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Windsor is a small town located in central Nova Scotiamarker at the junction of the Avonmarker and St. Croix Rivermarker. It is the largest community in western Hants County with a 2001 population of 3,778 and was at one time the shire town of the county.

Windsor is 66 kilometres northwest of Halifaxmarker, approximately 20 kilometres from the eastern end of the Annapolis Valleymarker. Windsor used to be a railway junction for the Dominion Atlantic Railway where a route to Truromarker joined with the mainline between Halifax and Yarmouthmarker.

Today the community is a local service centre and nucleus of the West Hants Municipal Districtmarker.

Fundy Gypsum, a mining company operating gypsum mines just east of town, is a major employer in the region. Southwestern Nova Scotia's only alpine ski hill is located 3 kilometres up the Avon River valley from Windsor at Martockmarker. It is home to the Windsor Pumpkin Regatta.


The region encompassing present day Windsor was originally known as Pesaquid, a Mi'kmaq term meaning "Junction of Waters". This name referred to the confluence of the Avon and St. Croix rivers, which flow into the Minas Basinmarker.

Fort Edward
French were the first to settle in the area around 1685. British first settled in 1749. They built Fort Edwardmarker in 1750, which later burned down except for its wooden blockhouse. That blockhouse is now the last of its kind in Canadamarker and is a major tourist attraction in Windsor. Fort Edward and Windsor played a major role in the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755.

The Township of Windsor was founded in 1764, and the next year, its first Agricultural Fair was held. This fair is still continued today, and is actually the oldest and longest-running such fair in North America.

In the American Revolution, Windsor was an important British stronghold. A relief force was mustered at Windsor to crush the American-led siege at the Battle of Fort Cumberlandmarker in 1776.

Following the American Revolution, Windsor developed its gypsum deposits, usually selling it to American markets at Passamaquoddy Baymarker. Often this trade was illegal; in 1820, an effort to stop this smuggling trade resulted in the so-called "Plaster War," in which local smugglers resoundingly defeated the efforts of New Brunswickmarker officials to bring the trade under their control.

The University of King's Collegemarker and its secondary school, King's Collegiate School, were founded in 1788-1789 by United Empire Loyalists as Anglican academic institutions. The college remained in the community until a disastrous fire on February 3, 1920. In 1922 it moved to Halifax, with the assistance of the Carnegie Foundation and continues to this day.

The King's Collegiate School continued operation on the campus and was joined by a sister girls school, 'Edgehill School', in 1890. In 1976 both institutions merged to form King's-Edgehill School, and remains the oldest independent (ie. private) school in the Commonwealth outside of the United Kingdommarker.

Thomas Chandler Haliburton brought fame to Windsor during the 1800s with his writings about a clockmaker named Sam Slick.
In 1878, Windsor was officially incorporated as a town. Its harbour made the town a centre for shipping and shipbuilding during the age of sail. As the port of registry for the massive wooden shipbuilding industry of the Minas Basinmarker, Windsor was the homeport of one of the largest fleet of sailing ships in Canada. Notable vessels registered at Windsor included Hamburgmarker, the largest three masted barque built in Canada and Kings County, the largest four masted barque. Following the completion of the Nova Scotia Railway's line from Halifax in 1857, the town became an important steamship connection giving Halifax access to the Bay of Fundymarker shipping routes. The railway continued westward as the Windsor and Annapolis Railway in 1870, eventually connecting to Yarmouth as the Dominion Atlantic Railway in 1893. No longer the railhead, Windsor's steamship connection diminished but the central location of Windsor on the railway fostered the growth of numerous factories such as textile mills and fertilizer plants.
Hants Community Hospital in Windsor
Over the course of its history, Windsor was victim to two disastrous fires, on October 17, 1897, and January 6, 1924, both of which destroyed part of the town.

In 1970, the construction of a flood-control causeway carrying Highway 101 and the Dominion Atlantic Railway across the Avon Rivermarker closed Windsor off from shipping and has affected navigation in the Avon River downstream from the causeway due to excessive siltation. Highway 101 is scheduled to be upgraded to a 4-lane expressway in the future and there have been discussions about replacing the causeway with railroad and highway bridges to improve water flow. Today, the Avon River on the upstream side of the causeway which is obstructed from freely flowing into the Bay of Fundy is called 'Lake Pisiquid'.


Windsor maintains a claim as the cradle of ice hockey, based upon a reference (in a novel by Thomas Haliburton) of boys from King's Collegiate School playing "hurley", on the frozen waters of 'Long Pond' adjacent to the school's campus during the early 1800s. Students from King's-Edgehill School still play hockey on "Long Pond", a pond proclaimed by some as the "Cradle of Hockey", located at the farm of Howard Dill. Windsor also boasts the oldest hockey arena in Canada, the Stannus Street Rink, which no longer hosts hockey games. The town's current arena is Hants Exhibition Arena. The town was also recently involved in the shooting of a television series called Road Hockey Rumble. The town of Windsor is also home to the historic Windsor Royals Jr. B Hockey Club, as well as the Avon River Rats Jr. C Hockey Club.


Municipal government

The town operates under a Council/Manager system of local government consisting of current elected Mayor Paul Beazley, four elected Councillors and a Chief Administrative Officer.

See also


External links

Further reading

  • Joshua M. Smith, Borderland Smuggling: Patriots, Loyalists, and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783-1820 (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006).
  • Garth Vaughan, The Puck stops Here: The origin of Canada's great game - Ice Hockey, (Goose Lane Editions, 1996)

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