Browse "Historical Figures"

Editorial

Arrival of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia (1783)

“Freedom and a Farm.” The promise was exciting to the thousands of African-Americans, most seeking refuge from enslavement, who were encouraged by the British to fight in British regiments against the Americans. They joined the tens of thousands of American refugees who had sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), and who pinned their hopes for a brighter future on the British slogan. After the war, the refugees left the newly independent states for British North America and pledged their loyalty to King George III.

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Acadian Heritage

This collection explores the rich heritage of the Acadians through articles and exhibits, as well as quizzes on arts and culture, history and politics, historical figures, and places associated with the Acadian people.

Article

Beothuk

Beothuk (meaning “the people” or “true people” in their language) were the now-extinct inhabitants of Newfoundland. At the time of European contact, they may have numbered no more than 500 to 1,000. Their population is difficult to estimate owing to a reduction in their territories in the early contact period and the absence of surviving documentation.

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Black Volunteers in the First World War

Archivist Barbara M. Wilson explores the significance of a letter sent to Sir Sam Hughes by George Morton, a letter carrier, barber and civil rights advocate from Hamilton, Ontario. In his letter, dated 7 September 1915, Morton asked the minister of militia and defence why members of the Black community were being turned away when trying to enlist for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

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Coureurs des bois

Coureurs des bois were itinerant, unlicensed fur traders of New France known as "wood-runners" to the English on Hudson Bay and "bush-lopers" to the Anglo-Dutch of Albany (NY).

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La Corriveau

La Corriveau, popular designation of Marie-Josephte Corriveau (born 14 May 1733 in St-Vallier, Québec; died 18 April 1763 in Québec City).

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Demasduwit

Demasduwit (also known as Shendoreth, Waunathoake, Mary March), one of the last of the Beothuk (born 1796; died 8 January 1820 at Bay of Exploits, Newfoundland). Demasduwit helped to preserve the Beothuk language and culture. In 2007, the Canadian government recognized her as a person of national historic significance.

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Mifflin Gibbs

Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, politician, judge, diplomat, banker, entrepreneur (born 17 April 1823 in Philadelphia, PA; died 11 July 1915, in Little Rock, AR). Gibbs was a notable figure in both American and Canadian history. In just over a decade in colonial British Columbia, he prospered in business, advocated for the Black community, served as an elected official and helped guide British Columbia into Confederation. Gibbs was the first Black person elected to public office in what is now British Columbia.

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Isobel Gunn

Isobel Gunn (sometimes spelled Isabel, a.k.a. Isabella Gunn, John Fubbister and Mary Fubbister), labourer (born 10 August 1780 in Tankerness, Scotland; died 7 November 1861 in Stromness, Scotland). Gunn disguised herself as a man in order to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 19th century. She travelled to Rupert’s Land (now Canada) to work in the fur trade and is believed to have been one of the first European woman in Western Canada.

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Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia

The ancestors of the Maroons of Jamaica were enslaved Africans who had been brought there by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, and later by the British (who captured Jamaica from Spain in 1655), to work its lucrative sugar plantations. The word maroon was widely used to describe a runaway, and maroonage to denote the act and action of escaping enslavement, whether temporarily or permanently. After a series of wars with the colonial government in Jamaica, one group of Maroons was deported to Nova Scotia in 1796. While Maroon communities existed in Nova Scotia for only four years before they were sent to Sierra Leone, their legacy in Canada endures.

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Jeanne Mance

Jeanne Mance, co-founder of Montréal, founder and director of the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal (baptised 12 November 1606 in Langres, France; died 18 June 1673 in Montréal, QC).

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Jesuit Relations

Jesuit Relations (Relations des jésuites), the voluminous annual documents sent from the Canadian mission of the Society of Jesus to its Paris office, 1632-72, compiled by missionaries in the field, edited by their Québec superior, and printed in France by Sébastien Cramoisy.

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Jesuits

The Society of Jesus was founded in Paris in 1534 by Saint Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish soldier who underwent a profound religious experience while recovering from serious wounds.