Season’s Greetings

December 2022

We extend to all our Society members and friends our very best wishes for the holiday season.

As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, the year has been a busy one. In-person monthly meetings have resumed, now held at the Halifax Central Library with continued online viewing options. The Winter 2023 Lecture Series is being finalized and will offer a variety of new topics – more details coming very soon! Likewise, the ink is drying on Volume 25 of the Journal and copies will be mailed out by month’s end. Lastly, work continues on ‘The Way Forward,’ our renewal exercise, with the Working Group’s Report scheduled for release in January – to be followed by a consultation (in-person and via Zoom) with all interested members.

During the coming months we look forward to sharing the results of all these activities, and we trust you will continue to support the Society by renewing your membership or contributing to our mandate by participating with your interest and enthusiasm for Nova Scotia history. We extend to all of you our best wishes for 2023!

On behalf of the RNSHS Executive and Council,

Lois Yorke

Community Grants Return

October 17, 2022

The Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society is pleased to announce the return of its community funding opportunity in the form of two annual grants of $250 each. Applications are open to local Nova Scotia community heritage or history organizations/societies and individuals, including graduate and undergraduate students or independent scholars conducting research on any aspect of Nova Scotia history. The deadline is November 30, 2022. Please click here for detailed grant application guidelines.

Managing Editor Opportunity – Deadline Extended

Updated November 1, 2022

Deadline extended! The Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society invites applications or nominations (accompanied by a curriculum vitae and covering letter) for the volunteer position of Managing Editor. Documentation should be received by the Society’s Vice-President Publications no later than November 25, 2022. For more information please click here to read more details about the position

RNSHS Membership Consultation

October 7, 2022

The Council of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society plans to consult with membership on Saturday, 15 October, Akins Room at the Nova Scotia Archives, 6016 University Avenue, Halifax, NS from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon (Atlantic). The consultation will also be available via Zoom (click here to join). For more information about the upcoming meeting, see our Community Events section of the website. Members and interested observers are welcome. 

Dr. David Sutherland

September 28, 2022

The Royal Nova Scotia Society deeply regrets the passing of Dr. David Sutherland. Dr. Sutherland was an Atlantic Canadian historian who served as a member, president, and Fellow of the Society as well as contributing to the editorial board of the Society’s Journal. Dr. Sutherland’s published obituary is below and available online via the Chronicle Herald.   

It is with great sadness that we announce David’s death on July 10, 2022 at the family cottage in Upper Cape, N.B., with his wife and son holding his hands. David was born in Halifax on December 19, 1942, the only child of George and Georgie Sutherland. Having grown up in Shubenacadie and Truro, he went on to graduate from Mount Allison (BA), Dalhousie University (MA) and the University of Toronto (PhD in Canadian history). David joined the faculty at Dalhousie University’s Department of History in 1972 and spent his entire teaching and research career there. His teaching / research specialization was the history of Atlantic Canada, the city building process in 19th century Halifax, and patterns of race relations in 19th century Halifax, which resulted in a number of publications. He also supervised four doctoral and 15 M.A. dissertations, along with numerous honours theses. He was a member, president, and Fellow of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society [RNSHS], member of the editorial board of the Journal of the RNSHS and the Canadian Historical Review, Dalhousie Society for the History of Medicine, and the Tantramar Heritage Trust (New Brunswick). Manuscript reviewer for publications such as Acadiensis, Canadian Historical Review, and Journal of Canadian Studies. Former service and consultation with the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada; and the CBC. Member for Nova Scotia of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (2008-2013); member and Sunday School teacher of St Andrew’s United Church, Halifax. He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, Betty (Elizabeth Cragg); his much-loved son, Iain Alexander Cragg, Halifax; his wonderful cats, Abraham and Isaac (Abe ‘n Ike); and several cousins, nephews, and nieces. He was predeceased by his parents and a number of cousins. There will be no visitation. A celebration of life service will be held in St. Andrew’s United Church, 6036 Coburg Road (corner of Robie St), Halifax on September 30th at 2 p.m. Masks are recommended. In lieu of flowers, donations in David’s memory can be made to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, St. Andrew’s United Church Benevolent Fund, PEDVAC, or to a charity of your choice.

