The Triassic Fundy rift basin in Nova Scotia is a large (>70 km wide) half-graben filled with alluvial, lacustrine and aeolian deposits. A major lithospheric lineament, the Cobequid–Chedabucto Fault Zone (CCFZ), which forms the tip of the Newfoundland–Gibraltar Fault Zone, occurs within the Fundy Basin. The timing of early movement on this important fault zone is poorly constrained. We present data from the alluvial and aeolian units that crop out adjacent to the CCFZ in the Minas sub-basin to determine the initiation of fault movement. We use the onset of alluvial fan deposition to infer when the fault became sufficiently active to create the intrabasinal topography and document the influence of fault activity on the intrabasinal drainage. The occurrence and preservation of aeolian deposits immediately adjacent to the CCFZ and concomitant with alluvial fan development suggests a wind shadow effect associated with the fault-generated topography. The onset of alluvial fan deposition associated directly with the fault occurred during Norian times, following an earlier phase of sedimentation in the Fundy Basin, and records a potentially important phase of plate reorganization during early Atlantic rifting.