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It has been over two years since my last post, and there are so many changes that have occurred here. The biggest change is that shortly after my last post we found out that M was pregnant! After a rather stressful pregnancy, our sweet little piece of pumpkin pie – Q – arrived. I would like to say that a lack of sleep from a newborn is what prevented me from updating the blog, but since Q has slept through the night since birth I really can’t! I look around my desk and it seems like I have a growing photo-collage of Q – I really am quite smitten!

The other big piece of news is that M is now not just my spouse, but also my colleague! Two days after Q’s birth we found out that M was the successful candidate for a tenure track position in Aboriginal Women’s History at MSVU. Due to conflict of interest, I was not involved in the search in any way. That said, I was very happy when she was informed of the job. I wasn’t surprised – she is an excellent historian and teacher, and when I think of who else was on the job market at the time there was no one of comparable accomplishment or ability that came to mind.

As far as things happening to me specifically, I am up for tenure and promotion right now. I am positive that I will be granted tenure, and almost positive that I will be promoted to Associate Professor. Not bad for someone who basically flunked out of Carleton!

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Well, the summer has begun and I am teaching a rebroadcast of a course I recorded last year. This means that I’m essentially being paid to mark. I hate marking, and am in the midst of procrastinating, hence the update.

I have been fairly busy writing and publication wise the last few months. I have had an article on humanities computing accepted into the the online journal Digital Studies/Le Champ Numerique. I have also have a piece forthcoming in the Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, and I’ve been asked by Acadiensis to contribute a short essay on history and social media, which will be out in their fall issue, and I’ve been accepted to present at a humanities computing conference in Cuba this December from which all the papers presented will be published in the conference proceedings. I’m hoping that M and I can make a vacation of this conference, as we’ve never gone on a real trip together. I’m still waiting on more news about an essay I contributed to a volume on Modern Canada for Oxford University Press last year, but am hopeful that it will be published this coming year. And finally, I’ve finished the draft of an article that examines newspapers, sport and regional identity through the prism of the Sydney Millionaires hockey club’s 1941 run to the Allan Cup finals, which I hope to publish in one of the sport history journals. Hopefully this flurry of publications will lead to my reappointment!

Other recent news involves my new summer job – motorcycle tour guide! MSVU hosted a career night, at which one of the speakers was the owner of a motorcycle tour company that conducted sidecar tours of Halifax and the surrounding area. We got to talking and I mentioned that I still had an active motorcycle license. I was told that if I ever wanted to lead some tours to get in touch, so I did. M and I have been out on the bikes – Ural Patrols – and are having a blast. I’ve even bought a motorcycle jacket and boots, so I can embrace my inner James Dean/Steve McQueen. We like it so much that having our own sidecar rig might be something on the horizon.

I realize that I’m not the best blogger. I go through a flurry of posting, and then I neglect the blog for a long, long time. I’d say that this is about to change, but I know that wouldn’t be true.

Since my last update, which was apparently eight months ago, things have been relatively quite. We are halfway through the second semester at MSVU, and all seems to be going fine. We are quite enjoying our time in the city. For a while we went overboard with dining out – four years of the limiting dining options offered in Antigonish will prompt one to do so. We went to quite a few Thai restaurants, and came to the conclusion that Talay Thai was the best Halifax had to offer, although Chabaa Thai was a close second.

Part of the reason we stopped going out so much, aside from the weekly cost of it, was that in mid-October I began to have fairly regular headaches. I went to the doctor on campus, and she did some tests. It appeared that I had high blood pressure, low B12, and high iron – any of which could cause headaches. So I’m now on a low sodium-low sugar diet, with plenty of exercise (3 miles a day on the condo’s elliptical). The headaches have gone, I’m in better shape than I’ve been in over a decade, and my pants are getting baggy! But I do miss potato chips.

