Fonds MS-2-202 - Thomas Head Raddall fonds

Correspondence from Thomas Head Raddall, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, to Eleanor C. Armstrong Correspondence from Thomas Head Raddall, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, to Harold Connolly "Irish Settlers in Queens County" Correspondence from Janet Mullins, Liverpoll, Nova Scotia, to Thomas Head Raddall "Origin of the Irwin and Bartling Families in Queens County, N.S." "The old Dexter Tavern at Liverpool, N.S." "The old Dexter Tavern at Liverpool, N.S." "A Ghost in the Old Dexter Tavern?" Correspondence from Earl R. Lewis, Jr., of West Hartford, Connecticut, to Thomas Head Raddall "Chanties and Other Songs of the Sea" "Port Medway" : [diary entries] "Advertisements in the Royal American Gazette, Shelburne, 1784" "Nova Scotia Militia Period 1865" sketches "Evangeline and the Real Acadians" "Old Sailor's Ballads, Collected by the Late Capt. Fenwick Hatt of Liverpool, N.S." "Diary Notes" "Notes re the Nova Scotia Bank Fishery, November, 1952" "Notes from the Diary of Archibald MacMechan" "August, 1926", "Lief Erikson" photographs Photograph of Canadian School of Musketry Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall - King's Collegiate School Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall and family Photograph of Thomas Head Raddall
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Title proper

Thomas Head Raddall fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record

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Fonds

Reference code

MS-2-202

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Date(s)

  • Bulk, 1913-1994 (Creation)
  • 1870-1995 (Creation)

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Physical description

7.4 m of textual records and other material. - 1 map. - 6 scrapbooks. - over 50 sketches and drawings. - ca. 1600 photographs. - 1 reel of microfilm. - 8 artifacts. - 43 published volumes. - 1 audio cassette. - 1 video cassette

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Born at Hythe, Kent, on November 13, 1903, Thomas Head Raddall was the son of British Army Officer Thomas Head Raddall and Ellen (née Gifford) Raddall. At the time, the family lived in the married quarters of the School of Musketry where THR's father taught. In 1909 THR's parents enrolled him in St. Leonard's Primary School for boys in Hythe. He continued there until May 1913, when his family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in order for his father to assume a training position in the Canadian Militia. Sixteen months after the family's move, THR's father joined the war effort. Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Raddall, D. S. O., of the Winnipeg Rifles, was killed in action in August 1918 at Amiens.

In Halifax, THR attended Chebucto School. His final year there (Grade 9) was interrupted in December 1917, when the school was turned into a temporary morgue following the devastating Halifax Explosion. The Raddall family survived the explosion, an event which Raddall writes about in his memoirs, In My Time, and also in his history Halifax, Warden of the North.

At the age of fifteen, Raddall trained at the Canadian School of Telegraphy in Halifax and shortly thereafter (having given his age as eighteen) obtained work as a marine telegraph operator for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. In 1919 he was assigned to Partridge Island, New Brunswick; between then and 1922 he worked at various locations in Nova Scotia (Pictou, Sable Island, and Camperdown) as well as on ships—including the War Karma, the Prince George, the Watuka, and the Mackay-Bennett—in the North Atlantic. This period also saw the publication of his first short story, " The Singing Frenchman" ( Sunday Leader, December 1921).

From September 1922 to the spring of 1923, THR undertook accountancy training at the Maritime Business College in Halifax and by April had been hired as a bookkeeper by Macleod Pulp and Paper Company in Milton, Queen's County, Nova Scotia. It was there that he met Edith Margaret Freeman, a music teacher, in 1924; they became engaged in the spring of 1926 and were married on June 9, 1927, in Milton's Baptist Church. A slump in the pulp and paper industry, the subsequent reduction in his salary, as well as a new mortgage prompted THR to look for employment elsewhere. He worked briefly as a clerk in the construction industry before being hired (February 1929) by the Mersey Paper Company in Liverpool, where he resided until his death in 1994.

Still looking for extra income, THR sent Maclean's a short story, " The Three Wise Men," for which he received $60. From this point on, THR made a serious commitment to writing. His new boss at the Mersey Paper Mill encouraged his writing, and over the next few years, THR published Saga of the Rover (1931) and The Markland Sagas (1934). By 1938 THR was earning enough from his writing to support his growing family—his son Tom was born in 1934 and daughter Frances in 1936—that he quit his job at the Mersey Paper Company and took to writing full-time.

Over the next forty years THR published twenty-five books, dozens of articles on a wide variety of subjects, more than seventy short stories, and an autobiography; made radio and television appearances; became increasingly called upon as a guest speaker by various historical and literary societies; and was asked to become Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia (1968), an offer he declined. His first national recognition came in 1944 when The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek and Other Stories received the Governor General's Award for Fiction. He subsequently won the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction in 1948 for Halifax, Warden of the North (1948) and again in 1957 for The Path of Destiny (1957). Some of his best-known works include His Majesty's Yankees (1942), Roger Sudden (1944), The Nymph and the Lamp (1950), The Wings of Night (1956) and The Governor's Lady (1960).

THR was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1953 and two years later received the Society's Lorne Pierce Medal "for distinguished service to Canadian literature." Also for his commitment and contribution to Canadian literature, THR was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1971). He received honorary doctorates from Dalhousie (1949), Saint Mary's (1969), University of King's College (Halifax; 1972), and Saint Francis Xavier (1973).

After his death on April 1, 1994, his son donated money to the Queen's County Museum for the purposes of creating a Thomas Raddall Research Centre, and the furnishings of THR's study were moved to the museum to create a replica of his work area. Dalhousie University's Archives and Special Collections are the official repositories of his papers and his library, respectively.

Custodial history

There have been two major accessions of Thomas Head Raddall's papers. The first, in the Fall of 1973, included Raddall's working papers, correspondence, personal narratives, research notes, souvenirs, unpublished writings, photographs, and miscellaneous printed items. The second, which included his diaries, complete memoirs, and more photographs, arrived during the Summer of 1994, shortly after Raddall's death.

Scope and content

The fonds includes manuscripts of most of his published works—novels, short stories, articles, radio broadcasts and plays, and forewords for other works—from 1929 to 1976; research notes and general historical studies; sound recordings; correspondence covering the years 1914 to 1994 (including letters with other authors and his publishers, among others); diaries (closed at the author's request until 2019); photographs; memorabilia; material related to his father who fought and died in World War I; and several scrapbooks containing reviews of his books, clippings, and other research material.

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Language of material

  • English

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Restrictions on access

The diaries, some memoir notes, and a small number of biographical materials scattered throughout the collection are closed until 2019. See series-level descriptions for more detailed notes about access restrictions.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

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Further accruals are not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Thomas Head Raddall fonds, MS-2-202, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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