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13 



1 11 282 



CANADA 

A Story of Challenge 

REVISED EDITION 

BY J. M. S. CARELESS 

CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 

WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS 

Here in one inexpensive volume is the story 
of Canada from earliest times to the present. 
Here are presented the major facts of 
Canada's history and the main forces that 
have shaped it: the pressures and promises of 
Canadian geography* the pull of the United 
States, the influences stemming from 
Britain and Prance, and the interrelations 
of the French- and English-speaking 
communities in Canada* Above all* this is a 
story of challenge* the challenge of a vast 
land to t* group of scattered colonies which 
have emerged after immense difficulties 
to become a continent-wide nation of North 
America. 

This is history as it should be wniUM. 
Professor Careless^ first-rate scholarship and 
brilliant style combine in an eminently 
readable volume for both the student and 
the general reader* 



CANADA 

A STORY OF CHALLENGE 



CANADA 

A Story of Challenge 



BY 

J. M. S. CARELESS 

Chairman of the Department of History 
University of Toronto 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
OF CANADA LIMITED 

TORONTO 



J. M. S. CARELESS, 1963 

All rights reserved -no part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publishers. Mimeographing or reproducing 
mechanically in any other way passages from this 
book without the written permission of the pub- 
lisher is an infringement of the copyright law. 



First published 1953 

Revised and enlarged edition 1963 

Reprinted 1964 



Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 64-20638 



Printed in Canada by The Bryant Press Ltd 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

This is a revised and enlarged edition of a book first published in 
1953. The preface to the original work outlined its frame of 
reference and the author's general attitude to its theme of 
Canadian history. That preface still seems worth repeating in 
part, as expressing the nature of this volume. 

'In the following pages I have tried to present the major facts of 
Canada's history and the main forces that have shaped it; the 
pressures and promises of Canadian geography, the pull of the 
United States, the influences stemming from Britain and France, 
and the interrelations of the French- and English-speaking com- 
munities in Canada. The book's main theme, however, is the 
emergence of a Canadian nation out of scattered colonies, in 
response to the challenge of the vast Canadian land and the forces 
that have played on its inhabitants. Without overestimating this 
national growth, one may claim that there has indeed been a 
distinctive Canadian achievement, the product of long and 
enduring efforts to build a community in the northern hah of the 
North American continent separate from the United States. 

'There is no attempt here to ignore the obvious limitations of 
partly developed Canadian nationalism - nor to view nationalism 
as a supremely worthy development in itself. Yet this study 
finds the very core of Canadian history in the fact that a separate 
Canadian community has always survived in North America, and 
still continues to grow. The problems of creating a continent- 
wide Canadian unity have been immense; and yet a degree of 
unity has been created, maintained, and gradually strengthened. 
Hence the general tone of the book is neither typical Canadian 
pessimism concerning Canada's shortcomings as a self-conscious 
nation, nor equally typical optimism regarding the country's 
"limitless resources" and all-excusing "youth". It is, rather, a 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

surprised and measured satisfaction that so much has been 
accomplished in the face of such grave difficulties.' 

A decade later, these words themselves have become a tiny bit 
of history, reflecting perhaps some of the sense of achievement in 
Canada during the booming i95o's. Yet now, in the strained 
i96o's, the author would not greatly wish to alter them. His 
satisfaction at Canadian achievement might be still more quali- 
fied, his consciousness of the strengthening of Canadian unity 
somewhat less certain. Nevertheless, his awareness that Canada 
throughout her history has met and survived repeated and 
rigorous challenges still gives him a basis for believing that she 
will continue to do so. 

J. M. S. CARELESS 
Toronto, 

February > 1963 



CONTENTS 

PART I 
THE BACKGROUND 

Chapter i GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

1. The Challenge of the Land 3 

2. Sectionalism and the St. Lawrence 5 

3. Influences by Land and Sea 9 

4. The Regions of Canada 12 

Chapter 2 THE ACTORS APPEAR 

1. The Indians and the Land i? 

2. The Red Man and the White 21 

3. The Europeans Enter 23 

4. The Codfish and the Beaver 25 

PART II 
NEW FRANCE 
Chapter 3 THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

1. A Century of Exploration without Occupation 31 

2. The Day of Champlain 34 

3. For the Glory of God 4 

4. The PerH of the Iroquois 44 

Chapter 4 ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

1. The French Crown takes Command 47 

2. The Work of Talon 50 

3. Expansion, Conflict and the Rule of Frontenac 52 

4. Acadia: a Backward Colony 57 

Chapter 5 THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

1. The Structure of Society 59 

2. The Seigneurial System 61 

3. The Role of the Church 64 

4 . The Life of the People 67 

5. The Life of New France and Modern French 

Canada 7 

vii 



CONTENTS 

page 

Chapter 6 THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

1. The Rivals for America 73 

2. The British Empire in America 76 

3. 'English Canada' in the Day of New France 79 

4. The Mounting Conflict 84 

5. The Final Struggle 88 



PART III 

THE BRITISH NORTH AMERICAN COLONIES 

Chapter 7 THE AGE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

1. Canada in the First British Empire 97 

2. The Problem of Quebec 100 

3. The Impact of the Revolution 104 

4. The Coming of the Loyalists 109 

Chapter 8 THE SHAPINGOF BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

1. Constitutional Changes and the Second Empire 116 

2. The Rising Colonies of British North America 121 

3. Danger on the Western Border 128 

4. The Second Struggle with the Americans 131 

5. The Kingdom of the Fur Trade 136 

Chapter 9 IMMIGRATION, DEVELOPMENT AND THE PIONEER AGE, 

1815-1850 

1. The Migration from 'Britain 145 

2. Advances in Transportation 151 

3. The Maritime and St Lawrence Trading Systems 155 



4. The Pioneer Age 

Chapter 10 THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

1. The Problem of Colonial Government 

2. Reform and Rebellion in Upper Canada 

3. Racial Strife and Rebellion in Lower Canada 

4. Peaceful Reform in the Maritimes 

viii 



159 



164 
168 
175 
182 



CONTENTS 

page 

Chapter n SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

1. The Meaning of Responsible Government 188 

2. The Durham Report 192 

3. The Union of the Canadas 198 

4. Achieving Responsible Government in 

Canada 200 

5. Achieving Responsible Government in the 

Maritimes 204 

Chapter 12, THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

1. The Canadian Commercial Revolution 207 

2. The Coming of Railways 212 

3. The Question of the West 216 

4. Sectionalism and the Canadian Union 221 

Chapter 13 THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860^7 

1. The Movements Within 230 

2. The Great Coalition in Canada 233 

3. The Forces Without 236 

4. The Achievement of Confederation 243 

PART IV 
THE CANADIAN NATION 

Chapter 14 THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

1. The Structure of Government 253 

2, Rounding Out the Dominion 258 

3. Macdonald Conservatism and a Liberal 

Interlude 264 

4, The Life of the Young Dominion 270 

Chapter 15 MACDONALD NATIONALISM AND SECTIONAL DISCON- 
TENT, 1878-96 

1. The Brave Days of the National Policy 276 

2. Problems of Opening the Prairies 281 

3. The Rise of Sectional Discontents 285 

4. The Fall of Macdonald Conservatism 290 

5. Macdonald and the North Atlantic Triangle 296 

ix 



CONTENTS 



Chapter 16 LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

1. Immigration and Western Settlement 301 

2. The Success of the National Policy 309 

3. Nationalism and Imperialism 314 

4. American Problems and the Naval Question 320 

Chapter 17 THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

1. Canada and the First World War 327 

2. Conscription and the Racial Crisis 333 

3. Borden and the Commonwealth 338 

4. Mackenzie King and Nationhood 343 

Chapter 18 CANADA BETWEEN Two WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

1. Post- War Growth and Renewed Sectionalism 351 

2. New Currents in Politics 356 

3. The Federal System and the Depression 364 

4. Canada Enters World Affairs 370 

Chapter 19 THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

1. Canada and the Second World War 377 

2. War and Post- War PoHtics 384 

3. Canada in a Two-Power World 390 

4. Canada Gains a New Province 394 

5. Patterns in Modern Canadian Life 401 

Chapter 20 CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

1. The Mid-Century Boom 406 

2. Political Affairs from St Laurent to Diefenbaker 410 

3. External Relations in the Mid-Century Years 415 

4. Towards 1967 420 
Index 430 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



1. Carrier at Perce Rock, Gasp6 

2. Champlain and Allies attack an Iroquois village 

3. Martyrdom of the Jesuits 

4. Charter of the Hudson's Bay Company 

5. Frontenac treats with the Iroquois 

6. Country dance of the Canadiens 

7. The taking of Quebec, 1759 

8. Eighteenth-century Halifax 

9. Captain Cook on Vancouver Island 

10. Loyalists at Saint John, New Brunswick 

11. Corduroy road in early Upper Canada 

12. Travel by dog cariole in Hudson's Bay Territory 

1 3. Governor Simcoe opens Upper Canada's first 
Parliament 

14. The Battle of Chateauguay, 1813 

15. Fur-trade traffic at Fort Edmonton 

1 6. Opening of the first Welland Canal 

17. Toronto in the eighteen-thirties 

18. The clash at St Eustache Rebellion of 1837 

19. Burning of the Parliament House, Montreal 

20. The railway enters London, Canada West 

21. Victoria, Vancouver Island, in 1860 

22. The London Conference completes the 
plan of union 

23. Winnipeg and the Red River, 1873 

24. North West Mounted Police at Dufferin, 
Manitoba, 1874 

25. Parliament Hill, Ottawa, 1880 



facing p. 50 
facing p. 51 

between 
pp. 82 
and 83 



between 
pp. 114 
and 115 



facing p. 146 
facing p. 147 

facing p. 178 
facing p. 179 

between 
pp. 210 
and 211 



between 
pp. 242 
and 243 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



26. Chief Big Bear trading at Fort Pitt 

27. Volunteer troops in the North West Rebellion 

28. First C.P.R. through train reaches Port Moody, 
1886 

29. A settler's first home in Manitoba 

30. The Laurier smile Sir Wilfrid campaigning 

31. Scottish immigrants at Quebec 

32. Dutch immigrants at Quebec 

33. Saskatchewan grain elevators 

34. Wealth of the Shield forests and waterpower 

35. A Recruiting 'Station* in the War of 1914-18 

36. Yellowknife, North West Territories 

37. H.M.GS. Swansea on convoy duty, 1944 

38. Canadians under fire in Germany, 1945 

39. St Lawrence Seaway 

40. Toronto in the Nineteen-sixties 

41. A peaceful stretch of Canadian countryside 



facing p. 274 

facing p. 275 
facing p. 338 

facing p. 339 



between 
pp. 370 
and 371 



facing p. 410 
facing p. 411 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

For permission to reproduce copyright illustrations listed above, the 
publishers express their thanks to the following: 

Confederation Life Association (nos. i, 5, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 2.2, 23); 
Sigmund Samuel Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum (nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, n, 17) ; 
Public Archives of Canada (nos. 3, 7, 14, 18, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32); John 
Ross Robertson Collection, Toronto Public Library (nos. 12, 19, 20, 25); 
Provincial Archives of British Columbia (nos. 21, 28); National Film 
Board of Canada (nos. 24, 33, 36, 39, 40); Ontario Department of High- 
ways (nos. 34, 41)3 Toronto Star Syndicate (no. 35) j Royal Canadian 
Navy (no. 37); Canadian Army Photographs (no. 38). 



xu 



MAPS AND DIAGRAMS 

i. The Lands of Canada page 6-7 

a. Eastern Exploration before 1760 35 

3. The Empires before the Seven Years' War ... 87 

4. Political Growth of the B.N.A. Colonies . . . 126-7 

(i) The Northern Colonies in 1763 
(ii) The Northern Colonies and the Quebec Act 1774 

(iii) British North America in 1791 . 

(iv) British North America in 182,0 .... 

5. Western Exploration before 1821 . . . 140 

6. The Meaning of Responsible Government . . .189 

7. British North America before Confederation . . 228-9 

8. The Development of the West 283 

9. Growth of the Canadian Union 306-7 

(i) The First Seven Provinces, 1873 

(ii) New Districts Established, 1882 
(iii) The Nine Provinces, 1905 
(iv) The Ten Provinces, 1950 



CHAPTER I 

GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

I The Challenge of the Land 

What is Canada? It is a vast land-mass over three thousand 
miles wide, larger than the United States and Alaska put together, 
a little bigger than Europe, nearly a third larger than the island- 
continent of Australia. It extends from the temperate climate of 
the lower Great Lakes, from tobacco fields, peach orchards and 
grape vineyards, to the coldest Arctic regions, where the granite- 
hard subsoil never thaws. To east and west this massive land is 
flanked as well by great islands in the sea, Newfoundland and 
Vancouver Island. To the north so much empty space remains 
that, even since the second World War, aerial surveys could find 
unknown territories at the top of Hudson Bay as big as the pro- 
vince of Prince Edward Island to add to the map of Canada. 
Sometimes full of warm colour and contrast, sometimes bleak, 
monotonous and unfriendly, the Canadian land stretches in all its 
immensity from ocean to ocean and to the polar ice-cap. 

There is no virtue in mere size, however. As in Canada's case, 
it can raise many different problems in a country's development. 
And Canada above all has been affected by its geography: there 
is so much of it. Geography, of course, does much to influence 
the history of any nation. But this is particularly true of a land as 
sprawling and spread out as Canada, composed of a number of 
different geographic regions, often with natural barriers between 
them, regions which in Europe might have contained a whole 
patchwork of separate countries. Thus Canadian history largely 
records a struggle to build a nation hi the face of stern geographic 
difficulties. That struggle still goes on. 

The difficulties arise from the very extent and variety of the 
Canadian landscape : the range on range of far western mountains. 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

the rough tracts of forest and bush, the Arctic and sub-Arctic 
wastes, and the infertile belt of ancient rock nearly a thousand 
miles wide, called the Canadian Shield, which runs through the 
very heart of Canada. Barriers such as the mountains and the 
Shield exact a heavy price in scattering the population. They 
make for sectional divisions and high transportation charges. They 
weaken national unity and retard national development. Since, 
moreover, so much of Canada lies outside the limits set by soil and 
dimate for successful fanning, merely numbering the thousands 
of empty or almost empty square miles in the country does not 
necessarily indicate the amount of room left for growth. It may 
equally point out the size of a problem of development that has 
been, and still is, slow and expensive of solution. These are some 
of the costs of geography that have had to be borne throughout 
the course of Canadian history. 

Yet geography has offered Canada much as well. This giant 
land has held rich rewards for those ready to meet its challenge. 
The challenge of the land steadily led men across it, from east to 
west. In the east, the old sunken coastline of the continent formed 
great fishing banks off shore that first beckoned to the hardy 
fishermen of Europe who were willing to dare the stormy northern 
passage across the Atlantic. Beyond the Atlantic fishing shores 
the gateway of the St Lawrence gulf and river stood wide, in- 
viting the venturesome to thrust boldly into the middle of an un- 
known continent. Adventurers who pressed up the St Lawrence 
and on to the Great Lakes would find a broad water highway 
stretching nearly half-way across Canada and by-passing the in- 
hospitable Shield. From tie St Lawrence system other waterways, 
easily reached, led to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Arctic, even to 
the Pacific. The St Lawrence rewarded daring by unlocking the 
interior of North America to those who sought the meaning of 
the great river. 

West of the Great Lakes the great plains spread out, easy to 
travel, and deep-layered in black topsoil that promised the future 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

golden treasury of Canadian wheat. The Shield itself, in the long 
run, would prove a treasure-house; first of furs, then of timber, 
and finally of pulpwood, minerals and water-power. More 
mineral riches were sealed in the mountain walls west of the 
plains. Beyond these mountains, the Pacific coast could furnish 
stands of giant timber and more teeming fisheries. To-day the 
sub-Arctic 'wastes' are the latest land of promise. Their mineral 
resources are only now being tapped. If Canada is a hard country, 
it has indeed been a rewarding one for those who have met its 
challenge. 

2 Sectionalism and the St Lawrence 

Not all Canada is hard, however, and the bulk of its people do 
not live in regions that are difficult to develop. In the southern 
parts of the country long fertile valleys or rich garden lands have 
come to support a fairly dense population within a comparatively 
small area. This is the Canada that most Canadians themselves 
know: a land of dairying and mixed farming, of orchards and 
grain fields. This too, is the Canada of large cities and factories 
that have made the nation a notable industrial power in the 
world. As a result, the country which is often thought of abroad 
as the realm of frontiers and wide horizons, to-day has more than 
half its population in cities and towns, and a quarter of it in cities 
of more than 100,000 inhabitants. 

From the start the more fertile areas in southern Canada, 
chiefly along the valley of the St Lawrence or in the maritime 
regions beside the Atlantic, provided the bases for settlement. 
From here expansion was made into the harder northern zones. 
By this process Canada grew. But because the areas of relatively 
easy conditions across the continent were cut off from one another 
by geographic barriers and more difficult country, Canada tended 
to develop in separated communities or sections. 

The populated parts grew like separate melons on one long 
vine, strung out across the continent close to Canada's southern 

5 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 




Pacific Mountains or Cordilleras 
%j Great Central Plain 
| | | [Canadian or Pre-Cambrian Shield 



j Maritime or Acadian Region 

\ Hudson Bay Lowlands 

1 St Lawrence Valley and Lowlands 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 



MAPI 
LANDS OF CANADA 




GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

boundary. To-day, although costly railways and roads link the 
heavily populated areas together, only in the western plains is 
there any great depth of continuous settlement, and Canada still 
falls into a number of distinct sections. In consequence, much of 
Canadian history has been the story of individual sections and 
provinces. Because of their somewhat different interests they 
have not combined in a complete, or legislative, union in founding 
a nation, but have adopted the looser form of federal union. This 
federation, moreover, has turned out to be more loosely knit than 
that of the United States, where a much larger and more continu- 
ous population, not so hindered by geography, has fused more 
fully together. 

Furthermore, because the lines of geographic division that 
mark off the regions of Canada tend to run north and south across 
the continent, and because so much of the Canadian population 
lies near the American boundary line, Canadians in one section 
have often had easier contacts with the neighbouring American 
region to the south than with the other parts of Canada that lie 
east or west. Hence the 'north-south pull*, heightening sectional- 
ism, has played a significant role throughout Canadian history. 
Nevertheless there have also been powerful forces pulling in an 
east-to-west direction that work to bind the parts of Canada to- 
gether. Indeed, they brought the sections to form one country, 
almost despite geography, and certainly in the face of its costs. 

Some of these forces have come from the people rather than 
the land; they have been historic rather than geographic. For 
example, they include the centuries-old resistance of French 
Canada to the American pull to the south, and the traditional 
desire of later English-speaking settlers to remain linked with 
Britain and independent of the United States. But perhaps the 
most powerful force that has helped to bind Canada from east to 
west as one country is geographic in origin. It is the influence of 
the St Lawrence system of rivers and lakes, and the east-west 
trade that grew up along that water route. The Canadian nation 

8 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

itself , in fact, developed along the St Lawrence highway, as trade 
and settlement advanced from east to west by that path, from the 
lands about the gulf to posts up the river and on the Great Lakes. 

First came the fur-trader's canoe. Short 'carries' or portages 
overland from the St Lawrence headwaters brought the fur 
trader to western rivers, and finally to the Pacific. That the 
breadth of the North American continent was first crossed in its 
northern, Canadian half indicates the early usefulness of the St 
Lawrence and its connections as a transcontinental route. Next 
came the canal boat, to bring the increasing grain crops of the 
interior to the Atlantic for shipment to European markets. Then 
the railway stretched through the St Lawrence valley, and reached 
out east and west to two oceans, tying all Canada together with 
gleaming steel. 

All through these stages the trading and financial interests 
which developed with the St Lawrence system had been competing 
with the other trade routes spanning the continent that led to 
American ports. The Canadian interests strove to build their half 
of North America into one secure trading empire from sea to sea, 
to make Canada an economic unit apart from the United States. 
The influence of the great east-west Canadian trade route, there- 
fore, throughout history has worked against the north-south pulls 
in each region of Canada. It has supplied a core about which the 
modern nation could grow, despite the cross-currents of section- 
alism. This much, again, geography has done for Canada. 

3 Influences by Land and Sea 

Geography has done still more by land and sea; to link 
Canada's destinies by land, with the United States; by sea, with 
Britain. The easy access to Canada by land from what is now the 
United States has been of great significance in Canadian history. 
Since the main geographic barriers in North America run north 
and south they do not block the way into the various parts of 
Canada from the United States, and the boundary between the 

9 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

two countries is on the whole simply a man-made line. Condi- 
tions of every-day life may be much the same on either side of the 
border. The common problems that are met in living in the same 
kinds of land, the similar outlooks thereby produced, and the 
constant movement of trade and people to and fro across the 
border result in Canada being readily open to American influences, 
and Canadian history being closely tied to that of the United 
States. 

The stronger nation tends usually to influence the weaker. Ana 
geography has decreed that the United States should be much 
stronger. Geography, that is, has divided and scattered the Cana- 
dian people, made the cost of developing their country higher 
than that of the American republic and given them far fewer men 
and less money to work with. It has declared that Canada should 
be rich, but not endowed with the variety of the United States; 
and it has sharply restricted the northern nation in regard to soil 
and climate. Geography has placed the barren Shield across the 
heart of Canada and the populous Mississipi valley, containing 
some of the finest land in the world, in the midst of the United 
States. The result, indeed, may be read in the populations of the 
two nations to-day: some eighteen million people as compared 
with over a hundred and eighty-four million. Canada's achieve- 
ments may be great, especially for eighteen million people, but the 
mighty American neighbour still towers above the northern nation. 

No other Commonwealth country has had to grow up beside a 
tremendously powerful foreign state. This is a special problem 
for Canadian history. It has meant in Canada both a tendency to 
copy American ways and a suspicion of American influence and 
power to dominate. It has meant in the more remote past two 
wars to repel American conquest and many periods of alarm. 
More recently, it has also come to mean a striking record of close 
co-operation between nations, a long era of peace and an un- 
fortified American-Canadian border. But in general, the presence 
of the United States has involved Canada in a struggle for survival 

10 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

as an independent nation in North America a struggle, first, 
against superior force and later against the process of gradual and 
peaceful absorption. 

