EDWARD CORNWALLIS was a military leader tasked with founding Halifax in 1749 as part of Britain’s strategy to capture all of North America and push France off the continent.
Edward Cornwallis was a genocidal war criminal whose attempted extermination of the Mi’kmaq people ranks as one of the province’s darkest chapters.
For 300 years, the debate over his legacy has raged. But until now, one person has been strangely absent: Cornwallis himself. No biography told his story and provided deep context for the events of 1749-1752. Jon Tattrie’s new book, Cornwallis: The Violent Birth of Halifax, uses Cornwallis’s own writing, and the writing of those who knew him best, to unearth the man buried by the controversy.
In this talk, Jon Tattrie will cover Cornwallis’s birth among British royalty, his pivotal role destroying the Scottish Highland rebellion of 1746, his ambitions for Halifax, the subsequent disastrous military adventures to Minorca and Rochefort, and his long, lonely exile on Gibraltar.
With a firm picture established of the historical Cornwallis, Tattrie will then turn the event over to the audience for a discussion of how Halifax should remember Cornwallis today.
- Should we name schools and streets for him?
- Should the statue remain in Cornwallis Park?
- Should a Museum of Halifax be developed, with the statue as the centerpiece?
- Should his name be purged from the history books and landmarks of the province?
The group will then propose a way forward that incorporates Cornwallis’s controversial past with Halifax’s future.
Jon Tattrie is a freelance journalist who works for CBC, the Chronicle Herald, the Globe & Mail and other publications. He is the author of The Hermit of Africville and Black Snow, a novel of the Halifax Explosion.
Edward Cornwallis: Hero or Horror?
with Jon Tattrie
May 21 – 7:30 pm
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax