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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: New Brunswick Ancestors by Althea Douglas, MA, CG(C). The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
The Next Generation
The next generation was waiting in the wings, but like their predecessors, most had to first earn a living. They went into medicine, or business, became teachers, or professors, and some became journalists. The depression and World War Two limited the writing of local history, but as Canada’s centennial year, 1967, approached, there was a growing interest in local heritage.
Political & Social Histories
History professor (UNB) W. Stewart MacNutt’s New Brunswick A History: 1784-1867 (Toronto: Macmillan, 1963), and his The Atlantic Provinces: The Emergence of Colonial Society 1712-1857 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965, reprinted 1968, 1972), cover the political manoeuvres that led up to Confederation. Thirty years later Phillip A. Buckner and John G. Reid edited The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History and E.R. Forbes and D.A. Muise edited The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation (Acadiensis Press and University of Toronto Press, 1994 & 1993), two collections of essays by contemporary historians presenting current research. As well, Margaret R. Conrad and James K. Hiller’s Atlantic Canada: A Region in the Making (Oxford University Press, 2001) looks at social and cultural as well as political history of the entire region.
These academic histories are not local or family history. For these we look to other writers. As with earlier historians, much of their writing appeared first in local newspaper columns and in magazines such as the Busy East, Maritime Advocate then The Atlantic Advocate, or the New Brunswick Magazine. Slightly more scholarly are the papers in Collections of the New Brunswick Historical Society which came out irregularly. For a few years in the 1970s the Journal of the New Brunswick Museum published a variety of papers. If you are researching anyone connected with a local business, the Atlantic Advocate and its predecessors will probably have a story on the company or its founder.
Journalists As Historians
Journalists are a special category of writer, some of whom turn to local history in retirement. When you encounter one, be sure you know what newspaper he or she started with and its political bias. For example, in Moncton, The Transcript was Liberal, The Times, Conservative. By the time the papers were amalgamated in 1983, the mixed marriage did not matter, but to be balanced I note one of each persuasion from Westmorland County.
Douglas How (1919-2001) started work at the Moncton Daily Times, joined Canadian Press, became a war correspondent and after the war worked for CP in Ottawa, was an executive assistant to Hon. Robert Winters, the PC cabinet minister, then was employed by Time Magazine and later as Canadian editor of The Reader’s Digest. In his fifties he went to University, earning a B.A. and M.A. He wrote regimental histories, a biography of industrial magnate K.C. Irving, another of Nova Scotian millionaire, Isaac Killam, and One Village, One War, 1914-1945 (Hantsport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1995).
This last is an account of the people of Dorchester, New Brunswick and their participation in two wars and the depression between. There is a lot of family information, and family anecdotes, but alas, no index.
Among the most prolific retired journalists is John Edward “Ned” Belliveau (1919- ) who spent a decade with The Transcript of Moncton and fifteen years with the Toronto Star. He then moved into political public relations, and was a campaign strategist for L.B. Pearson, Louis Robichaud, and others highly placed in the Liberal party.
He is the local historian of Shediac and Moncton parishes in Westmorland County having written, among others, The Splendid Life of Albert Smith and the Women He Left Behind (Windsor, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press, 1976), Running Far In: The Story of Shediac, neither indexed, and The Monctonians: Citizens, Saints and Scoundrels, Volume 1 (1981), The Monctonians: Scamps, Scholars and Politicians, Volume 2 (1982), which are well indexed. As well, he has written innumerable magazine articles. His articles and books frequently overlap, so watch your source references.
Like most journalists, Mr. Belliveau is a great story-teller, and as the cover blurb of Vol. 2 of The Monctonians tells us, “He has developed a network of valuable and folk-memoried informants”. Folk-history is well worth recording, but we all know how errors creep into oral history. As well, he tends to use older secondary sources mixed with personal knowledge of people or events. Fine for current history but problematic when recording the past, especially when recent scholarly accounts based on the actual historic records exist. His political bias shows, not so much in what he writes as in what he glosses over, or misses completely, because he did not know about it.
A third journalist with less political baggage (The Times then Times Transcript), is Edward W. Larracey whose The First Hundred: A story of the first 100 years of Moncton’s Existence…, was based in part on C. Alexander Pincombe’s thesis “The History of Monckton Township (c.1700-1875)”, completed in 1969.
Typical of the collected newspaper articles you may come across is William C. Gaynor’s Memories of the Mirimichi, originally a series of thirteen articles in the Chatham World, recently collected and published by Miramichi Books.
So Many Writers
Today’s challenge is to find what new material has been published. Acadiensis which comes out twice a year, will keep you informed on the current academic research and revisions of the history of Atlantic Canada, and who is doing it. Generations, published by the NBGS since 1979, is where you find a lot of work by local family historians. The “Information Sheet” gives you the names of some of the genealogists indexing and transcribing records: John R. Elliott (Kings County), Ken Kanner (Westmorland and Albert Counties), Janice Seeley (Sunbury County), Patricia Nicholson (Grand Falls region), Daniel F. Johnson, B.B.A., CG(C) (Newspapers & Saint John); George H. Hayward, CG(C); Ruby Cussack (Saint John), or you might find a special family history that meshes with yours.
For earlier writing, look under place names in the Checklist and Supplements. Next, search library catalogues (some are online) for works by the writers you find in Acadiensis and Generations. Be warned that a lot of Maritimers are reluctant to send the Legal Deposit Copies to Ottawa so Library and Archives Canada may not have received a copy to catalogue, but university libraries or the Legislative Library in Fredericton will. As well, check library catalogues under “Subject” the subject being the place (town, county, whatever), or try periodical indexes, again under subject.
What’s to Come
The History of Queen’s County by E. Stone Wiggins (1876), which first appeared as a serial in The Watchman in 1876 and 1877, has been edited by Richard and Sandra Thorne for the Queens County Historical Society (1993). Much of it is an alphabetical listing of Queens County family genealogies, with as much of the founding members’ histories as was known to Wiggins.
The Thorns are thoroughly competent genealogists and I was excited to learn that the new work is now on a computerized database, and it is possible to accept corrections to Wiggin’s original with the thought towards publishing a more complete compilation of early Queens County families. Several sheets at the end of the book are provided for readers’ submissions.
That was 1993, I haven’t heard more, but it is an indication of what can be expected as scanners and database software become more sophisticated. When modern research can be added into the 19th century histories, so often based on what the oldest inhabitants remembered, we get the best of both worlds, but be sure you know what worlds are being amalgamated. Beware of fool’s gold.
Material Culture & History
Part of family history is the family treasures, handed down over several generation, that tend to acquire tales and stories about where they came from, how old they are, and who owned them. Much of this can be “myth information” which even looking at a publication date will explode. In They Planted Well, is a paper by M. A. MacDonald (with Robert Elliot), “New Brunswick’s ‘Early Comers’: Lifestyles Through Authenticated Artifacts, a Research Project”. This later became a book: Rebels & Royalists: the Lives and Material Culture of New Brunswick’s Early English-Speaking Settlers, 1758-1783, by M. A. MacDonald (Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1990), and is a fascinating examination of material possessions of various early settlers in New Brunswick. It naturally contains considerable family information as well as exposing the truth behind a number of family myths. A more extensive survey of early artifacts and buildings is by Robert Cunningham and John B. Prince, Tamped Clay and Saltmarsh Hay: Artifacts of New Brunswick, (Fredericton: University Press of New Brunswick, 1976).
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