New Books in Early Canadian History, 2016: Part 2

Keith Grant

Welcome to Part 2 of Borealia’s 2016 roundup of forthcoming books on early Canadian history. (You can find Part 1 here.) The list is drawn from publishers’ catalogues and websites, including books scheduled for release in 2016. I have included a few recently-released titles that escaped my attention in January.

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 below or the contact form to suggest additional titles.

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

 

January

Les années dangereuses: Le Québec à l’âge des Révolutions, par André Pelchat (Quebec: Les Éditions GID, Jan. 2016).

5106_annees danger_web“Dans les décennies qui suivent la Conquête, la colonie est secouée par une série de bouleversements politiques, économiques, sociaux et culturels, dont les conséquences marquent durablement la société canadienne de langue française. Après ces événements majeurs, les « Révolutions atlantiques » déferlent sur l’Occident. L’ex-Nouvelle-France, devenue Province of Quebec, puis Bas-Canada, n’est pas un havre de tranquillité au milieu de cette tourmente mondiale. Ici aussi, la population est touchée par les idéaux révolutionnaires et démocratiques. Pour leur part, les élites civiles, militaires et religieuses ont toutes les raisons de craindre une diminution ou une perte de leurs privilèges. Le sort de la colonie se joue alors à plusieurs reprises. La Révolution est littéralement à nos portes… Mais avec elle arrive au pays un nouveau phénomène : le débat politique. On pourrait même parler de la naissance de la pensée politique au Québec. C’est cette période, largement oubliée, que raconte André Pelchat dans Les années dangereuses.”

 

March

Les Insoumis de l’Empire: Le refus de la domination coloniale au Bas-Canada et en Irlande, par Julie Guyot (Quebec: Septentrion, Jun. 2016)

L97828944885461“À la fin du XVIIIe siècle, l’Europe occidentale et les Amériques sont traversées par des mouvements de révolutions libérales et nationales. La Grande-Bretagne est alors un vaste empire colonial. Londres met en place des structures constitutionnelles et des pratiques politiques afin de maintenir sa domination. À la suite de la Révolution américaine, le régime impérial britannique est revu pour renforcer le rôle de l’exécutif dans l’administration des colonies. Julie Guyot illustre dans cet ouvrage l’état des rapports entre l’Angleterre et certaines nations satellites afin de pouvoir décrire les contours de l’impérialisme britannique et ainsi illustrer les enjeux démocratiques et nationalitaires. En prenant pour exemples l’Irlande et le Bas-Canada, l’auteure propose une analyse du discours public de Theobald Wolfe Tone et de Louis-Joseph Papineau, ces insoumis qui ont désiré changer le destin politique de leur «pays» respectif.”

 

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

L97828944885841“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.”

 

May

Thrashing Seasons: Sporting Culture in Manitoba and the Genesis of Prairie Wrestling, by C. Nathan Hatton (University of Manitoba Press, May 2016).

9780887558009_300_450_90“Horseback wrestling, catch-as-catch-can, glima; long before the advent of today’s WWE, forms of wrestling were practised by virtually every cultural group. C. Nathan Hatton’s Thrashing Seasons tells the story of wrestling in Manitoba from its earliest documented origins in the eighteenth century, to the Great Depression. Wrestling was never merely a sport: residents of Manitoba found meaning beyond the simple act of two people struggling for physical advantage on a mat, in a ring, or on a grassy field. Frequently controversial and often divisive, wrestling was nevertheless a popular and resilient cultural practice that proved adaptable to the rapidly changing social conditions in western Canada during its early boom period. In addition to chronicling the colourful exploits of the many athletes who shaped wrestling’s early years, Hatton explores wrestling as a social phenomenon intimately bound up with debates around respectability, ethnicity, race, class, and idealized conceptions of masculinity. In doing so, Thrashing Seasons illuminates wrestling as a complex and socially significant cultural activity, one that has been virtually unexamined by Canadian historians looking at the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

 

A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905, by Bill Waiser (Markham, ON: Fifth House Publishers, May 2016).

