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Print Culture in the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, & Prince Edward Island): An Overview



General History
1. Aboriginal /Missionary Texts
2. Demography, Urbanization, Schooling, Literacy
  a. School Text Books
  b. Acadian Sources
3. The Production of the Printed Word
  a. Printers and Print Shops
  b. Paper
  c. Technologies of Printing
  d. Bookbinding and Design
  e. Types, Genres (Music, Children’s Literature, Almanacs, Religious)
   i. Music
   ii. Children’s Literature
   iii. Maps
   iv. Newspapers / Periodicals /Journalists
   v. Almanacs and Directories
   vi. Religious Publishing
4. Publishing
5. Distribution of the Printed Word
6. Reception of the Printed Word: Libraries and Readers
7. Research Tools
8. Research to be Undertaken


It is perhaps fitting that one of the most disarming Canadian quotations about “the book” should emanate from the lips of that inimitable Nova Scotian figure “Sam Slick,” who, in 1853, observed: “Some books are read in the parlour and some in the kitchen, but the test of a real book is that it is read in both.” (Haliburton, 1853; cited in Elliott, 1972). Like his contemporary, Joseph Howe, Thomas Chandler Haliburton was a native-born Nova Scotian writer who was able to build on a long-established tradition of regional printing, periodical publishing, book production, and bookselling in the Maritimes by the time that his first Sam Slick stories began to appear in 1835.

From the beginning of European settlement, books and other printed materials have figured in the life of what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. As early as 1606, Marc Lescarbot, a Parisian lawyer and author, brought a modest library with him when he travelled to Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia), and religious and scientific texts played a significant role in the life of the French fortress at Louisbourg in the eighteenth century (Proulx 1974, 1981; see also Johnston, A.J.B., 1984). But it was not until the founding of Halifax by the British in 1749 that printers and book binders arrived in the colony (see Lochhead,1965). Here printing was introduced in 1752 with the launching of The Halifax Gazette, the first newspaper in the country. From this location printing spread throughout the region and throughout the country.

General History

The earliest printing/publishing was modest, a government newspaper being the principal output of printing establishments in mid-eighteenth century Halifax. Then as the century progressed the range of publications widened. This first half century of printing is documented in Bishop (1966),Childress (1990), Fauteux (1930), McMurtrie (1930, 1933), Parker (Beginnings 1985), Tremaine (1934, 1952, 1984), and Whitelaw (1987). See also Black (1995) for evidence gained from newspapers of the eighteenth century.

Of particular use for examining the history of print culture in the Maritimes are The History of the Book in Canada: A Bibliography compiled by Mark Bartlett, Fiona A. Black, and Bertrum H. MmacDonald, and Atlantic Canadian Imprints 1801-1820: A Bibliography published by Patricia Fleming in 1991. The first five pages of H. Pearson Gundy’s Book Publishing and Publishers in Canada before 1900 (1965) provides an overview of Maritime printing and publishing, and references also punctuate his chapter on “Literary Publishing” in the Literary History of Canada (1965). See also Marilynn J. Rudi’s Atlantic Canadian Literature in English: A Guide to Sources of Information (1991), Olga Bishop’s Publications of the Governments of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, 1758-1952 (1957), W.G. MacFarlane’s New Brunswick Bibliography: The Books and Writers of the Province (1895), Amos Robert Rogers, Books and Pamphlets by New Brunswick Writers: 1890-1950 (1953), and Robert J. Long. Nova Scotia Authors and Their Work: A Bibliography of the Province (1918). Other useful sources are Rhodenizer (1930), Lochhead (1985), Swanick (1986), and the Subject Guide of the Library of the Royal Empire Society Formerly Royal Colonial Institute, vol. 3 (1932).

1. Aboriginal / Missionary Texts

The history of print culture among Native Canadians in the Maritimes has received limited attention from scholars. In the mid-1980s Marie Battiste wrote about literacy among the Mi’Kmaqs (see especially her dissertation, 1984, and her 1986 essay). More recently she has returned to this topic in a volume on First Nations education (1995). Important for general background is Joyce Banks’s Books in Native Languages in the Rare Book Collections of the National Library of Canada (1985).

The single most important aboriginal text in the Maritimes is probably the Mi’Kmaq Prayerbook of the 1730s/1740s period. This was issued in Vienna by Christian Kander in 1866 as Buchdasgut Enthaltend den Katechismus Betrachtung (Gesung) and was reproduced in Canada under the editorship of Father Pacifique (Henri Buisson d’Valigny) as Manual of Prayers, Introductions, Problems, and Hymns in Micmac Ideograms (1921). Cultural context is contained in Chrestien LeClercq’s Nouvelle Relations de la Gaspesie (Paris 1691) and Pierre Antoine Simon Maillard’s “Lettre de l’Abbé Maillard sur les missions de l’Acadie à particulairement sur les missions Micmaques” in Les Soirées canadiennes(1862). The single best commentary on the Mi’Kmaq Prayer Book is found in the bibliography and scholarly introduction of Murdena Marshall and David Schmidt’s modern edition, Mi’Kmaq Hieroglyphic Prayers: Readings in North America’s First Indigenous Script (1995). The introduction discusses the script, the history of its development, and its use in the culture. Dr. Bruce Greenfield of Dalhousie University’s English Department is currently working on the importance of Mi’Kmaq hieroglyphics as text.

Earlier work was done in the nineteenth century by missionary Silas Tertius Rand (1810-1889) who recorded songs, words, and oral tales of the Mi’Kmaq and Maliseet of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick in several books and dictionaries (see, for example, Rand, 1850, 1875, & 1888). Surviving papers at Acadia and Mount Allison Universities indicate that some of these were recorded “from the mouth of” story tellers. For a recent book, see Dorothy May Lovesey (1992). Other sources on aboriginal texts are: Erickson (1979), Robertson (1973), and Upton (1979).