I’ve also been somewhat busy academically. In November I gave the keynote address to that month’s meeting of the Royal Nova Scotia Society meeting. It was a paper that was pulled from a chapter in my book on the Maritimes and Newfoundland’s confederation. I’ve recently revised the talk, and it will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the RNSHS. I also completed and submitted my essay for reader on Modern Canada. I wrote a paper on regionalism in Atlantic Canada from 1945 until 1970. So my writing tally for the year is two articles, although both were drawn from previous research.

I’ve also got a few projects on the way. I’ve decided to try to write a full on, book length biography of Clarence Gillis (I mentioned him in an earlier post). It will likely prove difficult, as the papers relating to him are rather sparse. Still, I think I can probably address his “life and times” in a fairly detailed and thorough way, and hopefully find a publisher for it. I’m also in the midst of the research on the article on the Sydney Millionaires I mentioned before. There are lots of interesting things that I’ve found, so I think I can get a nice little article detailing sport and regionalism in 1940s Cape Breton.

Well I realize that my posts are rather boring – nothing but school/work related stuff, and mostly just updates on things I’ve already posted. I guess I’m just a boring, repetitive guy!

I guess I should explain exactly where the title of this blog came from. In Atlantic Canadian historiography there are three main approaches to the subject matter I study. The first is the Liberal approach, which suggests that the underdevelopment of Atlantic Canada was the result of invisible (and inevitable) forces, such as Adam Smith’s invisible hand. The second is the Marxist approach, which argues that underdevelopment and the concentration of wealth/industry in the central provinces is the necessary result of the capitalism. The third approach is that of the Liberal Revisionist, who while not discounting entirely the arguments of the other two schools, believes that political policy decisions have had a detrimental impact on the Atlantic region, and that perhaps favourable policy decisions could help the region improve. This school of thought revises the Liberal approach by accounting for the role of human agency. My scholarship falls into this third camp.

During my grad school historical theory class we discussed various historiographical approaches. During these classes I wondered if historians looked at their sources and then consciously decided “I’m going use a Marxist analysis to approach this topic” or “I’m going to use a post-structuralist analysis.” I realize that they often do make these sorts of decisions, which seemed strange to me as I always believed that my approach didn’t fall into easy categorization – that I just did history. This changed during one of my early meetings with my PhD supervisor, when I told here I tried to eschew historiographical categorization. She looked at me like I had two heads and said “Well you’re a Liberal Revisionist” like it was plain as day. And I guess it is pretty clear.

If you want to be a university professor, you have to publish. You get hired, promoted, granted tenure all based on the amount you publish, and the quickest form of publishing (other than a review) is the article. Write 30 pages, send it to a journal, and hope for the best. I am currently trying to complete two articles. The first is an examination of the Antigonish Movement’s Mi’kmaq Development Program on the reserves of Cape Breton. I am co-writing this with M, who is one of the foremost experts on Atlantic Canadian Aboriginal history. We’re hoping to have this ready to submit somewhere (Canadian Historical Review, Journal of Canadian Studies, Native History Review, or Acadiensis – we really haven’t thought about which one) by the end of the summer.

The other is about the movement for Atlantic/Maritime union during the 1940s. It’s basically a reworked chapter of my book that has been solicited for a forthcoming reader on Modern Canada, to be published by Oxford University Press. I’m using Atlantic Union as a prism for understanding the Atlantic region’s complaints about the structure of Canadian federalism. Exciting stuff, I know.

I also have a number of articles kicking around. One is a study of 18th century Mi’kmaq captivity narratives, which I’m hoping to submit to the Nova Scotia Historical Review. Another uses the prism of Newfoundland’s confederation to examine sub-provincial regions in Nova Scotia. This one might be sent to the Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Once that backlog of papers is cleared out/published, it’s time to begin some new research. I’ve got two topics in mind. One would be a study of Cape Breton CCF MP Clarie Gillis and his opposition to the internment of Japanese in Canada during WWII. The other is a look at the Sydney Millionaires, an amateur hockey team from Cape Breton that lost in the finals of the 1941 Allan Cup.

