In Search of ‘Maritime Music’

By Greg Marquis

Bass player Bruce Palmer (1946-2004) was a Nova Scotian who like many ambitious young musicians ended up in 1960s Toronto where he performed with Robbie Lane & the Disciples, Jack London & the Sparrows and the Mynah Birds. In the latter group he met guitarist Neil Young. After the Mynah Birds disbanded Palmer travelled with Young to Los Angeles where they met up with Stephen Stills and formed, with two other musicians, the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield.  The group released three albums and scored a hit in 1967 with “What It’s Worth,” inspired by the 1966 Sunset Strip riots. Palmer ran afoul of the law because of drugs and was kicked out of Buffalo Springfield before it broke up in 1968.[1] The Liverpool-born musician grew up in the early years of rock n’ roll, the same music that inspired local favourites such as The Lincolns of Truro, who played at countless dances in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.[2]    

Another restless young Maritime musician who ended up in 1960s Toronto (and later performed in the United States) was Norma Gallant (1945-2016) from New Brunswick, another bass player who performed under the name Norma Gale. Raised in the village of Pinsec, the young Acadian was playing guitar and singing country and rock n’ roll music at an early age. She appeared on The Bunkhouse Boys show on Moncton’s CKCW television station and performed with the country group Val Surette and the Nitehawks and Roger Cormier’s Brunswick Playboys, a rock group. Despite a folk tradition among older Acadians and the appeal of fiddle music, young Acadians in 1950s and 1960s New Brunswick, like their anglophone counterparts, were drawn to pop, country and rock n’ roll. And Acadian musicians like Gallant found themselves performing in English at jamborees, dances and on local radio and television. After a stint playing nightclubs in Montreal, Gallant moved to Toronto where she joined the house band at the iconic Horseshoe Tavern, which was not only a refuge for transplanted Maritimers and Newfoundlanders, but also Canada’s premiere county and western performance space. She was probably the only full-time female bass player in 1960s Toronto.  At the Horseshoe she played for, and socialized with, up and coming Canadian artists but also well-known Nashville singers such as Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Bill Anderson and Dottie West. Contacts in the music business eventually drew Gallant to the United States where she performed at many venues. In 1967 and 1968 she sang twice at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Gallant also took part in a three-month tour of American military bases in the United States, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Greenland and Labrador and recorded two albums. Like fellow bassist Bruce Palmer, she later returned to Ontario and then, because of health reasons, retired to Moncton.  There was nothing ‘traditional’ about Palmer and Gallant; each were fixated on popular (and related) music genres invented and centred in the United States: rock n’ roll and country.[3]

Academic historians of the Maritime region have been slow to tackle the topic of popular music, largely leaving the field to folklorists and ethnomusicologists.[4] This is unfortunate because music, rightly or wrongfully (mostly wrongly) has been regarded as both a marker of regional culture or identity and a way for people in other parts of Canada to frame a ‘traditional’ region. Even a superficial examination of the sources reveals that ‘Maritime music’ has been more of an illusion than an actual genre, the occasional assertions of songwriters, singers, promoters, record companies, broadcasters and critics notwithstanding. Two of the earliest commercial successes from the region, Wilf Carter and Hank Snow, became North American county and western stars not because of regional or provincial culture, but by contributing to a quintessential American genre based on touring jamboree shows, recordings, barn dance radio programs and Hollywood-produced singing cowboy movies. Snow eventually became an American citizen and later defended ‘traditional’ country music against a more pop-oriented sound. There is no doubt that country music developed a large following in the Maritimes, but this owed as much to radio, recordings, touring acts from the United States, movies and later television than any innate regional attributes.      

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Photo Search: We Want You

At Acadiensis we are marking our 50th birthday this autumn and are asking for your help to celebrate.  As you move into the tenth month of the pandemic and for those teaching, start the third term, you may have found yourself reduced to “sorting through” your own personal archives.  Did you find any photos or programs of past Atlantic Canada Studies Conferences or Atlantic Canada Workshops?  We’d love copies to put together a visual record of this community.

Bill Parenteau and Danny Samson (with Herb Wyile in the background) at the Atlantic Canada Studies Conference – St. Thomas University 2014  

Please send photos to Suzanne Morton ( with as many labels as possible. It would be also appreciated if you could spread the word to those who may not be connected through social media. Fifty years is something to celebrate.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Andrew Nurse reviews You Are Here

By Andrew Nurse

You Are Here: Seeing Sackville through the Owens Art Gallery Collection explores the landscape in and around Sackville, NB through images in (or, connected to) Mount Allison University’s Owens Arts Gallery. It is an online multimedia exhibition created by Emily Falvey, Lucy MacDonald, Rachel Thornton, and Jane Tisdale, all of whom are members of the Owens curatorial staff. You Are Here describes itself as “an alternative guide to Sackville, New Brunswick” and was created in response to Covid-19. It highlights the way in which virtual and physical space can interact, complement each other, and stimulate consideration of the history and meanings of place.  While focused on Sackville and its immediate vicinity, the exhibition draws in the broader Tantramar Marshes that stretch beyond the town. You can access the exhibition via this URL: It illustrates the kind of work that can be done when a gallery’s normal operations are disrupted.

To be clear: You Are Here is impressive. The PDF guide that accompanies the exhibition highlights twenty-two artists who work in a range of different media. It also includes reproductions of archival photographs, details, and reproductions of preliminary studies through which different artists worked out their own representational ideas. The physical exhibition that accompanies on the online virtual exhibition can be viewed only by appointment and, currently, only by the Mount Allison community. It includes both the works reproduced in the guide and online and a second gallery that connects You Are Here to other vistas and conceptions of landscape. The online exhibition invites “community views;” that is: community members can submit their own contributions that are added to the virtual exhibition. Because of this, You Are Here is an unstable exhibition that changes with additions from the public.

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Brunswick’s Militia and Home Defence During the Great War

By Brent Wilson

The post is published in partnership with our friends at Borealia.

[This essay is part of a series of contributions to be published over the coming years by members of the research group “Military Service, Citizenship, and Political Culture: Studies of Militias in Atlantic Canada.” Any questions about the project can be sent to Gregory Kennedy, Research Director of the Acadian Studies Institute at the Université de Moncton at / Nous vous présentons une texte d’une série de contributions qui seront publiées au cours des prochaines années par des membres du groupe de recherche « Service militaire, citoyenneté et culture politique : études des milices au Canada atlantique ». N’hésitez pas à joindre Gregory Kennedy, directeur scientifique de l’Institut d’études acadiennes de l’Université de Moncton, pour toute question concernant le projet à]

For most Canadians, military participation during the Great War meant overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.), initially in Britain and then on the Western Front in Belgium and France.  It is also generally understood that some of these Canadian volunteers had served with the militia, both before the war and during its early phases.[1] What we often lose sight of is that many militiamen also served at home, fulfilling a range of more traditional roles.  This trend underlines the wider story of how during the First World War the role of the Canadian militia shifted from its original home defence duties to service overseas and, with it, popular conceptions of what constituted legitimate military service, especially in wartime.[2]

In the days leading up to the outbreak of war on August 4, 1914, many officers commanding New Brunswick’s various militia units received orders from Ottawa to place their troops on a war footing and prepare to send troops overseas.[3] Several units contributed troops to the First Contingent of the C.E.F., including the 67th, 71st, and 74th Regiments, 3rd (New Brunswick) Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery (C.G.A.), 10th, 12th, and 19th Field Batteries, 1st (Brighton) Field Company, Canadian Engineers, and No. 7 Army Service Corps Company,

First Contingent Draft from the 71st York Regiment.  PANB- P5-884.

A few months, later some militia units provided troops for the Second Contingent, particularly the 62nd Regiment, which saw many of its troops join the 26th New Brunswick Battalion, while the 3rd C.G.A. contributed to the Headquarters and No. 1 Section of the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column.[4]  Thereafter, militiamen enlisted in large numbers in the numerous C.E.F. units raised within the province over the next three years.  By the end of the war, some 27,000 soldiers had been raised in New Brunswick, 17,000 of whom fought overseas. 

