Brief History of the Digby Area
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans this area was the home of the Mi'Kmaq people. the rich Fundy ecology augmented by an extensive watershed system supported a rich sustainable fishery and functioned like a water highway transporting the indigenous peoples to the interior for hunting, fishing and collection of medicinal plants. Water flowage in and out of the interior and the rich Fundy ecology together created a favorable habitat for the Mi'Kmaq people.
With the arrival of the Europeans in 1605, the area saw a slow influx of settlers. The Acadians, and later British, settlers populated the region which became the theatre of many bloody conflicts between the French and British.
During the 18th century, the community of Digby and the surrounding area was part of the Clements land holdings that extended from Annapolis Royal. At this time in history the Digby area was primarily unsettled with summer fishing settlements sparsely scattered along our Fundy shores.
In 1783 the area received a large influx of refugees from New England after the American Revolution. Referred to as United Empire Loyalists these were people who fought or sided with the British during the revolution. Tracts of land and supplies were given for their loyalty and the population dramatically changed.
By the mid 19th century lumber from the area became the primary product. Building ships to carry the goods to markets along the Eastern Seaboard and West Indies brought much wealth to the area. Fishing and farming were also staples of the economy. As the lumber era declined so did the economy. The emergence of the industrial economy and the centralization to cities and larger towns lead to a population decline.
Today, the area continues to be a major fishing community and regional transportation hub. In recent years the Municipal Government has moved to develop the area as a green zone and through various renewable energy projects has diminished the carbon footprint of the district and has positioned the Digby area as one of the greenest in Canada. For over a century the area has been a popular international tourist destination due to its dramatic marine environment and natural beauty, and the fact that the absence of large industrial development over the years has left many historic villages intact and largely unchanged. The area is rich in heritage and charm and is a nature lover's paradise.