Principality of Outer Baldonia
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Principality of Outer Baldonia
|Organizational structure||Monarchy (constitutional)|
|0.016 km2 (0.0062 sq mi)|
|Membership||c. 69 men|
|Claimed GDP (nominal)||estimate|
The Principality of Outer Baldonia is a now defunct micronation whose territorial pretensions comprised the roughly 4 acres (16,000 m2) of Outer Bald Tusket Island, the southernmost of the Tusket Islands, 8 nautical miles (15 km) off the southern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
Founded in 1949 by Russell Arundel, who was an American business man and lobbyist for The Pepsi Cola Company, and entitled the "Prince of Princes" of Outer Baldonia, the Principality is often classed as a 'whimsy state'. Endowed with a charter, flag, and organized military, it was one of the more developed historical micronations. Coinage and passports were also issued.
Arundel stumbled upon the island while fishing recreationally for tuna in the Acadian fishing community of Wedgeport. The island had been used as a seasonal fishing stop-over, and as a sheep pasture. In 1948, Arundel negotiated its purchase for $750 and constructed a stone building for him and his friends to use as a lodge during the sport fishing season. Legend has it that it was, in fact, while Arundel and his friends were engaged in an episode of rum drinking that they conceived, wrote, approved and published the Declaration of Independence of Outer Baldonia. Reflecting the primacy of sport fishers such as Arundel in its leadership, the trappings of the state seem to have teemed with aquatic life. The currency, for example, was called the Tunar.
Geography and demographics
The island is situated to the south of Nova Scotia and a few kilometres off the coast of Yarmouth, belongs to the group known as the Tusket Islands, and is relatively flat and treeless. While it is said to have had until the 1960s a local population of Acadian fishermen and at least one shepherd, it may be assumed that their habitations were temporary, rather than permanent. It is likely that the fishermen had a few shanties, now rotted away, where they would stop from time to time, or stay for a matter of convenience. The shepherd's use of the island is attested to by a term of the 1973 sale, which promised the extension of grazing rights to three local families. Sheep continued to be pastured on the island as of 2014.
In 2014, the only structure of human origin on the island was the 30 by 20-foot (6 m) stone building that was built by Russell Arundel, and served as the capitol of Outer Baldonia. This building is in some disrepair, but the initial 'A' is still visible above the mantle. The vegetation of the island is predominantly aster, with Queen Anne's lace, tall grasses and vetch as well. The fauna is primarily avian and arthropodic in nature.
The governmental structure of Outer Baldonia is now difficult to discern. All citizens of the principality who caught a Bluefin tuna and paid a $50 fee were accorded the rank of prince. The ranks of the peerage were limited to 100. It is unclear whether there were any citizens of the state who did not belong to this class. The known figures of government were as follows:
- Head of State: Prince of Princes Russell Arundel
- Chancellor: Elson Boudreau
- Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary: Ron Wallace.:68
While never recognized by any government other than that of Nova Scotia, Outer Baldonia managed to acquire a certain amount of attention on the international stage. By listing his law office's phone number as that of the Consulate of Outer Baldonia in the telephone registry of Washington, D.C., Prince Russell received many queries from interested organizations. The National Geographic Society, for example, contacted Arundel seeking information on latitude, longitude, and export information for Outer Baldonia. Letters seeking noble titles and diplomatic relations with the micronation continued into the 1990s. The publication of the Charter of Outer Baldonia received international attention in various newspapers, including one particularly well-known critique published in the Soviet Union. This precipitated a series of events leading to the downfall of the political pretensions of Outer Baldonia.
Charter and communist critiques thereof
The text of the Charter of Outer Baldonia is preserved today in the Yarmouth County Museum. The Declaration of Independence states:
- "Let these facts be submitted to a candid world. That fishermen are a race alone. That fishermen are endowed with the following inalienable rights: The right of freedom from question, nagging, shaving, interruption, women, taxes, politics, wars, monologues, cant and inhibitions ... The right to swear, lie, drink, gamble ... the right to sleep all day and stay up all night ...
