Haliburton's reputation lies in the many substantial works in provincial history, political pamphlets and fiction that he wrote from 1823 to 1860. His first book was published in 1823 when he was 27. A General Description of Nova Scotia (1823) was followed by a more ambitious, 2-volume work, An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia (1829). His other historical writings include The English in America (1851) and Rule and Misrule of the English in America (1851). Two political works also demonstrate Haliburton's lifelong interest in Canadian affairs: The Bubbles of Canada (1839) and a shorter pamphlet, A Reply to the Report of the Earl of Durham (1839).
It was The Clockmaker; or the Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick of Slickville that made Haliburton the first Canadian writer to gain an international reputation. Twenty-two instalments of The Clockmaker appeared in the newspaper Novascotian before it was first published in book form by Joseph HOWE in 1836. There soon followed The Clockmaker, 2nd series (1838), and in 1840 the 3rd series. It is estimated that as many as 80 editions of The Clockmaker appeared during the 19th century.
Perhaps Haliburton's finest and most enduring work is The Old Judge; or Life in a Colony (1849). This work reveals Haliburton in a more sombre and reflective mood as he states with genuine feeling his farewell to Nova Scotia. The Old Judge lacks the wisecracking observations that made the adventures of Sam Slick so readable, but it is balanced and marked by a maturity not always present in Haliburton's other writings.
Like his fellow Nova Scotians, Thomas MCCULLOCH and John YOUNG ("Agricola"), Haliburton provoked Nova Scotians to better themselves in agriculture and business to combat the depression of the 1820s. Despite his initial debt to McCulloch, he extended his writings to fight the political situation both at home and in England. The Clockmaker has been described as "a series of moral essays pointed by satire." There can be no doubt about Haliburton's extraordinary ability as a writer of social satire, which was heightened by his ear for local idiom, dialect and anecdote. No full bibliographical study of Haliburton's career has yet been made, nor is there a book-length biography.
Author DOUGLAS LOCHHEAD
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Heroes in Fact and Fiction
See brief profiles and bibliographies for many notable historical Canadian figures (real and fictional). From Library and Archives Canada.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton
A biography for Thomas Chandler Haliburton, politician, judge, and author. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
Creator of Sam Slick: Thomas Chandler Haliburton
This Dalhousie University Library website provides a brief biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton.
Bluenose: A Canadian Icon
This virtual exhibit about the famous Grand Banks fishing schooner features vintage videos and photographs. From Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management.