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Canada's History - - BOOKS - Beverley Tal­lon

Miss Con­fed­er­a­tion:

The Di­ary of Mercy Anne Coles by Anne McDon­ald Dun­durn Press, 192 pages, $22.99 Au­thor Anne McDon­ald was in­trigued when she heard of the Septem­ber 1864 Char­lot­te­town Con­fer­ence. Af­ter learn­ing that twenty- six- year- old Mercy Anne Coles of Char­lot­te­town had ac­com­pa­nied her mother and fa­ther to the Con­fed­er­a­tion Con­fer­ence in Que­bec City the fol­low­ing month –– and kept a di­ary to boot –– she saw a story that begged to be told.

Coles was one of nine un­mar­ried daugh­ters of Mar­itime del­e­gates to go to Que­bec. While her fa­ther, Ge­orge Coles, and his col­leagues were wooed by the Cana­di­ans (from present-day Que­bec and On­tario), the women helped to keep the tone con­ge­nial.

McDon­ald notes their “un­of­fi­cial role in the ne­go­ti­a­tions” and says Coles’ di­ary “is the only full ac­count of these events from a woman’s per­spec­tive.” A tran­scrip­tion of the full di­ary, in­clud­ing the fam­ily’s re­turn trip through the north­ern United States dur­ing the U.S. Civil War, is published here for the first time in its en­tirety.

The jour­nal is a who’s who of the fu­ture Fa­thers of Con­fed­er­a­tion and ex­plains the con­di­tions sur­round­ing their ne­go­ti­a­tions. Although Coles be­came bedrid­den with diph­the­ria, she man­aged to write about both the in­clement weather and the var­i­ous go­ings-on that were re­layed to her by nu­mer­ous vis­i­tors –– all of them blithely un­aware of how the dis­ease is trans­mit­ted.

Miss Con­fed­er­a­tion is not just a record of his­toric peo­ple and events told from a young woman’s per­spec­tive. In this book, McDon­ald and Coles take read­ers along on the “Con­fed­er­a­tion ride” — a fas­ci­nat-

ing and re­veal­ing tour of east­ern Canada in 1864. — Beverley Tal­lon Sal­ish Blan­kets: Robes of Pro­tec­tion and Trans­for­ma­tion, Sym­bols of Wealth by Les­lie H. Tep­per, Jan­ice Ge­orge, and Wil­lard Joseph Univer­sity of Nebraska Press, 217 pages, $82 By the early twen­ti­eth cen­tury, Sal­ish weav­ing as a cre­ative art form and a key el­e­ment of Sal­ish First Na­tions cul­ture was al­most lost. Two of this book’s au­thors — Jan­ice Ge­orge (a hered­i­tary chief) and Wil­lard Joseph of the Squamish First Na­tion — have been ac­tive in re­viv­ing tra­di­tional weav­ing through their own prac­tice and by teach­ing oth­ers. In

Sal­ish Blan­kets they are joined by Les­lie Tep­per, cu­ra­tor of West­ern eth­nol­ogy at the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory, who brings his­tor­i­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­for­ma­tion as well as an aca­demic slant.

The book de­scribes the blan­kets of the Sal­ish First Na­tions, in­clud­ing their de­signs, their his­tory, how they are wo­ven, and their enor­mous cul­tural im­por­tance. It is de­tailed and well-re­searched, based on in­for­ma­tion ob­tained from weavers, oral his­to­ries by el­ders, and archives and blan­kets from the Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory as well as in­ter­na­tional mu­se­ums. Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion is pre­sented via pho­to­graphs, il­lus­tra­tions, ta­bles, and two ap­pen­dices. His­tor­i­cal black-and-white pho­to­graphs are par­tic­u­larly evoca­tive.

Sal­ish Blan­kets de­scribes the ex­tra­or­di­nary com­plex­ity of cer­e­mo­nial blan­kets and robes and their con­nec­tion with both the nat­u­ral and su­per­nat­u­ral worlds. The blan­kets are con­sid­ered ob­jects of power and play an im­por­tant role in feasts and cer­e­monies. They of­fer emo­tional strength and spir­i­tual de­fence to their wear­ers and are also sym­bols of wealth.