Weiser coverA World We Have Lost examines the early history of Saskatchewan through an Aboriginal and environmental lens. Indian and mixed–descent peoples played leading roles in the story-as did the land and climate. Despite the growing British and Canadian presence, the Saskatchewan country remained Aboriginal territory. The region’s peoples had their own interests and needs and the fur trade was often peripheral to their lives. Indians and Métis peoples wrangled over territory and resources, especially bison, and were not prepared to let outsiders control their lives, let alone decide their future. Native–newcomer interactions were consequently fraught with misunderstandings, sometimes painful difficulties, if not outright disputes. By the early nineteenth century, a distinctive western society had emerged in the North–West-one that was challenged and undermined by the takeover of the region by young dominion of Canada. Settlement and development was to be rooted in the best features of Anglo–Canadian civilization, including the white race. By the time Saskatchewan entered confederation as a province in 1905, the world that Kelsey had encountered during his historic walk on the northern prairies had become a world we have lost.”

 

June

Jardins et jardiniers laurentiens, 1660-1800: Creuse la terre, creuse le temps, par Jean-Pierre Hardy (Quebec: Septentrion, June 2016).

L97828944885531“Dans les colonies, et à plus forte raison dans un pays où la végétation est en dormance une bonne moitié de l’année, l’alimentation est une préoccupation constante. Dans ce contexte, un potager devient vite une nécessité. Alors que certains sont gérés par leur propriétaire, d’autres sont confiés à l’expertise et aux soins de jardiniers de métier. Jean-Pierre Hardy retrace l’origine de ces derniers et évalue leur formation, leur équipement, leurs techniques horticoles, leurs conditions de travail et leur niveau de vie. Les potagers sont-ils aussi nombreux qu’on le dit? Que produit-on et quels sont les légumes préférés? Le potager répond-il aux besoins d’une maisonnée et à combien peut-on l’évaluer? Jardins et jardiniers laurentiens fait le point sur les potagers et les jardiniers des principales villes de la vallée du Saint-Laurent entre 1660 et 1800.”

 

Moving Natures: Mobility and Environment in Canadian History, edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin M. Coates (University of Calgary Press, June 2016). [Note: available as a free e-book.]

mov“Mobility – the movements of people, things, and ideas, as well as their associated cultural meanings – has been a key factor in shaping Canadians’ perceptions of and interactions with their country. Approaching the burgeoning field of environmental history in Canada through the lens of mobility reveals some of the distinctive ways in which Canadians have come to terms with the country’s climate and landscape. Spanning Canada’s diverse regions, throughout its history, from the closing of the age of sail to the contemporary era of just-on-time delivery, Moving Natures: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History examines a wide range of topics, from the impact of seasonal climactic conditions on different transportation modes, to the environmental consequences of building mobility corridors and pathways, to the relationship between changing forms of mobility with tourism and other recreational activities. Contributors make use of traditional archival sources, as well as historical geographic information systems (HGIS), qualitative and quantitative analysis, and critical theory. This thought-provoking collection divides the intersection of environmental and mobility history into two approaches. The chapters in the first section deal primarily with the construction and productive use of mobility technologies and infrastructure, as well as their environmental constraints and consequences. The chapters in the second section focus on consumers’ uses of those vehicles and pathways: on pleasure travel, tourism, and recreational mobility. Together, they highlight three quintessentially Canadian themes: seasonality, links between mobility and natural resource development, and urbanites’ experiences of the environment through mobility.” [Note: a couple of the essays at least begin in the nineteenth century.]

 

Slavery, Geography and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica, by Charmaine A. Nelson (New York: Routledge, June 2016).

9781409468912“Slavery, Geography and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica is among the first Slavery Studies books – and the first in Art History – to juxtapose temperate and tropical slavery. Charmaine A. Nelson explores the central role of geography and its racialized representation as landscape art in imperial conquest. One could easily assume that nineteenth-century Montreal and Jamaica were worlds apart, but through her astute examination of marine landscape art, the author re-connects these two significant British island colonies, sites of colonial ports with profound economic and military value. Through an analysis of prints, illustrated travel books, and maps, the author exposes the fallacy of their disconnection, arguing instead that the separation of these colonies was a retroactive fabrication designed in part to rid Canada of its deeply colonial history as an integral part of Britain’s global trading network which enriched the motherland through extensive trade in crops produced by enslaved workers on tropical plantations. The first study to explore James Hakewill’s Jamaican landscapes and William Clark’s Antiguan genre studies in depth, it also examines the Montreal landscapes of artists including Thomas Davies, Robert Sproule, George Heriot and James Duncan. Breaking new ground, Nelson reveals how gender and race mediated the aesthetic and scientific access of such – mainly white, male – artists. She analyzes this moment of deep political crisis for British slave owners (between the end of the slave trade in 1807 and complete abolition in 1833) who employed visual culture to imagine spaces free of conflict and to alleviate their pervasive anxiety about slave resistance. Nelson explores how vision and cartographic knowledge translated into authority, which allowed colonizers to ‘civilize’ the terrains of the so-called New World, while belying the oppression of slavery and indigenous displacement.”

