Municipal History

More specific information can be found at Argyle Township Court House & Archivces (ATCHA) or by contacting the Municipal Archivist and Historian, Peter Crowell at (902) 648-2493 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Argyle originated with the Grant of the Township by the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia in 1771. The bounds of the area extended from Little River in the East to Wood's Harbour and Oak Park in the West to what is now known as East Kemptville in the Northeast. Thence West to a point where it adjoins Yarmouth and Clare. Thence South and West by the courses of the Tusket River to the Burnett Grant Line following same to the place of beginning and including all of the Islands lying offshore, (The Tusket Islands, Seal Island, etc.)

The choosing of the name Argyle is, by some, attributed to Lt. Ranald McKinnon who had received a large grant of land in what was to become the Township in 1766. This man and members of his family exerted a large influence on the development of the area for many years.

The Township was part of Queen's County from 1771 to 1784. Then it became a part of the newly established Shelburne County. In 1832 the Bounds of the Township were altered and the eastern bound on the coast was established at Pubnico Beach at Lower East Pubnico and the east boundary of the Township was altered to what exists today.

In 1836 the County of Yarmouth was set off and Argyle Township became one of the two districts therein. Settlements by Europeans in Argyle predate the establishment of the Township by more than a century. It started with the arrival of the La Tours in the area, then known as Cape Sable. This area comprised all of South West Nova Scotia from Yarmouth to Shelburne. La Tour established his people at various places along the coast, mostly at river mouths, to carry on trade with the Indians of the area and to pursue the fishing industry. These settlements were not large but were growing and continued to exist until the time of the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. With the expulsion of the majority of the Acadians accomplished by 1759, the Government of the Province in Halifax undertook a major effort to obtain settlers from the New England Colonies. In Argyle, the first of these English settlers began to arrive in 1760, establishing themselves in such places as East Pubnico, Abuptic and Little River and various other places. With the return to the Province of some of the Acadian exiles in 1766, further settlements were established on the west side of Pubnico Harbour and on both shores of the lower end of the Tusket River. The next influx of settlers came in 1784 and 1785 when the Loyalists started to arrive from the American colonies. These people settled in various areas of the Township with the largest numbers settling on the Tusket River and its tributaries. From these three main groups most of the inhabitants of present day Argyle Municipality originate.

Government with representation of the people of the local level came into being with the establishment of the courts of the General Sessions of the Peace in 1789. In the case of the Townships of Argyle and Yarmouth the General Courts of Sessions were held jointly. The first meetings of these Courts were held in various places in the two Townships. Meeting houses and taverns were used for this purpose in both places. In 1803 the Court decided to establish a Gaol and Court House at Tusket Village, this being considered a central point for the two areas. This first Court House opened on October 29, 1805 at its present site in Tusket Village. This building with several modifications and additions continued to serve as the seat of Government in Argyle until 1976 when more modern and commodious quarters were provided for the purpose, nearby the original building. Argyle and Yarmouth continued to function jointly until 1855, when Yarmouth elected to try the Municipal Council form of government. The experiment did not work out for them and in 1858 they reverted to the Township system. However, since 1855 the two units have continued to function on an individual basis. In 1880 with the coming into force of the Municipalities Incorporation Act, Argyle has operated with an elected Municipal Council as it does today.

With the coming of the increased settlement starting in the 1760's, development of industry and trade went forward in the area. Shipyards were set up to build vessels of all types from sloops to full rigged ships that sailed the oceans of the world. Lumber mills were established to provide the materials for building these vessels and also to provide export cargos for them. The fishery was a very important part of the economy of Argyle from its first days and it continues so today. The wooden ship building industry was a major employer for many years but with its decline in the latter decade of the last century, Argyle's economy suffered greatly. There was a large out-migration of people to the United States and to other areas of Canada. However, those that remained have survived recessions, depressions, and other economic disasters and have adapted to prevailing conditions and continue to do so to this day.

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