New Minas was founded in the early 1700s by Acadians from the Grand Pre area, the largest of the settlements known as Les Mines or Minas after the French copper mines explored at Cape d’Or at the entrance to the Minas Basin in the 1600s. As the Minas settlement grew, families moved westward up the Cornwallis River and founded a new settlement which came to be known as “New Minas”. The Acadian settlement was built beside a tidal island in the bend of the river, later known as Oak Island. They repeated the pattern of the Grand Pre settlement by connecting dykes to Oak Island to turn tidal marshland into productive farmland. The settlement grew to include a mill, chapel and burial ground at Oak Island. However the Acadians were expelled and the settlement was destroyed during the Bay of Fundy Campaign of the Acadian Expulsion in 1755. New England Planters resettled the area in 1760s as part of Horton Township but built their farms further from the river along the Old Post Road, later Nova Scotia’s Highway No. 1.
New Minas remained a predominantly farming and agriculture community between the towns of Kentville and Wolfville. The Dominion Atlantic Railway operated a gravel quarry at Oak Island in New Minas and served a growing number of food and bulk feed plants at New Minas in the mid 19th Century. However development increased with the construction of the Highway 101 expressway in the 1970s. The village’s low tax rates and the location between the population centres of Kentville and Wolfville, New Minas soon saw a shopping centre and numerous big box retail outlets and fast food shops established to make the village the retail centre for the eastern Annapolis Valley.
These signs, posted at either end of the Village pay homage to the Acadian heritage that the region is famous for: