The John Gorham
Controversy

A collection of 45 "clippings" about the John Gorham controversy
from Nova Scotia newspapers, January - February, 1998

Also two excerpts from HRM North West Community Council minutes
and a Transportation Department press release

All arranged in chronological order, earliest on top


•   #   Cornwallis J.H. School controversy June 2011




Department of Transportation
and Public Works

Connector Open for Traffic

Press Release
5 November 1997

Transportation and Public Works Minister Don Downe cut the ribbon this morning officially opening Captain John Gorham Boulevard.  The connector links Sackville to Bedford via Glendale Avenue and Duke Street...

The connector was named by the Northwest Community Council, which sought public input for a name that had significance to the Bedford/Sackville area.  Captain John Gorham Boulevard honours a man who came to the area in September 1749 to build Fort Sackville, around which Bedford/Sackville grew as a permanent settlement.

Captain John Gorham Boulevard was a five-year $10-million project.  Initial survey work began in 1993, construction on structures was under way by 1995, and grading and paving through 1996-97 completed the highway.

Source: Provincial Government Press Release 5 November 1997
  http://www.gov.ns.ca/cmns/msrv/nr-1997/nr97-11/97110501.htm






Halifax Regional Municipality

North West Community Council
Minutes, 27 November 1997

4.  Business Arising Out of the Minutes
4.1 Captain John Gorham Boulevard

Councillor Kelly advised that a meeting had been held with staff who recommended that the whole part of the road, from Rocky Lake Road to Cobequid Road, be renamed as one road instead of having three road names going in the same direction.

Moved by Councillors Kelly and Mitchell that the road from Rocky Lake Road to Cobequid Road be named Captain John Gorham Boulevard and that the civic numbering process start at Duke Street and work its way through to Cobequid Road with an effective date of April 6, 1998. 

Motion Put and Passed

Source:   http://www.halifax.ca/commcoun/nwcc/nwcc1997/nw971127.pdf





Time to Stop Honouring Monsters of Past

By Daniel N.  Paul

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 16 January 1998

I was shocked, but not surprised, when the Department of Transportation named the connector road between Bedford and Sackville after a man who was considered by the Mi'kmaq and Acadians, and by many of his peers, to be an "uncivilized savage." Captain John Gorham, the man honoured, and his kinfolks were not strangers to enforcing colonial scalping proclamations.

In the late 1600s, his great-grandfather was involved in the New England "Indian wars," which virtually exterminated the area's native Americans.

Gorham, Nova Scotia's first official bounty hunter, was set loose on the Mi'kmaq in 1744 by governor William Shirley of the Mass Bay [Massachusetts Bay] colony.  In 1744, the English and French, for the umpteenth time, declared war upon each other.  The English fort at Annapolis Royal came under seige by French troops and Mi'kmaq warriors.  In response, Nova Scotia's colonial governor, Paul Mascarene, wrote to the Mass Bay governor for assistance.

Shirley, who was in everything but name governor of Nova Scotia, responded by issuing a proclamation declaring war upon the Mi'kmaq.  It contained these infamous instructions:

"That there be granted to be paid out of the public treasury to any company, party or person...  who shall voluntarily, and at their own cost,...  go out and kill a male Indian of the age of 12 or upwards... for as long as the war shall continue,... and produce his scalp in evidence of his death, the sum of 100 pounds in bills of credit of the Province of New England; and 105 pounds for any male... who shall be taken captive;... 50 pounds... for women, and for children under the age of 12... killed in fight;... and 55... (for those) taken prisoner, together with plunder."

To enforce his monstrous proclamation, Shirley sent Capt. John Gorham and 50 of his blood-thirsty rangers to Annapolis.  These first bounty hunters were mostly Mohawk warriors, historic enemies of the Mi'kmaq, with a sprinkling of whites and half-breeds.  In later years, whites would make up the majority.

Because of their murderous reputations, the civilian and military populations of the garrison did not welcome these barbarians with open arms.  In fact — some say with good cause — many loyal British subjects were terrified of them.

George T. Bates reports in a paper he read before the Nova Scotia Historical Society in 1951: "Not long after their arrival, Mascarene tells us, they fell upon a family of Indians lurking in the woods nearby.  The rangers seized this opportunity to establish a reputation for themselves by killing some and scattering the rest."

Gorham soon satisfied Mascarene that he was well qualified for the post.  Father Maillard, a Catholic missionary, reports that among the first victims of these monsters were three pregnant women and two small children.

When Edward Cornwallis became governor in June of 1749, Gorham was still plying his ungodly trade in Nova Scotia.  After the new governor, in October 1749, had circulated his own proclamation for Mi'kmaq scalps — which was also for the heads of men, women and children — he became its chief enforcer.

Bates reports: "It is reported that... a party of Gorham's rangers one day brought in 25 scalps, claiming the bounty of £10 per scalp.  It was strongly suspected that not all of the scalps were those of Indians, but included some Acadians too.  The paymaster protested the payment, but was ordered to pay the £250 anyway... The records of Chignecto include several instances of extreme cruelty and barbarism by the rangers..."

Gorham profited from his assignment to Nova Scotia.  He became a ship owner and his family lived quite handsomely.  It was reported that at least one of his ships was built with slave labour.  From what I've read about him, I have no doubt that he was capable of using humans as work animals.

The Great Spirit intervened on behalf of the Mi'kmaq in December of 1751: John Gorham, while visiting London, contracted smallpox and died.  However, his barbarous rangers continued to function in this province until 1761.

One might be excused for asking what kind of mentality does the leadership of this province harbour.  Here we have a bounty hunter, a man who also committed atrocities against Acadians and who probably used slaves, being honoured by having a highway named after him.

Will this mentality some day lead to having Nova Scotia buildings, roads, etc., named after other historical monsters who undertook to exterminate people they considered inferior?  It just might.  After all, what is the real difference between the likes of Hitler and Stalin and the likes of Cornwallis and Gorham?  They all tried to kill off what they deemed to be sub-human peoples.

One can't help but think that the Mi'kmaq are still viewed by many in the white power structure as being less than human.  Why else would these power brokers continue to honour men who tried to exterminate them?  Possibly the answer is ignorance.  Whatever it is, I think it's high time the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission took a hard look at this practice and did something to stop it!

– Daniel N. Paul is a human rights activist, historian and author.




Gone, but Not Forgotten or Forgiven

This editorial appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Monday, 19 January 1998

Who was George Washington?  Who was Louis Riel?  Who was Captain John Gorham?

If only history were as simple as answering a quiz.

But it's not.  It's an interminable debate in which the living continue to prosecute or defend the dead, for whom, presumably, the matter has long been settled: They had their day of reckoning with their God centuries ago.

Some people in the United States want George Washington's name removed from public view because he was a slave owner.

Some people in Canada want Metis hero Louis Riel, who was hanged for committing treason against a country that barely existed, rehabilitated and turned into a Father of Confederation.

Here in Nova Scotia, Mi'kmaq author and historian Dan Paul says a new road between Bedford and Sackville honours a bounty hunter, Capt. John Gorham, who slaughtered perhaps thousands of natives.  Mr. Paul wants the name changed.

Coun. Bob Harvey, a history teacher for 30 years, is unmoved by the plea.

No doubt, Capt. Gorham, who laid the groundwork for a permanent settlement when he built Fort Sackville in 1749, did many unpleasant things.  But everyone, including the Mi'kmaq, committed atrocities in those days, says Mr. Harvey.

"These were ugly times and there's no two ways about it.  That is part of our history and we shouldn't try to hide it."

These debates illustrate all too well how the modern world, which has the benefit of retrospect, context as well as its own set of prejudices, perceives history with a critical eye.

This is an age where tell-all mass media have led a relentless assault on great reputations and where so-called revisionist historians have been equally busy deconstructing and reassembling the past.

It would be easy to dismiss their judgments as a silly case of projecting modern values onto a different age.  Some of that is true.

But it's more complex than that.

What exactly is our intent when we name a place after a person?  Is it one of those neutral acts, where we dispassionately recognize someone's historical contribution?

Is naming something Richard Nixon Stadium the same as calling a street Rene Levesque Boulevard?

It depends on your perspective.  Both were great, controversial men, who had a tremendous influence on their times.

But the fact that debates rage over such matters proves that most people would consider it an honour to have their name chiselled in stone or engraved in steel.

The public thinks some are deserving and others aren't.

So the things that define historical figures go far beyond the obvious answers, or what we know as the cold, hard facts.  There is also a moral question.  The character of the dead is just as relevant as their deeds — even today.

For every time we acknowledge a person's importance — by naming a road, bridge or building after them — we also make a judgment about their worthiness as cultural icons.

And our judgment now is not the same as the judgment of the day.

Of course, it would be an impossible task, not to mention insane, to rub all controversial names off monuments and maps.

Besides, who could withstand such an inquisition by the politically correct?

So let's leave existing place names alone.

But before we put our own stamp on the future and name new places, we should be more careful whom we elevate from the murky depths of the past.  Capt. Gorham doesn't quite cut it in the modern age.

Napoleon once said that history is a set of lies agreed upon.  That's one way of looking at it.

Perhaps we should start getting used to the idea that history is also a vast array of truths, hotly debated.



New Road to Get New Name

By Donna-Marie Sonnichsen

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Tuesday, 20 January 1998

The province has asked a local council to reconsider the name it chose for a new road linking Bedford and Sackville.

The move comes after the original choice, Capt. John Gorham Boulevard, was attacked for honoring an 18th century Mi'kmaq bounty hunter.

The Northwest Community Council will consider the issue later this week, and while it will probably be changed, Lower Sackville Councillor Bob Harvey still has misgivings.

"This is an interpretation that doesn't let in any other viewpoint or the bigger picture of what was happening in Nova Scotia at the time.  By doing that you drive wedges between groups and that's harmful to today's objectives of a racially equal, harmonious society," said Coun. Harvey.

"We were not knowingly being insensitive or causing pain to any group.  Ironically we were looking for some way of linking the communities out here and the fort that Gorham built was the beginning of permanent settlement so Bedford, Sackville, and various communities stem from that.

He said that while "in our own society his character would be questionable I think the character of many of the main players of the time on all sides would be questionable" and that "things had been set in motion before he ever arrived here."

But local historian Dan Paul says there's no excuse for honoring such a man.

"I don't see how anybody could condone a proclamation issued by anyone and enforced by anyone to wipe out a race of people as something to be honored for.  War is war but war crimes are war crimes."

He doesn't care what the new name is, as long as it's in historical perspective.

"There's plenty of notable Nova Scotians, women and men, the road could be named after and I would imagine there are plenty of people in Bedford and Sackville that have left their mark in history that the road could be named after.  Let's put this history behind us and stop naming things after these people.  You don't see even after all these years any streets and buildings named after Attila the Hun."

Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Welner stressed his department has not asked that the sign be taken down, just that council "submit another name for it."

"Basically we sent a letter asking council to revisit" the issue, he said, though it didn't seem likely the original name would remain.

"I don't know, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I think for now we'd like to see potentially another name submitted by the council.  Obviously there was concern and sensitivity over that name."

He said while the province will "rubber stamp" the name chosen, ultimately it's council's choice.

Coun. Harvey said the issue must be settled quickly, because businesses at both ends of the road need to know what their address is going to be.



Gorham Today, Gone Tomorrow

Capt. John Gorham Boulevard will soon be history

Road won't keep bounty-hunter name,
apologetic department says

By Beth Johnston

This article appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Tuesday, 20 January 1998

Capt. John Gorham Boulevard will soon be history.

The Department of Transportation admitted yesterday that in naming the new road, it unwittingly honored a bounty-hunter who helped historic efforts to exterminate Nova Scotia Micmacs during the 1700s.  The department has asked Northwest community council to submit a second name for the boulevard, which connects Bedford and Sackville.  It officially opened in November.

Department officials admitted yesterday they took council's request for Gorham's name at face value; he was "relatively unknown to most of us," said area manager Paul O'Brien.  "The council didn't tell us about the negative aspects of the man when they made the recommendation," said O'Brien.  "It's unfortunate that we didn't do the research but everything we do isn't perfect; we're willing to admit that."

But Gorham was far from unknown to the native community, many of whom were "deeply offended" by the choice.  Gorham came to Nova Scotia from New England in the 1740s to settle the mainland.  During that time, he oversaw the establishment of Fort Sackville and other fortifications in the province and took part in the first siege of Louisbourg in 1745.

Micmac writer Dan Paul argues Gorham wasn't a hero or a great leader — he was a money-hungry criminal.  "This man made a good part of his living collecting bounties of scalps of human beings," he said.  "It doesn't say much for civilization when we put up signs to honor people of this ilk." Paul said there is proof Gorham and a group of men called Gorham's Rangers committed "war crimes" and were "despicable men." He compared Gorham to Hitler and said they both "had the job of exterminating a race of people.  "How can you say that killing women and children is a part of war?" Paul asked.

The department has told council the concerns expressed by the Micmac community are "cause for concern." "It does appear to have caused some great concern and rightly so," O'Brien said.  He said he's unsure how much it will cost to replace the signs but said it will be a "considerable amount."

Paul suggested there are many honorable women and native people to name streets after.  "It doesn't just have to be an Englishman or someone from the British Isles," he said.

Lower Sackville Councillor Bob Harvey says he stands by the naming of Gorham Boulevard, which was suggested by a resident.  He argues Paul's version of history is clouded by emotion.  "Mr. Paul seems unwilling to put certain events in and therefore gain historical perspective," he says.  "He's approaching this from an extremely emotional level, and that's blurring the facts.  "Capt. Gorham's job was to allow for English settlement in mainland Nova Scotia.  He wasn't constantly in the bush looking for Micmacs."

Harvey, a retired high school history teacher, says during the war and colonization, many loathsome acts were committed on both sides.  The French also paid bounties on English scalps, he noted.  He said Gorham was chosen by the council because the new boulevard connects Bedford and Sackville, two communities that stem from the fort he built.  "My position remains unchanged because there is historical justification for it," he said, adding the the council never intended to "cause pain to any group.  Certainly there were civilian victims on both sides of the war.  I don't deny that monstrous things happened in Nova Scotia at that time."

