“From these temporary residents the place got its name,” writes Arthur W. H. Eaton in the History of Kings County. Eaton is referring to Scots Bay, mentioning the oft repeated folklore that Scotch emigrants were forced to land there in 1764 and “began the present settlement.”
Like Eaton, a former provincial archivist also mentions the storm-forced landing of Scottish emigrants on the Bay of Fundy shoreline – hence the name “Scots Bay” for the area writes the archivist. In his book Place-Names and Places of Nova Scotia, the archivist Charles Bruce Fergusson notes that an early name for Scots Bay also was Scotch Bay.
We now turn to the Atlas of the Maritime Provinces, published in 1878. Here you will find a separate, detailed map of Kings County in the Nova Scotia section. I’d say this was an authoritative source on the origin of place names and it probably was referenced by Eaton and Fergusson in preparing their books. And, I have to add, the publishers of the Atlas must also had trustworthy sources as references when preparing their Maritime Provinces maps. This being said, the Atlas map of Kings County has the community of Scots Bay spelled just that way – Scots Bay.
Another older map of Nova Scotia, dated 1829, also indicates that the community was known as Scots Bay away back then. I found this map by Googleing Historical Maps of Nova Scotia and checked out provincial maps from the 1800s.
Now, on to the Ambrose F. Church series of county maps produced for the province between 1865 and 1888; there were 18 maps in total and to produce them, Church and his cronies travelled through every county to sell advertising and to map out every road, listing whoever lived along them. The Kings County map is dated 1864 but according to the Department of Natural Resources, it wasn’t published until 1872.
Ambrose F. Church took it as gospel that the community first settled inadvertently by Scottish immigrants was called Scots Bay and nothing else. Perhaps confirmation that this was the correct spelling of the community at the time he made his Kings County map was the aforementioned Atlas of the Maritimes Provinces. We will never know this for sure but it’s guaranteed that Church had a source he trusted when he included place names on his maps.
Now, closer to our time, the road maps produced currently by the Department of Highways spell Scots Bay as Eaton and Fergusson did, the same way it was spelled in the 1878 Atlas. Look in the latest telephone directories and you’ll also find the community listed as Scots Bay.
Why then, given historical precedents do we find Scots Bay spelled as Scott’s Bay? – in various publications such as this newspaper, for example. Using Scott’s Bay for the community, instead of Scots Bay, implies that the place name originated from the surname Scott. Yet this isn’t the case. As Eaton and other historians tells us, the place name originated with Scottish settlers. As I’ve also shown, the community was known as Scots Bay on a map dated 1829 and in an atlas dated 1878.
Historically, Scots Bay must be correct as the name for the community. But to be fair and offer a bit of evidence to the contrary, the official highway map produced by the Department of Highways in 1935 has Scotsman Bay in bold type as the community name. The Department’s map for 1944 has Scotsmans Bay displayed boldly as well, and near that in small type is the name “Scott Bay.” Another source, Thomas J. Brown’s book, Nova Scotia Place Names, published in 1922, has the name of the community spelled as Scott’s Bay.
Perhaps Brown’s spelling and the addition of “Scott Bay” to the 1944 road map somehow led to the current spelling of the community’s name in local publications as Scott’s Bay. But that’s speculation on my part.