CFP: Atlantic Canada Studies Conference 2020 in Maine

2020 Atlantic Canada Studies Conference:
Crossing Borders, Bridging Boundaries
Call for Papers

The Canadian-American Center and the Department of History at the University of Maine invite proposals for the 2020 Atlantic Canada Studies Conference to be held at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine, USA on May 14-16, 2020. The theme of the conference is “Crossing Borders, Bridging Boundaries.” With most participants crossing the international border between Canada and the United States to attend the conference, we especially seek proposals that in some way attempt to bridge boundaries, be they physical, disciplinary, metaphorical, or otherwise. Among the many options available, proposals may engage with a borderlands framework, or could incorporate an interdisciplinary approach. As in previous ACS conferences, we will consider proposals that deal with any topic or theme focused on the study of the Atlantic Region.

The deadline for submission of proposals is 2 December 2019 . Proposal abstracts should be fewer than 250 words, and the author should include a brief biography and one-page c.v. Proposals for panels are welcome; they should include a brief abstract for the panel as a whole, as well as abstracts for each individual presenter.

Proposals will be submitted via online forms (see below). While the selection of papers is rigorous, the ACS conference has an impressive history of bringing together internationally-recognized academics, junior scholars, and independent researchers in productive and provocative sessions.

Those submitting proposals should expect to hear back from conference organizers by the end of January 2020.

A conference website, with online registration and accommodation and other information, will be launched about the same time.

To submit proposals, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
Mark J. McLaughlin
Assistant Professor of History and Canadian Studies
University of Maine
(207) 581-2028

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Nova Scotia Readers and Boston Booksellers in the Early Nineteenth Century

By Keith Grant

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the circulation of books was a highly localized activity.[1] Although advances in steam, stereotyping, and stamps were taking place, before about 1840 in most places outside the metropole the book trade remained regional. To be sure, an extension of print culture was taking place, and books were available in the 1820s and 30s on a scale unimaginable only a few decades earlier. But this “reading revolution” was as much about hustle as technology, as publishers working with fairly traditional presses found new ways to get books into the hands of readers.

In locales like Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, it took creative effort to participate in the burgeoning world of print. Edward Manning (1766-1851) of Nova Scotia, provides an example of how, motivated by a religiously-informed sense of urgency, some people living in rural communities took the circulation of books and ideas into their own hands, inserting themselves into and extending the reach of the book trade of the Northeast. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, Manning developed a network throughout the Northeast of authors, publishers, booksellers, shippers, and readers. Colonial Nova Scotians were cosmopolitan in their reading, but to cultivate a local culture of ideas and debate they had to acquire their books by creating personal networks.

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Edward Manning Portrait, Acadia University

It is possible to reconstruct some of Manning’s book trade connections primarily through his extant correspondence (about 800 letters) and a daily journal, kept from about 1810-1846, a period that coincides with the explosion of religious print. These sources give us glimpses of commercial and religious transactions with authors in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, Boston and PEI publishers, and magazine editors on both sides of the border. As a largely self-educated dissenting preacher in a small rural community, Manning was a bit reluctant to describe himself as “a man of abilities, and great reading,” but still he continued to cultivate his bookish network, considering it a “singular mercy to have so many valuable correspondents, and some of high standing in the literary and religious world.”[2] This post will trace the movement of books between Manning and one node in his network.

For most of two decades, to the early 1830s, Manning was a kind of part-time colporteur for the Boston publisher and bookseller, Lincoln and Edmands, a commercial relationship that extended the reach of the urban firm into an under-served rural market and that provided Manning with a reliable source of the kind of religious books he wanted to circulate in his region.

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Lincoln and Edmands trade card, ca. 1815-1820. American Antiquarian Society.

Located in Boston’s Cornhill book trades district from 1805 to 1833, Lincoln and Edmands specialized in religious books and tracts, children’s literature, and school textbooks.[3] They were in many ways typical of the localized book trade in the early decades of the nineteenth century: creatively serving niche markets in a competitive urban environment, with limited reach into the rural areas. Not until mid-century would publishing be centralized and distribution extended on a national scale. Acting as a kind of middleman, Manning was willing to take the distribution of Lincoln and Edmands titles into his own hands to ensure that evangelical books circulated in his locale, even if Nova Scotia was outside the firm’s normal orbit.[4] In 1816 the booksellers began sending multiple copies of religious titles for Manning to sell in Nova Scotia.[5] He was billed retail prices for the books, on the assumption that he had latitude to charge his buyers a small premium to cover shipping costs and his commission (though he often distributed the books at cost).[6] For the next twenty years, Manning’s diary, correspondence, and memorandum book are sprinkled with references to his book circulation on their behalf. To be sure, as a sometime colporteur, Manning’s commission bookselling was not nearly as extensive as that of the well-known Reverend Mason Weems, whom James Green described as a “one-man peripatetic distribution system.”[7] Yet for Manning, book distribution was integral to his ministry, as he attempted to create a local culture of reading.

