Wide Angles, Close Quarters: A Human History of the Grand Dérangement

By Christopher Hodson

Nearly two decades ago, I stumbled out of my small hometown (beautiful Logan, Utah, USA) into a PhD program in history at Northwestern University near Chicago. I arrived with the intention of studying and writing about revolutionary France, but after a few months of work, I began an innocent flirtation with colonial America – a field about which I then knew basically nothing, but whose lines of argument I found appealing. It got serious fast. By the end of that first hectic year, it was clear to me that my interests had shifted, and that if by some miracle I managed to write a dissertation and earn a doctorate, it would be as an early Americanist.

This personal revelation notwithstanding, I was still missing one all-important thing: a subject to write about. As a graduate student in the early stages, dissertation topics are everything. In addition to providing light at the end of a tunnel littered with potential failure and drudgery, they function as a kind of currency – something you could distill into a couple of sexy-ish sentences at the department mixer marked you as a “serious young scholar” and not the twenty-something joker you in fact were. After jumping ship from French history, however, I was dead broke.

That all changed, however, during a conversation with one of my professors, an eminent early American historian with a roguish streak. “You know, if I were a young guy in your position,” he said, “and I really wanted to write a career-making dissertation, I’d have a good look at the Acadians.” By that point, I’d had quite a bit of practice at giving a knowing, chin-stroking nod to mask my interior cluelessness, so I executed one: “Ah, yes. The Acadians. Mmm. Indeed. So interesting.” I then ran off to perform the 1999 equivalent of a Google search (Ask Jeeves?) to confirm what I suspected, but didn’t rightly know: that the Acadians had been the original French settlers of what are now the Canadian Maritimes, that Anglo-Americans had done something terrible to them in the eighteenth century, and that their descendants were the Cajuns of Louisiana. Continue reading

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Reconciling Chignecto: The many stories of Siknikt

By Anne Marie Lane Jonah

Although many residents of and visitors to Atlantic Canada have seen, even at a glance, the National Historic Sites (NHS) of Beaubassin and Fort Lawrence, many fewer have visited, or have an inkling of the dramatic and tragic history of that place. Beaubassin, an Acadian village destroyed in 1750, and Fort Lawrence, built on the ruins of the village, occupy a ridge to the south east of the Missaguash River that today forms the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. (They’re behind the Nova Scotia visitor centre.) In the past few years, Parks Canada staff have been working to better understand and present the history of these places. As the work progressed, the idea took shape of creating a linked and coherent presentation of these sites and two others in the Chignecto region, Fort Beauséjour-Fort Cumberland NHS and Fort Gaspareaux NHS; making the landscape of the Isthmus of Chignecto central to the story.

AnneMarie photo1

Parks Canada/2019. A view of the Tantramar Marsh form Beaubassin ridge, with the hard to make out Missaguash River.

Beaubassin, an Acadian community somewhat distant in its day from the alternately French and British capital at Port Royal/Annapolis Royal, had prospered for generations based on its agriculture and trade before its destruction.  Knowledge of the site of the village had endured in local oral history, cherished by Acadians, some descendants of the villagers. In the early 20th century, the curious had gone searching for artefacts in the fields, and studies of the place were undertaken: history, archaeology, and genealogy. In 1991 a farmer grading a large section of his field to build a barn turned up archaeological objects by the thousands, bringing the site to greater attention. Still, it was not until 2005 that it was designated as being a site of national historic significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board and acquired by Parks Canada. From 2007 to 2010, Parks Canada archaeologist Charles Burke led public archaeology programs to study the remains of fort and village, bringing to light a large collection of artefacts, and inspiring tremendous attachment to and interest in the site, still essentially a field.

