More Fortress Memories

February 2022

I think I have finally reached the end of all the Fortress-related photos that have been stored out of sight for decades.

Each of these came as a surprise. Because I don’t recall seeing any of them before.

The first, me on a slightly tipped-back chair, must have been taken for what at the time was to be the upcoming “Two Decades” exhibit in the King’s Bastion. It was to tell the story of the reconstruction and the head of exhibits, Horst Paufler, asked to to represent a generic historian. This isn’t the photo that was used to make a cut-out version of me in the eventual exhibit, but it had to have been taken during the same photo shoot.

The other two photos are of me in a drummer’s costume (of all things) and our family as it was in the summer of 1979 (before Michael was born). The former must have been for some photo shoot; the latter must have been some kind of Volunteer Association event. I know the latter had to be 1979 because Colin (the baby in the photo) was born in April 1979. Cyne, our little red-haired girl, would have been three at the time.

How fortunate we were to have had the Fortress of Louisbourg in our lives for so many years.

(These and any other Fortress-themed photos I have posted lately will all be going to the Beaton Institute.)

Best Books…

February 2022

Here below is the latest link to the website, the book-lover’s source for great new reads.

If I may be a little bold, I suggest you go to the “Author” search block and type in “A J B Johnston” That will take you directly to the five reading lists I have prepared so far.

There is also the subject heading, of course.

Just play with the search function any way you like.

Browse the best books to read ? – Shepherd

My Baseball Days

February 2022

Mary and I have been giving away hundreds of items (books, clothes, old toys etc) over the past few weeks as we prepare to put our house up for sale.

One item I will be keeping, however, is this little plaque.

Yes, they spelled my last name wrong — there is a “t” in our family’s spelling of Johnston — but that doesn’t matter. One gets used to that with Johnson, Johnston and Johnstone as options.

I have nothing but fond memories of my baseball-playing youth, capped off by our team winning the Truro championship and me being given that little plaque. Handing it to me in one of the photos is Ron Williams. He and Gordon Schurman were the co-coaches.

The coaches’ sons, Butch or Ron Williams Jr. and Wayne Schurman, were the two stars of the team. Each was a dominating pitcher, and I was usually their catcher. But sometimes I played shortstop and pitched once. That one outing happened to be in the deciding game for the west end championship. Butch and Wayne had pitched all the innings they were allowed, so someone else had to be on the mound for our team. It was me. The game was close but our team prevailed.

All happy memories.

African Heritage Month

January 2022

African Heritage Month begins tomorrow and I want to mark it.

A few years back, I was fortunate to be able to contribute to both the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre at Birchtown.

More recently, I was able to include material in Kings of Friday Night about racism in Nova Scotia in the 1960s, and about the influence that Black musicians, especially Murray Dorrington, had on The Lincolns.

A bit of that material is highlighted in the short video (micro-doc) that can be found on YouTube, and on this site in the Media section. The video has the same title as the book.

More Fortress Memories

January 2022

I recently posted a few photos found in drawers or files that I had not explored in years. The scenes brought back lots of welcome memories.

Here are a couple more shots from my time at the Fortress of Louisbourg.

One is of me in a soldier’s costume seeming to be leading a tour in the ruins of the hospital. The photo was a set-up, as all the adults in the shot worked at the Fortress (Allan MacLeod, David Bateman, Frederika Fallis and another whose name escapes me). The kids were from Louisbourg town. I don’t recall why this scene was captured on film; some kind of publicity photo I guess.

The second photo is a glossy b&w of the bunch of us in Fortress costumes down at Boston’s Louisburg Square, on the steps of Louisa May Alcott’s onetime home. I had posted a newspaper clipping of this scene about 10 days ago, but this is the actual photo of the whole set-up.

Writing for Exhibits

January 2022

It occurred to me the other day that I say very little on this site about the exhibits I work on. Mostly, I post about books or book-related events.

Exhibits, however, remain an important part of my working life. Sometimes I do a lot—like develop the storylines and write all the texts and scripts—and sometimes I contribute only in small ways. Nonetheless, I feel each project is important. Exhibits can reach a lot of people with their messages.

I was very fortunate to have worked as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site for more than 20 years. Back in that period, the Louisbourg historians were the main interpreters of the site and we wrote all the exhibits, and pamphlets and stuff like that. It was great training, and gave me useful skills learning how to boil down complex subjects into pithy summaries. One quickly learns that it’s a lot easier to write long than short.

Coming out of the Fortress of Louisbourg background served me well on many other projects over the years that followed, two of which are depicted below.

One is the travelling exhibit (Ni’n na L’nu) I wrote for the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI and the other is the Vanguard exhibit I researched and wrote for the NS Museum.

I have also written for five exhibits in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia, the Colchester Historeum, and the Black Cultural Centre. Recently, I contributed words to the new exhibit soon to be unveiled at the Halifax Citadel and I am currently developing the content for a new exhibit to be installed at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst NHS on PEI.

Wigwams at Confed Centre