The relationship between Manning and Lincoln and Edmands also illustrates how the distribution of free religious tracts was accomplished before the consolidation of such efforts under the umbrella of the American Tract Society.[8] In this period, the distribution of tracts was accomplished through a collaboration between booksellers and printers, voluntary societies, and individuals motivated by evangelical fervour and optimism about the power of print

Lincoln and Edmands played a significant role in the circulation of tracts in the Northeast. As early as 1811, partner Ensign Lincoln was a founding officer of Boston’s Evangelical Tract Society, annual reports of which describe tens of thousands of tracts circulating through its efforts.[9] As a firm, Lincoln and Edmands was soon putting its own presses into the cause; their catalogue for 1812 features a section headed “Boston Series of Cheap Religious Tracts,” with more than 80 titles in the series, priced cheaply and by the dozen.[10] Lincoln and Edmands sent Manning “a small assortment of Tracts for charitable distribution.”[11] In words that echoed Manning’s own sentiments on the religious significance of the distribution of print, Lincoln predicted that efforts like this would “usher in this long desired period” when “the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.”[12] Though Manning’s book distribution for Lincoln and Edmands was certainly a commercial exchange, it was not irreducibly so.

Especially in these early decades of the nineteenth century, the “reading revolution” from scarcity to abundance was not an automatic process. Indeed, book historians have noted that many of the expansions of the book business in the Anglo-American world were due to new entrepreneurial hustle, rather than the technological changes that were more widespread in application after 1840. If there was a reading revolution in places or among people for whom books remained scarce at the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was often due to the agency of people like Edward Manning, who became nodes in wider networks, taking distribution into their own hands because of what such circulation meant for them—whether a chance to participate in transatlantic debates, or to create a local reading culture, or to hasten the “general illumination” of a coming millennium, or all of the above.

Keith Grant is an Assistant Professor of History at Crandall University, and a Co-Editor of Borealia: Early Canadian History.


[1] A version of this essay was presented at a joint session of the Canadian Historical Association and the Bibliographical Society of Canada in Vancouver, June 2019.

[2] Edward Manning Journal, June 5, 1823, Esther Clark Wright Archives, Acadia University.

[3] On Lincoln and Edmands, see Martha Bartter, “Lincoln and Edmands,” in American Literary Publishing Houses, 1638-1899, ed. Peter  Dzwonkoski, Dictionary of Literary Biography (Detroit: Gale Research, 1986), 259.

[4] On publishers in cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia relying on “middlemen” to extend the scope of their distribution before the rise of the “mass market,” see James N. Green, “The Rise of Book Publishing,” in An Extensive Republic: Print, Culture, and Society in the New Nation, 1790-1840, ed. Robert A. Gross and Mary Kelley, History of the Book in America, vol. 2 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press / American Antiquarian Society, 2010), 127.

[5] Lincoln and Edmands, Boston, Letters to Edward Manning, Sept. 22, 1814 and April 13, 1816, Esther Clark Wright Archives, Acadia University.

[6] See David Benedict, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Letter to Edward Manning, [1816?]. Esther Clark Wright Archives, Acadia University.

[7] Green, “Rise of Book Publishing,” 87; see 86-88.

[8] The story of tract societies in America is masterfully told in David Paul Nord, Faith in Reading: Religious Publishing and the Birth of Mass Media in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

[9] “Articles of the Evangelical Tract Society, Organized in Boston, Nov. 13, 1811,” Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, vol 3, No. 4 (Dec 1811), 128.

[10] Lincoln & Edmands Catalogue of Books for sale at No. 53, Cornhill, Boston (Boston: Lincoln and Edmands, 1812), 11-13. I am grateful for the American Antiquarian Society for providing a copy of this catalogue.

[11] Lincoln & Edmands, Boston, Letter to Edward Manning, November 5, 1817, Esther Clark Wright Archives, Acadia University.

[12] Ensign Lincoln, “Evangelical Tract Society” [Annual Report], Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine 4.8 (December 1815), 251.

