The Annapolis Valley is a valley and region in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is located in the western part of the Nova Scotia peninsula, formed by a trough between two parallel mountain ranges along the shore of the Bay of Fundy.
The valley measures approximately 126 km in length from Digby and the Annapolis Basin in the west to Wolfville and the Minas Basin in the east, spanning the counties of Digby, Annapolis and Kings.
Some also include the western part of Hants County, including the towns of Hantsport and Windsor even further to the east, but geographically speaking they are part of the Avon River valley.
The steep face of basaltic North Mountain shelters the valley from the adjacent Bay of Fundy and rises to almost 850 feet (260 m) in elevation in some parts. The granitic South Mountain also rises to similar elevation and shelters the valley from the climate of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 100 kilometres further south on the province's South Shore.
The shelter provided by these two mountainous ridges has produced a "micro climate" which provides relatively mild temperatures for the region and, coupled with the fertile glacial sedimentary soils on the valley floor, the region is conducive to growing vegetable and fruit crops. Particularly famous for its apple crop, the valley hosts in excess of 1,000 farms of various types, the majority being relatively small family-owned operations.
Within the valley itself are two "major" rivers, the Annapolis River which flows west from the Caribou Bog in the central part of the valley into the Annapolis Basin, and the Cornwallis River which flows east from Caribou Bog into the Minas Basin. The North Mountain ridge forms the north side of the Annapolis Valley. Also flowing east, in two smaller valleys north of the Cornwallis River, are the Canard River and the Habitant River, both of which also flow into the Minas Basin.
Long settled by the Mi'kmaq Nation, the valley experienced French settlement at the Habitation at Port-Royal, near modern day Annapolis Royal in the western part of the valley, beginning in 1605. From there, the Acadians spread throughout the Valley, in various communities, building dykes to claim the tidal lands along the Annapolis and Cornwallis Rivers. They continued throughout the Annapolis Valley until the British-ordered expulsion of Acadians in 1755 which is memorialized at Grand Pré in the eastern part of the valley. New England Planters moved in to occupy the abandoned Acadian farming areas and the region also saw subsequent settlement by Loyalist refugees of the American Revolutionary War, as well as foreign Protestants. These were followed by significant numbers of freed Africans in the War of 1812, Irish immigrants in the mid 19th century and Dutch immigrants after World War II. Agriculture in the Annapolis valley boomed in the late 19th century with the arrival of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, later the Dominion Atlantic Railway, which developed large export markets for Annapolis Valley apples.
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