 

Subsistence under Capitalism: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by James Murton, Dean Bavington and Carly Dokis (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, June 2016).

subs“The complex relationship between subsistence practices and formal markets should be a growing matter of concern for those uneasy with the stark contrast between commercial and local food systems, especially since self-provisioning has never been limited to the margins. In fact, subsistence occupies a central space in local and global economies and networks. Bringing together essays from diverse disciplines to reflect on the meaning of subsistence in theory and in practice, in historical and contemporary contexts, in Canada and beyond, Subsistence under Capitalism is a collective study of the ways in which local food systems have been relegated to the shadows by the drive to establish and expand capitalist markets. Considering fishing, farming, and other forms of subsistence provisioning, the essays in this volume document the persistence of these practices despite capitalist government policies that actively seek to subsume them. Presenting viable alternatives to capitalist production and exchange, the contributors explain the critical interplay between politics, local provisioning, and the ultimate survival of society. Illuminating new kinds of engagements with nature and community, Subsistence under Capitalism looks behind the scenes of subsistence food provisioning to challenge the dominant economic paradigm of the modern world.”

 

July

White Settler Reserve: New Iceland and the Colonization of the Canadian West, by Ryan Eyford (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, July 2016).

51Pm01bU+-L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_“In 1875, the Canadian government created a reserve for Icelandic immigrants on the southwest shore of Lake Winnipeg. Hoping for a better life in Canada, many of the New Iceland colonists found only hardship, disappointment, or death. Those who survived scurvy and smallpox faced crop failure, internal dissension, and severe flooding that nearly ended the project only six years after it had begun.This innovative book looks beyond the experiences of these Icelandic immigrants to understand the context into which their reserve fits within the history of settler colonialism. Ryan Eyford reveals that the timing and location of the Icelandic settlement was not accidental. New Iceland was one of several land reserves created for Europeans by the Canadian government in the late nineteenth century. Canadian leaders hoped that group settlements of immigrants on Indigenous lands would help realize their ambitious plans for western expansion. By juxtaposing the Icelanders’ experiences with those of the Cree, Ojibwe, and Metis people they displaced, Eyford makes clear the connections between immigrant resettlement and Indigenous displacement. By analyzing themes such as race, land, health, and governance, he draws out the tensions that punctuated the process of colonization in western Canada and situates the region within the global history of colonialism.”

 

August

Backwoodsmen as Ecocritical Motif in French Canadian Literature: Connecting Worlds in the Wilds, by Anne Rehill (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Aug. 2016).

9781498531108“In New France and early Canada, young men who ventured into the forest to hunt and trade with Amerindians (coureurs de bois, “runners of the woods”), later traveling in big teams of canoes (voyageurs), were known for their independence. Often described as half-wild themselves, they linked the European and Indian societies, eventually helping to form a new culture with elements of both. From an ecocritical perspective they represent both negative and positive aspects of the human historical trajectory because, in addition to participating in the environmentally abusive fur trade, they also symbolize the way forward through intercultural connections and business relationships. The four novels analyzed here—Joseph-Charles Taché’s Forestiers et voyageurs: Moeurs et légendes canadiennes (1863); Louis Hémon’s Maria Chapdelaine (1916); Léo-Paul Desrosiers’ Les Engagés du Grand Portage (1938); and Antonine Maillet’s Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979)—portray the backwoodsmen operating in a collaborative mode within the realistic context of the need to make money. They entered folklore through the 19th century literary efforts of Taché and others to construct a distinct French Canadian national identity, then in an unstable and continually disrupted process of formation. Their entry into literature necessarily brought their Amerindian business and personal partners, thus making intercultural connections a foundation of the national identity that Taché and others strove to construct and also mirror. As figures in literature, they embody changing ideas of the self and of the cultures and ethnicities that they connect, both physically and in an abstract sense. Because constructions of self-identity result in behavior, studying this dynamic contributes to ecocritical efforts to better understand human behavior toward both ourselves and our environment. The woodsmen and their Amerindian partners occupy the intriguing position of contributing to both damage and greater acceptance of the cultural Other, the latter of which holds the promise of collaboration and joint searches for sustainable solutions. Thus coureurs de bois and voyageurs, far from perfect models, can continue to serve as guides today.”

