Each year, Nova Scotia Heritage Day, on the third Monday in February, honours a notable Nova Scotian.  The holiday has a “rolling” honouree; it changes every year. Here is a list of the notable Nova Scotians and how we celebrated them on Nova Scotia Heritage Day. Scroll down for a list of future honourees.

Get out and celebrate! Click here for this year’s Heritage Day Events.

2022:   Grand Pré National Historic Site

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Landscape of Grand-Pré becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site, we will celebrate this National Historic Site of Canada, which commemorates the Acadians of Minas Basin and the event which took them from their homes, the Deportation.

Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Past Honourees

2021 Edward Francis Arab

Grandson of some of the first Lebanese immigrants to Halifax, Edward Francis Arab graduated from Dalhousie University law school and practised until he enlisted in the army.

2020: Africville

As 2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Africville apology, we will honour this National Historic Site, which holds great significance to the African Nova Scotian community.

2019: Maud Lewis

In 2019, we honoured Maud Lewis on February 18th. A world-famous folk artist, Maud Lewis painted scenes that evoke feelings of innocence and child-like exuberance that is as enduring as the springtimes she loved to paint. Maud Lewis was born in the town of Yarmouth on March 7, 1903, and lived with her husband, Everett Lewis in Marshalltown Nova Scotia. Though she lived in poverty and with arthritis, her paintings achieved National and International recognition, becoming known as one of Canada’s best-known folk artists. Her art and restored house are on display at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

2018: Mona Louise Parsons

In 2018, we honoured Mona Louise Parsons on February 19th. 2018 was the centenary for Enfranchisement of Women in Nova Scotia and Heritage Day celebrated Middleton native, Mona Louise Parsons, who was decorated for her acts of heroism during WWII.

2017: The Mi’kmaw People

In 2017,  Nova Scotia Heritage Day was on Monday, February 20th, 2017, honouring the Mi’kmaw culture and the many accomplishments of the Mi’kmaw people. Once again, the provincial museums were open and FREE. Pier 21 offered a drumming workshop from the all-female group, All Nations Drummers. On the Saturday before Heritage Day, there was a dream catcher workshop at the Seaport Market. The Archives of Nova Scotia made it easier to search their holdings of Mi’kmaw-related documents and photos. In 2017, Heritage Day was bright and sunny, but on either side of it, there was a succession of huge snowfalls – and the tension of the first every teachers’ strike in Nova Scotia history!

2016: Joseph Howe

In 2016, we honoured former premier, Joseph Howe. Joe Howe worked as a journalist and politician. He ran the Novascotian newspaper from 1828 and brought responsible government to Nova Scotia in 1848 as premier. On NS Heritage Day in 2016, there was a superhero family skate at the Halifax Oval. At the Nova Scotia art Gallery, children could participate in free activities with artist Tyler Hyde, and explore Nova Scotian history through the use of archival images as materials for collage.

2015: Viola Desmond

The first notable Nova Scotian to be honoured on this day was the late Viola Desmond (1914-1965). Nine years before Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Nova Scotia’s Viola Desmond made a similar stand in a New Glasgow movie theatre, when she was refused a ticket for the lower level- reserved for whites. Ms Desmond stood her ground, and the rest is history!

On the first-ever Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Monday, February 16th, 2015, there were many events planned including a workshop hosted by The North End Business Association to create a commemorative piece at the North Branch Library and a song-writing contest by Music Nova Scotia. Most museums were open and free to the public. The Province of Nova Scotia also invited students from across the province to participate in the first Nova Scotia Heritage Day Flag Contest. The challenge: to design a flag which will be used to “inspire the creation” of the new Nova Scotia Heritage Day Flag!

Sadly, in 2015 many events were cancelled due to a big winter storm. (2015 was a terrible winter!)

Nova Scotia Heritage Day, Future Honourees

Five other honourees were selected as part of the submission process and they will be celebrated from 2023 to 2027. These honourees, in no particular order, are:

Nora Bernard
Carrie Best
J. William Comeau
William Hall
Rita Joe