Days of Yore...
Oh, the lure and lore of days of yore! Mahone Bay was originally home to the indigenous Mi’kmaq people who called the area Mushamush. Since colonists began arriving in the region in the early 1600s, this cozy nook on the bay has attracted generations of settlers. The French later named it La Baye de Toutes Iles — The Bay of Many Islands — and estimates have it at 365 of them! In 1754, the British renamed it Mahone Bay from the French term mahonne, a large Turkish barge favoured for stowing booty by pirates and privateers — scalawags familiar to our storied community! When you get here, you’ll soon see this is no ordinary town.
To bolster their strength in this corner of the world and with promises of land, food, and tools, the British convinced thousands of loyal Foreign Protestants from Germany and Switzerland to settle here. These hardy farmers struggled to cultivate large plots of rocky land in a region that they quickly recognized was better suited to more marine-like endeavours, and they turned to the sea for its seemingly unlimited bounty. As time unfolded, and with true German resourcefulness, Mahone Bay became renowned for its fine shipyards and prosperous fishing fleets. Even now you don't have to go far to hear a German surname like Zwicker or Eisenhauer spoken with the characteristic accent of the south shore of Nova Scotia. The same determined grit still runs in our veins.
Mahone Bay is a superb example of a settlement that has evolved over the centuries while honouring the best of its traditional heritage. You’ll be charmed by the well-maintained, century-old houses and buildings that bear witness to our founders' lives, values, and legacy. Many are still family homes and others now function as inns, artisans' studios and shops, eclectic boutiques, and restaurants and cafés. They all embrace those age-old qualities of craftsmanship and trusted service combined with present-day ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. Like our founders, we’re always spinning what we have into an innovative and flourishing community.
Settlers still arrive from all over the world to make Mahone Bay their home. We welcome you to make it yours too. Visit us and see why!
For more history on Mahone Bay please visit our wonderful Museum