Thomas Head Raddall

Last updated

Thomas Head Raddall
Born(1903-11-13)13 November 1903
Hythe, England
Died1 April 1994(1994-04-01) (aged 90)

Thomas Head Raddall OC FRSC (13 November 1903 1 April 1994) was a Canadian writer of history and historical fiction. [1]


Early life

Raddall was born in Hythe, Kent, England in 1903, the son of an Army officer, also named Thomas Head Raddall, and Ellen (née Gifford) Raddall. In 1913 the family moved to Nova Scotia, where his father had taken a training position with the Canadian Militia. The elder Raddall then saw active service during the First World War and was killed in action at Amiens in August 1918.

Raddall attended Chebucto School in Halifax 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 it in his memoirs, In My Time.

At the age of fifteen, Raddall trained at the Canadian School of Telegraphy in Halifax and shortly thereafter started working at the age of 18 as a marine telegraph operator for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. [2]

Raddall's first job was as a wireless operator on seagoing ships, including the CS Mackay-Bennett, and stationed on land at Camperdown Signal Station and at isolated wireless posts such as Sable Island. [3] He later took a job as a clerk at a pulp and paper mill in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he began his writing career. There, Raddall came in contact with the master American swindler and fugitive from justice, Leo Koretz, who was using the alias, Lou Keyte. [4]

Career as a writer

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). He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1971.

Raddall is best known for his historical fiction, but he also published numerous non-fictional historical works. His interest in historical research grew when he was stationed at historical locations as a wireless operator, and he received crucial encouragement and assistance from Harry Piers, Curator of the Nova Scotia Museum, who became his mentor. [5] Raddall's early works included studies of privateering, civic and marine history, and Canada during the War of 1812. His history of Halifax, Warden of the North, remains influential.

Historical preservation and restoration

Raddall worked 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 Harold Innis, D. C. Harvey and C. B. Ferguson. Raddall helped to restore and preserve Perkins House Museum, a colonial house built by Simeon Perkins that is now a part of the Nova Scotia Museum system.


An exact replica of Raddall's 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[ when? ] digitizing his published and unpublished writings. [6]

The Thomas Head Raddall Award is a literary award administered for the best work of adult fiction published in the previous year by a writer from Canada's Atlantic provinces.

The Thomas Raddall Provincial Park is a park in Nova Scotia named for Raddall. [7]


Related Research Articles

Sable Island Place in Nova Scotia, Canada

Sable Island is a small Canadian island situated 300 km (190 mi) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and about 175 km (109 mi) southeast of the closest point of mainland Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic Ocean. The island is staffed year round by four federal government staff, rising during summer months when research projects and tourism increase. Notable for its role in early Canadian history and the Sable Island horse, the island is protected and managed by Parks Canada, which must grant permission prior to any visit. Sable Island is part of District 7 of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. The island is also a protected National Park Reserve and an Important Bird Area.

Citadel Hill (Fort George)

Citadel Hill is a hill that is a National Historic Site in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Four fortifications have been constructed on Citadel Hill since the city was founded by the English in 1749, and were referred to as Fort George—but only the third fort was officially named Fort George. According to General Orders of October 20, 1798, it was named after King George III. The first two and the fourth and current fort, were officially called the Halifax Citadel. The last is a concrete star fort.

Liverpool, Nova Scotia Place in Nova Scotia, Canada

Liverpool is a Canadian community and former town located along the Atlantic Ocean of the Province of Nova Scotia's South Shore. It is situated within the Region of Queens Municipality which is the local governmental unit that comprises all of Queens County, Nova Scotia.

The 1943 Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit were the eighth rendition of the Governor General's Awards, Canada's annual national awards program which then comprised literary awards alone. The awards recognized Canadian writers for new English-language works published in Canada during 1943 and were presented in 1944. There were no cash prizes.

<i>Rover</i> (privateering ship)

Rover was a privateer brig out of Liverpool, Nova Scotia known for several bold battles in the Napoleonic Wars.

Carol Bruneau is a Canadian writer.

Simeon Perkins Canadian politician

Colonel Simeon Perkins was a Nova Scotia militia leader, merchant, diarist and politician. Perkins led the defence of Liverpool from attacks during the American Revolution, French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. In the 1770s, Liverpool was the second-largest settlement in Nova Scotia, next to Halifax. He also funded privateer ships in defence of the colony. He wrote a diary for 46 years (1766–1812), which is an essential historic document of this time period in Nova Scotian history. His home is now the Perkins House Museum. He was the grandfather of Joshua Newton Perkins.

Sambro, Nova Scotia Community in Nova Scotia, Canada

Sambro is a rural fishing community on the Chebucto Peninsula in the Halifax Regional Municipality, in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Enos Collins

Enos Collins was a merchant, shipowner, banker and privateer from Nova Scotia, Canada. He is the founder of the Halifax Banking Company, which eventually was merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1903. Upon his death, he was acclaimed as the richest man in Canada.

