An in-depth look at how colonists created a vibrant print culture that shaped the foundations of modern Canada.
Printing presses were instrumental in creating and upholding a sense of community during the eighteenth century. While the importance of print in the development of colonial America and the nascent United States is well established, Imprinting Britain extends the historical discussion northward to explore the dynamic and interrelated world of newspapers, coffee houses, and theatre in the British imperial capitals of Halifax and Quebec City.
Michael Eamon describes how an English-language colonial community coalesced around the printed word, establishing public spaces for colonists to propose, debate, and define their visions of an ideal society. Whereas American newspapers functioned as incubators of republican and revolutionary thought, their British North American counterparts featured a moderate discourse that rejected republicanism, favoured civic engagement, advocated liberty with propriety, extolled democracy under monarchy, promoted reason over superstition, and encouraged social criticism without revolution. The press also safeguarded against the uncertainties of colonial life by providing a steady stream of transatlantic news, literature, and fashion that helped construct a sense of Britishness in an environment rife with mixed loyalties.
Imprinting Britain is the story of communities that turned to the press for a canon of British norms, literary touchstones, and Enlightenment-inspired ideas, which offered a blueprint for colonial growth and a sense of stability in an ever-changing, transatlantic milieu.
Michael Eamon is adjunct professor of history at Trent University and principal of Catharine Parr Traill College.
Book catalogues for Spring 2015 are now out for all three major Canadian academic publishers. Find them below. Although the line-ups are strong, as usual, there is relatively little Atlantic Canadian content so far this year. McGill-Queens University Press has probably published the most Atlantic titles in recent years. This time it offers John C. Kennedy, Encounters: An Anthropological History of Southeastern Labrador, which no doubt builds upon his earlier studies of Labrador. Also forthcoming is Michael Eamon, Imprinting Britain: Newspapers, Sociability, and the Shaping of British North America. This monograph looks particularly interesting to me. Check out the blurb:
UBC Press does not have any titles on this region, but Richard M. Reid, African Canadians in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in the Civil War, should be interesting, particularly in light of Greg Marquis's important work on the Maritimes and the American Civil War, as well as recent studies of the Black Refugees and early Black culture in Nova Scotia. Similarly, University of Toronto Press is not advertising any Atlantic Canadian books but, together with the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, it recently published Paul Craven, Petty Justice: Low Law and the Sessions System in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, 1785-1867. Because I am currently writing a book on the early history of policing, crime and the courts in Newfoundland, I am really looking forward to reading this one. The Osgoode Society has a strong track record of publishing Atlantic Canadian content.
Spread the word to anyone who might be interested. The deadline is January 15th. Find details enclosed, with a description of CMH's "ideal candidate":
The CMH’s ideal candidate is an exceptional scholar with a record of achievement in cultural institutions, research, publishing, and community engagement. The candidate holds a doctorate, communicates in both official languages, and has worked effectively with a wide variety of academic, institutional, governmental, and community partners. The candidate is a dedicated and creative team player, with superior inter-personal skills and a principled commitment to and understanding of public service. The candidate will bolster that strength in research which is a foundational element of the Museums’ work on behalf of Canadians, while enhancing its reputation as a trusted and responsible contributor to civil society.
In what will probably be one of the final talks relating to the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 in Nova Scotia, join Deborah Trask tonight for her lecture to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society: "Putting the War of 1812 to Rest." It will discuss the human element of the conflict through an analysis of local burial sites.
Here is Trask's biography, courtesy of the RNSHS:
Deborah Trask spent 30 years on the curatorial staff of the Nova Scotia Museum. On her retirement, the Board of Governors appointed her ‘Curator Emeritus’. Deborah is a member of the Board of Directors of the Old Burying Ground Foundation in Halifax and a member [since 1976] of the international Association for Gravestone Studies, based in New England. She has written and lectured extensively on gravestones in Nova Scotia. Currently she has a small museum consulting business and she continues to provide cemetery preservation advice to community groups across the province. In 2012 Deborah was appointed to the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on Heritage Properties.
For those of you who don't know about it, check out the latest issue of the Journal of New Brunswick Studies. Based at St. Thomas University, and published on the web once a year, it features a range of invited essays, peer-reviewed articles, research notes and book reviews, all freely available for download in PDF and other formats. This volume, number five, features a collection of essays on Brian Gallant's new Liberal government in New Brunswick with policy suggestions on health care, justice, and other issues. Also see Thomas M. Beckley's article on "Public Engagement, Planning, and Politics in the Forest Sector in New Brunswick, 1997–2014," and reviews of books by prominent academics Donald Savoie and David Frank. Here's the journal's mandate, in both official languages:
JNBS/RÉNB is an online, multidisciplinary journal that will feature peer-reviewed research and commentary about New Brunswick in English and French. The only such journal of its kind in New Brunswick, JNBS/RÉNB seeks to become a forum for ideas and debate about the province and its place in the wider Canadian and global contexts.