Just got back from the CHA conference a few days ago – a good time was had by all. The conference was held at UNB, where M and I met and where we both did our PhD.’s. It was the first time we’d been back in a few years, and the campus had changed quite a bit. A brand new gymnasium greeted us for registration, and our conference sessions were held in a couple of new buildings on St. Thomas U’s campus.

M and I were in the same session. We both presented on the last day. For the first couple of days presenting near the end seems like a good slot – but by the last day you always wish you’d gone earlier. That way you get the stress over with right away, and can relax and enjoy the proceedings from then on. Our papers seemed to go over well. M’s was quite good, and she got asked a couple questions during the discussion. I was asked a question about the influence of the church onĀ  my topic. My answer was that I didn’t know the answer. That’s a good way to cut short the questioning.

We also went to the book fair. It’s like Christmas in June for history geeks. It was also fun because my book was out, and I got to see it prominently displayed. I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t have a book launch for it, as they did for another former UNB alumnus. But that would have just been another time-suck, and given the limited time we had in the city I didn’t want to give up any time not dedicated to conferencing or eating.

And speaking of eating … we ate well. Our first night we went over to Houton Maine to visit Grammies Restaurant. This place should be on Man VS Food, the portions are that big. I had a clams and fish combo, and could only eat about half the clams before I was full. No fish, no fries – just half the clams! At the conference the CHA provided lunches each day, but we opted to go downtown to try gourmet burgers from Relish. Relish is a fancy hamburger joint that opened after we moved from Fredericton, but all our old friends raved about it. The burgers were good (I had an Texas BBQ Burger and M had a Greek Turkey Burger) but after all we’d heard about them I expected more. We also went over to a friends house for some authentic North Carolina BBQ. He made pulled pork and baked beans. It was delicious! We also hit El Burrito Loco, a Mexican place that is very good. But the best meal of all was after the conference ended. We went up to M’s mother’s place, and went out to the John Gyles Motor Inn for German food. It was the best German meal I’d ever had. And it was in the middle of nowhere NB!

I realize when reviewing this post that I spent more time discussing the food than I did the conference. You can tell what meant more to me.

It’s been about a year and a half since I posted here. Great changes have been afoot.

In my last post I pointed out that my dissertation had been accepted for publication by U of T Press. Well, since then it has come out. I’m very happy with it. Even the cover is becoming a conversation piece among my friends, since it features two burly men shaking hands. M (my wife) thinks I should analyze the homo-erotic subtext of the image.

Part of the reason for my lack of updates is that I’ve been busy. Shortly after my last post my Grandmother died. She ruptured her bowel, and at her age (90) a surgical solution just wasn’t in the cards. M and I drove home and were able to see her while she was still lucid. A day or so after we arrived, she was so hopped up on morphine that she couldn’t communicate with us. After another day or so she passed on. I was the one who was chosen to give her eulogy, which was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

We stayed at home for a few days after the funeral, and while there I applied for a 9 month position teaching Atlantic Canadian history at Mount Saint Vincent University. A few days after getting back to Antigonish I got a call – they wanted to interview me. The interview went very well – it felt like I belonged there – and about a week afterwards I got a call that they had picked me. M had another year teaching in Antigonish lined up, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. I ended up living with M’s sister and her family during the week, and coming home on weekends.

One of the reasons that I took the job, even though it meant being apart from M, was that they said that they were planning on hiring tenure track in that field the next year, and the incumbent was automatically shortlisted. That meant I had an interview for a tenure track job – one I was already doing on a term – coming up. In an awkward twist of fate, M was also shortlisted for the position. I honestly didn’t care which one of us got it, so long as one of us got it (there were two other candidates). Well, apparently the sun shines on a dog’s ass every now and then, because I was the one who got the position.

As a result of this job, we are soon to be relocating to Halifax. We’ve rented a nice condo for a year about a five minute drive from the school. It’s got a fitness room, a pool, a library, and underground parking. It’s also got a guest suite that can be rented, so we will be open for company.

Hopefully I’ll be back sooner than I was last time, but who knows?