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:help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?


Just Joe

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Hi Folks,

 

As often happens to me, while I'm supposed to be prepping for one game, my mind wanders to possible future campaigns. I'm currently thinking about two, each involving an alternate history, and each possibly set in what is now the Atlantic coast of what is now Canada. The first is a Vikings-in-the-New-World kind of campaign; the second is roughly a Napoleanic era naval campaign. For both, I am curious about the history and geography, esp. of ports, of the Atlantic coast of Canada. Can anyone reccommend a historical atlas or other resource accessable to the non-scholar that could tell me, for example, whether Quebec and Halifax were prominent settlements of native peoples, when they were settled by Europeans, and when these and other regional ports first became important to transatlantic trade?

 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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Re: :help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?

 

Woo.. I did an Atlantic Coast Vikings in the New World campaign back in the early 80s. One of the best resources I found was information about L'Anse-aux-Meadows in Newfoundland.

http://www.wordplay.com/tourism/viking.html

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/exploration/norse.html

 

First European Settlements List

http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/ushistory/firsteuropeansettlements.htm

I was in Quebec City this summer for the 400th anniversary. It's a really wonderful city. I even got to practice my francais

 

 

Note that Stadacona was a native settlement of 500 Iroquois before Cartier stumbled across it in 1535 looking for India. Most of his French sailors died from scurvy, hunger and the cold winter and when spring came in 1536 they kidnapped Stadacona's chief and some of his followers and dragged him back to France. When Cartier returned in 1541 there was an ill-fated attempt at French settlement, but in 1543 the survivors returned to France. When Champlain returned to Quebec in 1608, Stadacona was gone. The people who lived in Stadacona were Iroquois and the people who lived where Quebec City is now were nomadic Algonquin (different cultural and language groups who fought each other).

 

The natives that the Vikings would have interacted with in 1000 AD were known as Skraelings to the Vikings. Skraeling is a Viking "diss" roughly meaning "Wretches" or scared or scruffy one. The root word is Skral meaning "thin or scrawny", lacking in cultural sense. I'm sure the Vikings were relatively wretched looking to the natives.

The aboriginal group that the vikings probably interacted with were most likely Beothuk. This group was mostly wiped out by the Mi'kmaq who were paid by the French to kill them off (so it has been said). The "last Beothuk" apparently died in British captiviy in 1829, but many Beothuk had fled to live with Mi'kmaq and even Innu to the north. The distinct cultural group was assimilated by 1900. So the Beothuk is fairly mysterious. I think Shanawdithit (the last beothuk) did some drawings and writing about her life, but I can't remember everything about that.

I hope that helps.

 

P.S. I wrote a short story in high school and sent it in to a competition about Vikings in North America hunting down a killer stone giant with the help of a Beothuk Shaman. It was returned with some fairly disparaging remarks.

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Re: :help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?

 

Wikipedia +Google + Google Maps+links as appropriate. I'm sorry that I don't know the ultimate "Norumbega," Peter Easton or David Ingram site, but even the briefest search will tell you everything the Web actually knows about these subjects, which isn't very much.

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Re: :help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?

 

Just to clarify here, "Norumbega" appears in 16th Century contexts as a city of gold and pearls somewhere along the Northeastern coast. It begins to appear as a possible destination of explorers and sailors who show up in "Newfoundland" during the summer cod fishery ...at some point. (Unfortunately, we do not know when European fishing fleets began to visit the island of Newfoundland. Saint Johns' harbour appears in a map tentatively dated to 1515, although it could be as early as 1485. We also do not know when they began visiting the mainland. An archaeologically recovered Basque whaling base may be as old enough to belong to that "around 1515" category of dates, or may not be. Similarly, it is often said that Jacques Cartier met European fishing boats in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence when he ascended it to Quebec in 1535. The evidence is unfortunately indirect, but it seems reasonably clear that he had an experienced pilot aboard.)