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CFP: Critical Perspectives on Cannabis in Canada


Special Issue of Journal of Canadian Studies
“Critical Perspectives on Cannabis in Canada”
Guest Editors: Michael Boudreau and Sarah Hamill
Deadline: December 1, 2019

For much of the twentieth century, recreational drugs, notably cannabis, have been seen as a serious social, legal, and moral problem. However, the negative connotations associated with cannabis have subsided, culminating in the introduction in 2018 of government-regulated sales of legal cannabis. Canada is the latest country to legalize cannabis use and it joins a growing list of jurisdictions that have done so. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country to enact legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes. To date, over twenty countries, and multiple U.S. states, have implemented some form of decriminalization.

In Canada, cannabis is the second most used recreational drug after alcohol. An estimated 2.3 million Canadians consume cannabis in various forms, including “edibles”, which will be legally available in December 2019. Cannabis is becoming more socially acceptable and support for its legalization continues to grow. It is important to note that support for legalization comes in part from non-users. Their support is predicated on the belief that cannabis was a problem only because it was illegal and thus unregulated. Besides lifting many of the criminal sanctions against the use of cannabis, legalization may result in the removal of the moral stigma surrounding marijuana. And it signals the end of one phase of Canada’s beleaguered war on drugs.

This special issue of the Journal of Canadian Studies is intended to examine cannabis from a variety of disciplinary and critical perspectives; notably historical, sociological, socio-legal, cultural, and criminological. Moreover, this issue especially welcomes contributions from scholars who can offer a comparative analysis of how cannabis is viewed and regulated in multiple jurisdictions. Continue reading

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“Be … In this Place”: Conceptions of Atlantic Canadian Citizenship

By Sarah King

The Atlantic Canadian perspective is often glaringly absent from national narratives on politics and history – including CBC documentaries like 2000’s Canada: A People’s History (for a thorough discussion of this, see Margaret Conrad’s (2001b) article in Social History, “My Canada Includes the Atlantic Provinces”). Apparently, CBC producers did not consult this source and 2017’s Canada: The Story of Us repeats many of the errors of its predecessor. What is not absent, however, is Atlantic Canadians’ vocal and vociferous dissent at these conspicuous omissions. These contrasting themes of omission and opposition are central to a discussion of Atlantic Canada’s place in national conversation.

The exclusion of the Atlantic Canadian region from national narratives perpetuates unfair stereotypes of the region as backwards and unimportant, and lead to constructions of the region’s citizens as lazy, backwards, and apathetic. These misunderstandings often lead to the dismissive attitudes of politicians like Underhill, and even Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who, when challenged by Atlantic Canadians about rising unemployment rates in the region remarked “why don’t you just get off your asses” (in Corbett, 2007, p. 14). In response, Savoie (2006) argues that historical “accidents” like these, and events perpetuated by “national political and administrative institutions” can be blamed for the region’s underdevelopment (p. 14).

While focusing on the ways in which the Atlantic Canadian region is unlike the rest of the country, scholars continue to perpetuate negative understandings of the region and its peoples, instead of a more appreciative understanding of the region’s uniqueness (White & King, 2017). Continue reading

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Christo Aivalis reviews Cecil Foster. They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada (Windsor, Ontario: Biblioasis, 2019).

By Christo Aivalis

Cecil Foster in They Call Me George offers readers an excellent piece of accessible writing and analysis that skillfully melds together the multifaceted histories of labour, diplomacy, politics, gender, race, empire, and culture. In so doing, Foster puts forward—and convincingly defends—the thesis that Black train porters transformed the nature of Canadian society, especially in how it related to questions of race and immigration. Foster gives much of the credit to the porters, who not only fought for their own liberation and amelioration, but did so for all Black Canadians, and indeed all racialized people, against a white-supremacist understanding of Canada.  Ultimately, “the train porters battled to make normal what is now socially routine, and even taken for granted” (12).


Cecil Foster. They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada

This book is at its very best when it draws the meaningful connection between the realities of the porters’ working experiences and their indispensable role in perpetuating black culture and fighting against white supremacy. As Foster notes, the Black porters, despite being marginalized relative to white workers on the railways, were nonetheless respected within the Black community, often because their long-distance travels helped to link disparate and small Black communities strewn across a vast nation. It was they who inspired trends in Black fashion, who patronized Black-owned businesses, who helped to spread vital news and literature, who built crucial personal relationships with travelling political figures, and who helped to build a shared-political consciousness aiming to win genuine equality and opportunity within and beyond the workplace. In more ways than one, Foster suggests that the generations of activism by Blacks in Canada culminated in the efforts of the porters. Continue reading

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A “backwoods tragedy”: The Bannister Brothers and Capital Punishment in New Brunswick, 1936

