A Park in the City: Debating the Public Gardens

Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and online via Zoom 


Peter L. Twohig: Saint Mary’s University 

Abstract: Based on his recently published illustrated history, this lecture will offer an overview of the history of the Public Gardens, from its origins in the 1830s to the present. The Public Gardens is one of the finest examples of a Victorian garden in North America but despite its timeless qualities, there have been many debates about its design, how it is used, and the neighbourhoods that surround it. This lecture will pay particular attention to these debates. 

Click here for a bio of Peter L. Twohig

Recording via YouTube coming soon!

“The Students are getting very restless”: Student Power at the Provincial Normal School, 1869 – 1879

Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and via Zoom. 

John Grant: Professor (retired), St. Francis Xavier University

Abstract: In 1869, Alexander Forrester, the founding principal of the Provincial Normal School, Truro, NS, died in office. The provincial government replaced him with a colleague who had taught at the school since 1855. Within two months, however, he was removed from office and another was appointed. In 1879, two professors at the school were replaced. In both cases it was student voice and student action that precipitated change. This paper examines the two cases and considers the interwoven roles of politics in the confederation era and the politics of education and religion in the satisfaction of student demands.

Click here for a bio of John Grant

Recording via YouTube coming soon!

Early White Audience Reactions to Blackface Performances on Halifax stages (1830s-1860s)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (BMO Room) and via Zoom

Nicole Neatby: Professor, History Department, Saint Mary’s University

Abstract: Reviews in Halifax  newspapers  reveal that blackface performances  provoked mixed reactions between the late 1830s when they first appeared and the 1860s. While these shows were clearly popular from the outset among many Haligonians, those who published reviews were highly critical in the early decades.  However, it didn’t take long for reviewers’ assessments to evolve.  By the 1860s, the derision had subsided and  blackface shows gained favour as a form of  acceptable mainstream entertainment. This lecture will explore the reasons behind this shift and to what extent these reactions can offer some insights into  white Haligonians’ attitudes towards race and class.

Click here for a bio of Nicole Neatby

Maligomish: Roman Catholicism and the Persistence of Mi’kmaw Culture

Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and via Zoom   

Colin Osmond, Post-doctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University

Abstract: Every year on July 26th, Mi’kmaq travel to Maligomish to attend Saint Anne’s Day – a Roman Catholic tradition honouring the Mi’kmaq’s patron saint. But the Mission is much more than a Catholic Holy day. For centuries, Mi’kmaq have gathered at Maligomish for a series of important political meetings and cultural events. The continuity of Mi’kmaq traditions highlights Mi’kmaw agency and cultural persistence – despite enormous colonial pressure to ‘assimilate’ in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Click here for a bio of Colin Osmond

Activating the Archive: Margaret Perry’s Nova Scotia Promotional Films (1945-1969)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room, 2nd floor) and via Zoom  

Phyllis R. Blakeley Memorial Lecture 

Jennifer VanderBurgh, Department of English Language and Literature, Saint Mary’s University

Abstract: This talk is part of a week of screenings, exhibitions, and special events to mark the new, digital release of over 50 films made between 1945-1969 by Nova Scotia government filmmaker, Margaret Perry. These promotional films are complex artefacts that articulate and reflect understandings of government policies, cultural discourses, as well as Perry’s own perspectives and artistic voice. Jennifer VanderBurgh has been working to activate this collection housed at Nova Scotia Archives. Her research reframes and animates these “government films” and encourages us to expand our understandings of their significance. This lecture will introduce the collection, the process of activating it, as well the discovery of new materials that bring more information to light about Perry’s artistic development and filmmaking practice. It will also consider some of the ethical complexities and considerations that are at stake in reviving this collection today.

Click here for a bio of Jennifer VanderBurgh

Not just Evangeline: A Look at Real Acadian Women

Wed., May 18, 2022, 7 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom

For Members, the AGM package will be available here

Susan Surette-Draper, Les Amis de Grand-Pré

Abstract: Some Acadian men’s names like Joseph Beausoleil, René LeBlanc and Pierre Melanson are familiar to many people but have you ever asked yourselves about the women in their lives? How did women’s support, determination and leadership help to build and preserve Acadian identity? A few rare comments can
be found in history books but the information is sparse and scattered. Join Susan for her look at Acadian society from a female lens.

Click here for a bio of Susan Surette-Draper

The Submarine Mining Establishment on Georges Island, 1873‐1906

Wed., April 20, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom

Sara Beanlands, Boreas Heritage Consulting Inc.

Abstract: Georges Island is a cultural landscape that reflects centuries of change in military strategy and defense technology. During the late 19th century, a highly secretive technology for manufacturing and deploying mines emerged, and the Island became the site of a Submarine Mining Establishment. In 2020, as Parks Canada prepared to open the island for public visitation, archaeologists uncovered a portion of the historic SME infrastructure. This talk will explore the history and archaeology of the Submarine Mining Establishment on Georges Island.

Click here for a bio of Sara Beanlands

Nostalgia, Longing, and the Embedded Self: Overshot Weaving and Stories of Place in Cape Breton

Wed., March 16, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom 

Dr. Hilary Doda, Dalhousie University 

Abstract: ‘Overshot’ is a textile form that has been produced in Cape Breton from the early days of Scottish migration. Despite the loss of the skill elsewhere, overshot’s popularity persisted in Cape Breton through the mid-20th century as part of a larger theme of nostalgic identity formation. The patterns carry narratives of longing that developed new importance in a time already fraught with antimodernist sentiment, as signifiers in turn of respectability, hospitality, and lineage.

Click here for a bio of Hilary Doda

J.B. McLachlan, Labour Hero or Opportunist?

Wed., February 16, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom  

Carole MacDonald

Abstract: Carole MacDonald, daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Glace Bay coal miners, has questions about the legacy of the man labour historians claim, “fought for the miners” in the early twentieth century. These questions include: why, while practicing capitalism, McLachlan preached communism; why some of his decisions, considered heroic by many, arguably demonstrated a careless disregard for human life; and how this orator’s speeches, articles, and demands for illegal strikes failed to help women feed and protect their children.

Click here for a bio of Carole MacDonald

Cow Bay’s Ocean Playground: The Shifting ‘sandscape’ of Silver Sands Beach, 1860s to Present

Wed., January 19, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom 

Magen Hudak

Abstract: Beginning in the mid-1800s, Silver Sands Beach enjoyed local and non-local fame as a summer destination. However, in the mid-20th century, it succumbed to the adverse effects of commercial sand and gravel mining. This lecture will examine the competition between 19th and 20th century notions of recreation and leisure, versus the environmental pressures of the resource extraction industry. It will also examine the present significance of Silver Sands, as both a coveted coastal access point and as a heritage landmark.

Click here for a bio of Magen Hudak