2. Demography, Urbanisation, Schooling, Literacy

Numerous studies have examined the demography and urbanization of the Maritime Provinces, and some work has been undertaken to explore the history of schooling in the region. But little has yet been written about literacy. A general historical perspective on the region may be found in Alexander Monro’s New Brunswick; With a Brief Outline of Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (1855), especially p. 245-258 “Provincial Education; Literature; Religious Denominations.” Mary Collins (1996) provides some information for the twentieth century. Information on Acadian literacy in the early period is found in Louis Dugas’s 1993 M.A. thesis L alphabétisation des acadiens,1700-1850.

a. School Text Books

School text books have been collected in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Public Archives of Nova Scotia has assembled an extensive collection of textbooks used in Nova Scotian schools. New Brunswick text books are collected in the Archives of the University of New Brunswick Library. In Fredericton, the New Brunswick Schools Museum is collecting examples of school texts. Parker (Beginnings 1985) includes remarks on text book publishing in Saint John during the period covered by his research. Katherine F.C. MacNaughton s The Development of the Theory and Practice of Education in New Brunswick 1784-1900 (1947) makes reference to text books in the province, and while there is no index to this work, the bibliography may be helpful. An outline of the historical relationship between education and publishing may be found in Paul Robinson’s Where Our Survival Lies: Students and Textbooks in Atlantic Canada (1979).

b. Acadian Sources

A good starting point for Acadian bibliography is Marguerite Maillet. Histoire de la littérature acadienne; de rêve en rêve (1983) The last several pages of this work are devoted to a chronological history of Acadian literature. Another Maillet publication is Bibliographie des publications d Acadie 1609-1990: sources premières et sources secondes (1992, and the 1996 update). (See also Jacquot (1992) and two items by Claude Potvin under the Children’s Literature section.)

3. The Production of the Printed Word

a. Printers and Print Shops

Atlantic Canadian material is located in journals such as Bookseller and Stationer (1884-1945), Canadian Printer and Publisher, and Canadian Author and Bookman. Additional material is located in other periodicals such as The Occasional (1973-1994), Printers’ Journal. Halifax Typographical Union No. 130 (1950-), Quill and Quire (1935 - ), Dominion Illustrated Monthly (1891-1895), Canadian Notes & Queries, The Colonial Advocate, and the Canada Bookseller (1871-1872).

References to provincial King s Printers have been noted in the historical section. Further details on Christopher Sower, the first printer in New Brunswick, may be found in a manuscript by J.R. Harper in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and in Harper (1955). Business publications provide another source for information on printers: e.g., St. John and Its Business: A History of St. John (1875) contains a profile of printer H. Chubb & Co., Printers and Stationers. Other examples are White.s Halifax and Its Business (1876), which has a section on “Publishing and Bookselling,” and Our Dominion: Historical and Other Sketches of the Mercantile and Manufacturing Interests of Fredericton, Marysville, Woodstock, Moncton, N.B., Yarmouth, N.S., Etc. (1889), which lists printers and allied tradesmen.

The role of Nova Scotia’s first printers, Bartholomew Green, Jr., John Bushell and Anthony Henry is documented in T.B. Akins History of Halifax City (1895), Isaiah Thomas’s History of Printing in America (vol. 1), Bishop (1966), Childress (1990), and Whitelaw (1987). Douglas McMurtrie’s articles on “The First Printing in Nova Scotia” (1930) and “The Royalist Printers at Shelburne, Nova Scotia” (1933) provide a background not only to Nova Scotian printing but also to that of Prince Edward Island, where James Robertson immigrated in 1787 after leaving Shelburne. W.L. Cotton’s Chapters in Our Island Story (Charlottetown, 1927), E.G. Carroll’s “History of Printing,” Marianne Morrow’s “John Henry White: The Unknown Printer,” and A.B. Warburton’s “A Historical Sketch” in Past and Present of Prince Edward Island (1906) provide an overview of Island activities, while individual entries in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, such as that by Ian Ross Robertson on James Douglas Hazard, give in-depth background. Biographical detail on John Howe and on his son, Joseph Howe, in Davies (1980) and Parker (1973-1974) establish the activities of a printing/publishing amily in Nova Scotia. So also does the Halifax Morning Herald article of 15th August 1884 on “Bluenose Printers in Boston,” which includes Jacob Sparling Cunnabell. Family genealogies such as that of the Cunnabell family printed privately in America in 1886 provide useful histories of printing families, as do obituaries such as that of John Howe’s brother- in-law, William Minns, in the Acadian Recorder, 20th January 1827.

To the above names may be added numerous others like that of Timothy Warren Anglin, a significant New Brunswick printer (see William Baker, 1977 and Rowan, 1953). For another New Brunswick printer, William Hughson Golding, see Saxe’s 1981 article. Finally, from the perspective of labour history, Greg Kealey’s 1986 article is useful.

