For the Duration: Don MacGillivray (1942-2018)

By David Frank

It is hard to know where to start, but let me try by mentioning two of the people Donnie helped to rescue from the obscurity of local history. Archibald Russell, a labourer from Conception Bay, was one of twelve men killed in separate calamities at the Sydney steel plant during its first year of operation in 1901. His skull was fractured by a loose block and tackle.[1] A generation later there was Eddie Crimmins; in the words of Dawn Fraser that Donnie often recited: “he came from Port aux Basques, Besides a chance to live and work, He had nothing much to ask. And yet he starved, he starved, I tell you, Back in 1924 . . . .”[2] Two men, both drawn to industrial Cape Breton in the early twentieth century in search of work, and both victims of an economy that failed to value their hopes or protect their lives.

DONNIE PIC 94-95-24610

Don Macgillivray, ca. 1980, at a time he was spelling his surname without a capital “G”. Even without a cloth cap, you can see a hint of Keir Hardie, the Scottish coal miner and founder of the Labour Party, a spokesman for his class who had no wish to join the power elites of his time. Beaton Institute of Cape Breton Studies, Reference number: 94-95-24610.

Donnie grew up on Park Street in Ashby, the largely Anglo-Celtic working-class Sydney neighbourhood hard by the roads leading to the steel plant, where his father was employed on the open hearth. Unlike most young working-class men and women of his generation, Donnie would eventually go on to university and a career as a scholar and teacher. But this trajectory was not apparent from the start.

When he ran into some trouble with school discipline, Donnie’s father, known to all and sundry as “Duffy”,  took him around to see George MacEachern. George was one of the founders of the steel union and known for his radical politics as well as his wise counsel. What was the offence? Was there a matter of principle involved? Will other students support you? Donnie accepted the penalty and returned to school but never stopped being skeptical about the unwarranted exercise of authority. Continue reading

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New Issue of Journal of New Brunswick Studies/Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick

The editorial board of the Journal of New Brunswick Studies/Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick (JNBS/RÉNB) is pleased to announce the release of its latest issue.

The new issue can be accessed at

JNBS/RÉNB is an online, multi-disciplinary journal that publishes peer-reviewed research about the province in English and French. The only journal of ideas in New Brunswick, it publishes thoughtful writing that engages a wide readership in ongoing conversations about the province.

PLEASE NOTE: If you have bookmarked or tabbed JNBS/RÉNB for easy access, we have had to change our url address as a result of upgrades to our host server. The journal’s new address is Please update your bookmark or tab with the new address.

For more information about the journal, contact

Le comité éditorial de la Journal of New Brunswick Studies/Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick (JNBS/RÉNB) est heureux de vous annoncer que son dernier numéro est maintenant en ligne.

Vous pouvez y accéder en vous rendant à :

Journal of New Brunswick Studies / La Revue d’études sur le Nouveau-Brunswick (JNBS/RÉNB) est une revue pluridisciplinaire dans laquelle sont publiés des articles évalués par les pairs, portant sur la province et ce, en anglais ou en français. Unique en son genre dans la province, RÉNB/JNBS vise à publier des articles réfléchis qui intéresseront un vaste lectorat dans le but d’alimenter les débats sur le Nouveau-Brunswick.

Nota bene : Si vous avez mis en signet ou en onglet JNBS/RÉNB pour un accès plus rapide, nous vous avisons d’un changement concernant l’adresse url du journal, rendu nécessaire par des mises à jour liées à notre serveur d’hébergement. Voici la nouvelle adresse du journal :

Veuiller réviser votre signet ou votre onglet en fonction de cette nouvelle adresse.

Pour de plus amples renseignements, écrivez à :

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Lisa Pasolli reviews Laurel Lewey, Louis J. Richard, and Linda Turner, New Brunswick before the Equal Opportunity Program: History through a Social Work Lens (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)

Laurel Lewey, Louis J. Richard, and Linda Turner. New Brunswick before the Equal Opportunity Program: History through a Social Work Lens (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018).