Sambro Island Light Lighthouse

Sambro Island Lighthouse is a landfall lighthouse located at the entrance to Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, on an island near the community of Sambro in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse in North America and its construction is a National Historic Event.

Harry Piers

Harry Piers (1870–1940) was a Canadian historian. He was a long-serving and influential historian and curator at the Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Piers was born on February 12, 1870 in Halifax.

Raid on Lunenburg, Nova Scotia (1782) 1782 battle of the American Revolutionary War

The Raid on Lunenburg occurred during the American Revolution when the US privateer, Captain Noah Stoddard of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and four other privateer vessels attacked the British settlement at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on July 1, 1782. The raid was the last major privateer attack on a Nova Scotia community during the war.

Battle off Halifax (1782) Naval battle in American Revolutionary War

The Battle off Halifax took place on 28 May 1782 during the American Revolutionary War. It involved the American privateer Jack and the 14-gun Royal Naval brig HMS Observer off Halifax, Nova Scotia. Captain David Ropes commanded Jack, and Lieutenant John Crymes commanded Observer. The battle was "a long and severe engagement" in which Captain David Ropes was killed.

Impressment in Nova Scotia Forced service of Nova Scotians in the Royal Navy

Impressment by the Royal Navy in Nova Scotia happened primarily during the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Guard boats patrolled Halifax harbour day and night and they boarded all incoming and outgoing vessels. The Navy always struggled with desertion in Nova Scotia, and it often threatened to use impressment as a punishment for communities that harboured and assisted deserters. The Navy used guard boats as floating press gangs, conscripting every fiftieth man out of ships entering the harbour. It even pressed Americans from cartels and prison hulks. Warships shot at vessels to bring them to, damaging their sails and rigging, and at least one fisherman was pressed while checking his nets.

Blonde Rock is a shoal off the south-eastern tip of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located at position 43° 20′ 28″ N, 65° 59′ 10″ W, and 5.9 kilometres (3.7 mi) roughly south-southeast of Seal Island. At a low spring tide, only two feet of the rock are above water.

HMS <i>Blonde</i> (1760) Warship of the British Royal Navy

HMS Blonde was a 32-gun fifth-rate warship of the British Royal Navy captured from the French in 1760. The ship wrecked on Blonde Rock with American prisoners on board. An American privateer captain, Daniel Adams, rescued the American prisoners and let the British go free. The captain's decision created an international stir. Upon returning to Boston, the American privateer was banished for letting go the British crew and he and his family became Loyalist refugees in Nova Scotia.

Battle off Liverpool, Nova Scotia (1778)

The Battle off Liverpool took place on 24 April 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. The raid involved the British vessel HMS Blonde and the French 24-gun frigate Duc de Choiseul.

Nova Scotia in the American Revolution

The Province of Nova Scotia was heavily involved in the American Revolutionary War (1776–1783). At that time, Nova Scotia also included present-day New Brunswick until that colony was created in 1784. The Revolution had a significant impact on shaping Nova Scotia, "almost the 14th American Colony". At the beginning, there was ambivalence in Nova Scotia over whether the colony should join the Americans in the war against Britain. Largely as a result of American privateer raids on Nova Scotia villages, as the war continued, the population of Nova Scotia solidified their support for the British. Nova Scotians were also influenced to remain loyal to Britain by the presence of British military units, judicial prosecution by the Nova Scotia Governors and the efforts of Reverend Henry Alline.

Camperdown Signal Station

Camperdown Signal Station, also known as Camperdown Hill, is significant in Nova Scotia communication history. Overlooking the entrance to Halifax Harbour made it a strategic part of Halifax's defence system in the 18th century. The hill has been used as a customs lookout, signal and telegraph station, observation post and redoubt commanding the Citadel Hill defence complex. The Camperdown Signal Station was built a few miles northward next to nearby Portuguese Cove in 1797, the first of a series of signal stations built by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. It later became a wireless station and was operational until 1925. The military took over operating the station and it became known as VCS from 1935 until 1970.

David Huebert is a Canadian writer from Halifax, Nova Scotia.


  1. Thomas Head Raddall's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  2. [ bare URL PDF ]
  3. "Thomas Head Raddall fonds - MemoryNS".
  4. Jobb, Dean. "Empire of Deception".[ permanent dead link ]: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and HarperCollins Canada: New York and Toronto, 2015. ( ISBN   978-1-61620-175-3)
  5. Thomas Raddall, In My Time McClellend and Steward (1976 ), p. 116
  6. Thomas Head Raddall Digital Collection Archived 2 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Thomas Raddall Provincial Park". Government of Nova Scotia.