Stellarton, Nova Scotia, was incorporated as a town in 1889 and has a population of 4,485 (2011). It borders the East River, approximately 18 km southeast of Pictou, and was settled (1774) by five families who landed in Pictou on the ship Hector. In 1827, coal brought English investment (The General Mining Association) and colliers (i.e. skilled coal miners) to the area, which helped establish the community of Albion Mines. The GMA foundry built Nova Scotia's first steam engine (1827) for pit pumping and hoisting, and the province’s first steamboat (1830). It cast rails for the GMA’s Albion Rail Road, the first railway to use iron rails in Canada. The Samson, a steam locomotive imported from England, was one of the first locomotives to run on these rails (1839).After the Intercolonial Railway came through, the town became a railway hub.
In 1870, Albion Mines was renamed Stellarton, after its star-like-burning Stellar coal. Mining flourished, attracting British and European immigrants. By 1914 the Acadia Coal Company employed 1,350 miners whose coal output fuelled Pictou County's industrial boom (1870–1920). Mining gradually declined, except during the Second World War, ending finally in 1957 for economic and safety reasons. In 1992, in nearby Plymouth, the Westray Mine Disaster killed 26 men. The accident was a reminder of the 650 men who had perished in the county’s mine accidents and disasters up until this point, as well as the Acadia Coal Rescue Corps bravery. Mining heritage is on display in Stellarton at the Museum of Industry, a branch of the Nova Scotia Museum showcasing the province’s industrial history. Headquartered here is Canada’s second-largest grocery chain, Sobeys, which began in 1907 as a butcher shop which sold meat door-to-door. Stellarton has hosted a variety of small industries, including the ill-fated manufacturer of sound electronics, Clairtone (1966–71). Although primarily a residential town, a surface mine has been operating since 1996, and factories produce work wear and soft drinks.