Communicating the complex, truly tangled, history of Beaubassin/ Fort Lawrence remains a challenge. The military story of colonial wars has dominated the landscape and the narrative. The entire Chignecto region, one of the flashpoints for the tensions that resulted in the Seven Years’ War, was much more important in the colonial era than its current modest appearance indicates.[1] Early heritage protection efforts, beginning in 1902, focussed on Fort Beauséjour/Fort Cumberland NHS, a stone fortification that occupies a ridge across the Missaguash River from Beaubassin/Fort Lawrence. (Doubtless you are noticing the pattern of double names.) As the pet project of one the first and longest serving members of the HSMB, John Clarence Webster, the Chignecto region received some of its first designations.[2] Nonetheless, more than a century later, as we began to piece the story together for Beaubassin/Fort Lawrence, what struck me was the unknown. The primary records contained ample evidence of an Indigenous role in this story that received scant mention in secondary sources or in the existing HSMB designations. Why, it had to be asked, were the Mi’kmaq and the Wolastukqiyik so invested in preventing this particular British incursion? This led me to the idea that this place wasn’t important because Europeans fought over it; but, they ended up fighting over it because it was important. What we as researchers need to address are the real reasons that this unusual landscape was important, and to whom. Continue reading

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Pointe Sainte-Anne: the Continuity of a destroyed eighteenth-century Acadian village

Today’s post is the first in a mulit-part collaboration between the Acadiensis Blog, Unwritten Histories, and Borealia. To see the introduction to this series please click here.

By Stephanie Pettigrew

As I mentioned in the last blog post, today we will be starting with general overview with the history of Pointe Sainte-Anne, the events of 1759, and what we are attempting to achieve with the exhibit at the FRM.

But first, we need to emphasize that the history of Pointe Sainte-Anne obviously does not begin with the French at all, but with the Wəlastəkwiyik. Sainte-Anne (and thereby Fredericton) is located on Wəlastəkwiyik territory, which was never ceded. The first thing we aim to do with our exhibit is disabuse ourselves of the notion that the Acadians always peacefully co-existed with the local indigenous people. They did not. Although Acadians mostly managed to avoid outright war with the indigenous communities nearest to them, that doesn’t mean they didn’t outright displace them, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the local indigenous communities benefited from their presence.[1]

The first French settlements were small, and consisted mostly of the seigneurial family and their servants. The grants were held by the D’amours family, who held massive amounts of land they were meant to populate with French settlers. Governor Villebon, the Governor of Acadia from 1691 to 1700, established Fort Nashwaak, turning the Fredericton region into Acadia’s capitol for a brief 9 year period – a foreshadowing of its future as provincial capitol, perhaps. After Villebon’s death, the capitol moved back to Port Royal, despite its proven insecurity; Port Royal had fallen numerous times by 1700.

Image 1

Fort Nashwaak

A matter of Record

The records for Pointe Sainte-Anne between the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the deportation are pretty sparse. A few censuses were taken before the settlement was destroyed; the first was recorded in 1698, and showed a population of 38 French settlers, made up mostly of the seigneurial families and their households. Having received their grant from the colonial government of New France in Québec in 1692, they had managed to clear 118 acres of land by the time the census was taken. Other French families had also begun to populate the area, in particular the Godin family, which would play a prominent role in the events of 1759. The last census before the destruction of the settlement was taken in 1739, and indicated a population of about 100. It is much less detailed in nature than the 1698 census, however. While the 1698 census listed each individual family member, including children, the 1739 census lists only the head of each family and the number of people included in each individual family. No listings are given for cleared acreage, livestock, servants, or guns. An idea of the total population is about the most we can get from this census, along with the fact that the settlement is located about seven leagues (38 kilometers) downriver from Ekwpahak, the Wəlastəkwiyik village. Mostly everything else we know about Sainte-Anne, we know from the documentation created by its destruction.[2]

Image 2

Extract from the 1698 census (Source: LAC)

This is where things start to get really, really messy. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you, the reader, are at least somewhat familiar with the history of the Deportation of the Acadians, which is how destruction of Saint-Anne’s came to pass.[3] I’m also going to assume you’re at least somewhat familiar with the area’s complex relationship with nineteenth-century archival integrity, and how its complicated historiography makes any study of events which occurred in the mid-eighteenth century…. unpleasant. In short, almost all of the history covering the Acadian deportation has been done with an eye towards proving someone right. Entire archival collections have been carefully manicured, curated, and published with the goal of making British officers from this era look better. Twentieth-and twenty-first-century historians aren’t blameless in this historiography, either; primary source material has been shamelessly cherry-picked to prove a particular point, specifically searching for quotes that specifically disregards the contextual body of the source. In order to avoid this problem as much as possible, for the Pointe Sainte-Anne exhibit, I have insisted on using primary sources only to develop the narrative. If it has been transcribed or published, we are returning to the original, untranscribed source. And we are not taking any of these sources for granted; if the information presented cannot be verified with the other source material we have on hand, if it doesn’t make sense, or if it seems widely off-base, then we are not assuming it is correct, just because it is a primary source (see: eighteenth-century newspapers.) Because when it comes to the Deportation, and the Saint John River campaign in particular, everybody seems to have something to prove. We’re not interested in proving anything. What we ARE interested in, is telling the story of the Acadians who lived here, what happened to them, and their continued presence on the river despite the multiple attempts to disperse them.