By Lisa Pasolli

New Brunswick’s Program of Equal Opportunity ushered in dramatic reforms to the cultural, social, political, and economic landscape of the province in the 1960s. When it came to the delivery of social services, Laurel Lewey, Louis J. Richard, and Linda Turner note, Equal Opportunity’s impact was “unprecedented” (178). Responsibility for welfare was transferred from municipalities to the province and, with the help of new revenue generated by tax reforms and a more efficient bureaucracy, the Louis J. Robichaud government was able to standardize and improve services in health, welfare, and education.


Laurel Lewey, Louis J. Richard, and Linda Turner. New Brunswick before the Equal Opportunity Program: History through a Social Work Lens (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)

New Brunswick before the Equal Opportunity Program reminds us what Robichaud was facing when he took office in 1960. In this collectively-authored and ambitious study, Lewey, Richard, and Turner survey the “patchwork” and “mosaic” landscape of social welfare across New Brunswick, the efforts of welfare workers and volunteers to ameliorate the harsh conditions of poverty, and the tentative (and mostly ineffective) forays into publicly-provided welfare in the early decades of the 20th century. Through ten wide-ranging chapters that cover everything from the contours of the New Brunswick economy to close analyses of the lives of the first Acadian social workers, they extrapolate  three main threads: the structural inequalities that made social need more acute among specific groups; the logic of a capitalist, resource-based economy that allowed wealth to be concentrated in the hands of the few; and the fact that religious, non-governmental, and charitable organizations bore the majority of social welfare responsibilities for many decades before Equal Opportunity was introduced.

The strongest of these threads is the attention to the structures of “prejudice, paternalism, and colonialism” (79) that generated disadvantage and need. The first two chapters set the tone of the book by providing deep historical context of the peoples and economy of the province; as the authors point out, “in New Brunswick’s history lie all the ingredients for a recipe for disaster and hardship for entire communities” (8). We learn, for example, that Acadian children in institutional care were chronically underfunded throughout the 20th century, that the establishment of Children’s Aid Societies occurred much earlier in anglophone counties than elsewhere in the province, that the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik were routinely denied access to social services, and that state-provided “social care” in Indigenous communities was often about assimilation. Continue reading

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“bad characters”: The Execution of George & Rufus Hamilton in Fredericton, 1949

by Michael Boudreau

The execution of George and Rufus Hamilton in Fredericton at 2:00am on 26 July 1949, the last execution in New Brunswick’s capital, underscores Constance Backhouse’s assertion that the legal system “played a principal and dominant role in creating and preserving racial discrimination.”[1] These men lived on the margins of society due to their poverty and lack of formal education.  Moreover, their “negro racial extraction” further compounded their marginalization in a predominately white community.  Similarly, being “colored” meant that in the eyes of many residents of Fredericton, the leap from committing petty crimes to murder was, while shocking, also understandable, if not inevitable.  Indeed, many Canadians believed that Blacks, especially Black men, were prone to violence and as George Elliott Clarke has noted, racialized murderers were seen to represent inferior cultures.[2]

TJ Headline

The Telegraph-Journal Headline on the Hamilton Brothers Hanging

The double-hanging of the Hamilton brothers at the York County Jail (now home to Science East, adjacent to the popular Boyce Farmers’ Market) for the murder of a white taxi-driver, Norman Burgoyne, was considered by many to be a just conclusion to what the police had characterized as “one of the most brutal murders in the province’s history.”[3]  The press depicted thirty-four year old Burgoyne as a model of respectability.  He was a life-long resident of Fredericton, a veteran, a devoted husband, a father of three young children, and a successful businessman.  Burgoyne’s “battered” body was discovered locked in the truck of his taxi on a “lonely woods road” outside of Fredericton on Monday, 10 January 1949, two days after he had gone missing.  Following a brief investigation and a tip from a witness who had informed the police that George and Rufus were driving a car that resembled Burgoyne’s taxi, the Hamilton brothers were arrested on 16 January and held in custody until Rufus’s trial began in May.[4]

