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Lecture to explore life of James Barry in 19th-century Nova Scotia

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Mar 9, 2023

Category: UNB Fredericton

Best known as a miller, fiddler, printer, avid reader and overall curmudgeon, James Barry (1822-1906) lived in Six Mile Brook, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, in the 19th century. For 56 years, he kept a meticulous diary documenting daily life in the community, recounting his domestic life as well as his radical, evangelical politics and freethought spiritualism.

Barry’s diary provides a fascinating look at life in Atlantic Canada in the 19th century, making him of particular interest to historians like Brock University’s associate professor, Dr. Daniel Samson.

A historian of rural eighteenth and 19th-century Nova Scotia, Samson is currently writing a book-length biography of James Barry based on his diary and on March 16, he will deliver “Fashioning a Modern Man: James Barry of Six Mile Brook” at this year’s annual W. Stewart MacNutt Memorial Lecture.

“When we think of modernity and people grappling with modernity's many challenges, we typically look to people in places like London, Paris and New York,” said Samson. “But James Barry, a miller on Six Mile Brook, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, was such a modern person. He was someone who saw his life through the issues of modernity: of work, faith and freedom, of the competing pushes and pulls of tradition and innovation. All seen from the banks of Six Mile Brook.”

Hosted by UNB Fredericton’s faculty of arts, the W. Stewart MacNutt Memorial Lecture honours the late historian, professor and humanitarian for his work at UNB and his efforts to develop the history of the Atlantic Provinces as a field of study.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held on March 16 at the Alfred G. Bailey Auditorium (Tilley Hall, Rm. 102) on the UNB Fredericton campus. The reception is at 5 p.m., and the lecture begins at 5:30 p.m.