Yet a powerful counter-weight against the American influence 
by land has been supplied in Canada's past through the British 
tie by sea, which is no less grounded in geography. The modern 
Canadian nation, of course, has grown out of former colonies of 
the great British oceanic empire. In Britain lay a source of pro- 
tection against the power of the rising young republic in the 
dangerous days. From Britain came ideas and influences to 
modify those received from the United States. And from Britain 
as well there flowed the main stream of population that made the 
former French possession of Canada a British colony in content 
as well as name. 

The Canadians of to-day are a little less than half of British 
stock, about thirty per cent French, and the rest very largely of 
other European origins, who have generally joined the English- 
speaking majority. The British immigrant group, however, loomed 
especially large in the nineteenth century in Canada. To a great 
extent it was because of their strong traditions that Canada ad- 
vanced to self-government without leaving the empire, and thus 
to-day remains a partner in the Commonwealth. Canadian 
history has therefore been deeply affected by British influences. 
They did much to shape the modern nation and to keep it inde- 
pendent in North America. 

All this again goes back to geography, to the sea. Canadian 
history began by sea as Europe expanded over the oceans. First 
came French overseas enterprise. The building of New France 
left an enduring element in the life of Canada, making the present 
nation a partnership of two peoples, languages and cultures. But 
British sea power wrested Canada from French control and kept 
it in British hands. The new British colony grew and flourished 
within the sea-trading empire. It was easily accessible by the 
oceans and could be effectively tied to the imperial islands of 

ii 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

Great Britain. To-day the trade with Britain still remains im- 
portant to Canada's well-being. Geography, in sum, has set the 
stage for Canada by sea no less than it has fixed conditions by 
land for Canadian development. 

The great St Lawrence system, key to the whole course of 
Canadian history, was linked by the sea to Britain. If one end of 
that long trade route lay deep in the continent, the other lay in 
London. It formed a broad funnel through which trade, people 
and ideas could pour from Britain into the North American heart 
of Canada. Then, too, the Atlantic regions of Canada, to be 
known as the Maritime provinces, faced out to sea and turned 
their backs on the continent; Newfoundland was virtually a. 
British fishing ship anchored off America, and for long years was 
actually governed by British naval officers. 

The Pacific coast of Canada was first opened by sea. The long 
fingers of British sea power stretched to Vancouver Island from 
around Cape Horn and across the Pacific. Even the interior 
western plains were early reached by sea, for the English Hudson's 
Bay Company developed the cold northern gateway to Canada as 
the way to the western fur trade. The sea touches all the regions of 
Canada and sounds through all its history. 

4 The Regions of Canada 

Despite the common influences which reached Canada by sea, 
it remained a land of distinct regions, each with its own history. 
They formed the moulds in which Canada gradually took shape, 
as successive generations flowed into each one in the course of 
moving across the continent. From east to west there are five 
main geographic divisions in Canada. North of them, in addition, 
lie the sub- Arctic and Arctic areas, consisting of the Hudson Bay 
Lowlands, bush country and tundra about the vast Bay, and the 
Arctic Archipelago, bleak rocky hills and islands extending to the 
polar seas. 

The easternmost of the five main divisions is the Acadian or 

12 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

Maritime region. It contains the Atlantic provinces of Nova 
Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and the new- 
est Canadian province, though oldest British colony, the massive 
island of Newfoundland, which joined the Canadian union in 
1949. The Acadian region is a northward extension of hilly New 
England: an area backed by the long line of the Appalachian 
mountains that parallel the whole coast and formed the first main 
geographic barrier to the settlement of North America. The 
rounded Appalachians, rising only to 4,000 feet in Canada, are 
low mountains by the standard of the western Rockies, but their 
forested wilds long presented a serious obstacle, and still restrict 
easy passage by road or rail between the Maritime provinces and 
the neighbouring province of Quebec. 

The Atlantic shores of the Acadian region are deeply indented 
with coves and buttressed with rugged headlands. This is parti- 
cularly true of Newfoundland. But the many excellent harbours 
thus provided and the nearby shallows or banks made seafaring 
and fishing flourish in this region from the start. There are also 
sheltered green valleys in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and 
Prince Edward Island is a quiet garden in the Gulf of St Lawrence. 
Farming, therefore, has also been important in the Acadian 
region; and lumbering too, particularly where the river valleys 
rise against the Appalachian ridges in New Brunswick. 

On the other side of the Appalachians the broad St Lawrence 
river begins its thousand-mile passage into Canada from the 
Gulf to the Great Lakes. At first the Appalachians to the south 
and the rim of the Shield on its northern bank hem in the St 
Lawrence. But so wide is the stream in its lower course that each 
high wall above its margin appears only as a faint blue line when 
seen from the opposite shore. By the time the river reaches the 
city of Quebec, however, the walls have moved back, and now 
there begins a fertile valley, nine hundred miles in length, that 
gradually broadens into a gently rolling, park-like plain. This St 
Lawrence valley, that ends amid the Lower Lakes, has always 

13 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

been the heart of settled Canada. To-day it contains over sixty 
per cent of the population. Its farmland is rich; so are its indus- 
trial resources. The two greatest Canadian cities, Montreal and 
Toronto, and many others, are set in the long St Lawrence plain. 

The St Lawrence valley region includes the southern portion 
of Quebec province and the broad triangle of southern Ontario, 
that lies between the inland seas known as the Great Lakes. If 
the valley, however, is geographically and economically one unit, 
historically it has been two, for the French Canadians who settled 
in Lower Canada, now Quebec, and the English Canadians who 
settled chiefly in Upper Canada, now the province of Ontario, 
divided it into two strong sections. 

Yet the larger portions of Ontario and Quebec, their northern 
areas, fall within the region of the Canadian Shield, the most 
prominent geographic feature in the whole of Canada. This huge 
mass of rock is a plateau worn down by prehistoric glaciers from 
a range of ancient mountains. It sweeps in a mighty arc about 
Hudson Bay, extending from the Atlantic edge of Quebec and 
Labrador across northern Ontario and northern Manitoba into 
the North West Territories, until it touches the Arctic ocean. 
The southern edge of the Shield thrusts down on the fertile St 
Lawrence valley, and places a thousand miles of rolling granite 
hills, bush, and muskeg swamp between the farms of southern 
Ontario and those of the western plains. 

It would be wrong, however, to think of the Shield as a fear- 
some bad lands of rock, scrub and muskeg. Some of it is; but 
much as well is evergreen forest, one of Canada's richest re- 
sources. Large fertile pockets of soil are also found within it, and 
the whole Shield is pitted and scored by countless lakes and 
streams. First formed by the melting glaciers, they provided a 
network of waterways for easy travel by canoe. The same eroding 
glaciers, moreover, that ground off the good top soil, made almost 
incalculable mineral wealth available for e hard rock' mining. 

To-day busy cities may be found deep in the silence of the 

14 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

Shield, developing the mines and the hydro-electric power to be 
obtained from its streams, linked by rail and aeroplane with the 
rest of Canada. Besides being a vast source of wealth for Ontario 
and Quebec, the Shield is now a sporting and vacation paradise. 
It seems far from inhospitable on a summer day, the blue lakes 
sparkling, the keen air spiced with the scent of evergreens. Still 
the Shield has long been a barrier. A trunk highway across it was 
only opened in 1943, although three transcontinental railway lines 
run through it as well. 

Beyond the lands of central Canada, beyond the St Lawrence 
valley and the Shield, the true West begins. Across the prairie 
provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta the richly 
fertile plains stretch out to the Rocky Mountains, and run north- 
west to reach the Arctic. Not all this region is flat, treeless 
prairie. It rises gradually towards the foothills of the Rockies in 
western Alberta, park-lands run through central Saskatchewan, 
and Manitoba has large lakes and, of course, its share of the 
Shield. Not all the plains region is good farming country. There 
is a dry belt in the south where Alberta meets Saskatchewan, 
which is better suited for grazing land. Cattle-ranching is impor- 
tant here, and in the Alberta foothills. 

But, in general, despite more recent developments in industry, 
northern lumbering and mining and, above all, in Alberta oil 
the region of the plains remains the home of one great enterprise; 
grain-producing for the markets of the world. The farms to-day 
are measured in square miles and involve much mechanized 
farming and complicated financing. Mile on mile their waving 
wheat fields sweep to the flat horizon, broken only by the lonely 
shafts of grain elevators that store up the very destiny of the 
prairie West. 

The westernmost, or Cordilleran region of Canada, between 
the great plains and the Pacific, contains some of the highest 
mountains in North America. It really consists of four mountain 
chains rising parallel to one another. They run north out of the 

15 



GEOGRAPHY SETS THE STAGE 

United States through the Pacific province of British Columbia, 
and on to the Yukon territory. They represent an extension of 
the American western ranges, as the Canadian plains represent 
the northward extension of the interior plain of North America. 
This sea of mountains four hundred miles wide has its largest 
range, the Rockies, on the side next to the plains, where they rear 
a tremendous snow-capped wall above the flatlands. Good passes 
from east to west through the Rockies and other ranges are few, 
and were hard to find for railways or roads. Nor were the cold 
mountain rivers, rushing through deep, twisted canyons, easy for 
the early fur traders to navigate. 

Between the ranges, however, there are often long, peaceful 
valleys running north and south, such as the lovely Okanagan, 
where placid lakes reflect the blossoming apple orchards and the 
distant silvery line of peaks. Where the valleys slope up to the 
mountains there may be good ranching land, or great mineral 
deposits that have produced some of the world's largest mining 
developments in the thriving province of British Columbia. There 
is no coastal plain beyond the ranges on the Pacific shore, but the 
deltas of the mountain rivers, especially the Fraser, widen out to 
afford some room for towns and farms. Vancouver, Canada's 
third city, lies here, a sea port growing steadily with the expanding 
Canadian Pacific trade; while on beautiful Vancouver Island, 
really part of a half submerged mountain range, flower-filled 
Victoria basks in the mild Pacific climate. 

These then are the main regions of the Canadian land, each 
providing a distinct section within which the Canadian people 
took form, yet all of them bound together by forces of geography 
and history. And, in a sense, the Canadian people took shape in 
history in response to the challenge of their mighty land: the 
challenge of the rugged eastern coastline, the wide water gates of 
the St Lawrence, and Hudson Bay, the dark, wintry forests and 
endless, sunlit prairie the grim fortress of the Rockies, the roar- 
ing mountain torrents, and the icy stillness of the Arctic night. 

16 



CHAPTER 2 

THE ACTORS APPEAR 

I The Indians and the Land 

Before Europeans came to Canada, prehistoric man had 
worked out his own way of life in the American continent. The 
Indian was the Canadian prehistoric man. The description does 
not seem surprising when one realizes that it refers only to people 
who lived prior to the age of recorded history. Thus, since the 
written records only begin for eastern Canada with the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, AJX, the prehistoric period extended 
this far, and for much of western Canada until the eighteenth 
century. Indeed, some of the Eskimo tribes of the far north 
belonged to prehistory until the last century brought white men 
into contact with them. 

But the Eskimos and Canadian Indians had their own learning 
and skills even if they did not have the art of writing. To-day the 
life of their descendants has been transformed, in greater or 
lesser degree, by the impact of the white man's world, but the 
original knowledge and abilities of these native races was all- 
important both in enabling them to exist in North America and 
in teaching European peoples ways to meet the challenge of the 
continent. The Eskimos, who represent a particular branch of the 
Indian people adapted to Arctic life, were of relatively minor 
importance in the story of Canada since they occupied only the 
cold northern fringes of the continent. The other Indian groups 
were of much greater significance. 

It is held that the Indian race is related to the Mongol peoples 
of Asia, and that its ancestors must have crossed to the American 
continent by way of Alaska in the dim recesses of time. The tip 
of Alaska, the north-western corner of the continent, is only fifty 
miles from Siberia. The opposite shore can even be seen on a 

17 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

clear day. This is a gap narrow enough for a primitive people to 
have bridged in crude boats. Untold centuries later, such a people 
could have spread by slow wandering all over America, to form 
the Indian groups that the discoverers from Europe found. 

The Indians were never very numerous supposedly only 
about 220,000 in all Canada at the time when Europeans first 
arrived. This sparse population was fairly well fixed in size by 
the Indians' inability to feed many more mouths, despite the 
vastness of the continent. For the northern Indian, in particular, 
was primarily a hunter, and he needed wide, empty areas to range 
in search of food. Though some Indian groups did plant crops 
and scratched a living from the soil, the primitive Canadian 
Indian depended largely on hunting and fishing. Hence pre- 
historic Canada generally remained a wilderness hunting-ground, 
a silent world of forests in the east and far west and of untilled 
grasslands on the interior plains. 

The Indians of Canada were divided into four main groups, 
apart from the Eskimos in the Arctic. Each contained many 
tribes. The groups were distinguished, basically, by the regions 
they lived in and the ways of life they had adopted to meet their 
surroundings. There were the Indians of the Pacific coast and 
mountains, the Plains Indians, those of the St Lawrence valley, 
and, finally, a broad group that may be called the Indians of the 
North-east Woodlands. In other words, while some of the divi- 
sions of the native people conformed to those of the land, in the 
east of Canada the same sort of Indian roamed the woods of the 
Shield and those of the Maritime region, from the Atlantic to the 
tree-line in the Arctic north. 

The northernmost tribes of these woodland Indians, west of 
Hudson Bay, spoke the Athabaskan tongue, but the main group 
is termed Algonquian, from the name given to their language. 
They included ALgonquins proper of the Ottawa-St Lawrence 
region, Micmacs of the Maritimes, Montagnais of Quebec and 
Cree and Ojibwa of northern Ontario and Manitoba. They were 

18 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

above all nomad hunters, moving over their tribal hunting grounds 
in search of the animals that supplied them with both food and 
clothing, though fish was also an important article of diet. They 
lived in birch-bark wigwams, and used this paper-like but strong 
bark to cover their light canoes. In these they made long journeys 
with remarkable ease. 

In winter they moved almost as easily over snow-covered land 
and frozen stream by means of the snow-shoe, while fur robes 
replaced their deerskin summer garments. As well as using the 
bow and arrow these able hunters made skilful traps. But their 
weapons and implements were contrived of wood, bone and stone, 
because, like all the other Canadian Indians, these prehistoric 
people were in the stone age until the white men introduced metal 
articles among them. 

The Algonquins moved into parts of the St Lawrence valley 
from time to time, but in general the fertile land of this region 
was held by the next Indian group, the Iroquois, who fought 
frequently with the Algonquins. The Iroquois language-family 
was centered in the country about the lower Great Lakes, and 
included the Hurons of central Ontario and the League of the 
Five Nations (later six) who lived south of Lake Ontario in 
what is now the United States. The Five Nations, as the most 
powerful Iroquois group, have acquired in history the name 
'Iroquois' for themselves, but it is well to remember that they 
were really tribes of the same stock as the Huron people with 
whom they waged relentless war. 

The Iroquois group, unlike the Algonquins, were fanners. They 
hunted and fished as well, but their dependence on fields and 
crops made theirs a settled life. They lived in stockaded villages, 
around which lay the fields they had cleared from the forests. 
Within the stockade were a number of large lodges, wood-framed, 
bark-covered, with arched roofs. Each housed several families of 
Iroquois. This was a much more social and complex existence 
than that of the wandering Algonquin families, dwelling in 

19 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

scattered wigwams. The Iroquois grew tobacco, squash and 
pumpkins, but their chief crop was Indian corn or maize. Life 
itself could depend on the corn crop being safely harvested, or 
the storehouses being saved from burning in an enemy raid. 

The Iroquois made pottery and did beadwork, engaged in trade 
with other tribes and used worked bead belts, or wampum, as 
money. Their canoes were elm-bark covered or heavy dug-outs, 
hollowed-out tree-trunks, and not the more efficient Algonquin 
birch-bark type. But in government organization and military 
power they surpassed all the Canadian Indians. The secret lay in 
their settled life, which made the tribe a much tighter, stronger 
unit, and in the co-operation between tribes in the case of the 
Five Nations. This was a primitive international body, with a 
central council containing representatives from each elected tribal 
council. The League's ability to keep the Iroquois a unit, and to 
wield their power in war, is shown by the persistence of the Five 
Nations, as a power to be feared, long after the coming of the 
white man. 

The other two Indian groups had much later contacts with the 
white man than the Algonquins and Iroquois, and taught him 
less. The Plains Indians were wandering hunters like the Algon- 
quins; but their chief quarry was not the beaver, deer, and other 
forest animals but the great buffalo herds of the grasslands; and 
their chief means of transport was not the canoe but the horse. 
The horse, in reality, was not native to America but had been 
introduced by the early Spanish explorers far to the south in 
Mexico. By the time the prehistoric period ended for the 
Canadian west, however, the Indians of the plains had long since 
captured and tamed wild horses from the herds that had spread 
up the continental interior. Earlier, the Plains Indians had hunted 
the buffalo on foot, and used dogs to carry the tribal baggage. 
Dogs, of course, were also used by Indians and Eskimos to draw 
sleighs in the frozen north. 

The plains Indians included the Sioux, the Blackfeet, the 

20 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

Plains-Cree and the Plains-Ojibwa. They lived in tepis similar to 
Algonquin wigwams, but skin-covered. Great men among them 
wore the huge feathered headdresses often regarded as typical of 
all American Indians. The eastern tribes wore only a few feathers. 
The only crop cultivated by these people, who lived on some of 
the world's richest soil, was tobacco for smoking on occasions of 
ceremony. Buffalo meat, fresh or smoked as pemmican, supplied 
their chief article of diet, buffalo skins their clothes and robes. 

The Pacific Indians, among them the Haida, Nootka and Salish 
tribes, made good use of the plentiful supply offish in mountain 
streams and coastal waters, and also of the long, straight timber of 
the Pacific region. They were capable fishermen, and though they 
gathered roots and berries, chiefly lived on fish, especially the 
Pacific salmon. Their canoes were long dug-outs. They lived in 
villages in great box-like houses built of evenly split planks, split 
by stone and wooden tools. These were the Indians who raised 
the lofty totem poles* also often attributed to all Indians, which 
were carved from the giant trees of the area. Yet actually this 
practice did not begin till the prehistoric era was over in the 
nineteenth century. The life of the Pacific Indians was quite as 
settled and social as that of the Iroquois. Their village units were 
as closely knit, although, far from electing a tribal government, 
their hereditary chiefs had much power, while men of wealth also 
had great influence among them. 

2 The Red Man and the White 

What could Indian society teach the white man? The use of the 
canoe and the waterways to surmount the trackless distances of 
the continent; the forest craft to keep him sheltered, properly 
clothed and fed in the wilderness; the value of Indian corn as a 
quick-growing, large-yielding crop, once settlement had begun. 
It could show him too the skills of trapping, the art of the snow- 
shoe for winter travelling, and how to make long journeys on a 
basic diet of pemmican in the western, buffalo country. In short, 

21 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

the Indians could teach the Europeans how to survive in the 
empty continent; and how, indeed, to conquer it. For thanks to 
their superior civilization and tools, the white men could go for- 
ward to master and transform the raw land, as the Indians had 
never really done. 

At the same time,, the coming of Europeans sooner or later 
spelled death to Indian society. It was too weak to prevent the 
spread of the invader across the continent, although from time to 
time in history the Indians made attempts to block his further 
advance. Nor was it simply the white man's iron and guns that 
won the day for him. His diseases did more. Whole Indian tribes 
not used to European illnesses were ravaged by epidemics. Even 
measles became a killer of multitudes. The weakened remnants 
were further ravaged by the intruder's 'fire water', since the 
Indians had not known the use of alcohol before. 

Tribal wars, more destructive with the introduction of guns, 
further reduced the Indians. Yet the chief weakness really lay in 
Indian society itself. Quite apart from good or evil designs of the 
Europeans, the weaker, more primitive Indian tribal life simply 
collapsed and fell apart as it met a more advanced civilization. As 
long as the Europeans in Canada were chiefly concerned with fur 
trading, so that the forests were not harmed, Indian life might 
seem to be unthreatened. But actually its collapse had already 
begun. Seeking the white men's superior weapons and goods, 
whether guns, iron traps, or kettles, Indians became dependent 
upon them. They forgot their old skills, and had to engage among 
themselves in a grim struggle for these goods, or die. Tribes that 
had guns, steel knives, and iron traps could drive out those that 
had not and gain the furs which would bring them more of the 
all-important trade goods. A bitter fight to survive developed, 
increasing in extent as the links between white and red men 
spread westward. 

Tribal organization and customs decayed. The tide of settle- 
ment spread over their remnants ; until in the end some of the old 

22 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

Indian hunting life was only preserved in the fur-trapping far 
North, or on the reservations, the tracts of land guaranteed at last 
to the remaining tribes by white governments. And even here, on 
eastern reservations, the Indians have largely adopted the same 
ways as neighbouring white farmers. Thus^ for better or worse 
(for remember that the 'noble red man' had often lived a life of 
squalor and near-starvation) the Indian world gradually but in- 
evitably collapsed, as Europeans entered the Canadian scene. 

3 The Europeans Enter 

Why did they come? Why should nations of western Europe 
suddenly interest themselves, in the sixteenth century, in a New 
World, and in the Canadian portion of it? Before that time there 
had been visitors from Europe to the Canadian shores but they 
had not led to the opening of the continent to white men. Their 
journeys, instead, had been forgotten, save in a few tales and folk 
ballads. Only strange legends of mysterious isles beyond the 
western seas had remained in Europe to suggest that new lands 
might lie far over the Atlantic. 

