Thomas Head Raddall
Born at Hythe, Kent, England in 1903, Raddall was the son of British army officer Thomas Head Raddall and Ellen (née Gifford) Raddall. In 1913, he and his family moved to Nova Scotia, where his father had assumed a training position with the Canadian Militia. When World War I began, the elder Raddall joined the war effort. He was killed in action in August 1918 at Amiens when Thomas was still a youth.
In Halifax, Raddall attended Chebucto School until 6 December 1917, when the school was converted into a temporary morgue in the wake of the Halifax Explosion. The Raddall family survived the explosion, and Raddall wrote about his experiences in his memoirs, In My Time.
Raddall's first job was as a wireless operator on seagoing ships (including the famous cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett), and at isolated wireless posts such as Sable Island. He later took a job as a clerk at a pulp and paper mill in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he began his writing career. Raddall was a prolific, award-winning writer. He received Governor General's Awards for three of his books, The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek (1943), Halifax, Warden of the North (1948) and The Path of Destiny (1957). In 1971, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Role as a historian
Raddall was best known for his historical fiction, but he contributed numerous non fiction historical works, some of which had longlasting influence. His role as a public historian was not as widely recognized, in part due to his own reluctance to label himself as such, in part because he did not strictly adhere to the conventions of academic history. Raddall's civic history of Halifax, Warden of the North, remains the most influential history of the city and continues to shape the city's heritage interpretation and promotion. His depiction of Canadian privateering in books such as The Rover: Story of A Canadian Privateer and Nova Scotia's battle of identity during the American Revolution in The Path of Destiny shaped stories of these themes which influence scholars and tourism in Nova Scotia today.
Raddall also greatly contribute to Nova Scotia’s heritage through his work with the Queens County Historical Society, the Historic Sites Advisory Council of Nova Scotia, and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. He played a role in preserving the Diary of Simeon Perkins, an early colonial document published in three volumes (the fourth has yet to be published) between 1948 and 1978 by the Champlain Society, and edited by noted Canadian economist and historian Harold Innis, and archivists D. C. Harvey and C. B. Ferguson. He was also extremely influential in helping restore and preserve Perkins House Museum, a colonial house built by Simeon Perkins, and now a part of the Nova Scotia Museum system. Beginning in 1936 and culminating in the House’s official opening by Premier Robert Stanfield in 1957, Perkins House was the high point of Raddall’s contributions to Nova Scotia’s built heritage.
He died in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he had settled. An exact replica of his study, furnished with his possessions, is on view at the Thomas Raddall Research Centre, administered by the Queens County Historical Society, of which Raddall was a founding member in 1929.
His correspondence is housed at the Dalhousie University Archives, which also runs the Thomas Raddall Electronic Archive Project, currently digitizing his published and unpublished writing. The Thomas Head Raddall Literary Award honours his legacy.
- At the Tide's Turn and Other Stories
- The Cape Breton Giant and Other Writings
- Courage in the Storm
- The Dreamers
- The Governor's Lady - 1960
- Footsteps on Old Floors: True Tales of Mystery - 1968
- Halifax, Warden of the North - 1948; revised edition - 1971
- Hangman's Beach
- His Majesty's Yankees - 1942
- In My Time: A Memoir - 1976
- The Markland Sagas, With a Discussion of Their Relation to Nova Scotia
- The Mersey Story
- A Muster of Arms and Other Stories
- The Nymph and the Lamp - 1950
- Path of Destiny: Canada From the British Conquest to Home Rule - 1957
- A Pictorial Guide to Historic Nova Scotia, Featuring Louisbourg, Peggy's Cove, Sable Island
- The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek and Other Tales
- Pride's Fancy - 1948
- Roger Sudden - 1946
- The Rover: The Story of a Canadian Privateer - 1958
- The Saga of the "Rover"
- Son of the Hawk - 1950
- Tambour and Other Stories
- This Is Nova Scotia, Canada's Ocean Playground
- Tidefall - 1953
- The Wedding Gift and Other Stories
- West Novas: A History of the West Nova Scotia Regiment
- The Wings of Night - 1957
- Thomas Head Raddall Digital Collection
- Thomas Head Raddall's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
- Thomas Raddall Electronic Archive Project
- Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
- The Champlain Society
- Perkins House Museum
- Nova Scotia Museum