No work on Maritime women printers exists, but Leona M. Hudak’s Early American Women Printers and Publishers, 1639- 1820 (1978) provides very good background and bibliographic information on Elizabeth Bushell, daughter of Halifax printer, John Bushell, and Margaret Draper, a Loyalist, who lived in Halifax briefly before moving to England. When Anthony Henry died early in December 1800, his widow, because of “ her state of health and advanced age ”“ could no longer carry on the business and sold the Nova Scotia Gazette to Messrs. Anthony Gay and Merlin. In 1805, Gay’s wife, Elizabeth, printed an eight-page pamphlet entitled “A Beautiful Poem on Provenance.” This contained the poem “Thoughts on the Works of Providence” by Black American poet Phillis Wheatley, published first in briefer form in London in 1781. On 1st February 1808 Elizabeth Gay published The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Magazine (of which one copy survives). Ray Palmer Baker’s manuscript “The Literary Background of the Maritime Provinces,” Queen’s University, includes references to Ann Mott (1774-1861), who from 1815 published the Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser in Saint John. Parker (Beginnings 1985) notes that “Joseph Howe’s wife pitched in with the apprentices to get the paper out while Howe was on his fact-finding tours of Nova Scotia in 1828 and 1831.”

Much more work needs to be done to trace the history of Maritime printers and print shops from the eighteenth century to the present. The twentieth century remains almost completely unexplored. Over thirty years ago Douglas Lochhead set out a proposal for this research (Lochhead, 1963).

b. Paper

The history of paper making in the Maritimes has not been well covered in the historical literature, even for recent periods when large pulp and paper mills, such as the Stora mill at Port Hawkesbury and Irving interests in New Brunswick, have been operating. Paper for printing & publishing was usually imported from Great Britain or the United States, a pattern that exists up to the present. Greaves (1991) briefly describes the Acadian Paper Mill begun in 1818 by Anthony Henry Holland in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Paper from this mill was used to print the Acadian Recorder in 1820 (Parker, Beginnings, 1985). Fleming (1991) has provided the most detailed description of paper used in the production of printed materials in any period. George Carruthers in his lengthy volume Papermaking (1947) discusses early paper mills in the country, including chapters on the Maritimes. Much of the history of paper making in the region waitsto be written.

c. Technologies of Printing

Mary Allodi’s Print Making in Canada: The Earliest Views and Portraits (1980) contains some Maritime information and Deborah Trask’s Life How Short, Eternity How Long: Gravestone Carving and Carvers in Nova Scotia (1978) provides information on an alternative form of text [as do samplers in the Maritimes: see “A Record for Time,” both exhibition catalogue and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Journal and Calendar, v. 21 (Jan.-April 1985), and Hyla Watts Fox, “Samplers,” Canadian Antique and Art Review, (Aug./Sept. 1981)]. George MacLaren’s “Engravers Who Worked in Nova Scotia, 1784-1897” (1964) includes a discussion of C.W. Torbett, active in Halifax 1812-1830, who in 1821 did the first engraving to appear in a Halifax newspaper (the Acadian Recorder,17th February 1821), provided illustrations for Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia (1829), and from 1826-1828 engraved illustrations for The Acadian Magazine. H. Piers and D.C. MacKay’s Goldsmiths and Silversmiths of Nova Scotia (1948) includes background on engravers. See also, L.S. Loomer (1975-1976), McKenzie and Williamson (1979), and Elliot (1994).

d. Bookbinding and Design

Except for Fleming’s description of 1801-1820 imprints, the history of bookbinding in the Maritimes is a largely uncharted area. The catalogue, The Prat Exhibition: Three Talented Sisters, Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 29th October 1986 - 15th March 1987, provides an introduction to Minnie and May Prat of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, who studied in New York with the first woman bookbinder in America, Evelyn Nordhoff (Cobden-Sanderson’s pupil). In 1899, the Prat sisters opened the Primrose Bindery in New York. Gwendolyn Davies is currently conducting research on the Prats.

Research on the design and binding of books produced in our region has been hampered by the limited access to specialised journals in this field. One New Brunswick example, however, is Printer’s Miscellany, 1876-1882, published by Hugh Finlay in Saint John, which contains both serious and light articles of interest to the printing trade.

Despite the lack of research in this area, many collections in the region contain examples of fine bindings, in original condition, and there is, therefore, a strong basis for a study of this subject. Amongst these collections are New Brunswick bindings in the Beaverbrook Rare Book Collection at the University of New Brunswick and the Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Collection of Canadiana at Mount Allison University (McCann, 1991). Dalhousie University has the Douglas Cockerell Collection of 127 historical fine bindings. A two volume descriptive catalogue of the bindings accompanies the collection and provides invaluable documentation of the collection and of the techniques used by Douglas Cockerell, one of the most influential book designers and binders of the twentieth century (see Catalogue Cockerell, 1936).

e. Types, Genres (Music, Children s Literature, Almanacs, Religious)

i. Music

Phyllis Blakeley wrote in 1951 that “early attempts at music in Nova Scotia have passed beyond our ken and unlike the first attempts at literature and painting which have survived for the judgement of posterity we have no way of evaluating early musical efforts.” Although efforts to develop an historical understanding of music performance may be difficult, it is generally accepted that much of the printed music (tune books, hymn books, etc.) used by Maritimers right up to the present was imported from the United Kingdom, the United States, and other parts of Canada. Even so, from early in the nineteenth century music was printed in the region. Steven Humbert published The Union Harmony in Saint John beginning with a first edition in 1816, and James Dawson, a Scottish immigrant to Pictou, Nova Scotia, published three editions of The Harmonicon in the 1830s and 40s (see MacDonald and Vogan, 1996). Nancy Vogan of the Department of Music at Mount Allison University has been exploring the early history of music in the Maritimes and her work is beginning to uncover the publication and use of music in the region (Vogan, 1979, 1988, 1991 & Green and Vogan, 1991). Other works that discuss music printing/publishing in the Maritimes include Beckwith (1988), Calderisi Bryce (1985), Cooper (1989), Kallmann (1974), and McMillan (1977). One area of Maritime music yet to be explored is the role played by broadsheets and sheet music in reflecting and developing musical taste. Vertical File “S” in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia contains examples of a locally written broadsheet (“Song On One Cornelius Toliver”[n.d.]) and locally written lyrics for sheet music (“Our Canada” by E. Lawson Fenerty in 1897 and “March of the N.S. Highlanders” by Mary E. Fletcher, published by M.M. Sterne, Amherst, Nova Scotia, 1917). Sterne’s letter in Vertical File “S” indicates that he hoped that such songs would be sung in schools and churches. Another area still to be researched is that of church music in the region. Two recent articles on Methodist hymnody by James Dale and Fred Graham brought out in 1995 point to this area of research.

