HISTORICAL SOCIETY NOTES FROM 1878 TO 1894 (May 6/05)

In the Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, for the years 1878-1894, the editors note that before 1829, at least four attempts were made to write a history of the province. “Some were completed, all of them were in an advanced state of preparation, but none of them got through the press,” the editors note when naming three of the historians whose works never reached the public.

This must mean that somewhere in the archives of the province are at least four unpublished histories of Nova Scotia up to circa 1829, the year Haliburton’s history was released. On occasion, however, the Historical Society has printed excerpts from the four unpublished histories. In the 1879-1880 edition of their collections, for example, they published an appraisal of Nova Scotia and the Acadians that was written a few decades after the expulsion. This was taken from one of the unpublished histories which was authored by Dr. Andrew Brown around 1791. Students of Acadian history will find this interesting since it was written close to the expulsion period.

The 1887 edition of the Society’s collections has an “account of Nova Scotia in 1743,” which is said to have been an important document in settling boundary disputes with the French. For us non-historians, however, the interesting aspect of the account is the early descriptions of the province. We read, for example, that in 1743 the “Principal Town in this Province is Annapolis, but there are two others of lesser note, Minas and Sheganeckto.” I assume “Sheganeckto” is Chignecto. “Minas” must be referring to this area, the Acadian settlements in Grand Pre, and along the Canard, Cornwallis and Gaspereau River – and possibly also included the western part of Hants County.

My assumption is partially correct. The 1879-1880 [edition] goes into detail on the Acadian settlement of Minas, explaining that it is the “greatest district and that which comprehends the most families.” In 1748, the account reads, this area was reported to have “upwards of 200 families, of which 180 lived at Minas, 30 on the Gaspero, and about 16 in two small villages on the River Habitants.”

Volume three of the Historical Society collections, for the years 1883-1884, contain excerpts from the journal of Col. John Winslow. From this diary, we find a clue to what became of the livestock of the Acadians during the expulsion. All livestock immediately became the property of the British Crown as spelled out in the “Order of the Day” dated August 11, 1755: “All Officers and Soldiers, all Sutlers, Followers and Retainers to the Camp are hereby desired to take notice that all Horses, Oxen, Cows, Sheep and all Cattle whatsoever which were the property of the French Inhabitants are Become Forfeited to (his) Majesty.”

For those interested in the Acadians, here’s a quote from the 1743 paper from the 1887 collections that has a bearing on the expulsion. “It was provided by the Treaty of Utrecht that the French Inhabitants of Nova Scotia should have a year allowed them to remove from thence with their effects, and such as remained beyond that time, which is long since elapsed, were by the Treaty to become subjects of her said late Majesty.”

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