Adopted in 1901 by an Act of Legislature, the Mayflower, Epigaea repens, also known as the Trailing Arbutus, has been a patriotic symbol of Nova Scotia since its early history. A small, delicate evergreen, the Mayflower blossoms in early Spring amid the last remaining patches of snow. Throughout the 1800s, the Mayflower was celebrated in both song and poetry and it decorated the stamps and coins of Nova Scotia of the century. The Mayflower has long been a symbol of Nova Scotia's 'coming of age', and it's ability to endure the harshest Winter and to return each Spring represents Nova Scotia's survival throughout its long turbulent history.
Bird - Osprey
Adopted in 1994 by an Act of the House of Assembly, the Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, is a bird of prey sized between the larger eagle and the smaller hawk. Their main source of food is salt-water or fresh-water fish, depending on where they roost and hunt, and can often be seen hovering above the ocean, rivers and lakes looking for a meal. Then, in a spectacular display of aerobatics, they dive feet-first, skimming the water's surface, and then rise majestically into the air with a fish clasped in their talons. Ospreys migrate south in the Winter where younger birds remain throughout the Summer. Older birds return to Nova Scotia to mate, returning to the bundled nest of sticks and twigs which they used the previous year.
Tree - Red Spruce
Adopted by an Act of the House of Assembly in 1988, the Red Spruce, Picea rubens, represents the strength and resiliency of Nova Scotians. Able to survive in virtually any terrain and condition, the Red Spruce is the anchor of Nova Scotian economy; it is the province's number one lumber product. In early settlement history, the twigs of the Red Spruce were brewed into a tea which made an effective cure for scurvy. It has been a staple of the shipbuilding industry for centuries.
Stone - Stilbite
Adopted in November 1999 by an Act of the House of Assembly, Stilbite is found in abundance along the Bay of Fundy and the Minas Basin. Nova Scotian Stilbite is widely-known in geographic circles for its pleasing colours (grey, white, brownish-red, or yellow) and its beautiful crystalline shapes. Because of its natural structure and inherently-sticky surface, Stilbite is used as water softeners and filters as well as molecular sponges.
Gemstone - Agate
Adopted in November 1999, the Agate is commonly found in the Jurassic basalt flows found along the Bay of Fundy. Although most commonly found in greys and whites, this beautiful, translucent gemstone is also found in shades of blue and a few other colours. Used most often in jewelry, the Agate is the birthstone for the month of May - the month in which the provincial flower, the Mayflower, blooms.
Berry - Wild Blueberry
Adopted in January 1996, the Wild Blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, is native to Nova Scotia - one of the 5 regions in Canada in which the berries grow naturally. Originally hand-picked in the wild, the Blueberry is now cultivated throughout Nova Scotia and harvested by machines. Once popular primarily as market fare, the Blueberries are now grown, frozen, and exported to an number of countries around the world.
Sailing Ambassador - Bluenose II
Launched in July 1963 from the Lunenburg shipyards of Smith and Rhuland, the Bluenose II is a worthy replica of the world-famous Bluenose. The original Bluenose, also built by Smith and Rhuland in 1921, while performing as a fishing vessel for 25 years (the average lifespan of ships at that time were only 10 years), also became a world-class racing yacht in six international competitions. When diesel-power became more prevalent at the beginning of World War II, the Bluenose was sold to the West Indian Trading Company in 1942. Sadly, she sank in 1946 when she was run aground on a reef near Haiti.
Many of the original craftsmen who worked on the original Bluenose were proud to have had a hand in building the Bluenose II forty-two years later. Captain Angus Walters, who piloted the original Bluenose in the race competitions 4 decades earlier, was aboard the Bluenose II on its inaugural voyage to the West Indies. Ironically, this voyage was almost her last when the Bluenose II battled hurricane-force winds of 190 kph (120 mph), but Captain Walters safely sailed her out of the worst storm he had ever encountered and into Canadian history... again.
Dog - Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Adopted in 1995 by an Act of the House of Assembly, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a purely-Canadian breed. Originally bred as a 'tolling' dog (one which lures game to the hunters rather than retrieving it), the Toller is the smallest of all Retrievers. Famous for its intelligence and endurance, the Toller also makes an excellent house pet. Bred for over 100 years, the Duck Tolling Retriever was finally recognized by the Canadian Kennel club and designated as an official breed in 1945.