- "Now, therefore, We bond ourselves in to a new nation, forever independent of all other nations, and do establish on the islands and waters of Outer Bald Island a new government which shall be forever respected and recognized as the Principality of Outer Baldonia."
The charter was broad ranging, setting out tax policy, codes of conduct for its citizens, a military hierarchy, as well as trade and industrial policy. For example, taxes, 'double-talk', and inhibitions were proscribed, while drinking, swearing, and exaggerations of the size of fish were enjoined. Women were banned entirely from the island, but not apparently, from citizenship. Arundel's secretary is known to have been granted the title of Princess. The activity of fishing seems to have been at least implicitly enshrined as a constitutionally mandated activity as was the production and exportation of empty rum and beer bottles.
The charter was generally received in the spirit in which it was intended, but not universally. L. Chernaya, writing in the Moscow Literaturnaya Gazeta, published an attack upon the content of the Baldonian Charter, which she claimed dehumanised and decivilized the citizenry, and upon the person of the prince of princes, whom she denounced as a 'savage' Western imperialist. It is unclear whether this criticism was intended to be taken seriously; some Canadian newspapers at the time believed it to be tongue-in-cheek.
Nonetheless, this attack upon the reputation and way of life of Outer Baldonia could not be tolerated, and Prince Russell's response led to the most famous episode in the history of the micronation.
The state's constitutional characteristics seem to have been largely military. Its 70-person population were all titularly, or actually, involved in the defence of the island through military means. The military seems to have been limited to a navy of indeterminate size: its personnel was constituted by 69 Admirals of the Fleet, but it is unclear how many ships were at their disposal. Reasonable estimates range between 20 and 100 vessels of varying size, from dories to larger vessels, used primarily for commercial, sport or sustenance fishing.
The bellicose nature of the state was manifested in the most celebrated event in the history of the principality: its confrontation with the Soviet Union. It seems that while there has been no diplomatic relations between the two entities, nor any direct interaction, the fighting spirit of the Outer Baldonians was roused by the appearance of a slanderous critique of Outer Baldonia's charter, as described above, in the Soviet state publication Literaturnaya Gazeta. When the Soviet government declined an invitation to visit and observe the wholesomeness of the micronation's way of life with an eye to retracting its insults, a declaration of war was issued on March 9, 1953. The Baldonian navy put to sea upon a war footing, one that, one may assume, involved a remarkable amount of fishing. Ron Wallace, Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Outer Baldonia, secured the alliance of the nearby Armdale Yacht Club, which committed its own fleet to the defence of the island principality. The response from the Soviet Union was, by all accounts, highly satisfactory to Outer Baldonian popular sentiment. Not daring to challenge the Baldonian Navy on the high seas, the Soviets issued a series of condemnations through their various press outlets.
Alas, the press coverage that resulted involved investigative reporting, which resulted in the exposure of the principality as a humorous half-truth. Accusations of fraud were splashed across the pages of the world's newspapers, the invitations to diplomatic soirées dried up, and Outer Baldonia ceased to exist in the eyes of the world.
Later history of the territory
In 1973, Outer Bald Tusket Island was sold by Russell Arundel for the price of one Canadian dollar to the Nova Scotia Bird Society. The Nova Scotia Nature Trust now owns the island. The island has been designated the Earle E. Arundel Breeding Bird Sanctuary. It is open to the public, but may have a tern rookery, and should not be visited during breeding season. Hunting is permitted in season.
- Lachlan MacKinnon, "Give Me Fish, Not Federalism: Outer Baldonia and Performances of Micronationality," in Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, 8, 2 (2014), 105-119.
- Nova Scotia Bird Society (current owners of the island)
- Micro-National and Fantasy Coins: Listings O, P
- "New Foundlands" by George Pendle
- Sports Illustrated article