29]


County municipality and county subdivisions

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ [2] Population and dwelling counts, for Canada and census subdivisions (municipalities), 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data
  3. ^ "History of Pictou". Town of Pictou website. Archived from the original on 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  4. ^ "Placenames of Pictou & Antigonish County". Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library website. Archived from the original on 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  5. ^ "Pictou County Place Names and Origins". www.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  6. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada and census divisions". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  7. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions (municipalities), Nova Scotia". Statistics Canada. February 9, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  8. ^ Censuses 1871–1941
  9. ^ Statistics Canada: 1996, 2001, 2006 census
  10. ^ Statistics Canada: 2011 census
  11. ^ 2006 Statistics Canada Census Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada: Pictou County, Nova Scotia
  12. ^ "Research Articles". pictoucountyamalgamation.com. Retrieved 2008-10-21.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Pictou Town Council Minutes, October 24, 2005" (PDF). Town of Pictou website. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  14. ^ Joan Baxter (2017), The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, Pottersfield Press, e-edition, p. 319
  15. ^ Judith Hoegg Ryan (1995), "The Birthplace of New Scotland: An Illustrated History of Pictou County, Canada's Cradle of Industry", Formac Publishing, p. 177
  16. ^ "About PCTA". The Pictou County Tourism Association website. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  17. ^ "Planning vital for small businesses". The News website. Archived from the original on 2018-05-24. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  18. ^ Lucas Technology. "Pictou Island Ferry Service : Home Page". Archived from the original on 18 October 2008. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  19. ^ Atlantic Canada Back Road Atlas ISBN 978-1-55368-618-7 Pages 53–54, 69–71
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2018-08-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "2016 Lobster Carnival". Town of Pictou. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  22. ^ Graham, Monica (27 April 2014). "Pizza party pays off in Pictou County". The Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Pictou County's 'brown sauce' pizza shipped to Fort McMurray". CBC. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  24. ^ "First Person: On loss, a road trip and the bygone days of P.E.I.'s railway | CBC News".
  25. ^ "Dann Alexander – Words & Other Words". Dannalexander.com. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  26. ^ "Ep. 13 - Minimalism: Dann Alexander Interview".
  27. ^ Bernath, Clive. "Art Hafey: Too Nice A Guy To Fight For The Title". SecondsOut.com. Knockout Entertainment Ltd. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  28. ^ Eisen, Lou. "The Story of Art Hafey". Fight Network. Archived from the original on 2013-12-28. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  29. ^ Interview, Information Morning, CBC Radio 1, Halifax Nova Scotia, 6:20am 15 January 2009

External links[edit]