Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Infobox Settlement
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settlement_type = Town
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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = CAN
subdivision_type1 = Province
subdivision_name1 = NS
subdivision_type2 = Municipality
subdivision_name2 = Lunenburg County
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government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =Mayor
leader_name =Carroll Publicover
leader_title1 = Governing Body
leader_name1 =Bridgewater Town Council
leader_title2 =COA
leader_name2 =Ken Smith
leader_title3 =
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established_title = Founded
established_date = 1812
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = February 13, 1899
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area_total_km2 = 13.61
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population_as_of = 2006
population_footnotes = [ 2006 Community Profiles - Census Subdivision ] ]
population_note =
population_total = 7,944
population_density_km2 = 583.7
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timezone = AST
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latd=44 |latm=37 |lats= |latNS=N
longd=64 |longm=52 |longs= |longEW=W
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 22.11
elevation_ft =
postal_code_type = Postal code
postal_code = B4V
area_code = 902
blank_name =Telephone Exchange
blank_info =212, 298, 521, 523, 527, 529, 530, 541, 543, 553
blank1_name =Median Earnings*
blank1_info =$44,228
blank2_name = NTS Map
blank2_info = 021A07
blank3_name = GNBC Code
blank3_info = CAFBR
website = []
footnotes = *Median household income, 2000 ($) (all households)

Part of a series about Places in Nova Scotia

Bridgewater (2006 population 7,944) is a town in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, at the navigable limit of the LaHave River. It is the largest town in the South Shore region. While the majority of the South Shore's economy is based upon the tourist trade, Bridgewater is more a commercial and industrial centre and attracts far fewer visitors. One of the primary employers is a Michelin tire plant.



The first European settlers of the town came from the nearby settlements of Lunenburg and LaHave, constructing the first house in 1812 on the west bank of the river (although the first house in what is now the town was built before 1803). The town was founded in 1899, shortly after suffering a fire which devastated the entire downtown area. For much of the 20th century, the town's economy depended on forestry and a large wood mill in the center of town, as well as the Nova Scotia Central Railway and later the Halifax and Southwestern Railway, for which the town acted as a central hub for the South Shore region. The Acadia Marine Engine Company was based in Bridgewater and it made fishboat and coaster engines.

After the wood mill closed, a period of bust followed until a new Michelin plant opened within town limits in the early 1970s, providing employment for some 1,000 people. The abandoned passenger train station burnt to the ground in the early 1980s, shortly after a revitalization plan was announced. Freight rail service continued to the town until the early 1990s when Canadian National Railway abandoned the line and the tracks were removed. The rail yard property on the east bank of the LaHave River is now occupied by the Bridgewater Mall and various retail businesses.

Recent History

Since the 1990s, the town has tried to come up with solutions for problems that have crippled other areas of the Maritime provinces: economic decline and the emigration of its younger population. Michelin remains the town's largest employer by far and has helped to stem any economic decline, but the town seems unable to keep its younger population, with many moving away to obtain a university education and never returning. To counterbalance this, the town is now marketing itself as a retirement destination not only for older citizens from the area, but also for residents of near-by Halifax Regional Municipality. There has also been migration from Europe to the town and surrounding areas, as well as from Halifax, where Bridgewater is increasingly seen as a remote suburb rather than an entirely disconnected town. As a result of these efforts, Bridgewater is experiencing a building boom and remains one of the fastest growing entities in the entire province.


Bridgewater is split in two by the LaHave River, with the majority of the town's land area situated on the western bank of the river. The town spans the LaHave River Valley and is dominated by hills that lead down to the river. Elevation ranges from 5 metres above sea level (at the river), to nearly 110 m at the highest point at the Old Towne Golf Course on the southwestern limit of the town. The surrounding area is characterized by rolling drumlins formed during the last glacial period, some of which reach 150 m above sea level. There are also several streams which empty into the river. The LaHave River is traversed by two bridges in the centre of the town, and a 103 highway overpass and a foot bridge (formerly a railway crossing) towards the northern limits.