We do know that in the aftermath of his 1568 disaster at Vera Cruz, John Hawkins dropped 100 men off on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, we assume not too far from Tampico; and that three of those men, led by David Ingram, were back in London before the next winter, having taken ship near Cape Breton.

It is as sure as anything can be that Ingram travelled the distance between the Gulf Coast and Nova Scotia, overland, in those few months, because they had a great deal of help from the Indians, who presumably were doing favours in hopes of getting someone's gratitude.

The interesting part (for old time adventurers) is that Ingram claimed to have visited "Norumbega" along the way, and dropped off another 23 men who "married into the country." Ingram's description of Norumbega was fantastic, but then it was transcribed with the intention of promoting trade expeditions to it, and investors' pockets had to be opened up.

This converges with the key point that, if Norumbega existed, and if it were as wealthy as folk say, then it couldn't possibly have been built by Indians (they said back in the Nineteenth Century), and must have been a surviving Viking community.

The vision this opens up is of early English adventurers actually settling amongst a pre-existing Viking population in New England, so that "Norumbega" lies somewhere under modern Boston.

And why haven't we heard about this? Attention goes to all those exciting pirates (Peter Easton, Henry Mainwaring, and of course the big names like Drake) who sailed the northern seas in those days. No doubt they were keeping secrets for their nefarious, piratical reasons, and even exterminated the remaining Greenland Vikings just 'cuz. Thus, Martin Frobisher got to Baffin Island so readily because he knew exactly where he was going. "Just sail to the place where we cruelly used those Norwegian Catholics, and take a left-hand turn."

 

This is the traditional crazy-talk theorising. I also have my own ideas (well, mostly Karin Seaver's ideas) about what actually happened. Go ahead, ask me. I'll kill some electrons.

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Re: :help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?

 

Yes please! Sacrafice some subatomic particles! We eagerly await the revalations from on high!

 

:winkgrin:

 

So....okay. Nothing I like better than hearing myself talk....

Of course, no reason why anyone should read it just because I like hearing myself talk. If, however, you want a new take on the history of the North Atlantic, a new explanation for Vikings and pirates and Henry the Navigator and a story that makes room for mysterious "Norumbega" and Vinland settlers in a modern historical discourse, then by all means, strain the eyes and, bearing in mind that this is a thought experiment, by all means critique it.

 

Geography

 

The first big point is that the Atlantic wind system runs clockwise around its basin. Basically, draw a circle, starting in the Canary Islands running to Domininca, Virginia, Newfoundland and the northwestern tip of Spain. Inside the circle, winds are fitful rather than nonexistent. Above it, storms disrupt the picture.

The second point is the English Channel. I know it looks like a west-east route running from the Atlantic to the North Sea, but take another look at it in a polar projection, and you'll see that it is not straightforward. Winds tend to blow into the English coastline and the Pas de Calais. As a result, it is very hard to sail up and down the Channel, and much easier to do so from the French side than the English side. England's big Atlantic ports lie in the West County of Devon and Cornwall and coastal Wales, but both these areas are very isolated from centres of population and wealth. They have important maritime traditions, but they can't really be outlet ports for the wealth of England. To the extent that the island has one, it is Bristol. (Liverpool only developed in the 1800s.) Nevertheless, it was usually more economical for shipments to go down the Thames from London, anchor in the Downs, and wait for a contrary, favourable wind than to send them overland to Portsmouth, never mind the West Country.

Coming back up the Channel, the luxury trade in Mediterranean goods bound for northern Europe actually used to land at Portsmouth and portage across the south of England to the Thames Valley. Interestingly, the summit of the trail from the south is Stonehenge, from the northern European side, Avesbury.

Eventually, people began running sailing galleys, but the ultimate solution was more complicated.

See, looking at the North Sea, you might get the impression of a water like the one a modern ferry traveller gets. You get on a boat, you sail out of the harbour, you sail into a harbour. But in historic times, the southern coast of the North Sea was ...indefinite. Mud flats, sand banks, impenetrable walls of dunes, and shallow estuaries where large rivers trickled out to sea. The local maritime population built stabilised mounds ("thorpes") and lived in the midst of this neither-land-nor-sea region on stilts and small boats. This was the world the Romans found, and for the most part they lacked the power and resources to change it.

