The society meets monthly from September to May inclusive to hear and to discuss individual papers about personalities, places and events integral to the history of Nova Scotia at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Society lectures are open to the public and are completely free. Lectures are usually followed by refreshments.
Unless otherwise indicated, our meetings are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evenings at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 6016 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

RNSHS Public Lecture – Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The End of the “Gentlemen’s Agreement”: the Collapse of Catholic Education in Nova Scotia

Robert Bérard, Professor and Director of Graduate Education, Mount Saint Vincent University

 The paper looks at the history of the so-called “Gentleman’s Agreement” between Nova Scotia Premier Charles Tupper and Archbishop of Halifax Thomas Connolly to provide limited public support for Catholic schools within a non-denominationsl public school system, particularly at the collapse of that informal arrangement just over one hundred years later. Demographic, political and cultural changes in Nova Scotia within the Catholic Church put an effective end to the “Gentleman’s Agreement” and, in turn, to the closure of most non-public Catholic schools in the province.

Click here for a bio of Robert Berard.


RNSHS Public Lecture – Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“The people’s rights we have sustained”
The Nova Scotian Repeal and Annexation Movements (1867–1869)

Mathias Rodorff, PhD Candidate, History Department, LMU Munich and Dalhousie University

 In September, 1867 the Dominion of Canada was challenged by the newly elected Nova Scotian government wanting to repeal it and by anti-confederate groups from Yarmouth calling for annexation to the United States. Although these opposition movements failed, they had significant impact that merits re-examination.
Mathias Rodorff will discuss the causes and courses of the Repeal and the Annexation Movements, the controversial role of the Mother Country and the contribution of the press and thus will offer new perspectives on the relationship between Confederation and the people of Nova Scotia.

Click here for a bio of Mathias Rodorff.

RNSHS Public Lecture – Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

City’s Saviours: The Military Response to the Halifax Explosion

Col. John Boileau (Ret’d)

 When the Belgian relief ship Imo collided in the Narrows of Halifax Harbour with the munitions-laden Mont-Blanc at about 08:45 on the morning of December 6, 1917, it started a fire that eventually resulted in an earth-shattering explosion at 09:04:35, perhaps the largest man-made, non-nuclear explosion in history.

The public safety and emergency service organizations that exist today were unknown, the city’s fire and police departments had few members, public hospitals had only recently come into existence and private ones were small. Halifax and Dartmouth were clearly unable to cope with the scale of the disaster and emergency assistance was desperately required. Other cities and towns in Nova Scotia quickly mobilized help once word of the disaster got to them, and American assistance from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York also was dispatched to the stricken city.

It took time to organize this response however, and in the interim it was the large number of Canadian, British and American soldiers, sailors and nursing sisters who were in the city at the time that immediately came to the city’s rescue. Among other actions, their response saved lives, prevented further destruction and stopped looting—in short, they prevented the disaster from becoming greater than it was.

Halifax’s role as the Canadian city most involved in the war effort—a function that led to the explosion in the first place—was also the main reason why the reaction to the disaster was so quick and coordinated. The important role the armed forces played in the rescue and recovery operations has never been given the formal recognition it deserves. It remains a mystery why the contributions of the servicemen and -women who offered so much in the explosion’s aftermath have never been officially acknowledged.

Click here for a bio of John Boileau.