Before European settlement, the area was the site of a seasonal Mi'kmaq settlement. The modern town was founded in 1784 and named Dorchester, but by the 1820s was commonly called Antigonish.
In the 1920s, the "Antigonish Movement" began at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, improving the economic and social conditions across Canada’s Maritimes. This eventually lead to the current credit union systems of Maritime Canada.
Nowadays, Antigonish is primarily a service hub for the surrounding region, with the largest employers being St. Martha's Regional Hospital and St. Francis Xavier University. The town is the episcopal seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish, and thus is one of the smallest towns in Canada to have a cathedral.
Maritime Bus runs 2-3 times a day from:
- Truro (1hr45min, adult $25.50, senior or student $22)
- Halifax (3hr20min, adult $42, senior or student $36)
- Sydney (3hr15min, adult $46, senior or student $39).
Antigonish Community Transit runs a single bus route that runs on an hourly schedule M-F 8AM-6PM and Sa 9AM-1PM. They also offer a door-to-door service.
There are multiple taxi services in town.
The town has some distinctive architecture, particularly the campus of St. Francis Xavier University.
- 1 Antigonish Highland Games, 91 Main St (Columbus Field), ☎ . In a week-long celebration of its Scottish heritage, the town hosts its annual Highland Games every July. There are competitive events, concerts and other activities.
- 2 St. Francis Xavier University (StFX), 5005 Chapel Square, ☎ . One of the highest-ranked universities in Canada, StFX's campus has a mix of architectural styles - many of which are of interest to photographers.
- 4 Antigonish Heritage Museum, 20 East Main St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. July-August: M-Sa 10AM-5PM; Sept-June: Tu-F 10AM-12PM and 1PM-4PM; closed holidays. A small-town museum in a converted railway station, strong in local historical and genealogical resources.
On the west side of town, there are the usual big box stores.
- 1 Peace by Chocolate, 32 Bay Street, ☎ . 8AM-9PM. Chocolates, made on-premises by a Syrian refugee chocolatier and his family.
- 2 Antigonish Market Square, 133 Church St, ☎ . The closest shopping mall to StFX. Tenant stores include NSLC (a government-run liquor store) and PSEUDIO (an Atlantic Canada clothing-store chain).
- The Made In Nova Scotia Store, 324 Main St, ☎ . online sales only. A gift shop, specializing in items made in Nova Scotia. They are now selling online only.
- 1 Main Street Café, 158 Main Street (in the Maritime Inn). Daily 7AM-9PM (Su from 8AM). A focus on fresh seafood. Excellent seafood Primavera. Mains $15-25.
- 2 Homeward Inn, 41 James St, toll-free: . A little out of the centre, close to the university Double $90.
Cape George Point is a half-hour's drive north of Antigonish. The views are spectacular (on a clear day, you can see both Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island) For those interested in literary travel, the point is the setting of Robert Munsch's book Lighthouse.
|Routes through Antigonish|
|Truro ← New Glasgow ←||W E||→ Canso Causeway (becomes ) → Baddeck → North Sydney|
|Truro ← New Glasgow ←||W E||→ Jct E → Sydney|