ii. Children s Literature

An international industry surrounds Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books, which deserve a bibliography in their own right. For nineteenth century children’s literature one can consult Loomer s 1980-1981 illustrated two-part survey, “Early Children s Books of the Atlantic Provinces: Notes on the Literature to 1915,” which provides a starting point for research in this area. See also Aubrey (1983) which refers to works from the nineteenth century to 1980. Claude Potvin authored two studies on Acadian children’s literature (Potvin, 1981, 1982). An atypical approach to children’s learning texts is represented by Miss Grove’s Little Grace: or, Scenes in Nova-Scotia (1846), a novel designed to teach children about Nova Scotia history and culture (see Robert Harvey, 1981).

The University of New Brunswick s Faculty of Education houses a sizable children s literature collection. Some research is beginning to be produced using these materials. For example, see Patricia Johnston “Atlantic Canadian Historical Fiction: Where is the Drama?” (1981). In 1995 the proceedings of the Thomas H. Raddall Biennial Symposium on Atlantic Literature produced the book Children’s Voices in Atlantic Literature and Culture: Essays on Childhood, edited by Hilary Thompson.

iii. Maps

Mapping of the Maritime region of Canada is an activity that has occurred since the earliest colonial period. One of the early writers about Maritime maps was William F. Ganong (1897, 1964). Heidenreich and Dahl (1980) described French mapping of North America (including the Maritimes) in the seventeenth century. Other accounts of Maritime maps include: Clark (1954), Dawson (1985), Douglas (1932), Malinski (1973 & 1975), Morrison (1975 & 1982), O’Dea (1988), Robinson (1976) and Shipton (1968). More recently Joan Dawson has published an extensive study, The Mapmaker’s Eye, which focusses on Nova Scotia (Dawson 1988), and “The Mapping of the Planter Settlements in Nova Scotia” (Dawson 1991).

iv. Newspapers / Periodicals / Journalists


Essential sources include Gertrude Tratt’s A Survey and List of Nova Scotia Newspapers, 1752-1957 (1979), now updated by Murphy, Hicks & Vohra (1990), and complemented with Vincent’s An Historical Directory of Nova Scotia Newspapers and Journals Before Confederation (1977). J. Russell Harper’s Historical Directory of New Brunswick Newspapers and Periodicals (1961) has been updated with Helen Craig’s New Brunswick Newspaper Directory, 1783-1988 (1989, rev. 1996). Finally, for Prince Edward Island there is Heather Boylan’s Checklist and Historical Directory of Prince Edward Island Newspapers, 1787-1986 (1987).

More particular Nova Scotian references include the Halifax Morning Chronicle’s article “The Historic ‘Joe Howe’ Press’” (1st January 1925), and D.C. Harvey’s two papers (1945, 1987). More specialized discussions include John Hesler’s “The Halifax Press and British North American Union, 1856-1864” (1950), D.M. Sinclair’s “Gaelic Newspapers and Prose Writing in Nova Scotia,” (1950), Ray MacLean’s “Newspaper Attitudes as Reflected in ‘Mactalla,’” (1994), Kevin McDonald’s 1994 M.A. thesis, “‘Stormwarning’: Dr.H.L. Stewart and the Halifax Press in the 1930s,” and Gillis Philip Purcell’s 1976 M.A. thesis, “Wartime Press Censorship in Canada.” James Stuart Martell’s “The Press of the Maritime Provinces in the 1830s” (1938), J.J. Stewart’s “Early Journalism in Nova Scotia” (1888), and D.C. Harvey’s “The Intellectual Awakening of Nova Scotia,” (1933) are seminal articles.

In New Brunswick, an excellent source of information on printers, publishers, and newspapers is “Ward’s Scrapbook of Early Printers and Newspapers of New Brunswick,” Saint John Regional Library. Clarence Ward’s “Old Times in St. John” in the St. John Globe (13th June 1908) and D.R. Jack’s “Early Journalism in New Brunswick” (1908) provide useful background information.


An overall source of information on periodical publishing in the three Maritime provinces before Confederation is Gwendolyn Davies’s Ph.D. 1980 thesis “A Literary Study of Selected Periodicals from Maritime Canada, 1789-1872.” Nancy Fraser’s 1977 Master’s thesis “Two Nova Scotian Literary Periodicals of the 1830’s: The Halifax Monthly Magazine and The Pearl” covers two periodicals not in the Davies dissertation. Thomas Vincent and Ann LeBrash’s indexes provide access to a number of these journals: The Acadian Magazine, 1826-1828 (1982); The Nova Scotia Magazine, 1789-1792 (1982); The Amaranth, 1841-1843 (1984), all this updated in Vincent’s recent CD-ROM Index to Pre-1900 English Language Canadian Cultural and Literary Magazines (1994). Vincent provides further information in his 1995 article in Facsimile, while George Parker’s “Literary Journalism Before Confederation,” (1976) is also a source. Davies studied one journal in “‘Good Taste and Sound Sense’: The Nova Scotia Magazine (1789-92),” as did J.J. Talman in “The First Prince Edward Island Literary Journal.” (1949,1990). Two articles on P.E.I. journals appear in The Island Magazine: H.T. Holman’s “The P.E.I. Magazine” (1977), and Andrew Robb’s “Michael A. McInnis, The Maple Leaf Magazine, and Migration from Prince Edward Island” (1985). Cecil T. Bagnall’s “A Name Which Sends Our Thoughts Back to the Old Time” is on Thomas Kirwin’s Progress Magazine, Summerside, 1867.

