Antigonish is a simply lovely place to call home. First and foremost, it is known for being the home of St. Francis Xavier University, one of the largest public universities in the Maritimes. This means that the town has a sizable student population. In fact, some consider the town of Antigonish to be an extension of the university campus. That said, in recent years, the area has grown and now also includes a large population of young families and seniors alike. Beyond close proximity to the university and the many amenities that come with that, Antigonish has a rich history that the locals love. Specifically, it is home to the Antigonish Highland Games, which are the largest highland games held outside of Scotland. This tradition dates back to 1863 when the first Antigonish Highland Games were held to raise money to help build St. Ninian's Cathedral. Today, this event draws people from all over Nova Scotia, Canada, and even the world. Another festival the town is known for is Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (Antigonish is a notable arts hub in the area). The People’s Place Library is also a pillar of the community, with all kinds of services and programs for people of all ages. As you can see, the sense of community in Antigonish is strong, which is another reason people are drawn to this part of Nova Scotia. Beyond the tight-knit community, Antigonish is well-positioned for those who enjoy the outdoors. Whether you want to take advantage of the many beaches on the Northumberland Strait or prefer to head inland and enjoy a serene walk in the forest, you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors right near Antigonish. Some of the most-visited natural areas in Antigonish are Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, Dunns Beach, MacDonalds Beach, Mahoneys Beach, Beaver Mountain Provincial Park, and Arisaig Provincial Park. It is also worth noting that Antigonish is only two hours from Cape Breton Highlands Provincial Park, which is one of the top national parks in all of Canada. Cape Breton is home to the world-renowned Cabot Trail, along with all kinds of wildlife, beaches, and hiking trails. One last perk of living in Antigonish is the affordability. It boasts a low cost of living that makes it accessible for people of all ages.
Quality and diversity of education in Antigonish
The Strait Regional School Board operates the public elementary and high schools in Antigonish, with some of the largest schools in the area being Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, St. Andrew Junior School, and Antigonish Education Centre. Opportunities for private education can be found at DeWolf Academy and Highland Academy of Learning. Meanwhile, if you wish to attend university, you have one of the top universities in the Maritimes at your back door: St. Francis Xavier University. St. Francis Xavier University is a public undergraduate liberal arts university that offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in everything from accounting and education to history, philosophy, physics, computer science, marketing, and more. Plus, since Antigonish is centrally located, students will find plenty of other post-secondary options within two or two and a half hours of the town. These include Acadia University in Wolfville, Cape Breton University in Sydney, and the many colleges and universities in the provincial capital of Halifax, like Dalhousie University, St. Mary’s University, Mount Saint Vincent University, NSCAD University, University of King’s College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.
Most populous cities in Antigonish
With a population of just over 4,000 residents, Antigonish is a very small town. That said, there are several communities and towns around it, such as Greenwold, Williams Point, Antigonish Landing, Lower West River, Salt Springs, Lower North Grant, Beech Hill, North Grant, Lanark, and Harbour Centre.
Quality of infrastructure for Antigonish
Despite its modest size, the town of Antigonish still offers public transportation services to residents via Antigonish Community Transit. Antigonish Community Transit is unique in that it is a community-based organization and technically a registered charity. They provide bus services to locals. Since Antigonish is a university town, there are several other transportation options in the area, including Maritime Bus, which has a stop in Antigonish and can transport passengers all throughout the Maritime provinces, as well as eastern Quebec. Via Rail, Canada’s national passenger rail line, does not have a stop in Antigonish but there is one in New Glasgow, which is roughly 35 minutes by car. Via Rail passengers can travel all over Canada, such as to Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, and even BC and Alberta. While Antigonish has a regional airport, St. Martha’s Regional Airport, the closest major airport, is in Halifax. Halifax Stanfield International Airport operates daily domestic and international flights and is just over two hours by car from Antigonish. Many locals choose to drive, which is made easy given that Highway 104 runs right through Antigonish. Finally, Nova Scotia Health operates St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, which makes healthcare accessible to those who need it.
Safety and security for Antigonish
The Antigonish detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is tasked with upholding the safety and security of the town. That said, crime rates are low and the risk of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, is also lower. In an emergency, always call 9-1-1.
Antigonish property market
Antigonish has a thriving property market that reflects the population that lives there. While the majority of homes are detached, single-family homes, there are a number of apartment buildings, duplexes, and mobile homes, largely to accommodate the students and senior population. It is also worth noting that most homes were built in the 1960s and 1970s.
Standard of living in Antigonish
Antigonish offers residents a high standard of living. Not only is the area affordable and centrally located within Nova Scotia but it also has lots of recreational opportunities and all the amenities that you could possibly need. It also has a welcoming community feel that you won’t find everywhere in Canada.
Something wonderful about Antigonish
There’s no denying that St. Francis Xavier has had a strong impact on the community and continues to have one today. The university was first constructed in 1855 and originally served as a Catholic seminary. It became the university that we know it as today in 1866 by an act of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. Over the years, the university community has shaped the town. In fact, a social movement known as the Antigonish Movement started at St. Francis Xavier University in the 1920s. It was launched by local priests and teachers, Moses Coady and Jimmy Tompkins, and the goal was to help small communities in the Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. Although its focus was originally local, Coady and Tompkins expanded the movement, travelling all over Canada, including to Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia to spread their message. The Antigonish Movement continues to have a long-lasting legacy today.