New cultural connections at historic Shubenacadie waterway

News release

Shubenacadie Canal Commission expands river experience with new waterway initiatives and interpretation exhibits

October 29, 2020 · Dartmouth, Nova Scotia · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Diverse and meaningful tourist experiences strengthen the region’s tourism industry. This is why the federal government is working closely with communities to help attract investment in new visitor opportunities that will help build more inclusive and prosperous local economies.

Since 1986, the Shubenacadie Canal Commission (SCC) has promoted its waterways as a world-class historical and recreational resource for visitors and the community, supporting tourism and evoking local pride.

This month, the Commission will begin research and consultations into initiatives that will highlight the natural and cultural history of the Shubenacadie waterway. The project will include updates to the Fairbanks Centre in Dartmouth. New exhibits in the interpretation centre will promote cultural awareness and the historical contributions of women, Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Gaelic, African Nova Scotians and immigrants to the canal and surrounding areas.

Drawing visitors with investments in culture and history

Today, Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced a non-repayable Government of Canada contribution of $227,000 towards these initiatives. The Government of Nova Scotia is also contributing $227,000.

This project will help the Commission identify, build and improve infrastructure along the Shubenacadie River to increase outdoor visitation and generate economic activity for the region.

Today’s announcement is further proof of the Government of Canada’s commitment to support the Atlantic Canadian tourism industry through this difficult time. Initiatives like this one will help the tourism sector come back strong, get Atlantic Canadians back to work and ensure that all communities can fully participate in Canada’s economic recovery.


“The Shubenacadie Canal Waterway and the Fairbanks Centre are both so important to our community! I am proud that work is being done to illustrate important stories around the historical Shubenacadie Canal. This project will draw new visitors to Dartmouth to learn about the cultural memory, both past and present, of the Mi’kmaw Nation and other groups who have used these expansive waterways. Now, as visitors travel the river, explore the various offerings or visit interpretation sites, they will be reminded of the contributions to the area many have made before them.”

-      Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour

“A diverse blend of historical, cultural and natural tourism experiences helps to create choice destinations with vibrant and rewarding activities. We are proud to invest in infrastructure improvements that will benefit the local economy and highlight the historical significance of the Shubenacadie Canal system.”

-       Kody Blois, Member of Parliament for Kings – Hants 

“The Shubenacadie Canal waterways are a valuable recreation and tourism asset enjoyed by residents and visitors year-round. The system links to several rural communities throughout the province and helps to generate economic activity. Our support for this project will ensure users have the best experience possible, while learning about the system’s significant and diverse history.”

-       Darrell Samson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook

“The Shubenacadie Canal, with its surrounding trails, has become an escape to nature for local trail users, Nova Scotians and tourists – just minutes from the heart of the city. The canal has a rich history, and this project will ensure the contributions of underrepresented groups, including the Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotians, women and families, are reflected throughout the park’s interpretation panels.”

-       The Honourable Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Minister, Communities, Culture and Heritage 

“The SCC is honoured to receive funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia. Transitions will focus on new and innovative projects that will increase awareness, access and usage of the 114-kilometre Shubenacadie waterway. As well, the project will aim to tell the stories of more diverse peoples whose histories are intertwined with the waterway and canal system and remain to be told through the historical mandate of the SCC.”

-       William McIntyre, Chair, Shubenacadie Canal Commission (SCC)

Quick facts

  • Constructed between 1826 and 1856, the Shubenacadie Canal is among the oldest canals in Canada. It extends from Halifax Harbour to the Bay of Fundy and served as a route for transporting goods.

  • The canal was declared a National Historic Civil Engineering Site in 1984 and is currently only open to small watercraft.

  • The Mi’kmaq used the Shubenacadie River and surrounding lakes as a major transportation route. Stone points, ancient cutting and gouging tools and other artifacts found along the waterway date back over 4,000 years. 

  • Federal funding is provided through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund (ICF). Provincial funding is provided through the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

  • Working in partnership with Atlantic communities and stakeholders, ICF builds on the strengths of communities and provides the tools needed to identify opportunities available for their sustainable economic growth.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Economic
Development and Official Languages

Chris Brooks           
Director, Communications and Outreach                             
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Brett Loney
Communications Director
Communities, Culture and Heritage 

Claire Halpern
Executive Director
Shubenacadie Canal Commission

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