On a basic level, the town is split in two by the LaHave River. The western bank of the river was the area first developed more than 200 years ago. Today it remains the most heavily populated part of the town and is home to the Bridgewater Industrial Park (where Michelin is located) and most other civic amenities. The eastern bank of the river was home, for many years, to a large lumber yard and train station. This area developed rapidly in the last quarter of the 20th century with the arrival of the Bridgewater Mall and a large subdivision. Today, this area remains the commercial heart of the town and the centre of population growth.

There are few distinctive neighbourhoods in the town, and most designations rely solely on subdivision names. The Pinecrest Subdivision and low income housing centered along Marie Avenue remain the only major residential development on the western side of the town in the last 25 years, while the eastern flank including the ever so popular duck pond near the famous "Vardy Museum" has seen the rapid growth including the Glen Allan Subdivision. Most of these areas, however, are built-out, so development is now spilling out into the county. Hebbville has seen the development of the now older Catidian Place and the much more recent Botany Lane, while bordering Conquerall Bank is hosting the still-growing Meadowbrook Subdivision, arguably the most upscale development in the Bridgewater area. The Cookville area also continues to see growth in the Osprey Ridge area. With the exception of Glen Allan, most new residential developments within town limits are the result of urban infill.

Modern day Bridgewater


footnote= [ [ I:ecstatsAgencyBRIANcensus2 ] ]
While most smaller centres in Nova Scotia have experienced economic and population declines in the last 30 years, Bridgewater is one of the few that has been able to remain vibrant and attract new residents. The town's population increased from 6,619 in 1986 to 7,944 in 2006. It was the fastest growing location in Nova Scotia greater than 5,000 people between the period 2001 and 2006. A spate of recent commercial and residential developments in the town will likely see the population increase to well over 8,000 by the 2011 census.

Most of this growth, however, is coming at the older end of the age spectrum. As of the 2006 Census, the median age of the town was 44.3 years, more than two years older than the population of Nova Scotia in general (41.8 years). 20.0% of the population was under 19 years of age (compared to 22.8% in Nova Scotia as a whole), while 20.0% was over age 65 (versus 15.1%). As can be gleaned from the above information, the town is aging very rapidly, even more so than the province as a whole. The median age increased by three years in just a five year span (compared to 2.5 years in Nova Scotia as a whole), while the under age-19 group as a percentage of the entire population dropped by 2.5% and the over age-65 segment increased by 1.6%. In absolute numbers, every age group 0-19 showed declines, while the 25-44, 45-54 and 55-64 brackets showed the largest increases. As of 2006, 3.9% of town residents classified themselves as immigrants, most having immigrated before 1991. 1.4% of the population listed French as their mother tongue, while 6.3% considered themselves bilingual. 2.3% listed another language as their mother tongue. 53.3% of the population was female, a figure nearly two percent higher than the province as a whole. []


Official crime statistics are not available for Bridgewater. Violent crime is rare and most crime stems from petty property damage, and drug offenses. 2008, however, saw a dramatic increase in violent crime with the murder of 12-year-old Karissa Boudreau, two stabbings downtown on June 28, and a brutal attack of a teenager by two 17-year-olds at the Kinsmen Field on February 29. The Bridgewater Police Service, as well as recently relocating to a new, modern facility, has moved towards community based policing, working closely with Neighbourhood Watch programs and local schools, as well as adding foot and bicycle patrols in areas that squad cars are unable to reach. []


Being more industrial than its now tourist-driven neighbours Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, much traditional culture has been lost in the town, having been replaced with mainstream affairs such as the annual Canada Day Celebration. Unique cultural events include the Hank Snow Music Festival and the [ South Shore Exhibition] . Over 100 years-old, the "Big Ex," as it is locally know, is primarily a week-long agricultural fair that is held each July, attracting around 50,000 people.

Like much of Lunenburg County, many of Bridgewater's residents can trace their lineage back to the Foreign Protestants who arrived in the 18th century. While much of that original culture has been lost, especially in Bridgewater, a few remnants remain. Lunenburg pudding, a type of pork sausage, is still widely available, and many residents still speak in an accent unique to the county, dubbed Lunenburg English, featuring one of the few non-rhotic speech patterns remaining in Canada.