For a visual of the Royal Navy at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia in the late eighteenth century, through a deconstruction of a 1781 painting by surveyor and colonial governor J.F.W. Des Barres, check out the blog at British Tars, 1740-1790. I included this image in a previous post about Annapolis Royal. For more on Des Barres, see Stephen J. Hornsby, Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J.W.F. Des Barres, and the Making of The Atlantic Neptune (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2011).
Image: Aerial view of Fort Anne national historic site, Annapolis Royal. Maclean's Magazine, 2014.
Following last week's theme, check out my article Trafalgar Days in Nova Scotia in the Trident -- the newspaper for Maritime Forces Atlantic and CFB Halifax. Interestingly, I have often used the Trident's predecessor, The Crowsnest, in researching how the Canadian Navy commemorated historical events from the 1940s to 1960s. This included Trafalgar Day, but also themes such as the Shannon-Chesapeake naval battle from the War of 1812.
Image: "The Admiralty House," Halifax, unknown artist, 1878, Library and Archives Canada.
For nautical enthusiasts out there, Tuesday, October 21 is called "Trafalgar Day" -- the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In the most famous naval battle in history, Lord Nelson led the British Navy in a smashing victory over the combined fleets of France and Spain. Nelson fell in the battle. "Britannia’s God of War," as historian Andrew Lambert has called him, died during his crowning achievement and was forever immortalized as a fighting hero and one of the Greatest Britons. For the duration of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain enjoyed total control of the high seas, while Napoleon’s invasion plans for England were thwarted. Nelson's memory lived on, throughout the empire.
I have already written a fair bit about Nelson’s connections to Canada, particularly Atlantic Canada. For example, see last year’s blogs here and here, as well as this journal article and conference paper. In addition, I have an article coming out in next week’s edition of The Trident, the newspaper for Maritime Forces Atlantic and CFB Halifax, entitled “Trafalgar Days in Nova Scotia.” I will post it here once it has been published.
However, I would like to touch upon one theme relating to how Admiral Horatio Nelson was remembered in the nineteenth century. Historically, it was common for parents to name their children after celebrities and public figures – think President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. The same thing happened during earlier times, and there was no greater celebrity in the British Empire than Nelson. Consider these British North American examples, which represent only a fraction of the total from my research files: “Horatio Nelson Brenton,” born in Williamsdale, Nova Scotia in 1864; “Horatio Nelson Yeo,” born in Mill Road, Prince Edward Island in 1874; “Horatio Nelson Hardenbrook,” who got married at Saint John, New Brunswick in 1827; “Horatio Nelson Ayles,” the son of a Carbonear merchant who married in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1874; “Nelson W. Lord” of Prince Edward District, Ontario in 1891; and, according to the 1871 federal census, “Horatio Nelson,” born in Quebec. Perhaps forgetting the War of 1812, many American boys were also named after Nelson, particularly in New England around the turn of the twentieth century. Go figure!
Update (22 October 2014): For more on Newfoundland and Trafalgar Day, see Larry Dohey's blog Archival Moments.
For those enrolled in or wanting to learn more about the Atlantic Canada Studies programme at Saint Mary's University, do not miss today's Fall Ceilidh (social get-together): Thursday, October 16, Gorsebrook Pub, 3:00. There will be snacks and music, and this is a great way to meet your fellow students and future instructors. You can learn about ACS's exciting course offerings, such as my own on "Nova Scotia and the Sea" this winter.
Check out one of the promotional posters:
To learn more ACS, see the following description. In addition to grad and undergrad programmes, you can also earn a certificate in ACS.
Atlantic Canada Studies
This is your last chance to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's terrific exhibit on the War of 1812. It is closing on Monday, October 16. Really this is two companion exhibits: "1812: One War, Four Perspectives" is a travelling exhibit from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, and "Prize and Prejudice: Nova Scotia's War of 1812" by the Nova Scotia Museum. I encourage you to check it out. Here is the advertisement:
Visitors can explore what was at stake during the War of 1812, and how the event dramatically shaped the culture of many people.
For those interested in attending next year's AGM of the Canadian Historical Association, it is not too late to submit a proposal. The deadline is October 15. Held at the University of Ottawa, the CHA is as always part of the larger Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than seventy scholarly associations. The CHA is the largest History conference in the country, and a valuable proving ground for graduate students. I have attended it several times on terrific campuses and cities across the country, and really enjoyed myself, but in recent years I have noticed that the overwhelming majority of papers focus on the twentieth century, with more and more on post-Second World War topics. There are not many papers on the Atlantic region or the colonial period -- perhaps with First Nations studies being a notable exception. Also, because of its size, with five or six concurrent sessions, it is often difficult to attend all of the presentations that you might be interested in. For this reason, in my opinion, the CHA lacks the collegiality and scholarly exchange of some smaller events, such as the Atlantic Canada Studies Conference.
The theme for 2015 is "Rethinking interdisciplinarity in history," although the CHA accepts papers on any subject. Panel submissions probably have a greater chance of acceptance than individual proposals. Here is the call for papers:
Rethinking interdisciplinarity in history