Hantsport is a rural Canadian town and seaport located in the western part of Hants County, Nova Scotia.
Hantsport is located just south of the county boundary with Kings County, and sits on the west bank of the Avon River in a tidal estuary.
The port is used exclusively for shipping gypsum which is quarried at two locations east of Windsor and shipped to Hantsport vis the Windsor and Hantsport Railway. The loader used to move gypsum from the storage building to waiting ships is one of the fastest ship-loaders in the world, necessitated by the fact that the extreme tides in the Minas Basin require ships to enter and leave the port within a four to five hour period.
The largest employer in Hantsport is Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co., a pulp mill which uses recycled paper and cardboard. CKF is a related company which produces disposable paper plates.
Hantsport as first known as "Halfway River" after the river beside the two which marked the halfway mark between Halifax
and Annapolis Royal
. It was settled about 1786. Shipbuilding emerged as a major industry in the 19th century and the town produced a large number of wooden sailing vessels and some steam vessel before the decline of wooden shipbuilding in the late 1800s. Notable Hantsport vessels included the barque Hamburg
, the largest three masted barque ever built in Canada and the barque Plymouth
, famous for the diaries of Alice Coalfleet, who raised a family aboard her. The arrival of the Dominion Atlantic Railway
in 1868 stimulated a number of local manufacturers. Gypsum exports emerged as a major employer in the 20th Century, followed by the mills of the Minas Basin Pulp and Power Company established by the Jodrey family. William Hall
, an African-Canadian mariner born near Hantsport won the Victoria Cross
in 1857 and is buried at a monument at the Hantsport Baptist Church. The town's history is preserved at Churchill House, the restored mansion of the Churchill shipbuilding family which served as a community centre and museum.
Hantsport Shipbuilding: 1849-1893
, St. Clair Patterson, Hantsport: Tug Boat Publishing, 2008.