Then came a quickening and intensification of economic activity in the wake of a major maritime transgression, which is why Roman London and Roman Norwich were hastily abandoned around 380AD, we figure. Communities began to cut access ways through this amphibious maze, creating new markets and transportation routes by which overseas products could be landed and distributed. For our purposes, the most important consequence of this was to make seafood a marketable commodity throughout western Europe in the years just around 800--900AD. However, the sudden appearance of Flanders into history in 1000AD marks the first aggressive attempt to drain the lands of the interior of Belgium by piercing the sand-dune walls, incidentally creating ports through which ships coming up the Channel could land, and water mills for the production of textiles. It took many years for this to develop in full, but by 1450 or so, a major trade existed in Spanish wool and soapmaking materials and the mill/canal/port cities of Belgium.

Finally, the polar projection map should show just how distorted the Mercator Projection is. Notice how the northern seas are cramped together in a vice between Greenland and the Scandinavian peninsula? Now look over to where Archangelsk is today and let your eyes be guided up the Dvina, over the Berezina and down the Volga until you suddenly are in Central Asia. It's not the most promising of long distance trade routes, but in historic times even tea came this way, although the trade in Arctic furs was much more important. Incidentally, we have sources indicating that this route was in use in Alfred the Great's time.

 

Sociology

 

Now I want to talk about deviance. There's a big recent book about the Mediterranean that borrows an old, Roman label for it; the "Corrrupting Sea." What the Romans were getting at is that once out of sight of land, surrounded by the water, evil, immoral things start to happen. Of course, our minds are immediatly drawn to pirates and sea raiders. But the real problem is corruption. Ship's captains sell cargo that doesn't belong to them, and sometimes even their crew. They land cargo where it oughtn't go, and avoid taxes and excises. People sell things to those ships, and don't report the proceeds.

As always when skullduggery happens, it is other people who are at fault. The pirates are aliens from afar; they stole and plundered, rather than bought and sold. The surplus crew that the captain sold actually ran away, or died at sea (or even in a plundering expedition on shore.) When unwanted young men are put on a boat and sent away by a community, it is because the "pirates" impressed them.

And the profits disappear. The pirates must come from distant, foreign lands, because no-one knows who funded them, or sells their plunder for them. The reality, of course, is that the very officials, up to and including the Kings and Queens of England, but, perhaps more importantly to this story, the Admirals of the coast of the West Country and Pembroke County, Wales, funded pirates and cleared their goods. This was frustrating for, say, a King of Spain, but as long as no-one could prove it, and you were playing the same game on occasion, there was a limit about how much of a fuss you could make about it.

The second point goes to that thing about selling crew. This may seem harsh and alien, but that's because in our modern society of ready money, we just don't get how old-timey society worked. There were, of course, people who always had grain in the storehouse and animals in the pen. But, then, there were those who didn't. And, what's more, wealth is often a stage of life. The most secure middle-aged farming couple might once have been children, pressed into a labour gang, wandering the country looking for work. When food ran short, someone had to give you food. You proved that you were worth the favour by following your master and supporting him, whether with votes or with arms.

And there were people who just dropped out; both broken people (lunatics and alcoholics), and scrawny teenagers suffering from the same curse as every teenager in the labour market before and since. Without experience, you can't get a job; without a job, you can't get experience.

The law said that if a wealthy man wanted to enslave these people, he was a public benefactor. Such law as existed on the subject encouraged him to do so, and after the middle of Elizabeth I's reign imposed taxes to support those that the counties couldn't place. The whole burden of labour law took slavery as normative. Apprentices were slaves to their masters, children were slaves to their parents. Even upper class families obtained "premium apprenticeships," and knights were normatively the slaves of the King.

