Cover Collage Jan 2016

New Books in Early Canadian History, 2016 Preview: Part 1

Keith Grant

Welcome to the first Borealia roundup of forthcoming books on early Canadian history. The list includes books scheduled for release in 2016, with information compiled from publishers’ catalogues and websites. I plan to post Part 2 later in the year to highlight Fall titles.

What kinds of books made it into this preview? Works of historical scholarship on any region of what eventually became Canada, to about 1870. I have included books that place “Canada” in transnational studies, and books whose chronological coverage extends beyond 1870, as long as there is substantial discussion of the early period. Naturally, this is all quite subjective, and my survey has likely overlooked a few titles. So please use the comments or the contact form below to suggest additional titles.

The books are listed by month of scheduled release. Descriptions have been supplied by the publishers, unless otherwise noted.

January

Écrire en temps d’insurrections: Pratiques épistolaires et usages de la presse chez les femmes patriotes (1830-1840), par Mylène Bédard (La Presses de l’Université de Montréal, Jan. 2016).

“Jusqu’ici, les historiens et les littéraires qui se sont penchés sur les Rébellions de 1837-1838 ont généralement nié l’engagement des femmes dans cet épisode révolutionnaire. Les recherches dans les archives et les dépouillements de journaux révèlent néanmoins une diversité d’actions et de prises de parole des Bas-Canadiennes, dans l’espace privé comme dans l’espace public. Ce livre présente un ensemble de 300 lettres écrites entre 1830 et 1840 par des femmes liées au mouvement patriote qui, même exclues de la sphère publique, n’évoluaient pourtant pas en circuit fermé. Tout en décrivant les conditions matérielles, les codes et les relations sociales qui encadraient les pratiques épistolaires de l’époque, l’auteure fait état des mutations de l’écriture féminine au contact des évènements insurrectionnels et des idéaux propres au siècle des nationalités et du romantisme. Ce faisant, elle renouvelle brillamment la perspective historique et rectifie certaines idées reçues sur l’histoire littéraire des femmes et du Québec.”

Lanaudière. Les régions du Québec, histoire en bref, par Pierre Lanthier et Jocelyn Morneau (Presses de L’Université Laval, Jan. 2016)

“Lanaudière ne doit pas son existence à sa géographie, trop diversifiée pour cela. Sa genèse en tant que région relève avant tout de l’action humaine. Elle accueille ses premiers habitants permanents au xviie siècle, des Européens. Et encore, ce fut difficile : il fallait défricher et se défendre contre les raids iroquois. À force de persévérance, deux pôles ont émergé, le premier gravitant autour de L’Assomption et le second autour de Berthier. Aux xviiie et xixe siècles, ces pôles développent largement leur arrière-pays, au point qu’à leur jonction émerge un village industriel qui allait bientôt s’affirmer et poser les premiers jalons de la région : Joliette. Malgré la saignée démographique dont elle a souffert pendant des décennies, Lanaudière poursuit son développement économique aussi bien que culturel. Si bien qu’à partir de la seconde moitié du xxe siècle elle connaît un essor soutenu, permettant à des villes comme Terrebonne et Repentigny de croître massivement et à l’ensemble de la région d’afficher une vitalité culturelle de dimension internationale.”

The People and the Bay: A Social and Environmental History of Hamilton Harbour, by Nancy B. Bouchier and Ken Cruikshank (UBC Press, January 2016).

“In 1865, John Smoke braved the ice on Burlington Bay to go spearfishing. Soon after, he was arrested by a fishery inspector and then convicted by a magistrate who chastised him for thinking that he was at liberty to do as he pleased “with Her Majesty’s property.” With this story, Nancy Bouchier and Ken Cruikshank launch their history of the relationship between the people of Hamilton, Ontario, and Hamilton Harbour (a.k.a. Burlington Bay). From the time of European settlement through to the city’s rise as an industrial power, townsfolk struggled with nature, and with one another, to champion their particular vision of “the bay” as a place to live, work, and play. As Smoke discovered, the outcomes of those struggles reflected the changing nature of power in an industrial city. From efforts to conserve the fishery in the 1860s to current attempts to revitalize a seriously polluted harbour, each generation has tried to create what it believed would be a livable and prosperous city.”

