Port Hawkesbury, NS, incorporated as a town in 1889, population 3366 (2011c), 3517 (2006c). The Town of Port Hawkesbury is located on the eastern side of the Strait of Canso. The town gained Canada-wide recognition in the 1960s as the planned showcase for large-scale industrial development. Federal and provincial funds were intended to transform and modernize the Canso area. The ice-free and deep-water facilities were ideal and had attracted French, New England and other fishing interests centuries earlier.

Some farming and a local forest industry supported the livelihood of the dominant Scottish population. As an early 19th-century ferry terminus and later a railway centre, the town suffered the loss of these activities from the building of the Canso Causeway in the mid-1950s at nearby Port Hastings. A pulp mill was built in 1960 at nearby Point Tupper relieving unemployment. Subsequent construction of an oil refinery created a boom-town atmosphere but planned economic diversification failed to materialize, and today the refinery stands silent.