 

Conflicted Colony: Critical Episodes in Nineteenth-Century Newfoundland and Labrador, by Kurt Korneski (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, Aug. 2016).

Korneski1“Nineteenth-century Newfoundland was an archetypal borderland – a space where changes in the authority of imperial, national, and indigenous territorial claims shaped the opportunities and identities of a socially diverse population. Conflicted Colony elucidates processes of state formation in Newfoundland through a reassessment of key moments in the country’s history. Kurt Korneski closely examines five conflicts from the late nineteenth century – the Fortune Bay Dispute of 1878, the St George’s Bay Dispute of 1889-92, the 1890s Lobster Controversy, the Battle of Foxtrap, and disputes over salmon grounds in Hamilton Inlet, Labrador – to explain how local regimes received, challenged, and reworked formal and informal diplomatic and commercial arrangements, as well as policies set out by the colonial and imperial government. The chapters examine antagonisms and divisions that grew out of clashes between the distinct commercial and social identities of regions in the borderlands and the sensibilities of merchants, politicians, and working people on the Avalon Peninsula. Providing new insight into the social history of Newfoundland and Labrador, these disputes illuminate contending perspectives driven by informal systems of governance, political movements, and local economic, social, demographic, and ecological circumstances. Conflicted Colony broadens, deepens, and clarifies our understanding of how Newfoundland became an integrated Dominion in the British Empire.

 

Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic, by Jennifer L. Palmer (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, Aug. 2016).

15587“Following the stories of families who built their lives and fortunes across the Atlantic Ocean, Intimate Bonds explores how households anchored the French empire and shaped the meanings of race, slavery, and gender in the early modern period. As race-based slavery became entrenched in French laws, all household members in the French Atlantic world —regardless of their status, gender, or race—negotiated increasingly stratified legal understandings of race and gender. Through her focus on household relationships, Jennifer L. Palmer reveals how intimacy not only led to the seemingly immutable hierarchies of the plantation system but also caused these hierarchies to collapse even before the age of Atlantic revolutions. Placing families at the center of the French Atlantic world, Palmer uses the concept of intimacy to illustrate how race, gender, and the law intersected to form a new worldview. Through analysis of personal, mercantile, and legal relationships, Intimate Bonds demonstrates that even in an era of intensifying racial stratification, slave owners and slaves, whites and people of color, men and women all adapted creatively to growing barriers, thus challenging the emerging paradigm of the nuclear family. This engagingly written history reveals that personal choices and family strategies shaped larger cultural and legal shifts in the meanings of race, slavery, family, patriarchy, and colonialism itself.”

 

Powering Up Canada: The History of Power, Fuel, and Energy from 1600, edited by R.W. Sandwell (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, Aug. 2016).

Sandwell2“With growing concerns about the security, cost, and ecological consequences of energy use, people around the world are becoming more conscious of the systems that meet their daily needs for food, heat, cooling, light, transportation, communication, waste disposal, medicine, and goods. Powering Up Canada is the first book to examine in detail how various sources of power, fuel, and energy have sustained Canadians over time and played a pivotal role in their history. Powering Up Canada investigates the ways that the production, processing, transportation, use, and waste issues of various forms of energy changed over time, transforming almost every aspect of society in the process. Chapters in the book’s first part explore the energies of the organic regime – food, animal muscle, water, wind, and firewood– while those in the second part focus on the coal, oil, gas, hydroelectricity, and nuclear power that define the mineral regime. Contributors identify both continuities and disparities in Canada’s changing energy landscape in this first full overview of the country’s distinctive energy history. Reaching across disciplinary boundaries, these essays not only demonstrate why and how energy serves as a lens through which to better understand the country’s history, but also provide ways of thinking about some of its most pressing contemporary concerns. Engaging Canadians in an urgent international discussion on the social and environmental history of energy production and use – and its profound impact on human society – Powering Up Canada details the nature and significance of energy in the past, present, and future.”

