Shelburne didn't even exist until ten thousand or so refugees arrived here in 1783/1784. There was nothing at Port Roseway before then except a few settlers here and there, eking out a living in this wilderness.
A decade after it was founded, Shelburne's population had fallen from more than ten thousand to three or four hundred people. There are several good explanations for Shelburne's rapid decline, and it isn't necessary to choose just one of them. They all played their part.*
Visitors in the early 1800s told of grass and stumps left in the streets and livestock wandering through the remains of empty houses.
The people who stayed, though, made a life for themselves. They grew vegetables in their garden plots.
They built ships. They fished.
It's hard to realize how quickly Shelburne was built, from nothing, in a few years, and then how quickly the town emptied out.
It became a village, in the midst of the forlorn remnants of its brief glory.
What remains today is a serene beauty.
* You can read the story in Stephen Kimber's Loyalists and Layabouts: The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia 1783-1792 (Doubleday Canada, 2008).