 

February

Fragile Settlements: Aboriginal Peoples, Law, and Resistance in South-West Australia and Prairie Canada, by Amanda Nettelbeck, Russell Smandych, Louis A. Knafla, Robert Foster (UBC Press, February 2016).

Fragile Settlements compares the processes through which British colonial authority was asserted over Indigenous peoples in south-west Australia and prairie Canada from the 1830s to the early twentieth century. At the start of this period, as a humanitarian response to settlers’ increased demand for land, Britain’s Colonial Office moved to protect Indigenous peoples by making them subjects under British law. This book highlights the parallels and divergences between these connected British frontiers by examining how colonial actors and institutions interpreted and applied the principle of law in their interaction with Indigenous peoples “on the ground.””

Nouveaux regards en histoire seigneuriale au Québec, edited by Benoît Grenier et Michel Morissette (Septentrion, Feb. 2016)

“La seigneurie est une institution de longue durée […]. Dans sa forme classique le long du Saint-Laurent, le régime seigneurial s’est institué au coeur d’une tradition ancestrale de vie collective, il s’est fait agent de la constitution d’un paysage rural mythique et il a servi de marqueur de différence ethnique. […] Les collaborateurs au présent ouvrage [ont], en quelque sorte, propulsé l’étude du régime seigneurial dans le XXIe siècle. Leur approche du régime seigneurial ne néglige pas la question fondamentale de la propriété et de l’autorité, mais elle bouleverse la chronologie convenue. Insistant sur la persistance du régime seigneurial bien au-delà de son abolition théorique en 1854, les auteurs en observent le lent déclin s’étirer jusqu’à l’ère de l’automobile, dans le Québec duplessiste.” – Extrait de la préface de Brian Young. Avec des textes de Jessica Barthe, Isabelle Bouchard, Jean-Michel Daoust, Jonathan Fortin, Joseph Gagné, David Gilles, Benoît Grenier, Alain Laberge, Katéri Lalancette, André LaRose, Michel Morissette, Jean-René Thuot et Alex Tremblay Lamarche.

North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes, by Harvey Amani Whitfield (UBC Press, February 2016).

“Many Canadians believe their nation fell on the right side of history in harbouring black slaves from the United States. In fact, in the wake of the American Revolution, many Loyalist families brought their slaves to settle in the Maritime colonies of British North America. North to Bondage traces the transition and movement of black people from slavery in the United States to continued slavery in the Maritimes. It is not an optimistic story of slavery to freedom but rather a narrative about forced migration, displacement, and the expansion of slavery in the British Empire. Piecing together fragments of the archival record — drawn from court documents, newspaper articles, government documents, and oral narratives — Harvey Amani Whitfield illuminates how slaves drew upon kinship networks and found strength in traditions of survival and resistance to fight for freedom in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. While some local judges chipped away at slavery, Maritime slaves fought against the institution by refusing to work, by running away, by reconstituting their families, and by challenging their owners in court. Whitfield’s book, the first on slavery in the Maritimes, is a startling corrective to the enduring and triumphant narrative of Canada as a land of freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad.”

Commemorating Canada: History, Heritage, and Memory, 1850s-1990s, by Cecilia Morgan (University of Toronto Press, February 2016).

Commemorating Canada is a concise narrative overview of the development of history and commemoration in Canada, designed for use in courses on public history, historical memory, heritage preservation, and related areas. Examining why, when, where, and for whom historical narratives have been important, Cecilia Morgan describes the growth of historical pageantry, popular history, textbooks, historical societies, museums, and monuments through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Showing how Canadians have clashed over conflicting interpretations of history and how they have come together to create shared histories, she demonstrates the importance of history in shaping Canadian identity. Though public history in both French and English Canada was written predominantly by white, middle-class men, Morgan also discusses the activism and agency of women, immigrants, and Indigenous peoples. The book concludes with a brief examination of present-day debates over Canada’s history and Canadians’ continuing interest in their pasts.”