Donald R. Jack is a useful turn-of-the-century source. His manuscript “Notes for a History of the Press in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and Newfoundland” is in the Saint John Regional Library. Also useful are his “Our City Publishers,” in the Saint John Sun (3rd April 1879), “Acadian Magazines” (1903), and “Early Journalism in New Brunswick” (1908). Nineteenth-century material may be found in Martell’s “The Press of the Maritime Provinces in the 1830’s” (1938) and Jonas Howe s “The Amaranth” (1902). The latter treats an individual publication, flourishing from 1841-1842, and provides a list of five other monthly and quarterly magazines printed in New Brunswick between 1841 and 1875. A.H.W. Colquhoun’s “A Century of Canadian Magazines” (1901) provides a helpful list of extant regional magazines. Jacqueline Hunter’s chapter, “Canadian Art Galleries and Museums” (1979), has a useful checklist of bulletins, journals, and museum memos including three titles from New Brunswick and one from Prince Edward Island. Finally,Carol Fullerton’s “George Stewart, Jr., a Nineteenth-century Canadian Man of Letters” (1986) and her 1985 Ph.D thesis on the same topic provide important details about periodical publishing in the Maritimes.

v. Almanacs and Directories

Almost every printer in the Maritimes from the larger centres to smaller locales brought out an annual almanac. This genre was a staple item for sales in bookshops and the establishments of general merchants throughout the three provinces. Although very common, little has been written about almanacs in the region. In 1983 Hartmut Froeschle described a German-Nova Scotian almanac, and two recent articles by Donnelly (1991) and Dondertman (1991) discuss examples from Atlantic Canada. This genre remains relatively unexplored in terms of publishing, sales, and reader reception, but Charles Armour has pointed out in a conference on “Printing and Publishing in Eastern Canada, 1751-1900” that the invoices of local stores can often reveal the number of almanacs bought and sold (for example, Frieze and Roy (est. 1839), the oldest continuing store in Nova Scotia, brought three dozen copies of Belcher’s Almanac into Maitland to sell locally in the 1850s).

A closely related serial publication the city/regional directory is also very useful as these directories have a listing of trades and very detailed advertisements. The key sources for locating directories are Ryder (1979) and Mary Bond’s more recent 1989 compilation.

vi. Religious Publishing

Religious writing has played a major role in the development of Maritime life as two recent representative books reflect, namely, Scobie and Grant’s The Contributions of Methodism to Atlantic Canada (1992) and Scobie and Rawlyk’s The Contribution of Presbyterianism to the Maritime Provinces of Canada (1997). Articles by French, Vincent, Pitt, and Davies are particularly relevant to the “history of the book” in the first volume, and articles by Bogaard, Wood, Davies, and Dunlop occupy that place in the second.

The importance of mystic-poet-religious leader, Henry Alline, in the 1770s and early 1780s has generated many publications, particularly given Alline’s role in writing poetical hymns and songs in this period (see the reprint of his The Life and Journal of the Rev. Mr. Henry Alline, edited by James Beverley and Barry Moody, 1982, and also see additional studies by Bell, 1984 and 1993). An equally significant literary-religious figure was Thomas McCulloch (1776-1843) whose Calvinist-Presbyterian influence on education and literary taste is discussed by Wood, Davies, Sharman, and McMullin.

Much work needs to be done on the influence of religious newspapers and sectarian school curricula in shaping public reading taste. An interesting addendum to this is Bruno Neveu’s article on some of the religious holdings of the University of King’s College Library, (1990).

4. Publishing

Key resources in this area include W.G. MacFarlane’s New Brunswick Bibliography: The Books and Writers of the Province (1895) carried on by W.F. Ganong (1896) & (1897), and the preliminary research initiated by Olga Bishop and published in Publications of the Governments of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, 1758- 1952 (1957). Bishop’s pioneering work was continued by A. Paul Pross and Catherine A. Pross in their Government Publishing in the Canadian Provinces: A Prescriptive Study (1972).

An overview of publishing in the Atlantic region may be found in H. Pearson Gundy’s Book Publishing and Publishers in Canada before 1900 (1965), and in his volume on Canada” in the series The Spread of Printing. Western Hemisphere (1972) which takes a regional approach.

Material regarding the modern situation in New Brunswick publishing may be found in sources treating the Irving family in the province. See particularly the report of the Royal Commission on Corporate Concentration. Robert B. Bryce, Chairman. 1987, and Alden Nowlan’s “The New Brunswick Newspapers: What About the Irvings” (1980). Maritime authors sometimes influenced publishing as seen in the work of scientists in the region (MacDonald, 1990). Recently, Sandrine Ferré, a doctoral student at the Sorbonne, has begun to address the question of a Maritime culture in the late twentieth century and how printing/publishing fosters this culture (see Ferré, 1994, 1995). As more background information on contemporary publishing is researched and made available, it will form the basis for closer examination of current Maritime publishing history, such as that undertaken by Justin Fox (1994) on Evelyn Richardson and her publishers.

