The CITADEL on Stage: British Military Theatre, Sports, and Recreation in Colonial Halifax

Cover Description:  

The Citadel On Stage is a lively and entertaining social history of British military officers stationed in colonial Halifax. The object of this volume is to survey a wide range of social, theatrical, and recreational performances up until confederation; and to examine the reasons why the garrison officers were entirely involved in these activities.

The main focus is on the garrison theatrical society as a social, cultural, and charitable entity, and how its existence revolved around the British institutions of colonial government and religion, as well as economics. The author illustrates a relationship between the theatricality of political performance and acting on stage, and shows how closely acting and politics are bound up with one another. While attesting that the Anglican Church supported garrison theatre, he gives a critical review of the incessant opposition by the non-conformist puritan element in the community. He also points out that the progress of theatre, sports, and recreation in colonial Halifax parallels the rise or decline of the economy.

In his own style, A.D. Boutilier paints a vivid picture of the comedy and farce inherent in upper class society and in the British institutions moored at Halifax from 1749 to 1867.


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From CITADEL posters: the broad influence of Garrison Officers on settlement, sports and horses  (racing/breeding) plus boat racing & regattas,  and Theatre within the towns and cities of the Maritime Colonial period.


Settlement, wars and impact on settlers:


Settlement of Halifax and the role of the British governors, navy and army … and waves of settlers that followed populating the Maritimes.

Influence of immigrants to NS (current Maritimes) from the Loyalists to the Irish, the Foreign Protestants (e.g. , Germans, Montebeliards), Scots, others.

The influence of various wars: the French & Indian wars (Seven Years War), American Revolution, capture of Louisburg, & Quebec, War of 1812 … Fenians and more.

The Expulsion of the Acadiens (George’s Island) and the marginalization of the native peoples and those of colour began and continued for centuries.

The economic life of the city and region seemed much like a roller-coaster: up during war, down in between; and that continued well into the 20th Century and the two world wars.


Theatre and its spread to other cities, towns:


The first play written & performed in North America was on the Annapolis River: on Nov. 14th, 1606, by the Annapolis garrison. Note the later connection to Kings Theatre and Annapolis Royal after 1713. •

The role of established religion and upper class society in the on again, off again, development of theatre in Halifax.

The garrison theatre spread from Halifax to Annapolis Royal, to Windsor, Cape Breton, Saint John, Fredericton, St. John’s, Newfoundland and even Quebec City after it fell in 1758. Halifax Garrison regiments also performed in New York, Boston & Philadelphia between 1775-1783.


Sports & Recreation: connections to the 20-21st centuries:


Garrison races held by officers on the Commons eventually led to thoroughbred and standardbred racing and improved breeding within the Maritimes.

Racing, horse-breeding eventually spread from Halifax to Sackville-Windsor Junction, Windsor, Truro, Charlottetown, Sydney and more. Blood lines were improved with English and Arabian horses.

Formed the basis for the North Commons (race track), South (Public Gardens) and Central Commons (Egg Pond) for recreation; the Garrison Grounds, the former stables for Bengal Lancers and current Halifax Police mounted division.

Sports and recreation of those early years also continued into modern times and established the tradition of sailing and regattas in the region today.

ISBN 9781895814545: 384 pp, endnotes, biblio, indexed:  Available in fine book and gift stores, museums everywhere, as well as online on this site and retailers within Canada.

Price: $27.50
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My dear Alice: War letters 1937-1950



By Clare Christie and Carol Wills, Canadian and English cousins born at wars end on opposite sides of the Atlantic.








Book signings: Reading Town Program, Charlottetown 

May 2 (Sat),  11AM – 12:30: BookMark, Charlottetown

May 2 ( sat) 1 – 3 PM: Indigo, Charlottetown, PEI


Additional Summer Book Signings (Atlantic Summer Reading Guide)

May 16 (Sat) 12 -1:30 PM:  Chapters Bayers Lake, Halifax

May 16 (Sat) 2:30-4 PM: Chapters Mic Mac, Dartmouth

May 23 (Sat) 1 – 3PM: Coles, Truro Mall


Flat rate Shipping: $8.00 in Canada, $13.00 Continental USA



An amazing new 276 page book (8 x 9, 80 lb. gloss pages with quality cover) released Nov 1st in time for Remembrance Day and Holiday gift giving, involving letters sent from Britain  during wartime in response to Alice Christie’s packages sent from Amherst, NS to the UK to keep in touch with family living through the London ‘blitz”, the Battle of Britain and the threat of German invasion. In those packages she provided news, essentials that were rationed for the war effort, plus a few small luxury items such as chocolate, hair nets, stockings, Chedder cheese, etc. to maintain the collective spirits of her aunts, uncles and cousins during those darkest of days. The letters begun in 1937, endured until 1950, although some items were still rationed until 1954 in Great Britain.


