CFP: The 2018 Atlantic Canada Studies Conference at Acadia University

The Departments of English and Theatre, History and Classics, Politics, and Sociology of Acadia University invite proposals the 2018 Atlantic Canada Studies Conference, to be held at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada on May 4-6, 2018.

For several decades now, scholars have been attuned to Atlantic Canada’s place in the Atlantic World, and this water-based framework can be extended downward into local economic, social, and cultural networks in the region. Rivers, straits, and bays were the transportation infrastructure of the region, well into the 20th Century. Did these networks and influences survive the triumph of land-based transportation?

Themes and ideas that this conference addresses include:

  • Indigenous narratives
  • Naming and claiming space
  • Linguistic and cultural expression
  • Literary and visual arts
  • Social capital networks within and across regions
  • Political literacy and public opinion
  • Immigration and outmigration
  • Demographics
  • Gender and generations

The deadline for submission of proposals is 10 November 2017. Proposals should be less than 250 words, and the author should include a brief biography or c.v. Proposals for panels or workshops are welcome. While the selection of papers is rigorous, the conference has an impressive history of bringing together internationally-recognized academics, junior scholars, and independent researchers in productive and provocative sessions. Registration fees will be waived for graduate students, and students who are presenting can apply for financial assistance.

Contact Info:
Stephen Henderson, Department of History & Classics
P.O Box 182
Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
B4P 2R6

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Jane Jenkins reviews Jennifer Hubbard, David J. Wildish, and Robert L. Stephenson, eds. A Century of Maritime Science: The St. Andrews Biological Station

Jennifer Hubbard, David J. Wildish, and Robert L. Stephenson, eds. A Century of Maritime Science: The St. Andrews Biological Station (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016).

by Jane Jenkins

The Bay of Fundy, with its world-renowned high tides and its diverse marine environment, offers rich study grounds for a world-class marine research institution, the St. Andrews Biological Station (SAB). A celebration, in 2008, of one hundred years of the station’s marine research brought together scientists, those retired and still working at the station, with former and current staff of the station, as well as historians of science to recount the many ways that researchers at this facility have contributed to both practical and pure knowledge of marine biology and fisheries management since the facility was established in 1908. This volume of twelve chapters includes many of the papers presented during the centenary gathering and it offers valuable insight into the history of a public institution: its scientific achievements, political struggles for autonomy, and the logistical challenges presented by everything from fire to budget cuts.

maritime science

Jennifer Hubbard, David J. Wildish, and Robert L. Stephenson, eds. A Century of Maritime Science: The St. Andrews Biological Station (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016).

The first four chapters present the background to the establishment of the SAB  as well as the influences on its subsequent development, including a British model of institutional science, women marine biologists, and German forestry practices. The opening chapter, by historian Eric Mills, provides an excellent overview of the emergence, in the 19th century, of a distinctly Canadian way of doing science, tracing its roots to the British model of gentlemanly, or amateur science, and minimal government oversight. It recounts how, by the early 20th century, the federal  government had decided to replace its moveable, floating marine stations with a permanent land station on each side of the country, one in Nanaimo, British Columbia and the other in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. These marine biological stations offered new, non-traditional spaces for study. The second chapter of the volume, written by third-generation female marine biologist Mary Needler Arai, recounts the significant role of women researchers and staff at SAB. The third chapter, written by historian of science Jennifer Hubbard, traces the influence of German forestry science and practices on the development of Canadian fisheries and marine science.  Specifically, the concept of maximum sustainable yield, an essential feature of sustainable fisheries management following the Second World War, was modelled on 19th-century German forestry science, as was the method of aging fish by counting rings on their scales, a method similar to the one that ages trees by counting rings on tree trunks.

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Preface to E.R. Forbes Bibliography

The following is “bonus coverage” of material from the most recent print edition of Acadiensis.

by Corey Slumkoski

IN 1989 ACADIENSIS PRESS PUBLISHED E.R. (Ernie) Forbes’s Challenging the Regional Stereotype: Essays on the 20th Century Maritimes.[1] This collection of his scholarship – published and unpublished – from the previous two decades emphasizes Forbes’s remarkable contribution to the historiography of Atlantic Canada. Perhaps more than any other historian, Ernie Forbes consistently and persuasively overturned entrenched ideas about the Atlantic region: he challenged the regional stereotype. Throughout his 31-year university teaching career, first at the University of Victoria and then at the University of New Brunswick, he revised our understanding of the underdevelopment of Atlantic Canada and the ways that political decisions made at the centre can have a longstanding and detrimental impact on the periphery.