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Virtual film screening and panel discussion of Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty

The faculties of arts at UNB Saint John and Fredericton are pleased to partner with St. Stephen’s University (SSU) to present a free virtual screening of the documentary film Voices from the Barrens: Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty on Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m.

The screening will be followed by a live panel discussion featuring Nancy Ghertner, Donald Soctomah, Brian J. Francis and Brian Altvater.

This event is being hosted via Microsoft Teams and is open to all members of the UNB and SSU communities, as well as the general public. No registration required.

Event access: Join us via Microsoft Teams

About the documentary film:

Directed by Nancy Ghertner, Voices from the Barrens, Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty, documents the wild blueberry harvest of the Wabanaki People from the USA and Canada. The film focuses on the Passamaquoddy tribe’s challenge to balance blueberry hand raking traditions with the economic realities of the world market, which favor mechanical harvesting. Each August, First People of the Canadian Wabanaki, the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet (Wolastoqiyik) tribes, cross the US/Canada border into Maine to take part in the tradition of hand raking blueberries with their Passamaquoddy brothers and sisters. This crossing to Maine’s blueberry barrens isn’t considered “agricultural labor,” but is a part of the traditional harvest from the earth.

Learn more:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Love’s Labours Found: The Autumn 2020 Issue of Acadiensis

History isn’t easy. In fact, it’s bloody hard. The hours of research; the loneliness of writing; the tedium of revising draft after draft after draft: it takes a toll. And yet, we keep going back to the drawing board because we love what we find in the archives. Riffing on Shakespeare, history isn’t love’s labours lost; it’s love’s labours found.

In the autumn issue of Acadiensis, Ian McKay uncovers race in the Nova Scotia Archives, reminding us that race is historical, not natural, and that it is negotiated and renegotiated over time. But if the examples of everyday racism that point to structural racism are not easy to read, they are important to read in our own historical moment, when people literally around the world insist that Black Lives Matter. Meanwhile, Michael Pass studies Commodore Matthew Perry and the1852-53 fishery question in Prince Edward Island for what it can tell us about Anglo-American diplomacy and Perry’s Japanese expedition in 1853-54. Although “A Black Ship on Red Shores” is not explicitly about race, it does reveal America’s chauvinism and even its racism. Taking us back in time, to the early seventeenth century, Joseph Wachtel examines anti-Jesuitism and the collapse of the mission to Port Royal in 1613. Especially interesting is his use of the Factum du procès entre Jean de Biencourt et les PP. Biard et Massé. If the Factum cannot be read factually, it can be read for what it can tell us about French religious history after the Wars of Religion. David Bent is similarly creative in his reading of The Gillans, a CBC radio series documenting the fictional Gillans of Sunnybrae Farm from 1942-1972: the series can’t be read for what actually happened on Maritime farms, but it can be read as public education, as an attempt to educate the region’s farmers in agricultural modernization, in science, efficiency, and markets.

In addition to the above research articles, this issue contains a novel Forum of three short essays on the transatlantic north. In a neat opening hook, Sasha Mullally asks us to consider the 24 Volvos – lost in a 1969 shipping accident – that lie at the bottom of the Bedford Basin as a metaphor for the region’s lost connections to Sweden. For her part, she looks at the transatlantic circulation of slöjd, a form of manual and moral training, in the Macdonald schools funded by William C. Macdonald, the tobacco manufacturer. John Matchim studies rural-remote health care in Labrador and Swedish Lapland. Ultimately, he concludes that because of the International Grenfell Association’s long history in Labrador, and because of Newfoundland’s late entry into Confederation, “health care provision in Labrador followed a different trajectory from other Canadian provinces, and by the 1970s was, in many respects, more akin to that of northern Sweden.” Finally, Bliss White looks at New Brunswick’s Program of Equal Opportunity and one technocrat’s Swedish study tour. If Alexandre Boudreau’s recommendations were not followed, his 1963 study tour points to the existence of a transatlantic north. After reading this forum, you may not be able to look at a Volvo in quite the same way.