 

March

Inconquis: Deux retraites françaises vers la Louisiane après 1760, par Joseph Gagné (Septentrion, Mars 2016)

“Le 8 septembre 1760, le gouverneur de la Nouvelle-France signe la capitulation de Montréal. L’événement marque la conquête du Canada par les armes. Les forces françaises sont sommées de se rendre à l’ennemi britannique. Pourtant, deux factions des troupes de la Marine du Canada, l’une de Michillimackinac et l’autre du fort Détroit, feront fi de ces ordres et se replieront en Louisiane, encore sous le contrôle des Français. En insistant sur les deux officiers à la tête de ces hommes, Pierre Passerat de La Chapelle et Louis Liénard de Beaujeu, c’est tout un pan oublié de l’histoire de la Conquête qui est raconté, celui d’hommes qui ont refusé d’être conquis.”

Settler Anxiety at the Outposts of Empire: Colonial Relations, Humanitarian Discourses, and the Imperial Press, by Kenton Storey (UBC Press, March 2016).

“During the 1850s and 1860s, there was considerable anxiety among British settlers over the potential for Indigenous rebellion and violence. Yet, publicly admitting to this fear would have gone counter to Victorian notions of racial superiority. In this fascinating book, Kenton Storey challenges the idea that a series of colonial crises in the mid-nineteenth century led to a decline in the popularity of humanitarianism across the British Empire. Instead, he demonstrates how colonial newspapers in New Zealand and on Vancouver Island appropriated humanitarian language as a means of justifying the expansion of settlers’ access to land, promoting racial segregation, and allaying fears of potential Indigenous resistance.”

Sous les cieux de Québec: Météo et climat, 1534-1831, par Yvon Desloges (Septentrion, Mars 2016)

“Le «réchauffement climatique»: l’expression est très à la mode. Elle sous-entend chaleur – quelquefois excessive -, températures extrêmes, tempêtes violentes, pluies diluviennes, périodes de froid sibérien et quoi d’autre… Vous vous croyez au XXIe siècle? Bienvenue aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. La météo d’ici n’avait jusqu’à ce jour pas d’histoire. Peu de gens se doutaient que l’éruption d’un volcan en Indonésie pouvait provoquer un refroidissement jusqu’à Québec. Encore moins de gens auraient imaginé que Champlain a fondé Québec dans une période de froid sévère ou que le XVIIe siècle québécois compte parmi les plus froids du dernier millénaire. Et, surtout, que certains de ces froids ont été quelquefois communs à l’hémisphère Nord. Encore moins de gens auraient même soupçonné que la région de Québec a subi, au XVIIIe siècle, une augmentation des températures, a connu des sécheresses et des feux de forêt à répétition et a dû faire face à des invasions de sauterelles et de chenilles, autant de signes associés à une période de réchauffement climatique. Cette augmentation des températures du XVIIIe siècle est attestée autant par les impressions des colons et les relevés de températures que par des études physiques comme celles de la dendrochronologie.”

 

April

Building the British Atlantic World: Spaces, Places, and Material Culture, 1600-1850, edited By Daniel Maudlin and Bernard L. Herman (UNC Press, April 2016).

“Spanning the North Atlantic rim from Canada to Scotland, and from the Caribbean to the coast of West Africa, the British Atlantic world is deeply interconnected across its regions. In this groundbreaking study, thirteen leading scholars explore the idea of transatlanticism–or a shared “Atlantic world” experience–through the lens of architecture, built spaces, and landscapes in the British Atlantic from the seventeenth century through the mid-nineteenth century. Examining town planning, churches, forts, merchants’ stores, state houses, and farm houses, this collection shows how the powerful visual language of architecture and design allowed the people of this era to maintain common cultural experiences across different landscapes while still forming their individuality. By studying the interplay between physical construction and social themes that include identity, gender, taste, domesticity, politics, and race, the authors interpret material culture in a way that particularly emphasizes the people who built, occupied, and used the spaces and reflects the complex cultural exchanges between Britain and the New World.”

 

May

Beating against the Wind: Popular Opposition to Bishop Feild and Tractarianism in Newfoundland and Labrador, by Calvin Hollett (McGill-Queen’s University Press, May 2016).

