Highland Village

Highland Village/ Baile nan Gaidheal, Iona, Nova Scotia
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Highland Village gives visitors a taste of the life of Nova Scotia Gaels. A living history museum, Highland Village brings Gaelic folklife alive to illustrate their rich culture and identity.

“We tell the story of the Gaels that came here to Nova Scotia. From the late 1700’s to the mid-1800’s, tens of thousands of Gaels left the highlands in Scotland and settled here throughout Nova Scotia,” said Rodney Chiasson, Director of Highland Village.

“Over the next two centuries, they made homes for themselves here and it’s become very much part of the fabric of Nova Scotia today,” he said.

Highland Village was started by the community in Iona in 1959. There was a provincewide competition for a new highland village in the province, where Iona community members made a plea to the province in Gaelic for their community to be the new location. Once selected, the Iona community started working on growing Highland Village into what it is today.

Highland Village not only educates visitors on the history of Gaels in Nova Scotia but provides a hub for fostering Gaelic culture today across the province.

“This isn’t just about what Gaelic was, but about what Gaelic is today because a third of Nova Scotians descended from those early Gaelic settlers,” said Rodney. “And we still have pockets of Gaelic communities throughout the province. It’s really the only living Gael-talk outside of Gaelic Scotland.”

A Gaelic folklife immersion program is offered by Highland Village for anyone interested in deeply connecting with the Gaelic culture in the province.

The support Highland Village received from Support4Culture allowed them to expand their offerings to visitors looking to learn about and connect with Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia.

Support4Culture is a very, very important program for the cultural community because it provides access to funding for projects that wouldn’t otherwise exist,” said Rodney. “It enables us to do stuff outside what we normally would do, which is growing culture and the impact of culture on Nova Scotia.