The Useable Past: History and Collective Identity in Nova Scotia, 1835-1920

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Haisell, Nicolas
Nova Scotia , Local History , Firsting and Lasting , Settler Colonial Studies , Loyalism , Liberalism , T.B. Akins , Beamish Murdoch , Joseph Howe , T.C. Haliburton , Nova Scotia Historical Society
This dissertation examines the writing of history in Nova Scotia between 1835 and 1920, beginning with the promotional loyalist works of Thomas Chandler Haliburton and ending in the early twentieth-century when tourism history emerged and marked an abrupt break from how historians had represented the province’s past over the previous several decades. Across more than three quarters of a century, the production of local and provincial histories enabled local elites to craft stories about the emergence of modernity in Atlantic Canada that, in turn, underpinned explicit arguments about who counted and who did not as modern Nova Scotians. The connection between historiographical evolution and colonial identity creation was so close that one could argue that in reconstructing their past, elite Anglo-Nova Scotians narrated both the past they wanted and the future they dreamed.
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