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AJB Johnston on stairs, black and white photo

La Parole

2021-12-07 08:21:42 A.J.B. Johnston

Co-author Jesse Francis and I are delighted to see our new book get mentioned in the December 2021 issue of “La Parole,” the newsletter of the Acadian Museum of Erath, Louisiana. Thanks to Warren Perrin for inserting this item. “La Parole” goes out to a great many Acadians (and Cajuns) around the world.

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A fair pile

2021-12-03 15:32:21 A.J.B. Johnston

It was rainy and I was looking for something to do.

For who knows what reason — idle curiosity mixed with a tinge of vanity? — I decided to lay out and then stack up all the books I could find that have my name on the cover. It was a fair pile. Or spread.

A couple are missing, but they wouldn’t have changed much.

The least impressive I think, after trying the different options, was the books on a shelf.

I hope to add another book or two to the total before I’m through.

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New Book!

2021-11-25 08:28:01 A.J.B. Johnston

I have a new book out, co-authored with Jesse Francis. It was beautifully designed and laid out by Stéphane Breton. We are the same trio who produced Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island a few years back. The publisher is once again PEI’s Acorn Press.

The book is now in stores (well, some stores) in NS and on PEI. It is also available from the web sites of Acorn Press, Nimbus Publishing, and Chapters.Indigo. And maybe Amazon too as well.

It’s a book that could be of interest to anyone who wants to explore more about Acadian and French colonial history, the history of the Mi’kmaq, and the early phase of the British colonial era on Prince Edward Island.

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1980s Photos

2021-11-23 09:09:53 A.J.B. Johnston

I was not often in costume during my 23 years working as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg. I was more often reading microfilm or writing papers, manuals or reports. But from time to time, I did don 18th-century garb. The first photo was such an occasion. I am second from the left, with my hands in my pockets.

Sandy Balcom is further to the left, and it’s Vince Kennedy in the striped pants in the centre of the shot. I cannot recall the name of the fellow holding the cod.

I remember it was cool that day, and we were to spend time splitting and gutting the fish. That slimy work lay ahead, after this shot. I suppose I was trying to keep my hands warm because I knew how slippery, stinky and cold my hands were going to get.

The second photo, which is dated Sept. 19, 1986 on the back, poses the five of us who had a hand in the production of the 1986 book Old Sydney Town. Ken Donovan had the overall idea for the book project and raised the money; I was the editor; Debra McNabb was the researcher and author; Lewis Parker created the illustrations; and Horst Paufler did the design.

Looking at the photo today, I wonder why I am the only one seeming to smile. Debra does offer a hint of a satisfied expression, but the others look either very serious or a bit glum. I hope Ray Doucette (Raytel Photography) took more than this photo, and that the others captured a bit more happiness over the creation of the new book.

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Palmes académiques

2021-11-21 08:07:16 A.J.B. Johnston

I was gently reprimanded recently about a post I had made. I had put an image of a certain purple ribbon and medal on my Facebook site without any word of explanation.

Andrée Crépeau, a friend and a former archaeologist at the Fortress of Louisbourg, pointed out that there was likely more to the story than just the image.

She was right.

Sometime back in the 2000s, the late Robert Pichette—a remarkable individual who wrote distinctively in many genres and who along the way designed New Brunswick’s flag—put together a dossier on me and sent it on to France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Laurels).

Time went by and then more time.

Robert occasionally told me that my case was strong and I should be hearing from France eventually.

One day in 2010, or maybe 2011, I found in my mailbox a letter (with gilded embossing) from the office of Canada’s Governor General. The letter informed me that Canada had approved of me (and a few dozen others) receiving honours from foreign countries. In my case, it was an honour from the French Republic. I was to become a chevalier of France’s Ordre des Palmes académiques.

I later learned, from the date on the French certificate reproduced below, that my honour had actually been awarded to me back in October 2008. It seems that it takes quite a while for Canada to vet any foreign distinctions given to its citizens.

Eventually, a ceremony was held at the Consulat de France in Moncton, NB, when I received the distinction that Robert Pichette had sought for me. One of the photos captures Robert and I shaking hands at the end of the ceremony. The good looking young people standing with Mary and me are our son Michael and his wife, Emily.

The event is a wonderful memory.

Special thanks to all my friends and colleagues at the Fortress of Louisbourg who very much contributed to every publication on Louisbourg that had my name on it.

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Silver T

2021-11-17 07:45:55 A.J.B. Johnston

The sorting and de-cluttering continued, and yesterday it brought another surprise. In a drawer filled with ribbons, buttons and forgotten small tools—we found a silver T.


Well, not just a silver T but “the” silver T.

At the high school I attended, Truro Senior High, the author of the poem judged to be the best of the year was awarded the silver T. In my Grade 12 year, that honour fell to me, for my “Reflections.” (It’s in the yearbook as I recall.)

I didn’t go on to write much poetry after high school—though I did have my main character write a bit of poetry in my first novel, Thomas, A Secret Life.

Nonetheless, that silver T meant something to me. I guess I saw it as a pat on the back from my Grade 12 English teacher, Miss Helen Beveridge.


As things worked out, I would go on to write quite a bit over the years to come. The encouragement from Miss Beveridge, in the shape of a silver T, was an important step along the way.


Looking closely at the T, I notice that my name pretty much fills the space. Do you think that’s how they picked the winner, by the length of one’s last name? Did anyone with a longer name have to be ruled out?

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