Harvey said he fears Paul's perspective could be dangerous.  "His unwillingness to look at history objectively is harmful to the real issues of today — which are creating a society without prejudice.  "This one-sided view of history forces people into camps — it's a misuse." Harvey said the decision to change the name was all about "good politics" and not history.  "I'm not married to this name; it's not personal to me.  But the use and abuse of history is personal.  "This issue has moved way past the naming of a road."



Gorham Boulevard will be Renamed

Reaction prompts reconsideration

By Beth Johnston

This article appeared in
The Weekly News
Bedford-Sackville, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

The name of Sackville's new connector road has raised the ire of Micmacs and prompted Transportation officials to reconsider their decision.

Signage for Capt. John Gorham Boulevard has only been up for a few months but will soon be coming down.

Lower Sackville Councillor Bob Harvey stands by community council's decision and said the department of transportation is motivated by politics to change the name.

He said the name, which was suggested by a Sackville resident, is historically justified.

"The council was looking for a name that would symbolize a link between Bedford and Sackville and we saw the origin of the fort as the link," Harvey said.

"There was no intention to be controversial or insensitive or to inflict pain on any particular group, that was the furthest thing from our minds," he explained.

"I guess we assumed that coming out of the history that building the fort (Sackville) would be sufficient association with the name."

The name became an issue last week when several Micmacs made their feelings known.

According to Micmac writer Dan Paul, Gorham wasn't a hero or a great leader but a money-hungry criminal who killed women and children in an attempt to exterminate Micmacs.

Gorham came to Nova Scotia from New England in the 1740s to settle the mainland.

During that time, he oversaw the establishment of Fort Sackville and other fortifications in the province and took part in the first siege of Louisbourg in 1745.

But those acts are overshadowed by his other activities, Paul said.  "This man made a good part of his living collecting bounties of scalps of human beings," he said.

"It doesn't say much for civilization when we put up signs to honour people of this ilk."

Paul has become a vocal opponent of the name.  He says the decision to rename the road had restored some of his faith in the government.

"I would hope that in the future there is more care taken in naming places, they should be looking at naming some of these things after outstanding Nova Scotian women and also after some outstanding Nova Scotian Micmacs," he said.

Monday Harvey and Paul met for the first time.  The two had been arguing via the media for a week.

Harvey asked Paul if he had any suggestions for naming the road after notable Micmacs.

Paul said he'd think about it and get back to him and they exchanged business cards.

Harvey, also a retired high school history teacher, claims Paul's version of history is clouded by emotion.

"Capt. Gorham's job was to allow for English settlement in mainland Nova Scotia.  He wasn't constantly in the bush looking for Micmacs."

He says during the war and colonization, many loathsome acts were committed on both sides.  The French also paid bounties on English scalps, he noted.

"Certainly there were civilian victims on both sides of the war.

"I don't deny that monstrous things happened in Nova Scotia at that time."

Department of Transportation officials admitted Monday they didn't do their homework when they received the recommendation from community council.

"It's unfortunate that we didn't do the research but everything we do isn't perfect, we're willing to admit that," said area manager Paul O'Brien.

"The council didn't tell us about the negative aspects of the man when they made the recommendation."

O'Brien said he's unsure how much it will cost to replace the signs but said it will be a "considerable amount" in the "thousands of dollars."



Who Was the 'Indian Fighter?'

Capt. John Gorham and his Rangers
were offensive, to be sure,
but sea-weary settlers in Halifax
would have been mighty happy to see them

By Peter Landry

This article appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

The Department of Transportation announced Monday that the newly opened
Captain John Gorham Boulevard in Lower Sackville will be renamed as
a result of complaints about Gorham's role in Nova Scotia history.
Amateur historian Peter Landry has prepared the
following portrait of the real John Gorham.

John Gorham (1709-1751) was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts.  His father, Shubael Gorham (1686-1746) was a military officer and had been with Colonel John March in 1707 and then again, probably with Francis Nicholson, when the English took Port Royal in 1710.

In his earlier years, Gorham was more a merchant and a land speculator than the woods fighter he was to become.

His trading activities undoubtedly influenced his attitudes to inland natives.  In 1732, he married a Massachusetts girl, Elizabeth Allen.  Together they had 15 children (not an unusual number in those days).  Though, as we will see, Gorham was to spend a lot of time in his later years in Nova Scotia — during which time he earned a reputation as a negotiator and "Indian fighter" — his home was always Barnstable.

Gorham made his first official visit to Nova Scotia in September 1744 when he arrived with Captain Edward Tyng at Annapolis Royal.  Tyng had sailed from Boston to bring relief to the besieged garrison at Annapolis Royal.  Gorham had with him "50 picked Indians," Mohawks of the Finger Lakes district (present day upstate New York).  "Gorham Rangers" were to make an immediate impact and the siege of Annapolis Royal was soon at an end.

With the arrival of the Gorham Rangers, matters were to be put on an entirely different basis in Nova Scotia from what they had been.  The first 34 years of British occupation had consisted of a holding or defensive operation: Gorham Rangers were an offensive bunch, and they knew exactly how to apply frontier techniques to their benefit.  They were to make a lasting impression and became much hated by the French and local aboriginals.

Gorham was soon back in Boston and caught up in the plans that were then brewing to launch an attack against Louisbourg — a place that to the English colonials was a piratical and popish nest that had to be cleaned out, once and for all.  Being a man noted for turning plans into action, Gorham was no doubt one of the prime movers in the great colonial assault against Louisbourg that came about in 1745.

This great enterprise of New England against Louisbourg, was, for the Gorhams, a family affair.  The 7th Massachusetts Regiment was commanded by Gorham's father.  Gorham, Senior, had with him his two sons: John and David (born in 1712).  John was put in charge of securing at Boston a sufficient number of whale boats needed for the landing at Louisbourg.

At Louisbourg, on April 30, 1745, John Gorham successfully led the troops off the larger vessels, into the whale boats, and onto the shores of Garabus Bay He was with Colonel Arthur Noble when, borne in the small landing boats, a colonial contingent of volunteers assaulted the Island Battery in Louisbourg Harbour on May 23, 1745.  (They were badly cut up, but little fault could be assigned to either Noble or Gorham.)

After the French capitulated, a number of the colonials were to stay over during the winter of 1745-46 awaiting their replacements, who were to be a body of regular British soldiers due in from Gibraltar the following spring.

Both Gorham and his father were part of the wintering garrison.  Gorham, Sr., died that winter, and Gorham succeeded his father as the regimental commander.

Except for those who died occupying their prize during the winter of 1745-46, most of the colonial heroes, John Gorham and his brother among them, returned to their New England homes during the summer of 1746.

Gorham was back later in the year with his 21-year-old brother Joseph, who was commissioned to be a lieutenant in the Rangers.  He continued to extend and entrench the British presence in Nova Scotia by establishing "several blockhouses at various strategic points, including Cobequid (Truro) and Chignecto.

Late in 1746, he marched with Arthur Noble and 500 New England men to occupy Grand Pre.  (Gorham had just left Noble, in January 1747, when the French regulars, having made a brilliant cross-country winter march, attacked and overtook the larger English force.  They killed a number of Englishmen, including Noble.)

Having returned to his home at Barnstable for a short stay with his family, Gorham soon conferred with Governor William Shirley about the state of Nova Scotia.  It was determined that Gorham (his wife accompanied him) should go to England and meet with the Duke of Newcastle, he being the person with the power to do something about the situation in Nova Scotia.

At the end of April 1747, Gorham set sail from Boston, arriving in England approximately two months later.  Apparently the powerful elite at London were most impressed with the colonial hero and his wife Elizabeth (reported to have been a beautiful and an accomplished woman).

At one point, they were presented to King George II at the Court of St. James.  Having made the summer rounds, Gorham was sent back to America as a captain in the military commissioned by the king, with a dispatch for Governor Shirley that the governor should do everything he could to encourage Gorham's splendid work in Nova Scotia.

In 1748, Gorham's Rangers continued to be with the British regulars at Annapolis Royal (they had their own accommodations outside of the fort).  To supplement this land force, Gorham also sent up from Massachusetts two armed "schooners," the Anson (Captain John Beare) and the Warren (70 tons, Captain Jonathan Davis) — apparently under contract with the Massachusetts government to supply these land and sea forces.

In the autumn of 1748, Gorham himself came up from New England to clear out certain of the French troublemakers at Minas and then sailed (Oct. l9) over to the Saint John River, there to deal with certain usurpers locating themselves on territory the English calculated was part of Acadia and therefore theirs.  Gorham went from place to place putting out French flames in Acadia.

With the arrival of Edward Cornwallis in 1749, Gorham had a new boss.  Gorham was appointed a member of the Council that was formed at the newly founded capital of Halifax.  So too, in 1749, he built Fort Sackville at the head of Bedford Basin.

Gorham and his 60 rangers, whatever they might have meant to the native populations in Nova Scotia, were of considerable value to the 2,576 English settlers who arrived at Chebucto in the spring of 1749.  The sea-weary settlers must have been very happy to see Gorham's sailing vessel slip into Halifax from Annapolis Royal with fresh provisions and experienced men aboard.  Gorham's Rangers were of great assistance to these green and citified settlers: timbers fell and rough abodes went up in the wilderness which was to become known as Halifax.

Also in 1749, Gorham took to one of his armed vessels and again journeyed to the Saint John River.  Gorham had with him a man possessing a similar background and similar talents, Edward How.  They were to swing the natives at the Saint John, the Malecites, over to the English side.  In one of these trips, presents were brought by Gorham and given to his native hosts, including 1,000 bushels of corn and 500 bushels of wheat.

These efforts led to a treaty being signed on the deck of the Beaufort at Chebucto (Halifax) Harbour, on August 15, 1749.  The signatories included, in addition to those of the English (Lawrence, Gorham, Mascarene, and How, among them), Joannes Pedousaghtigh (chief of the Chignecto Indians); and Francois Arodonish, Simon Sactanvino and Jean Baptiste Maddounanhook (deputies of the Saint John's Indians).

(During this time of "peace," the French goaded the Indians into attacking the English everywhere they were to be found, especially at their new settlements.  The French and the English might have declared "peace," but war it was, between the English and the Micmac, and, at an intensity greater than it had been and was ever to be again.  The French were most certainly behind every bit of it.)

If the French incursions into Acadian territory (the present-day New Brunswick) were to stop, then it was to happen either by English diplomats going to France or British troops coming to Acadia.  Either action had to be initiated in London; so, Gorham, in 1751, left Halifax aboard the Osborne, the first ship to be built at Halifax in August 1751.

His objective was to acquaint the English authorities with the difficulties in Acadia and to induce them, if he could, to take some sort of decisive action, one way or the other.

Though, within a few short years, England was moved to take very decisive action to deal with the French in North America, it is not known to what extent Gorham's influence might have been.  At the age of only 43, Gorham died within months of his arrival at London: smallpox, the scourge of the age, an indiscriminate killer the world over took another victim.

Peter Landry is a Dartmouth lawyer and Nova Scotia history enthusiast.
More of his work can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.blupete.com/.




Hotliners Say Racism Hasn't Gone Away

By Stephen Bornais

This article appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

Racism may not be what it once was, but it is still with us, Daily News Hotliners say.

All 19 callers and e-mailers said that three decades after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, racism lives on in many forms.  The Hotline asked if racism had been defeated since King was shot in 1968.

E-mailer Gloria Borden said it is alive and well.

"As sad as it may seem, racism is still at the top of the charts.  The dent, if there is a dent, is more like a little nudge; the person wakes up for a second and then falls back asleep," she wrote.

E-mail Hotline regular Edward Watt said King managed to reduce racism, but not kill it.

"Racism will never be 100-per-cent eliminated from this Earth, for the simple fact that governments will never be able to legislate people's morals due to the fact that people have freedom of choice," he said.

Greg Foisy of Halifax said time alone will not heal the wounds of racism.  "Understanding and love of each other is the first step.  The rest is easy" he said.

Everybody pretends

A female caller said racism had been wounded in the last three decades, but she was upset we are still not a fully integrated society.  "We're still white and black and all the other different races," she said.

A caller who identified herself as a black woman said racism is more dangerous than it was 30 years ago.

"Racism has got worse because everybody pretends it's nice now and it's moved underground," she said, adding that as a government worker she felt leaving her name would cause her problems.

Activist Cecil Wright noted the local media remains mostly white.

Edward Dignard of Halifax said racism exists for a simple reason: "Until the average individual starts looking at people as people, racism will always be with us."

Gone the other way

Some callers thought racism had exchanged victims.

A Hotline regular, who described himself as a "short, fat, white guy" said: "It's gone so far the other way, I'm the one being discriminated against."

Another said racism is alive because too many people, especially in the media, have a "vested interest" in keeping it going.

One man said he did not see how the question could even be asked, given the large number of "racist black people.  I must say you've got it made in this country if you're anything but a white man," he said.

The Daily News Hotline allows readers to speak out on current issues.  It does not
purport to be a scientific sample of public opinion.  Questions appear Wednesday
and Sunday.  Results appear Saturday and Wednesday.



Mou's Editorial Cartoon

This cartoon appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

The cartoon was titled:

According to Councillor Bob Harvey's Logic, Why Not...


The cartoon consisted of four panels, each showing a highway sign.  The signs read as follows:

Vlad the Impaler Blvd.
Genghis Khan Rd.
A. Hitler Dr.
Bernardo Lane



The Road to Controversy

By Clare Mellor

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

Some business owners are happy the new road linking Bedford and Sackville won't be called Capt. John Gorham Boulevard after all.

But this has little to do with the fact that the name is that of an 18th-century Mi'kmaq bounty hunter.

"The name was costing us a lot of money.  Nobody even consulted us about it," said Frank Murphy, owner of EZ Wood Products on Glendale Avenue in Lower Sackville.