5. Distribution of the Printed Word

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the Maritimes, literary and non-literary works were sometimes re- copied by hand and distributed widely among family and friends. Thomas Vincent’s research on Alexander Croke’s 1805 poem The Inquisition indicates that this lengthy work was distributed in this way, for Vincent has found “at least five manuscript copies” scattered throughout Canada and the United States Public Archives of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick Museum, Harvard University, Queen’s University (Vincent, 1978). Evidence also exists that poems by Loyalist Jacob Bailey and by Oliver Goldsmith, Jr. were distributed in this fashion.

From 1752 onwards, newspapers and periodicals became an important means of disseminating literary works. As Thomas McCulloch’s son reports, when the “Stepsure Letters” began to appear in the Acadian Recorder in 1821, the practice of reading works aloud meant that even those who could not afford to purchase the newspapers or who were illiterate were exposed to McCulloch’s trenchant satire on their society:

A gentleman said “We looked with great anxiety for the arrival of the ’Recorder,’ and on its receipt used to assemble in the shop of Mr. to hear ’Stepsure’ read, and pick out the characters, and comment on their foibles, quite sure that they and the writer were among ourselves. Great was often the anger expressed, and threats uttered against the author if they could discover him.” (McCulloch, 1920, p. 73)

As well as becoming a publishing forum for regional writers, early Maritime newspapers and journals also did much to promote interest in reading and the dissemination of books by publishing book reviews, booksellers’ advertisements, and essays on writers (see Parker, 1984, and Black, 1995). The very nature of the miscellany form encouraged book distribution, even if in extract form. The popularity of both domestic and imported miscellanies and journals is demonstrated in Emily Beavan’s Sketches and Tales Illustrative of Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick (1845, repr. 1980) where she describes the way in which single issues of journals were eagerly passed around her community on Lake Washdemoak. Booksellers played a very important role in disseminating not only journals and newspapers, but also the most recent works arriving from abroad, a point well illustrated in Bertrum MacDonald’s study of the Scottish firm of James Dawson & Son of Pictou, Nova Scotia (1995).

The popularity of Sir Walter Scott in nineteenth-century Maritime Canada also illustrates much about “book” distribution of the period. Advertisements by Halifax booksellers reveal that as soon as winter was over, spring navigation allowed readers to purchase the latest Scott novel or read excerpts (for example, the Fortunes of Nigel in the Acadian Recorder, 3rd and 10th August 1822). Individuals, often officers who being transferred, regularly advertised the sale of horses, sleighs, and books (for a sale of Scott’s The Monastery and Ivanhoe, see the Weekly Chronicle, 21st December 1821). The letters of both the Bliss family and the Byles family of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Halifax also reveal that Scott was eagerly discussed in letters with relatives in New Brunswick or Boston, and books would occasionally be exchanged. Although no work has been published on the distribution of Scott in the Maritimes, Carole Gerson has discussed the Scott phenomenon in her 1977 dissertation Shaping the English-Canadian Novel and her book A Purer Taste (1989).

Several other forms of book distribution in the Maritimes should be mentioned. Although there is no informed work done on the phenomenon, it is clear that, as sometimes occurred in Scotland, there was a connection between those who sold patent medicines and those who sold books. This emerges in the business of John M’Kinnon of North West Arm, Cape Breton (Davies, 1991, p. 137), and George Stewart of Saint John, who conducted Stewart’s Quarterly (1867-1872) while also selling patent medicines.

It might be added that the sea-faring nature of Maritime society not only meant that there was little time lag in nineteenth-century coastal Maritimers receiving the latest publications from Boston, London, or Greenoch, but also that Maritime authors were distributed abroad (see Fiona A. Black, 1996). For example, in the 1830s to 1850s, writers such as Moses H. Perley and Douglas Huyghue of Saint John publishing in London’s The Sporting Review and Bentley’s Miscellany respectively and, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Maritime writers have published in the United States and Britain as well as Canada. Patterns of seafaring meant that copies of Thomas Haliburton’s “Sam Slick” were being sold by Maritimers in jumble sales on the gold fields of Ballarrat in 1857 (Davies, 1991), and Malcolm Parks indicates in his introduction to the CEET edition of James DeMille’s 1888 novel A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder that DeMille’s novel was serialized in Australia.

Although the publishing records of L.C. Page of Boston have been destroyed and we therefore have some difficulty in reconstructing the book distribution of the Page company for writers such as Marshall Saunders and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the surviving records of publishers such as Briggs, Ryerson, Jarrolds, and McClelland and Stewart make it possible to have some insight into book royalties, copyright agreements, and book distribution for writers publishing with them.

Much more research needs to be done in this field throughout the Maritimes. One example is the beginning made by Linda-Ann Sturgeon et al. in their History of Hall s Bookstore (1983), which treats a firm active in the stationery/bookselling business in Saint John and Fredericton since 1854. Attention needs to be directed to the catalogues of collectors such as Rufus H. Hathaway, and to library catalogues such as those at the Legislative Library and the University of New Brunswick. Finding aids recently prepared for the private papers of David Adams Richards ( and Stuart Trueman ( held at the University of New Brunswick Library note that correspondence with publishers is included.

6. Reception of the Printed Word: Libraries and Readers

Libraries have always attracted the attention of Maritime writers, from McCulloch’s Mephibosheth Stepsure at the end of Letter 9 in 1822 to Charles Bruce in The Chronicle Herald on 16th April 1959. To Stepsure, libraries represented “the information and enjoyment which reading affords.” Joseph Howe, as he gazed at the Boston Public Library in the mid-nineteenth century, saw it as a repository of the human condition and a place of refuge for the tired and impoverished workers of the city. For novelist and poet, Charles Bruce, in the twentieth century, libraries from childhood onward were places of “amorous dalliance” where one “perfected a technique for concealing the works of George Alfred Henty under a Grade IV Speller that has not been surpassed to this day.”

