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:

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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.


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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
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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.



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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

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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

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Jeunesse étudiante acadienne et Corps-école des officiers canadiens, 1941-1964 [1/2]

Philippe Volpé
Institut d’études acadiennes

 C’était à l’occasion de notre chantier de doctorat. Travaillant à l’étude des mouvements étudiants acadiens de la première moitié du 20e siècle, nous nous étions occupé à dépouiller des albums de finissants des universités/collèges classiques d’Acadie. En feuilletant ces publications, c’est avec étonnement que nous avons trouvé dans quelques-unes un « Appel aux armes » adressé à la gent estudiantine. Aux côtés des photographies plus conventionnelles de conseils étudiants, d’équipes sportives, de concours oratoires et de pièces de théâtre, il s’en trouvait d’autres qui, présentant des jeunes au garde-à-vous, vêtus d’habits militaires, bottines cirées aux pieds et carabine en main, détonnaient d’avec les illustrations de leurs confrères engagés dans une représentation des Fourberies de Scapin.

3. CEOC - P. Volpé

Emblème du « COTC » de l’Université Saint-Joseph. Album-souvenir du Collège Saint-Joseph, 1864-1964, s.n., s.l., s.d., p. 38.

Nous ne savions rien à ce moment de ces étudiants ralliés sous cet emblème entrecroisant le drapeau acadien au Red Ensign et surmonté du sigle « COTC ». On ne nous tiendra sans doute pas rigueur de cette méconnaissance. Dans sa récente monographie consacrée au contingent du Canadian Officer’s Training Corps (COTC) de l’Université de Toronto, l’historien Eric McGeer souligne qu’encore à ce jour ces corps universitaires d’entraînement militaire ne font, la plupart du temps, que figure de « caméo » dans les études consacrées aux établissements d’enseignement et aux mouvements étudiants[1]. Cette constatation vaut également pour l’historiographie acadienne qui, au mieux, n’a fait que mentionner leur existence dans le contexte circonscrit de la Seconde Guerre mondiale[2]. Pourtant, les Corps-écoles des officiers canadiens (CEOC) – désignation française des COTC – ont marqué le vécu de centaines d’étudiants acadiens des années 1940 aux années 1960. Continue reading

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How Bonnie Morgan’s Conception Bay Anglican Women Influenced Another Regional History

By Shelby Blair Martens

At first glance, the Anglican women of the coastal communities of Conception Bay, Newfoundland in Bonnie Morgan’s Ordinary Saints: Women, Work and Faith in Newfoundland are very different from the Calvinist farm women of Southern Alberta of my own research. However, Ordinary Saints showed me how despite the obvious differences in region, religion and occupation, the women’s life stories speak to similar themes and situations.

ordinary saints

Bonnie Morgan’s Ordinary Saints

Morgan’s recently released Ordinary Saints uses oral history interviews with Anglican women in the rural communities of Conception Bay, in addition to material culture and archival research, to highlight the impact of women’s lived religion on their labour, and vice-versa, the impact of their labour on their religion. Morgan brilliantly demonstrates that Conception Bay women’s religiosity and feminism often worked together to inform their labour. Ordinary Saints not only builds on scholars such as Lynn Marks and Robert Orsi in the study of lived religion and labour, but also shows the clear need for more work in these intersecting fields.

After benefitting so much from Ordinary Saints, I was thrilled when Morgan agreed to be interviewed about her research and writing process, as well as her goals and intentions for her study. As an oral historian myself, I know the challenges associated with conducting ethical community-based research while balancing academic rigor. I asked Morgan how she handled this delicate line in her own study: Continue reading

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Military Service, Citizenship, & Political Culture: Militia Studies in Atlantic Canada 1700 – 2000

By Cynthia Wallace-Casey 

Remembering the First World War

wallace-casey 1

“Mud and barbed wire through which the Canadians advanced during the Battle of Passchendaele.” William Rider-Rider. Canada. Dept. of National Defence. Library and Archives Canada , A-002165

2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. This was a significant centenary year for Canadians, as the anniversary sparked a great deal of interest in commemorative activities and programmes. Of particular interest to my research is the Canadian War Museum’s Supply Line First World War Discovery Box, which became highly sought after by educators across Canada, as a useful tool for remembering the war. What made Supply Line particularly effective as a classroom resource was the use of museum artefacts, reproductions, and images that enabled students to experience war in tactile ways. Because of its popularity, however, access to the discovery box became highly competitive, and this popularity has since not waned at all. Every year, teachers across Canada vie to be included on the museum’s circulation schedule.