Now, masters had reciprocal obligatons. Looking after the physical livelihood, career development and virginity (in the case of females) of the slave was the absolute minimum. Beyond that, church authorities tended to poke their nose in. If slaves were Christians, they got regular Holy Communion. Muslim slaves got five daily prayer breaks and regular fasts. Obviously a Christian slaveowner didn't have to attend to Muslim religious needs, or a Muslim to Christian; rather, they were supposed to convert their slaves. And if they did convert them, the law provided that the freedmen were dependent on their former master in the local religious community, in effect allowing the master to swap economic for political power. (In those regions with democratic institutions, and there were more of them than you might think), freed slaves voted the way their former master told them, and this was enforced through the public control and surveillance of the parish.

Given all this, it makes sense that religious law in both spheres looked down so harshly on the sale of slaves to unbelievers. And, of course, why Muslim pirates were always so successful in taking Christian slaves, and Christian pirates in taking Muslim slaves. Pirates --the universal scapegoat.

 

History

 

So you've got an intensification of fishing and fish sales around the North Sea basin. Towns like London and Rouen are emerging as market centres where product (more luxury goods than fish, but still) can be taxed. Conversely, you have piracy emerging to evade these controls and restrictions. And you have a trickle of trade goods from the far North. There are synergies here. Up the North Way there are many fishing grounds, and slaves to spare. Why not "plant" adjacent shores with Baltic farmers, who are good at making northern lands prosper? An anarchic energy flows, south to north, creating new, instant societies that hardly know where they are on this round Earth, except that it is northerly, winters are long, that buttered salt cod is a good snack eaten raw, and that the intestines can be kept in good order with flaxseed-and-grass-seed porridge, while flax stocks make good fishing nets, sails, and underclothes beneath the wool and fur.

Amongst the big men who command with charisma and violence, one Erik the Red has settled on what probably even he understood was an island, Iceland. There had been a real estate boom on the island, but it was over by 985AD, and the latecomers were, as usual, stuck with properties whose value was not inflating near as much as they expect. But in an age when your credit limit was measured by your spear's reach, one did not say, "oh, I'm not making enough in rent, I think I'll put my numbered company into bankrupty." You put your retainers in boats, and flee to the ends of the Earth.

There were those who did this for whom it didn't work out. We hear no more of them, but Erik crossed the Denmark Strait and fetched up on the wild coast of Greenland. You'd think he had a guide or something, because it was hardly easy to work your way around Cape Farewell and up the fjords to the farming country of southwestern Greenland. (Which, contrary to those who think that our historical data is good enough to talk about climate change in the tenth century, was good farmland, is good farmland, and has always been good farmland in the interim. The problem is the cool, maritime climate limits the crops that can be grown. Erik didn't care, because the limited group included food grasses, sheep and flax, but these aren't good cash crops, and the fact that there's only room for a few hundred steadings made this a bit of a Duckberg. No worse than the average Faeroe Island, to be sure, but hey, not much happens on the average Faeroe Island, either.)

We would not hear any more about Erik than we do about the men who founded those Faeroe Islands communities were it not for the fact that in the summer, when the men went out in small boats and ranged towards the Pole in search of furs, ivory and whale oil, and towards the sea in search of cod and seals (not that they really needed seals, with their fat-rich diets), they could also see a far shore across the Davis Straits. They also met local hunters, much like reindeer hunters at home, and in fat years when there was more crop to harvest than hands to do it, traded for their surplus young folk, typically scrawny teenagers ("Skraelings.") If the Greenlanders disposed of their own in the same way in lean years, the local Church was not told, or at least didn't exactly write memos to the Pope about it.

Erik's son, Leif the Lucky, set out for those far shores, looking for what he could find. He was quite proud of what he did find, which was trees for making charcoal, and, much further away, a land where grapes grew wild. The Greenlanders may have exploited this "Vinland" a bit, but in truth, it was a longer sail to Vinland than it was to Norway, where wine could also be found, and other things, too. The way the winds blew, it was even a shorter sail to Portugal, although Erik had no way of knowing that. The forests of Labrador were likely much more profitable, and much more extensively used, but we don't know that for sure. There are long centuries to account for. Even the catastrophists think that the Greenland Norse lasted until well after 1410, and the catastrophists are talking through their hats.