The history of libraries has received more attention than most aspects of the history of print culture in the Maritimes, yet the full picture has by no means been fully studied. Early sources such as Beavan’s Sketches and Tales Illustrative of Life in the Backwoods of New Brunswick... (1845), mention the establishment of a lending library, in Beavan’s case in Fredericton. Another early library, the Cambridge Military Library in Halifax, has been described by Shirley Elliott (1989), and Alan Dunlop has examined the Pictou Literature and Scientific Society (1973).

In 1933 Harvey wrote about libraries as part of the “intellectual awakening” of Nova Scotia in the 1820s, and he expanded on this theme in subsequent papers (1934, 1935, and 1945). In 1960 Bruce Ferguson provided an overview of the role of Nova Scotian mechanics’ institutes in the development of “public” libraries in the province, and more recently Martin Hewitt has written about the contribution of mechanic’s institutes in the Maritimes generally (1986, 1987). In addition, specific institutes have received attention: Patrick Keane has discussed the activities of the Halifax Mechanics’ Institute (1975), and Evelyn Costello prepared a 1974 M.A. thesis on the Saint John Mechanics’ Institute

At the same time that Harvey was writing about nineteenth century libraries, Nora Bateson was surveying twentieth century public libraries in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (1936, 1938) and the Commission of Enquiry was studying all Canadian libraries, including those in the Maritimes (Commission of Enquiry, 1933). Bateson’s work was extended thirty years later in a volume by Violet Coughlin (1968), who described larger public libraries in the three Maritime provinces. Asa A. Crockett described the “Wine Harbour Library” of his boyhood in a small Nova Scotian gold mining village in the 1870s, and more recently, a history of the Fredericton Public Library was published (1994). In 1991, Eric Swanick edited a collection of essays on New Brunswick library history, among which were papers on public libraries in that province. Libraries associated with churches have been unexplored. Recently the University of King’s College Library acquired holdings of Bray collections from Anglican churches in the region, which could form the basis of a study. A background inquiry on Bray libraries is given in Laugher (1973).

Legislative libraries have frequently been significant in maintaining collections of publications of each province as well as providing service to the legislatures that they serve. This story has been told in part by D.C. Harvey (1945) and Margaret Murphy (1992) for Nova Scotia, by Eric Swanick (1991) for New Brunswick (see also Harper, 1936), and very briefly by Jean Gill (1938) in an account of the Legislative Library in Prince Edward Island.

The most detailed study of any library is John Wilkinson’s 1966 doctoral dissertation on the Dalhousie University main library. In recent histories of universities, such as Peter Waite’s Lives of Dalhousie University (1994), libraries at these institutions receive some treatment. Philip Girard has recently written about the experience of John Thomas Bulmer, the first law librarian at Dalhousie University (1990, 1994). Brief essays about New Brunswick university libraries appear in Swanick’s 1991 work, and, more recently, in his 1996 collection of essays where accounts by Susan Hilles Bush, Karen Smith, and Cheryl White Ennals emphasize the role that individual collectors (William Inglis Morse, James McGregor Stewart, and Raymond Clare Archibald) had in shaping academic collections at Acadia, Dalhousie, Mount Allison, and King’s College. The 1996 paper by Bartlett and MacDonald, which looks specifically at the holdings of early printed works in Nova Scotian institutional libraries, adds corroborating evidence of the significance of private collectors (see also Bartlett 1994). Gwendolyn Davies 1995 article on J.D. Logan discusses the development of the Logan Collection of Canadiana at Acadia University. A few catalogues of the early libraries at universities were published; for example, the catalogue of the library at the University of New Brunswick compiled by Straton and Bliss (1884).

There have been private libraries in Maritime homes from earliest colonial times, but, for the most part, little has been written on this subject. The recent collection of essays, edited by Eric Swanick (1996), gives attention to five significant private collectors in the Maritimes: Thomas Beamish Akins, George Hastings Cox, William Inglis Morse, James McGregor Stewart, and Raymond Clare Archibald. Current projects, such as Lawrence Duggan’s analysis of the library of Edwin Gilpin, a Halifax mining engineer (Duggan 1997), and the re-construction of Bishop Medley’s Fredericton library will serve as case studies of private libraries and their importance in the lives of their owners. Nonetheless, the place of reading in the lives of Maritimers is a large unexplored historical territory. One little explored source of information on private libraries lies in wills and in probate papers (for example, the work of Richard Field on Lunenburg wills and house inventories in the early nineteenth century). Major private collections such as those of Bishop Hollingsworth Kingdon, a New Brunswicker, and Thomas Beamish Atkins, a Nova Scotian (Cuthbertson, 1990; Harvey 1934), are only two examples of nineteenth century private libraries awaiting scholarly attention. One study which has been published is L.D. McCann’s description of the Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Collection of Canadiana at Mount Allison University (1991). A twentieth century example is the personal library of Thomas H. Raddall recently acquired by Dalhousie University Libraries. The papers of J. Russell Harper in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick would provide a researcher with a pot-pourri of source material on books and libraries in that province. The Archibald MacMechan papers in the Dalhousie University Archives are also a rich source of material.

