When speaking about Atlantica, people tend to refer to it as a recent development; as a new concept, as an outcome of the current trend toward globalization. They are wrong to do so, because Atlantica has long been a de facto historical concept.

“Historical Atlantica” has existed since the 17th century and has, over time, seen varying levels of interaction and integration between the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland & Labrador and the northeast United States.

In this paper, Carleton University & UPEI economics professor Robin Neill takes a look to the past and shows how it can help the future. He points out that the study of historical Atlantica is important because it makes possible a consideration of the long-term factors shaping the Maritimes’ economic development, such as external forces, internal dynamics and government initiative. He says various governments have attempted to mould the Maritime Provinces into miniature versions of central Canada, all of which have failed.

“What governments often fail to realize is that the Maritime Provinces have a unique historical context, which one cannot and should not ignore when creating policy,” he writes. “Simply comparing the economies of the Maritimes to those of central Canada ignores that historical context. Historically, the Maritime Provinces have been a part of Atlantica and, as such, their role as a region is defined in part by the relationship they share with each other and with the states of Atlantica.”

Historical Atlantica suggests there is a role for government to play within Atlantica, but it cannot force it into being. Instead, governments should act as facilitators by providing the infrastructure which will allow Atlantica to thrive. It concludes that national and provincial governments need to look at the situation of the Maritimes and determine which policies will play to its strengths. At the same time, it is foolish to try to create a situation and ignore the global economic forces that make the current version of Atlantica an avenue for economic growth. Instead, Neill says we can study the past and turn history to our advantage.

To read the complete paper, click here.