Unwritten Histories

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Tag: New France (page 1 of 3)

Canada Before Confederation: Early Exploration and Mapping. The Conference, Exhibit, and the Book

Exhibit opening image - Canada Before Confederation. Photo taken by author

Hi everyone! Stephanie here. I recently had the chance to attend the  Canada Before Confederation: An Exhibition of Maps conference.  The conference itself was held at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and we were surrounded by large model ships (and a giant squid) for all of our talks – I can’t think of a more perfect setting, considering most of the talks featured early modern European explorers and mariners.  Organized by Lauren Beck, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at Mount Allison and editor of Terrae Incognitae, and Chet Van Duzer of the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the conference itself was the culmination of an enormous effort that involved organizing pre-confederation map exhibits across Canada as part of Canada 150. These maps were included in a book written and edited by Lauren and Chet. The volume was published by Vernon Books and includes full-colour images of the maps, essays contextualizing them, and amazing bibliographies, all of which I can easily see using as a teaching tool in the future. Oh, and the best part – these books were handed out for free to conference attendees! Handing out free books with pretty pictures of old maps is definitely the best way to get my attention at a conference, it turns out. (If you’d like to check out the book for yourself you can find it here.)

Cover of Canada before Confederation

Cover of the book written and edited to accompany the exhibit, Canada Before Confederation: Maps at the Exhibition. Vernon Press, 2017.

The conference was absolutely wonderful. But since most of you couldn’t be there with me, I put together this blog post so that you too can experience some of the fantastic presentations I saw! I’d like to thank Lauren Beck for going out of her way to invite me to this conference, Carolyn Prodruchny for sending me her and Alan’s paper, and Sarah Beanlands, for sending me her entire powerpoint presentation when I requested some images to include in this summary. This just proved once again how amazingly supportive the historical community can be! Finally, I’d especially like to think Elizabeth Mancke, my supervisor, for sponsoring my attendance at this conference. Ok, without any further ado, let’s get to the history!

Note: Except where noted, the images of this blog post are published with the permission of their creators. Please do not reproduce.

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of November 12, 2017

Three young women sit in a snowbank in Gatineau Park. They are all smiling, and the woman on the far right has her eyes closed. All three are wearing colourful knitted sweaters with winter motifs.

Three young women wearing knitted sweaters seated on a bench in the snow. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton in the middle. Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park. 1965. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton / Library and Archives Canada, No. R12438

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

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Upcoming Publications in Canadian History – December 2017 & January 2018

Header image for Upcoming publication post - December 2017 and January 2018 containing six different book covers contained within the post.

Welcome back to our monthly series, “Upcoming Publications in Canadian History,” where I’ve compiled information on all the upcoming releases for the following month in the field of Canadian history from every Canadian academic press, all in one place. This includes releases in both English and French. To see the releases from last month, click here.

***Please note that the cover images and book blurbs are used with permission from the publishers.***

N.B. This list only includes new releases, not rereleases in different formats.


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of October 29, 2017

A man wearing 1960s clothing stands outside in a snow landscape. He is holding a small bird in each hand. He gazes down at them with a bemused expression.

Mike Eaton standing in the snow with a bird in each hand. Shilly Shally Lodge, Gatineau Park. November 1961. Rosemary Gilliat Eaton / Library and Archives Canada, No. R12438

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.


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The Halloween Special – Witchcraft in Canada

Depicts a milkmaid, startled by cow with pumpkins attached to its ears. Hallowe'en series no.980. Number 9804 appears on front, lower left

“What the boys did to the cow.” Postcard. Date unknown. Toronto Reference Library. Arts department. ARTS-PC-117. Public Domain.

Note from Andrea: When I found out that Stephanie is doing her dissertation on the history of witchcraft in early French Canada, I immediately started harassing asking her to do a special blog post about her work for Halloween. Because how super cool is that topic? And, kind person that she is, she has obliged. Enjoy!

I spent the first few years of my life in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia. After moving with my parents to Sydney, I channeled my teenage resentment into learning as much as I could about my real home at the library. This is where I first heard the story of the Cheticamp witches, in an old collection of Cape Breton ghost stories. Around the turn of the twentieth century, two warring camps in the village, the Acadians and the Jerseys, would take turns casting spells upon each other. The Jerseymen had their witch, and the Acadians had their “counter-witch.” When the Jerseys were displeased with someone in the community, they would respond with witchcraft, and the battle would begin. For example, if a fisherman didn’t come in with the expected haul, he might come home to find the family cow had stopped milking. He would call the “good” Acadian witch to solve the problem, and “unbewitch” the cow. There was one particularly amusing story of the Acadian witch getting particularly frustrated and enchanting a number of buckets to chase after the suspected Jersey witch.[1]

I had never heard of any of this growing up, and my grandmother didn’t think it was important. Having grown up in a fishing family, I think my focus on the past worried her a bit. She wanted me to be a woman of the future, with an education and the ability to depend only on myself and nobody else. We did, however, live next door to the run-down Anglican church, which by my time was an extremely spooky place, and my dad has told me stories about using his shotgun to scare off Satanists. But since Satanists are not witches, I’ll move on.