The first white visitors had been the Norsemen, the great sea- 
rovers of the tenth and eleventh centuries, who built an empire 
in the northern oceans extending from Scandinavia to Iceland. 
From Iceland bold discoverers had reached out to the cold for- 
bidding shores of so-called 'Greenland*. About the year iooo 5 
Lief Ericson, *the Lucky', was blown south of his course for 
Greenland and came upon the coast of North America proper, 
probably touching at some point in Labrador. Further voyaging 
south brought him to a land of wild grapes, 'Vineland' he called 
it 3 that perhaps lay in Nova Scotia. Here the Norsemen even 
planted a colony, but fighting among its members and with the 
Indians soon destroyed it. 

The Norsemen still continued to visit America, ranging along 
its eastern coasts. There are claims, indeed, that they penetrated 
Hudson Bay and reached the interior, claims based on strangely 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

inscribed metal plates found there and the rusted fragments of 
weapons. But whether they did or not, their discoveries did not 
result in occupation. As Norse sea power faded, America sank 
again into the unknown. Medieval Europe was not far enough 
advanced, had problems enough of its own, and too many frontiers 
at home to develop, to pay heed to the sailors' tales of Norse 
wanderers. Behind the Atlantic mists, America lay forgotten. 

But towards the year 1500 Europe was changing greatly. 
Powerful nation-states were emerging. Strong at home, they 
were ready to look for imperial power abroad. A new wealthy 
middle class of traders and business men was eagerly seeking to 
extend the limits of European commerce, to reach out over the 
oceans to other parts of the world. And the learning and energy 
of the Renaissance was bringing increased scientific knowledge 
and enthusiasm to that cause. In particular, efforts were being 
devoted to finding new routes by sea to the fabulous riches of the 
East. Portugal and Spain, two rising nation-states that jutted out 
into the ocean, led in these attempts. The Portuguese were 
pressing south-east around Africa towards India. Christopher 
Columbus, in the service of Spain, sought to girdle the globe and 
reach Asia by sailing west. In so doing he rediscovered the for- 
gotten continents of America. 

Columbus, for all his greatness, was only part of a mighty 
wave of expansion that now swept west as well as east from 
Europe. As the sixteenth century began, the age of discovery was 
well under way. Gradually the whole eastern coast of North 
America was disclosed to white men. Realizing that this was not 
Asia but a continent in itself, they began to come to America for 
its own sake, and not because it lay athwart the way to the East. 
Yet the hope of finding passages through the land mass continued 
to invite the discoverers, and led to further explorations. 

A south-west passage to the East was found, through the 
Straits of Magellan at the southern tip of the Americas. A north- 
west passage was not; but the dream of it continued to haunt men 

24 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

and to send them further and further north into ice-filled Arctic 
waters. Only in the twentieth century, in fact, was the dangerous 
north-west passage above America finally navigated, and it has 
no commercial value to-day. 

The search for the north-west passage, however, the hopes of 
unknown riches, the enterprise of business men and seafarers 
and the dreams of national power, brought men from a newly 
aggressive Europe to America in the sixteenth century. And so 
the real history of Canada began. Another motive was the desire 
to carry Christianity to the pagan Indians who were found in the 
New World. When, in the course of the sixteenth century, the 
Reformation split Christian Europe into armed Protestant and 
Catholic camps, then the religious motive received new force. 
Men came to America either to gain souls for the Catholic or 
Protestant faiths, or to escape religious persecution at home. Yet 
though zeal for religion, riches or power, and sheer curiosity and 
love of adventure all played their parts, two humbler instruments 
were also significant in opening up Canada. They were the cod- 
fish and the beaver. 

4 The Codfish and the Beaver 

Shortly before the sixteenth century began, on a summer's day 
in 1497, the ship 'Matthew' of Bristol, under Master John Cabot, 
made an all-important discovery. It was not Cipangu, or Japan, 
which Cabot was seeking in sailing west, inimitation of Columbus's 
voyage of five years earlier. It was not 'the Newfoundland' which 
he did discover, and for which King Henry VII of England 
rewarded him with the generous gift of ten pounds. It was a sea 
so thickly swarming with fish that it seemed almost solid, and 
baskets let down on ropes from the deck of the ship could be taken 
up crammed full. Cabot had come upon the great fishing banks 
off North America, that would bring fisherman from Europe in 
increasing numbers, and would finally lead them to set up fishing 
stations on the nearby shores. 

25 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

Cabot's voyage, and those which he and his son Sebastian 
made later, had further significance. They showed that England, 
newly strengthened under the Tudor kings, was also entering on 
overseas expansion, and that English trading enterprise as well 
was turning in this direction; for though, like Columbus, Cabot 
was Italian, he sailed for the merchants of the port of Bristol. 
These voyages, moreover, uncovered much of the north-eastern 
coasts of America and provided the basis for English claims in 
the continent. But it was the fisheries that Cabot found which 
did most to teach Europeans the American shoreline, and to 
acquaint them first with the northern part of this New World. 

As reports of the new fishing grounds spread, fishermen along 
the Atlantic coasts of Europe began to make voyages each summer 
to the coasts and banks of Newfoundland. They came from 
Brittany and Normandy in France, and from Spain and Portugal 
as well as England. From 1500 on, the waters around Newfound- 
land and its harbours gradually became familiar to these unknown 
seamen of the summer fishing fleets. The fishermen also came 
close to the mainland shores along the lower reaches of the Gulf 
of St Lawrence, to fish off Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia 
proper. 

The large and abundant codfish was the main catch. At first 
the cod were heavily salted and carried back 'green' to Europe in 
the holds of the ships. But the practice of drying the fish on 
shore also came into use. There was less spoilage this way, in the 
days before refrigeration, and the dried cod needed only a light 
salting to keep them during the long voyage home. But as the 
'dry' fishery began to replace the 'green* fishery it led also to the 
first occupation of the new land, since drying racks, or 'flakes', 
had to be built on shore, and huts and storehouses for the men 
who tended them during the summer. 

In this way French and English fishing stations were estab- 
lished around the coasts of Newfoundland during the sixteenth 
century. The English stations were chiefly concentrated in the 

26 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

eastern Avalon peninusla. The French were scattered along the 
northern and southern coasts, or even on Cape Breton and the 
mainland shore. The Spanish and Portuguese had kept to the 
green fishery and did not need the same kind of shore establish- 
ments. Their fisheries, moreover, began to decline in the later 
sexteenth century as Portugal's interests turned more to the Indian 
Ocean and Spanish sea-power began to collapse under the attacks 
of the English Elizabethan sea-dogs. 

At English or French fishing stations, Indians might gather to 
investigate the strange white men and admire their knives and 
metal goods, their clothes and blankets, for which they had little 
to offer in exchange except furs or beaver robes. But furs were 
expensive luxuries in Europe, while the North American forest 
held a plentiful supply of fur-bearing animals, especially of the 
beaver. It was soon apparent to the fishermen that they could 
reap a large profit by trading a few knives or trinkets for pelts to 
be sold in Europe. 

An important side-line in fur trading developed at points along 
the Atlantic shores among the fishermen established there for the 
summer. It was only a matter of time before some men would 
decide to engage only in the profitable fur trade, to fill their ships 
wholly with furs, and perhaps to set up permanent posts in 
America to which Indians could bring a constant supply. From 
the fish of the sea, the white men had advanced to think of the 
furs of the land. They were being drawn into the continent. 

The milder climate of the more southerly regions of North 
America had invited settlement almost from the start. Thus before 
the sixteenth century was out the Spanish had built whole towns 
in Mexico and central America. But the colder northern half of 
the continent, with its heavy forests, was not so inviting. Yet in 
that same northern forest lay one easily available source of wealth 
-fur. Hence the fur trade first brought white men to occupy 
Canada and long remained the chief reason behind any colonies 
established within its bounds. 

27 



THE ACTORS APPEAR 

Furthermore, about the end of the sixteenth century, the felt 
hat came into widespread use in Europe, and it was discovered 
that beaver fur made excellent felt for hats. The beaver hat 
became the fashion, and remained so until the middle of the nine- 
teenth century. The fur trade of the beaver-rich northern forests 
of America took on new importance. The beaver to-day is rightly 
a national Canadian symbol, but perhaps the beaver hat would 
have been quite as symbolic. At any rate, to a great extent Canada 
was built on the back of the beaver. The fisheries kept their 
importance, but the fur trade expanded steadily, and spread west- 
ward into the interior as the regions close to the coast were ex- 
hausted of their supply of furs. As the fur trade moved west, so 
did the line of European occupation, until finally a vast fur empire 
stretched across Canada to the Pacific. 

It was the French who reared the first fur-trade empire within 
what is now Canada. The first period of Canadian history is thus 
that of the French regime. But before turning to the story of New 
France, it is well to recall the factors that lay behind it: the 
Indians, the first fur hunters, who showed white men how to live 
in the Canadian wilds; the age of discovery, which turned the 
eyes of Europe to this continent; and the codfish and the beaver 
which first brought Europeans in numbers to Canada and led 
them to stay and seek to possess the land. 



28 



isr 



isr 



CHAPTER 3 

THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

i A Century of Exploration without Occupation 

No successful colony was founded in Canada until after 1600. 
During the previous century, however, while the coastal fisheries 
were thriving and the fur trade beginning, a good deal of explora- 
tion and preparatory efforts paved the way for the colonies that 
were to come. The voyages of Cabot had been followed by 
further expeditions, Portuguese and French as well as English, to 
the north-eastern coasts of the American continent. Yet England's 
interest in discovery only rose to its peak in the latter half of the 
sixteenth century. Then, during the great reign of Elizabeth, the 
growth of English sea-enterprise showed itself in Canadian waters 
in renewed attempts to find the north-west passage : a way to the 
East that would not be blocked by the Spanish or Portuguese 
foe. 

Frobisher, Davis, and other English seamen penetrated into the 
sub- Arctic regions, working their way up the perilous seas between 
Greenland and the Canadian shores, only to be stopped by ice- 
fields. Early in the next century, Henry Hudson, perhaps the 
last of the great Elizabethan discoverers, thought that he had 
finally found the passage to Asia when he turned westward 
through the gap of Hudson Strait into the broad, land-locked Bay 
that also bears his name. But he perished in its icy waters in 
1611, set adrift in an open boat by a mutinous crew. The English 
were not to find the north-west passage, though Hudson's dis- 
covery had really opened a seaway for them into the heart of 
North America. 

English interest in Newfoundland had meanwhile continued. 
In 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert took formal possession of the 
eastern part of the island in the name of his queen. A permanent 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

English settlement, however, was not attempted until 1610. 
Besides, England was increasingly turning its attention south of 
the limits of Canada, to the coastline of the present United States. 
Gilbert's half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, had tried to place a 
colony on this coast at Roanoke Island, during Elizabeth's reign; 
but its inhabitants had mysteriously vanished, leaving only a 
name carved on a tree. 

Soon after 1600 a new English attempt succeeded in founding 
Jamestown, Virginia, and thenceforward England's colonial enter- 
prise was chiefly directed to the areas from Virginia to New 
England. Jamestown was established in 1607; the first colony in 
New England, that of the Pilgrims, in 1620. The Dutch, another 
rising maritime people, had meanwhile begun a settlement at the 
mouth of the Hudson River, between New England and Virginia. 
But both English and Dutch had left the harder, more northerly 
coasts of Canada alone. 

It was the French instead who chiefly concerned themselves 
with the region of Canada. Their fishermen had early ventured 
into the Gulf of St Lawrence and to the mainland shores, while 
the English had remained based in Newfoundland. In the first 
part of the sixteenth century, moreover, the newly powerful 
French monarchy under Francis I was dreaming of a New World 
empire that would match that of its rival, Spain. Accordingly, 
Francis sent out expeditions to survey the American coast north 
of the Spanish possessions, to claim land, discover treasure, and 
perhaps find the true north-west passage. A hard-bitten Breton 
sailor served King Francis best : Jacques Carrier was his name. He 
discovered the St Lawrence river, and unlocked the northern half 
of the continent to France. 

Cartier made his first voyage in the King's service in 1534. He 
sailed into the broad Gulf of St Lawrence and pushed on across 
it, beyond where fishermen had gone before. He reached the 
Gaspe peninsula, at the tip of the present province of Quebec, in 
a hot July of blue skies, wild roses and strawberries, and there 

32 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

erected a thirty-foot cross claiming all the land for France. He 
had done more as well. He had shown that behind the rocks and 
fog of the Atlantic coast and the lower Gulf shores lay a smiling 
country of great trees and grassy meadows. This new land far to 
the west seemed much more suitable for settlement 

The next year Carder returned and this time sailed on beyond 
Gaspe, entering the mouth of the St Lawrence river. While he 
voyaged upstream in the early autumn of 1535, he might well 
have thought that here at last was the passage to India, as the 
river stretched its mighty length into the hazy distance, and days 
of sailing along a shore crowned with golden ash, reddening 
maples and wild grapes brought no sign of the channel's end. At 
length he reached narrows in the river, between a bold promon- 
tory and a broad, beautiful island, where he stopped to visit the 
Iroquois Indian village of Stadacona. This would be the site of 
Quebec. And Cartier, misunderstanding an Iroquois word, per- 
haps a reference to the Indian corn fields, thought that the 
country's name was Canada. 'The river of Canada', he named 
the broad St Lawrence. 

The river channel once more spread before him beyond the 
Quebec narrows, and he sailed on, until at last, near the Indian 
village of Hochelaga, rapids barred his ship from proceeding 
further. Yet Cartier climbed a nearby crest and gazed on into the 
west at the broad silver stream that wound through the unknown 
forests. Was it the way to India? Reluctantly he turned back, 
having named the mountain crest Mount Royal. It would give its 
name to Canada's chief city, Montreal, which grew up where the 
rapids in the river halted ocean-going ships, as they had Carrier's 
vessel. 

Autumn was passing, and at Stadacona Cartier halted his 
expedition to wait for spring, rather than dare the dangerous 
winter Atlantic crossing. But the smiling land now turned a cold 
and frowning face to the inexperienced Frenchmen. Many fell 
sick and died that winter, penned up in their makeshift little 

33 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

encampment. Nevertheless, Carder returned to France with 
glowing tales of the wonders of Canada : of the river that might 
lead to Asia, of the gold and diamonds that might be found, and 
the mysterious Kingdom of the Saguenay, a land of jewels and 
spices, perhaps a part of India, that the Indians had described. 
They had, indeed; but it had been an artistic invention of the 
Indian story-tellers to please the credulous French. 

In any case, the French king was convinced, and this time 
ordered a large expedition fitted out, in order to found a colony. 
A court favourite, the Sieur de Roberval, was placed in command, 
with Cartier as his chief pilot. The expedition was delayed until 
1541, however. Cartier and five ships then left for Canada, 
expecting Roberval to follow. But Roberval delayed further, until 
the spring of 1542. By this time Cartier, having wintered in the 
new land again, had set out back to France, discouraged by now 
from believing that the St Lawrence was the way to India, that 
the kingdom of the Saguenay existed, or that any gold was to be 
found in Canada. RobervaTs colony merely proved the same 
things, and the next year, in 1543, after a hard winter at Cap 
Rouge above Quebec, the colonists returned home. Canada and 
Cartier had failed them. 

Yet,hadthey known it, in the river itself that Cartier had found, 
and in the furs that the Indians of the river were so eager to trade 
for European goods lay real wealth, and the future of France in 
America. Later French adventurers were to build New France 
on these foundations. It was only a matter of time, once more, 
before Carrier's work as a forerunner would lead to the permanent 
French occupation of Canada. 

2 The Day of Champlain 

The failure of Roberval's colony and renewed war with Spain 
discouraged the French monarchy after 1543 from further attempts 
to build an empire in America. Then came the most bitter kind 
of war civil and religious conflict to distract France for nearly 

34 



THE BUILDINCi Of NEW FRANCE, 1534-1003 



MAP II 

EASTERN EXPLORATION 
BEFORE 1760 

200 -400 




35 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

forty years more. It was only at the close of the sixteenth century, 
when a strong king, Henry IV, had restored order to his country, 
that the French turned once more towards colonizing Canada. 
Nevertheless, in the years between 1543 and 1600 private French 
ships had continued to visit Carrier's river of Canada and had 
extended the fur trade to the St Lawrence. The feeling was rising 
that great opportunities for wealth and power might lie in that 
region, if France would only act. 

Henry IV, accordingly, was ready to grant a monopoly of trade 
in order to establish colonies in America. The practice of colonial 
monopolies was widely accepted in Europe at the time. Wealthy 
nobles and merchants, singly or in groups, would seek a royal 
charter of monopoly granting them sole rights of trade and control 
in some portion of the new world overseas, in exchange for their 
undertaking to develop the country and plant a settlement there. 
The monopoly protected the adventuring group from having to 
struggle against trade rivals as well as against the wilderness. 
The crown in return would see its colonial holdings built up. 
This pattern of monopolies lay behind the early history of New 
Prance, as well as that of the English colonies on the American 
mainland. 

The fur trade, moreover, which was to be so significant in the 
case of New France, lent itself readily to monopoly. Although its 
profits might be high, the market was uncertain, since furs were 
a luxury, not a necessity; and though profits might not be sure, 
costs were inevitably heavy. Trade goods had to be carried across 
the width of the ocean and the furs transported as far back to the 
uncertain market. Hence a struggle between competing traders 
might easily wipe out the shaky profits. It seemed that only a 
group with a monopoly could afford the burden of transportation 
and stand the risk of bad markets by avoiding the ruinous drain 
of competition. At any rate, throughout the history of the fur 
trade in Canada there was a constant tendency towards monopoly 
control, while strong competition between traders usually ended 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

in the ruin of some and the merging of the survivors in a single 
organization. 

Though the granting of fur-trade monopolies accompanied re- 
vived French interest in Canada at the close of the sixteenth 
century, the first monopolists failed in their efforts to found 
colonies. But when at length monopolists succeeded, the credit 
was not due to the merchants or noblemen in France but to their 
agent hi America: to Samuel de Champlain, the true founder of 
New France. 

Champlain was an ardent Catholic, an able geographer, and a 
soldier and seaman who had already voyaged to the Spanish 
possessions in the New World. He made his first voyage to 
Canada in 1603, when he sailed for the French monopolists of the 
day to trade for furs in the St Lawrence. Champlain must have 
been struck by the possibilities of planting a French colony on the 
river to control the trade. On his return to France he found that 
the Sieur de Monts, the new monopolist, was planning a colonial 
venture, and the next year de Monts and Champlain left for 
America with a royal patent and 120 colonists. 

They first tried to found a colony on the more accessible 
Atlantic shores of Canada rather than in the distant St Lawrence 
valley. The first site, on the island of St Croix in the Bay of 
Fundy, proved an unwise choice, the island lacking water and 
wood. In 1605, after a disastrous winter, the colony was moved 
across the Bay to the Nova Scotian side, to Port Royal, now 
Annapolis Royal. Port Royal, set in the fertile Annapolis valley, 
proved an excellent site, and the first crops planted in Canada by 
white men were harvested there. Cultivated fields began to 
spread by Fundy side, and within the log buildings of Port Royal 
the settlers enlivened winter's evenings with the first social club 
in Canada, the Order of Good Cheer, dedicated to feasting and 
enjoyment. 

Port Royal grew slowly, however, and there were quarrels over 
the fur-trade monopoly in this maritime region, now becoming 

37 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

known as Acadia. De Monts, in fact, lost his monopoly in 1607. 
His settlers returned to France. For a few years Port Royal was 
deserted. Acadia was empty except for fishing stations. A new 
grant and new colonists then re-established the settlement, but its 
troubles were only beginning. Meanwhile de Monts, largely 
through Champlain's persuasion, had transferred his interest from 
Acadia to the St Lawrence valley, and had gained a new trade 
monopoly for this region. Accordingly, Chatnplain was sent out 
again by de Monts' company, this time to the St Lawrence. There, 
in 1608, where the river narrows by the bluffs of Quebec, a 
natural fortress commanding the river, Champlain built a trading 
post. Thus the capital of New France, the oldest city in Canada, 
came into existence. 

In the next few years from his post at Quebec, Champlain 
pushed on up-river in the canoes of friendly Indians until he had 
explored much of the unknown country that Cartier had viewed 
from the top of Mount Royal. Champlain's purposes were several: 
zeal to spread French claims and Catholic Christianity, the hope 
still that the St Lawrence might lead to the western sea, and a 
good agent's concern for the fur trade. There promised to be a 
rich harvest of furs if Champlain could bring the French in 
contact with western Indians. This motive was never far from 
mind in the exploring ventures of Champlain and his successors. 

Furthermore, the Montagnais, Algonquin Indians who had 
replaced the Iroquois on the St Lawrence since Carrier's time, 
urged the French to accompany them in raids against their 
Iroquois enemies to the south and west. Champlain went with 
them, since the French had to keep the friendship of the Algon- 
quins of the St Lawrence in order to obtain the necessary supply 
of furs. In 1609, on Lake Champlain to the south, a few shots 
from French muskets easily scattered an Iroquois war party, who 
had never seen guns before. But those shots were to be answered 
in fire and bloodshed about New France in years to come, for the 
Iroquois proved a powerful and relentless foe. 

38 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

The raiding and exploring missions with Indian allies taught 
Champlain and his few French companions the art of the canoe 
and the life of the forest. At the same time these journeys 
disclosed to white men the Richelieu river and Lake Champlain 
to the south of the St Lawrence and the Ottawa river on the 
northern side. The Ottawa would become a great fur trade high- 
way to the West. In 1615, Champlain travelled up the Ottawa 
and west to Lake Huron, where broad horizons of water in the 
middle of a continent met his astonished gaze. The 'freshwater 
sea' he called it. The French had reached the Great Lakes. 

From Lake Huron Champlain went southward to Lake 
Ontario through the country of the Hurons, which lay in the 
centre of what is now southern Ontario. Although of Iroquois 
stock, the Hurons were also enemies of the Five Nations Iro- 
quois, and Champion accompanied a Huron war party on a raid 
south of Lake Ontario that was none too successful. The French, 
it is true, had made an important alliance, since the Hurons 
became their chief suppliers of western furs. Yet the quarrel with 
the Iroquois had gone a stage further. And in the long run it 
would result in the Hurons themselves being wiped out. 