The Saint John River Campaign

The Saint John River Campaign was a part of the Acadian Deportation, and started after the fall of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Once the British and New England troops (referred to as the New England Rangers) successfully managed to seize and capture the Fortress, they were ordered to move on to the mouth of the Saint John River, in order to capture the Acadians who had been using it as a refuge to escape deportation. General Robert Monckton was in charge of this expedition, was ordered to destroy the villages, capture any “French Neutrals” he found, and take them prisoners to Fort Cumberland – not kill them, take them as prisoners. They arrived at the mouth of the river (what would today be known as Saint John) in early September 1758, and began building a fort they called Fort Frederick. Monckton began writing and sending dispatches to Lord Abercrombie about his mission in mid-October, reporting on the information he had already acquired by that point. One of the most important things portrayed in this initial dispatch, was that the river was already virtually deserted.

Monckton had led his troops upriver in an attempt to flush out the Acadians from the villages they had settled in since fleeing up the river from the Bay of Fundy in 1755. Jemseg, Grimross, and Saint-Anne had all grown significantly in population thanks to refugees fleeing the deportation, but thanks to the lack of parish or census documentation, it is unclear how large this population growth actually was. Monckton’s October 15th letter includes an account of Captain Morris, one of the officers under his command, who had captured a priest and about sixty Acadian men, women, and children, but it is unclear where exactly these prisoners came from. The priest did inform Morris that the inhabitants of the river had begun leaving for regions further north as soon as they had learned that the British had arrived at the mouth of the river. And the priests’ words proved to be the case, as Monckton found very few people as he moved upriver.[4]

Image 3

Saint John River Campaign Locations

The first settlement they came across was Grimross, where they destroyed forty to fifty homes, the livestock, the fields, and the barns. Next came Jemseg, where approximately twenty buildings were destroyed, along with all livestock and any stores found. But no prisoners were taken, nor was anybody seen. The soldiers began experiencing significant difficulties; they lost a few ships to the shallow depts of the river, losing a significant amount of stores, and decided to turn back at this point.[5] Writing on October 15th, 1758, to Lord Abercrombie, Monckton stated that “…but that I am hurrying every thing that I may get up river, I am apt to think that (the french) have deserted the river further than we can possibly go, if not quite retreated to Canada.” Later, in mid-November, Monckton expresses his concerns regarding the upcoming winter, which, much like the winter of 2018, started early in 1758. Although Monckton is fairly confident in the strength of Fort Frederick, stating that it “would withstand all the musketry of France,” he is somewhat concerned over the fact that the river has frozen so early in the season. While he is clear after the destruction of Jemseg that there is not enough of a presence upriver to constitute a risk to Fort Frederick before deciding to turn back, the frozen river changes things considerably in terms of risk and strategy. Navigation becomes much easier; what was once impossible to do on foot is now easily achievable without much planning, or without the effort of building or finding available ships which are capable of navigating the shallow waters, and without the hassle of finding suitable landing spots.[6] There was now an easy, direct path between the unknown northern parts of the river and Fort Frederick. So Monckton began sending scouting parties, to make reports about the security of their surroundings.