 

September

Building Better Britains?: Settler Societies In The British World, 1783-1920, by Cecilia Morgan (University of Toronto Press, Sept. 2016).

51M2p+8-1uL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_“The effects of empires and the lingering presence of colonialism continue to be major preoccupations for scholars in the twenty-first century. This short new book explores the spread of settler colonies within the British Empire over the course of the nineteenth century—specifically those in New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. Building Better Britains? begins by examining colonial relationships with Indigenous peoples and the processes of migration and settlement that formed part of the British Empire’s global expansion. It then moves on to discuss labour within settler economies as well as the domain of civil society—including family, domesticity, intimate relations, religion, and education. The book closes with an exploration of identity and culture in settler societies.”

From Huronia to Wendakes: Adversity, Migration, and Resilience, 1650–1900, edited by Thomas Peace and Kathryn Labelle (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, Sept. 2016).

huronia“From the first contact with Europeans to the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812, the Wendat peoples have been an intrinsic part of North American history. Although the story of these peoples—also known as Wyandot or Wyandotte—has been woven into the narratives of European-Native encounters, colonialism, and conquest, the Wendats’ later experiences remain largely missing from history. From Huronia to Wendakes seeks to fill this gap, countering the common impression that these peoples disappeared after 1650, when they were driven from their homeland Wendake Ehen, also known as Huronia, in modern-day southern Ontario. This collection of essays brings together lesser-known historical accounts of the Wendats from their mid-seventeenth-century dispersal through their establishment of new homelands, called Wendakes, in Quebec, Michigan, Ontario, Kansas, and Oklahoma. What emerges from these varied perspectives is a complex picture that encapsulates both the cultural resilience and the diversity of these peoples. Together, the essays reveal that while the Wendats, like all people, are ever-changing, their nations have developed adaptive strategies to maintain their predispersal culture in the face of such pressures as Christianity and colonial economies.”

Lines in the Ice: Exploring the Roof of the World, by Philip J. Hatfield (McGill-Queen’s University Press, Sept. 2016).

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 8.51.21 AM“The 2014 discovery of HMS Erebus – a ship lost during Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage – reignited popular, economic, and political interest in the Arctic’s exploration, history, anthropology, and historical geography. Lines in the Ice investigates the allure of the North through topographical views, maps, explorers’ diaries, and historic photographs. Following the course of major journeys to the Arctic, including those of Martin Frobisher, Henry Hudson, and John Franklin, Philip Hatfield assesses the impact of these incursions on the North’s numerous indigenous communities and reveals the role of exploration in making the modern world. Besides detailing the area’s vivid history, Lines in the Ice also focuses on beautiful works created over the last 500 years by people who live and travel in the Arctic. Lavishly illustrated with reproductions of items rarely seen outside of the British Library, this volume meditates on humans’ relationships with the Arctic at a time when climate change poses a catastrophic threat to the peoples and ecosystems of this enigmatic region. A timely work that traces the past’s influence on the present day, Lines in the Ice showcases the rich visual history of Arctic exploration, indigenous cultural works, and the longstanding ways in which the North has captivated the public.”

 

The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright, by Ann M. Little (New Haven: Yale University Press, Sept. 2016).

EstherWheelwright cover“Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696–1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, she became a Catholic and lived like any other young girl in the tribe. At age twelve, she was enrolled at a French-Canadian Ursuline convent, where she would spend the rest of her life, eventually becoming the order’s only foreign-born mother superior. Among these three major cultures of colonial North America, Wheelwright’s life was exceptional: border-crossing, multilingual, and multicultural. This meticulously researched book discovers her life through the communities of girls and women around her: the free and enslaved women who raised her in Wells, Maine; the Wabanaki women who cared for her, catechized her, and taught her to work as an Indian girl; the French-Canadian and Native girls who were her classmates in the Ursuline school; and the Ursuline nuns who led her to a religious life.”

 

Poseidon’s Curse: British Naval Impressment and Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution, by Christopher P. Magra (Cambridge University Press, Sept. 2016).

magra cover“Poseidon’s Curse interprets the American Revolution from the vantage point of the Atlantic Ocean. Christopher P. Magra traces how British naval impressment played a leading role in the rise of Great Britain’s seaborne empire, yet ultimately contributed significantly to its decline. Long reliant on appropriating free laborers to man the warships that defended British colonies and maritime commerce, the British severely jeopardized mariners’ earning potential and occupational mobility, which led to deep resentment toward the British Empire. Magra explains how anger about impressment translated into revolutionary ideology, with impressment eventually occupying a major role in the Declaration of Independence as one of the foremost grievances Americans had with the British government.”

