Shelburne Harbour has the third-best natural harbour in the world. The native Mik’maq traversed the Roseway River and used the surrounding lands for summer encampments long before our shores were visited by Spanish, Portuguese and French fishermen.

In the spring of 1783, 5,000 settlers arrived on the shores of Shelburne Harbour from New York and the middle colonies of America. Assurance of living under the British flag, and promises of free land, tools, and provisions lured many to the British Colonies at that time. Four hundred families associated to form a town at Port Roseway, which Governor Parr renamed Shelburne later that year. This group became known as the Port Roseway Associates. In the fall of 1783, the second wave of settlers arrived in Shelburne. By 1784, the population of this new community is estimated to have been at least 10,000; the fourth largest in North America, much larger than either Halifax or Montreal.

In 1787, the government distribution of provisions was terminated. Within a few years, houses were put up for sale, and settlers left for England, New Brunswick, Upper Canada, and the United States. In the 1820s, the population of Shelburne had dwindled to about 300.