By pro­vid­ing de­tailed insight into Sal­ish weav­ing, Sal­ish Blan­kets not only helps to re­vive this tra­di­tional craft but also sheds light on west coast Indige­nous cul­ture. — Hans Tam­memagi De­fend­ing the In­land Shores: New­found­land in the War of 1812 by Gor­don K. Jones BookLand Press, 163 pages, $19.95

A key con­flict in Cana­dian his­tory, the War of 1812 was fought largely on the bor­der be­tween Canada and the United States and was far re­moved from the is­land of New­found­land. How­ever, in his book De­fend­ing the In­land Shores: New­found

land in the War of 1812, Gor­don K. Jones ex­am­ines the unique role the Royal New­found­land Reg­i­ment of Fen­ci­ble In­fantry played in this con­flict.

Although many New­found­land sol­diers vol­un­teered to fight against the Amer­i­cans when the war be­gan, they did

not fight as a united reg­i­ment and were in­stead split up amongst the Bri­tish units. As such, their ex­pe­ri­ence has largely been over­looked and gone un­told.

De­spite their role in many key vic­to­ries of the war, it wasn’t un­til two hun­dred years later that the New­found­lan­ders earned any bat­tle hon­ours. Their reg­i­ment was dis­banded fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of hos­til­i­ties in 1816 and be­fore most hon­ours were granted. This was reme­died in 2012, when the reg­i­ment’s suc­ces­sor, the Royal New­found­land Reg­i­ment, re­ceived three bat­tle hon­ours dat­ing back to the War of 1812: “Detroit,” “Maumee,” and “For the De­fence of Canada 1812–1815.”

Writ­ten in en­gag­ing and ac­ces­si­ble prose, De­fend­ing the In­land Shores pro­vides a long-over­due fo­cus on the New­found­land sol­diers who were present at some of the war’s most fa­mous bat­tles and who played an im­por­tant role in de­fend­ing the Bri­tish colonies from Amer­i­can at­tacks. — Joanna Daw­son Vi­ola Des­mond’s Canada: A His­tory of Blacks and Racial Seg­re­ga­tion in the Promised Land by Gra­ham Reynolds Fern­wood Pub­lish­ing, 213 pages, $30

Au­thor Gra­ham Reynolds is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus and the Vi­ola Des­mond Chair in So­cial Jus­tice at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity. In Vi­ola

Des­mond’s Canada, he writes of the “col­lec­tive am­ne­sia” re­gard­ing Des­mond’s wrong­ful ar­rest for sit­ting in the whites-only sec­tion of a movie theatre in New Glas­gow, Nova Sco­tia, in 1946.

Reynolds also con­sid­ers the ori­gins of slav­ery in Canada, U.S. Jim Crow laws and Canada’s as­sim­i­la­tion of seg- re­ga­tion, West In­dian im­mi­gra­tion, and the Ku Klux Klan and other ev­i­dence of the cul­ture of racism. Two other in­ter­est­ing sec­tions are an ex­am­i­na­tion of the pos­ses­sions of a forty-year-old freed slave, Marie Mar­guerite Rose, upon her death in 1757 and the clos­ing chap­ter on lit­tle-known Nova Sco­tian black ac­tivist Pear­leen Oliver.

The book in­cludes a chap­ter writ­ten by Des­mond’s youngest sis­ter, Wanda Rob­son, and con­cludes with a dis­cus­sion at the 2011 Promised Land Sym­po­sium that in­cludes Rob­son’s poignant com­ment, “Racism is cer­tainly not fair; it’s ugly, it’s de­mean­ing, and it is very hurt­ful.”

Pho­to­graphs, let­ters, posters, and news­pa­per clip­pings are used to por­tray many past in­jus­tices and help Reynolds re­veal a scar upon Canada’s past that has not com­pletely healed.

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