Atlantic Canada Before Confederation. 3rd ed.


385 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 0-919107-44-3
DDC 971.502





Edited by P.A. Buckner, Gail G. Campbell, and David Frank
Reviewed by Olaf Uwe Janzen

Olaf Uwe Janzen is an associate professor of history at Memorial
University, reviews editor of The Northern Mariner, and editor of
Northern Seas.


Atlantic Canada Before Confederation is the third edition of a volume
consisting of articles previously published in the journal Acadiensis. A
few articles (such as those by Shannon Ryan on Newfoundland’s
transformation from fishery to colony between 1793 and 1815, and Judith
Fingard’s essay on poor relief in three Atlantic seaports during the
early 19th century) appeared in the first two editions; their repetition
is justified by their significance. Four articles are new to this
edition, while five from the previous one have been dropped.

According to the original preface (reprinted in this edition), the
articles chosen for inclusion were those “most likely to be of use in
undergraduate survey courses.” The 17 articles are therefore quite
broad and mirror changing methodologies and priorities within the study
of Atlantic Canadian history today. The decision to drop Upton’s essay
on Indian policy in late 18th-century Nova Scotia and to add
Patterson’s essay, “Indian–White Relations in Nova Scotia,
1749–1761,” not only replaces an older interpretation with a newer
one but also reflects a subtle shift in emphasis given to the study of
aboriginal history, from one that is Eurocentric to one that endeavors
to explain the past with some attention to aboriginal concerns.

Not every change is as successful. The dropping of Alexander and
Sager’s analysis of the mercantile fleet of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia,
signifies the loss of the only essay that focused explicitly on a
definitive characteristic of Atlantic Canada—its maritime commercial
dimension. In contrast, the inclusion of Donovan’s essay, “Slaves
and their Owners in Оle Royale, 1635–1762,” may strengthen our
awareness of the black experience in Atlantic Canadian history, but this
reviewer remains unconvinced that slavery was sufficiently significant
an element in that society to warrant including the essay here. My
overall impression, then, is that this is a collection that is not as
uniformly useful to a study of the region’s history as its editors may
have hoped.


“Atlantic Canada Before Confederation. 3rd ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,