Two research notes also push us to consider new ways of looking at the past. As part of her larger project on Early Modern Maritime Recipes, Edie Snook invites us to consider the recipes of Jonathan Odell. The history of settler colonialism is not only contained in laws and the official dispatches of colonial administrators. It’s also contained in a medicinal recipe for “Indian Chocolate.” Using Hyperbase, a text analysis software, Nicole Boudreau and Chantal Richard measure word frequencies, co-occurrences, associations, and clusters in late nineteenth-century newspapers in order to study larger questions of gender and collective identity in English-speaking and French-speaking New Brunswick. This paper also stems from a large, SSHRC-funded project: Vocabularies of Identity/Vocabulaires Identitaires.

Always a reader favorite, two review essays are published in this issue, one by James Muir on Canada’s legal history, the other by Joel Belliveau on Acadie’s revolution and the “long seventies.”

Finally, the Autumn issue includes the second of three bibliographies on aspects of Atlantic Canadian history. John Matchim’s “Bibliography on Indigenous Peoples” is more than a simple research tool, although it is that too. Turning the pages, one after the other, is a visual reminder of Indigenous history in particular and of historical scholarship in general. And noticing the number of Acadiensis articles is a reminder of the role it has played in that scholarship.

As we near the end of our terms as co-editors, we know something of the genuine labour of love that Acadiensis has been for editors, authors, and board members for nearly half a century. To quote from Love’s Labour’s Lost, “how can that be true love which is falsely attempted?” The question implies its own answer: it can’t be.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fun with Flags and Furniture: The Material History of Royal Tours and the Invention of Tradition in New Brunswick

By Barry Mackenzie

I suspect most historians would agree that, in the midst of working on a larger project, there emerge tantalizing side stories that are both too intriguing to ignore, but often a little too tangential to form a central part of the narrative. Such was my experience with material history and the invention of tradition during royal visits to New Brunswick.

While documenting the ways in which the early 20th century anglophone press could reveal the attitudes and beliefs of New Brunswickers and the monarchy, the Empire, and sundry other things, I found myself constantly running into interesting tales of royal relics from days gone by. Whenever a new royal visitor was due to arrive, the people of the province always managed to dig up some artifact highlighting New Brunswick’s royal past. Often, it was a piece of furniture with royal provenance, or some other regal souvenir. In one particularly memorable instance, the relics in question were two stained and battered flags with an alleged provenance that would impress even the most diehard imperialist.

The tradition started early. In 1860, when the young Albert Edward, Prince of Wales visited New Brunswick, he was invited to watch a concert from the comfort of a chair that had been used by his grandfather, the Duke of Kent, during a tour of the province in 1794. 1901, the Daily Gleaner reported that local merchant John H. Reid “still has, and shows with considerable pride, the Royal Standard which flew over Government House here on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales…forty years ago [in 1860]. Mr. Reid, who took a very active part in the reception of His Royal Highness, has also several other interesting momentoes [sic] of that event….”[1] Reid died in 1911; according to his obituary, he also had in his possession “the saddle on which the Prince rode through the streets of Fredericton.”[2]

Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The State and Organized Rifle Shooting in Nova Scotia in the 1860s

By R. Blake Brown

 The Nova Scotia Rifle Association proudly claims to be the oldest provincial rifle association in Canada. It leaves unstated that it was largely a product of the state. A key skill possessed by effective military forces in the 1860s was accurate rifle shooting. However, military leaders in the early 1860s were appalled by the state of the militia in Nova Scotia, and the lack of sufficient musketry practice. They responded by encouraging ‘citizen-soldiers’ to train in rifle shooting. 

Changing firearm technology contributed to the desire to spur interest in rifle practice. Smooth-bore, muzzle-loaded muskets firing round bullets had long served as the primary military weapon of European armies. Such firearms had a relatively short effective range – a good shot could hit a target at approximately 100 meters. This led European armies to practice drill and mass volley fire as an infantry tactic. More accurate rifled weapons had long existed but tended to build up residue that fouled the musket until the introduction of new conical ammunition that expanded upon being fired. Britain began to replace smooth-bore muskets with more accurate muzzle-loading Enfield rifles in the 1850s as the primary weapon issued to troops.



