Remembering and forgetting 

By Karen Herland

This was one of several commemorative events public historian Ron Rudin discussed in his book on Acadia. Magnifying glass

This was one of several commemorative events public historian Ron Rudin discussed in his book on Acadia.

While Acadieman waves the flag of linguistic hybridity, history professor Ronald Rudin has taken a different multimedia approach to storytelling in Acadia. Last year, the University of Toronto Press published Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie: A Historian’s Journey through Public Memory, which was recently selected by the National Council on Public History as winner of its annual prize for best book in that field.

Rudin’s interest in French Canadian history led him to the Maritimes and Acadia. The decade that just ended offered a unique opportunity with the 400th anniversary of the founding of French settlements in Atlantic Canada in 2004 and the next year’s 250th anniversary of the deportation of their descendants by the British.

Events held over the two years were used to mark, “both a moment of birth and a moment of destruction,” said Rudin. “I have always had an interest in how history is told to the larger public.”

Being aware of how memory is shaped by cultural and historical contexts led Rudin to interview people representing Acadian, English and First Nations points of view. He also took the opportunity to go beyond a standard textual research project and bring a video crew along as well. “I was interested in using different media to tell stories. I wanted to take chances and try different things.”

The result so far has been the 2006 documentary film Life After Île Ste-Croix, and the amplification of Remembering and Forgetting in Acadie with a website. Rudin developed it to work in tandem with the book; prompts in the text direct readers to online footage of interviews. “You can hear the person speak, it’s not just a historian putting words into text.”

Rudin will continue to study Acadians and their past in his current multimedia project that focuses on the removal of Acadians from their lands to create Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick in the late 1960s.


Concordia University