IJL – Network.Press – Acadie Nouvelle
A book telling the history of the Kent region will be published next spring. It will be available in time for the start of the 2023 school year.
“Finally we will give birth to our four-year project”, launches the director general of the Commission of regional services (CSR) of Kent, Paul Lang.
According to him, the District scolaire francophone Sud will buy 150 copies of the book, while the network of public libraries in New Brunswick wants 40 copies.
A total of 500 copies in French and 300 in English will be printed. The 250-300 page book is expected to sell for $34.95 each.
This project is a collaboration between the CSR de Kent and the Institut d’études acadiennes of the Université de Moncton.
Historical research, interviews and the writing of the book were conducted by historians and sociologists from the Institut d’études acadiennes.
“Historians and sociologists at the Université de Moncton have noticed that the history of the county goes beyond just toponymy,” explains the director of the CSR. There are some very interesting stories. So we developed a book on the history of the county, rather than just toponymy.
According to the DG, the book goes through each community, and will talk about the important personalities who have influenced the community.
He points out that two themes among others will appear in the book: one on the smuggling of alcohol and the second on the role of soldiers from the Kent region during the wars.
“We still kept a toponymic flavor,” said the representative of the Kent CSR about the original names of the communities.
It is the sociologist by training and assistant professor of sociology at the Université de Moncton, Mathieu Wade, who is leading the project. He says he and his team wanted to contribute academically to the project, but without wanting to get into any particular jargon.
“We wanted it to be accessible to everyone. We try to do it with a fairly clear narrative style, but which nevertheless sheds light on trying to trace the history of a county,” he explains.
Academics also wanted to make it accessible to schools.
“We thought it could be a good educational tool to talk about the region,” says the project leader.
“We wanted to try to understand how communities came to coexist, and Kent County was really interesting because it’s a microcosm of the province where we have the Mi’kmaq, a fairly strong Acadian presence, but a whole English colonial heritage which was also established. We wanted to use this county to tell the story of our province, but from a particular case”, illustrates the sociologist.
At the beginning, the order was to make the census of all the toponyms in the county, and to try to explain the origin of the names.
“By doing this, we realized that we had identified 300 toponyms for a county which has a population of approximately 30,000 inhabitants. That’s one toponym per 100 inhabitants,” comments the university professor.
According to Mathieu Wade, the volume also includes a more general history of the county, from its origins until today.
“We did more thematic studies to try to dig into certain aspects. There is a chapter on the smuggling of alcohol, because it is a county by the sea. It also marked the popular imagination, ”he says in reference to the story of the ghost of Richibucto.
There is also a chapter on women of the 20s.
“We try to show how women were quite mobile. They left for indefinite periods, had small careers. They came back and started a family. We try to retrace these routes,” advises Mathieu Wade.
Emphasis was also placed on indigenous peoples.
“The creation of the reserves, the tense relations, the colonial heritage, we thought that it could well serve in the spirit of truth and reconciliation which is quite present in society in general”, admits the sociologist.
“Immediately, the book is sent to the publisher. It will probably appear in the spring, in French. We wanted to do a launch in French and English, jointly, but for funding and logistical reasons, we’re going to go with the French version first,” says Mathieu Wade.
The book will also take into account the new reality with the reform of local governance.
“When we were about to send the revised manuscript in its final version to the publisher, the reform took its course and we had the boundaries and the names of the new localities. So we were able to add these elements,” confirms the sociologist.
The professor points out that Kent County stands out from other regions of the province.
“It was by far the county with the highest proportion of DSLs and the highest population that lived in DSLs. It was the least municipalized territory in the province,” he attests.