The Enfield rifle had a much longer range than smooth-bore muskets. Source:

Some military planners believed that a well-trained militia using modern rifles could effectively defend against a more numerous enemy. This was a popular idea in British North America given the recurring threat of United States aggression. Nova Scotia passed legislation in the 1850s that allowed for the arming of ‘volunteer’ units.[1] By the early 1860s, several volunteer rifle companies had formed. These units were usually organized by location or nationality, which contributed to a sense of pride in each company, as well as competition between units. In the Halifax area, volunteer forces included the Scottish Rifles, Chebucto Greys, Mayflower Rifles, Halifax Rifles, and Irish Volunteer Rifles. In addition, a unit of African Nova Scotians formed – the Victoria Rifles. The volunteers selected and paid for their own uniforms and elected their officers. Often organized and led by local prominent men, the volunteer forces were both military units and social groups. In March 1862, there were 2500 active volunteers in Nova Scotia.[2]

Constitution an bylaws

The constitution of the Scottish Volunteers laid out the process for electing officers and indicated that the rifle company was open to “Scotchmen and the descendants of Scotchmen” residing in the vicinity of Halifax.

Rifle shooting was a key aspect of volunteer training. Authorities provided 3000 Enfield Rifles to arm the volunteer companies in 1859.[3] The Adjutant-General of Nova Scotia, Colonel R. Bligh Sinclair, was committed firmly to encouraging volunteers to train at rifle shooting. In his 1862 annual report, Sinclair delivered a scathing analysis of the colony’s militia system, including that musketry was insufficiently practiced.

Richard Lawson

Private Richard Lawson of the Chebucto Greys Volunteer Rifle Company in full dress uniform with Enfield rifle (c. 1862). Source: Collections of the NS Historical Society, vol. 17 (1913), p.107, available at

Sinclair believed accurate rifle shooting was important to defending Nova Scotia. Riflemen could take advantage of the colony’s geography and topography in case of an attack. In his view, a well-led company of riflemen, if assisted by the population, could “give a good account of opponents much superior in numbers” by using the terrain to their advantage. Sinclair noted that in many places standing armies had to be formed from men who had never used firearms. In Nova Scotia, on the other hand, there were only a “few young men” who were “unacquainted with the use of a fowling-piece,” but they had little training in use of military arms. Sinclair believed that was “likely to exercise great influence on the zealous and active youth of the Province, in stimulating them to acquire and maintain those military qualifications which enable them to compete at the useful contests which occasionally take place.” Providing prizes might lead to a “general interest in the rising importance of rifle shooting.”[4]

R. Bligh Sinclair

Adjutant-General of Nova Scotia, Colonel R. Bligh Sinclair (n.d.). Source: Collections of the NS Historical Society, vol. 17 (1913), available at

In his 1863 report, Sinclair pointed to the Swiss scheme of training all male citizens in the use of arms as a model worthy of emulation in Nova Scotia. Encouraging rifle shooting competitions was an important part of achieving this. “A reasonable and more liberal support of rifle practice and annual contests affords the least expensive and best expedient for exciting a wholesome competitive rivalry.”[5] He recommended that the competitions be limited to participants in uniform who could pass a basic military examination, as this would stimulate involvement in the militia and voluntary units.

In 1861, Sinclair organized a competition at Windsor. Shooters fired at targets placed as far as 300 yards away.[6] Sinclair planned a second competition in Truro in September 1862. Advocates for a greater martial spirit in Nova Scotia deemed the Truro event a great success. The Halifax Morning Sun described the scene. Truro “presented a strikingly different appearance from the Truro we had known in other and less war-like-looking times. The numerous groups of Volunteers to be seen in the streets, in the hotels, and everywhere, gave the picturesque and habitually quiet little capital of Colchester, quite the appearance of a garrison town.” Volunteers came from many corners of Nova Scotia, including Digby, Annapolis, Cornwallis, Windsor, Lunenburg, Tatamagouche, Pugwash, Wallace, Pictou, and Antigonish, Arichat, Sydney Mines, Albion Mines, Halifax, and Truro. Prominent public figures attended, including the commander of British forces in Nova Scotia, Major General Charles Hastings Doyle, the provincial chief justice, and the attorney general. The spectators, uniforms, the crack of the rifles, and music provided by a band, “combined to form an extremely enlivening and pleasant scene.” “Such spectacles,” continued the Morning Sun, “cannot fail to render rifle matches very popular in the catalogue of public amusements.”[7]

