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