Ernie Forbes’s first publication – “Prohibition and the Social Gospel” – was the lead article in the 1971 debut issue of this journal. This article displays all the hallmarks of Forbes’ scholarship: clear and concise prose, a mastery of the empirical evidence, and a willingness to upend the established historical interpretation. The movement for prohibition in Nova Scotia was not, Forbes argued, an outgrowth of “puritanical zealots bent on suppressing the pleasures of others.” Rather, it was an outgrowth of a church-led progressive reform movement – the Social Gospel – that strove to “create a new society in which crime, disease and social injustice would be virtually eliminated.”[2]

Although Forbes soon shifted his focus from progressive reform to politics, his work never lost sight of the importance of social justice, the relationship between good history and good policy, or the necessity of challenging historical convention. Indeed, throughout his work on such interrelated topics as the Maritime Rights Movement, regional transportation policy, depression-era relief initiatives, or the wartime consolidation of power and manufacturing capacity in central Canada Forbes displayed a willingness to counter the claims of such “orthodox” scholars of the 1940s and 1950s as S.A. Saunders, Harold Innis, and B.S. Kierstead; all of these scholars had argued that the Maritimes provinces were doomed to a fate of economic marginalization because of their distance from the central-Canadian market, their lack of entrepreneurial spirit, their over-reliance on staples, and their inability to make the transition from a “wood, wind, and sail” economy to one based upon “iron, coal, and rail.”[3] In sharp contrast, Forbes, along with other “liberal revisionist” scholars, suggested that the region’s unenviable economic position was the result of harmful national policies designed to serve the politically powerful central provinces.[4] Implicit in this analysis was the notion that if politics was part of the problem then perhaps it could also be part of the solution.[5] If, for example, the wartime actions of Minister of Munitions and Supply C.D. Howe served to “accentuate and consolidate” regional disparities, then perhaps concerted effort by contemporary Maritime politicians at the federal and provincial levels might help alleviate regional underdevelopment.[6]

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Canada-wide History Wikipedia edit-a-thon

The following notice might be of interest to some readers of the blog. I’m sure those of you who’ve looked at Wikipedia (still not a good source for essays!) have noticed that it is a little sparse on Atlantic Canadian history topics – here’s a chance to remedy that!


To have wide spread participation in a Wikipedia edit-a-thon focusing on Canadian history.


October 18, 2017

Different types of participation

Hosts: These are people who can help facilitate a physical space for experts, contributors, editors, and translators to meet on October 18th. This space can be in a museum, archive, library, or classroom. A place that would be open to the public on this day, have a strong wifi, outlets, and comfortable seating.

Additionally, hosts should be willing to welcome people of all genders, races, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, and ability levels.

Wiki editing experts: If you have experience contributing to Wikipedia in any topic we could use your expertise! Whether you’re into history or not, the more experts able to answer random questions on site the better!

Contributors: Whether you are a generalist or an expert on a specific topic there is a way for you to contribute to Wikipedia on this day.

Editors: No experience necessary! If you don’t fancy yourself an expert on a specific topic there are a number of entries on Wikipedia that need your help. From footnotes to copyediting there is something for you.

Translators: Wikipedia articles can be available in many different languages or just one. If you write more than one language, this role might be for you!

Sponsors: If your organization would like to support this initiative but is unable to provide a physical space, we can connect you with a local host to help you provide what they need. For example, snacks and drinks!

For more information contact Krista McCracken –


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Graeme Wynn reviews Ronald Rees, New Brunswick Was His Country: The Life of William Francis Ganong

Ronald Rees. New Brunswick Was His Country: The Life of William Francis Ganong (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2016).

 By Graeme Wynn

 W.F. Ganong, scion of the St. Stephen family of candy manufacturers, was a prodigious polymath, a professor of botany at Smith College in Massachusetts, an ardent outdoorsman, physiographer, ethnohistorian, translator, student of natural history, and expert on the early cartography of eastern Canada. Author of over 600 published writings, the majority of them on New Brunswick, he was a virtual battalion of erudition. A year after his death in 1941, a eulogy in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada described him as one of the country’s “greatest scholars.” Then he slipped into obscurity for almost forty years. Between 1978 and 1981 his contributions to regional history were marked, seemingly coincidentally, in two journal articles and two Masters theses (completed in Maine and Kansas).  Thirty-five years later, two books from local publishers have again resurrected Ganong from his inconspicuous place in the regional pantheon: Nicholas Guitard’s Lost Wilderness, 2015 (which was reviewed by Alan MacEachern on this blog) and Rees’s piece on Ganong which adds to our understanding of the man without pretending to offer a complete biography or endeavouring to account for the curious cycles of interest in and neglect of his work.


Ronald Rees. New Brunswick Was His Country: The Life of William Francis Ganong (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2016).