 

October

Abenaki Daring: The Life and Writings of Noel Annance, 1792-1869, by Jean Barman (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, Oct. 2016).

Barman_v2.indd“An Abenaki born in St Francis, Quebec, Noel Annance (1792-1869), by virtue of two of his great-grandparents having been early white captives, attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Determined to apply his privileged education, he was caught between two ways of being, neither of which accepted him among their numbers. Despite outstanding service as an officer in the War of 1812, Annance was too Indigenous to be allowed to succeed in the far west fur trade, and too schooled in outsiders’ ways to be accepted by those in charge on returning home. Annance did not crumple, but all his life dared the promise of literacy on his own behalf and on that of Indigenous peoples more generally. His doing so is tracked through his writings to government officials and others, some of which are reproduced in the text. Annance’s life makes visible how the exclusionary policies towards indigenous peoples, generally considered to have originated with the Indian Act of 1876, were being put in place a half century earlier. On account of his literacy, Annance’s story can be told. Recounting a life marked equally by success and failure, and by perseverance, Abenaki Daring speaks to similar barriers that to this day impede many educated Indigenous persons from realizing their life goals. To dare is no less essential than it was for Noel Annance.”

 

Borderline Crime: Fugitive Criminals and the Challenge of the Border, 1819-1914, by Bradley Miller (University of Toronto Press, Oct. 2016).

51DjfvmILdL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“From 1819 to 1914, governments in northern North America struggled to deal with crime and criminals migrating across the Canadian-American border. Limited by the power of territorial sovereignty, officials were unable to simply retrieve fugitives and refugees from foreign territory. Borderline Crime examines how law reacted to the challenge of the border in British North America and post-Confederation Canada. For nearly a century, officials ranging from high court judges to local police officers embraced the ethos of transnational enforcement of criminal law. By focusing on common criminals, escaped slaves, and political refugees, Miller reveals a period of legal genesis where both formal and informal legal regimes were established across northern North America and around the world to extradite and abduct fugitives. Miller also reveals how the law remained confused, amorphous, and often ineffectual at confronting the threat of the border to the rule of law. This engrossing history will be of interest to legal, political, and intellectual historians alike.”

 

Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire, by Coll Thrush (Yale University Press, Oct. 2016).

thrush“An imaginative retelling of London’s history, framed through the experiences of Indigenous travelers who came to the city over the course of more than five centuries. London is famed both as the ancient center of a former empire and as a modern metropolis of bewildering complexity and diversity. In Indigenous London, historian Coll Thrush offers an imaginative vision of the city’s past crafted from an almost entirely new perspective: that of Indigenous children, women, and men who traveled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, beginning in the sixteenth century. They included captives and diplomats, missionaries and shamans, poets and performers. Some, like the Powhatan noblewoman Pocahontas, are familiar; others, like an Odawa boy held as a prisoner of war, have almost been lost to history. In drawing together their stories and their diverse experiences with a changing urban culture, Thrush also illustrates how London learned to be a global, imperial city and how Indigenous people were central to that process.”

 

Law, Debt and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax, by James Muir (University of Toronto Press, Oct. 2016).

9781487501037“In the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. People from all classes frequently used litigation and its use in private matters was higher than almost all places in the British Empire in the 18th century. In Law, Debt, and Merchant Power, James Muir offers an extensive analysis of the civil cases of the time as well as the reasons behind their frequency. Muir’s lively and detailed account of the individuals involved in litigation reveals a paradoxical society where debtors were also debt-collectors. Law, Debt, and Merchant Power demonstrates how important the law was for people in their business affairs and how they shaped it for their own ends.”

Religion, Gender, and Kinship in Colonial New France, by Lisa J. M. Poirier (Syracuse University Press, Oct. 2016).

religion“The individual and cultural upheavals of early colonial New France were experienced differently by French explorers and settlers, and by Native traditionalists and Catholic converts. However, European invaders and indigenous people alike learned to negotiate the complexities of cross-cultural encounters by reimagining the meaning of kinship. Part micro-history, part biography, Religion, Gender, and Kinship in Colonial New France explores the lives of Etienne Brulé, Joseph Chihoatenhwa, Thérèse Oionhaton, and Marie Rollet Hébert as they created new religious orientations in order to survive the challenges of early seventeenth-century New France. Poirier examines how each successfully adapted their religious and cultural identities to their surroundings, enabling them to develop crucial relationships and build communities. Through the lens of these men and women, both Native and French, Poirier illuminates the historical process and powerfully illustrates the religious creativity inherent in relationship-building.”

