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Nova Scotia

In preparation for the 1953 Truro exhibition, the Nova Scotia Sheep Breeders Association was looking for a means to show women in the rural areas the many ways local wool could be used. Crafters from all over the province responded and it was eventually decided that a backdrop would be needed to display all the colourful woollen objects submitted. Mrs. Bessie Murray, a talented weaver, was asked to make a small panel depicting the history of sheep raising in the province. The panel was hailed as a “..triumph of design, of weaving techniques, embroidery skills (and it was) a richly coloured story telling mural”. On the far right of the mural an appliquéd Scottish shepherd tended his flock but what tartan should he wear? Mrs. Murray “..remembered the tiny, deep-blue lake set in a circle of bleached white granite, surrounded by dark green trees on the road to Terrance Bay, a picturesque village beyond the entrance to Halifax Harbour.” Mrs. Isobel MacAulay, a good friend who was already widely known in Nova Scotia for her kilt making and knowledge of tartans, was a perfect partner. So much interest was generated in the tiny tartan kilt that Mrs. Murray and Mrs. MacAulay formed the Nova Scotia Tartan Company to produce this tartan material on hand operated looms. It is truly an amazing story – a love of traditional customs combined with the skill of handwork and good business sense.

The tartan combines the October blue of the sea; light and dark greens which represent the evergreen and hardwood trees; white for the granite and surf along our shores; a gold line for the Royal Charter, and red for the lion rampant found on the Nova Scotia crest.

The tartan was submitted by Nova Scotia for approval of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms in Edinburgh who has final jurisdiction over all matters related to Scottish heraldry. In 1956 the tartan was finally registered.  The tartan is a regional tartan and not a clan tartan. “This places the Nova Scotia Tartan alongside historic tartans, some of which date back to the 13th century”. ITI 1713