Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Loyalist Rebellion in New Brunswick: A Defining Conflict for Canada's Political Culture

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Loyalist Rebellion in New Brunswick: A Defining Conflict for Canada's Political Culture

Article excerpt

David Bell, Loyalist Rebellion in New Brunswick: A Defining Conflict for Canada's Political Culture (Halifax, NS: Formac, 2013), 184 pp. Paper. $22.95. ISBN 978-1-4595-0277-2.

This book is basically a condensed version of David Bell's Early Loyalist Saint John, published in 1983, written in the hope of reaching a 'wider audience' (p. 6). Bell has kept abreast of more recent scholarship and the first few chapters do contain a useful summary of the exodus of Loyalists from New York City and their resettlement in what would become New Brunswick. Bell convincingly argues that Britain 'stumbled into' the policy of resettling the Loyalists. Indeed, when Britain made the offer to transport the New York refugees to Nova Scotia, it had no idea of the scale of that commitment since it was not clear that 'Patriot persecutions would make escape necessary' for so many (pp. 29-30). As Bell points out, the logistics of resettlement were badly handled, so badly that many gave up life in New Brunswick and returned to the United States. Indeed, this return migration is, as Bell asserts, the least-studied aspect of the Loyalist diaspora and one wishes he had given it more attention here. I also found a bit oversimplified Bell's conclusion that most of the refugees in New York City would have remained if they could have done so and that they were driven into exile 'not so much by political principle as by accident of geography and war. They leftbecause they could not stay.' But many could not stay because they had chosen for ideological reasons to become 'active' Loyalists rather than remain quiescent 'loyal-leaning colonists' (p. …

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