"If you want my vote, they shouldn't call it anything... I guess somebody must get paid to make up new signs," said Mr. Murphy, who was told in late December his Glendale Avenue address would be changed to Capt. John Gorham Boulevard.

The province has asked the Northwest Community Council to reconsider the name after its choice was attacked for honoring someone known for the slaughter of Mi'kmaq people.

But business owners on both ends of the road don't want it given Capt. Gorham's name — or anyone else's.

They said they were taken aback when they received a letter in late December saying that their street names — Lower Sackville's Glendale Avenue and Bedford's Duke Street, which are linked by the Gorham overpass — would be changed April 6 to coincide with that of the overpass.

A change of street address for the small businesses would mean new business cards, letterheads and invoices, as well as confusion for customers, said Michael Pink, owner of Kel-Ann Organics on Duke Street.

"Incidentally, they never asked (business owners) about a name.  If what's said about Gorham is true, (the name) is totally inappropriate," he said.

Michael Pink, owner of Kel-Ann Organics on Duke Street, wondered about choosing any name.  "Why name it at all?  How many overpasses do you know that have names?"

"I'd like it to stay Duke Street on this side.  Those on the other side like to be called Glendale."

Coun. Bob Harvey (Lower Sackville) said the name was chosen because Capt. Gorham established the basis of a permanent settlement in the area when he built Fort Sackville in 1749. Bedford, Sackville and various communities stem from that settlement.

However, according to historian Daniel Paul, Capt. Gorham slaughtered hundreds, possibly thousands, of Mi'kmaq people.

While the controversy over the Gorham name is not the biggest concern of business owners, it has given them the opportunity get in their two cents' worth over losing the names of their streets.

"I didn't even know who John Gorham was.  I don't even know why they named it John Gorham Boulevard," said Patricia Richards, manager of Davis Developments, which owns several buildings in the Sackville Business Park.




Gorham's Mohawks

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

To the editor:

I read with interest your report on the renaming of Gorham Boulevard (Gorham Today, Gone Tomorrow).

While I do not wish to dispute the change in name, I do think it is appropriate to point out to Dan Paul and his supporters that the majority of Gorham's Rangers were Mohawk warriors from New York.  Edward Cornwallis sent Captain Gorham and his band of irregulars to establish Fort Sackville for strategic reasons but he was also quite relieved to remove them from Halifax.

Perhaps Cornwallis was like the Duke of Wellington, who, when asked about his troops, remarked that he was not sure of their effect on the enemy but they certainly frightened him.

Gordon D. Pollock, Halifax
Via the Internet



Irony Alert

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

To the editor:

Well, Councillor Bob Harvey, I suppose you are correct (Gorham Today, Gone Tomorrow The Daily News, Jan.  20).  We are giving far too much credence to our native peoples' claims that the white man has not been very kind to them these last few centuries; after all, look at all we have to show for the efforts of our ancestors.

I mean, maybe it is somewhat insulting to the Micmacs to honour such an heroic man as Capt.  John Gorham, but it is our land, right?  We'll do what we want with it.  They have no right to their hurt feelings!  What nerve.

Oh, and what about those Acadians?  That is some prime land they have down there at Grand Pre; it would make a great country club.  Why we set up that tourist area is beyond me; kicked them Frenchies out for a reason, didn't we?

Jim Smith, Ottawa
Via the Internet



Prejudiced Views

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Wednesday, 21 January 1998

Dear Editor:

The anti-British diatribes of columnist Daniel Paul cannot continue unchallenged.  He lacks two essential qualities of an historian: objectivity, and avoidance of historical anachronism.  He displays these deficiencies by his incessant condemnations of British treatment of Acadians and Mi'kmaq.

The Acadians had consistently refused to take the unqualified oath of allegiance required by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.  In 1755, when hostilities broke out between Britain and France in North America, the British in Nova Scotia were surrounded and greatly outnumbered by victorious French armies, their Mi'kmaq allies and a potentially hostile population suspected of sympathiziing with France.  By the intolerant, rationalist standards of the 18th century, the expulsion was logical and acceptable.

The willingness to recognize all respectable interpretations of an event distinguishes an historian from a lobbyist.  Unlike Mr. Paul, I admit my ancestors' shortcomings but refuse to dismiss the achievements of the British Empire.

If I disparaged Acadians or Mi'kmaq as Mr. Paul belittles the British, I would be labelled a bigot and racist. Mr. Paul should cease presenting his prejudiced views as the sole interpretation of history or you should desist calling him an historian.

Frank Jones, Bedford



Historical Truth:
Understanding the Past is More Important
Than the Name Attached to a Road

By Bob Harvey

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Thursday, 22 January 1998

History is about truth, and no one has a monopoly on that truth.  Through a free process of examining historical evidence and developing interpretations of the past, we attempt to understand the past and answer the great historical question: Why?

By considering the greatest possible number of validly reached interpretations, we have the best chance of reaching a rational understanding of what happened in the past and how it has created our present.  In this sense, there can be no one viewpoint, no historical dogma in the guise of some official or politically correct interpretation.

Several years ago, I showed my senior high history class the video Death By Moonlight, about Canada's role in bombing German targets, including civilian ones, in which thousands of men, women and children died.  This interpretation of Canadian participation in such events caused an outcry in some prominent circles in Canada.  To heighten their interest, I told the class that this was the film that some important people didn't want them to see.  In my last years in the classroom, I had become a rebel.

During the discussion following the film, I asked: "What is the value of seeing such a controversial film and being exposed to its unconventional thesis?" The answer came at once: "Because it makes us think!" Thinking — and most important, thinking critically — is essential to reaching historical truth.

Here are some truths to think about as we attempt to assess John Gorham and his times.  The Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which gave mainland Nova Scotia / Acadia to Britain, was a big loss for French fortunes in America.  The resulting movement of English settlers toward the Nova Scotian / Acadian peninsula and elsewhere was a threat to the boundaries of New France itself.  To counter this, Vaudreuil, the governor of New France, had his own special resource — the Abenaki confederacy.

Historian W.S. MacNutt writes that this confederacy had "always distinguished itself in the service of France, and the missionary priests who served it were exhorted to urge resistance to the northward march of British settlement.  Funds were set aside for gifts for the Abenaki and the more easterly Micmacs and Malecites." A 50-year struggle was set in motion.  John Gorham was four years old.

During this struggle, the Mi'kmaq distinguished themselves in what historian Andrew Hill Clark called "effective guerilla units for attacks on the English." These attacks were carried out in Acadia and New England.  Clark points out the "almost universal attachment of the Micmac to the Roman Catholic faith (which) reinforced their ties to the French."

The taking of scalps and the paying for them was part of the reality of the ongoing struggle; however, it was a reality on both sides.  Thomas Raddall records that "there was a merry trade, the French buying scalps at Louisbourg, the English buying scalps at Halifax; and no one certain, as the money chinked on the table, whether these scraps of withered skin and clotted hair belonged to man, woman or child or whether they were English, French or Indian."

MacNutt tells us that "both offered premiums for scalps" during this time; and Joseph Rutledge writes of the Abbe le Loutre, the French missionary to the Acadians and Mi'kmaq from 1737, that: "He could order a man scalped and could set a price — a hundred livres for each English scalp — and could record with obvious care his two-year total, eleven thousand livres for expenses and scalps."

It was into this often-violent, now 30-year struggle that Captain John Gorham and his company of Rangers, many of whom were Mohawks, arrived in 1744 at the height of King George's War.  George Bates, in his papers to the Nova Scotia Historical Society (Volume 30), records much of what Gorham was about in Nova Scotia during his seven-year involvement.

Gorham's time here was interspersed with some lengthy absences on missions to England and leaves back home to see his wife and family in New England.  In all, Gorham and his wife Elizabeth would bring 15 children into the world, although many would not survive childhood.  Gorham was at the height of his career in 1749 when Cornwallis and his Halifax settlers arrived.  Gorham had prepared the way for them.  Since 1747, "no attack of any consequence, either by the French or their Indian allies, had been attempted."

With the arrival of Cornwallis, Gorham became one of the councillors of the new civil government.  There was clearly jealousy between Gorham and Cornwallis, and perhaps an unwillingness on Cornwallis's part to heed the warnings of Gorham, a mere colonial, of the likelihood of renewed Mi'kmaq warfare.  Bates concludes: "It is perhaps unfortunate that a combination of circumstances has deprived him (Gorham) of the prominence that his activities here would seem to warrant."

After John's death from smallpox in England in 1751, his younger brother Joseph commanded the Rangers.  Of Joseph, it is recorded: "He took a great interest in the local Indians and had considerable influence with the chiefs, and it is reported that the Church of England service in the Mi'kmaq tongue was occasionally read to the Indians at his house in Halifax..."

Much has been made of the cruelty of Gorham and his Rangers from the French account of the 1744 atrocity against pregnant Mi'kmaq women and their children.  Equally cruel and disturbing is the report to the London Magazine of 1751: "A letter has been received from Halifax that the Indians, in the French interests, have perpetrated a most horrible massacre at Dartmouth... when they killed, scalped and frightfully mangled several of the soldiery and inhabitants.  They spared not even women and children.  A baby was found beside its father and mother, all three scalped.  The whole place was a scene of butchery, some having their hands cut off, some their insides ripped open, others their brains dashed out."

Perhaps the final and best word on the subject comes from a former Mi'kmaq warrior who was recognized, years after these troubled times, by a Halifax businessman whose father had been scalped near Lunenburg.  The businessman said, "You killed my father!"  To which the Mi'kmaq replied, "Yes, but that was war."

Surely for us, in 1998, the real issue is trying to live in a society which insists on racial equality and does not tolerate prejudice of any kind, but can face its past as fairly as it tries to live in the present.  The communities located at the "head of the Basin," where John Gorham was sent to build his fort, have their origin in the erection of Fort Sackville, a peaceful fort from which and at which no shot was ever fired in anger.  That fact is part of our history, and the name first proposed for the new road which links two of those communities — Bedford and Sackville — recalled that common origin.

I agree with Dan Paul, when he said in a recent interview: "What should occur in this province is, once and for all, somebody should learn about the history of it and start teaching it." In this way, Nova Scotians will be able to distinguish between valid historical interpretation and historical propaganda.  In the end, this is much more important than whose name is attached to a road.

— Bob Harvey is the Halifax regional councillor for Sackville.



Respond to Realities

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Thursday, 22 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Re: naming the new road linking Bedford and Sackville the Captain John Gorham Boulevard.

I feel a thank you is in order to the province for responding to the realities of the situation surrounding the error made when naming the new road.  A mark of integrity is the ability to admit when a mistake has been made, and not to hide behind defences which may appear "correct," but are obviously flawed.

Thank you as well to Daniel Paul for his well-written column in your paper on Friday, Jan. 16.

Brian Matthews, Yarmouth
Via e-mail



Sanitize History

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Thursday, 22 January 1998

Dear Editor:

In 1757, General Montcalm captured Fort William Henry at the head of Lake George.  After the surrender, his native troops attacked and slaughtered scores of English men, women and children.  They were marching unarmed under the protection of the French.

Bloody Creek in Annapolis County is named after the slaughter of an English patrol by the French and their Mi'kmaq allies.

A young married couple were tied to stakes by the Mi'kmaq at a crossing on the Gay's River at low tide, and drowned as the tide returned.  I know where the site is; it is on our property.

To judge Captain John Gorham by today's standards and sanitize history on one side, and hide the other side of history, is the epitome of hypocrisy.

When there is a war of survival and the rules are no holds barred at that time, how dare we in our comfortable pews condemn those who made it possible for us all to live in peace and safety?

Dan Paul should be concerned about the future as it relates to the Mi'kmaq and CUSTA, NAFTA, GATT, the IMF, World Bank, MAI, MIA, CODEX, CIA, FDA, the AMA, and so on.

Alfred Nieforth, Carrolls Corner



Honourable Gesture

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Thursday, 22 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the province for requesting that the Northwest Community Council reconsider naming the connector between Bedford and Sackville after the infamous Captain John "Baby Butcher" Gorham.  Thanks to human rights activist, historian and author Daniel N. Paul, and others, pressure has been brought to bear on the council to do the right thing.

What should happen now is that the council should follow up with an honourable and noble gesture, and name that stretch of highway after a deserving Nova Scotian. And what more deserving Nova Scotian than Daniel Paul?

Floyd Porter, Truro
Via e-mail



Road to Keep Controversial Name
For Now

By Christine Doucet

This article appeared in
The Mail-Star
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Capt. John Gorham will stay where he is — at least for now.

Northwest community council decided Thursday night to wait three weeks before deciding whether to change the name of the new road linking Bedford and Sackville.

Earlier this week, the province asked council to change the name of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard after it was slammed for honoring a bounty hunter who reportedly slaughtered hundreds of Mi'kmaq people.

But at Thursday's meeting, some local residents made it clear that they want the name to stay as is.

"It doesn't matter what you name them, someone's going to find fault," said Maureen Bartlett, who warned council that changing street names will set a precedent.

Ms. Bartlett pointed out that a Queens County road is named after her ancestors, despite the fact that they are known to have been "scoundrels, pirates and maimers."

She said, "What I want to know is, is the province going to change other roads?  The only name that's going to work is Politically Correct, and you can name them Politically Correct No. 1 and Politically Correct No. 2."

"I'm sick to death of people not standing up, because this is absurd," said John Dillman, who read from a history book, attempting to convince the councillors that Capt. Gorham was a hero.

"If that was Adolf Hitler Boulevard, that would be different," he said.

The name was chosen because Bedford and Sackville grew from a settlement established when Capt. Gorham built Fort Sackville in 1749.

Yet if it offends Mi'kmaq people, it shouldn't be used, said Rosemary Godin.

"Can we please show tolerance?" she said.

Ms. Godin suggested several names that could be used instead, including Andrea King's Way, in memory of the murdered British Columbia woman whose body was left near that road.

The community council considered a motion Thursday to change the name back to those of the original streets that now connect — Glendale Avenue and Duke Street.

