7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)

 The Piscataqua estuary is at the heart of this tale, which asks listeners to imagine how different peoples have lived in the ecosystem we now call home. Prior to the arrival of the English and French during the Little Ice Age, Wabanaki inhabitants mastered the seasonal challenges of living in this place. English settlers redefined its ecology during the seventeenth century. Paying attention to forests, fish, ships, and sheep, Dr. Jeffrey Bolster recasts our regional story, anchoring us to the past in compelling new ways.

The Old Berwick Historical Society (OBHS) kicks off its 2017 program season with a series of monthly talks about the clash of cultures that erupted in the Seacoast region four centuries ago, on the far reaches of settlement in New England.

The talks culminate in a new exhibit opening in June at the Counting House Museum, entitled Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua, about a surprising cast of characters—voyagers, transplants and the dispossessed—who vied for control of a forest empire along the Piscataqua. First in the lecture series is “A Watery Kingdom Transformed,” a presentation by University of New Hampshire history professor Dr. Jeffrey Bolster, about the changing relationships people have had with their environment since 1550 and how history has left its marks on the landscape of this region. The program will be held on January 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Berwick Academy Arts Center in South Berwick and is free and open to the public.

“We are thrilled to get an exciting year underway,” says the historical society’s consulting curator Nina Maurer. “We hope to reshape what people know about the early history of our region, and uncover some of the surprising stories buried beneath our feet. Jeff Bolster’s talk will set the stage for how people’s relationship to the land and sea in the Piscataqua region has changed, from the Wabanaki who first lived in this area to the European settlers who followed.”

The Piscataqua estuary is at the heart of the Forgotten Frontier story.  Listeners will be asked to imagine how different peoples have shaped the ecosystem they now call home.  Prior to the arrival of the English and French during the Little Ice Age, Wabanaki inhabitants mastered the seasonal challenges of living in this place.  By 1700, English settlers had redefined its ecology. 

“There is an enchanting tale in the Piscataqua estuary, and in the Seacoast communities of Maine and New Hampshire, and it’s told by forests, fish, ships and sheep,” says Bolster. “If we listen to these stories, they anchor us to the past and help us to understand development in our communities in compelling new ways.”  Bolster is the author of several books at the intersection of history and ecology, including The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail, winner of the Bancroft Prize for American history scholarship, and Cross Grained and Wily Waters, a guide to the Piscataqua’s maritime heritage.

 

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