These scouting parties were led by the New England Rangers, and it is worthwhile to take a moment to acknowledge the difference between the New Englanders and the British regulars. I mention in passing above that Port Royal and Acadie were treated as an imperial chess piece, passed back and forth numerous times with absolutely no regard to the actual inhabitants of the area. This frequent back-and-forth contributed to the continuing insecurity for those inhabitants throughout the colonial period, regardless of what treaties were enacted. While many histories regard the period of 1713 to 1750 as a “golden age” for Acadia, it was in fact a turbulent era, defined by disputes over how borders were defined, and which imperial power owned what. The frequent battles over Canso are a perfect example of this, and Jeffers Lennox’s book Homelands and Empires is a great source on how the European failure to actually understand this region’s geography and population dynamics led to its spectacular insecurity. But what often gets overlooked is how the residents of New England were subject to this same dynamic of insecurity. What happened to Acadia had an impact on them as well; when the French were in control of Acadia, that meant the French imperial foe was literally at their doorstep whenever war was declared overseas. Yet they depended on cooperation between Acadia and New England for a successful fishery, as use of the shores of Nova Scotia was essential for Massachusetts fishermen.[7] Trade between Boston, Louisbourg, and Port Royal was thick, and imperial conflict had a huge impact on the residents of these regions – from family ties to access to food. Yet despite these colonial ties, Geoffrey Plank writes extensively on how the New England Rangers differed from the British Regulars, and how they viewed Acadia, stating that the Rangers were essentially a militia force, as opposed to the British regulars, who were trained military, and for many of them, this was their first time away from home. Acadie was a foreign land, an alien space, and the French-speaking Acadians were entirely “other”: their fear of the unknown can be paralleled to the fear expressed today, of “otherness.” They spoke a different language, were of a different religion, and were at war with their country; this was enough to breed hatred.[8] But there is enough of a significant difference in attitudes, both in attitudes expressed in primary source documents, as well as in actions taken by individuals, to differentiate between “New Englanders” and “British” at this point. Motivations of individuals are important, and it is unfair to attribute everything that happened during the deportation as simply “the English did x y z.”[9]

The Rangers who initially scouted up river from Fort Frederick were led by Captain MacMurdy. These missions initially passed without incident, until MacMurdy was killed by a falling tree in January 1759. In order to replace him, Moses Hazen was promoted to Captain, and took over the scouting missions. This led him to Sainte-Anne in mid-February, 1759, where he came across the Godin family. Hazen’s destruction of the settlement, as well as his murder of members of the Godin family, are described in two sources: one is contemporaneous, a journal written by an unnamed English officer who was stationed at Fort Frederick, and who described Hazen’s return from his scouting mission with clear disgust. While Hazen had a clear mission to return with information, he had taken it upon himself to not only destroy the village, but to return with six prisoners, as well as four scalps, which had been taken from the women and children of the Godin family.[10] The second written account is from Joseph Godin himself, who wrote an account of the event in 1785 after being deported to France. Despite the long interval between the massacre of 1759 and his retelling in 1785, his account to the French government lines up with the account given in the British officer’s journal: his grandchildren and their mothers were tied to trees and brutally beaten by Hazen’s men before being scalped and killed.[11]

Godin also confirmed the intelligence that Monckton had been in possession of since early autumn of 1758 – the Acadians had begun deserting the river the moment they received word of the British establishing a military presence at the mouth of the Saint John. According to Godin, before the English landed at the mouth of the Saint John River, there were about ninety families established in the area of Pointe Sainte Anne; many of whom had fled there after the deportation had begun. This is backed up by various other sources; Hazen himself says he burned about 147 buildings, while other sources note that the Acadians were capable of building a winter dwelling in two to three days. There were also approximately 300 indigenous people in the area, whose numbers had been greatly depleted by war and disease. When the English arrived at the mouth of the river, and began constructing a fort, they fled en masse towards Canada. Those who remained behind did so because they couldn’t flee; either due to health reasons, or domestic reasons, or because they could not immediately flee and then were caught by winter. So instead, they abandoned the houses near the river, as they were too exposed and vulnerable, and instead made themselves huts in the woods to survive the winter until they could flee to Quebec.  They learn that Godin himself is a major in the French militia, that while the river can in fact be used to travel all the way to Québec, there are obstacles which make portage routes necessary and so it is impractical for the object that the British had in mind (military and supply transport).