This consequence was still far in the future, and in the mean- 
time Champlain had laid the basis of the French inland fur trade. 
His *y oun men3 3 lieutenants like Brule and Nicolet, who lived 
with the Indians, carried on the work of exploring the Great 
Lakes basin. As men like these ranged freely over the wilderness, 
there began to emerge the type of French fur-hunter and half- 
savage forest-dweller to be known as the coureur-de-bois. 

At the same time settlers were beginning to arrive at Quebec 
from France, to make New France something more than a 
wilderness fur preserve. Louis Hebert, a retired Paris chemist, 
was the first to come. He arrived with his family in 1617 and began 
farming outside the stockades of Quebec. Under Champlain's 
earnest guidance as governor of the settlement, lands were cleared 
and crops planted. But there were still only sixty-five colonists 

39 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

in New France ten years later, and the following year, 1628, the 
feeble settlement was threatened with destruction by an English 
attack. 

The English attack by sea, under David Kirke and his two 
brothers, was largely a private buccaneering venture, although 
war had broken out between France and England in Europe. The 
English did not actually sail up the river to Quebec until 1629, 
but when they did, Champlain, now an elderly man, was forced 
to surrender his weak little settlement. Yet because of the delay in 
the attack, the war in Europe was actually over when this first 
English conquest of Canada occurred. Champlain, who had gone 
back to France, therefore pressed the French Government to 
demand the return of Quebec, and in 1632 Canada was restored 
to French rule. 

Champlain returned to his beloved New France as governor, to 
die there in 1635 as the settlement at last was forging ahead. In 
his day he had served his country well. Not only had he explored 
much of the St Lawrence water-system, not only had he planted 
a permanent colony in Canada, but he had as well founded a great 
French fur empire in the heart of North America. 

3 For the Glory of God 

Despite the advance of the fur traders into the interior, the 
settled heart of New France grew very slowly. Champlain had 
brought out colonists in his last years to spread settlements along 
the St Lawrence, and had founded Three Rivers upstream from 
Quebec in 1634. Yet whatever he and his successors as governors 
of the colony attempted in trying to encourage its growth, the 
unfortunate fact was that the fur trade tended to discourage 
settlement. The enterprise which had virtually created New 
France also held it back. 

Settlement was the foe of the forest; but it was on the forest 
that the fur trade lived. The fur monopolists in France could not 
help but be lukewarm in carrying out the terms of their royal 

40 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

grant, that committed them to plant colonies in Canada. Bringing 
out settlers was expensive, moreover, and would cut into fur 
profits. And in Canada itself, the dream of a quick fortune made 
in the fur trade, and the free life of the forest, tended to lure men 
from the stern task of hacking out a pioneer farm. While the fur 
trade led New France to reach far into the interior, it also diffused 
its strength and delayed the growth of concentrated settlement. 

Despite the best efforts of Champlain in Canada, the monopoly 
changed hands several times, because of the repeated failure of 
monopolists in France to fulfil their obligations to colonize. Then 
in 1627, the great Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister of France, 
formed a new organization, the Company of New France, made 
up of a select group of a hundred wealthy associates who were to 
hold the monopoly and to make France as strong in America as 
Richelieu sought to make her in Europe. But in 1628 the Kirkes 
captured the first large convoy of supplies and settlers sent out 
by the Company on its way to Canada. This nearly ruined the 
Company of a Hundred Associates at the start. It never really 
recovered, and hence its obligation to bring out 4,000 settlers in 
fifteen years was never fulfilled. In 1645, in fact, the nearly bank- 
rupt company handed over its fur trade monopoly to a group in 
Canada, the Company of the Habitants, for an annual rent. 
France's attention was now taken up with the Thirty Years' War 
in Europe, and Canada was left much to itself. The fur trade 
continued to extend westward, the company granted lands, 
which usually remained empty, but New France stagnated in 
neglect. 

In this case, when the state and business enterprise had largely 
failed the colony, it was the Catholic Church that stepped in, that 
supplied enthusiasm, stimulated some settlement, at least, and 
left an enduring mark on the character of New France. In old 
France at this time, the zeal of the Catholic Counter-Reformation 
was running high. What better task for the Catholic than to win 
new lands to the faith, especially the pagan wilds of America? 

41 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

Priests, religious orders and some laymen all shared the grand 
ideal. Out of it, indeed, the city of Montreal was born. 

The island of Montreal, where Carrier's Mount Royal stood, 
was already becoming an important trading centre, since it was 
situated at the crossroads of great water routes, the Richelieu from 
the south and the Ottawa and upper St Lawrence from the west. 
It was, in fact, the gateway to the west; then and now the key to 
a continent-wide trade. This same commanding position was an 
exposed one, open to Indian attack from many angles. It lay on 
a dangerous frontier, far upstream from Quebec. Yet despite this 
perilous location, and indeed because of it, a devoted group of 
Catholic laymen decided to found a mission and hospital for the 
Indians there 'though every tree should be an Iroquois.' Led by 
a pious soldier, Maisonneuve, almost a latter-day Crusader in 
spirit, and a brave woman, Jeanne Mance, Canada's first nurse, a 
party of fifty-four set out from France. In 1642 they founded 
Ville-Marie, the ancestor of modern Montreal. 

Churchmen, meanwhile, were also active. The warmly Catholic 
Champlain had early appealed for missionaries to be sent to 
Christianize Canada, and four Recollet fathers had come out in 
1615. Realizing the size of the task, however, the Recollets had 
sought the aid of the powerful Society of Jesus, that was dedicated 
to the work of conversion in particular and had already sent 
missions as far as India and China. Three Jesuits arrived in 
Canada in 1625. The power and influence of the order in New 
France rose rapidly in the following years, until, in fact, they 
almost came to dominate the colony. 

Jesuit power did much for Canada. The Jesuits' interest in the 
country and their influence in France helped keep the colony from 
complete neglect. They sought to encourage settlement, for they 
warmly believed in New France. To this end the Jesuit Relations, 
annual reports on their activities in Canada, enthusiastically set 
forth the merits of life in the new country. Besides being an in- 
valuable and fascinating source of information on early Canadian 

42 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

history, the Relations are in a way an interesting example of emi- 
gration propaganda. And they did attain wide publicity for New 
France. 

The Jesuits also sought to restrain the evils of trading liquor to 
the Indians. They tried to teach, guide and protect the native. For 
the settler's guidance as well, they secured the appointment of 
the first bishop of New France, Francois de Montmorency-Laval. 
The new bishop did a great deal to fill out the structure of the 
church in order to meet the needs of the ordinary Canadian 
colonist, until it became part of the very fabric of his daily life. 
And Laval, the friend of the Jesuits, was as devoted to the Papacy 
as they were. He established a Catholic Church in Canada 
directly linked to Rome rather than to France. This has remained 
an enduring tie in French Canada. 

Yet the unbending discipline of the Jesuits and their sweeping 
views on the extent of their religious powers caused trouble in 
New France. They clashed with merchants, governors and the 
other clergy, and many resented their control over ideas and 
society, or feared that they sought absolute power. But the 
Jesuits' efforts outside the colony, among the Indians, aroused less 
questioning, and earned them lasting honour for tireless courage 
and high devotion to their ideals. 

There were others besides Jesuits who established missions and 
schools for the Indians, among them brave and diligent nuns. Yet 
the Jesuit missions among the far-off Hurons have rightly cap- 
tured more attention in history. To begin with, they were im- 
portant for French imperial power and the fur trade. The mission 
centres in Huron villages served to cement the French alliance 
with the chief tribe of the Great Lakes country and strengthened 
the trading partnership that brought the French on the St Lawrence 
so many western furs. But beyond this, the labours of the Jesuit 
fathers, that, ended in martyrdom, were a tremendous effort to 
win a savage, half -comprehending people to Christianity and civil- 
ization. They were no less outstanding because they finally failed. 

43 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

The mission to the Hurons had really begun in 1634 when the 
Jesuit father Brebeuf and two companions were at last permitted 
by the suspicious natives to return with them to their country. 
Conversions were slow, because of the strangeness to the Indians 
of the white man's teachings, and because of the active hostility 
of tribal medicine men. A permanent central mission, called Ste 
Marie, was established in 1639, however, and others were gradu- 
ally planted in Huron villages and even among neighbouring 
tribes. Ste Marie was really the first civilized site in the present 
province of Ontario. Archaelogists to-day can trace here the first 
canal built in Canada. 

The mission to the Hurons was doomed even as it seemed at 
last to be succeeding. By 1640, the Iroquois torrent was rising 
to sweep it away. Yet though that torrent raged about New 
France in the years thereafter, the courageous example of the 
men who had worked for the glory of God remained to strengthen 
the colony in its struggle for survival. 

4 The Peril of the Iroquois 

From 1640 on mounting waves of Indian war threatened the 
very life of New France. The Indian allies of the French were 
involved first, but before the conflict was over the colony was 
almost living under siege. Its development was further held 
back. Murderous raids out of the forest were a constant threat. 
It took the might of the crown of France, stepping into the neglec- 
ted colony, before the Indian menace was finally checked after 
1660. 

Those who had raised the danger were the Five Nation Iro- 
quois, the most powerful Indian confederacy in America. The 
conflict had been long developing, and it had not been caused 
merely by Champlain's unwise skirmishing with the Iroquois, 
nor by their desire for revenge. The whole pattern of the fur 
trade, and of the relations of red men and white, had been far 
more significant in bringing on war. 

44 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

The fact was that the Iroquois had become engaged in the fur 
trade, too, but they bartered not with the French but with the 
Dutch who had established posts in the Hudson River valley run- 
ning north from their main base, New Amsterdam, now New 
York. Like other Indian tribes in contact with white men, the 
Iroquois had become dependent on European goods for very 
survival steel knives and traps, and the arms to meet those that 
their enemies were obtaining from the French. Lack of guns 
could mean the end of the Five Nations. 

When the Iroquois, who lay south of Lake Ontario and the St 
Lawrence and north of the Hudson valley, had exhausted the furs 
of their own area in trade, they had to reach out to other regions 
in order to keep up the vital traffic in European goods. They 
became 'middlemen', obtaining furs from other tribes to trade to 
the Dutch, as the Hurons became middlemen for the French, 
passing on western furs. But here the Iroquois lines of trade 
clashed with those of the Hurons and French. The latter allies 
sought to drain the furs of the Great Lakes and the west down the 
St Lawrence river to Montreal and Quebec. The Iroquois sought 
to divert this trade to the Hudson river and to the Dutch. It 
was the St Lawrence versus the Hudson: the struggle of two 
great trading systems. 

Accordingly the Iroquois' old struggles with the Hurons mounted 
in intensity as it became a war to control the fur supply and to 
maintain the flow of precious European trade goods. European 
arms made the fight much more deadly. The Iroquois were well 
organized and desperate. They determined that the Hurons must 
go. In 1648 they turned their full force on the Huron enemy, and 
on the Jesuit missions which they regarded as the centres of 
Huron-French power. The mission village of St Joseph was razed 
to the ground. The next year St Ignace and St Louis followed; 
and heroic Jesuits like Brebeuf and Lalemant were put to death 
by the Iroquois with all the cruelty of Indian warfare. No longer 
safe, Ste Marie was left deserted. The proud Huron tribe was 

45 



THE BUILDING OF NEW FRANCE, 1534-1663 

shattered into fragments of panic-stricken refugees, some fleeing 
to the west, some to the protection of French settlements, never 
again to form a nation. The Iroquois ravaged the neighbouring 
tribes and then turned on the French, for they now felt strong 
enough to attack the real foe behind the Hurons. 

They set about cutting the St Lawrence trade, till no Algon- 
quin or remaining Huron canoe dared to go down to Montreal. 
The fur traffic almost came to a stop. Montreal itself was re- 
peatedly menaced and raids even came near Quebec. Although 
the larger settlements were generally safe from direct attack the 
outlying colonists worked with guns at hand, and the business life 
of New France was at a standstill. Despite breathing spells 
during the i65o's the colony's future was gloomy in the extreme. 

The turning point was slow in coming. A large-scale assault on 
Montreal in 1660 was only prevented by the gallant fight-to-the- 
last of Adam Dollard and sixteen comrades at Long Sault, some 
miles west of Montreal. The damage they wrought discouraged 
the Iroquois from attacking the well-defended town. Yet the dan- 
ger of raids and the trade blockade continued, until aid at last 
came from France, and the feeble control of Canada by a company 
was replaced by direct royal government in 1663. By 1663, there- 
fore, New France stood at the end of an age, although at a critical 
point in its history. In its first period it had been mapped out and 
its foundations painfully but successfully laid. Now the colony 
was not only to survive the Iroquois peril but to begin its greatest 
period of growth and expansion. 



CHAPTER 4 

ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 

1663-1702 

i The French Crown takes Command 

By 1660 the French colony on the St Lawrence was in desperate 
straits. The thin trickle of settlement under company rule had 
brought its population only to about 2,000. It was too weak to 
end the Iroquois peril by itself , and until that was done the colony 
could not prosper. The settlement was even dependent on France 
for much of its food supply, so slowly had farming developed in 
face of the fur trade. To add to all this, the governors appointed 
for the company quarrelled with the bishop and clergy, the clergy 
among themselves, and the merchants, fur traders, and farmers 
with the authorities generally. Help had to come from the home- 
land to end the sad confusion, and, indeed, to save New France. 

It was fortunate for French Canada that no foreign enemy as 
well threatened it at this point. Dutch power was declining. In 
fact, in 1664, the English were to end it in North America by 
capturing the Dutch citadel of New Amsterdam, which they re- 
named New York. England itself had long been busy with the 
struggles of king and parliament at home, and for some years after 
1660 the newly restored king, Charles II, was on friendly terms 
with France. As for the old French rival, Spain, the Thirty 
Years' War had resulted in exhaustion and defeat for the Spanish, 
and had left France the strongest nation in Europe. 

Hence at this critical moment in Canada's history the French 
motherland stood at a peak of strength, under an all-powerful 
crown. In 1661, Louis XIV, the Sun King, came of age and took 
over absolute rule of a rich and orderly France from his earlier 
advisers. Louis had grand designs for his country, both in 
Europe and beyond. France should be the centre of a mighty 

47 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

empire, reflecting glory on its royal master, who should reign over 
all with a sway wise and fatherly but always absolute. 

Pleas for help from New France were now to receive a ready 
hearing, though the French crown would equally insist on com- 
plete control over the colony. Men, money, and supplies began 
to flow as the crown set out to protect and develop Canada. It 
was not Louis alone, however, who turned to save New France 
by the use of royal paternalism. The king's chief instrument was 
his great minister Colbert, an architect of French empire. 

As minister of finance, Colbert sought to apply the prevailing 
doctrines of mercantilism to increase the wealth and power of 
France. Mercantilism taught that, to achieve these ends, a coun- 
try should sell more abroad than it bought, should build up its 
shipping and develop its own sources of necessary raw materials. 
Colonies would supply raw materials and cut down dependence 
on foreign sources. They would increase external trade, and this 
would encourage shipping. A self-sufficient empire could be con- 
structed, closed to foreign competitors, enriching the homeland 
in peace and securing her in war. Under Colbert the French began 
to create such an empire in seas both east and west. In particular, 
New France received attention as an important part of the 
imperial scheme. 

First of all the unsuccessful company rule over Canada was 
brought to a close. The Company of New France, a complete 
failure, itself surrendered its charter in 1663. The royal govern- 
ment that replaced it in authority was to remain the same in 
general outlines until New France fell to the British in 1760. All 
officials were now directly appointed by the Crown, and the king's 
court at Versailles kept a tight hand over them. Three main 
officers carried on the royal government in New France: the 
governor, the bishop, and the intendant. Together with a few 
lesser councillors, these three composed the Sovereign or Superior 
Council, the official ruling body of the colony. 
The governor, the nominal head of government, was respon- 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

sible chiefly for the military affairs and the external relations of 
the colony. He was most powerful in time of war, and could exer- 
cise much control over the fur trade. The bishop, thanks to the 
prestige and influence of the Church in the colony, had been an 
important authority even under company rule, and now, as a mem- 
ber of the Sovereign Council, he could wield power in far more 
than church affairs. The intendant was a new official in Canada. 
He was modelled on the intendants of old France, the agents of 
the central government in each province. In New France the 
intendant looked after justice, finance and economic development, 
and the general routine duties of administration. 

This new form of government was stronger than the old, and 
centralized power in the three chief members of the Superior 
Council. Yet it also made for friction between the three and 
quarrels over the extent of their authority. Sometimes an able 
governor or intendant might win the upper hand, while the strong- 
minded Laval, bishop until his retirement in 1684, in particular 
made his office a force to be reckoned with. Quarrels might arise 
between governor and bishop over the use of brandy in the fur 
trade with the Indians; governor and intendant might counter- 
mand each other's orders. The whole machinery of government 
might seem to be working at cross purposes. Furthermore, the 
all-embracing supervision from Versailles could bring delays, 
interference and contradictions to add to the problems of govern- 
ing New France. Nevertheless, in its early yeajrs at least, the new 
system worked fairly well, and the colony began to advance at last, 
thanks to able leaders and ample royal support. 

The Indian menance was now dealt with. Over a thousand 
regular French troops were sent to Canada in 1665, battle-hardened 
soldiers of the Carignan-Sali&res regiment. Accompanied by 
colonial militia this force a large one for America in those days 
invaded the Iroquois country the next year and ravaged the 
lands of the Mohawks, the most dangerous of the Five Nations. 
In 1667 the severely shaken Mohawks made peace. The power of 

49 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

the Iroquois was not yet broken and there was no general peace 
for some years., but the Indian threat to New France had been 
blunted^ and the colony could proceed to develop itself with a 
fair degree of security. 

2 The Work of Talon 

The fur trade revived and New France began to prosper. But 
it needed more than the fur trade to make it strong and more self- 
reliant. It needed to establish other lines of enterprise, to increase 
farming. Above all it needed settlers. And now there came the 
man to meet these demands : Jean Talon, the great intendant, the 
brilliant servant of Colbert's imperial designs. 

In the ordinary course of affairs, the intendant was the most 
important official in New France. He was the business manager 
for the colony while the governor was the imposing figurehead. 
The intendant was the main link between Canada and the central 
officialdom in France. Thus a talented man in this position could 
exercise a great deal of power. Talon was such a man. He had 
been trained in the royal administration in France, and, like his 
master Colbert at home, worked in the colony for the wealth and 
power of the imperial French monarchy. He spent less than seven 
years in Canada, between 1665 and 1672. But in those years 
Talon's vision, energy, and determination virtually transformed 
New France from a feeble little settlement struggling for survival to 
a flourishing, expanding colony that might be conquered in future 
but could never be destroyed. To a large degree the vigour and 
permanence of French Canada to-day is the mark of the success 
of Talon. 

His first task was settlement. The crown had undertaken to 
send out groups of colonists each year, but Talon sought in every 
way to increase the flow. He managed to have the Carignan- 
Salieres regiment kept in Canada and settled along the Richelieu 
river, both as a defensive barrier against the Iroquois and to in- 
crease the farming population. Free passage and cheap land were 

50 




o 



u 
o 



w 
PH 

H 



H 
t* 

u 




CHAMPLAIN AND ALLIES ATTACK AN IROQUOIS VILLAGE, 1615 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

offered to other immigrants, who came largely from Normandy. 
To supply colonists, especially the soldiers, with wives, Talon 
suggested that suitable girls be found in the country villages of 
Normandy. Parties of young women, the e filles du roi', properly re- 
commended and chaperoned, soon began to arrive at Quebec, where 
they were eagerly sought in marriage by the waiting bachelors. 

Furthermore, laws were put into effect rewarding early marri- 
ages and fining those who hung back. Large families also received 
annual grants the ancestor of the present system in Canada of 
government family allowances. And it might be noted that the 
tradition of early marriage and families of ten or more children 
established in Talon's day still remains in French Canada. The 
result of these various measures could be seen in the rising popula- 
tion, which had reached well over 6,000 by the time of Talon's 
departure. Meanwhile settlement was spreading out, especially 
on the south bank of the St Lawrence. Assuredly New France 
had at last begun to thrive as an agricultural settlement. 

Talon tried to do more than build a farming colony, however. 
He and Colbert wanted to develop other resources in Canada, to 
give the colony something else to trade with Europe besides furs, 
to make it less dependent on French manufactured goods, and to 
fit it into the schemes of mercantilist empire. He sought to open 
mines, to start an iron industry, to encourage lumbering and ship- 
building. His efforts in these directions were none too successful, 
because the colony lacked the necessary money and labour supply 
for industry. Still, local tanning and weaving helped to reduce 
the dependence on France for clothing; shipbuilding and iron 
founding did finally develop in the next century; and lumbering 
gradually grew up along the edges of settlement. Talon's work 
here was useful. Yet Canada remained tied to the fur trade as its 
main or staple export. Sending furs to France paid for the goods 
New France had to have. Though now it could feed itself more 
fully, a flourishing fur trade still meant the difference between 
prosperity or deep depression for the colony. 

51 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

Accordingly, the newly invigorated colony soon found itself 
engaged on a further expansion of the fur trade, now that the 
Iroquois menace had been removed or at least held in check by 
the military power of the royal government. In this expansion, 
which carried the bounds of New France far to the west and south, 
another great name emerges: that of the Comte de Frontenac, 
governor of the colony from 1672 to 1682 and from 1689 to 1698. 
If Talon had consolidated New France in time of peace, Frontenac 
carried it far forward, and defended it successfully in time of war. 

3 Expansion, Conflict and the Rule of Frontenac 

r The spreading of French empire in America in the later seven- 
te^nth and early eighteenth centuries was chiefly due to the 
demands of the fur trade. The French fur kingdom did not only 
grow because the Iroquois no longer barred the way. It had to 
advance. The fur supply of the St Lawrence valley and lower 
Great Lakes was becoming exhausted. In its usual way, the fur 
trade had to march west. Besides, the Iroquois wars had destroyed 
the Hurons, who had been the chief suppliers of the French. To 
maintain the flow of pelts the French had to seek contacts them- 
selves with tribes further west. These western Indians, moreover, 
were eager to trade for white man's goods. They almost drew the 
fur trade onward. 

