Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Essays on Northeastern North America, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Essays on Northeastern North America, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Article excerpt

John G. Reid, with contributions by Emerson W. Baker, Essays on Northeastern North America, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 272pp. Cased. £45. ISBN 978-0-8020-9137-6. Paper. £21.50. ISBN 978-0-8020- 9416-2.

In 1970, when John Reid began studying what was then called American colonial history, historical scholarship on northeastern North America had changed little since the beginning of the twentieth century. The focus was on the expansion of the British and French colonies in northeastern North America and little attention was paid to aboriginal history. Thanks to scholars such as Reid, the way in which we look at the history of this region in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has been radically re-conceptualised. As Reid emphasises in this valuable collection of thoughtful and provocative essays, several of them previously unpublished, it is time to move away from the notion that the British settlements in New England and New York (and to a lesser degree the French settlements along the St Lawrence) transformed northeastern North America in the seventeenth century. In fact, the story of Massachusetts Bay was the exception, not the rule, and elsewhere in the region, northeastern North America remained overwhelmingly aboriginal territory until much later than historians have traditionally assumed.

Reid divides the book into four parts. The first two focus on colonial habitation and imperial exchange. Reid prefers to talk of the process of 'colonial habitation' rather than colonisation, in order to move away from the idea of the colony 'as an essentially institutional phenomenon, the creature of an imperial state' (p. 15). He insists on the need to focus on the complex nature of the 'imperial exchange' that might - or might not - result in the creation of permanent European settlements in North America. …

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