Why buying a Nova Scotia island was a bargain 40 years ago

Nova Scotia was a good place to buy an island 40 years ago, if you were in the market for that sort of property.

An island in the Maritime province was far cheaper than one in the Caribbean or Mediterranean

Selling islands for a living

43 years ago
Duration 1:55
In 1979, CBC News introduces viewers to a real estate agent who specializes in islands.

Forty years ago, Nova Scotia was a good place to pick up an island — if you were shopping for that sort of thing.

"The coast of Nova Scotia is known around the world as having a good selection for sale, and there's no restriction on foreign ownership in this province," CBC reporter Bob Allison told viewers in October 1979.

Case in point, Allison gave an example of the price advantage of buying an island in this part of the Maritimes. 

"Islands in the Mediterranean or Caribbean can cost several million dollars," said Allison, who didn't mention how the climate could be factoring into the asking prices. "Here, the prices are better: Anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000, depending on size and location."

Running out of islands?

Bob Douglas used a yacht to show island properties to clients in Nova Scotia. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

There was even an island-focused real estate firm to help, which was located in Mahone Bay, N.S., about an hour's drive from Halifax.

Bob Douglas said he wasn't just selling islands per se.

"Of course, islands really bring up dreams ... and we're selling dreams of your own kingdom," said Douglas, who used a yacht to ferry his clients to island properties.

According to Allison's report, Douglas had more than 100 islands for sale at that time — about half of which were located along the east coast of Canada.

"Each year, the selection is going down and Douglas says he is running out of islands for sale in Nova Scotia," said Allison.

Because Nova Scotia did not have restrictions on foreign ownership, Douglas could reel in business from places far from Canada, and there was strong demand from buyers in Germany and Switzerland at that time.

"Douglas says the majority of his clients shun publicity," said Allison. "He's dealt with several members of royalty, but won't reveal their names."