On the Occasion of the Death of HM Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society joins with other heritage organizations around the world in expressing sadness over the death today of The Queen. Most of us now living can remember no other sovereign presiding over our Commonwealth of Nations. For seventy years, both annually and on special occasions affecting her world and ours, she has spoken to us, sharing her thoughtfulness, her concern, her wisdom, and her deep sense of duty. Over time, many of us have come to understand that these were her own personal thoughts, not crafted by others, but drawn from long experience and close observation. She will have a lasting impact on our collective memory as a nation.

On behalf of the Society, I extend deep sympathy to her family.  

Lois K. Yorke
Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society
Halifax, Nova Scotia
8 September 2022

Passing of David Sutherland

The Society is saddened to hear the news of the passing of David Sutherland, former professor of history at Dalhousie University and long-time colleague as well as a past president and fellow of the RNSHS. We offer condolences to his family and friends as well as the historical community who knew and worked with Dr. Sutherland. An obituary and celebration of life is forthcoming.  

Fall 2022 Public Lectures Series to be announced soon

Thanks to all who participated in the Winter/Spring 2022 Public Lecture Series. Please take a moment to browse the Past Lectures page and view any presentations of interest that you may have missed. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be notified of new content or follow us on Facebook and Twitter @RNSHS. Our AGM wrapped up in May, you’re welcome to read all the Council reports here. Looking forward to another interesting and engaging series in the fall, stay tuned!   

RNSHS Welcomes New Fellows

Two new Fellows were elected to the Society at its Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2022, when John Cordes and Karen Smith were recognized for their long and capable service. Their citations read as follows: 

John Cordes 
Since retirement from the Department of Physics at Dalhousie and before, John Cordes has given freely of his advice, expertise and time to a number of organizations in the Halifax area.  The Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society is among the organizations that have benefited from his talents as has the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia.  From 2014 to 2019 John served as our Society’s treasurer while at the same time he carried our website through development and software updates and changes.  Although no longer in a named position with the Society John has continued to offer assistance and advice whenever asked. 

Karen Smith 
As a long-serving librarian at Dalhousie University, especially in the role of Special Collections Librarian, Karen Smith has had a deep and abiding engagement with Nova Scotia history.  In addition to subject specialties including Costume Studies, Film Studies, Music, and Theatre, her work on the acquisition and interpretation of key documentary collections such as the Webster Medical History Collection (see has greatly enhanced our ability to understand the history of the province, and especially of how to find meaning in the crucial evidence through which to do so.  

Karen has also given generously of her commitment and expertise to the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, especially through its Journal.  Since the Journal’s inauguration almost 25 years ago, she has continuously been an active and essential member of the editorial team.  But the quality of her service does not, of course, depend only on its length.  As Book Review Editor, she has reliably delivered reviews of the highest quality, based on her unerring ability to find the right reviewer and persuasively urge them to contribute!  She has also been an insightful and dedicated member of the editorial board, invariably bringing key perspectives to discussions of all aspects of the policies and operations of the Journal.  Karen’s retirement from the editorial team and the board in late 2021 means that she will be very much missed, but also gives an opportunity to reflect on, and recognize, the excellence of her contribution.  

This brings the Society’s total number of Fellows to twelve.         

Community Grants Awarded

We are pleased to announce that the first RNSHS Community Grants of $250 each have been awarded. The Admiral Digby Library & Historical Society received funds to support the conservation efforts of archival records related to the Digby Family of William Ganong. The Colchester Historical Society received funds to assist with the processing, description, and digitization of their archival photograph collection. Thanks to all who submitted applications and congratulations to the recipients!