Image 4

Moses Hazen, a digital recreation by Alan Edwards/Reallusion, NBCCD

To those who would justify the actions of the Rangers, or the displacement of the Acadians from the Saint John River, the fact that Godin was a major in the French militia has often been pointed at as significant. This fact, however, and the importance placed on it, seems anachronistic. Most Acadians of the era had a role to play in the militia. As head of his community, and as chief representative of Saint-Anne, Godin was naturally the head of the local militia. He actually inherited the role from his father. Acadie was constantly in conflict, but without much formal military support; the maintenance of a militia was a natural development of these circumstances. But most importantly, the officers at Fort Frederick clearly had no idea that Godin was in any way affiliated with the militia. Nothing is mentioned about it in any of the dispatches or journals prior to February 1759, Godin himself brings it up in his debrief. The events which led to the sacking of Saint-Anne were incidental; Hazen happened upon the Godin family, he was not deliberately seeking Joseph Godin. And, finally, the Boston newspapers which spoke of Hazen’s actions said nothing about having captured a militia major, only that some French prisoners had been taken and some killed, with a number of livestock and buildings burned.[12] If it had been an important contemporary capture, surely someone would have made a big deal about it?

Storying an Exhibit

Either way, the story we are telling at the Fredericton Region Museum is not a military one. The story we are trying to tell is the story of the village of Pointe Sainte-Anne, the people who lived there, the families who spent their lives there, who died there, and who came back after being driven away. After the turmoil of the Seven Years War died down, many Acadians returned to the maritime region to try and rebuild, and Point Sainte-Anne was no exception. When the Loyalists who are termed the “founders of Fredericton” arrived in this area in the 1780s, they found over 200 Acadians already settled here. The Acadians were again displaced by New Englanders, and many of them made their way upriver again, settling in the Madawaska area.

Fredericton has been built, torn down, built, and rebuilt, flooded, and then built over again so many times, that the tangible heritage of its eighteen-century Acadians is almost nil. What is left to us is a few nails, some pipes, a few foundations which could have been houses. So how are we going to show people what was once here?

Well, we are rebuilding it, virtually. Thanks to the excellent work of Alan Edwards and his team at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, we are actually building a virtual exhibit which will show not only Pointe Sainte-Anne as it once was, but also allow visitors to interact with some of the key players in the story of Pointe Sainte-Anne – Moses Hazen (pictured above), Robert Monckton, François Saint-Aubin, a Wəlastəkwiyik man who frequently interacted with Joseph Godin, who will also be represented, along with Jeanne Dugas, who was likely also present around the time of 1759, as her son, Eustache Paré, was married to the daughter of Godin. Her grandchildren were killed by Hazen, along with Paré’s wife. We’re hoping that, by creating an atmosphere in which people can immerse themselves, can interact with characters, and can get a feel for the history, we can jolt them out of the mindset of justifying one side versus the other, and remember that history is made up of actual people.

Our primary goal is to have people walk away from this exhibit, remembering that the people of Pointe Sainte-Anne, and those who came into conflict with them, were people, human beings with anxieties and motivations which came down to protecting their families and themselves from dangers, both real and perceived. And if people can carry that message into the present-day world, and be a little more compassionate towards those they were once afraid of, then all the better.


Stephanie Pettigrew is a PhD Candidate at the University of New Brunswick, and the Editorial Assistant here at Unwritten Histories. Her primary research focus is New France and Acadia, and her dissertation is all about witchcraft and blasphemy in Montreal. Along with being the Research Director for the Pointe Sainte-Anne exhibit, she also manages the British North America Legislative Database, and consults on various other digital history projects. You can generally find her trying to digitize things, or on Twitter @steph_pettigrew.


Notes:

[1] See Andrea Bear Nicholas, “Settler Imperialism and the Dispossession of the Maliseet, 1758-1765” in John G. Reid & Donald Savoie’s Shaping an Agenda for Atlantic Canada (Black Point: Fernway Publishing, 2011) p. 21-57. Anne Marie’s blog will also cover more on this topic next week.

[2] “Recensement des habitans de la rivière Saint-Jean” 1698. LAC R11577-28-5-F (MIKAN no. 2319374); “”Etat actuel de la nouvelle Collonie françoise de la Rivière Saint-Jean,” P. Danielou 1739. LAC R11577-28-5-F (MIKAN no. 319383).