The motion needed unanimous support, but chairman Coun. Barry Barnet (Upper Sackville-Beaver Bank) voted against it, since council's rules require notice be given before such a change is made.

The item had been added to Thursday's agenda but not publicized.  It will now be dealt with at the Feb. 12 meeting.

Mr. Barnet said he was offended that the province, in an unprecedented move, had asked council to change the name.

"What offends me the most is that the province and the Department of Transportation, who we send many letters to about health and safety, can act in a few short days on something that means nothing to most people, and does nothing to save any lives."

Coun. Bob Harvey (Lower Sackville) said he had spoken with a member of the Gorham family who prefers that the name be changed.  "They do not want their family name to become an object of controversy.  They are not ashamed of their relative, but they don't want their name to be battered around in the public press repeatedly."

Owners of businesses in the area would also prefer that the two original names be retained.

They say name changes will cost thousands of dollars because their business cards, signs and other printed items have to be changed.



Gorham Flip-Flop
Angers Residents, Councillors

By Beth Johnston

This article appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

The Department of Transportation was accused last night of caving in to Micmac objections and acting at "breakneck speed" to change the name of Captain John Gorham Boulevard.

"What offends me the most is that it was only five or six days between the time they received their first call (from the public) and the time they sent us the letter," Upper Sackville Councillor Barry Barnet told a Northwest community council meeting.

The department asked council this week to submit an alternative name for the road after Micmac writer Dan Paul revealed Gorham, who came to Nova Scotia from New England in the 1740s to settle the mainland, was a ruthless bounty hunter who scalped Indians in the 1700s.  Paul said the name of the road, which connects Bedford and Sackville, deeply offends him.

Last night, council gave notice it will reconsider the name.

Barnet said he has never seen such swift action by the department in his time on council.

"They can act in only a few short days when it comes to something like this and then when it comes to something that could save lives it takes months to get a response."

Lower Sackville Councillor Bob Harvey defended the choice of the name, arguing atrocities were committed on both sides at the time.  He said the council chose the name because Gorham founded Fort Sackville in the 1740s and was seen as a link between Bedford and Sackville.

Sackville resident John Tillmann said council could regret backing down from pressure from the Micmac community.

"I'm not going to let people like Dan Paul and left-wing media put us over a barrel," he said emphatically.  "Gorham was brought here to save us when we couldn't save ourselves.  Mark my words, if you back down from this, it'll happen again."

Bedford resident Tony Edwards said the department "should be heavily condemned for running scared.  I wonder if those of us who eat hamburgers and hotdogs now are going to have our names removed from signs by animal rights activists in 200 years."

But resident Rosemary Godin said she understands the frustration of the Micmac community.

"In the name of tolerance, could we please listen to them?" she said, adding she would like to see the road named for Andrea King, a murdered British Columbia teen whose body was found there in December 1992.

Harvey said he was contacted this week by some of Gorham's descendants, who are upset to see their name linked with brutality.  "They're not ashamed of their ancestor and they don't wish to have their family name battered about in the public press continually."



Hurray, DOT Listens

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

To the editor:

As a WASP who is not particularly proud of the ethnocentric and brutal heritage of European immigration to this continent, I am very pleased that the Department of Transportation has heard the concern of our native brothers and sisters.  That the powers that be can hear and act is encouraging is this day and age.  Bravo!

Mark E.Crosby, Wolfville
Via the Internet



Street Names Are Political

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

To the editor:

This is a dumb debate.  History should be as non-political as possible.  But naming a street is always a political act, and should be.  John Gorham of New England has an important place in local history, which should be honestly covered in our history books and classes.  But we should not single him out for public honor by naming a street or public building after him; his hands are too bloody.  History and public (community) honor are two different things.

Joe Foy, Hantsport



Harvey Remarks Offensive

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

To the editor:

Oh my, are we in trouble.  Did I correctly read the article Gorham Today, Gone Tomorrow (Jan. 20)?

As I read this amazing story I thought that it was too bad the name was not "Bob Harvey Boulevard." It is politicians like Mr. Harvey, with such horrific opinions, that make it more clear to me why and how our city and province are in such a political mess.

I can not believe that a council would suggest a name for a street, avenue, or boulevard without first doing some research.  My opinion is that the research was probably done, that it was joked about, and then it was probably thought that the Micmac people were too illiterate to read the history, "their history," to find the truth behind Gorham.

It is appalling and an insult to the native people to have something like this happen.  What is more dispiteous is having people like Mr. Harvey make statements like the one in the article; I believe he said, "he (Gorham) wasn't constantly in the bush looking for Micmacs."

Is he saying that it was OK for Gorham to commit crimes every other day and because of that he was a good guy?  It is statements like that of Harvey's that make that "dent" in discrimination seem rather invisible.

Gloria Borden, Halifax
Via the Internet



Sad Irony

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

There is a sad irony in the original decision of the Northwest Community Council to name the Bedford-Sackville connector road after Captain John Gorham.  It is ironic as it came shortly after our federal government's statement of reconciliation which belatedly recognized, and apologized for, historical misdeeds towards Canada's aboriginal peoples.  Sad because Captain Gorham, with approval from Governor Cornwallis, perpetrated unspeakable crimes against aboriginal peoples in our province.

Daniel N. Paul rightly refers to Cornwallis and Gorham as "historical monsters" (Jan. 16 column).  We know what motivated the likes of Gorham and how they rationalized their actions: greed and racism.  But how did those responsible for the original naming of the road rationalize their decisions?

Pieter J. de Vries, East Lake Ainslie
Via e-mail




Highly Unfitting

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Re: "New road named for 'savage' gets rocky reception" (Jan. 15).  I wish to support Daniel Paul's legitimate objection to the naming of this new road between Bedford and Sackville.  I find it extremely insensitive and highly unfitting of authorities, whoever they may be, to name a public place after John Gorham, a murderer of barbaric proportions.

In these times of national unity talks in Nova Scotia, this is certainly not the way to somewhat right the wrong done by so-called civilized Europeans (i.e., British) to the Mi'kmaq and Acadian peoples.

Gerald C. Boudreau, Pointe de l'Eglise
Via e-mail



Misrepresent Truth

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Captain John Gorham and his 60 Mohawk and half-blood Mohawk men were stationed in Bedford at the mouth of the Sackville River to thwart the bloody raiding-party forays on Halifax by the Mi'kmaq.

When Cornwallis had less than 100 motley troops to defend Halifax against the Indians and the Acadians, Gorham and his men saved their bacon on more than one occasion.  Gorham was one of the first councillors of the civil government set up by Cornwallis.  They were not bounty hunters; they were war heroes on the British payroll.  Without Gorham and Cornwallis, there would have been no Halifax.

When Captain Boscawen captured two French ships headed for Louisbourg and towed them into Halifax Harbour, no less than 10,000 scalping knives were found on board, and a captured French officer identified the Acadians and Indians they were destined for.

Faced with the refusal of the Acadians to take the oath, and the chilling discovery of these scalping knives, Lawrence deported them.  What responsible commander wouldn't have?

The Mi'kmaq took a back seat to no one when it came to scalping and disembowelling; and to attribute those abhorrent tactics only to Gorham is to misrepresent the truth.

Frank Mosher, Tantallon



Wars Mean Atrocities

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Your editorial comments on Jan. 19 about Mi'kmaq historian Dan Paul and Halifax regional Councillor Bob Harvey were of great interest, as so little is known about the colonization, and conflicts with the natives, in the 18th century.  The little we know has usually been the white man's version of events, like the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which mentions "the merciless Indian savages" who would not agree to become slaves.

The 19th and 20th centuries also had wars and atrocities.  Unfortunately, we cannot have wars without killing our enemies, and that can only mean atrocities.

Mr. Harvey mentiones that we should not try to hide our history, which, I am sure, Mr. Paul would heartily agree with.

Jack Anderson, Dartmouth



Fruitless Bickering

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Re: "Time to stop honouring monsters of the past" (Jan. 16).

It is not the monsters of the past who are to be feared, but potential monsters of the present who may revive racial animosities of the distant past.

Human conflict and the atrocities described by Dan Paul, with similar barbarities still occurring around the world, are universally to be condemned.  The Nova Scotia incident occurred almost 300 years ago when the Mi'kmaq decided to become allies of the French colonial forces, challenging the British and thus losing the war.

But all that was in the 18th century — and here we are on the eve of the 21st!  No one living today, on whichever side of the contest, could possibly have had any responsibility for what happened back then.  Nor is it possible to change the result.

Most Nova Scotians, with a lack of historical malice and busy with their daily lives, are a lot more interested in the future than in the past.  So, might we not build on this, abandoning fruitless bickering, while working together towards a better future for all Canadians?

Harry D. Cook, Kentville



Andrea King's Way

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 23 January 1998

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your stories about Daniel Paul's opposition to the naming of the new road connecting Bedford and Sackville.  I have already expressed my dismay to the Northwest Community Council about the way roads and public places are named, and would like to echo Mr. Paul's suggestion that there are many women and people of other cultures to name streets after.

For example, my suggestion for the renaming of that particular stretch of road is to call it "Andrea King's Way" in memory of the teenager whose body was found possibly at the exact spot the road goes over as it enters Sackville.  This was a young woman who came to Nova Scotia from B.C. seeking her future, and wasn't here a week before being murdered by someone still unknown.

What better way for the provincial government, on behalf of Nova Scotians, to express its sorrow to her family and its concern with violence against women?

As I have expressed to the Northwest Community councillors, there are many, many deserving women in the Bedford-Sackville area who could be honoured by having public places named after them.

Rosemary Godin, Lower Sackville



Landry Version Better

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Saturday, 24 January 1998

To the editor:

Peter Landry should be congratulated on a well written article about Capt. John Gorham, which appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Daily News.  This column should be required reading in all of our schools.

Hopefully, we will see more articles written by Mr. Landry.  Too often we are fed the politically correct version of history, dreamed up by people who have their own narrow view of the past.

Unfortunately, these so-called historians are seldom challenged publicly.

Tom Estabrooks, Dartmouth
Via the Internet



Gorham Was On Our Side

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Saturday, 24 January 1998

To the editor:

In response to the political cartoon, Wednesday, I must say I was most amused.  However, I must also say that I never cease to be amused at the idealistic content portrayed through most facets of public media.

Though I make no claims to have any expertise regarding the historical importance or unimportance of this particular man, John Gorham, I do feel that it is not purely these facts that are beingconsidered with the decision to change the road sign bearing Gorham's name.

I think Councillor Bob Harvey cut straight to the heart of this matter when he said "the decision to change the name was all about good politics," rather than history.

I hope this won't be taken as a racial degradation to people of any background, but perhaps Caucasian Nova Scotians do owe a tiny part (a street sign's worth) of his/hers prevalence in this province and country to a killer, bounty hunter, and all-around bad guy.

Idealism has no place in modern interpretation of 200-year-old events, and I don't anticipate video replay coming down from upstairs to confirm all the nastiness.  Realism is; the past will have to be forgiven before discrimination (including that against white men) can be done away with.

I, for one, am tired of paying today for the fact that my ancestors fought and won the land I now call my home.

I'm proud of what we've done with the place, and if John Gorham helped at all in his own nasty little way then I'm proud of him as well, not for his morals and methods, but for the fact that way back then, when cutting off human scalps (by both white men and natives) was considered good old fun, he was on our side — the majority of Nova Scotians' side.

James Phillips
Via the Internet



Appeasement

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Saturday, 24 January 1998

To the editor:

I read with disgust Gorham Today, Gone Tomorrow (The Daily News, Jan. 20).  Apparently, the spineless bureaucrats at the Department of Transportation have seen fit to "appease" the Micmac by the renaming of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard.

My compliments go out to Bob Harvey for having the courage and conviction to stand behind his opinions in these "so-called socially correct times." The white anglo males are not the only group who have skeletons in their closet for atrocities that have occurred in history.

The problem, unfortunately, is that these atrocities cannot be undone.  However, activists such as Dan Paul, make a life, if not a living, dredging up the past wrongs committed by white anglos.

The spinoff for Mr. Paul and his ilk is that it reinforces feelings of racism in present day.  This insistent name change for appeasement could prove to be a dangerous precedent.

The unfortunate part of this kind of disagreement is that the bureaucrats, politicians (remember there is an election coming up) and often the media seem to accept the one-sided story being fed to them by minorities and special interest groups.

With kind of power held by these groups, one has to wonder, how much appeasement will be enough, or will there ever be enough?

M. O'Hara, Dartmouth
Via the Internet



The Road Named Gorham

By Parker Barss Donham

This article appeared in
The Sunday Daily News
Halifax, Sunday, 25 January 1998

Those who want to name a local highway after a British colonial officer who committed atrocities against Micmac women and children make the following arguments:

Much of this is common with those who oppose naming a road after Gorham.

No one, least of all the Micmac historian Dan Paul who first objected to the naming of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard, disputes that Gorham was an important historical figure who played a critical role in subduing Micmac and French resistance to the British conquest of what we now know as Nova Scotia.

Nor would Paul, if I understand him correctly, urge that history be sanitized or recast in terms more congenial to contemporary mores.

If anyone is guilty of misrepresenting history, it's not Paul.  None of his critics have disputed Paul's claim that Gorham made deliberate and systematic use of terror to subjugate the Micmacs and their French Catholic allies, nor that Gorham's use of terror included the scalping of children and pregnant women.

Nor is it precisely true that Gorham's tactics were uncontroversial by the mores of his time.  Colonial authorities eventually called a halt to the payment of bounties for Micmac scalps because too many of those turned in by Gorham's Rangers had a suspiciously blond hue.  In this sense, Gorham may be thought of as an equal opportunity terrorist.

Question: how do the white, academic historians on whose veracity supporters of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard place such faith treat the details of Gorham's acknowledged savagery?

Answer: in a highly sanitary manner.

