The Boom’s a Bust: Being Atlantic Canada’s “Have” Province in the Early Decades of the 21st Century

What:             17th Annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial Lecture

Where:          Sydney Credit Union Room (CE 265) @ CBU

When:           Thursday, November 5, 12:30 pm

Details:         Free and open to all.

Oil appeared to be working an economic miracle in Newfoundland and Labrador in the early years of the 21st century. By 2008, every conventional economic indicator was suggesting that what was once one of the worst economic cases in Atlantic Canada was turning around rapidly and the province had become the region’s only “Have” province. Yet by 2014, declining oil prices had triggered an economic tailspin, and in 2015, amidst recession, there are plenty of indicators that fundamental problems still characterize the Newfoundland and Labrador economy.

In the 17th annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial Lecture, Sean Cadigan will make the case that, despite the hype about its “have” status, Newfoundland and Labrador experienced little positive structural change as a result of its oil boom. Within the province, regional patterns of economic disparity persist, as have basic forms of class and gender inequality. The most significant impact of the oil boom has been that it funded rapidly increasing government spending that may not be sustained in the absence of high oil prices.


Sean Cadigan is Associate Vice President Academic (Faculty Relations) pro tempore and a professor of History at Memorial University. His research interests include the social and ecological history of fishing communities, management and development policies in cold-ocean coastal areas, and the history of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil industry. He has published three books: Hope and Deception in Conception Bay: Merchant-Settler Relations in Newfoundland, 1785-1855 (1995), Newfoundland and Labrador: A History (2009), and Death on Two Fronts: National Tragedies and the Fate of Democracy in Newfoundland, 1914-34 (2013). Prior to joining Memorial University, Sean was a professor of history at Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.


The annual J.B. McLachlan Memorial Lecture honours the life and legacy of one of Cape Breton’s and Canada’s finest labour leaders. J.B. McLachlan was a Scottish immigrant and coal miner who arrived in Cape Breton in 1902 and helped lead District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America until he died in 1937.