With Confederation on its way in the mid-1860s, it’s easy to assume that New Brunswick simply smiled and nodded its way into the fold. That theory could not be any further from the truth. The common stereotype of New Brunswick history is that “Things happen to New Brunswick”. This exhibit turns that notion on its head, proving that New Brunswick agency is by no means a myth. On July 2nd, 2016, we will be unveiling “A Ship Full of Troubles” the proof that New Brunswick was not a follower, but a leader in the Confederation debates here at the Fredericton Region Museum.
The province’s political climate set the pace for Confederation and truly showed how colourful our politicians can be. From leaders in social issues to young barons eager to step in and make use of their newfound executive power, the 1860s managed to capture an array of characters so vast, it would make today’s reality shows look drab in comparison.
On top of showing off our political agency and ability to make our voices heard, this exhibit will have a selection of artefacts owned by the Honourable Robert Duncan Wilmot, Father of Confederation, Senator, and Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick. Wilmot played a strong role in the Confederation debates and also portrayed the reality of how gritty New Brunswick politics can be. In 1865 he was elected to the Anti-Confederation party and, after a visit to the United Province of Canada and a near-insurmountable opposition to his party, he joined the Confederation party the following year and was given a seat in the senate the year after that.
Curated by Nathan Gavin and Co-Curated by Caleb Goguen, the exhibit features a several artefacts related to New Brunswick Fathers of Confederation and a bilingual video.
The Fredericton Region Museum would like to thank the Province of New Brunswick Heritage Branch and Canadian Heritage Cultural Spaces Program for their generous contribution as well as Nathan Gavin for his contribution of knowledge and management skills. A big thank you to our contract/summer students (Paige, Adam, Abby, Erin, Richard and Sebastien) as well as our Intern (Caleb Goguen) who worked on the exhibit and the opening. Thank you to Charlotte for the panel designs, Jean-Claude for translating and to Frank for making the amazing replica pews for the video viewing area. Our gratitude to the many volunteers that assisted the museum in the planning phases (Maxine, Elizabeth, Gary, Sheila, Bill, Ian, Simon, Fred, Richard and Zijian). Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau and Jonathan Munn for providing the narration for the video.