Edward Cornwallis and 18th-century Halifax re-imagined

Cornwallis: The Violent Birth of Halifax
by Jon Tattrie
$19.95, paperback, 238 pp.
Pottersfield Press, May 2012

Cornwallis Jon TattrieThis, the first biography of Edward Cornwallis, the 18th-century military figure whose reputation has faded into a street name here and there, was triggered by a modern-day ad campaign that accidentally referenced Cornwallis’s rough treatment of the Mi’kmaq—specifically, that Cornwallis had offered a bounty on their scalps, an edict considered racist and inhumane by today’s standards. But can the present judge the past? That’s the question this book tries to answer as it connects the dots of Cornwallis’s biography.

Journalist Jon Tattrie has researched and re-imagined Cornwallis’ story, even to including characters’ thoughts and conversations. As such, it borders on historical fiction, but the format does keep the text lively.

In some ways, the prologue and epilogue are the most fascinating, as they explain how this man suddenly became front page news, more than 200 years after his death, and measure what his new legacy might be.

Cornwallis: The Violent Birth of Halifax
by Jon Tattrie
$19.95, paperback, 238 pp.
Pottersfield Press, May 2012

 

Written By

Joan Sullivan is editor of Newfoundland Quarterly and author of the non-fiction books In The Field and The Long Run.

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1 Comment

  • Pottersfield press has a reputation for publishing diatribes such as Tattrie’s.. His book on Cornwallis is chock full of mistakes. For example; When the English handed Louisburg and all of Cape Breton back to the new French Governor Des Herbiers in July, 1749, the British commander, Colonel Hopson went to Halifax where he was sworn in as a council member on July 28th by Cornwallis. However, at the bottom of page 72 in his book, Tattrie states, “Cornwallis swore in Hopson as governor-in-chief of cape Breton….” This is preposterous; I hope his book won’t be used in history classes. Cheers, Alex Boutilier, author- The Citadel on Stage.

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