wallace-casey 2

Canadian War Museum Supply Line First World War Discovery Box. Courtesy of the Canadian War Museum

The International Context

As the “war to end all wars” fades from living memory, an international research network known as the Teaching and Learning War Research Network has been working since 2017 to explore concepts of war remembrance among young people. It is in this international context that new questions have arisen about 1) the ways cataclysmic events are taught in the 21st century; 2) what commemorative narratives exist in education; 3) how young people respond to and interpret such messages; and 4) the relationship between education and commemoration ( These questions point to complex ways of remembering the First World War.

Commonwealth partners in the international inquiry include the Te Papa, Pukeahu Heritage Park and Auckland Museum in New Zealand (lead investigators: Dr. Mark Sheehan and Martyn Davison, Victoria University of Wellington), as well as the Imperial War Museum and National Army Museum in the United Kingdom (lead investigator: Dr. Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter), and Museums Victoria in Australia (see also Innes & Sharpe, 2018; Sheehan & Taylor, 2016). Data collection has been completed in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom (Sheehan, 2018).

The Canadian Context

Working with the Canadian War Museum, Dr. Lorna Mclean and myself have initiated a small University of Ottawa inquiry, aimed at identifying the concepts Canadian students (grades 7 – 9) construct about war. We are particularly interested in how the Canadian War Museum’s Supply Line discovery box may impact these beliefs. More specifically, our research question is twofold: “What core beliefs and assumptions underpin young peoples’ narrative beliefs about the First World War in Canada; and how does Supply Line support historical thinking and historical empathy about the First World War.” Our objective is to explore the extent to which students are able to question the highly emotive official narratives of reverence and sacrifice—to construct more complex narratives of war remembrance that empathize with a wide variety of war experiences.

Unfortunately, what we have discovered thus far, is that due to high demand, many teachers do not have access to the museum’s discovery box. For this reason, we have begun the process of replicating and localizing the discovery box (much as has already happened in Newfoundland with The Rooms BMO First World War Edu-kit). In so doing, we hope to make the material more easily accessible to classrooms in New Brunswick. Our replicated discovery box will be available for educators wishing to participate in the inquiry by September 2020.

Research Intersections

So how does this relate to the activities of the Military Service, Citizenship and Political Culture research initiative? I believe that our research interests intersect in three specific areas:

  1. Student narratives around Acadian participation in the First World War;
  2. Student beliefs about identity, loyalty, and obligation to the Commonwealth (and how these may or may not differ between classrooms and language groups within Atlantic Canada); and
  3. Insights into current student learning about war (grades 7 – 9), and how this might relate to new research being undertaken by the Atlantic Canada Military Service, Citizenship and Political Culture research network.

Looking more broadly upon international research, Mark Sheehan and Catriona Pennell have collected preliminary data, and undertaken a comparative analysis of 11-16 year-olds visiting First World War exhibition sites in Wellington (New Zealand), or Western Front battlefields (United Kingdom). Some of their findings have been recently published in the History Education Research Journal (volume 17, no 1, April 2020).

In New Zealand (Sheehan & Davison, 2017), Mark Sheehan has focused upon student remembrance around the Gallipoli campaign. His findings indicate that while young people in New Zealand (aged 13-14 years) perceive Gallipoli as significant to their national identity, they do not draw upon historical evidence to justify their beliefs. Instead, they construct “notions of sacrifice, heroism and a debt of duty to support their views” (p. 260). Upon examination of museum-related images that challenge popular beliefs about Gallipoli, however, Sheehan has found that a substantial number of students adopt more complex concepts for remembering. As Sheehan observes:

What emerged from the elicitation task is that when given the opportunity to do so, young people were able to engage critically with the production of cultural memory messages about war remembrance… Far from being passive consumers of national narratives about Anzac, the ways that these young New Zealanders made meaning of war remembrance was complex, nuanced and critical (Pennell & Sheehan, 2020, p. 26).