Education and health

The town is primarily served by [ Bridgewater Elementary] and [ Junior/Senior High] Schools, both located on York Street, near downtown. These aging facilities manage to serve the needs of the town's youth, but lack near-by athletic fields. [ Park View Education Centre] , located at the northern edge of the town, serves grades 10-12 and takes part in the International Baccalaureate program. This facility mainly acts as a collector school for students from the rural areas of the county, although some Bridgewater residents do attend as well. The Lunenburg campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is located on High St, sharing space with the local YMCA. The town also has two provincial museums, The DesBrisay and the Wile Carding Mill, and a central library. A new French school, L'Ecole de la Rive Sud, is expected to be built in or near the town by September 2009. []

According to the 2001 census, of the town's population between ages 20-64, 24.3% had not received a high school diploma while 56% had received at least some sort of post secondary degree or certificate. Both figures were slightly better than the Nova Scotian average (25.3% and 54%, respectively), and significantly better than the larger Lunenburg County (30.1% and 50.9%) and neighbouring Queens County (37% and 42%). []

Bridgewater is served by the [ South Shore Regional Hospital] located on Glen Allen Drive. This facility, inaugurated in 1988, replaced the 1960s-era Dawson Memorial Hospital located on the south western side of the town. The SSRH serves as the major hospital in the county and offers most standard services.

Industry and employment

Most employment in the town is in the service sector, although tire-manufacturer Michelin remains by far the single largest employer. Other industry includes a AbitibiBowater lumber Mill located in Oakhill. [ ECI Medical Technologies] manufacturers of latex-free surgical gloves, another major industry, closed down in mid-2000s. Outside of these and public sector employment, most of employment is of the lower-waged service type. The town's second largest employer is [ Resolve] , a call-center, and other major employers are Atlantic Superstore, Sobeys, Wal-Mart and Zellers. Home Depot is building a store on the north-east end of town, and expect to be open for business in 2009.

In 2000, the average earnings for those working full-time, year-round was $34,490, more than $3,000 below the provincial average. For those reporting any earnings, the average was $24,214, $2,400 below the provincial average. []


While the town has no local television stations, it is served by both CKBW-FM radio and [ Lighthouse Publishing] . CKBW, recently celebrating its 60th year in operation, can boast that it gave acclaimed actor Donald Sutherland his start in the media as he started working for the station at age 14. The weekly Bridgewater Bulletin, meanwhile has been in publication since 1888 and had won numerous awards for its content and lay-out. [] . The company also distributes the Lighthouse Log, a free weekend paper.

Parks and recreation

Residents of Bridgewater enjoy a relatively extensive parks system, which the town estimates at 100 acres. This, however, does not include open green space within the town, the inclusion of which would give a much higher total. The crown jewel of the parks system continues to be the 25-acre Woodland Gardens, locally known at the "Duck Pond." This park includes The DesBrisay Museum, the town's only public swimming pool, a large pond and various trails. Notably, during the 1970s, Participaction had set up rudimentary exercise equipment around these trails, but these have since been removed. Other parks include Pinecrest and Glen Allen, both playgrounds, and Riverview Park, overlooking the rapids of the LaHave River. The system also includes smaller parks such as a gazebo downtown and a boat launch park and grandstand on lower King Street. As well, the town hosts 8 kilometres of the Centennial Trail which was constructed over abandoned rail lines. []