The consequence was renewed French exploration and claims, 
followed by the establishment of forts and trading posts deep in 
the interior. In this way French America by 1700 had come to 
stretch south to the Gulf of Mexico, north to James Bay and west 
beyond Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods. Thanks to the 
pressing demands of the fur trade, so vital to New France, and the 
easy access to the interior supplied by the St Lawrence water 
system, the French had occupied the heart of North America 
while the English still held only the Atlantic coast. 

To the south-west, much of the French expansion came with 
finding the way from the St Lawrence system to the vast Missis- 

52 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

sippi basin. In 1673, Joliet and Marquette a fur trader and a 
Jesuit; typical of the men who built New Francecrossed from 
Green Bay on Lake Michigan to the upper Mississippi and jour- 
neyed down the 'father of waters' as far as the Arkansas river. In 
1682 the Sieur de la Salle went on further, to reach the mouth of 
the Mississippi. 

There he was murdered in 1687, while trying to establish a 
French colony; but one was successfully founded in 1699 by 
Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville. Aristocrat, fur trader and 
explorer, the first to build a ship that sailed the upper Great 
Lakes, La Salle was one of the great French imperial figures. His 
efforts helped to give France an arc of empire stretching across 
America between the mouths of the two greatest water routes into 
the continent. D'Iberville was another towering figure of the 
French expansion, who worked for French empire not only in the 
far south-west but in regions as distant from there as Hudson 
Bay and Newfoundland. 

To the north-west, the French made Sault Ste Marie, Michili- 
mackinac, and Green Bay their chief posts. At the first-named 
they had claimed the interior of the continent with great display 
of ceremony in 1671. From the Sault on the upper Great Lakes, 
the route to Montreal and Quebec ran by way of the Ottawa. West 
from the Sault, Green Bay opened the road to the Mississippi. 
North from the Sault across Lake Superior lay more excellent fur 
country, for the northern forests of the Shield and its colder 
climate produced the finest furs. Du Lhut penetrated here in 
1684, and five years later the French went on westwards to the 
Lake of the Woods. But meanwhile two adventurers, Radisson 
and Groseilliers, had crossed north to salt water at James Bay. 
They were to spell much trouble for New France. 

Radisson and Groseilliers had first struck into the rich fur lands 
near James Bay and Hudson Bay in the troubled 1650'$, during 
the period of company rule. In 1661 they had been refused a 
licence to trade unless they would share half their profits with the 

53 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

greedy governor of the day. On their return to the colony, the 
two adventurers had been severely fined and charged with heavy 
dues to the Company of New France. They carried their case to 
France, but failing redress there, turned angrily to England. Here 
their tales of the wealth to be had in the northern regions aroused 
interest at the Court of Charles II. An expedition sent by sea to 
the Bay in 1669 proved most rewarding. In 1670 an English com- 
pany was chartered under the governorship of Prince Rupert, 
with a monopoly of the Hudson Bay trade. It gradually set up a 
number of trading posts on the shores of Hudson and James Bays. 
Thus the work of Henry Hudson and Radisson and Groseilliers 
had combined. The Hudson's Bay Company was on the great 
Bay, claiming all the land that drained into it, using Hudson's 
northern gateway to the continent, and competing with France 
for the western fur trade. 

Competition further stimulated French expansion. There was 
an increasing need to press west and reach the Indians first, before 
the English rivals did, for the natives preferred the cheaper 
English trade goods. On the south, the English had replaced the 
Dutch fur traders in the Hudson valley and the Iroquois had 
become their middlemen, trading to the west. French expansion 
into the Mississippi valley was in part an effort to get behind this 
English line of trade. Now the English were cutting into the 
French western fur empire from the north as well, seeking to 
drain it into Hudson Bay. The French had to keep the Indians 
from the English posts. They founded a French Hudson *Bay 
Company to carry on the contest. 

Expansion thus led to conflict. The Iroquois, moreover, now 
tied to the English, were again deciding to war on tribes that 
traded with the French. The French in their turn wanted to force 
the English from the Bay on the north and to drive in their 
frontiers to the south. The English were dreaming of capturing 
Quebec again, the foundation of the whole St Lawrence western 
French empire, without which the entire structure would surely 

54 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

collapse. As spheres of the expanding fur trade clashed, war drew 
close. It was fortunate for New France that it had a strong leader 
in its governor, Frontenac, in the approaching hour of danger. 

Frontenac, a veteran soldier, had arrived in New France in the 
year of Talon's departure. He shared Talon's hopes for empire, 
carried on his plans for explorations, and certainly became the 
new strong man in the government. But he was essentially a 
warrior, not a statesman. He quarrelled mightily with the other 
officers of state, his projects were often rash, and he probably 
showed too much concern for the growth of the fur trade, defend- 
ing the use of brandy, and extending the colony too fast for its 
own good. At the same time he backed the efforts of La Salle and 
other explorers and did a great deal both to win and to guard the 
French empire. 

To guard that empire indeed, to protect the fur trade and 
overawe the Iroquois Frontenac built a fort at the point where 
Lake Ontario runs into the St Lawrence. At Fort Frontenac, now 
Kingston, he held solemn council with the Iroquois in 1673, with 
ceremonial firing of guns and splendid pageantry. The proud old 
warrior, thanks to a fine taste for the dramatic, impressed the 
Iroquois with a respect for him which they never forgot. But this 
success of the 'Great Onontio', as they called him, only delayed 
their outburst. Iroquois discontent over the French trade with 
western Indians led to an effort to destroy these tribes as the 
Hurons had been destroyed. In 1680, as Frontenac's term of 
office was closing, the Iroquois attacked Indian allies of New 
France. 

Frontenac's successors were unable to check the Iroquois. In 
fact, in 1689, the Iroquois boldly attacked the village of Lachine, 
near Montreal, and massacred its inhabitants. Then the Indian 
war became merged with a European struggle. England and 
France had finally come to blows in Europe in the War of the 
League of Augsburg. It had its echoes in America; or rather, it 
provided the occasion for all the simmering trouble between the 

55 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

French and English possessions on the continent to boil into open 
war. Frontenac was at once recalled to meet the emergency. 

He planned a daring stroke to capture New York by means of 
an invasion from Canada down the Hudson valley coupled with a 
French naval attack. But lack of sufficient French naval power 
reduced the plan merely to a series of raids on English frontier 
settlements. They were carried out with the savagery of Indian 
war, though often the French could not restrain their Indian allies. 
Meanwhile the English settlements sought to reply, and in their 
turn the colonists tried to take Quebec by land and sea. In 1690 
the land force made a raid near Montreal, and the sea force sailed 
up to Quebec. But Frontenac's bold front and the cannon fire 
from ramparts high on Cape Diamond turned them away dis- 
heartened. New France had been saved from the English. Now 
Frontenac turned to the Iroquois. Carrying the war into their 
own country he struck them hard and repeatedly. The grim old 
campaigner died in 1698 at Quebec, before the fighting was over. 
Nevertheless he had lived to see the Iroquois seriously weakened. 
Peace between England and France in 1697 had left them fighting 
a lone battle, and in 1701 they came to terms, never again to be a 
threat to New France in themselves alone. 

In Hudson Bay, meanwhile, the French led by d'Iberville had 
taken most of the English posts. The Hudson's Bay Company 
barely kept a foothold. Moreover, the French had also laid waste 
English settlements in Newfoundland, By the close of the seven- 
teenth century, therefore, it seemed that France had saved its 
enlarged American empire during the struggle, and could even 
look forward to further imperial growth. To a considerable extent 
Frontenac had left his mark on these years of expansion and con- 
flict, as Talon had on the previous work of consolidating New 
France. Only in the region of Acadia had there been real defeat. 
But Acadia had always been a backward colony. 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

4 Acadia: a Backward Colony 

While the main French possession in America centred on the 
St Lawrence had faced a difficult career of ups and downs during 
the seventeenth century, the settlements in Acadia, the Atlantic 
maritime region, had had a much more stormy time. From the 
day in 1605 when Port Royal was founded, Acadia had changed 
hands several times, from French to English and back again, and 
there had been quarrels quite as bitter between rival French 
leaders. Nevertheless the colony had managed to remain in being, 
though it had grown very slowly. 

From the start Acadia had been neglected. It lay between the 
main French area of interest on the St Lawrence and the English 
on the coast to the south. France showed it little concern. Yet 
Acadia was also in an exposed position between the chief French 
and English holdings. Because of this, and its own weakness, it 
was readily captured by the English in the event of a war, or 
sometimes even without one. Thus it was that in 1613, in time of 
peace, an expedition by sea from the new English colony in 
Virginia took the settlement at Port Royal, on the grounds that 
the English claim in America extended that far up the coast. 

The French were removed and Acadia was left empty, except 
for a few fishermen and fur traders. In 1621 Sir William Alex- 
ander, a Scotsman, secured a grant to all the lands of Acadia the 
present three Maritime provinces under the name of Nova 
Scotia. Little remains from this except the name and Nova 
Scotia's own flag, which is still flown. A new colony at Port 
Royal, begun in 1628, was ended when the treaty of 1632 gave 
Acadia as well as Quebec back to France. The following years 
looked bright at last, as two hundred colonists from France re- 
established Port Royal. But this was still a private settlement, not 
a royal colony, and a quarrel soon broke out between two rival 
claimants to Acadia that turned to virtual civil war around the 
Bay of Fundy. 

The struggles of the rivals, La Tour and D'Aulnay, finally 

57 



ROYAL GOVERNMENT AND EXPANSION, 1663-1702 

ended with the latter's death in 1650. La Tour secured the 
governorship of Acadia. Now, however, the English stepped in 
again, still without a declaration of war. This time New England 
forces captured Port Royal, and from 1654 to 1667 Acadia was in 
English hands. Returned once more to France, Acadia had reason 
to hope that royal government would at last bring it aid, as it had 
New France. 

Talon, indeed, did want to develop the Acadian outpost and 
to tie it into an imperial trade with Quebec and the French West 
Indies. Yet the French crown would do no more than send out a 
few settlers. Acadia was again left on its own. Accordingly, in 
1690, during the War of the League of Augsburg, Port Royal fell 
once more an easy prey to attack from New England only to be 
given back to France in the peace of 1697. It seemed that France 
did not care enough to defend Acadia, nor England to keep it 
when conquered. Yet it is also true that both countries, feeling 
other areas in America were more vital, were devoting their 
energy and attention to these, and not to the Acadian lands 
beside the Atlantic. 

Nevertheless, Acadia in the later seventeenth century managed 
to develop on its own. The rate of growth was slow, but consider- 
ing the conquests and lack of help, that was hardly surprising. By 
1698 there were over a thousand colonists, chiefly farmers, spread 
along the fertile tidal flats and marshlands at the head of the Bay 
of Fundy and in the Annapolis valley. The soil was good and 
farming easy. Thus there emerged a quiet but sturdy people, the 
Acadians, living a simple country life, despite the momentary up- 
heavals of war. Content in their isolation, philosophic about 
other people's quarrels, they did not reckon on the great conflict 
of empires that would one day dislodge them from their 'backward' 
state. 



CHAPTER 5 

THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

I The Structure of Society 

In the time of New France, and particularly after 1663 when 
the colony began to thrive, a distinctive way of life was worked 
out in Canada. It still leaves its mark on French Canada to-day. 
A glance at the society of New France not only reveals the world 
of the seventeenth-century colonists but throws light on the life 
and outlook of the modern French Canadians, who form nearly 
one-third of the present Canadian population. 

To begin with, life in New France was fashioned on authorit- 
arian lines : that is, power was concentrated at the top of society, 
and the mass of the colonists were used to obeying authority, not 
to governing their own lives. This did not necessarily mean an 
attitude of dependence or meek docility. The people of New 
France showed their sturdy self-reliance in other ways. Yet in 
matters of religion, government, and relations between classes of 
people, French Canada readily accepted direction from above. 
There was little of the demand for religious independence and 
self-government, or the levelling of social distinctions which gener- 
ally marked the English colonies to the south. In these unruly 
provinces the trend was toward democracy and the emphasis was 
on liberty. New France instead put its faith in ordered authority, 
not disorderly freedom, and stressed duties, not rights. 

The forms of government helped shape this attitude in New 
France. All power depended finally on the King. He and his 
ministers at Versailles supervised even the minor details of govern- 
ment in the colony, and little could be done without their direc- 
tion. Their control might have been well-intentioned, kindly, or 
even wise; but it was absolute. This was paternal absolutism at its 
best and worst It developed in New France the habit of looking 

59 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

beyond herself for guidance and leadership. Similarly, the govern- 
ment within New France was absolute and paternal as far as the 
inhabitants were concerned. Except for the popularly chosen cap- 
tains of militia in each parish, there were no agencies of local self- 
government, nor elected bodies voicing public opinion. A few 
attempts to include elected representatives in the councils of 
government were soon cut short. New France never learned to 
manage its own affairs or even to ask to do so. 

The society of French Canada was also hierarchical in structure : 
it was graded into distinctly separate upper and lower layers. The 
bulk of the colonists, or habitants, were farmers and formed the 
broad lower order. On the upper levels were the government 
officials, the large landholders, or seigneurs, and the principal 
clergy. In between the two main groups the wealthy fur-trade 
merchants and the ordinary fur traders did, in a sense, represent 
a commercial or middle class. In reality, however, New France 
had virtually no middle class. The big fur merchants tended to be 
closely linked with the government officials; and since there was 
little commerce in the colony apart from the fur trade, and no 
industry to speak of, there were very few tradesmen and only a 
handful of artisans. They did not form an effective middle class. 

As for the ordinary fur trader, he hardly belonged to the colony 
at all. His world lay far beyond in the forest. He visited the settled 
areas only occasionally to obtain his earnings, spent his money on 
a wild spree, and disappeared again into the woods. The life of the 
independent fur trader, the coureur de bois, seemed glamorous and 
free (actually it might be bitterly hard) and it attracted many reck- 
less spirits away from the farmlands. But, far from the fur trader 
forming a real part of the society of the colony, he almost repre- 
sented a minus quantity, a subtraction from it. 

Accordingly, with hardly any middle class between upper and 
lower orders in French Canada, the division in society was clear- 
cut, indeed Furthermore, the system of land-holding established 
definite social distinctions. Land was held according to the seig- 

60 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

neurial system. It was granted in large blocks to the seigneurs, 
who rented it in smaller holdings to the habitant farmers. The 
habitants paid their seigneur various forms of rent and performed 
certain services for him. The result was to create two groups on 
the land : the seigneurs, who were landlords with special privileges 
and authority, and the habitants, tenant farmers, who owed not 
only rent and services but honour and respect as well. In the 
English colonies, on the other hand, while there might be large 
and small farmers, and sometimes landlords and tenants, there 
were not the same class divisions fixed by law, and most farmers 
owned their own land. 

The seigneurial system, therefore, was a major factor in making 
the society of New France authoritarian and hierarchical in charac- 
ter. It entered widely into the life of the colony, and so deserves 
more investigation. 

2 The Seigneurial System 

The seigneurial system in New France represented the importa- 
tion of feudalism into America. Feudalism was dead in England 
by the seventeenth century, but particularly on the lower, or 
seigneurial, level it was very much alive in France; and survived, 
indeed, until the French Revolution. It was natural that the 
French should bring their prevailing mode of holding land with 
them to Canada. Besides, feudalism had been a system concerned 
with government and defence as well as land, and it seemed well 
suited to meet the problems of building a colony in the North 
American wilderness. 

According to the workings of feudalism, the lord owed duties 
of government and military leadership to his tenants, and they 
owed obedience and armed support to him. Hence the seigneurs 
in Canada might serve as a military order, their holdings,, or seig- 
neuries, as units of local government or defence. Furthermore, 
the seigneurial system provided a means of settling the land. Large 
tracts were granted to seigneurs on condition that they brought 

6l 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

out settlers, who would be their tenants, to clear and develop these 
grants. Thus block by block, in orderly fashion, New France 
would be built up by the seigneurial system. Unfortunately it did 
not work out as planned. 

Seigneuries were early granted under company rule, but not 
many of them were taken up. Court favourites and land specu- 
lators acquired large amounts of land and either failed to bring 
out settlers or did not try, preferring to hold their large pieces of 
wilderness for sale to others more honest, or more foolish, in their 
purposes. Seigneuries granted to religious orders tended more 
usually to be taken up, populated, and developed; yet in general 
the seigneurial system failed as a means of bringing about private 
colonization. 

The system was maintained under royal government, but the 
Seigneuries only really developed while the crown itself was bring- 
ing out colonists after 1663. Then, indeed, the seigneurs' agents 
would meet the ships arriving at Quebec to compete with each 
other to secure settlers. While the tide of immigration was running 
to populate New France, so, too, many Seigneuries were popu- 
lated. But when the crown turned away much of its interest 
towards the end of the seventeenth century, because of wars in 
Europe, the immigrant stream again slowed to a trickle. It re- 
mained only a trickle during the eighteenth century until the fall 
of New France, which in the meantime grew chiefly through its 
own high birthrate. The seigneurs again failed to bring many 
new immigrants, although the seigneurial system remained in be- 
ing, and lasted, in fact, until the middle of the nineteenth century. 

The Seigneuries did serve, however, as units of local government 
and community life; and their role in defence was shown by the 
establishment of military Seigneuries along the Richelieu, as a 
barrier to the Iroquois, where the tenants, who were ex-soldiers, 
still owed military service. Much of the life of French Canada was 
that of the seigneury. It was the habitant's little world. 

Nor were the conditions of seigneurialism really burdensome 

62 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

to him. The system was far less oppressive in Canada than in 
France. With the wilds close at hand, promising freedom and for- 
tune in the far trade, and with the need always to gain farmers., it 
would not have been possible to place heavy obligations on the 
habitants. They owed corvees, the obligation to work a few days 
a year on the land the seigneur kept for his own farm; they had to 
pay rent in the form of cens et rentes., the former a small annual 
payment in money, the latter often paid in produce; and when 
land was sold or passed on by other than direct inheritance sums 
called lods et ventes were due. But all these obligations were slight; 
and as for the banalite, the requirement to use the lord's mill for 
grinding grain, often the expense of building the mill far out- 
weighed the tolls that were charged. 

Furthermore, relations between habitant and seigneur were far 
closer and more friendly than in Old France. After all, both were 
working together against a wilderness. Though larger, the seig- 
neur's house might not be more comfortable than the habitant's; 
it was no ancient castle or luxurious palace. The seigneur himself 
was not usually of an old noble family. He might often have 
sprung from the trading classes. The habitant was better off, the 
seigneur not as well off as their counterparts in France. More- 
over, the conditions of pioneer life in America produced some of 
the open, independent atmosphere that was found on the frontiers 
in the English colonies. The habitant was no downtrodden pea- 
sant but a self-sufficient, self-respecting farmer. In his prosperity, 
he was not even a great distance from the seigneur in wealth. 

Nevertheless, if relations were good and no heavy burden of 
dues came between habitant and seigneur, there was still a broad 
distance of dignity and privilege to separate them. The seigneur 
was shown much respect. His word carried weight throughout 
the countryside. And seigneurialism embraced the countryside in 
what was, above all, a farming community, Hence that system 
played so large a part in shaping the outlook of the French colo- 
nists. But quite as important was the part played by the Church. 

63 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

3 The Role of the Church 

One of the most significant features of New France was that it 
was solidly Catholic. It was orthodox: there were no heretics or 
questioners of the Catholic faith in the colony. Once, indeed, 
there had been Protestants in French Canada. The Huguenots, 
a Protestant minority in Catholic France, had been specially strong 
in western French seaports, and from there had entered actively 
into the fur trade of the St Lawrence during the later sixteenth and 
early seventeenth centuries. But the earnestly Catholic Champlain 
had urged that the new land be kept free from heresy, and the 
king's minister, Cardinal Richelieu, had listened. He wanted no 
such difficulties with Huguenots in New France as the crown was 
facing in Old. He ordered that the colony should admit Catholics 
only; and henceforth New France was a Catholic preserve, its 
people faithful to that Church. 

Furthermore, while New France was being built in the seven- 
teenth century, a high tide of religious enthusiasm was running 
in the Catholic Church. Devoted priests, nuns and missionaries 
came to Canada and entered into the task of shaping New France, 
They left their mark on the colony. Its Catholicism was more 
devout and the power of the Church greater than in Old France. 
Thanks both to the energy and determination of the religious 
leaders, and to their early hold in New France, the, Church came 
to occupy a place of great authority in the colony. Much of that 
authority was unquestioned. 

The Church's religious teachings, indeed, were unquestioned in 
this Catholic domain. But its hold extended beyond religion to 
matters of government, to education, and to the land. With regard 
to government, the zeal and organization of the Jesuits had given 
them almost the power to rule the colony in the days of weak 
company control. Laval, the Jesuit's ally, bishop in New France 
from 1659 to 1688, maintained the dominant place of the Church 
even when strong royal government was introduced. Far from 
letting the Church fall under the power of the state, he insisted 

64 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

on a large share in shaping policies of government. Overcoming 
Gallican opposition, he built a strongly ultramontane Church in 
New France. 

An ultramontane Catholic Church was one that stressed abso- 
lute obedience to the Pope at Rome, denying the power of any 
national state to control or limit the Church. In France, however, 
the state had acquired considerable power over the clergy, and a 
kind of national Catholic Church had emerged. Supporters of 
such a Church, that was limited by the power of the state and 
certainly did not direct policies of government were known as 
Gallicans in France. 

