A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #1: Acadia.TOC
Part 1, "Baronial Battles."TOC
Chapter 1, "Introduction."

"Oh dream of Empire! 'plauded in gilded courts,
For thee long vigils pass in these shattered forts;
For thee that mighty camp whitens yonder hill,
And two nations bleed as their monarchs will;
Gold wrung from patient toil wastes in foreign war,
And devastating armies roam the Red Man's shore."
The province, or geographical area of the world which attracts our attention, was from an early date to present day known, to the English as Nova Scotia, to the French as Acadia. The present day eastern-Canadian province of Nova Scotia is, except for a short connecting peninsula, surrounded by the sea. It extends out into the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, a part of the northeastern seaboard of North America. To its north is the entranceway to the great water highway leading into the heartland of North America: the mighty St. Lawrence.

The St. Lawrence River led Europeans, mainly the French, beginning four centuries ago, into the interior of the North American continent, and on, out into the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River. The English pretty much restricted themselves to the American eastern seaboard south of Nova Scotia. This English territory had a natural western border, the Appalachian Mountains with its continuous ridge from north to south, from Mount Katahdin in the present day State of Maine to Mount Springer in the present day State of Georgia. By 1700 the English felt hemmed in and those brave English traders who found their way into the Ohio valley ran smack into the French and their allies with whom they had a unique relationship, the native Indians. Throughout the 17th century and the first half of the 18th, the northern part of the North American continent was a battle field for two European powers: the French and the English. It is these historic battles of which I write. We pick up with the very first explorations as the 17th century opens and continue along in our narrative, through to a point just past the mid-18th century, when French rule in North America came to an end. The end, of course, being heralded when Wolfe appeared before the walls of Quebec in 1759, the beginnings of which event we but touch on as we end this book. This work is restricted in time (1600 to 1760) and also geographically, to the province of Nova Scotia. I will touch on the larger events in the world only as is necessary to bring the events under review into perspective. My work is the story of Old Acadia.

It was necessary for me, in order to keep myself straight, to maintain a running date list which I could immediately spin up on my computer; so, as an adjunct, I have appended these as a chronological abridgment. Likewise, understanding the importance that character has to play in the interactions of men's lives,2 I have prepared brief biographical sketches as I went along on each of the principal players in my history. Further, I found that in the course of research that I had to look up strange words (mostly military). As part of my learning process, I made a list of these these words and stuck them in a separate file, a glossary, ready, like the other parts of my work, to be called up with a click of the mouse. And, Oh! Yes, my books: I have listed all those to which I have referred in my books on Nova Scotia. These appendices and my extensive footnotes have added to the bulk of my work; however, all of these appendages might be avoided and a good read can be had unencumbered.3 I include my notes for those, who, as I do, like to get at the details and the sources (my legal training, I suppose). I hope that these additions will be helpful to those who read beyond my limited work.

Though I write as an observer, my story is one-sided: it is from the perspective of the English. To my misfortune, I do not read French. What is needed next is for one to go directly to the French record, for I did not. More knowledge of the original records, both French and English, would but improve on the story.

NEXT: [Chapter 2, Fish and Furs]

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[INTRODUCTION -- Book 2 (1760-1815)]