Regulations to be observed

Military authorities organized the early rifle shooting events in Nova Scotia, including a competition in Truro in 1862. Source: Halifax Morning Sun, 5 September 1862.

A provincial rifle association formed in 1864 with the state’s guidance and assistance. Like other voluntary organizations of the period, membership was optional, but the make-up of the association’s leadership suggested it was more of a military organization than a civilian one. The president of the Association in 1865 was lawyer and politician Henry Pryor, a lieutenant colonel of the 2nd ‘Queens’ Halifax Regiment. The Council of the Association consisted of men with ranks ranging from Captain to Lieutenant-Colonel.[8]

The Association was part of a web of imperial relationships. The organization paid an annual fee to the national rifle association of England. This would eventually allow Nova Scotian marksmen to attend the annual shooting event at Wimbledon against the best marksmen from across the empire. The founding of the English and Nova Scotian rifle associations preceded the formation of the American National Rifle Association, which was established in New York 1871. In fact, the early NRA looked to rifle shooting organizations in British North America as models to emulate.[9]

Halifax Morning

Militia and volunteer leaders established a provincial rifle association for Nova Scotia in 1864. Source: Halifax Morning Sun, 17 August 1864.

The Nova Scotia association held its first competition in 1864 in Truro, though in 1865 the Association began using a rifle range at Bedford secured by the provincial government. The prizes awarded by the Association came from several sources including donations by groups and prominent citizens, subscription income, and entrance fees. The provincial government also made a substantial grant to the Association. In 1866, the legislative committee on the militia recommended that the government provide $1500 because the committee appreciated “the numerous and great advantages derivable to the militia service from the establishment of this association.”[10]

The press emphasized the sense of excitement that surrounded large shooting matches. For example, the Halifax Citizen breathlessly described the first match at Bedford in 1865. Lieutenant-Governor Richard Graves MacDonnell and his wife attended, adding a regal aura. Their suite stood on one side of the range. Other “militia and mercantile temporary tabernacles” dotted the grounds. Some competitors brought camping equipment and stayed on site. The volunteer and militia units, all in their respective uniforms, created a spectacle.  Trains from Halifax “thronged with militia and volunteers; red, gray, green and blue uniforms blending together like the ingredients of a mammoth lobster-salad.” The Citizen said the range looked “as lively as a fair,” and noted the interesting mix of urban and rural units, thus highlighting the coming together of Nova Scotians in this martial event:

Competitors from all quarters and spectators mingled together. Smart, knowing-looking, City Volunteers with natty caps and jackets without a wrinkle, strolled amid sturdy, sun-browned country marksmen, whose stout arms could hold the rifle as fast as a magnet, and whose keen, cool glance could travel between the trigger and the target without much winking.[11]

The Morning Sun also lauded the 1865 event, highlighting that it showed the martial spirit of Nova Scotians: “We really never saw better fighting material than this citizen soldiery presented. Stalwart, active, good-looking and good-natured, they seemed just the fellows to stand between their home and ‘war’s desolation’.” With the support of a few veterans, Nova Scotia’s riflemen “would bulwark their country against the aggression of all but overwhelming odds.” The writer in the Morning Sun felt emotional: “Moving to and fro among the Provincial guardian of our liberties, we could not feel but possessed of a certain degree of martial spirit.”[12]

Sinclair was pleased by the early work of the Association. In 1864 he noted that, unlike the English rifle association, the Nova Scotian organization was “an exclusively military institution.” Sinclair felt that the rules of the Association were “calculated greatly to advance the training, organization, and musketry practice of the local forces of the Province.”[13]

While the military leadership had its own goals in fomenting interest in rifle shooting, the participants likely took part for a mixture of reasons including loyalty, notoriety, a love of competition, a desire to impress loved ones, or the opportunity to win valuable prizes. Regardless of their reasons, Nova Scotians took part in exhibitions of rifle shooting that allowed men to develop martial skills without having to experience the devasting effects that rifles could have on human bodies. That lesson would be learned by many of Nova Scotia’s citizens in the twentieth century.