But thanks largely to the Jesuits and Laval, Gallicanism did 
not become established in Canada. The Church there turned its 
eyes only to Rome, and maintained considerable influence over 
policies of government. French Canada became and remained an 
ultramontane citadel. After Laval, quarrels continued in the 
government of the colony as the claims of church and state to 
control clashed repeatedly. By the eighteenth century a com- 
promise was gradually reached. In fact, the Church ceased to 
press for as much influence in state affairs. Nevertheless, although 
in the latter days of New France the state was in the ascendant, 
the Church was still in a strong position. Not only was its reli- 
gious hold unchallenged, but its share in government remained, 
because the bishop continued to be one of the three chief officials 
in the Superior Council that ruled the colony. 

The Church also exercised power over men's minds through 
controlling teaching and the institutions of learning. The close 
connection between religion and education was, of course, a deep- 
rooted Catholic idea, and it was not surprising that the Church, 
not the state, should found and direct schools in New France. 
Because of the wholly orthodox Catholic atmosphere in the colony, 
however, there was no development of learning apart from the 
Church, as in Old France. There was no secular education, no 
attempt to inquire into and certainly no attempt to criticize the 

65 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

authority of Church teachings. The Church, moreover, carefully 
censored thought and reading for laymen, and no newspapers 
or other organs of public opinion developed. Once more this air of 
quiet and obedience to authority was very different from the free 
and lively mental climate of the English colonies to the south. The 
ordinary Canadian habitant was cheerfully uninformed, though 
simple, straightforward, and contented. 

Yet the ignorance among the masses was no worse than in many 
other countries of the age. And certainly the Church laboured 
hard to reduce it. Religious orders sought to establish schools as 
well as missions and hospitals, and several famous schools were 
founded that still endure. The names of Mother Marie de Plncar- 
nation and Marguerite Bourgeouys, two great nuns who worked 
to educate young girls, will never be forgotten in Quebec. The 
teaching provided, however, was largely religious or classical, and 
the lore of Greece and Rome did not filter down to the ordinary 
habitants. Still, this was the usual form of education in the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries, and there was no belief in that 
time in general popular education. 

Hence ignorance in New France did not follow from the Church's 
control of education. The nature of that education, however, 
theoretical and classical rather than practical or scientific, re- 
mained firmly fixed in French Canada, to affect the thinking and 
outlook of its people for centuries thereafter. 

One of the chief teaching institutions founded by the Church 
was the Seminary at Quebec, which has come down to the present 
in Laval University. Laval himself began it in 1663, to train 
Canadians for the priesthood. The religious orders had their 
teachers or their missionaries to the Indians, but there was a need 
for ordinary parish priests among the colonists. A native Canadian 
parish clergy was thus built up. They came to have great influence 
among the habitants. A seigneury would constitute a parish of 
the Church as well, though as population increased it might be 
divided into several parishes. In each parish the priest or cur6 

66 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

became the representative of the great and powerful Church and, 
at the same time, the beloved leader of his flock : a man of Canadian 
background who knew their problems their friend, adviser and 
protector. As a result, the ties between the people and their 
Church were knit even tighter. 

The parish priests, consequently, extended the Church's hold 
over the land. But it grew in other ways as well. As was men- 
tioned, seigneuries were often granted to religious orders, and 
generally these clerics made the best landlords, developing their 
holdings and watching carefully over their tenants. As more land 
grants were made, the clergy came finally to be landlord for about 
half the population, which again added greatly to the power of the 
Church in New France. This meant wealth, besides, for a large 
share of the total seigneurial dues would go to the clergy. Further- 
more, in order to support the parish priests, tithes were established 
throughout the colony by royal order in 1663. A fraction of the 
habitant's income from his crops henceforth belonged to the 
Church in each parish. Yet for all the colonists' Catholicism, pro- 
tests were made at the amount of the tithe, and it was finally 
reduced to one-twenty-sixth of the value of the grain crop. With 
this tithe, seigneurial dues as well on much of the land, and royal 
subsidies also, the Church was made financially secure. 

It should be abundantly plain how large a part the Church 
played in New France. Besides reigning over the religion of a 
staunchly Catholic colony, it had power over government, educa- 
tion, and the life of the countryside. Like the seigneurial system 
it helped shape the society of New France, and it was thoroughly 
authoritarian and hierarchical in character. The Church entered 
deeply into the ordinary life of the people. But it remains to see 
just what ordinary life was like. 

4 The Life of the People 

How did the inhabitants of New France live? They knew three 
kinds of life: that of the forests, that of the town, and that of the 

6? 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

countryside. The life of the forests was the fur trader's, and he 
lived mainly as the Indians had done, beyond the settlements, 
outside white civilization. He travelled by canoe and snowshoe, 
wore deerskin and moccasins, slept in bark shelters or bough- 
covered lean-tos. Often he lived with the Indians, and raised a 
half-breed family. His life was almost a savage one, and but for, 
say, a European shirt or hat and an inexhaustible and un-Indian 
cheeriness, might have been taken for a native. 

As fur-trading posts grew up in the interior, with log houses and 
tilled fields around them to supply the post, the fur trader might 
see a few traces of European civilization in his world. But gene- 
rally, except for his yearly trip to Montreal for a grand orgy, he 
spent a lonely life trapping in the dark forest or paddling mile on 
mile down empty sunlit rivers. But as he journeyed, the folk songs 
of his childhood kept him company, and he freely added to them. 
The songs of the French fur traders have come down across the 
years, telling of the warm good humour, dauntless will and simple 
faith of the men of the forests. 

These were the men who spread the bounds of New France, 
explored the unknown, and gathered the wealth of furs so vital to 
the very existence of the colony. They were the roamers of the 
woods, the coureurs-de-bois, often unlicensed traders, frowned on 
by the state for trading illegally, and by the Church for their pagan 
wildness and brandy-drinking. In many ways they were a drain 
on New France, a waste of settlers and a source of vice and im- 
morality. And yet they were necessary. On their energy, daring 
and knowledge of the Indians depended the success of the far- 
flung fur trade in the growing competition with the English. The 
authorities might not like them this one group of Canadians 
who defied authority but the fate of New France was in their 
hands. 

In total contrast to the life of the vast wilderness was that of the 
little towns of New France, nestled beside the broad St Lawrence. 
Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec were the only real towns, 

68 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

and the main centre of urban life was in the capital. Here the 
government officials, the rich merchants, and the seigneurs in 
town from their estates carried on a gay and colourful social life: 
a far-off colonial miniature of the great doings of Versailles. 
Courtly balls with cavaliers in lace and plumes were held in the 
candle-lit Chateau St Louis, the governor's residence on the 
heights at Quebec. In the town below, a jumbled pile of little 
stone houses and cobbled streets, the busy market place or the 
dockside were centres of activity. 

Here, until the river froze, the ships came in from France with 
the cargoes the colony must have to exist, or they might arrive 
with tropical goods from the French West Indies. The furs that 
paid for the colony were loaded for France; but sometimes most 
of the colony's money also was drained out to meet the costs. Then 
indeed, one intendent hit on the device of dividing playing-cards 
in four, signing them, and circulating them within New France as 
money to meet the problem of shortage. 

But while Quebec bustled with the affairs of government or the 
sea trade, while guns boomed as the great brigades of canoes 
arrived at Montreal laden with furs from the west, or the bells of 
churches, convents, and seminaries clanged over the towns, the 
real life of the colony was lived in the quiet, peaceful countryside. 
There, spread out along the banks of the St Lawrence like an end- 
less village street, were the little whitewashed cottages of the habi- 
tants, the fields behind them, and rising not far beyond, the dark 
green wall of the forest. 

The sparkling St Lawrence was the main highway of New 
France, whether by boat in the summer or by sleigh when frozen 
in the winter. Hence the cottages clustered beside it. Moreover, 
the practice of dividing land equally among the family's sons, 
giving each a piece of river frontage, multiplied the houses along 
the river. It made for long narrow strip-farms, inconvenient to 
work; but during the life of New France there was still enough 
room along the shores, and on the whole the population had not 

69 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

yet been forced to move into the back lots to open up lands away 
from the water. 

The life of the habitant was thus a very social one. He was no 
lonely bush farmer but a member of a compact village community, 
further held together by the ties of his parish and his seigneury. 
In general, his was a good life. The land was easy to farm and his 
burdens light. He was not rich, but he had enough to keep him- 
self good bread, milk and vegetables, game and fish from the 
forest and river, sugar from his maple trees, and a tobacco patch 
on which to raise the rank 'tabac Canadien'. 

He dressed in warm homespun, tied with the long woollen sash, 
la ceinturefleche, a woollen cap or toque on his head. The winters 
were long, but his steep-roofed, thick-walled house was warm, 
with ample supplies of wood roaring in the wide hearth. And 
winter was almost the best time of year. There were sleighing 
parties over the crisp snow, under an almost unbearably blue sky; 
there was horse-racing on the river ice. Far better off than the 
peasant of Old France, honouring his king, his cure and his seig- 
neur, but sure of his own worth, the habitant was a sturdy and 
solid citizen. He was truly the backbone of New France, and of 
the province of Quebec in the era that followed. 

5 The Life of New France and Modern French Canada 

New France was authoritarian, hierarchical, firmly Catholic. 
The mass of its people were simple farmers, accepting their place 
in society and obeying those set over them. How does this influ- 
ence modern French Canada? To-day the province of Quebec still 
has its quiet villages of whitewashed houses, the silver spires of 
Catholic churches soaring over them. Yet it is also a great indus- 
trial province, full of noisy cities and throngs of people whose life 
is far away from the farm. Nevertheless, many of the habits and 
ideas formed in an earlier age can still be seen. 

French Canada is still as firmly Catholic. There have been 
anti-clerical movements; but these, indeed, only reflect the very 

70 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE., 1663-1760 

power of the Church, and have often been made by Catholics who 
feel that the clergy has had too much influence in matters apart 
from religion. In the Catholic religion, in fact, French Canada 
has found a unifying force. Loyalty to Catholicism has become 
tied with the very idea of remaining French Canadian. The 
Church did much to shape French Canada. The descendants of 
New France have sought to keep French Canada strong by hold- 
ing to the faith. 

The authoritarian and hierarchical sides of French Canadian 
society have declined far more. French Canadians took readily 
to the development of democracy and self-government in later 
periods, and social distinctions largely disappeared with the end 
of the seigneurial system. Yet still the background of New France 
comes out. French Canadians continue to show a greater respect 
for authority in government and thought, and still stress man's 
responsibilities rather than his freedoms. It is healthy, no doubt, 
for a country to have both sides stressed, and French Canada 
strengthens the Canadian nation to-day with its order and stabi- 
lity. 

But finally, the period of New France really built up in Canada 
a people and a way of life that were distinctive in character. These 
people were not French any longer. They were North Americans, 
though not like the English Americans to the south. They were 
Canadians. More than distance by sea cut them off from France. 
They kept alive the old Catholic zeal when eighteenth-century 
France turned critical. Furthermore, after 1700 few immigrants 
came from the motherland and the French Canadians grew by 
themselves. By 1700 there were about 15,000 of them. By the 
conquest in 1760 there were over 60,000. The figure was small 
compared to the English colonies' million and a half; but a people 
that had grown like this on its own was never to be swallowed up. 

Thus French Canada really developed its own traditions in the 
era of New France. The ideals of healthy farm life and the large 
family, strongly knit, working together, came from that time and 



THE LIFE OF NEW FRANCE, 1663-1760 

lasted on. So did the ideals of Catholic and classical education 
and the belief in order and authority. At the same time the space 
and resources of a vast new continent had made these people freer 
and more self-reliant than those who had stayed in France. They 
were a proud and sturdy race. Besides the placid habitants, more- 
over, there were the daring fur traders, and explorers. And all 
had met and answered the challenge of the Canadian land. The 
result was a new people, born in New France, the seed of a nation 
in itself. They would not forget their heritage. ( ]t me souviens' 
(I remember) is the official motto of the Province of Quebec to- 
day. The life of New France would continue to mould the French 
Canadians through later ages. 



CHAPTER 6 

THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

i The Rivals for America 

At the opening of the eighteenth century, the French empire in 
America seemed secure. The War of the League of Augsburg, 
which closed in 1697, had indeed brought widespread conflict be- 
tween French and English in America: in Hudson Bay, Acadia, 
Newfoundland, and along the border between New France and 
the northern English colonies. But by the end of the war an 
attack on Quebec had been beaten off, the French had gained 
ground in Hudson Bay, held their own in Newfoundland, and 
Acadia had been restored to them by the Treaty of Ryswick in 
1697. Furthermore, in 1701 the Iroquois had at last been forced 
to make peace. While the fighting had not really altered the balance 
of French and English power in America, at least New France 
could be satisfied in 1702 to have come through the struggle so 
well 

But that year a new war broke out between France and England, 
the War of Spanish Succession, and by its close in 1713 the French 
had suffered their first serious losses of territory in America. In 
the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, France recognized British posses- 
sion of Hudson Bay, Acadia, and Newfoundland. During this 
war, incidentally, the English empire became the British Empire, 
for in 1707 England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of 
Great Britain. 

The War of Spanish Succession was more than a partial British 
victory in America, It turned out to be the opening round in a 
conflict of empires that ended finally in the complete triumph of 
Britain and the fall of New France. The fighting before 1700 in 
America had been inconclusive. Thereafter a crucial struggle for 
a continent began to unfold, until by 1760 the British flag waved 

73 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

unchallenged over the main French possessions in America. The 
years between 1702 and 1760 had spelt disaster to New France. 

That disaster could hardly have been avoided. The conflict of 
empires gradually grew into a fight for survival in America, and 
the stronger side finally won. The contest had really begun before 
1700, but it had not reached fatal proportions then. As the French 
and British empires spread into America their main lines of ex- 
pansion had begun to clash. Mounting conflict was the result, 
and it grew steadily more serious. 

There were a number of more particular causes besides this 
general one. In the later seventeenth century, and through the 
eighteenth, France and Britain fought repeatedly in Europe and 
other parts of the world. The fighting in America thus formed part 
of these general wars, though it must be emphasized that the 
American warfare also had causes of its own. Besides the national 
hostility of France and Britain, affecting their possessions in 
America, religious antagonism between Catholic French Canada 
and the overwhelmingly Protestant English colonies added fuel to 
the fire. But more important than reasons of nationality or relig- 
ion were reasons of trade. 

In this connection, the fur trade was once more of prime sig- 
nificance. It was important to the English in America and it was 
the life-blood of New France. As the trade moved westward in 
its constant hunger for new supplies of fur, so the trading systems 
of English and French ran up against each other and were forced 
into a ceaseless contest for the fur supply. This, of course, had 
already led to war, as the English from Hudson Bay on the north 
or the Hudson valley on the south cut into the French lines of 
trade. In the later seventeenth century, the principal fighting 
in the southhad been between the French and the Iroquois, the 
Indian allies of the English. First the Dutch, then the English, 
had backed the Five Nations from their main fur-trading base of 
Albany in the Hudson valley. But now the Iroquois had been 
vanquished, as once they had vanquished the Hurons, the allies 

74 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

of France. In the eighteenth century the main rivals in the fiir 
trade stood nakedly opposed. French and English would have to 
take the chief parts in the clashes of fur empires. 

Because, however, the English in America were not so depen- 
dent on the fur trade, they did not at first put forth a major effort 
against the French, not while furs were the main source of trouble. 
But in the course of the eighteenth century the spreading wave of 
English settlement began to flow towards the interior of the con- 
tinent. And here the French had flung a line from the St Lawrence 
to the Gulf of Mexico, claiming the centre of America, seeking to 
hem the English in on the Atlantic coast. 

At length the English became definitely aroused. With their far 
greater population they had to find new lands beyond the coastal 
plain, and English claims to the interior were at least as old as the 
French. On the other hand, the French had done far more to ex- 
plore and occupy the vast regions beyond the Appalachians. And 
to preserve their vital fur trade they had to prevent English settlers 
from entering there. Settlement versus the fur trade brought on 
the final life-or-death battle. 

Besides the central struggle for the heart of America, the battle 
of empires spread into outlying regions. The fight in the West 
Indies was a contest in itself for these rich tropical islands, al- 
though they were tied into the French and British empires in 
continental America. The fur trade of Hudson Bay and the 
fisheries of Newfoundland also involved the rivals, though these 
areas were fairly well settled in British hands after the War of 
Spanish Succession. Acadia, however, remained an important 
zone of conflict throughout the period of wars. Its exposed posi- 
tion between the principal French and English possessions kept it 
in the forefront. As a French base to menace New England com- 
merce or an English base for attacks up the St Lawrence, Acadia 
was concerned in many warlike operations. 

In simplest terms, the mighty struggle of empires occurred in 
America in the eighteenth century because by that time both sides 

75 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

had developed sufficiently to let loose a continent-wide conflict. 
It was bound to come. There was no effective line of separation 
between the two empires. The French did hope to make the 
Appalachians the dividing line but were not strong enough to hold 
it. In any case the English fur trade had already found gaps in 
that barrier and had filtered beyond. Behind the English fur 
traders the resistless flood of settlement was rising. Both empires 
dreamed of final victory in America; neither really sought to head 
off conflict. Their rivalry had gone too far. 

2 The British Empire in America 

To understand the course of the imperial struggle it is necessary 
to know something of the British as well as the French possessions 
in North America. Besides the British islands in the West Indies, 
highly valued in the eighteenth century, thirteen mainland colonies 
or provinces had come into being, ranging down the Atlantic 
coast from Acadia to Spanish Florida. By the middle of the 
century they contained a population about one-third the size of 
England's. Although the British empire in America included 
other outlying areas the Hudson Bay territory, Newfoundland, 
and Acadia after 1713 the thirteen colonies, rich, populous and 
powerful, were the stronghold of British power on the continent. 
Not long after 1760 they were to leave the empire, but in the 
struggle with the French the thirteen were all-important to Britain. 

They varied considerably from north to south in their ways of 
life and their forms of society. The northern provinces of New 
England, led by Massachusetts, were largely concerned with fish- 
ing, shipping and ship-building, though small-scale farming was 
also general and there was some fur trade in the backwoods. The 
middle colonies, such as New York or Pennsylvania, also engaged 
in shipping on the coast and fur trading in the interior, but farm- 
ing was their main preoccupation. They raised horses, cattle and 
plentiful food crops on good land. Sizable cities and some indus- 
tries were beginning to appear here, and also in New England. 

76 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, IJ02-60 

The warmer southern colonies, like Virginia and the Carolinas, 
concentrated on agriculture, and especially on large-scale farming 
by the plantation system. They produced a few basic or staple 
crops for sale abroad: for example, tobacco, rice or indigo. 

Colonial society varied as did these business activities, In the 
more commercial north, rich merchants were at the fore, though 
the mass of the people were small farm-owners. In the plantation 
south, great planters dominated, but there were numerous small, 
independent farmers, as well as the large number of negro slaves 
who worked the plantations. On the whole, despite the existence 
of influential upper groups, the lack of long-established class bar- 
riers and the stress laid on freedom and equality already made this 
colonial society democratic in nature. 

The forms of government fitted the society. The large degree 
of self-government in every colony was exercised by an elected 
assembly, on the British model, with considerable power over the 
public funds, without which government could not function. The 
general pattern of government in each province comprised a 
governor appointed in Britain, a council, also appointed, and an 
assembly elected by the colonists on a wider voting basis than in 
Britain at the time. The colonies originally had been controlled by 
chartered companies, or by a single proprietor or group of pro- 
prietors. But, as in New France, the crown had tended to take 
them over from private hands, and during the eighteenth century 
there was a steady trend towards establishing direct royal govern- 
ment in all the provinces. 

This royal government, however, was very different from that 
of New France, because under it the colonies continued generally 
to manage their local affairs with little supervision from Britain. 
The royal governors, moreover, had always to contend with strong 
representative assemblies expressing the popular will. In two 
New England colonies, indeed Rhode Island and Connecticut 
the governor himself was locally elected. 

Nevertheless, British imperial power attempted to supervise 

77 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

carefully the economic life of the American colonies by means of 
regulating their trade. This was in accordance with the theory of 
mercantilism, which ruled the British empire as the French, and 
its purpose again was to make the empire a strong and self-suffi- 
cient unit. The colonies were to minister to the needs of the 
motherland by absorbing its manufactures and supplying it with 
raw materials. Imperial laws sought to prevent the colonies from 
engaging in much manufacturing on their own and at the same 
time to give their raw or staple products a preferred position in 
the British market. The British Navigation Acts, however, were 
the heart of the colonial system thus built up. They limited empire 
trade to British and colonial shipping, and ensured that colonies 
must buy their imports from Britain and send their chief exports 
there. The laws of trade were for some time only partly enforced, 
and it is not untrue to say that English America benefited from 
them where they served its interests and evaded them where they 
did not. Yet in the long run the attempts of Britain to enforce these 
restrictive mercantilist laws did much to lead the American 
colonies to revolution. 

The way in which these first American colonies developed 
within the British empire was of much significance for the future 
history of Canada under British rule. Broadly speaking, the same 
colonial system was applied by Britain to the northern lands after 
1760, while the structure and life of the original provinces had 
considerable influence on the later growth of an English-speaking 
Canada. Also important, however, for Canadian history were the 
other British American possessions beyond the thirteen colonies, 
the Hudson Bay territory, known as Rupert's Land, Newfound- 
land, and Acadia or Nova Scotia. They might have been of far 
less weight in the old eighteenth-century empire; but as provinces 
which were to continue under British rule, and become parts of 
Canada, they deserve special attention. In short, while Canada 
is often thought of as coming into British hands only in 1760, 
large tracts of the present country were under the British flag dur- 

78 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, iy02-6o 

ing the lifetime of New France. The beginnings of English-speak- 
ing Canada in the maritime, northern, and western regions run 
far back into the French period. 

