A.J.B. (John or Jay) Johnston

A.J.B. (John) Johnston is the author or co-author of books and museum exhibits, as well as articles in scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers. He was made a chevalier of France’s Ordre des Palmes Académiques in recognition of his body of work on Louisbourg and other French colonial topics. The best known of his history books is Endgame 1758, which won a Clio award from the Canadian Historical Assocation and was short-listed for the Dartmouth Book Award.

His two latest books, his 20th and 21st, will appear in 2020. First up will be Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns (Nimbus). Then it will be Ancient World, New World: Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst (Acorn), co-authored with Jesse Francis.

In 2018, John released The Hat, a YA novel that offers a 21st-century take on the Acadian Deportation, and Something True, which was inspired by the real-life adventures of Katharine McLennan in late 19th and early 20th-century Cape Breton and in France during the First World War.

In 2017, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Center for the Writing Arts in Fairhope, Alabama. Back in 2016, John participated as a mentor to emerging writer Linda MacLean in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. From mid-April to mid-May 2017 he combined with Sal Sawler and Norma Jean MacPhee to offer sessions for the WFNS entitled “So You Want to be Published” in Halifax, Antigonish, Wolfville, Sydney and Yarmouth.

John has written three novels in the Thomas Pichon series: Thomas, A Secret Life in 2012; The Maze in 2114 and Crossings in 2015.

Back in 2013, Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Acorn), won three awards: “best-published Atlantic Book”, best PEI Non-Fiction, and a PEI Heritage Award. The French version of the book, Ni’n na L’nu: Les Mi’kmaq de l’Ile-de-Prince-Édouard, is now available from La Grand Marée (Tracadie Sheila, NB).

Released in 2015 was Grand Pré, Landscape for the World (Nimbus), co-written with Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc.

Most of his books are available as e-books.

John writes exhibits as well, including the “Vanguard: 150 Years of Remarkable Nova Scotians” for the Nova Scotia Museum and the ground floor of the Black Cultural Centre. The award-winning travelling exhibition Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island opened at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown and then travelled to the Museum of Canadian History in Gatienau, Quebec and other subsequent venues. More recently, John developed the storyline and texts for the revitalization of the Colchester Historeum in Truro. That exhibit opened officially in early 2016.

More information on John can be found at ajbjohnston.com and on Facebook at A J B Johnston, Writer. John is on Twitter at @ajbjohnston and on Instagram at AJBJohnston.

John donates his papers to the Beaton Institute of the Cape Breton University.


Grand Pré, Landscape for the World, 2015. Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 978-1-77108-271-6

  • Endgame 1758 was shortlisted for the Darmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction.
  • The Canadian Historical Association awarded ‘Endgame’ a Clio prize as the best book on the history of Atlantic Canada published in 2007
  • Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Nimbus Publishing), short-listed for best-published book, Atlantic Book Awards, 2014.
  • Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island (Acorn Press), short-listed for best non-fiction book, PEI Book Awards, 2014.
  • Biographical entry in Canadian Who’s Who since 2009.
  • Both the exhibit entitled Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island and the book of the same name published by Acorn Press received a PEI Heritage Award, 2014.
  • Alcuin design award (second place) for Phoenix Fortress, 1991.
  • Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island selected “best-published Atlantic book” at 2014 Atlantic Book Awards.
  • Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island selected Best PEI Non-Fiction Book at 2014 Atlantic Book Awards.

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