November

George Cartwright’s The Labrador Companion, edited by Marianne P. Stopp (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, Nov. 2016).

Print“New manuscripts directly related to Canada’s history rarely come to light. The Labrador Companion, written in 1810 by Captain George Cartwright (1739-1819), and discovered in 2013, is a fascinating and unusual find because of its level of detail, its setting in a hardly studied part of Britain’s fur-trade empire, and because it is a personal account rather than a trade outfit ledger or government document. This annotated edition transcribes The Labrador Companion in full. Cartwright documented the everyday work of Labrador’s particular kind of fur-trade life based on his experiences operating a series of merchant stations in southern Labrador between 1770 and 1786. Although his focus is firmly on instruction in the manifold ways of capturing animals, he also provides rare glimpses of Innu and Inuit life as well as of housekeeping and gardening. The Labrador Companion includes a lengthy description of Labrador’s fauna – of land, sea, and air – that counts among Canada’s earliest natural history writing based on first-hand observation. A revealing account of fur-trade-era technology, methods, and materials, conveyed through one man’s acquired knowledge and skills, The Labrador Companion gives a close-to-the-ground picture of the resource industries that were at the heart of British, and French, colonial presence in the Canadian northeast.”

 

Polaris: The Chief Scientist’s Recollections of the American North pole Expedition, 1871-73, Emil Bessels; edited and translated by William Barr (University of Calgary Press, Nov. 2016).

polaris“Emil Bessels was chief scientist and medical officer on George Francis Hall’s ill-fated American North Pole Expedition of 1871-73 on board the ship Polaris. Bessels’ book, translated from the German in its entirety for the first time, is one of only two first-hand accounts of the voyage, and it is the only first-hand account of the experiences of the group which stayed with the ship after it ran afoul of arctic ice, leaving some of its crew stranded on an ice floe. Bessels and the others spent a second winter on shore in Northwest Greenland, where the drifting, disabled ship ran aground. Hall died suspiciously during the first winter, and Bessels is widely suspected of having poisoned him. Bill Barr has uncovered new evidence of a possible motive. Polaris: The Chief Scientist’s Recollections of the American North pole Expedition, 1871-73 includes considerable detail which does not appear elsewhere.  It is the only account of the expedition which includes rich scientific information about anthropology, geology, flora and fauna. It provides much more information than other accounts on the Greenland settlements Polaris visited on her way north. Bessels’ is the only published first-hand account of the second wintering of part of the ship’s complement on shore at Polaris House, near Littleton Island, and of that party’s attempt at travelling south by boat until picked up by the Scottish whaler Ravenscraig. The same applies to the cruise aboard the whaler, Arctic, after Bessels and his companions transferred to that ship.”

 

A Temperate Empire: Making Climate Change in Early America, by Anya Zilberstein (Oxford University Press, Nov. 2016).

zilberstein cover“Most people assume that climate change is recent news. A Temperate Empire shows that we have been debating the science and politics of climate change for a long time, since before the age of industrialization. Focusing on attempts to transform New England and Nova Scotia’s environment in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this book explores the ways that early Americans studied and tried to remake local climates according to their plans for colonial settlement and economic development. For colonial officials, landowners, naturalists and other local elites, New England and Nova Scotia’s frigid, long winters and short, muggy summers were persistent sources of anxiety. They became intensely interested in understanding the natural history of the climate and, ultimately, in reducing their vulnerability to it. In the short term, European migrants from other northern countries would welcome the cold or, as one Loyalist from New Hampshire argued, the cold would moderate the supposedly fiery temperaments of Jamaicans deported to colonial Nova Scotia. Over the long term, however, the expansion of colonial farms was increasingly tempering the climate itself. A naturalist in Vermont agreed with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson when he insisted that every cultivated part of America was already “more temperate, uniform, and equal” than before colonization–a forecast of permanent, global warming they all wholeheartedly welcomed.”

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