Many readers will recall and relate to the sending of packages to needy families in the UK, Holland and France, as it was a fairly common practice for many families within the Maritimes. The primary difference was that those very literate letters sent in return were kept for 60 years by Alice Christie and her family and this collection constitutes what one archivist has called a National Treasure.




A compelling WWII story, but a real departure from most books on war, as this one is a social history told through the civilians (and some soldiers) who lived through it. Alice, from Amherst, NS, Canada, mindful of the shortages in Britain, sent packages of staples and a few luxuries to British relatives who suffered through the blitz and the threat of invasion. She was doing her part to keep in touch with relatives on the other side of the Atlantic, as well as to alleviate some of the hardships caused by rationing, which lasted for some items until 1954. The fascinating letters (transcribed literally from original mostly hand-written correspondence) she received in return give us a woman’s perspective on the war. Although the letters often talk of family and difficulties of raising children in wartime, there are also very insightful accounts of the progress of the war itself and the politics surrounding it by intelligent, thoughtful women – especially the aunts of Alice Christie – Berta and Helen. Berta’s letters are insightful and thoughtful, with a sophisticated turn of language, while Helen, also very literate, is more direct, speaking her mind in a razor-sharp, incisive and cogent manner. The story covers not only the run up to, and the war itself, but also the recovery that followed.


An accompanying timeline (1935-1950), encapsulates the war on a global basis, illustrating the insidious nature of war, the treatment of Jews and other non-Aryans by the Nazis, and the widespread changes after the war as emerging countries strive for independence.


A unique story narrated in a distinctive way by two authors, cousins, who grew up on opposite sides of the Atlantic.



Additional DescriptionMore Details

“It was a distinct pleasure to have the opportunity to read such a delightful account detailing the lives of fascinating and worthwhile individuals. Each letter-writer expressed her/his self so touchingly and lovingly, some eloquently and others with great feeling and honesty. Brought back memories to me of WWII!“ “What a gem Helen Williams is! So erudite, with a wonderful command of English and a remarkable grasp of the then current affairs & politics. A very perceptive woman.” “It’s an impressive compilation, beautifully put together. Stunning family social history. Can’t imagine any other of the period being more gripping!” Hugh Griffith, former Editor of Debates & Chief of Reporting Services, The Senate of Canada.

Price: $27.95
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Oak Island Unearthed! a miners investigation into the enigma of Oak Island, the Mesoamericans and the treasures buried within

Watch John O. O’Brien outline his ideas on the History Channel’ The Curse of Oak Island .He will be on Episode 6 and following. If you missed Episode Six (Dec 15, in USA, Dec 20 inCanada) please check this link on You-Tube:  or to see all episodes, go the The Curse of Oak Island web site at:


Order on this site today and get free shipping in Canada or $5.00 shipping for the continental USA for single books via Canada Post letter mail. Orders on this site are shipped within 24 hours Monday to Thursday. Limited offer until Atlantic Holiday Flyer Guide published.



For Bulk orders please call the publisher at 1-777-211-3334 for an exact quote. For example 5 copies would shipped Expedited for $10 FLAT FEE; 1o copies would be shipped Free as with single copies.


SECOND updated printing available NOW!


Use PayPal automatically on line or call direct and order with VISA/MasterCard on toll free line – 1-877-211-3334. Available through this website or online via or Not available as yet through, but coming soon.


Books will be available in virtually every independent and chain bookstore in Atalantic Canada. as well as in many Indigo bookstores across Canada. See him also a various book signings in regional stores, and special events including Christmas at the Forum. . Books are also currently in stock in many Maritime gift stores and are listed on national on-line web sites. Oak Island Unearthed! is also advertised in the Atlantic Holiday Flyer,  in stores, newspapers on or before November 6th, 2015.



LINK:  Friends of Oak Island facebook page/John O’Brien’s book:



John O’Brien first learned about Oak Island in 1958 at the age of twelve, listening intently as his pharmacist father and a Saint Mary’s University professor debated, for an entire winter, the merits of existing theories of Oak Island and the mysterious lost treasures of the world.


After fifty-five years of research and puzzling over this mystery, many visits to the island, tens of thousands of miles traveled, and thirty-six years working underground, as well as countless books devoured about Oak Island, other famous world mysteries and the Mesoamericans, O’Brien had much of the puzzle in hand. However, two issues remained. Although he had always known there was an ancient mine on the island, it took an episode on the History Channel to present the final clue as to what was being mined and where; followed by a recent and significant breakthrough in archeological research.


