Liverpool is a Canadian community and former town located along the Atlantic Ocean of the Province of Nova Scotia's South Shore. It is situated within the Region of Queens Municipality which is the local governmental unit that comprises all of Queens County, Nova Scotia. Liverpool is located along Trunk Route 3 ("The Lighthouse Route") and at the junction of major Highway 103 (at Exit 19) and Trunk Route 8 ("The Kejimkujik Scenic Drive") which leads to the Bay of Fundy.
Liverpool's harbour was an ancient seasonal camp of Nova Scotia's native Mi'kmaq and was known as Ogomkigeak meaning "dry sandy place" and Ogukegeok, meaning "place of departure". Samuel de Champlain originally named the harbour Port Rossignol, in honour of Captain Rossignol, an early 17th-century founder of New France in North America who used the harbour for fur trading. Later Nicolas Denys, a pioneering 17th-century French explorer and trader of Nova Scotia, was granted land here by the leader of Acadia, Isaac de Razilly (c. 1632). The inner harbour near the mouth of the Mersey River later became the site of a small 18th century Acadian settlement known as Lingley.
Following the Expulsion of the Acadians during the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Liverpool was founded by New England Planters (commercially organized settlers) as a fishing port in 1759, and was named after Liverpool in England – which also lies along its own Mersey River. Silvanus Cobb was an original proprietor of the town. In 1759 Capt. Cobb became a proprietor of the new township of Liverpool. Liverpool township was to run from Cape Sable Island to Port Medway and continuing 14 miles inland from the shore. Sylvanus transported many of the other original residents to the new settlement. On July 1, 1760, at the first meeting of the proprietors, Capt. Cobb made a petition to be granted a piece of land to build a house and a wharf. The land was granted and the house was built at the foot of present day Wolfe Street. There is a park and monument to Cobb at the site of his original home which was built from materials he transported from New England.
Liverpool's struggle for identity during the revolutionary war has been the subject of considerable study by historians. The town was at first sympathetic to the cause of the American Revolution, with outlying outports like Port Medway and Port Mouton almost continuously visited by American privateers, but after repeated attacks by American privateers on local shipping interests and one direct attack on the town itself, Liverpool citizens turned against the rebellion.
Raid on Liverpool (1778)
On April 24, 1778, the HMS Blonde under the command of Captain Milligan ran aground the French ship Duc de Choiseul under the command of Captain Pattier in Liverpool Harbour. There was an exchange of cannon fire for over three hours. A number of the French crew were killed, drowned and wounded. The 100 remaining French crew were taken prisoner. The arms that were on the wrecked ship continued to attract American privateers over the following month. Consequently, on May 1, American privateers raided Liverpool, ravaging and pillaging a number of the houses and stores, including the store of Simeon Perkins, a significant town leader. Three weeks later, on May 21, the same privateers returned and tried to tow the wreck of the Duc de Choiseul out to sea. Perkins mustered ten men at the shore. Cannon fire was exchanged by the British militia and the American privateers. The privateers continued to fire at the town for almost an hour. Perkins marched his men along the shore, closer to the privateers. One of the militia was wounded in the ensuing exchanges. The privateers stayed off shore for a number of days. Perkins kept a sergeant and six men on guard duty twenty four hours a day until the privateers left the area.
After suffering three years of similar sporadic raids, the people of Liverpool, on June 2, 1779 built a battery for the artillery and on October 31 launched their own privateer vessel named Lucy to bring battle to their adversaries. As well, Perkins wrote a successful appeal to the authorities in Halifax, and on Dec. 13, 1778 Capt. John Howard's company of the King's Orange Rangers arrived aboard the transport Hannah. The company consisted of Howard, 2 lieutenants, 1 ensign, 3 sergeants, 2 or 3 corporals, 48 privates, and several camp followers, both women and children.
Raid on Liverpool (1780)
The most dramatic privateer raid occurred on Sept. 13, 1780. Two American privateers, the Surprize under Cpt. Benjamin Cole, and the Delight, under Cpt. Lane, unloaded nearly 70 men at Ballast Cove shortly after midnight. By 4am they had captured the fort and taken Howard, two other officers, and all but six of the KOR garrison as prisoners. Perkins called out the militia, engineered the capture of Cole, and negotiated with Lane for the recovery of the fort and the release of the prisoners. Within a few hours “every thing [was] restored to its former Situation without any Blood Shed.” Liverpool was not bothered by privateers for the remainder of the war.
War of 1812
During the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, Liverpool financed and manned many privateer vessels which primarily targeted French vessels in the West Indies and American shipping off the Nova Scotia and New England coasts. The port was notable for such privateer vessels as the brig Rover and the schooner Liverpool Packet, mariners such as Joseph Barss, and ships' chandlers and merchants such as Enos Collins and Simeon Perkins. Significantly, an exciting eye-witness account of this turbulent period can be found in the published diaries of Simeon Perkins (1735–1812), an important businessman and leader in early Liverpool, having arrived from Connecticut in 1762 with the early settlers, and remaining an active member of the town for 50 years until his death in 1812.
During the nineteenth century, the town became a major seaport as the fishing and ship building industries grew. The town also became a leading exporter of timber which was floated down the Mersey River (or as initially called the Rivière Rossignol by the original Acadians) from the inland forests of the Lake Rossignol watershed. For a time after the War of 1812, Liverpool was second only to Halifax as the major port in the province, but was later eclipsed by western ports on the north shore of the province such as Pictou and New Glasgow on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The mid-nineteenth century move toward steam-powered vessels which were built with steel, ruined the area's vibrant wooden-ship building industry, and the further financial dislocation caused by the collapse of the local Bank of Liverpool in 1871 combined to severely hurt the town's economy and it went into a slow decline. Liverpool's fortunes were temporarily revived in the 1920s when it became a centre for rum-runners shipping alcohol to the United States during its period of prohibition. More significant growth took place in 1929 when the Mersey Pulp and Paper Mill was completed in the adjoining village of Brooklyn. World War II also bolstered the economy as the town's shipyard, Thompson Bros. Machinery Co. Ltd. became a major player in refitting Royal Canadian Navy corvettes and minesweepers.
In 1996, Liverpool disincorporated as a town and merged with the Municipality of the County of Queens to form the Region of Queens Municipality.