Little work has been done on reading groups, literary societies, or standards of reading taste. The manuscript “Journal of the Reading Society of Windsor, Nova Scotia” for the years 1792-1797 provides an insight into the members of the society, the books ordered, and their circulation. Almanacs list private libraries and literary clubs in the three provinces and “Ward’s Scrapbook” includes information on Saint John reading groups and private libraries in the nineteenth century. Two essays in the Fall 1995 issue of Atlantis consider the role of private schools or women’s clubs in shaping women’s literary and cultural tastes (see, “Private Education for Women in Early Nova Scotia: 1784-1894” by Davies and “The Bell Club: One Hundred Years of Women’s Cultural and Literary Life in Baddeck, Nova Scotia” by MacDonald). Also influencing the development of reading taste was the role of significant professors. For a discussion of W.M. Tweedie of Mount Allison and James DeMille of Acadia, see Tilson (1995) and Davies (1995) respectively. Carole Anne Cheverie’s M.A. thesis, “A Brief History and Bibliography of the Fredericton Tuesday Writers, 1966-1983” provides an example of a more recent influence on the development of a literary sensibility.

7. Research Tools

A general resource for the region is Wm. F.E. Morley’s The Atlantic Provinces, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (1967). Since 1975, yearly or twice-yearly checklists of Recent publications relating to the history of the Atlantic Region” have appeared in Acadiensis. Three indexes to that journal have been compiled Dorothy Cooke’s An index to Acadiensis, 1901-1908 (1983), and for the volumes appearing since the re-establishment of the journal in 1971, Eric Swanick and David Frank have published two indexes in the journal in 1985 and 1992. Building on Olga Bishop’s 1957 study of Atlantic provinces government publications, Claude Guilbeault has produced his Guide des publications officielles de la province du Nouveau-Brunswick, 1952-1970 / Guide to official publications of the Province of New Brunswick, 1952-1970 (1974).

Important bibliographies of New Brunswickiana include HughTaylor’s New Brunswick History: A Checklist of Secondary Sources / Guide en histoire du Nouveau-Brunswick: une liste de contrôle des sources secondaires (1971). Two supplements to the checklist have since appeared, edited by Eric Swanick, the first supplement 1974 and the second in 1984. Another recent bibliography about New Brunswick is Ritchie’s “Cartographies of Silence” An Annotated Bibliography of English Language Diaries and Reminiscences of New Brunswick Women, 1783-1980 (1997). Other helpful research tools are Elspeth Williams 1985 compilation and Charles Laugher’s 1982 checklist.

As more in-depth literary studies are undertaken, descriptive bibliographies of the works of Maritime authors will become available. Already available are the “Description[s] of Authoritative Versions of the Work” found in the Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts editions of Thomas McCulloch’s The Mephibosheth Stepsure Letters (Davies, 1990), Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s The Clockmaker: Series I, II, and III (Parker, 1995), James DeMille’s A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (Parks, 1986), and Julia Beckwith Hart’s St. Ursula’s Convent, or the Nun of Canada (Lochhead, 1991). Lorraine McMullen has brought order to the publishing career of May Agnes Fleming (1989).

Another invaluable source for Maritime bibliographical and historical research is the microfiche collection of the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions (CIHM). The indices are an especially useful starting point and lead researchers into the riches of the CIHM monograph and annual periodical collections. The publications of the Champlain Society can also be consulted for useful Maritime material, e.g., Documents Relating to the Great Awakening in Nova Scotia, edited by G. Stewart (1982).

8. Research to be Undertaken

Throughout the above sections we have noted where further study is needed. It is clear to us that there is a wealth of research that needs to be undertaken. To conclude we identify more specific topics:

  • Studies on book collectors and private libraries (e.g. the private library of Francis B. Hazen, a catalogue of which is held at the University of New Brunswick Library).
  • Research on some of our special collections (e.g. Rufus Hathaway, Davidson Collection, Louise Manny, Lilian Maxwell).
  • Studies on Gaelic, Acadiana, Africadian, and Mi’Kmaq imprints.
  • Preparation of imprint bibliography to follow the example set in Fleming’s Atlantic Canadian Imprints, 1801- 1820, which would extend the chronological coverage, specialise in one publisher, one city, or one genre.
  • Indexing of all journals, literary periodicals, anthologies, and newspapers. See Agnez Hall, Patricia Ruthven, and Eric Swanick. An Inventory of New Brunswick Indexing Projects / Inventaire des projets d’indexation en cours au Nouveau-Brunswick. Fredericton: Council of Head Librarians / Conseil des directeurs de bibliothèque du Nouveau-Brunswick. 1980.
  • Preparation of imprint bibliographies of genres (sermons, speeches, etc.).
  • Inventory and history of printers and publishers
  • Studies of public reading taste from the eighteenth century to the present, and the influence of reading on individuals and society. The University of New Brunswick, for example, holds the diaries (49 volumes) of Charles Moffitt, a Fredericton carpenter, covering the period 1854-1902.
  • Inventory of booksellers and biographies of the same.
  • Surveys of reading clubs, literary and philosophical societies and how they relate to society.
  • Work building on D.C. Harvey’s seminal article, “The Intellectual Awakening of Nova Scotia” and A.G. Bailey’s “Creative Moments in the Culture of the Maritime Provinces” (see also Donovan, 1990) for all three provinces, which would include the role of education.
  • Studies on commercial relations between Maritime and Boston/New York publishers, the impact on writers, and the effects on book distribution. Similarly, such studies need to be done on relations between Maritime and British publishers.
  • Descriptive bibliography of Maritime imprints, including all authors.
  • A publication equivalent to Norah Storey’s Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature (1967) except this would be a “Companion to Maritime History and Literature” (possibly in CD-ROM and print formats).
  • Research on twentieth century activities, which is the least studied of all periods for the Maritimes.

Prepared by Patricia Belier, Gwendolyn Davies, Bertrum H. MacDonald, Karen Smith, & Eric Swanick May 1997 (Revised August 1997)