News release

Journals Dating from 1758 Available Online

The public will now have electronic access to all of the Nova Scotia Legislative Library’s historical journals dating from 1758.

The journals include minutes of the House of Assembly, beginning with the first meeting in 1758, and other information and reports. Initially hand-written, the journals illuminate government responses to important events while detailing the evolution of Nova Scotia as a province and the everyday lives of its people.

“A lot of people don’t realize that until 1962, the journals included government departmental reports. If you’re interested in how government spent money in the past, these reports have everything from the details of the Sambro Lighthouse and Province House to how Nova Scotia’s rail and road transportation network was built. They also have very interesting statistics on the health of Nova Scotians,” said Legislative Librarian David McDonald. “We receive a lot of questions every year from researchers looking for these reports – now we just have to provide them the link.”

In 2016, the library digitized the journals from 1867 to 1900. Canadiana.org, now part of the Canadian Research Knowledge Network, had already posted those from 1767 to 1866.

Library staff digitized the remaining journals – from 1758 to 1766 and 1901 to 2003 – during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, researchers and members of the public had to visit the library in person to review the material or request that it be sent to them.

The electronic publications are expected to be used by researchers worldwide.

Quotes:

The journals are a great source for political history. They are a guide to the issues of their day. But for some periods, they also contain a wealth of curious detail, full of human interest, that came up as the House of Assembly investigated conflicts and adjudicated claims. Making a full range of the journals digitally available will be a great help to Nova Scotia researchers and to international historians, too. Shirley Tillotson, retired professor, department of history, Dalhousie University, and Inglis Professor, University of King's College

The archive of the historic journals of the House of Assembly is a rich resource for scholars and members of the public interested in the legal, political and social history of Nova Scotia. The digitization of the earliest handwritten journals is especially valuable, as previously these documents were only available to researchers who had the time and resources to visit the Nova Scotia Archives. R. Blake Brown, Professor and Chair, department of history, Saint Mary's University

The legislative library has undertaken the massive work of presenting online the daily minutes of the early Nova Scotia House of Assembly and making them widely accessible for the first time in more than 250 years. Researchers can now follow government responses to events including the deportation of the Acadians, the revolution of the 13 colonies to the south, the settlement of the Loyal Refugees and partition of New Brunswick and Cape Breton from Nova Scotia. The newly digitized early journals are critical records showing us how we got here, as a province and as a nation. Michèle Raymond, former MLA, historical researcher, author

Quick Facts:

  • the Nova Scotia House of Assembly is the oldest in Canada, having first sat in 1758
  • in 1848, Nova Scotia became the site of the first responsible government among the colonies of the British Empire
  • the House of Assembly meets at Province House in Halifax, a National Historic Site and Canada’s oldest legislature; it opened on February 11, 1819

Additional Resources:

House of Assembly journal archives:
https://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/journals

Nova Scotia Legislative Library:
https://www.nslegislature.ca/about/library-services/

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