3 'English Canada? in the Day of New France 

In the north and west of what is now Canada, British rule dated 
back to 1670, when Rupert's Land was established by die charter 
of the Hudson's Bay Company. That charter granted the Company 
control over all the lands draining into Hudson Bay, a vast shadowy 
domain whose limits were unknown. Thanks to this title, however, 
Rupert's Land actually included the larger part of the present 
prairie provinces as well as much of the sub-Arctic regions. But 
in the day of New France, and for long afterward, Rupert's Land 
remained a colony in a state of arrested development. No attempt 
was made to settle the barren lands about Hudson Bay, and the 
'colony' did not progress beyond the stage of company rule under 
an absentee governor and board of directors in far-distant Lon- 
don. Still, Rupert's Land had been granted for its fur trade, not 
for settlement, and the fur monopoly remained the be-all and end- 
all of the Hudson's Bay Company. The monopoly was quite 
typical of the Canadian fur trade, except that, unlike the mono- 
polists of New France, the Bay Company managed it most success- 
fully. In part, being relieved of the burden of planting settlers 
made the difference, but also important were efficient organiza- 
tion, advantages of geography, and superior trade goods. 

Private traders did not threaten this monopoly as they did those 
in New France, for only a big company could afford to equip large 
ships to trade by way of perilous Hudson Bay. The distant Bay 
was not plagued by unlicensed adventurers seeking furs as was 
the St Lawrence fur-trade empire. As for French competition 
from the south, the Bay traders had cheaper and better quality 
English goods that were sought after by the Indians. The Com- 
pany could afford to sit down in trading posts by the shore and let 
the Indians come to them. From there the sea voyage to England 

79 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

was comparatively cheap and short: that is, in comparison with 
the trade route of the French, for they had to go to the western 
Indians themselves in order to divert furs from the Bay, and then 
make the long, costly journey back to Montreal and Quebec before 
their furs could be shipped to market. 

The very success of the Bay Company led to vigorous French 
assaults on the English posts around the shore. These attacks had 
hardly been overcome by the end of the War of Spanish Succes- 
sion when the English title to Hudson Bay was recognized. Then 
it was that the French sought to get behind the Bay by reaching 
into the western plains overland from the Great Lakes. The expe- 
ditions of La Verendrye and his sons in the seventeen-thirties and 
forties took them to the Saskatchewan River. French attempts to 
control this prairie country, however, were soon cut short by the 
growing demands of the imperial struggle in other regions. 

Meanwhile the English on the Bay had also reached the plains. 
Henry Kelsey had been the first white man to see the broad Cana- 
dian prairies in 1691. Anthony Henday reached the foothills in 
Alberta in 1754. But these journeys did not yet bring the Hud- 
son's Bay Company to leave its profitable position beside the Bay. 
Rupert's Land remained largely unexplored and unoccupied up 
to the end of the French period, and beyond. Nevertheless, it was 
a valuable part of the British empire in America. 

Newfoundland really began as an English colony in 1610, when 
an English company was chartered to found a settlement on the 
island, as a resident fishery. That is to say, the fishing industry 
would be carried on by residents on the island, instead of from the 
ships that made the long voyage from England each summer. This 
would permit a longer fishing season and lower costs. For these 
very reasons the visiting fishermen bitterly opposed the colony 
that was begun on Conception Bay in 161 1, as they did all succeed- 
ing attempts to settle the island. In particular they feared that 
each year the residents would be able to occupy the best beaches 
for drying the catch. Because of this firm opposition, and its own 

80 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

internal troubles, the Newfoundland Company soon collapsed. 

So did several other attempts at settlement, although small 
groups of settlers were brought out. Then in 1637 Sir David 
Kirke, the captor of Quebec, secured a new grant for the coloniza- 
tion of Newfoundland. He established a successful colony and 
resident fishery, and from this time on, while beset with many 
troubles, English settlement slowly grew in Newfoundland. Har- 
bours along the eastern coast gradually became permanent fishing 
ports, though life there was hard and the inhabitants poor. The 
chief settlement was at St John's. It became an important naval 
base, thanks to its fine harbour and location at the tip of the eas- 
tern Avalon peninsula, guarding the North Atlantic approaches 
to the American continent. Here there was some commercial life 
and farming as well as fishing. In the long run St John's naturally 
became the chief town and capital of Newfoundland. 

Yet this required a very long run. Settlement in the island was 
consistently held back by the powerful visiting fishing interest. In 
the seventeenth century the summer fishermen were many, the 
residents few. Moreover, the visitors had great influence with the 
English government. They came mainly from West of England 
ports, and this 'West of England fishery' was looked on favourably 
by the imperial authorities of the time, because it fitted the pre- 
vailing doctrines of mercantilism. 

One of the main aims of mercantilism was national strength, 
and the Newfoundland fishery was held in England to be a vital 
source of national power at sea. The fishery was c a nursery of 
seamen'. It provided trained sailors and a reserve of ships in time 
of war, while in peace the large sale of dried fish to southern 
European countries brought in gold for the national coffers. New- 
foundland was thus highly regarded by the imperial government; 
but as an overseas fishing station, not a colony. 

Accordingly, settlement in Newfoundland had to struggle 
against official English policy as well as stern natural difficulties; 
in 1675, it was even briefly planned to remove the colonists. Fur- 

81 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES., 1702-60 

thennore, Newfoundland was not granted any regular colonial 
government. The summer fishermen had established the practice 
of accepting the captain of the first ship to reach a harbour in the 
island each year as- 'admiral 5 in control of that area. The English 
government had officially recognized this system in the Fishing 
Charter of 1634. By it the fishery was really given authority over 
Newfoundland. 

Somewhat later, convoys were established to escort the fishing 
fleet to the island, and the naval officer in charge of the convoy 
was placed in control. Finally, in 1728, he was named governor. 
Newfoundland at last had an official ruler in the summer at least. 
Resident justices of the peace substituted for him in the winter. 
But this system of naval governorship again demonstrated the fact 
that Newfoundland was still regarded as a great fishing ship 
moored off North America. The naval regime lasted into the 
nineteenth century. 

It was largely mounting danger from the French which brought 
the establishment of even the naval governorship, and caused 
Britain to give up any idea of removing the settlers, and, indeed, 
to recognize the necessity of a colony to hold the island. The 
French had long been fishing on the northern and southern shores, 
and, with the rising French interest in empire under Louis XIV 
and Colbert, they themselves planned a colony in Newfoundland. 
In 1663 settlers were sent out to Placentia on the south coast. By 
1689 a vigorous French resident fishery and strong naval base had 
been established there. 

During the War of the League of Augsburg there was much 
fighting back and forth in Newfoundland; raids by land or sea on 
Placentia and St John's, and the outlying harbours on either side. 
The inconclusive fighting began again in the War of the Spanish 
Succession. The French had the better of it, but British successes 
elsewhere, especially Marlborough's victories in Europe, decided 
the issue. In the Peace of Utrecht, British sovereignty over the 
whole island was recognized, except for French rights to fish and 

82 




MARTYRDOM OF THE JESUITS, 1649 



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THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

dry the catch on the unoccupied northern and western coasts. This 
Trench shore 5 would cause much trouble in later times. 

But after 1713, Newfoundland's most stormy period of history 
was over. The old West-of-England interests were declining; the 
resident fishermen were steadily advancing. The French danger 
seemed ended. St John's, indeed, was attacked and captured by 
French forces in the final stage of the struggle of empires, but it 
was soon regained. The peace of 1763 that closed the conflict left 
Newfoundland still British, though the French fishing rights were 
renewed. By this time Newfoundland had well over 10,000 in- 
habitants. It was secure as a British colony. 

Nova Scotia may be more briefly disposed of, seeing that it only 
entered the British empire during the War of the Spanish Succes- 
sion. In 1710 Port Royal, the centre of French Acadian settlement, 
was taken once more by a British and New England force, though 
a greater joint attack on Quebec in 1711 failed even to reach that 
city. Port Royal was renamed Annapolis Royal in honour of 
Britain's reigning monarch, Queen Anne. This time Acadia re- 
mained British at the peace settlement, and the old name of Nova 
Scotia was revived for the new province. The French, however, 
kept Cape Breton Island and He Saint Jean, the present Prince 
Edward Island. Furthermore, they continued to occupy posts in 
northern Acadia (now New Brunswick) and claimed that only the 
Nova Scotian peninsula had been ceded. The British contended 
that the whole maritime region had been included in Acadia, and 
now formed part of Nova Scotia. Here lay more trouble for the 
future. 

Until the founding of Halifax in 1749 as a naval base and pro- 
vincial capital, there was little British settlement in Nova Scotia, 
although a large fishery developed, centred on Canso. A few 
British ofiicials at Annapolis Royal uneasily governed a French- 
speaking Acadian people, which they could not wholly trust. Ac- 
cordingly, the original plan to set up the regular type of British 
colonial government, of royal governor and elected assembly, was 

83 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, IJ02-6O 

for many years not carried out in Nova Scotia. An assembly was 
only added to the governor and council in 17583 by which date 
the rising English-speaking population made it safe, and indeed 
necessary, to establish representative government. Thus by the 
time of the fall of New France Nova Scotia was becoming a fairly 
typical British province in America, one much like the New Eng- 
land colonies. New Englanders controlled its fisheries and were 
beginning to take up farms. Nova Scotia could now be rightly 
called 'New England's outpost'. 

4 The Mounting Conflict 

There was peace between Britain and France from 1713 to 1744, 
but in America the causes that were bringing the two empires into 
conflict went on working in growing intensity. Trouble was loom- 
ing on every frontier between them. In the event of war, how 
would the power of the two American empires compare? Even a 
rapid glance makes it clear that if the French was much larger it 
was also much weaker. 

While the principal British colonies still clung to the edge of the 
continent, behind the Appalachians the French ruled the vast 
domain of the Mississippi valley, as well as the realm of the St 
Lawrence. In this Mississippi empire, known as Louisiana, they 
had built New Orleans in 1718, as their main base at the entrance 
to the great river. From the Mississippi valley other posts formed 
a chain to the Great Lakes, whence Forts Niagara and Frontenac 
continued it to Montreal and the St Lawrence. Throughout this 
enormous area the French ranged free, filled with the vision of 
holding the continental interior for everagainst the unenterprising 
English. To this end they had on their side a superior knowledge 
of the wilderness, the friendship of most of the western Indians, 
and a bold unity of purpose. 

The British in America had anything but bold unity. They were 
thirteen separate colonies, sometimes as suspicious of each other 
as they were of the French. They had no very clear vision of 

84 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

empire and thought more about the cost than the vision. Colonial 
governors often had great difficulty in gaining the assemblies' sup- 
port for any imperial effort. In New France, on the other hand, 
imperial policy could be ordered in Versailles for execution in 
America, and there was no assembly to hamper the use of the 
colony's militia or to refuse the necessary funds. 

But in the long run every advantage lay with the British. The 
French empire was far too big to hold on so small a basis as the 
population of New France. Stretched out too thin, with the fur 
trade its only real resource, French Canada gradually exhausted 
itself. The British colonies, occupying a relatively small area, had 
been able to build up a thickly populated community with many 
and varied resources. They were capable of far greater effort. 
There were, after all, more than twenty British colonists for every 
French Canadian. And if many of the thirteen colonies would not 
effectively support the struggle with the French, Massachusetts, 
which was active, alone had a larger population than all New 
France. 

As for systems of government, that of New France only operated 
successfully as long as proper orders were received. The colony 
was not used to making its own decisions, often so necessary in 
time of war. It leaned on the homeland, while the British colonies 
looked to themselves. Once they had been brought to act, they 
would move with energy and initiative. Furthermore, the almost 
complete dependence of New France on fur-trading made it rely 
on the homeland for much more besides instructions. Only in 
years of good harvest could the colony even feed itself. In Canada 
prolonged fighting, with the militia away from home, might mean 
a ruined harvest and near-starvation. There was no such danger in 
the well-stocked thirteen colonies. 

Finally, in regard to support from the motherlands, the British 
in America again had the advantage. It was true that France could 
send excellent troops to the American conflict. But first they had 
to cross the ocean. During the long imperial struggle the British 

85 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

navy gradually secured an ascendancy over the French, first 
gained during the War of the League of Augsburg. Thus, though 
both France and Britain sent regular forces across the Atlantic, 
in the long run the British fleet reduced the flow of French re- 
inforcements to a mere trickle, while Britain freely built up armies 
in America. Sea power, which had already influenced the out- 
come of the War of the Spanish Succession, played a vital part in 
eventually deciding the struggle in America in favour of the British 
empire. The fate of the French inland kingdom of the Mississippi 
was in one sense settled by British naval victories in the North 
Atlantic. 

That the peace after the War of the Spanish Succession was large- 
ly only an armed truce was shown by the French construction of 
Louisbourg in 1720. There on Cape Breton island they began a 
massive stone fortress and naval base to replace Port Royal, re- 
vealing that they had not altogether given up thoughts of regaining 
Acadia. Six years later the British on their side expressed their 
thoughts when they reached north to plant Fort Oswego on Lake 
Ontario, across from Fort Frontenac. Here was a British post 
right beside the vital French highway of empire, at the point 
where it entered the St Lawrence; and it was built on lands which 
the French had always regarded as their own. In their turn the 
French built Crown Point, to block attacks from the south by 
way of Lake Champlain, and placed it within boundaries claimed 
by the province of New York. The signs of conflict were growing. 

Thus, in 1744, the clash of Britain and France in Europe in the 
Warof the Austrian Succession unleashed new fightingin America. 
Nova Scotia and Louisbourg were the principal scenes of battle. 
New England was especially concerned over the new French fort- 
ress because of the likelihood of raids from there on New England 
shipping. In 1745 a force of New Englanders and a British fleet 
took the works of Louisbourg. Yet the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, 
in 1748, handed Louisbourg back to France, much to New 
England's disgust, chiefly because the fortunes of war elsewhere 

86 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 






THE EMPIRES 



BEFORE THE 

SEVEN YEARS 

WAR 



Miles 

British Possessions 
French ,. 

3 Spanish 

British Forts, Bases and 



Towns are shown in 
heavy type 




87 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, IJO2-6O 

had been too evenly divided to permit anything but a restoration 
of conquests on both sides. With this, America was nominally at 
peace once more. But the years that followed until war broke out 
again, in 1754, were hardly even a truce. From 1748 on, both 
sides were heading for renewed conflict in America; and this 
would be the final round. 

5 The Final Struggle 

The main contest between the empires was now shifting into a 
new area where there had not been fighting before. This was the 
Ohio country, which lay between the Appalachians and the 
Mississippi and was drained into that river by the waters of the 
Ohio. Hitherto the French had not occupied the Ohio region, 
and had generally used the upper Mississippi as their route to 
the Great Lakes and Canada. The route by way of the Ohio to 
Lake Erie was a shorter one, however. 

Yet the French moved into the Ohio chiefly to protect their 
hold on the Mississippi-St Lawrence chain of empire that ran 
farther west. The English colonies were beginning to advance 
over the Appalachians into the Ohio country. They had to be 
stopped at the mountain rim before they moved farther, for once 
past the Appalachians there was no other natural barrier between 
English settlement and the whole flat, continental interior. The 
French fur-trade empire was in deadly danger. The Ohio country 
had to be made its protecting bastion. 

In 1748 an influential group in Virginia, a colony which 
claimed much of the west, had formed the Ohio Company, and 
had been granted lands in the Ohio valley to sell to settlers. The 
French acted accordingly. In 1749 they sent an expedition to take 
formal possession of the Ohio, which had previously been a no- 
man's land, and drove out English fur traders found there. This 
was partly a defensive act by the French empire. Equally it was 
an aggressive step, a move to advance right up to the Appalachians 
and pin the English colonies at that line. Given the mounting 

88 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

pressure of English settlement seeking to expand west, such a step 
could only bring an explosion. 

It was not long in coming. New France backed the claim to the 
Ohio valley by building a series of forts through it, the chief one 
at the forks of the Ohio, Fort Duquesne. These activities had 
meanwhile roused some of the English colonies, and in 1754 the 
governor of Virginia sent a young major of militia, a certain 
George Washington, with a few troops to expel the French. He 
failed : but his little skirmish at Great Meadows, deep in the Ohio 
forests, was the explosion that set off the last great imperial con- 
flict. When this war was over New France had fallen and the 
French empire in America was at an end. 

While the Ohio clash began the conflict, it was also about to 
break in Nova Scotia. After the restoration of Louisbourg in 1748, 
France had sought to weaken the hold of the British on Nova 
Scotia by turning their French Acadian subjects against them. Ever 
since the Treaty of Utrecht Britain had not been able to bring the 
Acadians to take an oath of allegiance to the British King, largely 
because they feared lest this oath might some day commit them 
to fight against France. The Acadians were not rebellious but 
sought to be neutral in any war. For more than forty years they 
managed to persist in this state, peacefully farming their lands, 
increasing to 10,000 in number by 1750 until they were caught 
up in the violence between empires and scattered to the winds. 

If France now had not sought to incite the Acadians against 
Britain the British authorities in Nova Scotia might still have 
accepted this long established situation. But French agents began 
to urge the Acadians to reject the oath and to stir up the Indians. 
There were Micmac Indian raids and massacres at new British 
settlements. Then, in 1750, the French built Fort Beausejour at 
the end of the isthmus connecting Nova Scotia with what is now 
New Brunswick. There they were joined by some of the Acadians. 
The British built Fort Lawrence on the Nova Scotian side. While 
disputes ensued as to the proper boundaries of Nova Scotia, ten- 

89 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, iy02-6o 

sion mounted steadily. The British officials feared for a province 
largely populated by French Acadians who had taken no oath of 
allegiance and were being stirred into unrest from Louisbourg 
and Beausejour. 

In 1755, after fighting had begun in America, the British took 
Beausejour and found Acadians in the garrison. The British 
governor at last decided that for the safety of Nova Scotia, Aca- 
dians must take the oath or be deported. He expected only to 
have to deport a few, but the Acadians, not believing after many 
years that the threat was real, still refused the oath. Most of them 
had not been involved with the French agents in their midst, but 
all suffered in the emergency. Hasty and ill-managed prepara- 
tions added to their suffering. From August, 1755 onward, this 
quiet people was uprooted from the Annapolis valley and scattered 
through the English colonies. Some of them eventually made their 
way back to their Acadia, but most never returned. Displaced 
persons they were, tragic victims of a great war. 

The fighting was well under way in America in 1755, although 
it did not break out in Europe until the next year, when France 
and Britain officially entered on the Seven Years' War. But in 
1755 both countries sent large expeditions to America. The 
British force under General Braddock was chiefly designed to 
help the colonists drive the French out of the Ohio valley. The 
attempt resulted in disastrous defeat and Braddock's death; and 
of three other British attacks on French strong points only that on 
Fort Beausejour succeeded. 

By the next year an able general had taken command of newly 
strengthened French forces, the gallant but ill-starred Marquis de 
Montcalm. If bold leadership alone could have saved New France 
his might have done so. Yet, as well as facing the British with 
limited resources, Montcalm had to contend with a meddlesome, 
over-bearing governor, Vaudreuil, and a clever but corrupt 
intendant, Bigot, who made his fortune at the expense of the 
French war effort and the last defence of New France. 

90 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

Because of the dangerous weaknesses of Canada, its long, 
thinly held defences, its short supplies, and the need of using its 
inhabitants both as militia and as farmers, Montcalm could not 
afford long campaigns. He struck rapidly with his few battalions 
of well-trained regulars, his Indians and forest-wise Canadians, 
keeping the British off balance so that they could not gather their 
superior forces for a crushing blow. At first he was aided by poor 
British generalship, quarrelling colonies, and a weak government 
in Britain. Thus the French took the advanced British post of 
Fort Oswego in 1756 and the next year went further to capture 
and destroy Fort William Henry on Lake George. 

But in 1758 strong British forces under better leaders began 
closing in on the French empire in America. In Britain the bril- 
liant minister, William Pitt, had taken over the direction of the war. 
British naval might was cutting off any hope of reinforcements for 
Montcalm, while they flowed readily to his enemies. Though the 
French commander won a striking success at Ticonderoga, in 
throwing back a British advance up the Lake George-Lake 
Champlain invasion route to Canada, to the west the loss of Fort 
Frontenac snapped the French life-line to the Ohio valley. Fort 
Duquesne was abandoned, and the Ohio prize fell into British 
hands. And far to the east the thick walls of Louisbourg were 
battered and breached by an army and fleet under Generals 
Amherst and Wolfe. A strange, sickly young man, this General 
James Wolfe, but in him lay the doom of New France. 

Doom came in 1759. That year a three-fold British attack was 
launched: at Fort Niagara, which quickly fell, towards Montreal 
by way of Lake Champlain and this attack was checked and at 
Quebec itself. The fall of Louisbourg, guardian of the sea-gate to 
New France, had opened the way to the capital of Canada. Once 
again, as in 1629, 1690 and 1711, a British fleet sailed into the wide 
St Lawrence. Sea power reached up the river and placed Wolfe's 
army on its southern shore, across from the city of Quebec. For 
three months, however, he was held here, unable to reach the 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

French stronghold on the other bank; for on the northern shore 
Quebec was protected on one side by a line of steep cliffs and on 
the other by Montcalm's well planned defences that blocked every 
attack. And so the siege dragged on, until the night of 12 Septem- 
ber. 

On that night Wolfe boldly chose to try the cliffs above Quebec. 
Silently, under cover of darkness, he moved some of his troops in 
small boats to a narrow, rocky cove not far above the city. Here 
he had observed a path leading up the steep cliff-side to the heights. 
The heights above this difficult pathway were only lightly guarded, 
thanks to the interfering Vaudreuil, who had ordered one of Mont- 
calm's regiments away for more useful service elsewhere. By 
dawn the British had struggled up the path to the Plains of 
Abraham. They stood at last on the weakly defended landward side 
of Quebec, their red coats shimmering like danger beacons through 
the morning mists that hung on the open plain. 

As soon as he learned of Wolfe's successful approach, Montcalm 
resolved on an immediate counter-attack, to drive the British from 
the heights before they could bring up all their forces. Hastily his 
troops streamed forth from Quebec, the white-coated French 
regulars, the grey-clad Canadian militia. But the surprised and 
partly disorganized French were soon thrown into confusion by 
heavy British volleys and a bayonet charge. Almost before it 
began the battle was decided, and the French were pouring back in 
disorder their cause in ruin. The surrender of Quebec soon fol- 
lowed. Neither Wolfe nor Montcalm lived to see it. Both had 
been fatally wounded on the Plains of Abraham, where the fate of 
New France was sealed. 