 

Something else happened about then; in 1405, specifically. Portugal was in a pickle. The crown didn't want to settle for a small country on the edge of a large peninsula. That wasn't what kings did. They had a claim to the whole Visigothic kingdom of Hispania, and the magnates of the Kingdom had pan-Hispanic horizons, because they owned land throughout the peninsula. In the fight for prestige in the smaller communities of the peninsula, though, the neighbouring community of Castile held a huge ace, in that only it had a Crusading frontier with a Muslim power. Prestige and even wealth flowed from crusading, and Castile treated its residual Muslim neighbours almost like a private hunting reservation. The Portuguese Duke of Albuquerque was welcome to crusade in company with the King of Castile. They could make war, and talk; talk about daggers in the night and the benefits that would accrue to the house of Albuquerque in a Spain ruled by Castile.

That was why the Portuguese had taken advantage of a power vacuum in Morocco to seize Ceuta. But this flyblown dump was no crusading frontier, and the court was thinking of abandoning it. Up spoke a bold young chevalier, a Prince of the ruling House named Henry. He would ship supplies into Ceuta and keep it going.

It was a foolish pledge. Henry needed ships, and money to keep the ships, and that meant cargoes, not crusading. Casting around for an adventure, he found the Canaries. It did not go well. A few cargoes of slaves, a few loads of sap of dragonswood for dyes. And for that his captains risked all, even being driven into the great rock of Madeira, an unapproachable spire of trees and woods rising out of the Atlantic, constantly beaten by the wild seas.

It was fortunate for one of those captains that there is a smaller and lower island near Madeira. To low to catch the rain clouds, it was thoroughly unprepossessing. But, anchored in close, the captain saw dragonswood. Who knows if it even grew there a few years before? The point is that there was a rich load of sap just waiting to be tapped. A hurried consult with the Prince about expenses, and the next ship bound for the Canaries deliberately veered near the island and dropped off some boats with a working party and supplies.

No-one had ever been near Madeira when the wind blew away from the island (well, no-one who made good on the ephemeral opportunity that was about to arise.) It isn't that this was infrequent; it was that ships don't beat up-wind to get near a known navigational hazard.

So imagine the surprise of the working party when the wind shifted, and the dangerous breakers vanished. Madeira turned from a terror to a lost sylvan paradise of waterfalls, sandy beaches, and beckoning benches half lost in the blue sky in the blink of an eye. It probably didn't take much persuading for some men to load one of the boats and row across the water, to pull up on the soft beaches where no man had ever trod, and walk in to those forests. Those beautiful forests, full of marketable timber, and water power to saw it.

If Prince Henry was a foolish youth, many youths are foolish. His folly, though, led to one of those great windfalls an entrepeneur enjoys when he gets in on the ground floor of a boom that changes the world. Cheap timber was profitable in its own right, and the farmland cleared of it even more so, but within a few years the problems of getting the timber to market in Lisbon had been solved by building ships specifically to carry a load. Whether the boat was knocked down for sale as timber at dockside, or turned over to the Prince for "crusading" purposes down the coast of Africa towards India, the Holy Land and Islam --or so geographers thought-- is no matter. There was profit enough in fishing, in a new real estate play in the Azores, and, in the hands of a truly brilliant navigator, in the discovery of the great cycle of the winds, and the blue waters of the Caribbean.

As the fisherfolk of Iberia soon discovered, the trip to the Caribbean brought one home via the cycle of the winds that led right through cod banks whose extent no-one except possibly a few Greenlanders ever suspected. While explorers dawdled along the American coast getting places named after them and bringing back Indians to show off at court, annomymous fishermen reached Saint John's, perhaps as early as 1485, but probably only after 1500, and from there reached the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence by the 1530s.

