Travel

The untold story of the Canadian Mayflower and the birth of New Scotland

Episode 1

Here & There host Liz Beatty takes us on a journey of revelations that uncovers the other half of the story of one family’s part in the birth of Canada’s New Scotland. It’s a road trip deep into a sea-change moment happening across Nova Scotia, and to the precise intersection point of two cultures and two families that no one saw coming.

  • Published Mar 15, 2024
  • Updated May 21
In the spring of 2022, the Hector was in the process of being restored. The ship — some call it the Canadian Mayflower — delivered 189 Scottish settlers to the shores of Nova Scotia in 1783, kicking off a wave of settlement that would forever change the lives of the Mi’kmaq who saved them. (Photo: Liz Beatty)
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For as long as I’ve known my husband Tim, the ship Hector, a 26-metre three-masted brig, has been part of his family lore. Some call it the Canadian Mayflower. Its harrowing eleven-week voyage from Ullapool, Scotland, delivered some 189 souls to the shores of Nova Scotia’s Pictou Harbour in September 1773, just over 250 years ago. Eighteen children on board were buried at sea. When they finally landed, it was too late for the growing season, with none of the promised accommodations, only limited provisions. And if not for the Mi’kmaq, those colonists who made it would have perished that first winter too. 

Tim’s direct ancestors were on that 1773 voyage and while his siblings have dug into his family’s part in this beginning of New Scotland, Tim and I had a different family-roots pilgrimage in mind.  Maybe it’s the moment we’re in as a country, maybe it’s that the impacts of colonization have finally become part of mainstream knowledge, or maybe it’s this one stark fact: Tim would not be here if not for the Mi’kmaq. So, as recent celebrations mark the quarter millennium of these Scottish colonists’ arrival, we found ourselves drawn to a very different guiding question for our journey: Is there is a part of Nova Scotia where we can imagine this Mi’kmaw homeland the moment before the colonists arrived, before everything changed?  

This episode reveals the surprising answers that we found.

Special thanks to James Gray for our theme song music. 

Todd Labrador and daughter Melissa pose with Todd’s birchbark canoe, which is proudly displayed in the Kejimkujik National Park visitors centre. (Photo: Liz Beatty)
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Welcome to Here & There: A Canadian Geographic Travel podcast

This is the first episode of Here & There: A Canadian Geographic Travel podcast hosted by Liz Beatty. Here & There shares deep-dive travel documentaries from across Canada and around the world — the sort of big-idea stories that might change everything about the way you see places and the people who live there. 

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