New Book: Voyage of Discovery: Fifty Years of Marine Research at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography

Voyage-of-discoveryMembers and friends of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society may be interested in a new book that commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of marine research accomplishments of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO). Since 1962, BIO, based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has been Canada’s premier, multidisciplinary marine research facility. Over the past five decades, researchers at BIO have made significant contributions to global understanding of the oceans.

Voyage of Discovery: Fifty Years of Marine Research at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography summarizes research on the oceanography of the Arctic and Eastern Canada in a series of 48 papers by past and present research staff from all oceanographic disciplines. Members of the Society may be particularly interested in the chapter by Dalhousie Historian of Science, Dr. Eric Mills, entitled “Canadian Marine Science from before Titanic to the Establishment of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in 1962.” Two other chapters trace the historical roots of BIO.

Voyage of Discovery was prepared with a broad readership in mind and was launched at BIO on 20 November 2014. Further details about this new book, published by the BIO-Oceans Association, are found in the attached Table of Contents and Announcement / Order Form. Note: See the NSIS website for the files mentioned.

Old Sydney Society Lecture – 27 March 2014

To “The Ice”: Cape Breton and Mainland Nova Scotia’s Participation in the Seal Hunt 1825-1845″

Sandy Balcom will speak at the next meeting of the Old Sydney Society on 27 March 2014, 7:30 PM at the Centre for Heritage and Science, 225 George St., Sydney.

During the mid-1820s, Nova Scotia’s maritime entrepreneurs looked with envy at the tremendous growth in Newfoundland’s seal hunt, which concentrated on the taking of immature harp seals on the ice-fields in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and more significantly to the north of Newfoundland. Occurring at a time of year when vessels and crews were typically under-employed, the seal hunt appeared  a natural complement to the province’s existing maritime trades and fisheries. On Cape Breton, a modest seal hunt already existed, which focused on the taking of young and adult seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as soon as ice conditions permitted. Entrepreneurs successfully lobbied for a bounty to encourage sealing, which began in 1833 and continued annually, with one exception, until 1844. In spite of this encouragement, the industry faced inconsistent returns, difficulties in obtaining competent crews and threats from ice and weather to vessels and crews.  Although some growth was achieved, the bounty did not achieve its overall objective of fostering a sealing industry and was eliminated after 1844. Cape Breton participation in the seal hunt continued but this effort at diversifying the province’s traditional maritime economy failed to meet its expectations.

This talk will be streamed live on the internet at:

World Premiere of “Never A Syllable” – 25-29 March

NeverASyllable “Never A Syllable” provides an original and provocative interpretation of what happened in Halifax and Nova Scotia during the War of 1812.  Written by Paul Robinson with Pamela Halstead and presented by Onelight Theatre in association with Alderney Landing,


November 13, 1813 ~

As war rages in the Canadas, a hurricane devastates much of Britain’s Halifax-based North Atlantic fleet. Amid the devastation, an order is received from the Governor General: 220 sailors, recent recruits from the London streets, are to be sent 1,500 km overland from Halifax to Kingston in the dead of winter—a route that few settlers have crossed, where the assistance of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet is crucial to survival.

The Admiral is also facing challenges closer to home—the growing unhappiness of his daughter in this garrison town and increasing demands from restless local leaders who are determined to turn Halifax into the jewel of the North.


Starring Gordon White, John Dartt, Brian Heighton, Andrea Lee Norwood and Michael McPhee. See for details and ticket information.

Symposium on Public Archaeology – March 20-21, 2014


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You are invited to join us for “SHARING THE PAST: A SYMPOSIUM ON PUBLIC ARCHAEOLOGY”,  to exchange information and perspectives on Public Archaeology on March 20 – 21, 2014 at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS.


  • Opening remarks by Dr. Catherine Cottreau-Robins, Provincial Archaeologist of Nova Scotia
  • Keynote Speaker: Tim Schadla-Hall, University College London and Editor of Public Archaeology
  • Session Speakers: Charles Burke, Senior Archaeologist, Parks Canada; Dr Helen Kristmanson, Director of Aboriginal Affairs and Archaeology, Government of PEI; Sara Beanlands, Boreas Heritage Consulting Inc.; Dr. Karolyn Smardz-Frost, Senior Research Fellow for African Canadian History at the Harriet Tubman Institute, York University and Harrison McCain Visiting Professor, Acadian University; Rebecca Dunham, Senior Archaeologist, Fortress of Louisbourg, Parks Canada; and, Dr. Jonathan Fowler, Saint Mary’s University.

The symposium is free, including reception, lunch and coffee breaks, and open to all those who are interested but registration is required. To register, or for more information, please email ASAP.

Norse/Native Contact in Arctic Canada – 18 March, 2014

norse_native contact

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Norse/Native Contact in Arctic Canada

11:30am, 18 March 2014, Life Sciences Centre, Room 242, Dalhousie University

Presented by Dr. Patricia Sutherland
Research Fellow, University of Aberdeen; Adjunct Professor, Carleton University and Memorial University of Newfoundland

Abstract: Recently identified archaeological finds from Canada’s eastern Arctic suggest the existence of a little known chapter in North American history. Artefacts resembling those used by Europeans of the Viking and Medieval periods have been recognized in several archaeological collections from Baffin Island and the adjacent regions of northern Labrador. These collections are from site locations occupied by the Dorset culture Palaeo-Eskimos, a distinct population that inhabited Arctic Canada before the arrival of ancestral Inuit from their Alaskan homeland. Investigations undertaken as part of the Helluland Archaeological Project have also yielded other lines of evidence which suggest that the Norse, who had founded colonies in southwest Greenland, may have had a significant presence in Arctic Canada. Interactions with the Dorset culture people during the centuries around 1000 A.D. appear to have been more frequent, more widespread and more complex than has previously been believed. Relations between the Norse and the early Inuit were likely more sporadic and opportunistic.

