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Gwen Tuinman

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Nova Scotia

Scots in Nova Scotia

I’m currently writing a novel set in Nova Scotia which translated means New Scotland. The Canadian province is revered for its rich Scottish culture. Here I’m sharing an early sweep of research that’s helping me establish the underpinnings of my Scottish characters.

As early as the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots adventured to England, Scandinavia, France, Germany and Russia in search of better lives. The first Scottish immigrants arrived in the 1600s to settle Nova Scotia. After the 1746 defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden, many Jacobites crossed the Atlantic for a new life in the Thirteen Colonies. Following the American Revolution, the majority of the Scots who supported the British king, fled the Thirteen Colonies migrated as Loyalists to Nova Scotia (or New Brunswick and Québec).

Continue reading “Scots in Nova Scotia”

Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine

I’ve been reading Women at Sea in the Age of Sail by Donal Baird, a fascinating account of seafaring women from Canada’s east coast in the 1800s. For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I was drawn to the book at a Halifax book store in 2018.

Gender roles of the Victorian era barred women’s aspirations taking to the sea for the purpose of being part of a ship’s working crew. None the less, a number of women in the 1800s travelled along with their husbands for some semblance of family life rather than be left behind to raise children alone. They often gave birth at sea without the care of doctor or midwife, suffered the lack of female companionship, and endured stormy weather and shipwrecks.

Continue reading “Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine”

Viola Desmond: Harbinger of Change

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Viola Desmond was a Nova Scotian who refused to abide by segregated seating in a public space — nine years before Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus. During Black History Month, Canada celebrates her courage and reflects on her experience. Continue reading “Viola Desmond: Harbinger of Change”

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