George and Rufus Hamilton lived precarious lives.  George, age twenty-three, lived with his wife and two children in a two-room house, with no running water, in the “Negro settlement” at Barker’s Point, on the city’s north side. According to the 1941 census, York County, which included Fredericton, had 294 “Negro” residents and Fredericton’s population was 10,062.[5]  George, who had a grade-three education, did not have stable employment and by his own admission he survived at times by stealing and gambling.  Rufus, age twenty-two, held a series of menial jobs and before he came to live with his brother he had been incarcerated in Dorchester Penitentiary. The trial judge, J. E. Michaud, in his charge to the jury, described George and Rufus as “bad characters…to put it in common parlance, I would say…bad eggs.”[6] Both men desperately needed money and devised a scheme to “bump” someone, drag them into an alley, and rob them.  But George surmised that this was a risky proposition, especially in broad day-light. So instead he suggested that they call a cab, have the driver take them to a “lonely place,” and then knock him unconscious and take his money. Continue reading

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The Concert Led Zeppelin Never Gave: The Lessons of the Strawberry Fields Festival

By Greg Marquis

For a few weeks in 1970, pop music fans on both sides of the Canada-United States border were excited by the prospects of a ‘second Woodstock,’ a multiple-day outdoor music festival that would include some of the top acts of the era, including Ten Years After, Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, Eric Burden and War, the Youngbloods, Sly and the Family Stone and Led Zeppelin. Posters in the United States promised “three days of love, sun and sound” in “free North America” – Canada. Initially denied permission to stage the “international carnival” in Ontario, the promoters next tried to entice hip youth to “get high on sky and sun” on a 100-acre farm at Barrachois, near Shediac, New Brunswick.  The festival was scheduled to take place in early August, one year after the now legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair in upstate New York. Yet Led Zeppelin, whose second album had topped the charts in Canada in 1969 and whose single “Whole Lotta Love” hit Number 2, never performed in New Brunswick.

SFF Bronny Davis 2

Strawberry Fields Festival. Image courtesy Bronny Davis.

This blog post had two objectives.  First, it provides a brief overview of what became the largest pop festival of the era in Canada, Strawberry Fields. More importantly, it suggests themes and an area of research that Canadian historians should consider exploring. Historians of the 1960s and 1970s have more or less ignored not only rock or pop music, but all forms of popular music, including jazz, folk and country and western. Yet popular music was a key part of the Baby Boom experience and Canada was one of the top markets in the world for recorded music. In Atlantic Canada, as well as the rest of the county, fans not only purchased recordings, they also listened to radio and watched television programs featuring music, heard and danced to it Legion halls, school gymnasiums, bars and concert settings and sometimes performed it themselves.  Despite this, historical writing on the Canada in the 1960s and 1970s tends to ignore popular music or treat it in a superficial manner[1]. With a few exceptions, research and publishing in the field has been dominated by ethnomusicologists, folklorists, communications studies experts, freelance writers and journalists. There is nothing wrong with these approaches, but it is time for historians to do their part. [2] Continue reading

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Yale Belanger reviews Andrew Crosby & Jeffrey Monaghan’s Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State

Andrew Crosby & Jeffrey Monaghan. Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State (Halifax & Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2018).

By Yale Belanger

Dating to the events at Oka in 1990, Indigenous activism and resistance strategies have come to be popularly linked with large-scale and potentially violent events characterized by protests and blockades, and eventual police (or in the case of Oka, military) intervention. When the action dies down it is simply assumed that the opposing parties retreat to neutral corners in anticipation of future episodes. But as Andrew Crosby and Jeffrey Monaghan argue in Policing Indigenous Movements, police action does not necessarily end with a protest’s conclusion. As the authors contend, long after the protests have petered out an extensive RCMP-led campaign of surveillance persists that is pursued in partnership with numerous government departments, local and provincial policing agencies, and corporate partners.


Andrew Crosby & Jeffrey Monaghan. Policing Indigenous Movements: Dissent and the Security State (Halifax & Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2018).

Policing Indigenous Movements is a fairly short monograph the core of which is four case studies bookended by an introduction and conclusion. Beginning with a brief description of Project SITKA, a secret RCMP report about Indigenous activism published in 2015, the introduction presents a summary of the literature on settler colonialism, Canada as “security state” reinforcing the federal government’s efforts to end the war on terror, the reliance on policing institutions to reproduce order, and thoughts on decolonizing the security state. The authors catalogue Canada’s reliance on surveillance to both monitor and aid with controlling Indigenous activism, while contending that the latter in its various iterations represents a legitimate response to state intrusion onto Indigenous lands in search of resource wealth. The four case studies examine events that unfolded at Barriere Lake, Ontario, in British Columbia related to the Northern Gateway pipelines project, across Canada in relation to the Idle No More movement, and at Elsipogtog, New Brunswick.