[3] At the very least, I’m going to assume you can consult the handy resources I’ve provided in the links.

[4] Letter from General Monckton to Lord Abercrombie, October 15th 1758. From LAC: “Nova Scotia: Documents relating to the Expedition to the St. John’s River in 1758, with the holograph drafts of Colonel Monckton’s Reports of the Proceedings of the Expedition.” MG18-MSérie1 (MIKAN no. 2809856)

[5] “Seven Years’ War journal of the proceedings of the 35th Regiment of Foot”, (1757). John Carter Brown Library. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:576523/.

[6] Because Monckton’s letter of October 15th is his first to Abercrombie since arriving on the Saint John River, it is both long and detailed. There are many references to the difficulties of navigating the river, including a really interesting description of the reversing falls, the impossibility of navigating the shores due to the thickness of the trees, how few the bays and landing sites are for their ships, and the trouble he had to go through to find ships with a shallow enough depth to move upriver. Letter from General Monckton to Lord Abercrombie, October 15th 1758. (LAC)

[7] This is how the seigneur of Beaubassin, Michel de la Vallière lost his governorship of Acadia, by allowing fishermen from Massachusetts to dry their cod on the shores of Acadie. Clerbaud Bergier, who had acquired a monopoly on the fishery in Acadia in the 1680s, did not appreciate this intrusion on what he saw as his territory, and pulled some royal strings to see La Vallière replaced by Perrot.

[8] See also Geoffrey Plank, “ New England Soldiers in the St John River Valley, 1758-I760,” in Stephen Hornsby & John G. Reid, New England and the Maritime Provinces: Connections and Comparisons (Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005) p. 59-73.

[9] I realize that there is currently a debate happening regarding whether or not the deportation constitutes an act of genocide. Much like the issue of Neutrality, that constitutes another blog post entirely. This blog post is about Point Sainte-Anne.

[10] “Seven Years War Journal” (JCB).

[11] “Memoire pour le sieur Joseph Bellefontaine dit Beau-Sejour Major de toutes les milices de la Rivière St-Jean en Accadie” 15 january 1774. LAC, MG6-A15 (MIKAN no. 3084622).

[12] The Boston Evening Post, Monday March 26 1759.

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James Barry’s Transatlantic World of Books and Ideas

by Danny Samson

James Barry (1822-1906) was a Six Mile Brook, Pictou County miller, printer, fiddler, iconoclast, and curmudgeon. Born, like so many Pictou County folk, into the Presbyterian church, over his life he became intensely critical of Christian theology. The precise route is visible in outline, but the details are less clear; his diary, detailed in so many ways, offers no “Eureka” moment. But there are clues. Most of those clues, I argue, stem from his immersion in text – that is, that he saw text as defining the world, and thus critical engagement was necessary to properly understanding it. Very early in life, Barry distanced himself from both free church and Church of Scotland Presbyterianisms. By the time he was in his 30s, he was describing himself as a Morisonian, a distinctly small sect of Scottish Presbyterians defined mostly by their rejection of any form of church government. In the 1840s, 50s, and 60s, his Morisonian thinking was certainly more radically individualistic and textually-focused than that of his Free Church neighbours. But this was not that far outside dissenting Presbyterianism; his critical engagements were within Presbyterian theological controversies.

By the 1870s, however, that had changed dramatically. Where in 1857, for example, he celebrated and strictly observed Sunday as “the Lord’s Day, [as] a day of rest for man and beast”, by August 1879 he maintained that “Sunday is only a manmade day … All religion is of man’s manufacture”. Even his early focus on the universality of the Atonement – a significant feature of Morisonian theology – came under critique: “I am reading works on the Atonement”, he recorded in December 1853, citing particular biblical passages as textual proof of his position:

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Barry’s daily diary spanned over 56 years, from 1849 to 1906. Source: MG1, vol 1219, Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

“I am firmly of the opinion Christ died and thereby made Atonement for every man – every human being. For the sin of Old Adam sunk the human race and the apostle says “that where sin abounds grace did much more abound’ [Romans 5, 20] and ‘that Christ tasted death for every man’ [Hebrews 2, 9] and ‘he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world’ [John 2, 2]”

