Frank Sobey, Viola Desmond, Carrie Best – even the Trailer Park Boys – have made their mark in Pictou County and have earned a spot in a new book documenting the past and present of Nova Scotia.
Author Leo Deveau has combined images and stories of Nova Scotia’s history to form the book called ‘400 Years in 365 Days.’
To mark Canada 150 he thought it would be nice to update the ‘Nova Scotia Book of Days,’ published by Shirley Elliott in 1979. He got permission from the House of Assembly, which owns the copyright on the book, and went to work.
“I’ve always been interested in history,” he said. “I looked at things in my own family and thought about how that affected my life. I had a grandfather who fought in World War One. If he hadn’t survived I wouldn’t be here.
“The world is here because many men and women lived the best lives they could. As you get older that resonates more and you realize how precious life is and pay more attention to it.”
Deveau grew up on P.E.I. but has been a resident of Nova Scotia for more than 30 years, currently living in Halifax.
He has an education and library background and during the past summer he worked as a Titanic graves tour guide.
“I wore a kilt for that and got a lot of interesting questions about kilts and history, so now I wear a kilt for book signings,” he said. “It’s a bit of marketing and history.”
‘400 Years in 365 Days’ includes entries on politics, military, sports, arts and more areas, accompanied by photos and artwork. They are divided throughout the book by date, so that for each day of the year, there is information pertaining to what happened historically on that date.
Where The Nova Scotia Book of Days had a tendency to focus primarily on Nova Scotia’s Scottish and British narrative, Deveau said he has tried to include more diversity in this book, such as the stand Viola Desmond took sitting in a whites only section of the Roseland Theatre and the reporting by Carrie Best that brought Desmond’s story to the public.
He also includes information about people like Edward Cornwallis, the controversial founder of Halifax. Despite the bounty that Cornwallis put on Mi’kmaq fighters, Deveau said he felt that his role in founding the province’s capitol city should be noted.
As much as he was able to fit into the printed version of his book, Deveau said he had hundreds of stories that it just wouldn’t have been financially possible to include. Instead he’s created a website, www.400years.ca, where he’s posted the additional information.
If others think of stories of events they feel should be included, he said he’d love to hear from them.
Deveau will be at Coles, in the Highland Square Mall, to talk to people and sign his book on Nov. 18 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
The book, which was published Oct. 13, can be purchased at Coles or on Amazon.
He hopes that those who read the book will leave with a greater appreciation for the province.
“We have an incredibly rich history.”