That, though, was keeping to the coast long after you could leave it. The treasure fleets of Spain typically turned east away from land at the Cape of Virginia. The great empire of the New World was a bit of a bust (I personally suspect that the wealth and population of its great Neolithic empires was exaggerated like a penny stock's potential), but no-one could doubt that there was the labour to exploit bullion mines. And the Crown has a claim to perhaps 10% of raw bullion under the law of seigniorage.

It needs to be pointed out here that Spanish merchants loved their king and would never think to cheat him, apart from loads smuggled aboard the ships themselves. I point this out because there were numerous pirates tangling with the treasure fleets, and the cynical mind construes certain scenarios.. scenarios of "poor sailors" dropping behind the flotta and quietly anchoring on a Virginia bank, of silver being unloaded, of regrettable losses to piracy, and a merchant of Seville saying, "I'm ruined, ruined by my losses. I can't possibly pay my taxes this year. It's the crown's fault for not catching Il Drake. Oh. Excuse me, a gentleman from Falmouth has dopped off this nice brown paper package, all wrapped up with string. It's probably that copy of NIght Watch I bought on Ebay. Pardon me while I go into the other room and count.... I mean, verify its condition."

Virginia, of course, was where the English kept trying to plant settlements in the 1580s, and eventually succeeded in 1607, right after peace with Spain. This was hardly the first time we hear of western planting. It was a regular activity of West country "pirates" and adventurers, and many details are lost. We know about Jacques Cartier's very ambitious project, and Humphrey Gilbert, and the settlements in Florida, but here is a rule of history. If there are mysteries and ambiguities and activities, then we can take it for granted that two means more.

Planters are supposed to facilitate fishing. They're there overwinter, so that they can get on the fishing grounds first. They build facilities for drying cod and drawing out train oil. They grow flax and weave nets and sails. They grow provisions for the return home, although that is a very capital intensive business, because preserving large quantities of food is not cheap. They build boats for the inshore fishery, and even ships, so that men who arrive on the coast in irreparable wrecks can return home if they've the money. This works; it worked hundreds, thousands of times in the northern North Sea, and as far west as the coast of Greenland. We wouldn't have a Norway without planting.

But little did the planters know the final secret of the winds, that west-facing coasts are habitable at a far higher latitude than east-facing. The frontier of farming settlement in Europe and even Greenland is north of 60. On the American east coast, it is hardly north of 40. That didn't make planting impossible, but it did mean that one had to give up on Newfoundland and push south, as far south as the Maritimes.

And, given that, one might make the best possible choice. Of all the exogenous costs of a large codfishery, the most onerous is the salt tax. New sources of salt were valuable, in general, and the one geographic windfall that the sailors from Europe had not found to this point was a salt-rich shore close to the great cod banks. Not, that is, until someone had a serious look at the coast of Massachusetts.

As to when that happened... well, Walter Raleigh sent the notorious pirate Simon Fernandez to coast Massachusetts in 1580, as the first step in his project to colonise Virginia. So, by that time. The expense of landing folk on the coast was hardly great. Raleigh sought to send out gentlefolk when he could, but that was because he needed investors. Martin Frobisher's attempt to colonise Baffin Island (so, uhm, good luck with that, Martin) sailed loaded with men marched down to the docks from the poorhouses of London. Frobisher promptly landed them back ashore --or most of them, anyway, but there's no question that if a "planter" wanted to make a try on Massachusetts, it would be the cost of moving the people, and not the lack of them, that would be the issue.

Naturally, they wouldn't be topnotch people, but that was the business. You went down to the London taverns, you met a gangmaster. He had a few teenagers on hand, too big now to intimidate and altogether no longer worth keeping around. You paid him off, you transported these boys, you sold them. If to Christians, they were "indentured labourers." If not to Christians, you said nothing, or blamed pirates.

And the whole coast of America was filled with slaveowning societies that could provide the infrastructural support to a small planting community. Obviously a West Country pirate/planter couldn't set up a Christian community with a parish and a priest reporting back to his bishop.

Or, well, he could. See, there was one bishop (or, more often, bishops' regent) on the western shore of the Atlantic with a large diocese, filled with people with the skills to make plantings work.