Fast forward several years, and I came across a casual mention of the 1684 witchcraft trial of Jean Campagnard in Beaubassin, Acadie. I nearly jumped out of my chair. If you can imagine me yelling “WHAT!” and spilling my coffee everywhere, that was essentially my reaction. I had no idea that Acadia had ever had a witchcraft trial. None. And a passing mention in a book that I can’t even remember the title of now was not going to be it for me – I needed to read that trial. It turns out that Jean Campagnard was Acadie’s only prosecuted witchcraft case. An expert dyke builder from Aunis, he was accused of causing the death of his employer by blowing a mysterious substance into his eyes. My favourite part of the case is during the confrontation, when one of the witnesses has his testimony read out loud

“The witness states that he saw the accused spread mysterious seeds into the marsh while reciting an incantation and the next fall he had a terrible crop,” and Campagnard replied, “He doesn’t need magic to be a terrible farmer.”

So of course, this led me down the academic rabbit hole, and now here we are.

When most people think about witchcraft in early colonial North America, they immediately think of Salem, Massachusetts. In fact, those trials are so ubiquitous that I don’t even need to explain what I am talking about. But witchcraft and witchcraft trials were also relatively common in another part of early colonial North America: French Canada. However, these two locations had very different experiences with witch trials. So in today’s blog post, I am going to talk about the history of witchcraft and witchcraft trials in colonial French Canada and share some of my favourite stories!


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of September 24, 2017

Two tourists - one man and one woman - stop on Québec's highway 6 near Cap Chat on the Gaspé Peninseula to buy home-made bread.

Chris Lund. Two tourists – one man and one woman – stop on Québec’s highway 6 near Cap Chat on the Gaspé Peninseula to buy home-made bread. July 1950. Library and Archives Canada. Copyright : Expired. 4292759

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Canadian History Roundup – Week of September 17, 2017


A First Nations woman in a flower dress stands outside in a field near the ocean. She is standing at a wooden table, in the process of hand-canning salmon.

Woman canning salmon outdoors. 1947. National Film Board of Canada. Phototheque / Library and Archives Canada / e010948781. Copyright expired. This photograph was probably taken during the production of the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary “Peoples of the Skeena,” which was filmed in 1947 and released in 1949. The caption of this record has not yet been revised through Project Naming.

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.


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Film Favourites: Recommended Films on Canadian History

Film posters for The War of 1812, Been There Won that; Forbidden Love; Action.

Let’s face it, our favourite classes are the ones with movies. If you’re around my age, you remember being excited by the sound of squeaky wheels and rattling, since it usually meant you were watching a movie in class. The same is still true in university, whether you are a student, a TA, or a professor. However, it can be hard to find good films to show in classrooms that are engaging for students, but also historically accurate. A couple of months ago, there was a fascinating discussion on Eryk Martin’s Facebook timeline about recommended films for teaching pre-Confederation Canadian history. So, inspired by that discussion, and with his permission, I have put together a list of recommended films for teaching Canadian history.

This list is broken down into two parts: my personal recommendations, and recommendations from fellow history professors. I would especially like to thank Stephanie Pettigrew, Donica Belisle, Carmen Nielson, Matthew Hayday, Ian Mosby, Adele Perry, Jenny Ellison, Janis Thiessen, Kesia Kvill, Sarah Dowling, and Liz Huntingford for their fantastic suggestions. Also, I have roughly organized the films and videos chronologically. In my recommendations, I have further divided the films and videos from each other, and included some additional ones I would like to show in class, but haven’t yet.

A couple of important notes or warnings: please make sure that when you are showing a feature film in a classroom that you have the appropriate license to do so. In other words, make sure the copy of the film you are screening has been approved for classroom or public screenings. If you are using the film through your institution’s library, you should be fine, but it’s always good to check. Second, as a recent discussion on Twitter initiated by Tina Adcock has shown, content/trigger warnings are important. I have listed the ones that I think are relevant below, but always use caution when screening films to avoid doing harm to your students.

Also, my husband wanted to name this blog post “Class-y” films, but my better sense vetoed. 😉


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of August 20, August 27, and September 3, 2017

Hostesses from different countries posing for a group photo at Expo 67

Hostesses from different countries posing for a group photo at Expo 67. Library and Archives Canada, e000990931. CC BY 2.0

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.


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Guest Post: New Canadian History Hall Review


exterior shot of the Canadian Museum of History

By sookie from Vancouver, Canada (CMC Ottawa Uploaded by Skeezix1000) CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

As many of you already know, on July 1st of this year, Prince Charles officially opened the new Canadian History Hall, at the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa. Taking over five years to plan and execute, the Hall is the largest exhibition on Canadian history ever produced and includes 1,500 artefacts in 4,000 square metres, covering 15,000 years of history. Of course, since I live in BC and airfare is obscenely expensive, I likely won’t have the chance to visit any time soon. But thankfully, I have some absolutely amazing friends! Today’s guest post features the lovely and talented Elizabeth Della Zazzera. Elizabeth and I met back in grad school at UVic, when we were both wee little baby historians. When I found out that she had visited the Hall on a recent trip to Ottawa, I asked her to write a review for Unwritten Histories, and, of course, she was gracious enough to agree (even though she’s in the process of moving)! Enjoy!


Elizabeth at the old Canada History Hall

Elizabeth at the old Canada History Hall!

Elizabeth Della Zazzera only discovered how Canadian she was when she moved to the United States in 2009. There, she received her PhD in Modern European History from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a scholar of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary France whose work emphasizes the intellectual history of material texts and urban environments. Her current project “Romanticism in Print: Periodicals and the Politics of Aesthetics in Restoration Paris,” examines the role played by the bataille romantique—the conflict between romanticism and classicism—in French political life in Paris between 1814 and 1830. She is excited to return to Canada this fall as the Margaret and Wallace McCain Postdoctoral Fellow at Mount Allison University


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