Oh Rum of Canada

But a poor and simple sailor just like me
Must be tossed and driven on the deep, dark sea

(from “Farewell To Nova Scotia” (trad.))

In Nova Scotia, still very much rum country as the Maritime provinces in general, rum played a vital role in early settlement, as testified in John Campbell‘s A History of the County of Yarmouth – even in a locality called Temperance. The story is similar to that in early New England, down to the rum tithe for the church-raising.

The many links between New England and Canada’s eastern provinces are ethnic, cultural (e.g., Loyalist settlement post-1776), commercial. A friend told me recently that at one time, Newfoundlanders felt more at home in New England than “Canada” (a different polity before 1949).

Distillers may not have been legion in Nova Scotia in the late 1800s, as this testimony in the House of Commons showed, but lots of rum came in from the Caribbean, and quite a bit over the Bay of Fundy from pals in New England, sub rosa.

Nova Scotians worked in Boston brickyards, among other jobs in Yankeeland, and required rum to finish the job: Dee Morris’ Medford: A Short History tells all.

Rum is so special in Eastern Canada that Captain Morgan sells the original formulation of its white rum there, and nowhere else, as marketingmag.com explains.

Truth be told, they drink it with Coke down east, or mostly, but that’s okay. And I’m not going to tell the old stock Maritimers how to drink their rum.

It’s being made locally again, too. Ironworks and other craft distillers are giving new life to an old tradition. It’s similar to what’s going on in the old trading states down the coast.

Good details herecourtesy the Province of Nova Scotia.

Note re image: Image was sourced from the Chronicle Herald in Halifax, here. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to its lawful owner. Image believed available for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


Leave a Comment