Blake Brown is a professor of History and Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s University. He is the author of Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada (University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society, 2012). Twitter: @RBlakeBrown


[1]An Act to continue and amend the laws relative to the Militia, S.N.S. 1855, c.10.

[2]Thomas J. Egan, History of the Halifax Volunteer Battalion and Volunteer Companies, 1859-1887 (Halifax: A. & W. Mackinlay, 1888), 1-12; Greg Marquis, In Armageddon’s Shadow: The Civil War and Canada’s Maritime Provinces (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998), 20-23; Constitution and Bye-Laws of the Scottish Volunteer Rifle Company (Halifax: James Barnes, 1860).

[3]“Volunteer Rifle Companies,” British Colonist, 26 November 1859.

[4]Adjutant-General’s Militia Report for the Year 1862, 7, 8, Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1863 (Halifax: Compton & Co, 1863), in Appendix 4.

[5]Adjutant-General’s Militia Report for the Year 1863, 9, Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1864 (Halifax: Compton & Co, 1864), in Appendix 7.

[6]“Militia General Order,” British Colonist, 17 August 1861.

[7]“The Rifle March at Truro,” Morning Sun, 15 September 1862.

[8]“Provincial Rifle Association,” Morning Sun, 17 August 1864; Report of the Provincial Rifle Association of Nova Scotia for 1865, Nova Scotia Archives, MG 20, vol. 1016, No. 5a. On associational life in mid-nineteenth century Nova Scotia see David A. Sutherland, “Voluntary Societies and the Process of Middle-class Formation in Early-Victorian Halifax, Nova Scotia,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, 5 (1994): 237-263.

[9]Kevin Wamsley, “Cultural Signification and National Ideologies: Rifle-shooting in Late 19th Century Canada,” Social History, 20 (1995), 70; R. Blake Brown, Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press and the Osgoode Society, 2012), 50.

[10]Report of the Committee on Militia, 1 in Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1867 (Halifax: Compton & Co, 1865), Appendix 35.

[11]“Provincial Rifle Contest,” Halifax Citizen, 5 September 1865.

[12]“Rifle Tournament,” Morning Sun, 6 September 1865.

[13]Adjutant-General’s Militia Report for the Year 1864, 6, Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1865 (Halifax: Compton & Co, 1865), in Appendix 5.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Age and Athleticism: A Wolfville Rector on Nineteenth-Century Cricket

By John Reid

Recently, my friend Peter Latta was kind enough to share with me a newspaper item – a letter to the editor – drawn from his research on the history of Amherst, Nova Scotia.  Published on 24 March 1921 by the Amherst Daily News, the letter was written by the Rev. Richard Ferguson Dixon, the Anglican Rector of Wolfville.  At the time the president of the Wolfville Cricket Club, Dixon recounted an effort made during the summer of 1920 to restore that sport to the eminence it had enjoyed before the First World War.  Clubs from Annapolis Royal, Bridgetown, Kentville, Windsor, and Wolfville had competed vigorously, and the season had reached a satisfying conclusion when a Valley select team had lost only narrowly to the West Indians of Halifax.  Now, in 1921, Dixon hoped that a team would be organized in Amherst, just as was already taking place in Stellarton, so that the sport could continue its recovery.  At almost 70 years old, and having served the Church of England in the Maritimes since 1894 – born in the north of England, he had moved to Canada in 1872 and spent the intervening years in Ontario – he saw “no reason why, in due time, every town and large village in the Maritime Provinces should not possess, as it did twenty-five or thirty years ago, a flourishing cricket club.”[1]