Recreation facilities in the town are slowly improving after decades of stagnation. Currently, the town hosts the Kinsmen Field (a soccer field, baseball diamond and tennis courts), the LaHave baseball/soccer fields at Glen Allen Drive and LaHave Street, a curling club and a skating/hockey arena. In 2008, the South Shore Fieldhouse Society will start construction on a $1.7 million indoor track & field at Glen Allan Drive. [] Meanwhile, the town and Lunenburg County appear likely to team up to construct a contentious multi-purpose facility. Despite guaranteed funding from the province of Nova Scotia for one centre, the two entities have been bickering for most of the last decade over exactly where it will be located: in the county (near the new Wal-Mart development, as the county wants), or within town limits. At one time, both stated their intentions to build their own centres [] , but cooler heads prevailed and it's now likely that the $30-million facility will be build on York Street in Bridgewater. Dubbed the "Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre," it will likely include two ice surfaces, an aquatic centre, a new town library, and a multipurpose centre likely to be used as an auditorium for the performing arts. []




Bridgewater is known as the "Mainstreet of the South Shore" and has always been the shopping centre of Lunenburg County and, to a lesser extent, Queens County as well. Town Hall remains committed to the King Street area, even though it has been long-ago surpassed by several other developments. [ The Bridgewater Mall] , first developed in the 1970s, replacing on old rail yard, continues to be the commercial heart of the town, stealing that title from the King Street area which had dominated for many years. The addition of the adjacent Eastside Plaza during the last major renovation in the late 1980s only solidified this claim. However, its dominance has been greatly challenged since 2005 with the arrival of a Wal-Mart in Cookville and a number of adjacent stores. Some of these outlets had previously been located in the Bridgewater Mall, and the shopping centre has had a difficult time finding suitable replacements. The mall continues to be anchored by Zellers and Sobeys, while several bank branches, a movie theatre, The Atlantic Superstore and Home Hardware are all located nearby. The King Street area, anchored by two banks and the town Post Office, is mostly home to local business. The Bridgewater Plaza, located in the southern area of town near the Nova Scotia Community College, continues to thrive despite the absence of a major anchor store (Kmart closed in the mid 1990s and Canadian Tire relocated to Cookville in 2006). The South Shore Mall, located on the eastern edge of town, once home to a movie theatre, grocery and department store, has been completely abandoned and is slated for redevelopment as a convention centre, hotel, apartment buildings and shops. [ [] ]

The mid to late 1990s represented the recent nadir of retailing in Bridgewater as the town had lost, in the previous decade, three department stores (Kmart, The Metropolitan and Peoples, two grocery stores (a Sobeys location and a Foodmaster) and well as its only movie theatre. As a result, many residents were travelling to nearby Halifax to do their shopping and the town was losing out on much business. Through the early-mid 2000s, however, a renaissance of sorts occurred as a new theatre was built and a major new shopping development occurred in Cookville, including Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire, among others. While retailers within town limits have been somewhat impacted, consumers now have much more choice and less need to travel long distances to shop.


Although relatively small, Bridgewater has garnered mentions in the national media several times in the past decade. In 1999 it was discovered the tap water of several Nova Scotia communities, Bridgewater among the largest, contained elevated levels of a chemical called trihalomethane, and that daily consumption over time could lead to an elevated risk of bladder cancer. [] In 2005, heavy rainfall at Fancy Lake led to localized flooding, the evacuation of 60 homes and the declaration of a local state of emergency. [] Early the next year, a shockwave was sent through the town when a video of a man being beaten by a gang of local teenagers showed up on Youtube (links to Global News television report) [] and in 2007, the story of a proposed smoking ban on all town-owned lands (including streets and sidewalks), was picked up internationally. [] . On February 9, 2008, after a two-week search that grabbed national headlines, the body of 12-year-old Karissa Boudreau was found along the river just outside of town limits. Police have deemed the death a homicide. On June 14, 2008, Karissa's mother, Penny Boudreau was charged with the first degree murder of her daughter []


*Carroll Baker - Country and Western Singing Star.
*Dutch Mason - Blues recording artist and performer.
*Glen Murray - NHL hockey player.
*Donald Sutherland - Actor.
*John Dunsworth - Actor.
*Sarah E. Dunsworth - Actor.
*Chaylon Brewster - ECMA winning music producer.

External links

* [ Official Town of Bridgewater Site]
* [,+nova+scotia&spn=0.052335,0.164383&hl=en Google Map of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia]


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