Antigonish is a town in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The town is home to St. Francis Xavier University and the oldest continuous Highland games outside Scotland. It is approximately 160 kilometres (100 miles) northeast of Halifax, the provincial capital. Take a look below for 25 interesting and fun facts about Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.
1. Antigonish had been the location of an annual Mi’kmaq summer coastal community prior to European settlement.
2. The original definition of the name has been lost as the Mi’kmaq language has undergone many revisions over the last two centuries.
3. The first European settlement took place in 1784 when Lt. Colonel Timothy Hierlihy of the Royal Nova Scotia Volunteer Regiment received a large land grant surrounding Antigonish Harbour.
4. Hierlihy and his party founded the Dorchester settlement, named for Sir Guy Carleton, who was Governor General of Canada and subsequently Lord Dorchester.
5. Shortly after, Sgt Nathan Pushee of the Duke of Cumberland’s Regiment settled at Chedabucto (present-day Guysborough), eventually establishing present-day Amherst, Nova Scotia.
6. In 1796 another settler, with the assistance of a First Nations guide, blazed a trail from Antigonish Harbour to Brown’s Mountain, using the shortest route.
7. This trail became a guide for travellers and eventually evolved into a winding Main Street.
8. By the late 1820s, Dorchester was commonly referred to as Antigonish. In 1852, a newspaper, The Casket, began publication. It was recently purchased by Bounty Print in 2015.
9. St. Francis Xavier University was established in Antigonish in 1855, having been founded in 1853 in Arichat, Cape Breton and originally called the College of East Bay after East Bay, Nova Scotia where an earlier institution had once existed (1824–1829).
10. St.F.X. was originally a Catholic seminary and was granted full university powers in 1866 by an act of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.
11. The town is also the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish.
12. The first hospital in Antigonish opened on June 10, 1906.
13. Antigonish is notable for having a social movement named for it, the Antigonish Movement, launched from St. Francis Xavier University in the 1920s by local priests and educators including Rev. Dr. Moses Coady and Father Jimmy Tompkins.
14. In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Antigonish recorded a population of 4,364 living in 1,997 of its 2,596 total private dwellings, a change of -3.5% from its 2011 population of 4,524.
15. With a land area of 5.01 km2 (1.93 sq mi), it had a population density of 871.1/km2 (2,256.0/sq mi) in 2016.
16. Antigonish is a service centre for the surrounding region that includes Antigonish and Guysborough Counties and many local businesses are based in the service sector.
17. There are no major industrial operations located in the town or county.
18. The workforce is primarily white collar with the largest employers being St. Martha’s Regional Hospital and St. Francis Xavier University.
19. Until 2011, Antigonish accommodated Canada Post’s National Philatelic Centre, which provided mail-order services for worldwide collectors of Canadian stamps.
20. In 2005, the provincial government approved the twinning of Highway 104 from Addington Forks Road easterly 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to Taylor Road. In 2017, the provincial government announced that a further 38 kilometres (24 mi) from Sutherlands River to Antigonish would be twinned, thus creating an uninterrupted four-lane highway network from Halifax to Antigonish. The project is expected to be completed by the early to mid 2020s, without the creation of tolls.
21. The Antigonish area experienced great deal of economic growth and retail development between 2004 and 2006 when the retail landscape of the town and county changed significantly. Much of the growth took place in the Post Road area, just outside town. Atlantic Superstore, Walmart, and Central constructed new stores while the former Atlantic SuperValue, also located in this area, was redeveloped as a Staples Business Depot.
22. Other areas also saw growth. In June 2005, Shoppers Drug Mart opened a new store downtown while the NSLC opened a new store attached to the existing Sobeys store, located next to mall.
23. A multi-unit retail annex was constructed at the local shopping mall in the spring of 2006. This complex houses a new Cleve’s sporting goods store, and other businesses and services. The mall area also saw the construction of a Boston Pizza restaurant which opened in late 2006. The new A&W restaurant that opened in February 2007, could also be considered part of the building boom as construction began in late 2006.
24. St. Francis Xavier University is located in Antigonish. St. Francis Xavier has 4,267 full-time students and 500 part-time students. It was named as the best primarily undergraduate university in Canada by Maclean’s magazine for five consecutive years (2002–2006). St. Francis Xavier is also well known for the X-Ring and the Coady International Institute.
25. The elementary and secondary schools in Antigonish fall under the jurisdiction of the Strait Regional School Board. Antigonish is home to three public schools: Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, St. Andrew Junior School and the Antigonish Education Centre.