Rev. Richard Ferguson Dixon

Rev. Richard Ferguson Dixon. Photo courtesy of the Wolfville Historical Society

Dixon’s recollection of the late nineteenth century was accurate enough, although his prediction was over-optimistic.  Despite persisting during the 1920s in places such as Stellarton, Truro, and Whitney Pier, cricket never regained its earlier status as Nova Scotia’s pre-eminent team sport.  From a historical perspective, however, by far the most interesting part of Dixon’s letter is the passage in which he compared the significance of available sports for men – the gendered context was explicit – of varying ages:

The decline of cricket in Nova Scotia and elsewhere in Canada during the past ten or fifteen years, in my opinion, is very regrettable.  Baseball cannot take its place, for it is a game for boys and very young men.  No man can successfully play baseball or has any inclination to do so, as a rule, to put it at the latest, after thirty.  Golf is the elderly and old man’s game; tennis, a fine game in its way lacks the camaraderie and, I may add, the spice of danger that keeps a man’s nerves braced up in cricket in “standing up” to a swift bowler.  This is also lacking in quoits, curling, bowls, and other games of the same character. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jeunesse étudiante acadienne et Corps-école des officiers canadiens, 1941-1964 [2/2]

Philippe Volpé
Institut d’études acadiennes

 Voici la seconde et dernière partie de l’étude de l’historien Philippe Volpé sur les Corps-écoles des officiers canadiens (CEOC) en Acadie. La première partie peut être consultée ici. [hyperlien]

 CEOC d’Acadie et louvoiements d’après-guerre

 Au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les CEOC connaissent une certaine précarité en Acadie. À l’Université Saint-Joseph, le corps-école est discontinué. À l’Université du Sacré-Cœur, bien que le conseil de l’établissement soit d’avis, dès l’automne 1945, que le corps-école devrait être « supprimé », en l’absence d’indications des autorités militaires, il est jugé imprudent d’agir de la sorte et les administrateurs décident de le maintenir en activité pour les volontaires intéressés. Une certaine opposition eu égard à l’entraînement militaire est alors perceptible dans les universités d’Acadie à la suite de la guerre. Les autorités avancent que l’entraînement militaire s’agence mal au règlement de leur maison d’enseignement et qu’il entraîne la formation d’un certain militarisme dans l’esprit des jeunes. C’est d’ailleurs pour ces raisons que le corps de cadets de l’Université du Sacré-Cœur, devenu un corps de cadets de l’air en 1944, est dissous en octobre 1946[1]. Un corps de cadets du Sacré-Cœur est néanmoins remis sur pied à l’Université du Sacré-Cœur en 1961[2].

6. CEOC - P. Volpé

Contingent du CEOC de l’Université du Sacré-Cœur, 1945. Marcel Tremblay, 50 ans d’éducation catholique et française en Acadie, Caraquet 1899 – Bathurst 1949, Bathurst, Université du Sacré-Cœur, 1949, p. 250

À l’automne 1946, les autorités de l’Université du Sacré-Cœur sont enfin informées de la nouvelle mouture, post-conflit mondial, que prendront les CEOC; un plan de formation qui demeura inchangé pour le reste de leur existence. Il est dès lors convenu que la formation offerte par ces corps-écoles sera décomposée en deux phases, l’une théorique, l’autre pratique. Durant l’année universitaire, les jeunes assisteront à des cours et conférences théoriques sur un ensemble d’aspects militaires, allant des rudiments des services offerts par l’Armée canadienne, à l’histoire militaire, en passant par la géographie, la science militaire et nous en passons. Ensuite, les membres sont tenus de suivre un entraînement pratique de trois-quatre mois durant l’été dans une base militaire de leur choix suivant leurs intérêts : armurerie, camp Borden en Ontario; artillerie, camp Shilo au Manitoba; ingénierie, camp Chilliwack en Colombie-Britannique; etc. Les membres qui suivent ce programme de deux à trois ans avec succès qualifient pour des grades de Capitaines dans les Forces de réserve ou de Lieutenants dans les Forces actives (3 ans) ou de Lieutenants dans les Forces de réserves s’ils n’ont suivi la formation théorique et pratique que durant deux années[3]. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment