Len & Cub: A Queer History – chronicles of an early 20th century same-sex couple living in rural New Brunswick
Len & Cub: A Queer History tells the story of Leonard “Len” Keith and Joseph “Cub” Coates, who grew up in the rural New Brunswick village of Havelock in the early 20th century. The two were neighbours, and they clearly developed an inseparable relationship.
Len was an amateur photographer and automobile enthusiast who went on to own a local garage and poolhall after serving in the First World War. Cub was the son of a farmer, also a veteran of the First World War, a butcher, contractor, and lover of horses. Their time together is catalogued by Len’s photos, which show that the two shared a mutual love of the outdoors, animals, and adventure. Photographs of Len and Cub on hunting and canoe trips with arms around each other’s shoulders or in bed together make clear the affection they held for each other. Their story is one of the oldest photographic records of a same-sex couple in the Maritimes.
Len & Cub features Len’s photos of their life and tells the story of their relationship against the background of same-sex identity and relationships in rural North America of the early 20th century. Although Len was outed and forced to leave Havelock in the 1930s, the story of Len and Cub is one of love and friendship that challenges contemporary ideas about sex and gender expression in the early 20th century.
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Meredith J. Batt (they/them) grew up in Sackville/Moncton and earned a BA in history at the Université de Moncton. They currently work as an archivist at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Their writing has appeared in Xtra Magazine, the Canadian Historical Review, and Active History.
Dusty Green (he/they) grew up in northwest New Brunswick and holds degrees from St. Thomas University and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Green has previously worked at the New Brunswick Provincial Archives and Fredericton Region Museum. He is currently manager of communications and marketing at the New Brunswick Lung Association. While working at the Provincial Archives, Green came across the photos of Len and Cub and created a photo book that would be the precursor of Len & Cub: A Queer History.
Green founded the Queer Heritage Initiative of New Brunswick (QHINB) in 2016, with Batt joining in 2018 and currently serving as president. QHINB is an archival and educational initiative that aims to collect and preserve archival records of 2SLGBTQ+ history in the province. Since then, they have conducted oral history interviews and worked with numerous 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and organizations to ensure that New Brunswick’s queer history has a permanent home in the Provincial Archives.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.