By Michael Boudreau

In September of 1936 Arthur and Daniel Bannister were executed, standing back-to-back, for the “callous” murders of Philip Lake, his wife Bertha, and one of their children (Jackie) in Pacific Junction, Westmorland County. The Halifax Herald called this crime one of the “most brutal mass slayings in [New Brunswick’s] history”.[1]  This was the first double execution in Canada since 1924.  The hangman reported that the Bannisters died “bravely”, thus providing society with some form of closure, if not justification, for the use of capital punishment in this case.[2]

This “backwoods tragedy” raised concerns about executing the young, especially two “half-witted boys” such as the Bannister brothers.  At the time of the murders, Arthur was 17 and Daniel was 20.  An undercurrent of this case was the role that Arthur and Daniel’s mother, May Bannister, played.  It was alleged that May Bannister was the “arch conspirator” behind the crime. She wanted her sons to kidnap the Lake’s “baby-in-arms” (five-month old Betty) so that she could blackmail a prominent businessman in nearby Moncton.  As one reporter asserted, May Bannister had turned her sons into kidnappers and triple murderers. Public opinion in Westmorland County, and throughout much of the province, was decidedly against May Bannister, to the point where some had called for her sons to be spared and for May Bannister to be executed. For her role in the crime, May Bannister was sentenced to three and a half years in the Kingston Prison for Women.[3]

Halifax Herald January 7A glimmer of hope appeared for Daniel Bannister when he was awarded a new trial after it was determined by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal that the trial judge had erred in his address to the jury.  In essence, rather than letting the jury decide if Daniel Bannister “knew or ought to have known that murder was a possible consequence of any design which may have existed…with reference to the Lake baby”, the judge had inferred to the jury that Daniel did in fact know that murder would be the likely outcome of his actions that fateful night.[4] Continue reading

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Public schools and ratepayers in late 19th century New Brunswick: a linguistic divide?

By Elisa Sance

On January 18th, 1899, Patrick Swift from District #7, Parish of Harcourt, New Brunswick wrote a letter [1] to James R. Inch, Chief Superintendent of Education to protest the hiring of a third-class [2] French teacher in an English district. In his letter, the plaintiff explained that the trustees of the district turned down several good English-speaking candidates with a second-class license, including one individual who was bilingual but whose first language was English, to accommodate an influential “Frenchman”.

The development of the public school system in New Brunswick in the mid to late nineteenth century created a growing need for trained teachers, and letters such as this one were not uncommon as school districts were staffing their schools with, at times, professionals that eluded concensus. The level of qualification needed for teachers to work in a given district was directly correlated to the ratepayers: the most qualified teachers were to work in the highest valued districts. Yet, at times, districts that qualified for a second-class teacher would choose to hire third-class teachers, often for reasons that pertained to the language(s) they spoke. Continue reading

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Decorous Dispossession: Legally Extinguishing Acadian Landholding Rights

By Elizabeth Mancke

In August 1759, the Nova Scotia assembly passed “An Act for the Quieting of Possessions to the Protestant Grantees of the Lands, formerly occupied by the French Inhabitants, and for preventing vexatious Actions relating to the same.”  The legislation prohibited “any troublesome or vexatious Suits of Law” by Acadians trying to recover their lands and made it illegal for any courts in the province to hear cases brought “for the Recovery of any Lands” by “the former French Inhabitants.”  The text of the legislation indicated that “some Doubts have arisen . . .  concerning the Title of the said French Inhabitants to any of the said Lands,” and some New Englanders were wary of moving hundreds of kilometers north to settle on lands to which Acadians might have legal recourse to recover.[1]

Ten months earlier, in its first sitting, the assembly passed “An Act for confirming Titles to Lands and Quieting Possessions” with an explicit provision “That no Papist hereafter, shall have any Right or Title to hold, possess, or enjoy any Lands or Tenements, other than by virtue of a Grant or Grants from the Crown.”  Anyone convicted of assisting a Catholic to acquire land would see it revert to the Crown. To register a land deed, a person had to swear “the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance” before the province would register the deed.  But that 1758 act left loopholes for Acadians. It included a fairly standard clause that protected “the Title of any . . . Person non compos mentis, imprisoned or in Captivity, who shall be intitled to sue for and recover any such Lands or Tenements to which they are intitled within one year after such Impediment shall be removed.” The act’s last section also allowed “That if any Original Deed shall be lost, and Proof thereof in Court be made,” it would be accepted and entered in the registry.” Either of these provisions could have been construed by Acadians to argue for the restoration of their lands.  Deported Acadians might reasonably have argued they had been imprisoned or held in captivity, and upon returning to Nova Scotia, take the oath and  ask for the lands back.  As well, some Acadians were Protestants and related to New Englanders, and thus the restrictions against Catholic landholding would not cover them.[2] Continue reading

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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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