In Australia, where Anzac Day and the battle of Gallipoli are equally remembered, Melanie Innes and Heather Sharp (2018) have reached similar conclusions. They have found that a large proportion of students participating in their inquiry (aged 13 – 18 years) perceive Gallipoli as their iconic symbol of nation building (p. 203); only a very small proportion recognize differing perspectives surrounding this ideology (p. 202).

Likewise, Catriona Pennell in the United Kingdom has discovered similar beliefs among students aged 14-16 years. She has found that young people hold an “uncritical engagement” (Pennell & Sheehan, p. 27) with the First World War, attributing significance to remembering simply because “it would be disrespectful not to” (Pennell & Sheehan, 2020, p. 27). Through her research, involving students visiting First World War battlefields on the Western Front in France, Pennell has found that while the excursion greatly enhances students’ empathy towards war, the experience actually perpetuates beliefs about war remembrance that are shaped around patriotic concepts of sacrifice, duty and loyalty (Pennell, 2018, p. 93). As Pennell concludes: “The tours are teaching young people to remember a predominantly British experience of the First World War, to ensure that the “next generation” engages in remembrance practices – but for what purpose is not entirely clear to the students” (p. 94).

Here in Canada, we wish to investigate how teaching tools like the Supply Line discovery box may or may not enable students to move beyond such notions of reverence and duty, to adopt more complex—and more inclusive—understandings about war. Most certainly, the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted our work in this regard; but we are nevertheless hopeful, that a day will come when students can return to their classrooms again. In the interim, we are seeking teachers, or individual homeschooled students, who may wish to borrow our discovery box and participate in our inquiry. The replicated trunk will be available for use beginning in September 2020. I invite anyone who may be interested in participating in our inquiry to reach out to me at .

Works Cited:

Canadian War Museum. First World War discovery box. Retrieved from

Innes, M., & Sharp, H. (2018). World War I commemoration and student historical consciousness: A study of high-school students’ views. History Education Research Journal, 15(2), 193-205.

Pennell, C. (2018). Taught to remember? British youth and First World War centenary battlefield tours. Cultural Trends, 27(2), 83-98.

Pennell, C. & Sheehan, M. (2020). But what do they really think? Methodological challenges of investigating young people’s perspectives of war remembrance. History Education Research Journal, 17(1), 21-35.

Sheehan, M. (February 5 & June 17, 2018). Personal communication.

Sheehan, M., & Davison, M. (2017). “We need to remember they died for us”: War remembrance in New Zealand and young people’s “memory messages” about Gallipoli and ANZAC. London Review of Education, 15(2), 259-271.

Sheehan, M., & Taylor, T. (2016). Australia and New Zealand: ANZAC and Gallipoli in the twenty first century. In R. Guyver (ed.), The teaching of history and the changing nation state – transnational and intranational perspectives (pp. 237-254). London: Bloomsbury.

Teaching and Learning War Research Network. Teaching and learning war research network: Education and modern conflict in an international comparative perspective. Retrieved from:

The Rooms. The Rooms BMO First World War edu-kit. Retrieved from:



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Is there an ideological Left, Right and Centre in Canadian Politics?

By Gail Campbell

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted on 13 May 2020.

The daughter of a ‘working man’ whose experience and understanding of the world in some ways surpassed that of my teachers, I became interested in politics at an early age. As a graduate student in the 1970s, I was attracted to the ‘new political history’, which sought to trace the connections between electoral behaviour and political ideologies. Yet the methodology of the ‘new political historians’ drew a good deal of criticism, often from those who were not only sceptical of but also intimidated by statistical analysis. Ultimately, even many of the ‘new political historians’ themselves became discouraged by time-consuming data gathering and analysis, and abandoned the computer assisted effort to understand and explain the participation of ordinary people in formal and informal party politics.

In recent years, the analysis of Canadian political history has tended to drift away from a nuanced analysis of party politics and toward a more general, often confusing overview that conflates the two major parties into a single ideological framework. At best, Canada’s system is discussed in terms of ‘brokerage politics’ with two ‘big tent’ parties, each with a small loyal core, vying for the same supporters. This situation has, according to a widely held view, resulted in the triumph of ‘neoliberal policies’, for which we can read ‘Capitalism’. The problem with this characterisation is its narrow economic focus and lack of sophisticated analytical framework or theoretical perspective. It tends to originate in and reflect a dismissive condemnation of both major parties. Continue reading

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