The County of Sydney was created in 1784. Its boundaries were established by Governor and Council on December 16, 1785 When St. Mary's Township was established in 1818 it was partly in Sydney County and partly in Halifax County. In 1822 that part of St. Mary's Township which had been in Halifax County was annexed to the County of Sydney. In 1836 Sydney County was diminished in size when Guysborough County was established out of what had been part of it . In 1863 the name of the County of Sydney was changed to Antigonish County. The word Antigonish is of Micmac origin, possibly derived from Nalegitkoonecht meaning "where branches are torn off". It is said that there were bears in the area that broke down branches to get beech nuts.
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