The authors establish an analytical framework that reads as follows: taking the lead from government officials fighting a war on terror, the RCMP, with the support of private corporations, recognized forms of Indigenous resistance to settler colonialism as criminal acts, which justified Canada’s relentless, albeit questionable, attempts to undermine Indigenous self-determination and development in the name of national security. That Indigenous peoples have been subjected to government surveillance dating to the creation of reserves in the 1870s reinforces this position. The authors must therefore be applauded for taking this critical step toward improving the public’s understanding of the evolution and reliance on clandestine public surveillance efforts. This is a chilling revelation that all Canadians should take seriously. Continue reading

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Path of a Digital Humanities Project: Story Mapping Loyalists

By Leah Grandy

With a few breakthrough ideas, a group of people with the right skillset at the right place and time, and a dash of serendipity, the project which was to be known as “New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys” came together and became Esri’s story map of January 2018.

In the Microforms Unit at UNB Libraries, we are always trying to invent new ways to showcase how The Loyalist Collection can be utilized by a wide variety of researchers and to engage undergrad students with the depth of primary sources it holds. When we received a Canada Summer Jobs Program Student in 2016, Christine Jack, the Manager of the Microforms Unit, had the idea of creating biographies of loyalists who had settled in York County, New Brunswick.  These biographies would demonstrate how the primary sources found in The Loyalist Collection, which contains microform copies of over 600 records from institutions around the world, can be employed to recreate the life stories of refugees of the American Revolution.


Project team at the time of the launch of the York County, New Brunswick phase of “New Brunswick Loyalist Journeys”. Left to right: Leah Grandy, Siobhan Hanratty, Zoe Jackson, Annabelle Babineau, Lilian Taylor, Christine Jack.

The project was born with the arrival of our grant student, Lilian Taylor.  We first tasked Lilian with compiling a spreadsheet of possible York County loyalists to profile by using the invaluable index found in Esther Clarke Wright’s book, The Loyalists of New Brunswick.  We also were kindly given research time from a Government Documents, Data, and Maps/GIS Unit Student Assistant, Annabelle Babineau, and together, the two students completed initial research on potential candidates for the larger, biographical project. The next step was to have each researcher, including myself, choose a few individuals who “spoke to them” from the compiled list of loyalists who.  Little did I know how vibrant and familiar my subject choices would become for me through the research process!  You can read more about the research steps followed and sources used for the project in a post from Atlantic Loyalist Connections. Continue reading

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“The Unfortunate Acadians” or How to turn Genocide into Tragic Destiny – Part 2

by Chantal Richard

The following is part two of a two-part blog post.

Acadian politics and language

Unlike the Saint John and Sackville papers, The Moncton Transcript tended to focus more on contemporary Acadians, reporting on the Conventions nationales acadiennes of 1881, 1884 and 1890, and on the resulting emergence of a national Acadian identity. Furthermore, there was a great deal of discussion around the importance of the political representation of Acadians, including this statement by The Moncton Transcript that “There is a determination on the part of the English speaking people of this country to prevent, if possible, the unfortunate mistake of last election, when the Acadian representative was left out.” 11 January 1890, p. 2: The choice of words “unfortunate mistake” is somewhat reminiscent of the cruel necessity argument of the Acadian expulsion, and the author avoids pointing fingers, implying instead that no one was to blame.

