Crossing Borders, Changing Worlds: Eighteenth-Century Nova Scotia's Atlantic Connections

By Lennox, Jeffers | Journal of Canadian Studies, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Crossing Borders, Changing Worlds: Eighteenth-Century Nova Scotia's Atlantic Connections


Lennox, Jeffers, Journal of Canadian Studies


Jeffers Lennox

From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People 1604-1755. By N.E.S. Griffiths. Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration, Université de Moncton. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005. 633 pp. $49.95 (cloth). ISBN 978-0-773-52699-0.

A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadlans from their American Homeland. By John Mack Faragher. New York: WW. Norton, 2005. 562 pp. $42.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-393-05135-8. $25.00 (paper). ISBN 0-393-32827-9.

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution. By Simon Schama. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2005. 478 pp. $36.00 (cloth). ISBN 978-0-670-04470-2.

The Fault Lines of Empire: Political Differentiation in Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, ca. 1760-1830. By Elizabeth Mancke. New York: Routledge, 2005. 214 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-95000-8. $32.95 (paper). ISBN 978-0-415-95001-5. $95.00 (cloth).

At the dawn of the eighteenth centary, "Nova Scotia" was little more than a name on a map. On the ground, the colony was l'Acadie to the French, or Mi'kma'ki to the region's most powerful inhabitants, the Mi'kmaq and Wolastoqiyik. By the end of the centary, the British had secured Nova Scotia by expelling most of the region's French inhabitants, welcoming thousands of loyal subjects who fled the rebelling American colonies, and overpowering the local Mi'kmaq. This shift occurred during a truly Atlantic period in Nova Scotia's history. CisAtlantic history, described by David Armitage as "the history of any specific place ... in relation to the wider Atlantic word," including "the local effects of oceanic movements," provides an excellent framework for investigating this era (2002, 22-23). Nova Scotia/l'Acadie, a place whose changes were so great and whose history is so intertwined with the complex shifts of America, France, Britain, and Mi'kma'ki, offers rich ground for the Atlantic world historian.

Recent works are questioning the sustainability of the Atlantic world framework. Historians attracted to global perspectives are calling for a more encompassing approach to historical investigation: Linda Colley has argued that "the future of the Atiantic past must now be in some doubt," anticipating Atlantic history's incorporation into world history (2006,45); Alison Games recently suggested that "though historians may limit themselves to a single oceanic basin, inhabitants of the early modern world did not" (2006, 692; see also Wigen et al. 2006); John Reid takes issue with Atlantic history's exclusion of Aboriginals (2005); and finally, an upcoming symposium entitled "British Asia and the British Atlantic, 1500-1820: Two Worlds or One?" will no doubt raise concerns about the framework's limitations. The four monographs reviewed here suggest, however, that there is still much to be learned about the Atlantic world. As demonstrated by N.E.S. Griffiths, John Mack Faragher, Simon Schama, and Elizabeth Mancke, Nova Scotia m the eighteenth centary was influenced by distinctly Atlantic connections that demand historical attention.

In her sweeping and meticulously researched narrative of the pre-Expulsion Acadian experience, N.E.S. Griffiths explores the social, religious, and political world of one of North America's first European settler populations. From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-17SS draws from a distinguished career of bilingual research and writing to provide what should become the definitive history of Acadia. Griffiths argues that the Acadian expulsion resulted not from their Catholicism or their possession of the best lands in Nova Scotia, but because they failed to swear an unconditional oath of allegiance to the British Crown and raise arms in its defence (2005, 387). Griffiths argues that the Acadian expulsion was different from other forced removals m the Atlantic Worldincluding the English from Newfoundland in 1697, the French from St. …

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