Bonnie Huskins (Ph.D., Dalhousie University)


I am a `cis-Atlantic World’ historian: that is, I am interested in the local history of Atlantic Canada “framed within the context of a wider web of [Atlantic World] connections (and comparisons).”[i]  Atlantic World history presents the Atlantic Ocean, not as a barrier, but as a conduit which facilitates the movement of people, things and ideas across time and space. There are many variations of Atlantic Word history: I am particularly interested in the world created by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries (the `British Atlantic World’), including the transatlantic slave trade, and the diaporas created by the American Revolutionary War. As a social historian, I am also interested in the interaction of various cultures in colonial North America, and gender/women’s and family history. In order to access the voices and experiences of everyday people in colonial North America and in the Atlantic World, I am very interested in analysing personal diaries as historical sources.

One of my current research projects facilitates this interest in diaries:  namely, a manuscript based on a collection of ten five-year diaries penned by a working-class woman named Ida Louise Martin (nee Friars). Martin lived in New Brunswick (Sussex, Westfield, and Saint John) from the time of her birth in 1907 until her death in 2005. Her diaries, written in Saint John between 1945-1992, provide an `ordinary’ woman’s perspective on the dynamics of family, labour, culture, community, and politics in the Maritimes. Most diaries analysed by historians tend to be written by middle-class or elite women and men, but this collection illuminates the patterns of everyday life for working-class Canadians like Martin who often remain invisible in the historical record.

My other project focuses on the sociability patterns of Loyalist refugees who migrated to the Maritime colonies during and after the American Revolutionary War. I argue that late 18th and early 19th- century festivities such as balls, banquets, frolics, tea parties, and royal anniversaries functioned as instruments of societal, communal, and cultural (re)formation for refugees like the Loyalists who were trying to create new lives in exile. The first phase of this research has taken me to Shelburne, N.S., but I also hope to visit other repositories throughout the Maritimes and the Atlantic World more generally.

In the UNB History Department I teach History 3403: The Loyalists, which allows me to teach course material directly related to my current research agenda. I also teach History 3418: Slavery in North America, which overlaps considerably with my interests in the American Revolution, the Loyalists, and social history more generally.


Some of My Publications:

“`Remarks and Rough Memorandums’: Social Sets, Sociability, and Community in the Journal of William Booth, Shelburne, 1787 and 1789,” Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. 13 (2010).

“A Tribute to Margaret Conrad: Activist, Scholar, and Feminist Pioneer,” Atlantis, 34.2 (2010).

“`Getting by’ in Postwar Saint John:  Working-Class Families and New Brunswick’s Informal Economy”, in Michael Boudreau, Peter G. Toner, & Tony Tremblay eds., Exploring the Dimensions of Self-Sufficiency for New Brunswick (Fredericton: New Brunswick and Atlantic Studies Research and Development Centre, 2009).

“Life After Ile Ste-Croix”, Acadiensis, Vol. XXXV, No. 2 (Spring 2006).

“`Daily allowances’: literary conventions and daily life in the diaries of Ida Louise Martin (nee Friars), Saint John, New Brunswick, 1945-1992", Acadiensis, XXXIV, 2 (Spring 2005).

 “From Haute Cuisine to Ox Roasts: Public Feasting and the Negotiation of Class in Mid 19th Century Saint John and Halifax,”  Labour/Le Travail, Vol. 37 (Spring 1996).

Reprinted in:

Joan Sangster & Bryan Palmer eds., Labouring Canada: Class, Gender and Race in Canadian Working-Class History (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Reappraisals in Canadian History. Pre-Confederation, C.M. Wallace and R.M. Bray  eds. (Scarborough: Prentice Hill Allyn and Bacon Canada, 1999).

Age of Transition. Readings in Canadian Social History, 1800-1900, Norman Knowles ed.  (Toronto: Harcourt Brace, 1998)

“A Tale of Two Cities:  Boosterism and the Imagination of Community during the Visit of the Prince of Wales to Saint John and Halifax in 1860", Urban History Review/Revue D’histoire urbaine, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1 (October 1999).

 “Separate Spheres and Ceremonial Space: The Role of Women in Public Processions in 19th Century Saint John and Halifax”, in Separate Spheres: Women’s Worlds in the 19th Century Maritimes , Suzanne Morton and Janet Guildford eds. (Fredericton: Acadiensis Press, 1994).

[i] David Armitage.