Gorham's personal papers reside at the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where a "background note" explains that Gorham's Rangers "were a highly successful free-ranging unit that employed 'unorthodox' tactics — i.e., those not commonly employed by British regulars — including the applied use of terror... (They) rapidly gained a fearsome reputation among the French and indigenous populations.  Throughout the remainder of 1746 and 1747, Gorham and his Rangers enhanced their reputation as being 'far more terrible than European soldiers', and came to be viewed as the most effective fighting unit in the Province.  It was said that their reputation was such that neither French nor Indians would meet with them, and the arrival of Gorham's Rangers was usually sufficient cause for attacking parties to disperse."

The World Wide Web includes nearly 100 documents refering to Capt. John Gorham.  Only two include a mention of scalps.

A biography of Gorham on the web page of Dartmouth lawyer and amateur historian Peter Landry describes Gorham's Rangers as "an offensive bunch (who) knew exactly how to apply frontier techniques to their benefit.  They were to make a lasting impression and were to become much hated by the French and the local Indians."

Frontier Techniques?  A lasting impression?  Who's doing the sanitizing here?

The arguments that Gorham's henchmen included Mohawks, and that Micmacs also indulged in scalping are true, but scarcely newsworthy.  The fact that natives used scalping as a tactic is a deeply entrenched part of white cultural mythology, drummed into us from earliest childhood.

I grew up thinking of scalping as an exclusively Indian tactic, a widespread shibboleth that subtly encouraged the impression of native people as savages.  Sixteen years of formal education, much of it devoted to the study of history, offered nothing to set the record straight.

I'm indebted to Paul for letting me and other Nova Scotians in on the well-kept secret that the earliest British and French colonists organized, subsidized, and carried out this brutal activity.  My assessment of who was savage and who was civilized can now rest on a firmer factual footing.

It is quite true, as supporters of Capt. John Gorham Boulevard assert, that political correctness can easily be carried to censorious excess.  Former Liberal cabinet minister Francene Cosman once complained to the Speaker than an opposition member who accused her of "skirting an issue" was guilty of sexist language.

But the label of political correctness can equally be used as a shield by those who would prefer never to examine the complaints of any aggrieved group, no matter how just or firmly rooted in reality.

History is first written by the winners, particularly so when a literate society vanquishes one that relied on oral traditions.  To view history as it was requires looking beyond those initial, often self-serving and culturally biased accounts.

Honoring historical truth is not the same as honoring historical terrorists, but this distinction seems lost on the supporters of Gorham Boulevard.  To bestow such an honor in 1998, when Nova Scotia has begun taking the first tentative steps toward reconciling with the Micmac people, constitutes a gratuitous affront that damages present day efforts at achieving a civilized society.




Gorham Plan "Wilfully Stupid"

By Harry Bruce

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 30 January 1998

With respect to our historical dealings with aboriginals, we whiteys have recently been getting a terrible press.  Some of us asked for it.

When town councillors near Halifax decided to name a new road after Captain John Gorham — a Massachusetts-born specialist in the murder of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaqs two-and-a-half centuries ago — surely they set some strange sort of record for political incorrectness.

Gorham's New England Raiders, some of whom were Mohawks, were notoriously vicious even by the vicious standards of their time.  Since the Mi'kmaq were allies of the French, the colonial government imported Gorham's gang to exterminate every Mi'kmaq they could find.  Naming a road Captain John Gorham Boulevard, in a province in which 22,000 Mi'kmaq live, is wilfully stupid.

Mi'kmaq historian Daniel N. Paul led the loud charge against this bizarre proposal.

"Father Maillard recorded that the first victims of these bloodthirsty brutes were three pregnant women and two small children," Paul says in his book, We Were Not the Savages.

The priest also accused the British and New Englanders of using germ warfare against the Mi'kmaq, "by passing out infected clothing and blankets, and French authorities speculated that this may have been the source of the disease that cost the lives of hundreds of Mi'kmaq and French fighters."

The colonial government paid handsomely for Mi'kmaq scalps, and the slaughter by Gorham's bounty-hunters was indiscriminate.  Paul writes, "Pregnant women, the old, and the infirm were all victims; there were no exceptions... Some writers during this period have hinted that many thousands of Mi'kmaqs were killed during the carnage... Mention is made of scalps being brought in by the bagful."

Gorham's men, in the words of one of their contemporaries, were "far more terrible than European soldiers," but they were not the only scalpers in Nova Scotia.  "For years there was a merry trade, the French buying scalps at Louisbourg, the English buying scalps at Halifax," Thomas H. Raddall wrote in his history of Halifax, "and no one certain, as the money chinked on the table, whether these scraps of withered skin and clotted hair belonged to man, woman, or child, or whether they were English, French, or Indian."

Defenders of naming the road after Gorham argue that, after all, the Mi'kmaq scalped a good many English settlers; Gorham's Rangers were simply following orders during a war; and we shouldn't judge the behavior of 18th-century guerrilla fighters by the standards of the 1990s.  All of this is beside the point.  The point is that it's wrong to name streets, schools, or bridges after professional killers.

It's also wrong for Calgary city council to declare The Year of the Cowboy, while conveniently forgetting that, in the early days of Alberta ranching, the best cowboys were natives.  Calgary professors David Bercuson and Barry Cooper insist native and Metis cowboys were such superb guides and horsemen that the ranching industry sought them as trail hands.  Many established their own herds and became ranchers themselves.  Tragically, however, "Indians were forced out of the cattle business, first as ranchers and then as cowboys, by a combination of bias and government policies that undermined early initiatives in the direction of self-sufficiency."

The professors acknowledge that The Year of the Cowboy will attract tourist bucks, and that corporate Calgary is happy about "the hype and the Hollywood images of cowboy westerns.  But a lot of people who know and remember what the ranching past was like are turned off, especially the Indians."

Speaking of Metis, a campaign for some kind of retroactive pardon for the most famous of them all, Louis Riel, seems to be gathering force.  The founder of Manitoba and central figure in the Northwest Rebellion, Riel was hanged for high treason in Regina 112 years ago.  I thought for a long time that he was a filthy traitor who deserved what he got, but then I grew up in Ontario, where Orange bigots had demanded the execution of this rebellious, mesmerizing, French-speaking, Catholic madman.

Quebec had seen Riel as a hero, and its anger over his execution, so applauded by Ontario Protestants, deepened the rift between anglophone and francophone Canada; inspired a surge of French-Canadian nationalism; drove Quebec voters out of the Conservative party and into the arms of Wilfred Laurier's Liberals; and weakened the spirit, cohesiveness, and political clout of the Metis.

They still see him as a hero.  No less a whitey than John Ralston Saul, author of Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada at the End of the Twentieth Century — the best book about Canada I've ever read — calls Riel one of "the great names of the West." Reading Saul, you can't help but decide that the biggest mistake Prime Minister John A. Macdonald ever made was to let Riel die on the gallows.

Pardoning Riel now won't do him much good, but it might make 210,000 Canadian Metis feel better about both themselves and Canada.  Maybe it's time to build a new highway across the Prairies, and call it Louis Riel Boulevard.

— Award-winning journalist and author Harry Bruce lives in Guysborough County.




'Bleeding Hearts' Blind

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Friday, 30 January 1998

To the editor:

Well, once again, the bleeding heart, weak-kneed, politically correct whiners have the equally spineless bureaucrats bending over backwards (or, more appropriately, forwards) to appease the poor, down-trodden, "never a pedestal high enough for us" Indian population.  His highness, Dan Paul, speaks and the politically correct bow down in awe and reverence and then rush off to implement his wishes.

It's too bad we can't transport a lot of these non-native, Gorham detractors back to his day and watch how quickly they cower behind him, seeking his protection from the same peoples they now extol the virtues of.  Mr. Paul writes of Gorham as a "ruthless bounty hunter scalping Indians" for profit, but never mentions where such a barbarous custom originated.  More than a few settlers were found dead, bereft of their hair.

However, I'm not surprised at any of these situations anymore, as Canada continues to come up with new, innovative methods to have the tail wag the dog: billions spent on bilingualism to appease the French, open chequebooks to fund and keep immigrants coming here just so they can ensure that their customs, beliefs and traditions can and will supersede our own.

I would advise all bleeding hearts out there to get a copy of the March 1997 Reader's Digest and read the article entitled Giving Canada Away, Claim by Claim.  It will open their eyes.  The population of Canada simply has no idea of just how much money is spent on them, and it's never enough.

Sean McKeough, Halifax
Via the Internet



Enough on Gorham

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Saturday, 31 January 1998

To the editor:

Has not this sign debate gone on long enough?  Most names found in history books and public life have both good and bad things attached to them.

There are several communities in New England named "Gorham".  Are they named after this same person?  If so, do they care?

There are more pressing things which require public discussion other than the name of a particular road.

Bruce Hollett, Halifax
Via the Internet



Coward John Gorham Blvd.

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Sunday Daily News
Halifax, Sunday, 1 February 1998

To the editor:

Sackville Coun. Bob Harvey makes me sick!  Mr. Harvey says he stands by the naming of Capt. John Gorham Blvd.

It is true that Capt. John Gorham played an important role in the English settlement of mainland Nova Scotia.  It is probably also true that "he wasn't constantly in the bush looking for Micmacs."

However, even Mr. Harvey would agree that Capt. John Gorham did commit many loathsome acts against the Micmacs.  He was, after all, a bounty hunter.

Mr. Harvey goes on to say, "many loathsome acts were committed on both sides.  The French also paid bounties on English scalps." Oh!  Let's just name all our streets after despicable people!

My forefathers came from Europe.  Sorry!  If I knew they committed such acts as Gorham (and I'm sure they did), I'd be the first in line to say, "I wouldn't name my garbage heap after them."

Let's change Capt. John Gorham Blvd. to Coward John Gorham Blvd.

Chris O'Donnell, Dartmouth



Paul Rewriting History

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Sunday Daily News
Halifax, Sunday, 1 February 1998

To the editor:

Enough is enough; I have now reached the limit of my patience with people who attempt to rewrite history to favor their own myopic view of what they would have liked it to be; and also local media people who, because it came from a special interest group (flavor of the day), assume it must be the truth simply because they said it.

My case is the ex-chief of the Micmacs, Dan Paul, who has successfully lobbied to have the name of Capt. John Gorham Blvd. changed by claiming Gorham was a criminal bounty hunter who attempted to eradicate the Micmac.  He actually compared him to Hitler, and threatened to take his case to a human rights tribunal or wherever he had to in order to make his point.

I believe if these accusations were made against a Jewish group, especially the Hitler comparison, he would be the one standing before a tribunal or other court for revisionist pseudo-historians.

The fact is regional council bent like a leaf and ordered the name changed, without regard to the real history of that period.

My interest was piqued when Mr. Paul was interviewed on the CBC show, Radio Noon, regarding Capt. Gorham, with Coun. Bob Harvey on the telephone.  Mr. Paul made his newly minted history known and Mr. Harvey gave a sigh and said it wasn't important enough to get upset over.  It is important!

As Mr. Harvey states in your paper, people are divided into camps, and now that Mr. Paul has essentially won, we all have chips on our shoulders.  Micmac folk now probably assume that this interpretation is correct, and they have once more been culturally abused by the European hordes.

Then, as a result of council's decision, Mr. Paul was on CBC First Edition, this time with no opposing view; that's understandable since its news staff mostly come from away and have no idea of local history.  (Plus Micmacs are the minority group in favor at this point.)

The next thing to happen will probably be a demand by Micmacs for a collective apology for Capt. Gorham similar to what is happening in western Canada regarding the attempt by Metis to sanitize Louis Riel.  Mr. Paul, by omission, would have us believe that the Micmacs of the day were out tilling their fields when they were slaughtered and scalped by the evil Captain Gorham and his Rangers.

Pretty much wrong!

John H. Beanlands, Halifax



Censorship Crusade

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Daily News
Halifax, Monday, 2 February 1998

To the editor:

Political correctness is becoming not only ridiculous, but dangerous.

History is not taught and names of prominent people from our past are hidden from view for fear some special interest group might be offended.

World history is much about movement of people from one country to another.  Today we call them immigrants or refugees.  In the past they were called invaders.

Dan Paul, in my opinion, is on a censorship crusade, not to heal the wounds of the past, but to show whites as warlike and cruel and native people as peaceful and kind.

We cannot today understand how people of either culture thought in the early 1700s.  Warfare was natural to both cultures.  Tribal warfare was endemic and vicious in North America long before the arrival of the Europeans.  The latter only added more bodies to the fray.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the native people in the northeastern area of the continent seemed to be winning against the British.  By 1717, the white population of Maine was in marked decline due to Indian raids.  In Nova Scotia, all fishing stations, except Grassy Island at Canso, had to be abandoned due to native pressure.  In 1715 alone, 27 British ships were attacked and seized in Nova Scotia waters by native warriors.

In the early 1740s, the situation was little improved.  The only British toehold in the province was Annapolis, and that continually under attack by native warriors.  Parties leaving the fort for supplies were often killed and scalped.

Regular soldiers were helpless against natives, so native mercenaries, mostly Mohawks, were brought in by leaders such as Capt. John Gorham to even the odds.  Actually, not much killing was done by Gorham's men.  There was more negotiating than fighting because the native people feared the Mohawks.  Even then, both sides took scalps, mainly as a body count.

Gorham's forays and Cornwallis's occasional scalp-buying had little effect on the native population or their fighting strength.  What almost wiped out the native population was an unfortunate choice of the French as allies.

In 1746, Duc d'Anville's fleet, on voyage to recapture Nova Scotia, anchored in Bedford Basin.  The crews were ravaged by typhus.  Natives rallied to their support from all parts of the province and, unfortunately, took typhus back to their villages.  Thousands died and the survivors ceased to exist as a fighting force.  All because of their determination to assist the French soldiers and sailors against the British.

We need to stimulate interest in our past and naming streets for local historic figures, whether it be Gorham or Menougy, can only meet this need.  Certainly Captain John Gorham Boulevard has caused many to go to the books and find a fascinating period of Nova Scotia history.  Like many men of his time, he is still controversial, but we should not deny him his place in Nova Scotia history for mere political correctness.

