Evolution of the Middle Class: Colonial Society Rules
ISBN 9781895814996. 270 pages
Author A.D. Boutilier; Editor Francis Mitchell,. Third book in trilogy of Maritime social history.
This publication is the third in a series on the colonial Maritimes, especially Nova Scotia, after the founding of Halifax. However, it is important to remember that from 1749-1785, the new 14th Colony included all of the current three Maritime provinces, plus a portion of Maine. The story begins, circa 1710, when Annapolis Royal was the seat of governance for what had been previously known as Acadie. With the publication of this book, the trilogy on the evolution of the colonial period up to Confederation is now complete.
The purpose of this publication is to investigate the reasons why a middle-class began to formulate within the Maritimes, during the early 1830s and how it evolved until Confederation in 1867. However, to deliberately leave out the history of other groups from which the middle-class emerged would not do justice to the story – one that presents a more complete picture of the evolution of contemporary society.
The first book was The CITADEL on Stage, which illuminated the lives of the British garrison and the Royal Navy that were moored within the region until 1906 – and explains the impact upon many traditions we now consider part of daily life within the Maritimes: repertoire theatre, recreation and sport, including horse racing and breeding, and the Maritime tradition of regattas. The second title, From 14th Colony to Confederation: governors, Placemen and the Merchant Elite, demystifies the lives of the rich and powerful of that era, those who ruled the colony until responsible government in 1848, as well as the struggles of the poor and downtrodden, who fought to be heard and strained very nerve to survive, often as victims of the power systems of the era. One common thread running through the chapters of the latter title traces the roles and successes (or lack thereof) of each governor/lieutenant-governor, as well as what other influential individuals achieved, which along with the threat of American hegemony, ultimately led to Canadian Confederation. Several detailed appendices in the second book list the post-Confederation lieutenant-governors, with annotated biographies of those who served during the latter 20th and early 21st Century.
This final work in the trilogy, Evolution of the Middle-Class, contains a generous summary of the first two titles and describes the critical factors that changed a colony into a nation, including what Joseph Howe described as the ‘middling class’ and their evolution to eventually become the largest segment of society, along with their impact upon politics and the formation of political parties. It is an accurate, often blunt and raw, but still rather humourous social history, and as such, the detailed narrative has sought to reveal the critical cultural (and sub-cultural) signposts along the way, taking the reader on a natural journey to explain the past and foreshadow the future beyond Confederation. “Readers will be astonished, outraged and amused!”
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