By the 1870s his reading patterns were quite different. And by 1883, after six or seven years of reading Charles Watts, Robert Ingersoll, and other free thinkers, Barry’s thinking had shifted ground significantly:

“I was in my Shop all day setting type for an article by Charles Watts entitled ’The Fall and Redemption’ and an able handling he gave it. In fact he knocked the fall and redemption into nonsense, which every sensible man and woman can easily see ….  ‘Fall’, ‘Redemption’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Atonement’, in fact the whole jumble of incoherent nonsense in ‘Theology’ is absurd … and ordinary people are coming fast to see it, and reject it in toto.” Continue reading

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Throwback Thursday: Nolan Reilly on “The General Strike in Amherst, NS, 1919”

Acadiensis contributor Nolan Reilly recently posted a great piece about “The Workers’ Revolt in Amherst” on ActiveHistory.ca. We encourage all of our readers to take a look at this piece, but also to read his longer study of the Amherst strike published almost 40 years ago in the journal: https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/Acadiensis/article/view/11527/12277

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L.M. Montgomery and Indigeneity

By Carole Gerson [1]

Current interpreters of L.M. Montgomery’s stories are attempting to bring them up to date by inserting new characters from marginalized cultural groups. Early in 2019, the producers of the “Anne with an E” television series announced that they “are looking to cast a Mi’kmaq girl between the ages of 10 and 13 years old to play Ka’twet’s, the eldest daughter in a Mi’kmaq family of characters that are new to the series.”[2] While Montgomery’s private writings and scrapbooks show that she was not unaware of Native people, including the popular Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson (1861-1913), their presence in her publications was marginal and reflected common tropes of white engagement with Indigeneity, often contrasting a heroic past with a degraded present. This pattern began with one of her first pieces, written in 1891 while she was spending a year in Prince Albert SK with her father’s second family. Titled “A Western Eden,” her essay describes a quest for the “dusky warrior” of the past who “belongs to an extinct species now.”[3] Over the course of her career Montgomery would set a handful of stories in the West, in which passing references to “Indians” contribute regional colour.

LMM_signed_photo

L.M. Montgomery, ca. 1935.

Closer to home, rare appearances of Native people in Montgomery’s PEI and Ontario fictions reiterate conventional cultural assumptions that range from the pejorative to the romantic: from little boys devising games of “Indian ambush”[4] to the Story Girl’s erroneous explanation that the name of Shubenacadie commemorates a pair of tragic Native lovers, Shuben and Accadee,[5] whereas its actual Mi’kmaw meaning refers to a place where wild turnips or potatoes grow. Especially intriguing is the peculiarly named “Squaw Baby” of  the story titled “The Cheated Child,” a little girl whose real name is never revealed.[6] Continue reading

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Pointe-Sainte-Anne Speaker Series

Pointe-Sainte-Anne Speaker Series

18h30 le JEUDI, 23 mai 2019 | 6:30 pm THURSDAY May 23, 2019
Government House | Résidence du gouverneur
51, chemin Woodstock Road

SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION FRENCH TO ENGLISH PROVIDED

BMT

Bernard-Marie Thériault

The Acadian Village of Sainte-Anne then and now will be the focus of a presentation by historian Fidèle Thériault and President of the Société d’histoire de la rivière Saint-Jean, Bernard-Marie Thériault.

This FREE event is the second of 5 presentations in the Acadians of the Saint John River speaker series and will be held at 6:30 pm Thursday, May 23rd at Government House, 51 Woodstock Road in Fredericton. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome to attend. Simultaneous translation in English will be provided by the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor.

Within an overarching theme of a persistent presence, the speakers will immerse the audience in the history of the settlement in two parts: first, Fidèle Thériault will explore the ups and downs of the pioneer families until the brutal destruction of the village in 1759, and then, Bernard-Marie Thériault will provide an overview of the more recent developments of the Acadian community in the capital area including the creation of the Centre communautaire Sainte-Anne which can be considered the “new” Sainte-Anne. Continue reading

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Announcement: 2019 David Alexander Prize

The David Alexander Prize – 2019 ($400)

The David Alexander Prize is awarded annually for the best essay on the history of
Atlantic Canada written in a course by an undergraduate student in any university.
The amount of the prize is currently set at $400.

