It is April 1851. A new county is created, carved from Cape Breton County, and encompasses parts of the Bras d’Or, the Highlands and the Atlantic. As Queen Victoria is in her 13 year as sovereign of the British Empire, it seems fitting to name Nova Scotia’s newest county in her honour.
While 1851 marks the beginning of an English-style local government, Victoria County has been home to the Mi’kmaq for a millennium. It is here where the First Nations peoples lived; followed the wildlife and the seasons; within a structure that saw community and respect for the earth at its centre.
It is on this unceded territory where the first Municipal Council met with eleven Justices of the Peace. Murdoch MacAskill of Little Narrows is the first Custos Rotulorum (‘Keeper of the Rolls’).
The ‘Rural Municipalities Act’ of 1879, which introduced the style of municipal government as it is today, saw councillors elected from each district and an elected Warden. Beginning in January 1880, the first municipal council session is held with sixteen councillors, elected from the various districts of the county. Dr. John L. Bethune, a resident of the Village of Baddeck, is elected as the first Warden.
Over the years, there have been as many as 22 districts and councillors. In 1950, there were 18 districts and 19 councillors as Ingonish was determined to be large enough for 2 councillors.
By 1968, council had been downsized to twelve Councillors. A further downsizing in 1994 reduced that number to eight.
Today, districts are determined by the NS Utilities & Review Board and is based on population size. Victoria County’s eight districts encompass 7115 (Census 2015) residents and spans from Iona at the southernmost point, to Bay St. Lawrence and Capstick at the top of the island.