Ross MacInnis, Shubenacadie



Historians Should Take
Unbiased Look at Past

By Daniel N. Paul

This article appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

The letters to editors, newspaper columns, editorials and news articles, as well as radio and television news stories which resulted from my Jan. 16 column, "Time to stop honouring monsters from the past," strongly indicate that Nova Scotians are interested in learning about their real history.  Here is a challenge to historians in this province: fulfil the need!

But do so by taking off your rose-coloured glasses and having an unbiased look at the colonial British performance in North America, in particular Nova Scotia.  Do it by refraining from believing the stereotype that the Mi'kmaq were savages.  Then take into consideration that the Acadians and the Mi'kmaq were caught in a no-win situation between the manipulation of two heartless empires, British and French.

Then examine this excerpt from a 1720 statement made by the colonial council to the Acadians at Minas: "the Indians (seldom) if ever commit depredations..." This statement, made seven years after the British had officially taken over the province in 1713, belies the heathen savage picture painted of the Mi'kmaq.  Also belying the savage picture is the fact that the white Acadians had lived side by side in peace with the Mi'kmaq for almost 120 years.  The English took over the province in 1713, and within a few years were at war with the same Mi'kmaq.

Also consider the following when establishing in your mind how the acrimonious Mi'kmaq/English relationship transpired: In 1715, English officers met with the Mi'kmaq chiefs and demanded that they recognize the king of England as their king, and as the owner of the province.  The Mi'kmaq refused this insulting demand, and hostilities began to break out.  It was around this time that the English decided to try to terrorize them into submission.

In 1722, the English began to take Mi'kmaqs — men, women and children — into their forts to be held as hostages.  The Mi'kmaq, naturally, objected to this and made an effort to free their kinfolk.  During the ensuing battles, several British soldiers were killed.  On July 8, 1724, the council met at Annapolis and decided to hang one of the hostages as reprisal.  A young chief, who was guilty of nothing, was hanged.

Even with this provocation, the Mi'kmaq nation did not authorize attacks upon civilians.  A treaty was signed in 1726, which brought only a temporary halt to hostilities between the two parties.  Then came 1744, and the events related in my last column.  There wasn't room in that column to mention these very pertinent things: John Gorham was part of the council which approved Cornwallis's scalping proclamation of 1749.  He was also part of the council which upped the Mi'kmaq scalp bounty from £10 to £50 on June 21, 1750.

Another thing not mentioned was that Joseph Gorham was the opposite of his brother John.  He was a soldier and probably killed some Mi'kmaqs in man-to-man battle, but he was not part of the organized drive to exterminate them.  He, after the war, became a friend.  Name something after him — I don't object!

As for who perpetrated many of the atrocities committed in this province against British subjects by "Indians," closely examine the actions of the so-called "friendly Indians" who were brought here from other North America locations by the English.  My understanding is that they sometimes proved so friendly towards the English that they occasionally gave them haircuts by removing their scalps.  I do acknowledge that some of the Mi'kmaq, who were in the employ of the French or under the influence of alcohol supplied by whites, did commit some atrocities.

The French at Louisbourg also issued proclamations for the scalps of English soldiers.  However, history indicates that when Mi'kmaq took an English fort, they mostly delivered prisoners to Louisbourg alive and collected for live soldiers.

Then look at and comment on why the Mi'kmaq and other natives got on so well with the French.  Try absorbing what Cornelius J. Jaenen had to say on the subject: "The image of the French as having afforded them a measure of economic security, while permitting and encouraging them to continue in their ancestral way of life, persisted (after English control was established)."

Here is the situation as it existed in this province in the middle 1740s and '50s: The English had issued scalping proclamations, which were later approved by London, with the intent of exterminating the Mi'kmaq.  The French had established bounties for English soldiers.  The Mi'kmaq nation had not, in spite of gross provocations, declared war upon English civilians; women and children were almost always released by them, unharmed.  Examine how badly the Mi'kmaq were treated after hostilities ended.

It has often been piously claimed that Europeans were on a "civilizing" mission when they came to the Americas.  In view of the fact that it has been reliably estimated that from 70 million to 100 million native Americans died in the process, and their survivors have suffered hellish horrors, honestly answer this question: Who were the barbarians?

— Daniel N. Paul is a human rights activist, historian and author.



What a Dilemma

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

I take issue with the recent attempts of the politically correct to alter or change recorded history (Riel, Cornwallis, Gorham et al).  I realize that a fault with recorded history is that it is normally written by the victor and therefore is slanted to those views.  Imagine, for a moment, what recent recorded history would be like if Hitler had won the Second World War.

However, a fact of history is that it is a snapshot of events and collective thoughts prevailing at the time.  Last time I looked, this was called democracy.

Before the politically correct criticize our forefathers, who under the circumstances did a damn fine job of building this country, they should look at the present and correct the problems that exist now.

For example, what will future Canadians say about a society which, in 1998, maintained reservations for occupation by aboriginal people, a most heinous form of racial discrimination.  The politically correct who are calling for massive infusions of taxpayers' funds to right so-called wrongs of the past, such as alleged abuse at federal institutions, will be the target of future generations.

What a dilemma, and how ironical for a society that has taught us we are not responsible for our actions and that it is always someone else's fault.

Andy Bryski, Aylesford



Living Legacy

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

There is a terrible evil afoot, and has been for some time, to flail and discredit the long dead!  This is cowardice of a low degree, because they would not dare to attack the living.

Daniel Paul's ignorance is complete when he tries his luck with General Edward Cornwallis.  First of all. Mr. Paul's history and his account of things past is out of whack.

Gen. Cornwallis came from an ancient and historic, well-respected family.  Edward Cornwallis had a twin brother who was archbishop of Canterbury.

The honourable general was commissioned to settle an English colony across the seas, and he was well suited for that monumental task.  An excellent soldier and officer, he quickly showed his mettle when his ship had barely reached the docking area in 1749.  A murder had taken place en route; the man was quickly apprehended on Cornwallis's orders, and as quickly dispatched — hanged that same day.

Yes, indeed, Gen. Cornwallis was servant, officer, judge and jury; and he was also a gentleman of the first order.  He had a mission to accomplish and, through it all, he was well liked.  He has left a living legacy and we are richer for it.

Marina M. Outhouse, Digby



No War Hero

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

In a recent letter to the editor, the writer talks about the Mi'kmaq doing their share of scalping and disemboweling of their enemies.  One should take into account that they were only protecting what was theirs.

To uphold Gorham as a war hero takes away from those who were truly war heroes.  In my opinion a war hero is not one who takes the lives of innocent women and children, to be rewarded with money — no matter who gives it to them.

Shari Johns, Granville Beach
Via e-mail



Stop Moaning

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

Indians claim we took their land, that invading and conquering didn't count.  That's strange!  They themselves slaughtered other Indian bands and took over their territory.  Wasn't that invading?  So, it's OK for them, but not for us?

Their claim to the land is that they were born here.  So was I.  My ancestors came here in 1753 and they, too, were conquered by the British.  So what?  This happened over 200 years ago; it's part of our history.  We cannot go back and change what happened 200 years ago.

They are Canadian, whether they like it or not, due to the fact they were born here.  The same for me.  I'm Canadian — not hyphenated Canadian, but Canadian.  I am fed up with hyphenated Canadians.  You're either one or the other, unless you hold dual citizenship.

We who are not Indian, French Quebecers, or black are forever being accused of doing something wrong; and we sit back and hang our heads as if we are our ancestors.  Well, we are not and what happened then had nothing to do with us.  It was the way history played out.

If we had a government with backbone, it would put a stop to this nonsense and stop all payments to all interest groups with their hands out.  We would sure get out of debt in a hurry.  To those people who spend all their time moaning, I say: Get down on your knees and thank God for being born in the best country in the world.

S.M. Skiba, Dartmouth



Knee-Jerk Reaction

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

Political expediency seems to be the mode of operation of the provincial Liberals.  The latest example is the Department of Transportation's knee-jerk reaction to Dan Paul's passionate request to remove Capt. John Gorham's name from boulevard signs entering Bedford.

Did Liberals hope a sign change would make the issue go away with very little reaction, as with removal of signs in the Bedford area in the past regarding "a meeting place?"

Thanks to historians such as Elsie Tolson, Peter Landry and others, readers have been informed of inaccuracies or omissions from Dan Paul's historical accounting.  Acts of war, even in modern warfare, result in deaths and many are atrocious.  There are no good guys.  In this case, Mohawk Indians loyal to the British being victorious over Mi'kmaqs loyal to the French; and in war, the spoils go to the victor — always.

Captain John Gorham was perhaps deserving of a longer life and, as some historians indicate, his legacy would then have been as peacemaker in a young nation, rather than recipient of the villainous status afforded him by Dan Paul.

My vote goes to the maintenance of a very deserving honorarium to Capt. John Gorham and to councillors like Bob Harvey and Barry Barnett who read both sides of the story.

Gary Hines, Fall River



Backwards Step

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

Enough mud-slinging, already!  Why would such a controversial name for the Bedford-Sackville connector road be chosen in the first place?  There are many Nova Scotians (not just of male European descent) who could have been honoured in this way.

Making the argument that in John Gorham's time society was different, or that other parties were involved in equal atrocities, is like trying to argue who is the lesser of two evils.  If we have progressed as a society, to one that does not accept such atrocities even in times of war, then why should we take a 300-year backwards step in our progress and accept what Gorham did, because he helped us white Europeans conquer a land that was not ours to begin with?

We cannot change the past, and should be aware of it, but perhaps we can move on to a greater understanding of histories that are not based on Eurocentric ideologies.  With these new perspectives, we may be able to more carefully choose our heroes.

Patrick Lewis and Meg Green, Halifax
Via e-mail



Can't Alter History

This letter to the Editor appeared in
The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, February 6, 1998

Dear Editor:

Thanks to this newspaper for printing, and to Bob Harvey for contributing, the article "Historical truth" (Jan. 22).

After all the articles you've published, written by Daniel Paul, it is time someone wrote the "historical truth."

Regardless of how much Mr. Paul rants and the propaganda which he has published, history cannot be altered.  Of all the warring tribes and armies in the New World during the colonization of North America, history proves that the British forces were the most lenient in the treatment of their enemies.

Again, thanks to Mr. Harvey and your paper for a very good, informative, truthful article.

Douglas F. Rhodenizer, Lunenburg



Halifax Regional Municipality

North West Community Council
Minutes, 9 April 1998

12.3 Signage for the Former Capt. John Gorham Boulevard

Councillor Kelly referred to signage that was coming down indicating Capt. John Gorham Boulevard and acknowledged that Community Council had already provided information as to its decision as to what would comprise Duke Street and Glendale Avenue.  He asked for clarification and an update at this time.

Councillor Harvey said he understood that Department of Transportation's procedure/policy requires one name for the whole length of the road.  When Department of Transportation representatives sought clarification from HRM staff, Community Council's decision to maintain the municipal names was confirmed.  This, however, did not meet Department of Transportation's policy.

Councillor Kelly asked if there was a time frame to have the issue resolved to which Councillor Harvey replied he did not know.  Community Council had made its decision two months ago.  From his perspective and the Municipality's, it was a closed issue.  He did not wish to see any disruption for the businesses located on Duke Street and Glendale Avenue since they have had enough disruption already.  The original addresses should be left.

Moved by Councillors Kelly and Harvey to request a Staff Report from Planning Department as to when the issue will be fully resolved and when signs, as indicated by Community Council, will be put up indicating each respective community.

Councillor Harvey added that the signs being put up in lieu indicated "Lower Sackville" but he would prefer to see "Sackville" since there was a move in the community to have the whole community known as Sackville.

Motion Put and Passed

Source:   http://www.halifax.ca/commcoun/nwcc/nwcc1998/nw980409.pdf





The information below is not part of the
1998 controversy over Capt. John Gorham Boulevard




Origins of Gorham's Rangers

John Gorham (1732-1751)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

John Gorham (1732-1751)
Peter Landry

John Gorham (1732-1751)
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Joseph Goreham (1725-1790)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online




  Background: Gorham’s Rangers
NOTE:  These “Rangers” were a small group of men selected
by John Gorham for their ability to engage in what is now known
as guerrilla warfare.  Gorham's company of Rangers proved to be
very useful in the North American sector of the ancient conflict
it had been active in Europe for at least seven centuries, beginning
in 1066 – between England and France.  Gorham's Rangers was
one of the most famous and effective units raised in colonial North
America and served as the prototype for many subsequent ranger
forces, including the better known Rogers' Rangers.

The unit began as a Massachusetts provincial auxiliary company,
recruited in the summer of 1744 at the start of King George's War.
Massachusetts Governor William Shirley – who then was responsible
for the defense of British interests in Nova Scotia – ordered the unit
raised as reinforcements for the then-besieged British garrison at
Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal.  In 1747, its strength was increased
to 100 men.  Two years later, a second company of equal strength
and a third of 50 men were raised among colonists in Nova Scotia.
In the late 1740s and the early 1750s the unit proved remarkably
effective at suppressing Acadian and Mi'kmaq resistance to British
rule in Nova Scotia and helped to both expand and secure the British
sphere of influence in the region.  Initially a sixty man all-Indian
company led by British colonial officers, the original Native American
members of the unit were gradually replaced by Anglo-Americans
and recent Scots and Irish immigrants and were a minority in the unit
by the mid-1750s.  The company were reconnaissance experts as
well as renowned for their expertise at both water-borne operations
and frontier guerrilla warfare.  They were known for surprise
amphibious raids on Acadian and Mi'kmaq coastal or riverine
settlements, using large whaleboats, which carried between ten to
fifteen rangers each.  This small unit was the main British military
force defending Nova Scotia from 1744 to 1749. 

The company became part of the British army and was expanded
during the Seven Years War and went on to play an important role
in fighting in Nova Scotia as well as participating in many of the
important campaigns of the war.  On the eve of the Seven Years War,
a French report estimated that the corps consisted of 120 men.
Gorham's Rangers were considered by the British to be very
effective, and this company formed the core of a battalion of North
American Rangers raised during the Seven Years War (1756-1763).