“There are many analyses of Tractarianism – a nineteenth-century form of Anglicanism that emphasized its Catholic origins – but how did people in the colonies react to the High Church movement? Beating against the Wind, a study in nineteenth-century vernacular spirituality, emphasizes the power of faith on a shifting frontier in a transatlantic world. Focusing on people living along the Newfoundland and Labrador coast, Calvin Hollett presents a nuanced perspective on popular resistance to the colonial emissary Bishop Edward Feild and his spiritual regimen of order, silence, and solemnity. Whether by outright opposing Bishop Feild, or by simply ignoring his wishes and views, or by brokering a hybrid style of Gothic architecture, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador demonstrated their independence in the face of an attempt at hierarchical ascendency upon the arrival of Tractarianism in British North America. Instead, they continued to practise evangelical Anglicanism and participate in Methodist revivals, and thereby negotiated a popular Protestantism, one often infused with the spirituality of other seafarers from Nova Scotia and New England. Exploring the interaction between popular spirituality and religious authority, Beating against the Wind challenges the traditional claim of Feild’s success in bringing Tractarianism to the colony while exploring the resistance to Feild’s initiatives and the reasons for his disappointments.”

The Body or the Soul?: Religion and Culture in a Quebec Parish, 1736-1901, by Frank A. Abbott (McGill-Queen’s University Press, May 2016).

“In the two centuries before the Quiet Revolution, the people of Quebec exercised a higher degree of independence from the Catholic Church than is often presumed. Investigating rural Quebec from the mid-eighteenth century to the turn of the twentieth, Frank Abbott argues convincingly that the obligations and priorities of the Church did not unswervingly rule the lives of its parishioners. The Body or the Soul? is a history of religious and cultural life in the parish of St-Joseph-de-Beauce. Drawing from their pastors’ detailed annual reports to the archbishops of Quebec, St-Joseph’s parish registers, contemporary accounts, government censuses, and the largely unexplored oral testimony on rural life and culture found in the Archives de folklore et ethnologie at Université Laval, Abbott assesses the nature and degree of influence and control that the church exerted over the everyday lives of a rural Quebec community. He examines the telling details found in church building projects, the relationships between clergy and parishioners, attendance at Sunday mass and catechism classes, reception of communion, the persistence of what the Church termed “superstition,” traditional customs of sociability, and the degree of control that the Church exerted over the community’s social and sexual behaviour. Rich with primary sources, The Body or the Soul? reveals the tensions between Catholicism’s place in people’s lives and the independent spirit of a vigorous popular culture.”

Educating the Neglected Majority: The Struggle for Agricultural and Technical Education in Nineteenth-Century Ontario and Quebec, by Richard A. Jarrell (McGill-Queen’s University Press, May 2016).

Educating the Neglected Majority is Richard Jarrell’s pioneering survey of the attempt to develop and diffuse agricultural and technical education in nineteenth-century Canada’s most populous regions. It explores the efforts and achievements of educators, legislators, and manufacturers as they responded to the rapid changes resulting from the Industrial Revolution. Identifying the resources that the state, philanthropic organizations, private schools, moral reform societies, and churches harnessed to implement technical education for the rural and industrial working classes, Jarrell illuminates the formal and informal learning networks of Upper Canada/Ontario and Lower Canada/Quebec at this time. As these colonial societies moved towards mechanization, industrialization, and nationhood, their educational leaders looked to US and British developments in pedagogy and technology to create academic journals, collèges classiques, evening classes, libraries, mechanics’ institutes, museums, specialist societies, and women’s institutes. Supervising these varied activities were legislatures and provincial boards, where key figures such as E.-A. Barnard, J.-B. Meilleur, and Egerton Ryerson played dominant roles. Portraying the powerful hopes and sometimes unrealistic dreams that motivated energetic and determined reformers, Educating the Neglected Majority presents Ontario and Quebec’s response to the powerful industrial and demographic forces that were reshaping the North Atlantic world.”

Lawyers’ Empire: Legal Professionals and Cultural Authority, 1780–1950, by W. Wesley Pue (UBC Press, May 2016).