Dr. Sutherland has been involved in archaeological research in the Canadian Arctic since 1975 and has collaborated on a number of projects in Greenland. Until recently she held the position of Curator of Arctic Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia – Public Lecture, 20 March, 2014

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Click to download event poster

Allan Marble presents:

“Destined for Demolition: Hospital Buildings constructed in Nova Scotia, 1867-1950”

Thursday, March 20th, 7:30pm
Museum of Natural History
1747 Summer Street, Halifax

During the last six years Allan Marble has been researching the history of hospitals in Nova Scotia, a topic which has been completely overlooked by other historians. Considering that a large number of Nova Scotians have been born in and have died in hospitals, one would have expected there would be some interest in how hospitals were established and who was responsible for their establishment. Allan will answer these questions in his presentation and show photographs of several of the hospitals, many of which were the among the most elegant buildings in the towns of Nova Scotia.

For more information, please visit the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia’s Website.

Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia – Public Lecture, February 20, 2014

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Click to download event poster

Judith Fingard presents:

Licensed Drinking Establishments in Temperence-Era Halifax

7:30 pm, Museum of Natural History, Auditorium
1747 Summer Street, Halifax

This talk focuses on the decline of the retail liquor trade as a private enterprise in the city of Halifax between the 1880s and the imposition of prohibition during World War I.

It consists of an examination of regulations promoted by the temperance lobby to undermine the “liquor traffic” and provides a profile of the licensed liquor retailers.

Illustrations include photographs of buildings in which drink was sold and advertisements that vendors inserted in the city directories.

For more information, please visit the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia’s Website.

Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia – Public Lecture, January 16, 2014


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Bruce MacNab Presents:
In Harry Houdini’s Footsteps: A look back at twenty Nova Scotia structures visited by the Handcuff King

7:30 pm, Museum of Natural History, Auditorium
1747 Summer Street, Halifax

Bruce MacNab’s illustrated lecture will retrace the steps of Harry Houdini through Nova Scotia and the buildings where the young magician first showcased his extraordinary talents that transformed him from a small-time conjurer to the world’s most celebrated escape artist. Houdini’s 1896 Maritime tour venues included prisons, police stations, insane asylums, hotels, stores, theatres and factories.

Bio:  Bruce is the author of The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini, published in 2012 and the award winner of the APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book. He was the organizer of the sold-out séance at The Halifax Citadel last Halloween.

Bruce grew up in Dartmouth and attended the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology. He has taught Apprenticeship and Communications at the Nova Scotia Community College. A Red Seal journeyman carpenter, he has worked on Martha’s Vineyard, Bermuda, and across Canada. Bruce is restoring his 19th century farmhouse in Williamsdale, Cumberland County and serves on the Advisory Council on Heritage Property.

For more information, please visit the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia’s Website.

Old Sydney Society Lecture – 28 November 2013


“I Often Wonder What Become of Her”: Beryl Markham’s Atlantic Crossing, September 5,1936. Abingdon, England to Baleine, Nova Scotia.

Charles Burke will Speak at the Next Meeting of the Old Sydney Society on 28 November 2013, 7:30 PM at the Centre for Heritage and Science (the Lyceum) in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

At 6:50 pm on Friday, September 4th 1936, the aviatrix Beryl Markham departed Abingdon Aerodrome in England in her small monoplane named “The Messenger”. Beryl was bound for Floyd Bennet Field in New York and a place in the aviation record books as the first woman to fly the dangerous westward route from England to North America solo. Shortly after noon on September 5th, the residents of Baleine heard the small plane coming from the east and watched as the Messenger circled the cove and descended into the bog beyond their homes. Beryl Markham had successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 21 hours and 25 minutes. Over the next few days, sightseers, journalists, mounted police officers, and eventually a salvage crew gathered in the village of Baleine to see the plane and watch its removal. The story of Beryl Markham’s Atlantic adventure is well known through contemporary newspaper coverage and from her own account many years after the event. Naturally some aspects of the story were modified by her publicists and generally the events as seen by the residents of Baleine are rarely known. This presentation will focus on Markham’s flight and on some of the lesser known people and facts  associated with her important 1936 landing in Cape Breton.


This talk will be steamed live at

Saving the Women’s & Infants’ Home at Saint Mary’s University – 13 November, 2013

womens council house

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A Roundtable Discussion, chaired by Olga Milosevich

Wednesday, November 13, 2013, noon to 1pm 

Women’s Council House, 989 Young Ave., Halifax (at the corner of Young and Inglis)

Please join us for a discussion about the history, architecture, and the past and possible future uses of this building from a panel of experts, sponsored by the Heritage Trust and other community partners. The panel will discuss the following questions:

-Should the Home , built by women helping women and their children, be saved?

-What does this building, designed by a leading Victorian architect in 1899, represent for heritage and history in the Maritimes?

-How could this icon of women’s history contribute to positive change for women at Saint Mary’s and beyond?

(A light lunch will be served courtesy of Gorsebrook Research Institute)