I have something of a history with Ganong. Much of my early research was conducted in the reading room that bears his name in the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John. Moreover, Ganong’s work on the salt marshes of the Bay of Fundy, on the natural history and historical geography of the province, and on the Miramichi Fire (not mentioned in this book) was important to my own scholarship on agriculture and forests, and I contributed my mite to the “first resurrection” by characterizing Ganong as a “geographer by avocation” in an article in Acadiensis in 1981.   I also have a history with Rees. We corresponded briefly about our mutual interests in Loyalist New Brunswick in the early 1970s, and in the years since I have admired from afar his compelling studies of Prairie and other landscapes, and appreciated his growing shelf of books on New Brunswick. This, his latest contribution, stirred in me a strange sense that I was “re-acquainting” myself with two friends I had never met.

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The lives of historic women (or wearing a big dress on a hot day)

Another of our favourites from our first two years …

by Anne Marie Lane Jonah

Mid-summer 2016 Nova Scotia visitor numbers at Historic Sites are anecdotally reported to be up from last year. Once again tourists and locals wander in rebuilt towns and fortifications, watch, try their hand at demonstrations, and meet people in costume who share information about “their lives,” say being a 19th century soldier’s wife. Generations of seasonal workers and students have taken these roles. Some have made them their own, and over the decades the changing presenters have changed the presentation. The popularity of living history sites has fluctuated over the years and they have in recent years suffered under restrained budgets and difficult economic times. Nonetheless, they retain an undeniable appeal. As the work of public history goes on this summer, it is an opportune moment to reflect on how this work has been changed by the many actors involved in its creation and dissemination, and by its audience.

It is also a good time to reflect as “national” public history is 99 years old in Canada this year. In the summer of 1917 a small temporary museum in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia and a tidied up “Fort Anne” opened to the public as the first “National Historic Park,” (later changed to “Site”). In the summer of 2017 Parks Canada National Historic Sites will celebrate their centenary as the country celebrates its sesquicentenary. What Canada’s historic sites represent, the stories they tell or don’t tell, and how they have evolved, have been the subject of many studies. From Ian McKay’s ground-breaking work to the Pasts Collective’s recent study of Canadians’ relationship to history we have become more conscious and critical of how the past is constructed, used, experienced, and valued.[1] The role of the researchers, presenters, administrators, and the audience all come to bear on what we collectively call public history. We recognise the inherit conservatism and bias of the form, but it remains a vital aspect of our communities, both economically and culturally.


Cassie Deveaux Cohoon’s Jeanne Dugas of Acadia

In reflecting on decades of work in public history, mine and my colleagues’, I have recently focussed on the evolution of the presentation of women’s and non-elite history at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. In “Everywoman’s Biography: The Stories of Marie Marguerite Rose and Jeanne Dugas at Louisbourg,” Acadiensis XLV, N. 1, I explored how the lives of two women, one African and enslaved, the other Acadian, came to represent the stories and struggles of subaltern 18th century French-colonial women at Louisbourg. The study of these women, their inclusion as a part of the presentation of Louisbourg, their eventual recommendation for designation as persons of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, and their representation in histories beyond the walls of Louisbourg were the result of many years of work. The change they represent was the product of research, discussion and planning, and sharing information and ideas with communities and with visitors to historic sites.

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Cold Water Cowboys and Newfoundland Masculinity

As we continue on our hiatus here is another of our favourite posts from the past two years.

By Vicki S. Hallett

“A vocation passed from father to son, the fishermen of ‘the Rock’ have spanned generations.  But disaster struck in 1992 when the cod stock collapsed and a moratorium was declared, effectively shutting the fishery down overnight.  Many left the life of the sea, but not the Cold Water Cowboys.  […The show…] journeys to Newfoundland to meet these men with salt water in their veins, and follows them through one intense fishing season.  […] these bred-in-the-bone fishermen will never trade their boats for boardrooms” (

 The television series Cold Water Cowboys, which aired its first 10-part season in the winter of 2014, and is currently showing its third season on the Discovery network, follows the high-seas adventures of six fishing skippers and their crews in the restructured Newfoundland fishery.  Ranging from Carmanville to Cow Head (excluding Labrador, except to show it as a potential fishing ground and/or point of sale for two of the show’s skippers), these fishermen target species from crab, to halibut, to shrimp and mackerel, and go to great lengths to make a living from a restructured industry.  The show presents the men of the fishery as emblematic of Newfoundland identity, supporting long-held myths of regional/ethnic masculinity.

Much like other reality TV series the world over, Cold Water Cowboys incorporates local cultural narratives in a globalized entertainment genre.  As Negra, Pike and Radley point out, “Reality formats, are […] situated at the discursive intersection of globalization, national identity, and cultural representation; they function as a ‘contact zone’ between the local and the global, in which borders of identity, gender, and nation are picked apart and rearticulated” (188).  This contact zone is most usefully examined through a feminist postcolonial lens, one that is attentive to Mary Louise Pratt’s definition of said contact zones as “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination” (7).

