Nova Scotia Archives

'Canada's Ocean Playground'

The Tourism Industry in Nova Scotia, 1870-1970


Background Reading

When did identifiable 'tourism' first begin in Nova Scotia? How did it develop into a distinct industry, then grow and adapt across succeeding years? When did government become involved and why? How and when did promoting Nova Scotia as a travel destination begin? How has tourism marketing changed over the years?

There are no quick answers to any of these questions, but to help you explore the historical context behind tourism in Nova Scotia, and to understand more about the visual content featured on this Website, we've provided three background articles. Each offers a wealth of information for general reading, for school projects... and perhaps even to stimulate new research into what is now one of the province's largest and most important service industries.

Jim Morrison's article, 'American Tourists in Sportsmen's Paradise, 1871-1940', explores the hey-day of roughing it in the backwoods of Annapolis and Queens Counties — wealthy Americans, rustic accommodations, summers of fish, food and flies. First-hand reminiscences provided by local residents with long memories constitute oral history at its best. The article also offers useful insight into the social and economic impact of tourism on rural Nova Scotia in the years before World War II.

Jay White's contribution, 'Nova Scotia's Early Tourism Industry, 1870-1940', presents a rigorous introduction to the infrastructure, economics and innovative business collaborations that shaped the industry through its formative years. Essentially, development progressed in a straight line parallel with, dependent on, and inseparable from the opportunities brought by modern transportation — steamship lines to railway companies to the automobile and beyond. White's article also explores the early days of commercial public relations and marketing, especially the advent and growth of tourism literature.

Lastly, 'Government Gets Involved in Tourism, 1923-1970' traces the interface between government and the private sector in developing a collaborative approach to tourism promotion and marketing. Government's intent was clear from the beginning — 'Tell the world about Nova Scotia' — and the article explores this role, including why concepts such as 'Canada's Ocean Playground' remain firmly fixed even now in the minds of the travelling public.