SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards – Richard Yeomans

Author: Andrea

Posted on Sep 15, 2021

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of Richard Yeomans

Award Received: SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship

Awarded for the project: Inventing a Bountiful Earth: New Brunswick Settler Science and the Moral Economy, 1785-1885

Faculty: Arts

Department: History

Project supervised by: Elizabeth Mancke, PhD

In June of 1839, Dr. James Robb, a Scottish chemist, and professor of natural science at King’s College in Fredericton, undertook his first of two major expeditions up the St. John River for the purpose of collecting plant and geological specimens. First on foot, and then by way of canoe and portage, Robb traversed much of New Brunswick’s interior with the assistance of Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq guides. Captivated by its natural beauty, biodiversity, and the many rivers “winding like a serpent or 50,000 serpents,” Robb amassed a collection of natural specimens and contributed to a process of taxonomizing Indigenous landscapes as a settler scientist.

My dissertation research examines the role of what I term, ‘settler science,’ in New Brunswick following the arrival of loyalist refugees at the end of the American Revolution until roughly 1885. Scientific and natural knowledge played an important role in New Brunswick’s development as a settler colony but is rarely discussed in histories of settler colonialism in this region.  Moreover, Indigenous Peoples figure very little or not at all in the history of science in this province, but the fact remains that the chemist needed the canoeist to succeed in New Brunswick.