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TBT: Gregory Kennedy looks at “Marshland Colonization in Acadia and Poitou during the 17th Century”

Today’s Throwback Thursday piece is Greg Kennedy’s examination of the 17th century colonization of the Acadia and Poitou marshlands:

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Settler Colonialism and the Future of Canadian History

While the blog is on hiatus from publishing new content we thought we’d share some of our favourite posts from the previous two years. Today we’re looking at Jerry Bannister’s post on “Settler Colonialism and the Future of Canadian History,” which was co-published with our good friends at Borealia in April 2016.

by Jerry Bannister

In March [2016] I had the pleasure of attending the Pierre Savard conference[1] at the University of Ottawa. I was asked to give a talk on the future of Canadian history, particularly the ongoing debate over transnational versus national perspectives. I never did get around to asking why they invited me to speak. Perhaps it was the exchange I had with my friend Chris Dummitt[2] a few years back, when we were fretting over the new “history wars.”[3] Or it might have been the argument I made in the article I published here in Acadiensis in 2014, “Atlantic Canada in an Atlantic World.”[4] During my talk, I returned to a theme that I’ve been discussing with Chris for several years now: the need to make and maintain a distinction between national and nationalist history. As I said in Ottawa, there is still an unfortunate tendency among Anglophone historians of Canada to presume that we are what we study. In other words, if someone studies the Loyalists, then she/he must somehow be biased in favour of them. And if someone says that national frameworks are important, then she/he must somehow necessarily be a nationalist. I think that this tendency has abated with the decline of the history wars, but I still hear echoes of it when I’m at conferences.


National History vs. Nationalist History. Image by Thiwawat Pattaragulwanit from the Bangkok Post, 30 June 2008.

At the outset of my talk, I tried to make it clear that I was not going to stake out a “CNN Crossfire” type position, stridently for or against national or transnational history. Not only am I having a difficult time making up my mind on many of these questions, but I am also coming to value my own uncertainty. All too often, particularly on social media, we succumb to the pressure to appear more confident and more certain than we actually are. I can see value in both types of history – and in other types of history, of course – and I think that we should try to remain open to borrowing from different approaches, in order to broaden and deepen out perspectives. Like most historians, I see theory as a means rather than an end, a toolbox from which we can draw to solve historical problems thrown up by the evidence we discover. So I ended up laying out what I see as the pros and cons of national and transnational perspectives.

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Leaving the Armchair: an Historian in the Field*

By Sarah Toye

*Please Note: no historians were harmed in the making of this field school.

As the sole historian in Saint Mary’s University’s 2016 field school, I was the butt of many a good-natured joke:

  • “This is what dirt looks like.”
  • “Have you ever used sunscreen?”
  • “It’s a good thing you’re finally getting some vitamin D.”

I didn’t mind the jokes, even when I suspected the archaeologists would intentionally get dirt on me. The main reason I didn’t mind – aside from my excellent sense of humour – was because they were essentially right; I was completely out of my element. But I find myself leaving the field school and returning to my historical work with a lot of experience and new skills under my belt, as well as a newfound love and respect for the discipline and the people who dedicate their lives to it.

toye 1

My first artifact find.

I confess that I harboured a reductive and stereotypical image of archaeologists before the field school. I was under the impression that they used historians’ work to pinpoint a place to dig then handed over the information to historians from which they could make their conclusions. I have now realised not only the colossal amount of work and insight that goes into finding a site and the scholarly work that follows, but also the sheer physical demand of the digging itself. The dedication that is required for someone to condemn themselves to a life of road trips, constant visits to Tim Horton’s, back pain, blisters, sun burns, bruises, dirt, ticks (I doubt I will ever be completely okay with needing tick-checks), long hours and good old fashioned physical exhaustion is stunning.

toye 2

Getting down and dirty cleaning up the profiles of one of the sites.

Archaeologists, or “adventure historians” as I have taken to calling them, are some of the most passionate academics I have ever encountered. It requires true devotion to commit one’s self to a field that requires work in a literal field, always with the possibility of doing all that work and not finding anything. While pouring over books and computer screens for hours, days, weeks (months..years…) can be disagreeable, it does not quite compare. There’s certainly that feeling of excitement and euphoria as an historian when one finds the perfect quote or source, just the thing to tie all one’s work together; but it does not have the same poignancy as the feeling of physically revealing the artifact, of releasing it from the darkness with one’s own hands. Of being the first person to hold it, to see it, since its original use. Looking around that wide open field and taking a moment to marvel at the miracle that of all the test pits in all the fields in all the world, that ceramic sherd walked into mine. Three inches over, it would have remained buried in the bowels of the seemingly endless amount of clay and slate under Nova Scotia.

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