When he was introduced as guest speaker at the Kings Historical Society earlier this summer, mentioned was made that Rev. James Doyle Davison had recently passed his driving test.
Davison rated this a “very satisfying achievement,” accomplished as it was at age 91, and it is typically modest of him. As a historical writer, Davison has far greater accomplishments but he made no mention of them in the bio he prepared for his introduction.
At last count, Davison has written and had published at least six books dealing with local history. Davison was editor of that superb Wolfville history, Mud Creek, which must rate as one of most detailed small town histories in the Annapolis Valley. In addition, he has researched and written, or is in the process of writing and researching at least 10 more historical or semi-historical books. Most of these books will be privately printed and circulated only to family and acquaintances. Among these latter books are a biography, a Davison genealogy going back nearly four centuries and an autobiography.
Over the years Rev. Davison has been perhaps the most prolific historical writer in the Valley. Besides editing the Wolfville history, Rev. Davison’s published history books include What Mean These Stones?, an account and inventory of the old Horton-Wolfville burial ground which lies along Wolfville’s Main Street and is over 200 years old. Davison also penned a book on the life of Alice Shaw Chipman and the start of formal schooling for women in the Valley (Alice of Grand Pre) and an account of five Planters, A Planter Davison Fivesome.
Another of Davison’s historical works includes an account of the life of Kings County Planter Handley Chipman, 1717-1799 and a detailed account of the life of Eliza Ann Chipman (Eliza of Pleasant Valley). His other historical works include another Chipman biography, William of Pleasant Valley, histories of three Baptist churches -Margaree, Springhill, Berwick – and an account of the life of his parents.
In his recent talk at the Kings Historical Society, Rev. Davison discussed a number of works that are now on his plate. Davison is currently doing research for a work on the Scottish Border and an ancestor that hailed from this region. Davison is also planning a work on Canadian literary theorist Northrup Frye, 1912-91 and a study on irregularities of the English language.
Two years ago Rev. Davison wrote what he calls his Magnum Opus, an account of three 18th century female writers, Eliza Haywood, Aphra Behn and Delariviere Manley. Last year Davison completed a 114 page account of his life and an account of his experiences in touring East End London.
I believe I’ve missed at least half a dozen other books that Rev. Davison has written. In his Historical Society address Rev. Davison made passing reference to a biography on Frank Cleveland Davison, 1875-1917 and works with the titles Your Father Knows and Sense and Nonsense, the latter an account of a stay in hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Despite approaching the century mark, Rev. Davison shows no sign of slowing down – actually, he appears to be young and mentally sharper than some 60-year-olds of my acquaintance – and I believe we’ll see more historical works from his pen.