“Approaching the legal profession through the lens of cultural history, Wes Pue explores the social roles that lawyers imagined for themselves in England and its empire from the late-eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Each chapter focuses on a moment when lawyers sought to reshape their profession while at the same time imagining they were shaping nation and empire in the process. As an exploration of the relationship between legal professionals and liberalism, this book draws attention to recurrent tensions in between how lawyers have best assured their own economic well-being while simultaneously advancing the causes of liberty, cultural authority, stability, and continuity.”

Mixed Blessings: Indigenous Encounters with Christianity in Canada, edited by Tolly Bradford and Chelsea Horton (UBC Press, May 2016).

Mixed Blessings transforms our understanding of the relationship between Indigenous people and Christianity in Canada from the early 1600s to the present day. While acknowledging the harm of colonialism, including the trauma inflicted by church-run residential schools, this interdisciplinary collection challenges the portrayal of Indigenous people as passive victims of malevolent missionaries who experienced a uniformly dark history. Instead, this book illuminates the diverse and multifaceted ways that Indigenous communities and individuals – including prominent leaders such as Louis Riel and Edward Ahenakew – have interacted, and continue to interact, meaningfully with Christianity.”

 

June

Des barreaux de fer aux étagères: L’histoire du Morrin Centre de Québec, par Louisa Blair, Patrick Donovan et Donald Fyson (Septentrion, Juin 2016)

“Tour à tour Redoute royale (1712-1808), prison commune (1813-1868), collège anglophone (1868-1902) et aujourd’hui centre culturel et bibliothèque de la communauté anglaise, le Morrin Centre est au coeur de l’histoire de la ville de Québec. Ce vieux bâtiment reflète l’histoire mouvementée de la capitale, marquant le passage du Régime français au Régime britannique. C’est dans ce bâtiment aujourd’hui entièrement restauré et ouvert au public que l’on découvre un lieu empreint de souvenirs, certains troublants comme dans les anciennes cellules de la prison, et d’autres plus heureux dans le lieu de culture qu’est la majestueuse bibliothèque. Saviez-vous que Philippe Aubert de Gaspé y fut emprisonné, que le collège y a admis des femmes 20 ans avant l’Université Laval tandis que la Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, qui participa à la fondation des Archives nationales du Canada, y a longtemps eu son siège?”

Time and a Place: An Environmental History of Prince Edward Island. Edited by Edward MacDonald, Joshua MacFadyen and Irené Novaczek (McGill-Queen’s University Press, June 2016).

“With its long and well-documented history, Prince Edward Island makes a compelling case study for thousands of years of human interaction with a specific ecosystem. The pastoral landscapes, red sandstone cliffs, and small fishing villages of Canada’s “garden province” are appealing because they appear timeless, but they are as culturally constructed as they are shaped by the ebb and flow of the tides. Bringing together experts from a multitude of disciplines, the essays in Time and a Place explore the island’s marine and terrestrial environment from its prehistory to its recent past. Beginning with PEI’s history as a blank slate – a land scraped by ice and then surrounded by rising seas – this mosaic of essays documents the arrival of flora, fauna, and humans, and the different ways these inhabitants have lived in this place over time. The collection offers policy insights for the province while also informing broader questions about the value of islands and other geographically bounded spaces for the study of environmental history and the crafting of global sustainability.”

 

August

New Brunswick at the Crossroads: Literary Ferment and Social Change in the East, edited by Tony Tremblay (Wilfred Laurier University Press, August 2016).

Essays: Introduction: Tony Tremblay; 1. Loyalist Literature in New Brunswick, 1783–1843: Gwendolyn Davies; 2. Literature of the First Acadian Renaissance, 1864–1955: Chantal Richard; 3. The Fredericton Confederation Awakening, 1843–1900: Thomas Hodd; 4. Mid-Century Emergent Modernism, 1935–1955: Tony Tremblay; 5. Modernity and the Challenge of Urbanity in Acadian Literature, 1958–1999: Marie-Linda Lord; Afterword: David Creelman.

 

Keith Grant is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of New Brunswick, writing a dissertation on religious communication networks and book culture in the Atlantic world, from the perspective of one Nova Scotia community, ca. 1770-1850. He is a founding co-editor of Borealia. He tweets at @keithsgrant and @earlycanada.

 

Latest Comments

  1. Germaine Warkentin says:

    Wonderful to see this! Any plans for a listing of articles as well?

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