New Glasgow, is a town in Pictou County, in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is situated on the banks of the East River of Pictou, which flows into Pictou Harbour, a sub-basin of the Northumberland Strait.
The town's population was 9,562 in the 2011 census. New Glasgow is at the centre of the province's fourth largest urban area; the population of the New Glasgow census agglomeration in the 2011 census was 35,809, ranking 77th largest in the country. The New Glasgow census agglomeration includes the smaller adjacent towns of Stellarton, Westville, and Trenton as well as adjacent rural areas of the county.
Sir Robert Kenney originally founded New Glasgow. Scottish immigrants, including those on the ship Hector in 1773, settled the area of the East River of Pictou during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Deacon Thomas Fraser first settled the area at the head of navigation on the East River of Pictou in 1784. The settlement was officially named "New Glasgow", after Glasgow in Scotland, in 1809, the same year its first trading post was developed.
The discovery of large coal deposits in the East River valley during the early 19th century saw New Glasgow, at the head of navigation, quickly develop into a manufacturing and port community.
In 1829, a horse-drawn tramway was built using standard gauge rails from the settlement of Albion Mines (now Stellarton) to a wharf near New Glasgow. This was the first use of standard gauge rails in what would become Canada. On September 19, 1839, the Albion Railway was opened from Albion Mines to New Glasgow, hauling coal wagons behind steam locomotives such as the Samson along the west bank of the East River of Pictou. This was the second steam-powered railway in what would become Canada and the first to use iron rails. The railway was extended north to a coal loading pier at Dunbar's Point on May 14, 1840.
In 1840, George MacKenzie started the town's first shipbuilding company, which eventually built or owned 34 vessels; hundreds of ships would later be built along the East River in New Glasgow.
In June 1867, the Nova Scotia Railway opened its "Eastern Line" from Truro through New Glasgow to its terminus at the passenger and cargo wharf in Pictou Landing. In 1882 the "Eastern Extension" of the Intercolonial Railway was opened from New Glasgow to Mulgrave on the Strait of Canso, placing New Glasgow on the mainline between Cape Breton Island and the North American rail network.
Economic development in New Glasgow was driven by the steel industry in neighbouring Trenton (site of the first steel manufacturing in Canada), shipbuilding and shipping in Pictou and Pictou Landing, and coal mining in Stellarton and Westville.
After World War I, the famous New York sculptor J. Massey Rhind was commissioned to make the Nova Scotia Highlander soldier cenotaph. In 1946, New Glasgow was the setting for an important civil rights case when Viola Desmond challenged racial segregation of New Glasgow's Roseland Theatre. New Glasgow became a service centre for the county during the late 20th century as shopping centres, retail and residential development was spurred by the construction of Highway 104.
Talk of amalgamating the 6 municipal units in Pictou County has increased in recent years. Among the reasons for this, small towns adjacent to New Glasgow are having a hard time coping financially on their own due to the declining economy. Also, Pictou County has the most politicians per capita in Canada. With the Government of Nova Scotia having already amalgamated Halifax County, Cape Breton County, and Queens County into regional municipalities, Pictou County residents feel it is only a matter of time before that concept is introduced in Pictou County. The two most often suggested scenarios involve amalgamating the entire county (six municipalities) into a single regional municipality, or amalgamating the upper East River towns (New Glasgow, Stellarton, Trenton, Westville) into a single larger town.