There is an administrative detail that is important.  Although the
Nova Scotia Rangers were raised in 1744 by order of the legislative
assembly of Massachusetts, England gave its approval and provided
financing.  Three years after this decision, Captain Gorham received
a royal commission and the company was paid out of the British
treasury.  As a result, this corps, constituted largely of Amerindians
and Métis, was henceforth part of the regular British army.  This meant
that the Nova Scotia Rangers were the first regular corps raised in the
British colonies in Canada.

—Sources:
Gorham's Rangers Kronoskaf
Military history of Nova Scotia Wikipedia
John Gorham by Peter Landry
Gorham's Rangers DBpedia
Gorham's Rangers Wikipedia
• and others

[This note does not appear in the original Board of Trade records.]

Source http://planter2010.ca/trade/tradeplant-1758.html#johngorham-rangers


The following may be of interest to historical researchers:

John Gorham Papers

William L. Clements Library
The University of Michigan

Material in this collection is concentrated in the years 1748-1750, when Gorham was in the vicinity of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  With the exception of two deeds (dated 1772, from his son, Solomon) and one letter (1749 June) that concern the sale of property, and of the genealogical material, all items in the collection pertain to John Gorham's military career in Nova Scotia.  Seven letters relate to his military activities around Fort Sackville in the Fall of 1749, describing his efforts and attempting to gain support among members of the government.  Four letters include attempts to get back pay owed the Rangers.

Source: William L. Clements Library
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/G/Gorham.html

Reference: John Gorham Papers at the William L. Clements Library
  http://www.clements.umich.edu/Webguides/G/Index_G/Gorham.ndx





Google search on John Gorham, 2 June 2007
This webpage came in at Number One
in a Google search on
John Gorham on 2 June 2007




The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this webpage:
John Gorham Controversy
January - February 1998

Archived: 2000 August 19
http://web.archive.org/web/20000819085837/http://alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2001 February 08
http://web.archive.org/web/20010208123656/http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2001 August 16
http://web.archive.org/web/20010816201759/http://www.alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2002 June 17
http://web.archive.org/web/20020617113544/http://alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2002 November 22
http://web.archive.org/web/20021122125333/http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2003 July 16
http://web.archive.org/web/20030716082737/http://alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2004 February 24
http://web.archive.org/web/20040224042836/http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2004 October 12
http://web.archive.org/web/20041012093724/http://www.alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2005 September 07
http://web.archive.org/web/20050907165613/http://www.alts.net/ns1625/gorhamj.html

Archived: 2006 May 28
http://web.archive.org/web/20060528090230/http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/gorhamj.html


These links were accessed and found to be valid on 02 June 2007.




 

Edward Cornwallis (1713-1776)
Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Edward Cornwallis
Wikipedia

Edward Cornwallis
Daniel Paul

Edward Cornwallis
Peter Landry

Edward Cornwallis
Reginald V. Harris

Edward Cornwallis
The Quebec History Encyclopedia

Edward Cornwallis
enotes.com





Cornwallis Junior High to be renamed

Halifax school board votes unanimously in favour of name change

The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Halifax regional school board voted unanimously Wednesday to forever sever the tie between a south-end junior high school and a city founder who put a bounty on the Mi'kmaq.

Acting on a motion by its Mi'kmaq member, Kirk Arsenault, the board agreed that Cornwallis Junior High must have a new name.

The school is named after Gov. Edward Cornwallis, who spearheaded the colonization of the area for the British in the mid-1700s.

"Edward Cornwallis is deeply offensive to members of our Mi'kmaq communities and to Nova Scotians generally who believe school names should recognize persons whose contributions to society are unblemished by acts repugnant to the values we wish our schools to embody and represent," Arsenault said, reading from his motion.

He called the board's decision "an exercise in healing and of education."

No one appeared before the board to oppose Arsenault's motion, and he said most of the feedback he received from the public before the meeting was positive, with only a few people opposing the name change.

"Some people have tried to turn it into some sort of a political storm and tried to flip it back on the Mi'kmaq people," he said.

Mi'kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul addressed the board after the motion was passed.

"I'm proud of you.  You are proactive and God bless," he said.

Paul has long been spreading the word of Cornwallis's scalp proclamation against the Mi'kmaq and protesting the Halifax founder's place in history as a figure deserving tribute.

"Twenty-five years I've been at this," he said.

Paul, who started school in 1948 and quit in 1953, said the only mention of the Mi'kmaq in his school textbooks was that they made axe handles and baskets.

But nowadays, in at least one Dartmouth junior high school, Mi'kmaq studies is a more popular course than Canadian history and African-Canadian history combined, teacher Ben Sichel of Prince Arthur Junior High told the board.

The Cornwallis controversy comes up in class every year, Sichel said.

"You can't change history.  This is true.  But you can choose who you honour," he said before the vote was taken.

"(You) have an opportunity to make a historic contribution to peace and justice in this province."

It will be up to the school community to choose a new name for the junior high.

"It's a great school," said board member David Cameron, who said his granddaughter goes there.

"It will still be a great school with a name of which everyone can be proud."

The school sits in Cameron's district.

Paul said outside the meeting that he'd like Cornwallis's name to be removed from more than just the school.  For example, he'd like Cornwallis Park, across the street from the Via Rail station, to be renamed Freedom Park and a statue erected "to all the immigrants who came to this country and helped to build the country into the powerhouse that it is."





History has share of heroes and villains

The News
New Glasgow, Thursday, 23 June 2011

The renaming of anything because of historical offences always brings charges from some of rewriting history, or political correctness.

While it's understandable that a portion of Nova Scotians object to the name of 18th century military leader Edward Cornwallis being attached to various features, what's more essential is for people to know history.  If Cornwallis is held up as a hero by some and a villain by others, they should know why.

The Halifax Regional School board voted Tuesday to rename Cornwallis Junior High.

The man might be considered the city's founder, but his tactics in early colonial days included a bounty paid for the scalps of natives – including women and children.

At the time, that might have been viewed as a means of carving out turf, but in modern eyes it's often described as ethnic cleansing.  Another problem is that earlier historical texts did not recognize it.

As this dropping of the Cornwallis name comes up in the news, it's ironic to hear the same day of racist, neo-Nazi graffiti showing up in a Shelburne school.

That's another thing we often say about history – whether it's about heroes or those perceived in posterity as villains – that we learn from it.  The perpetrators in this case are living in ignorance.

How many modern-day people are aware of what happened to native populations as Europeans colonized the Americas?  Sad to say, but the Mi'kmaq people in Nova Scotia weren't the only natives to suffer.  Renaming towns or removing statues doesn't change that, and even if it did, there could be a whole lot of renaming going on.

But knowing what has gone on over the centuries between conquerors and conquered is critical.  Some of those names might very well be offensive.  But it's fair to ask whether removing those names removes us a step from awareness of a sometimes nasty past.

Source: Editorial: History has share of heroes and villains





Halifax founder's name to disappear from school

First Nations representative pushed for change

CBC News
Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Halifax Regional School Board has voted to rename Cornwallis Junior High, a public school named after the city founder who ordered the mass killing of Mi'kmaq people.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board agreed that the name was "inappropriate and unacceptable."

Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq representative on the board, considers it a step forward for the whole community.

"What I want this to be is an exercise in healing and education.  I don't want any bad feelings in this, but I do celebrate the victory for the Mi'kmaq community, absolutely," he said.

Edward Cornwallis was a British military officer who founded Halifax.  In 1749, during a war with the Mi'kmaq, he offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children.

Dan Paul, a Mi'kmaq elder, has been trying to remove Cornwallis' name for 25 years.  He applauds the board's decision.

"You don't know how I feel. I feel like dancing in the street, but I'm too old for that.  I'd probably drop dead!" said Paul.

Paul said the next step is to remove the statue of Cornwallis in Cornwallis Park.

"I would like to see that park renamed Freedom Park and a statue to all the immigrants that came to this country and helped to build it into the powerhouse that it is," he said.

It will be up to the community to choose a new name for the school.  No details have been released yet.

This item drew 142 comments online.

Rename Cornwallis Junior High school? CBC poll results as of noon, 28 June 2011
Rename Cornwallis Junior High school?
CBC poll results as of noon, 28 June 2011




School board votes unanimously to rename
Cornwallis Junior High

CJNI-FM (95.7 MHz FM) News 95.7
Thursday, 23 June 2011

Sixty-two years after the cornerstone was laid at Cornwallis Junior High School, the school is being told it has to find a new name.

The Halifax Regional School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night in favour of a motion from Mi'kmaq member Kirk Arsenault to have the school renamed, citing Governor Edward Cornwallis' checkered history with the native people.

Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, vowed to clear the peninsula of the Mi'kmaq people, ordering their killing and putting a bounty on their scalps.

"That should not be celebrated, especially not in the naming of the school," said David Cameron, board member for the Cornwallis Junior High district – who seconded Arsenault's motion.

Arsenault said the move to remove the Cornwallis name from a local institution wasn't born out of vindictiveness.

"This is brought forward in the feeling of healing and education," Arsenault told the board, noting he's received mostly positive responses to the proposal.

No one appeared before the board to oppose the motion, but Mi'kmaq elder Daniel Paul addressed the board after the motion passed.

"Thank you very much, I'm proud of you," he told them. "You're proactive, and God bless."

Paul has spent years bringing overlooked elements of the Cornwallis story to light and says he's delighted with the board's decision.

"You don't know how I feel," he told reporters after the meeting. "I feel like dancing in the street, but I'm too old for that, I'd probably drop dead."

Paul says he will continue to call for the Cornwallis name to be removed from a city street and park, and for the removal of a statue of the historical figure from Cornwallis Park.

"(Cornwallis) is part of history, you can't change it," he said. "Let's keep him in the history books, we don't have to put him on a pedestal."

The community will be invited to submit a new name for the junior high school.

Source: School board votes unanimously to rename Cornwallis Junior High





Cornwallis name stripped from school

The Ottawa Citizen
Thursday, 23 June 2011

Members of the Halifax Regional School Board have voted unanimously to rename Cornwallis Junior High, which had been named after the city's founder, Edward Cornwallis.  As governor of Nova Scotia, he ordered all Mi'kmaq people to be scalped and killed in 1752.

School board member Kirk Arsenault, who called for the renaming, is also a member of the Native Council of Nova Scotia.  "It's an achievement and it's a recognition from society that the Mi'kmaq people are here and they're here to stay and let's right some of the wrongs that were done against them," he said.

Source: Cornwallis name stripped from school




Mi'kmaq rep. on Halifax school board makes bid
to change name of Cornwallis J.H.S.

Global TV
Edmonton, Thursday, 23 June 2011

HALIFAX – Halifax Regional School Board is being asked to change the name of Cornwallis Junior High.

Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq representative on the board, will put forward the motion Wednesday.

The Halifax school is named for Edward Cornwallis, an 18th century Nova Scotia governor who put a bounty on the scalps of native people.

Arsenault said Tuesday that the Cornwallis name still rankles his people.

He said the Native Council of Nova Scotia expressed interest a few months ago in pursuing the change and he is acting on it.

Stripping the name Cornwallis from public sites has long been a crusade of the native community, spearheaded by historian Daniel Paul.

Source: Mi'kmaq rep. on Halifax school board makes bid to change name of Cornwallis J.H.S.




School name change proving debatable

A new name for Cornwallis Junior High might not happen until 2012

School and community will come up with suggestions for a new name

Metro News
Halifax, Friday, 24 June 2011

It's possible more people than pigeons visited the Edward Cornwallis statue in Halifax on Thursday.

"I was down here shopping and I thought about the statue.  I wanted to see it and think about if it's controversial," said Sharon Pinaud at the park across from the Via Rail train station.

She was intrigued by the controversy surrounding Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax and the man who put a bounty on the scalps of the Mi'kmaq people.

The Halifax Regional School Board voted on Wednesday to strip his name from a Halifax junior high school.

There's also a park and a street in Halifax with his name on it.

The statue "glorifies him and he wasn't like that.  He was a human being and that happened," Pinaud said, adding a plaque should be added to outline his darker side.

But she disagrees with taking his name off the school.

"Because it happened," she said. "It's history and it should make us more tolerant to others."

Doug Hadley, spokesman for the board, said it will be some time before a new name will be attached to Cornwallis Junior High School on Preston Street.

A new principal is coming to the school in the fall and that person will strike up a committee to come up with names.  The school board will pick from the suggestions.





Aboriginals Jubilant as Halifax School
Deletes "Cornwallis" from Name

Indian Country Today Media Network
Friday, 24 June 2011

He founded a town and then put a bounty on the Mi'kmaq.  Now, more than 250 years later, aboriginal students will no longer have to attend a school bearing his name.

In 1752 Edward Cornwallis, one of the founders of Halifax, Novia Scotia, issued an order that all Mi'kmaq people be scalped and killed in response to Native attacks on European settlements in a "veritable genocide," according to Postmedia News.  And on June 22 the Halifax Regional School Board voted unanimously to choose a new name, to be chosen by the community at a later date.

The change was proposed by Mi'kmaq school board member Kirk Arsenault, who said, "Edward Cornwallis is deeply offensive to members of our Mi'kmaq communities and to Nova Scotians generally who believe school names should recognize persons whose contributions to society are unblemished by acts repugnant to the values we wish our schools to embody and represent," according to Postmedia News.  He called the board's vote "an exercise in healing and of education."

However, not everyone saw it as a plus.  Jack Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute, told the Canadian Press that the move devalues history.

"It's inevitably rewriting history," he said.  "It's saying, 'Our values today are the only ones that should apply, therefore we can't use the name of someone who had different values 300 years ago.' "

But Mi'kmaq elder and author Daniel Paul, who started pushing for name changes throughout town 25 years ago, called the move proactive, The Chronicle Herald reported, since those 'different values' were that Cornwallis offered to pay 10 pounds for every Mi'kmaq scalp.  His website detailing the English governor's atrocities is here.