Conditions:
• Entries must be undergraduate essays between 1,500 and 5,000 words in length
on some aspect of the history of Atlantic Canada, written in English or French.

• They may be research, interpretive, or historiographical efforts.

• The author must be part-time or full-time undergraduate student in a degree
program at an accredited university or college, and the essay must have been
written to meet the requirement of an undergraduate credit course during the 2018-
2019 academic year.

• Previous winners of the prize may not compete. Continue reading

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The Life of a Story: Importing and Exporting the Culture of Atlantic Canada

 By Tom Halford

What is the life of a story?

You might scoff at this question. You might snicker. Like some sort of blustering, Dickensian caricature, you might shout, “Books aren’t living things! They are clearly and inarguably inanimate objects!”

That’s true. However, if the right reader picks up the right text, then the story inside that book becomes immediately and intensely alive.

hobbitt

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I can remember reading The Hobbit when I was a kid, and in between chapters, I would go walking barefoot in the tall grass just outside my bedroom window. I wasn’t in my parents’ backyard; I was hiking through Middle-earth towards some great adventure.

If we’re being honest, stories and poems are usually met with indifference. The majority of books collect dust, and most stories are forgotten; a few of them, however, are special. They spark something in a reader’s imagination, and that reader brings the story to life in his or her own way.

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Natasha Simon reviews Fiona Polack, ed. Tracing Ochre: Changing Perspectives on the Beothuk (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018)

Fiona Polack, ed. Tracing Ochre: Changing Perspectives on the Beothuk (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018).

By Natasha Simon

The vanishing Indian has been a persistent image in the settler imagination: it points to an indistinguishable time in the past when Native people were wholly themselves; it implies that they cannot be truly alive in the present; and it places the blame on the arrival of Europeans and their subsequent actions.  This narrative of inevitable decline in the face of progress freezes Native people’s agency in the past and is fundamental to circumventing Indigenous legal systems and civil rights.  Moreover, the finality of vanishing, of extinction – from potential calamity to violence, death and total annihilation – opens the space for settlers not only to displace Indigenous people, but to replace them entirely as the original and authentic people of a land. In Tracing Ochre, Fiona Polack, along with contributors from various disciplines, demonstrates that the Beothuk extinction narrative was a product of this process of imperialism – a product cultured within the confines of the great rock of Newfoundland, the shared territory of Innu, Mi’kmaq and Beothuk.

ochre

Fiona Polack, ed. Tracing Ochre: Changing Perspectives on the Beothuk (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018).

In the opening essay, Polack challenges Ingeborg Marshall’s claim in A History and Ethnography of the Beothuk that the Beothuk were the sole Indigenous people on the Island and were hunted down “like wild animals” until no trace of them remained. Other contributors analyze the sources of the Beothuk extinction narrative, as well as the sources that challenge those settler narratives that silenced the voices of Innu and Mi’kmaq on the Island.  In sixteen compelling essays, the contributors persuasively destabilize the narrative of Beothuk extinction, restore Innu and Mi’kmaw voices, and expose their dispossession.

In Maura Hanrahan’s essay, we find that the fruits of colonial memory include Mi’kmaw dispossession of the Island. She considers the Beothuk Institute’s commemoration of the “last surviving Beothuk”, Shanawdothit, through a hollow-eyed stone statue of a forlorn figure standing alone in a wild forest, “completely decontextualized and entirely a symbol” (41). Without community, Shanawdothit is lifeless, and as a potential life-giver, her solitude represents the doom of her race.  “With the Indians dead or dying, the space is available for the solidification of . . . a Newfoundland national identity” (41). This romanticizing of the Beothuk acknowledges the settlers’ part in their demise and ignores unresolved Mi’kmaq land claims. She points alternatively to Parks Canada at Kejimkujik where the Mi’kmaq participated in planning a commemoration to the Mi’kmaq way of life. There the whole landscape – habitation sites, travel routes, hunting and fishing grounds and burial sites – is used to testify as to who the Mi’kmaq were and still are – Hanrahan calls it an Indigenous cultural landscape framework.

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