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Leo J. Deveau

I was born on Prince Edward Island in 1955. And except for a short sojourn working as a public librarian in Regina, Saskatchewan, I have been a resident of Nova Scotia for over thirty-five years.

Books have always been an important part of my life. One of the most inspiring teachers I had in public school was a librarian. She showed me whole new worlds that existed on the very book shelves of our school library, and more importantly, how I could find those worlds for myself.

Today some may think that new worlds now exist online. And though this is true to some extent, I still firmly believe reading[1] a great text (fiction or non-fiction) on a page (or screen), read in silence, with focused attention and time for reflection, and possibly shared with others, is foundational to lifelong learning, no matter one’s age!

As it turns out, my work has always involved either books or magazines in some form or other. Besides my undergraduate degree in English Drama, I later went on to do graduate degrees in adult education and library information management. I have been a book sales agent, university administrator, a not-for-profit executive director, a community economic development and public policy researcher and public librarian, researching in public and academic libraries for important information, often across many disciplines and sources.

I am currently a commentator, researcher and writer.  I am also a board director of the Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society (HMHPS.ca) and I co-write various public history profiles for the Society. I am a member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Province’s Library Association, the Nova Scotia Library Association and the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. These positions and roles have provided me many opportunities to learn a great deal about Nova Scotian history and culture. I aspire to engage a better understanding and clarity for those who wish to be informed and care about the many diverse and wide-ranging historical narratives that make up our provinces’ and our country’s history. Thus I published my book 400 Years…

The content for this web site is based on my recent book 400 Years in 365 Days A Day by Day Calendar of Nova Scotia History (Formac Publishing, 2017). The book contains about a third of the daily entries that I’ve compiled, but will continue to grow with ongoing research.

As noted in my introduction, 400 Years… actually began with a book authored by Dr. Shirley Elliott (see entry for October 15, 2004), which was called the Nova Scotia Book of Days, published in 1979 by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. At that time, Shirley was the Nova Scotia Legislative Librarian for the House of Assembly.

Given that 2017 was the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and the fact that Nova Scotia was one of the four initial signatures to forming the federation, I felt the time was right to update, revise and create a whole fresh version of what Shirley’s book had begun!

I subsequently received permission from the Nova Scotia Speaker of the House of Assembly to use the material in Shirley’s book and create what I hope will be a new tradition of documenting a wide range of important events in Nova Scotian history, featuring many personalities and cultures that have shaped the province’s history – and where possible, include photos, paintings and illustrations.

The key word in my book, and with this online compilation, is selective. And no doubt there may be items that I’ve missed that you feel should be included. Therefore, I invite you to submit key events (or personalities) through one of two methods. Via this website, by clicking here, or on our “Submit a piece of history” tab at the bottom of your screen. Alternatively through an email to 400years@formac.ca – preferably accompanied with a specific date, the sources used, and a short note as to why you feel the item has relevance for all Nova Scotians. If a photo or illustration is available to accompany the item all the better! Also, please ensure you have permission to use the image electronically. Keep in mind, we’re not writing articles – have a look at the entries already on the site, or in the book, to determine how you might write up the entry for consideration. Unless otherwise instructed, your name will be given credit for the entry.

It does not stop here however, my next book project is about the Sandford Fleming Expedition of 1872 that left Halifax to survey a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to build a rail-line through the Rockies – the working title is called Before the Last Spike.

 

[1] When I say ‘reading,’ I know that there are also readers who may be visually impaired who prefer to listen to text being read. Thankfully technological advances now allow individuals to access texts and information resources in various ways. Nevertheless, I feel the very act of individually locating and engaging with fiction or non-fiction materials on one’s own, in a library, bookstore, or online, and maybe at some point shared with others, provides a rich foundation for lifelong learning.