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Canadian Historian to Speak on Da Costa Feb. 2

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Jan. 27, 2009) - The Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh and the North Country Underground Historical Association are collaborating to bring A.J.B. John Johnston, Canadian historian, for a special Quadricentennial Lecture on Monday, Feb. 2. The lecture will take place in the Alumni Conference Room on the second floor of the Angell College Center, on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus from 3-5 p.m. A reception will follow.

Mathieu Da Costa

The subject of Johnston's lecture is "Mathieu Da Costa: What We Know and What We Imagine. Some Possibilities and Probabilities Surrounding a Historical Personage." Da Costa was an interpreter of African descent who likely traveled extensively throughout the "Atlantic world" in the late 1500s and early 1600s. As an interpreter, he was sought after by both the French and the Dutch to help in their trading enterprises with Aboriginal peoples. Da Costa may have sailed up the St. Lawrence River and all along the Atlantic Coast.

According to Johnston, "Sometimes what we do not know is even more intriguing than what we do ... The story of Mathieu Da Costa ... is significant, for it suggests fascinating links among the peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas during the formative era of the late 16th and early 17th centuries."

Johnston is a long-time historian and author with Parks Canada who specializes in the history of Atlantic Canada. His most recent work, "Endgame 1758" garnered the Canadian Historical Association's CLIO award. "Endgame" weaves together the dramatic military and social history of Fortress Louisbourg.

Johnston will share his research on Fortress Louisbourg on Tuesday, Feb. 3 with students in a classroom presentation titled "The Siege of Louisbourg 1758." Located near the eastern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Louisbourg was France's first line of defense during her 18th century conflict with Great Britain for colonial supremacy in North America. The capture of Louisbourg was Britain's first major victory in the French and Indian War.

Johnston's visit to SUNY Plattsburgh is being made possible by a $1,000 mini-grant awarded to the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association by the New York State Quadricentennial Commission.

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