Arsenault told The Chronicle Herald that he received mostly positive feedback from the public before the meeting.  Although a few people opposed the name change, no one appeared at the board meeting to oppose the motion, which was unamimously approved.  He doesn't want it to end there.

"I hope it inspires people in positions of power to make change," Arsenault told the Globe and Mail.  "I think there's a lot of battles ahead to remove statues and changes names.  Maybe that's someone else's battle.  But maybe I can inspire them."

Source: Aboriginals jubilant as Halifax school deletes 'Cornwallis' from name





Historian doesn't like change

Granatstein slams decision to take Cornwallis's name off school

The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 24 June 2011

A Canadian historian is questioning a decision by Halifax educators to change the name of a school in a bid to distance itself from a historic figure that aboriginals say was guilty of ethnic cleansing.

Jack Granatstein said Thursday that Halifax Regional School Board is trying to rewrite history by severing the connection to Edward Cornwallis, a British governor who founded the city in 1749.

"You can't go around trying to undo history or make history perfect," Granatstein, a historian with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said from Toronto.

"It's inevitably rewriting history.  It's saying, 'Our values today are the only ones that should apply, therefore we can't use the name of someone who had different values 300 years ago.' "

The Halifax board voted unanimously Wednesday to strip Cornwallis Junior High School of its name after coming under pressure from natives and a Mi'kmaq school board member to expunge it.

Native elder and author Daniel Paul launched the fight about 25 years ago to have monuments and public tributes to Cornwallis changed or taken down.

Paul argues that the legacy of the army officer and colonial administrator is stained by a bounty he placed on native people in 1749 as a way to punish them for not paying homage to the King.  Cornwallis, who spearheaded colonization of the area for the British in the mid-1700s, decreed that each scalp would fetch 10 pounds.

Paul said the initiative amounted to nothing more than an attempt to exterminate Mi'kmaq in the area.

"You can't remove him from history, but it should be taught that he issued this proclamation for the scalps of people in an effort to ethnically cleanse the province," he said in Halifax.

"Do you need to celebrate him as a hero?  The answer is no."

Paul, 72, said he's not trying to erase Cornwallis from the history books.  Instead, he wants monuments, tributes and other markers he sees as celebrations to be removed...





Halifax junior high strips Cornwallis of his rank

The Globe and Mail
Friday, 24 June 2011

Edward Cornwallis founded Halifax and his name adorns Nova Scotia's streets, parks and schools.

But times are changing and some natives are pushing back at the honouring of a man they view as a butcher.  And raising the pressure on elected officials province-wide to take seriously this issue, the school board in Halifax unanimously agreed this week to drop the name from a junior high.

"I hope it inspires people in positions of power to make change," Kirk Arsenault, the Mi'kmaq member of the school board who tabled the motion, said in a phone interview.  "I think there's a lot of battles ahead to remove statues and changes names.  Maybe that's someone else's battle.  But maybe I can inspire them."

The renaming of Cornwallis Junior High, which will get a new moniker after community consultation, comes amid signs of racial progress in Nova Scotia.  The city of Halifax recently apologized for its treatment of blacks in Africville and the province granted a free pardon to Viola Desmond, a woman sometimes called Canada's Rosa Parks.

Native leaders called this week's decision on the school the overdue correction of a historical wrong.  The issue is particularly poignant for the Mi'kmaq, the subject of a Cornwallis proclamation offering a bounty for their scalps.

Daniel Paul, a Mi'kmaq author and historian, said it was irrelevant that Mi'kmaq were, at the same time, being paid by the French for British scalps.  He pointed out that those natives were mercenaries acting beyond the authority of their leaders, whereas the British scalp bounty was official policy.

As for the argument that the province's history can't be re-written, he said politicians have to remember that symbolism matters.

"Would it be nice to have that school re-named Hitler Junior High?" he asked.  "It makes a big difference.  If there is ever going to be a racially equal society you have to clean up all the mess from the past."

This item drew 201 comments online.





History revisited

The Globe and Mail
Saturday, 25 June 2011

Re Halifax Junior High Strips Cornwallis Of His Rank (June 24): The Halifax Regional School Board's unanimous decision this week to rename Cornwallis Junior High because of the actions of its namesake and the "founder" of Halifax – General Edward Cornwallis, who issued a proclamation offering a bounty for Mi'kmaq scalps – is now under attack.

While no one at the meeting spoke against the proposal from the aboriginal member of the board, critics are complaining now about the sanctity and immutability of history.  The history of 1749 should not be revisited or changed, they say, but the history of a few days ago must not stand.

Jim Guild, Halifax





Cornwallis opinions fly

City councillor's email on issue forwarded

The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Saturday, 25 June 2011

Halifax Coun. Darren Fisher says renaming Cornwallis Junior High School could "open a whole can of worms."

Halifax regional school board voted Wednesday evening to strip the south-end Halifax school of its name.

The building's namesake was British governor Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, who placed a bounty on the heads of the Mi'kmaq in the 1700s.

Since the board's decision was announced, there has been significant debate about the decision, with some people claiming the board is trying to rewrite history while others praise the board for its proactive stance.

Fisher's opinion came to light after his email correspondence Thursday with constituent and former political competitor John McMillan was forwarded to The Chronicle Herald by McMillan.  McMillan ran against Fisher in the 2009 byelection for the Halifax Regional Municipality council seat for East Dartmouth-The Lakes.

Fisher said he was surprised when McMillan let him know he had forwarded the note to the Herald.

"I've never had anyone tell me that before," Fisher said in a telephone interview Friday.

Still, he stands by his words.

"It may never end, if we start renaming historical things."

However, the councillor said he's not opposed to clarifying the record.

"Certainly, there were atrocities that took place in the past."

For instance, Fisher said he recently heard a good suggestion that a plaque be added to the statue of Cornwallis that stands in Cornwallis Park in the city's south end.

The move by the school board appears to have caught Fisher unaware.

In his email, he wrote that he was surprised to see a story about the decision in The Chronicle Herald and to hear it talked about on the radio.

"I don't think we should judge historical figures on the acceptable or unacceptable practices of today.  If that were the case, everything would need to be renamed," he wrote.

Fisher was replying to a lengthy email written to him by McMillan that described the historical struggle for land in the region as "horrible and brutal."

Canada has chosen to honour Cornwallis for his contribution to the country, McMillan wrote.

"Edward Cornwallis, brave soldier, hero, founder of Halifax, is on this list of notables.  How dare the Halifax regional school board respond to the whining of one unelected representative on that board and vote to besmirch the reputation and historical accomplishment of what can only be described as a great man," McMillan wrote.

Kirk Arsenault, the board's Mi'kmaq representative, made the motion at the urging of native elder Daniel Paul.

Paul has waged a campaign for the past 25 years to publicize Cornwallis's actions in 1749, when he placed a bounty on the Mi'kmaq of 10 pounds for each scalp.

Paul, the author of We Were Not the Savages, has argued that Cornwallis is an important part of history but does not deserve to be put on a pedestal.

Canadian historian Jack Granatstein, interviewed by The Canadian Press on Thursday, agreed with Fisher's stance.

"People, who by our standards today, are seen as viciously anti-Indian, in the 1700s were seen as great patriotic soldiers who made it safe for whites to live in Nova Scotia," he said.

"You can't apply today's standards to people of the past.  That just gets silly."





Cornwallis clipped: Burying the past

The Sunday Herald
Halifax, Sunday, 26 June 2011

Let he who is without sin leave his name cast in stone.  If Christ had issued this challenge to the world's high and mighty, then monuments great and small, as well as cities old and new, would be stripped of personality one by one.

This is the problem with weighing the worthiness of historical actors in hindsight, as the Halifax regional school board did this week by unanimously agreeing to remove Halifax founder Edward Cornwallis's name from a south-end school.

The case against Cornwallis – that he put a bounty on the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children in 1749 and that "ethnic cleansing" was on his mind back then – is indisputable.

Were he here today, he'd probably plead no contest to the charges and wonder what the fuss was about.  But his modern-day defenders, for lack of a better term, plead no context.  By the standards of 18th-century warfare, they claim, Cornwallis gave as good (or as bad) as he got.

This debate on the subtleties of ancient atrocities can go on forever.  The question is, should it go anywhere?

Certainly, we should give Mi'kmaq historians like Daniel N. Paul their due.  In retrospect, Cornwallis is hardly as respectable as he used to be.  It would be entirely reasonable to draw the line at removing his name from contention for the naming of future buildings and locales.

But should we be drawing the line across Cornwallis's name where it already appears?  The school is neither the beginning nor the end of the campaign against him.  Mr. Paul would also like Cornwallis's name expunged from other places.

But this seems like a recipe for a series of never-ending skirmishes over our history.  After all, the buck doesn't stop with Cornwallis.  How many others should follow him into disgrace?  Contemporaries like Jeffrey Amherst thought distributing smallpox-infested blankets to the natives was a grand idea and Charles Lawrence rounded up the Acadians and expelled them.

Clearly, these are not the sorts of leaders we'd honour today or the sorts of crimes we'd overlook.  But what good is it to dig up their sins only to bury their names?  Fixing the past is futile.  Learn from it and fixate on the future.





No hero is without blemishes

by Stephen Kimber, Metro News
Halifax, Monday, 27 June 2011

The Atlantic's latest issue boasts a history-revisiting article about Cesar Chavez, a hero of my youth.  I read it last week as our school board expunged the name of Halifax's European founder, Edward Cornwallis, from a local Junior High.

During the sixties, Chavez – an iconic, Ghandi-following, Mexican-American union leader – organized 50,000 grape pickers and lettuce harvesters to challenge California's all-powerful farm owners.

"Si, se puede" – Yes it's possible – became his rallying cry.  Inspired by Chavez, white liberals – me too – boycotted grapes for five long years until the farm workers finally won a contract.  I can still recall the sweetly satisfying taste of my first post-boycott grape.

Chavez, who died in 1993, is rightly revered.  His birthday is a holiday in California and seven other states.  Colleges, schools, parks, streets, even a bowling alley are named in his honour.

The Atlantic piece focuses on an "exhaustively researched, by turns sympathetic and deeply shocking" new book re-examining Chavez's life and legacy.  It claims his saintly image masked "the take-no-prisoners, balls-out tactics of a Chicago organizer."  Chavez, for example, turned over to immigration authorities undocumented workers who didn't support his union so they would be deported.  Later, he fell under the spell of a "sinister cult leader," became "unhinged" and even mocked his own farm-worker followers.  "Every time we look at them, they want more money," he complained in one recorded conversation.  "Like pigs, you know."

So... should California cancel its holiday, rename its schools and parks?

Cesar Chavez – like Edward Cornwallis – isn't "unblemished."

That appears to have become the Halifax school board's new litmus test for having a school named after you.

But no hero – no human hero – can pass that test. Not Chavez. Not Cornwallis. But also not Martin Luther King, John A. MacDonald, Nelly McClung, even "Canada's Greatest Hero," Tommy Douglas...

Edward Cornwallis helped establish Halifax, a noteworthy accomplishment to those of us who now call it home.  But during the English-French-Mi'kmaq struggle to control the territory, Cornwallis offered a bounty for any captured or killed Mi'kmaq, "or his scalp as is the custom of America."

The notion rightly shocks our contemporary sensibilities, but Cornwallis wasn't alone. Nor were the English.  It was a nasty time.

We should be able to honour Cornwallis for his accomplishments while acknowledging not everything he did was honour-worthy.

Which is true of most of us.

Reference: Heroes and Blemishes: Edward Cornwallis and Cesar Chavez





Renaming Cornwallis Junior High

CBC Information Morning
CBHA-FM (90.5 MHz FM) Radio One
Halifax, Monday, June 27, 2011 8:12am

(Audio) The chair of the Halifax Regional Schoolboard explains why Cornwallis will be re-named, and what it might mean for other school names. 5:35
“...We're not rewriting history, we're telling history the way it was...”





School-naming 101: A lesson in blandness

Editorial in The Chronicle-Herald
Halifax, Friday, 9 December 2011

Back in 1994, an intrepid Chronicle Herald editor thought he'd lampoon the results of an unimaginative school-naming exercise in Cole Harbour by sticking the most boring headline possible on the story.  And so it was that the following day's newspaper deadpanned: "Auburn Drive school to be called Auburn Drive School."

Whether or not the headline was recognized as satire per se, it soon became the object of satire and – believe it or not – it got its five seconds of international fame by being lampooned on Jay Leno's late-night talk show.

Blandness never goes out of style in the school-naming, or renaming, business.  What else can we make of the proposal to dub a central Halifax school "Halifax Central Junior High School"?

Not to confuse matters, but this is the same school which soon will be formerly known as Cornwallis Junior High.  The school board voted in June to strip the institution of its identity because the founder of Halifax is now deemed politically incorrect as a role model.  (Edward Cornwallis issued a scalping proclamation against the Mi'kmaq during a frontier war two and a half centuries ago.)  [Hyperlinks added]

Early in the new year, the board will vote on a new moniker.  Stand by for yet another insufferably inspid headline – because "Halifax Central" is what the school advisory council came up with this week after some avid soul-searching.  "There were many interesting names suggested and picking a name from all the thoughtful contributors was a tough process," the committee said in a statement, without going into details, and without a hint of irony.

Are we to surmise that "Halifax Central," by dint of being the winner of a fierce competition, qualifies as a "thoughtful" contribution – in fact, as the most thoughtful of the lot?  If so, the other offerings must have been disqualified for being coma-inducing in their originality.

Or perhaps the problem was that the second-best submissions sought to honour specific people.  As we know, not everybody likes the same people.  People are controversial.  Heaven knows, 250 years from now, those people we seek to honour today might look like complete savages in hindsight.

People are interesting because they're not perfect.  Which is why the perfect name is sadly the perfectly banal one in this day and age.

Source: School-naming 101: A lesson in blandness Editorial, 9 Dec 2011
Reference: We have succeeded in offending nobody Editorial cartoon, 10 Dec 2011




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