The latter finally linked ‘ritual mathematics’ with Oak Island measurements; which combined with the scientific findings (e.g., carbon dating, drill core samples, geology) which, for the most part, had been ignored … and 1000 years of history cemented the conclusions found in this publication. Oak Island, simply put, is an underground operation, and O’Brien’s life-long career as an experienced miner in all capacities – within Nova Scotia and the far-flung corners of the planet – gave him a perspective that has eluded others in what is the world’s longest ‘treasure hunt’.


Readers have even suggested this story is the true ‘W-5 plus one’ of Oak Island – the only original theory with supporting evidence that answers the who, what, where, why and when, as well as how – in a unique and comprehensive way. You will be surprised; you may initially be surprised, even startled by some of the connections and conclusions, but the evidence speaks for itself, and the story-telling style of O’Brien, honed in the mining camps of Canada’s far north, will keep you informed and entertained as he solves this enduring mystery.

Price: $19.99
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Scapegoat, the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion

 Scapegoat,  was the overall winner on May 17th in Charlottetown.for non-fiction in the Atlantic Book Awards,  The author and title were al;so awarded the prestigious Robbie Robertson Dartmouth Book Award for non-fiction for 2014. In June, 2015 Scapegoat won a Bronze medal in New York for non-fiction in Eastern Canada at the prestigious 2015 International Independent Publisher Awards.


BRAND NEW listing with 10% off and flat rate shipping in Canada of $10.00; USA shipping is $15.00 Expedited.


Scapegoat by Joel Zemel is the definitive historical work related to the legal context, trials and appeals that followed the massive explosion the leveled the Halifax waterfront and north-end in 1917, killing 2000 and injuring 9000 more. Surely someone was to blame for this disaster? A through study in 496 pages, with primary source references that captures the mood, as well as the details of the inquiries, trials, and appeals of those who would be scapegoated to satisfy the public and governmental appetite for blame – someone had to be held responsible for this catastrophe! Three were charged, but why not one hundred? Perhaps because many had died, saving them from further pain and humiliation, but perhaps simply because Le Medoc, Wyatt and Mackey had survived and were more closely connected with this disaster than some others. Complete with 150 photographs and diagrams and enough primary document references and notes that tell many more stories in themselves.


Scapegoat Summary: On the morning of 6 December 1917, a French munitions ship, SS Mont Blanc, carrying a full cargo of highly volatile explosives, and a Belgian Relief vessel under Norwegian registry, SS Imo, collided in Halifax Harbour. Twenty minutes later, a catastrophic explosion destroyed the district of Richmond in the North End of the city, causing the loss of over 2,000 lives, countless injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. At first, German spies and saboteurs were assumed to have been the culprits. However, within a few days, Captain Aimée Le Médec and Pilot Francis Mackey of Mont Blanc were under intense scrutiny in the court of public opinion.


The federal government launched an immediate inquiry to investigate the causes of the accident which led to the disaster. However, Ottawa’s underlying goal was to assume control over the port and its pilotage system. During the latter part of the proceedings, fingers pointed towards the Royal Canadian Navy for alleged mismanagement of the port. By that time, the drive to find those responsible for the unthinkable had reached a fever pitch. As a result of the inquiry decision, the captain and pilot, along with RCN chief examining officer, Commander F. Evan Wyatt, were singled out for blame. They were arrested and subsequently charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence.


Within the framework of the inquiry transcripts and through the incorporation of additional legal records, official naval documentation, photographs and archived resources, this volume details the circumstances leading up to the day of the collision, fire and explosion. The courtroom then becomes the setting for a close examination of the inquiry itself and the numerous legal proceedings which followed. Ultimately, the evolution of the concerted efforts to indict a scapegoat in the wake of this unprecedented marine and civil disaster is revealed.

Additional DescriptionMore Details

A fabulous read for anyone interested in all things related to the Halifax Explosion. You will not get though this publication in single reading as the notes and subtext tell so many additional underlying stories in and of themselves. Once you read the main text you will find yourself returning time and again to search in the details and endnotes. Add meticulous attention to a detailed reconstruction of many photographs, some never seen before in any publication on the Halifax Explosion, and you have a book you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf always … as a reference or to amaze your friends with what you “know”. All Halifax “junkies” or Haligonians should always be within easy access of a copy of this publication.

Every library, large or small, will also want a copy in their collection, as will universities and law schools.

Price: $39.95
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