And Greenland has this problem; compared to Massachusetts, it sucks.

 

I won't go into further details here for why I think that the Norumbega of the Greenland Vikings really does lie under modern Boston. Suffice it to say that when the history of New England officially begins in 1623, it is when a company goes to considerable length, even providing a clergyman, in order to induce a community of expert textile workers to set up hard by the salt fields, drying racks and shipyards of Massachusetts. As far as we know the limited history of this era, all of those sprang up more-or-less on their own, 8 years later. The "Pilgrims" of 1623 farmed. Not that we've any detail of how and what they farmed --they didn't even bring much livestock over. And, of course, they landed in the midst of farmed fields, promptly acquired two separate Indian interpreters who had been to London (two previous expeditions brought out their own Indian interpreters, arranging for prominent local Indian men to spend a year or two in England prior to the settlement).

Mystery hangs over the next 7 years. You can reconstruct a bit of a narrative from a few sources --a sensationalist memoir by Miles Standish, Pastor Bradford's diary, two or three promotional letters. Then, a fleet of 17 ships landed 1000 settlers. Over the next decade came 13,000 more. (The numbers of emigrants have been much exaggerated, but it seems that a maximum of 80,000 reached New England between 1623 and 1700.) And with that --bang-- New England was born. People are at great pains to emphasise that the colony was tentative, marginal, clinging to the shore, etc. Certainly the people were poor in material terms. No forks have been found in an archaeological context prior to 1700, for example. But on the other hand, they launched whole fleets of ships and by 1700 were capable of making a major amphibious expedition against Quebec.

It is my experience that, if you flick a match at a patch of ground and an explosive flame rises, it's because there's gasoline there already.

What I'm proposing is the existence of a pre-settlement phase in which a mixed-Indian and English community emerged in the Massachusetts Bay--Virginia area, probably incorporating a few Greenlanders. There was a slavetrading port of call, dubbed Norumbega, probably where Boston now stands, but perhaps at Springfield or even Albany. (Or these were similar entrepots, frequented by other groups. It was not an English-speaking community. It wasn't even a literate one. The trade creole of the area stabilised into a distinct language, "Algonquin," and established itself along the coast. Since there were Indians back in Wales and the West Country as well as English in New England, there were open channels of communication. As contact intensified, the Plymouth company made the next step of intensification in 1623 --putting a "factory" ashore.

To get well-established tradesmen to enlist, the members of the Company faced the ticklish problem of finding a Godly and righteous pastor who at the same time would wink an eye at a slave trade in Christians. Fortunately, by this time the chaotic religious world of the North Sea had sponsored religious separatists who believed that only the Elect were true Christians. A likely community of such was found, already exiled in Leyden, and turned to its purpose. So successful was it that by 1630, a widespread ethnogenesis was underway. There were "Yengisee--" Algonquin for English-- everywhere, and a labour market hungry enough for "indentured servants" that there was no longer any need to stand in the way of the establishment of new parishes in New England. This opened up opportunities galore for new college graduates back in England, and the colony soon had an intelligentsia to shape its public image at home --mainly in the direction of getting new settlers.

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Re: :help: Eastern Canadian History/Geography Resources?

 

Um, wow. Thanks to all for your replies. I particularly enjoyed Lawnmower Boy's essay.

 

I found a nice tidbit in my own (i.e. home) library: the Penguin Altlas of North American History (need to check that later, might be "Concise" atlas.) It only has one brief paragraph specifically on the Vikings in North America, but it also a good bit of more general information. I noticed in particular that Halifax only shows up on the atlas' maps (which are, admitedly, very not very detailed) after the British take the area from the French -- though why, I cannot say.

 

In any event, this idea is back on one of my back burners where it belongs, but I do find it interesting, so if anyone cares to add, please do.

 

One last tidbit. The idea crossed my mind that it might be fun to imagine a temporary warming sufficient to melt the polar ice caps for a few summers sometime in the 1000-1400 time range -- leading to vikings in Alaska and British Columbia!

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