The name, Canso, is believed to be of Mi'kmaq origin, and translates roughly as "opposite the lofty cliff." The first settlers to Canso were of French origin, arriving in 1604, due to the excellent fishing. Canso was taken over by British colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, only to be snatched back repeatedly by the French. As the battles continued, and buildings burned to the ground in Nova Scotia, British soldiers, in 1748, would finally claim the land, led by General Jeffrey Amherst and Admiral Edward Boscawen.

Canso would become a prosperous fishing community, home to one of Canada's largest fish processing plants following WWII. Eventually, with dwindling fish stocks, the plant closed down in 2000 and the town population declined as a result.

Canso attractions include the Canso Museum, which illustrates the history of Canso, the Port Bickerton Lighthouse Beach Park and Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre, and the Grassy Island National Historic Site, which at one time played a key role in fishery and international trade in the early part of the 18th century. Finally, the Whitman House Museum offers a panoramic view of Canso from its 'widow's walk' rooftop.

Canso accommodations include bed and breakfasts and motels.

Cape Canso R.V. Park & Marina
1639 Union St
Seabreeze Campground & Cottages
230 Fox Island Rd
Whitman Wharf House Bed & Breakfast
1309 Union St
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