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 8 nautical miles (15 km) off the southern tip of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
Founded in 1948 by Russell Arundel, who was an American business man and lobbyist for Pepsi Cola Company (today: PepsiCo), 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, and highly populated of the various historical micronations. Coinage and passports were also issued.
Apparently, Arundel stumbled upon the island while fishing recreationally for tuna. While there are reports that the island was used as a base for fishing (possibly seasonally), and was also used as a sheep pasture, Arundel negotiated its purchase for $750, and constructed a stone edifice for himself and his friends to use as a fishing 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 kilometers 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 until the death of the shepherd, which, it seems, was not likely to be much longer. The only structure of human origin on the island at this date in 2006 is 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 exact 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 are as follows:
Head of State: Prince of Princes Russell Arundel
Chancellor: Elson Boudreau
Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary: Ron Wallace
While never legally recognized by any government other than that of Nova Scotia, Outer Baldonia managed to acquire a certain amount of prestige on the international stage. Simply 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 invitations to gatherings which he attended in his diplomatic garb, which some say was decorated largely with sardine cans and bottle caps. Outer Baldonia was even invited to apply for membership to the then nascent United Nations. The publication of the Charter of Outer Baldonia brought giggles from some quarters, but stern denunciations from the parodically humourless 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, but we must rely on what few details have been repeated by those familiar with its contents. The general drift may be surmised by the following extract from the Declaration of Independence:
That fishermen are a race alone. That fishermen are endowed with the following inalienable rights: The right to lie and be believed. The right of freedom from question, nagging, shaving, interruption, women, taxes, politics, war, monologues, care and inhibitions. The right to applause, vanity, flattery, praise and self-inflation. The right to swear, lie, drink, gamble and silence. The right to be noisy, boisterous, quiet, pensive, expensive and hilarious. The right to choose company and the right to be alone. The right to sleep all day and stay up all night.
The Charter was surprisingly 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 well as the production and exportation of empty rum and beer bottles. Naturally, the charter was generally received in the spirit in which it was intended, but not universally. A communist writer in the Soviet Union published an attack upon the content of the 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. 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 defense of the island through military means. The Military itself 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 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It seems that while there were no previous 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 USSR 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 defense of the island Principality. The response from the USSR was, by all accounts, highly satisfactory to Outer Baldonian popular sentiment. Not daring to challenge the Baldonian Navy on the high seas, the USSR merely issued a series of condemnations through their various press outlets.
Alas, the press coverage that resulted involved investigative reporting, which could only have the result of 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, who are the current owners. 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.