A Path Not Taken: The Middle Ground and the Wolastoq/Saint John River, 1640-1690


  • Gregory Kennedy Université de Moncton


This exploratory essay offers a different vision of the Wolastoq/Saint John River valley from a borderland on the periphery of New England and New France to the heartland of Indigenous nations in contact with Europeans and each other. The author borrows the Middle Ground concept first employed by Richard White to describe the Great Lakes region in order to examine how people living in the Wolastoq/Saint John River valley had the potential to build on early relationships of trade and exchange to create a new space of political and cultural accommodation. The text further highlights Indigenous agency in the region, notably the initial willingness of the Wolastoqiyik to incorporate the small European presence into their world as well as the restraint they demonstrated during early periods of conflict in support of that vision. However, the instability of the colonial regimes in the region and the earlier direct imperial confrontation beginning in the 1690s made the pursuit of a new Middle Ground untenable. The author suggests different ways of looking at the history of the Northeast, looking at the period before the Treaties of Peace and Friendship, and revealing the brief potential that was ultimately lost for a more tolerant and peaceful world in what would become New Brunswick.





How to Cite

Kennedy, G. (2022). A Path Not Taken: The Middle Ground and the Wolastoq/Saint John River, 1640-1690. Journal of New Brunswick Studies Revue d’études Sur Le Nouveau-Brunswick, 14(1), 99–117. Retrieved from https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JNBS/article/view/32889