While this newspaper appeared desirous to include Acadians in politics, there was an important caveat. Acadian politicians who brought up the past were heavily criticized. For example, on 14 January 1887, The Moncton Transcript published the following letter to the editor: Continue reading

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“The Unfortunate Acadians” or How to turn Genocide into Tragic Destiny – Part 1

by Chantal Richard

The following is part one of a two-part blog post. It is inspired from a paper I gave on 4 May 2018, at the Atlantic Canada Studies Conference in Wolfville, very close to historic Grand-Pré, the symbolic epicenter of the Expulsion of an estimated 11, 000 Acadians from 1755 to 1758. [1] This research was made possible by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

In our age of cultural awareness and inclusivity, we know that words matter. They have always mattered, even – or perhaps especially – in an era when most educated people studied rhetoric as part of a liberal arts degree. The portrayal of a minority group by a social majority is not innocent, and can leave lasting stereotypes and prejudices in a society. In this brief summary of a more extensive ongoing analysis, I will examine how Acadians were portrayed in English-language newspapers in New Brunswick at the end of the 19th century.

The Vocabularies of Identity project

In 2013, I launched a project titled “Vocabularies of Identity / Vocabulaires identitaires” along with co-investigators Anne Brown, Nicole Boudreau, Denis Bourque, Margaret Conrad, Gwendolyn Davies, Cécilia Francis, Bonnie Huskins, and Gregory Marquis. The over-arching goal of this ongoing project was to examine the emergence and evolution of collective identity of Acadians and the descendants of New Brunswick Loyalists by analyzing newspaper articles published from 1880 to 1940. With the help of over a dozen research assistants, we have digitized over 1500 articles so far. The open-access database can be consulted here:


Vocabularies of Identity/Vocabulaires identitaires

The search for relevant content for the database was revealing in and of itself. We found that French-language newspapers, while being less numerous (only four compared to ten English-language papers for the same time period), provided a lot more content about the collective identities of these two social groups. In other words, within the French-language papers, there are far more articles about Acadians than there are articles about Loyalists in English-language papers. This may well be linked to the necessity for a minority group to continuously affirm its very existence, and it may be partly cultural, but what is certain is sthat Acadians dedicated considerable print space to talking about their own identity at the end of the 19th century. Furthermore, the word “Loyaliste” is nearly absent from French-language papers (though of course, there are many references to “les Anglais” or “les Britanniques”), but the variations of “Acadie”, “Acadian”, etc. are reasonably frequent in English-language newspapers, almost as frequent as occurrences of the variations of “Loyalist” within these same papers. The interest in Acadian identity was therefore not only prominent among Acadians, but spilled over to the Anglophone population. Analysis of this data is further complicated by the fact that educated Acadians were very often fluently bilingual, and so the authors of these English-language articles may have been Acadians (the articles are not always signed, and when they are, pen names are fairly common). Continue reading

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From to Please Adjust Your Bookmark

Recently the URL of the Labour History in New Brunswick project changed from to Please adjust your bookmarks accordingly.

By David Frank

In a recent post Andrea Eidinger and Stephanie Pettigrew discussed the problem of maintaining legacies in the age of digital history. The title of their discussion was disconcertingly ominous: “Land of the Lost: Digital Projects and Longevity”. Links fail. Websites disappear. Languages change. Projects run out of money. Programmes go obsolete. Servers leave you behind. There are a surprising number of breakdowns on the information highway.

Spoiler alert here. The warning is that this story has a satisfactory ending.

As Andrea and Stephanie pointed out, there can be solutions. The case in point here is the website for a collaborative project on labour and working-class history in New Brunswick. It was one of the Community-University Research Alliances funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. The project was active from 2005 to 2011 and involved colleagues at the two provincial universities and ten (later twelve) heritage institutions and labour organizations in the province.



Labour History in New Brunswick

From the outset, the website was one of our major undertakings, and it had some success in promoting interest in the field, both for specialists and also for the wider public. At the peak of usage, the site was receiving as many as 200,000 visits per month. Reviews of the project did not fail to mention the website as a significant achievement.

There is no need here to describe the site in any detail. It has survived beyond the formal completion of the project, and you can now make visits at its new home location.

That’s the good news, and thereby hangs a tale. The survival of the site depended on overcoming  problems that loomed up in the last years of the project’s formal operation. The first obstacle appeared unexpectedly when the university whose server was hosting the site announced that they would no longer be able to support sites such as ours. The reason for this was that their site was being completely overhauled and they would not continue to use the same mark-up language they had used for many years. The option of rebuilding the site from the bottom up was not practical, nor affordable. Continue reading

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