Canadian confederation was initially unpopular in Nova Scotia, and the party was out of government for most of the late 19th century. It only formed government for a few of the years between 1867 and 1956.
The modern party was built by Robert Stanfield after World War II. Stanfield, the scion of a wealthy textile family, considered himself a socialist at university and, while he later moderated his views, he always remained a progressive. Under his leadership, what was by then the Progressive Conservative Party became a moderate Red Tory party . Stanfield took over the party in 1946 when it had no seats in the provincial legislature, and by 1956 had built it into an organization that was able to sweep to power.
Stanfield left to become leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives in 1967, but the Tories have remained the dominant party in Nova Scotia since then. The party has formed the government for almost twice as many years as the Liberals since 1956.
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