The fighting was not yet finished, however. The remaining 
French forces rallied at Montreal, while the British fleet departed 
from the St Lawrence to avoid being frozen in the winter, leaving 
a garrison in the bombarded and ruined city of Quebec. Early 
next spring the British garrison, ridden with sickness, was itself 
besieged in Quebec by the French from Montreal. As the ice 

92 



THE STRUGGLE OF EMPIRES, 1702-60 

broke in the St Lawrence all eyes watched anxiously for the first 
sails to come up the river. It was British ships that appeared: 
once more sea power had played its telling role. With little hope 
left, the French retired to Montreal. There, as British armies 
advanced from three sides, from Quebec, from the west and from 
Lake Champlain, they made their final surrender. By the Capitu- 
lations of Montreal, of September, 1760, they transferred Canada 
to Britain, and the fleur-de-lis of France at last came down from 
the headquarters of the great French fur trade, the mission station 
and frontier post of the early days of the colony. 

The war did not officially end until the Peace of 1763, although 
New France had fallen three years earlier. The struggle of empires 
had closed by creating British Canada. Yet French Canada would 
not die. The sure strength of its people, rooted in the St Lawrence 
land, their long memories, their French language, their Catholic 
faith, would still preserve French Canada. Nevertheless an age 
had ended. The day of New France was over. A new age had 
begun in Canada's history, the age of British North America. 



93 



PART III 

THE BRITISH NORTH AMERICAN 
COLONIES 



CHAPTER 7 

THE AGE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 

1760-91 

I Canada in the First British Empire 

In 1763 the Peace of Paris brought the Seven Years' War to a 
close, ending the great duel of France and Britain in Europe and 
in the world overseas. French Canada, however, had already come 
under British rule in 1760. As far as North America was con- 
cerned, the Peace of Paris only recognized an established fact in 
declaring all New France ceded to Britain. At the same time 
France transferred its Mississippi domain, Louisiana, to Spain. 
Except for the continuance of fishing rights on the northern and 
western shores of Newfoundland, and possession of the little 
fishing islands of St Pierre and Miquelon in the Gulf of St 
Lawrence, French empire in America was at an end. 

On the other hand, the British empire now stretched unbroken 
from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The St Lawrence colony 
of New France had become the British province of Quebec. 
French Acadia, of course, had been the British province of Nova 
Scotia since 1713, although its boundaries had been in dispute. 
In 1763 they were defined to include the whole Acadian coastal 
region. At the same time the coast of Labrador was placed under 
Newfoundland control, and the boundaries of Quebec were also 
reduced in the west, making it a province of the St Lawrence 
valley alone. 

In any event, there were after 1760 four British possessions 
within the present bounds of Canada : Quebec, Nova Scotia, New- 
foundland and Rupert's Land. The latter two were relatively un- 
developed, and Quebec was larger and more important than Nova 
Scotia. These northern provinces were not thought of at the time 
as composing a 'Canadian' unit in themselves. Along with the 

97 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

thirteen colonies, they were simply regarded as parts of one 
British American empire, Canada, in short, had been fully brought 
into the First British Empire, the old empire before the American 
Revolution. 

Of the two main northern provinces, Nova Scotia was looked 
upon almost as one of the New England colonies, while, on the 
signing of peace, policies were fashioned for Quebec that were 
intended to make it much the same as any other British province 
in America. There was to be no special treatment for the new 
province, despite its unique French background and its French- 
speaking population. The rulers of the triumphant First Empire 
set forth their policiea for America as a whole. Lax imperial con- 
trols were to be tightened, and the empire made a much more 
efficient unit. A common land policy was laid down for the newly- 
won American West in the royal Proclamation of 1763. The same 
document also dealt with the new province of Quebec, defining its 
boundaries and promising regular British institutions, including 
representative government. 

Nova Scotia, meanwhile, had been given representative govern- 
ment in 1758. Equipped with a royal governor and an' elected 
assembly, it was developing along the typical lines of the British 
American provinces. Following the expulsion of the Acadians, 
New Englanders had begun to take over their vacant farms around 
the Bay of Fundy. Settlement was spreading northward along the 
Atlantic coastal plain, and there was a steady flow of New England 
immigrants into Nova Scotia during the 1760'$. The New Eng- 
landers brought their town meetings and Congregational churches 
with them. They built up the Nova Scotian fisheries. They sat in 
the provincial assembly. Nova Scotia was apparently becoming a 
new Massachusetts. 

Nevertheless there were significant differences, in many ways 
Nova Scotia was not a northward extension of the New England 
mainland, but almost an island with its back to America, looking 
out to sea. This island was a British naval stronghold. In 1749 

98 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

Halifax had been founded as a British answer to Louisbourg, and 
it was rapidly rising as an imperial citadel. In the American 
Revolution it would become the key British naval base in America. 
Furthermore, with the founding of Halifax, over two thousand 
settlers had been sent out from Britain, and Germans had been 
settled at Lunenburg further down the Atlantic shore. Yorkshire- 
men, Highland Scots, Irishmen, Germans, and remnants of the 
Acadians, varied the New England character of thinly-populated 
Nova Scotia. 

In the garrison capital of Halifax, cut off as it was by rough 
country from the main areas of settlement in the province, govern- 
ment officials, rich merchants, and contractors to the armed forces 
could exercise a great deal of influence over the government of 
Nova Scotia. The power of this Halifax oligarchy, centred around 
the governor, rendered the provincial assembly rather weak and 
ineffective. Here again was an important difference from the New 
England colonies. 

These differences would show more clearly once the American 
Revolution had broken out. But at least Nova Scotia was being 
mainly peopled by English-speaking settlers, used to British insti- 
tutions. Quebec, on the other hand, remained a French com- 
munity in a British-American empire. Few English-speaking 
settlers came to it after 1760. 

At first it was expected that they would come. The Proclamation 
of 1763 invited migration to Quebec at the same time as it closed 
the western lands beyond the Appalachians to settlement. The 
door to the West had been shut because, at the end of the Seven 
Years' War, the western Indians had risen under the chieftain 
Pontiac to drive the white men back over the mountains. Closing 
the Appalachian frontier would give time for pacifyingthe Indians 
and for making treaties regarding their lands. And, also, the tide 
of American settlement might be deflected northward, as in Nova 
Scotia's case, until the French in Quebec were submerged in an 
English-speaking population. 

99 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

In this way the unusual new province would indeed be ab- 
sorbed in the British American empire. To begin the process of 
assimilation, and to invite settlers from the thirteen colonies, the 
Proclamation of 1763 promised English law and representative 
government in Quebec. But settlers still did not come. Quebec 
seemed too far, too cold, too alien; not at all like the tempting lands 
in the Ohio valley, just across the mountains. Thus the Proclama- 
tion failed in its aim of absorbing Canada completely in the First 
British Empire. Instead, by blocking the demand of American 
colonists for western lands, it became an important step on the way 
to revolution and the destruction of that empire. 

2 The Problem of Quebec 

New France had changed very little with the coming of British 
rule in 1760. The French officials and merchants, and religious 
orders like the Jesuits, had been withdrawn from the colony, and 
some seigneurs had also returned to France. Yet the mass of the 
population, Canadian-born as it was seigneurs, habitants, and 
ordinary clergy had remained in Canada. The Catholic farming 
colony of the St Lawrence was not greatly altered in character. 
The moderate British military government, that ruled from 1760 
until after the peace settlement of 1763, had done much to 
establish good relations between the new authorities and the in- 
habitants. The Catholic Church, which was then outlawed in 
Britain, had been virtually left alone, and the temporary military 
regime had generally accepted the French colony as it was. 

It might still be wondered whether 65,000 French Canadians 
could survive as a people in an English-speaking American empire 
of two-and-a-half million inhabitants. But after 1760 the only 
British immigrants to Quebec were a small number of merchants, 
who came originally as contractors and suppliers to the British 
army of occupation. They settled mainly in Montreal and Quebec 
city, filling the gap left by the removal of the French merchants. 
They began taking over the colony's fur trade, and other mer- 

100 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

chants joined them from American fur-trading centres like 
Albany. A new St Lawrence fur empire was in the making. 

Combining the advantages of the St Lawrence route., the key to 
the interior, with the backing of powerful London commercial in- 
terests, allying British and Yankee business ability with French 
Canadian forest lore, these new St Lawrence merchants rose 
rapidly to a position of wealth and power in the province. Al- 
though a small minority in this thoroughly French colony, they 
came to control its economic life. At the same time French and 
English came together in a vital partnership in the fur trade. 
Money and leadership in Montreal and London combined with 
the skill and endurance of the Canadian voyageur y who worked 
deep in the western wilderness. 

Nevertheless., trouble was being stored up for the future. Out- 
side of the fur trade, all-important as it still was, and within the 
colony itself the two peoples were travelling separate paths. The 
French majority were engaged mainly in agriculture, the English 
minority in trade. Both sides were acquiring different interests ; 
each began looking down on the other's way of life. The seeds of 
racial strife were being sown. 

In 1764, after peace was signed, permanent civil government 
replaced military rule in Quebec, and the Proclamation indicated 
the lines it would follow. While the merchants disliked the re- 
stricting of Quebec's boundaries, which raised the problem of 
their access to the west, they were heartily pleased by the promise 
of British institutions. They wanted the English common law they 
had always known, and the representative government which they 
regarded as a basic right of British citizenship. But now there 
entered the new governor of the province, James Murray, to 
oppose the establishment of a representative assembly. 

Murray had succeeded Wolfe in command of the army at 
Quebec, and thereafter had been military governor. On his new 
appointment as civil governor of the province he had been in- 
structed to establish English law, appoint a temporary council, 

101 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

and arrange for the electing of an assembly. He appointed a small 
council., and worked slowly towards establishing a system of 
English law, but steadily postponed calling an assembly. In part 
his objections were practical enough. Bringing the unknown Eng- 
lish law wholesale into the French colony would create wide- 
spread confusion. And as for an assembly, existing British enact- 
ments barring Catholics from political rights would put Quebec 
in the hands of a tiny Protestant minority. 

Yet Murray was also much influenced by the prejudices of a 
soldier and official against noisy civilians and quarrelsome trades- 
men. He preferred the placid French Canadian habitants and 
their authoritarian feudal system to the merchants and their 
dangerous democratic notions about self-government. As quarrels 
between merchants and governor grew, Murray made himself the 
champion of French Canadian rights. His position did him much 
credit. Still he blocked the introduction of British institutions in 
Quebec at a time when the French were not really aroused to seek 
special treatment. This led to further difficulties in later years. It 
was shortly made clear that British restrictions on Catholics did 
not extend to Canada. But by then the hope of an assembly, and 
of fitting Quebec into British political forms, was fast disappearing. 

Strife between governor and merchants grew so bitter that in 
1765 Murray was recalled. His successor, Guy Carleton (later 
Sir Guy), at first worked with the merchants. But he too was a 
soldier with a distaste for trade, and an Anglo-Irish aristocrat as 
well. He soon came to admire the orderly French Canadian 
society, with its aristocratic and military-looking seigneurial 
system, especially when His Majesty's subjects in the thirteen 
colonies grew increasingly radical and disorderly in their politics. 
As the discontent that led to revolution mounted in the south, 
Carleton began to regard Quebec as a valuable stronghold against 
disloyalty and violence in America. 

In 1769 the British Board of Trade, the expert body advising 
on imperial policy, urged again that an assembly be called in 

102 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

Quebec as promised, one now representing both French and 
English. Carleton argued against the Board's report. Canada, he 
insisted, was French and would always remain so. What was 
needed was not British institutions, but a full recognition of exist- 
ing French institutions to bind Canadian loyalty tightly to the 
empire. In particular, the natural leaders of the Canadians, their 
seigneurs and clergy, had to be won over. Then, in the event of 
trouble in America, a French Canadian army could be raised, and 
Quebec would serve as a powerful British military base. These 
arguments told in Britain, where the government was growing 
increasingly uneasy over the discord in the America colonies. 

Accordingly, the programme of the Proclamation, that aimed 
at the absorption of Quebec, was set aside. Why, in truth, absorb 
the French province into a rebellious empire? The Quebec mer- 
chants still sought the long-pledged assembly, but their efforts 
were doomed to failure. At length, in 1774, as American unrest 
moved towards open revolution, the Quebec Act was passed in 
Britain. It fitted Carleton's views, and represented the final aban- 
donment of the policy of assimilation. 

Under this measure Quebec received distinctive treatment, in- 
deed. There was a complete acceptance of authoritarian rule. 
Government was to be by governor and an appointed council of 
both French and English, with no provision for an assembly. The 
English criminal law providing trial by jury was established, but 
French civil law was maintained. The seigneurial system was 
guaranteed, as was the freedom of Roman Catholic worship. The 
Church had already been allowed to hold its worship freely, and 
even to name a new bishop and to gather tithes; but now tithes 
were recognized and enforced by law. The Catholic Church in 
Quebec became a body backed by the state. The result was un- 
doubtedly a generous grant of French Canadian rights and privi- 
leges, but at first the Act did more apparent harm than good. 

In the first place, a further provision of the Quebec Act annexed 
the western lands between the Ohio and upper Mississippi rivers 

103 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

to Quebec. The extension of the boundaries was meant both to 
console the fur-trade merchants of Quebec and to tie the Ohio 
country to a 'safe' province. Yet this provision was a last straw 
to the discontented American colonies. The West they considered 
as theirs, that they had fought for during the Seven Years' War,, 
was being given to their defeated foe, French Catholic Canada, 
in American eyes, the Quebec Act became one of the final 'In- 
tolerable Acts' of Britain that put the spark to revolution. The 
colonists were also afraid that the privileges granted to the Catho- 
lic church and the return to authoritarian rule in Quebec showed 
that Britain intended to make Canada the check on the colonies' 
freedom which it had been in the days of New France. They were 
not entirely wrong. 

But in the second place, and more important for Canadian his- 
tory, the Quebec Act meant that the province of Quebec had been 
put on a special basis by an imperial act of parliament. This would 
complicate the future development of Canadian government. The 
chance to fit Quebec from the beginning into the ordinary pattern 
of British institutions had been lost. No doubt there was never 
any likelihood of completely assimilating (which after all, meant 
swallowing) the French Canadians in an English-speaking Canada. 
But in some ways the future co-operation between the two lan- 
guage groups in Canada was made more difficult by this measure 
which increased the French feeling of separateness. At any rate, 
the Quebec Act had not solved the problem of Quebec. Nor did 
it fully achieve Carleton's purpose of making the province a strong 
British base in the American Revolution: a revolution which it 
helped to bring on. 

3 The Impact of the Revolution 

The roots of the American Revolution, of course, ran far behind 
the Quebec Act, and at least to the end of the struggle with France. 
The very upsurge of British interest in empire, aroused by the 
victorious course of the Seven Years' War, came at the wrong time 

104 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION., 1760-91 

as far as the thirteen colonies were concerned. These fast-growing 
communities were already feeling restrained by British imperial 
controls, especially those on trade. The defeat of the French em- 
pire seemed to remove much of the necessity of accepting British 
authority. Hence Britain's attempt to tighten and strengthen the 
bonds of empire after the war ran counter to a rising spirit of 
American nationalism, though the colonists did not yet call it by 
that name. The clashes over the enforcement of British laws of 
trade in the colonies, the closing of the western lands, the rising 
argument over the right of Britain to tax in America, all aroused 
this American national spirit. The colonists claimed at first only 
to seek the full rights of Englishmen; but finally they demanded 
liberty and independence that is, the right to establish a nation 
of their own. 

The Revolutionary War broke out in 1775; and the thirteen 
colonies meeting in the Continental Congress hoped that Quebec 
and Nova Scotia would join in the fight for freedom. Yet the 
northern provinces did not join in. Why did they not enter the 
Revolution? Why had they remained British at its end? Was it 
merely chance, or the fortunes of war? To some extent it was 
both. But it was also the fact that, although parts of a single 
American empire, these provinces had viewpoints and interests 
different from those of the thirteen colonies. Quebec was plainly 
different in character; Nova Scotia less clearly so. The question 
of revolution did not arise in the outlying dependencies of New- 
foundland and Rupert's Land. But in the two main northern pos- 
sessions, while there were grievances against the British authori- 
ties, the forces working against revolution were far stronger. 

In Nova Scotia there was naturally much sympathy for the 
American revolutionaries among the New Englanders who formed 
the bulk of the population; and there was a brief attempt in Cum- 
berland County, in 1776, to bring about a rising. In general, 
however, the Nova Scotian Yankees sought to remain neutral in 
the conflict. They would not fight against their American kins- 

105 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

men, but since geography kept Nova Scotia apart in a lonely 
corner of the continent they felt equally "unwilling to fight for an 
American cause that seemed remote and far-off. Nor was theirs 
a strange stand, when a majority of the Americans still regarded 
themselves as subjects of King George III, though much aggrieved, 
and when about one-third of the people in the thirteen colonies 
were largely neutral during the Revolution. 

Furthermore, few of the American grievances applied to Nova 
Scotia. The closing of western lands did not affect this colony, 
which had enough empty acres of its own. Government policies 
were fairly moderate and any quarrels were largely local. Above 
all, the British mercantile system seemed less a hindrance than a 
help. Weak Nova Scotia was not a Massachusetts, ready to stand 
on its own feet in world trade. It needed protected British im- 
perial markets and had no desire to throw off the British trading 
system. 

Even beyond this, as a British naval base, Nova Scotia thrived 
during the war on supplying the imperial forces. And with the 
Royal Navy ranging the seas about Nova Scotia and dominating 
this near-island, there was little chance of any successful rising, 
as George Washington himself stiffly admitted. Finally, there 
was the ascendancy of loyal Halifax over Nova Scotia; the power 
of the Halifax oligarchy, and the weakness of the assembly where 
a radical movement might otherwise have centred. It was by no 
means mere chance that this maritime colony remained in the 
British empire during the great Revolution. 

At first glance, the case of Quebec might seem even clearer, 
since the overwhelmingly Catholic French population had little 
love for the Protestant Americans, their old foes, nor for their 
democratic ideas. But, on the other hand, they might seek this 
opportunity to throw off their British masters. And the Quebec 
Act, far from cementing French loyalty, had weakened it. The 
powerful merchant group was also angered by the Act. Thus the 
case of Quebec is not as simple as at first it seems to be. 

106 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

The merchants' dislike of the Quebec Act arose naturally from 
its rejection of British institutions. But why the French discon- 
tent? The seigneurs and clergy were undoubtedly satisfied with 
the measure, but the mass of the people were not pleased by the 
legal enforcement of tithes and the renewing of their seigneurial 
bonds. Both tithes and seigneurial duties had been somewhat re- 
laxed since the British regime began, so that the habitant had 
begun to think of escaping them. Now, therefore, a few habitants 
even listened to American democratic ideas and later joined the 
revolutionary cause. The bulk of them did not. They remained 
quiet under British rule, but they would not actively support it, 
though their clergy urged them to do so. Alas, for Carleton's 
hopes of a devoted French Canadian army! As the aristocrat he 
was, he had over-estimated the power of the seigneurs to com- 
mand, and had ignored the feelings of the ordinary people in his 
plans. 

The merchants of the province, however, whom he distrusted, 
turned out instead to be strangely loyal. True, there were many 
of them from the American colonies, some of whom at first openly 
sympathized with the colonial grievances. Yet life on the St Law- 
rence seemed to work some spell that turned even these against 
the American side. The truth was, that as the inheritors of the 
French St Lawrence fur empire these merchants were now in 
competition with the American traders to the south. Men from 
Albany were now firmly opposed to the Albany trade of the Hud- 
son valley. The great St Lawrence trading system, the core of the 
Quebec colony, inevitably turned its masters against union with 
the American provinces, and directed Canada, French or British, 
to seek a separate destiny in North America. Then again, the 
commerce of Quebec fitted as closely as Nova Scotia's within the 
empire. The market for Quebec's vital fur trade, the source of its 
trade goods, lay in Britain, to which the St Lawrence route had 
now been tied. There was certainly no reason in this province to 
seek to escape the imperial trading system. 

107 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

The thirteen colonies nevertheless hoped to gain Quebec; by 
force, if not by persuasion. Nova Scotia might be out of the grasp 
of the continental colonies, but Quebec was, as always, open to 
attack by land. In 1775 an American army moved north from 
New York along the historic Richelieu-River invasion route, to 
add a fourteenth colony to the provinces in revolt. As in 1690, 
1711, and 1759, Canada was once more under attack from the 
south, though now the British flag flew over the northern colony 
and a new flag in the old English provinces. Yet the key point is 
this : that geography and history had again determined that, what- 
ever the flags might be, there should be two different banners 
waving above Quebec and New York. 

Weakly defended Montreal fell quickly to the American inva- 
ders, and Carleton, failing to gather his hoped-for grand Canadian 
army, was besieged in Quebec during the winter of 1775-6. The 
American forces from Montreal were joined by others which had 
grimly struggled through the Maine wilderness to Quebec. But 
their strength was still insufficient to reduce the city's fortifica- 
tions, vigorously defended by Carleton. In the spring, as once 
before, sea-power turned the tables. A British fleet came up the 
river with ten thousand men and the Americans retreated. They 
did not return again. Sea power had shown too plainly that it 
could function in Quebec as well as Nova Scotia, and so keep 
Canada under British control. 

Meanwhile the experience of living under an invading army, 
and having to accept an almost valueless American paper money, 
had revived the habitant's anti-American memories. After the 
invasion, he was more determined not to go over to the American 
side, and his clergy and seigneurs, thankful for the Quebec Act, 
worked to strengthen that feeling. Hence arose the paradox that 
in some degree Quebec stayed British because it was French; that 
is, because French Canada did not want to become American, 
This feeling among French Canadians continued as the Revolu- 
tion went on, and endured long after the fighting ceased. When 

108 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

peace returned in 1783, although the British empire had lost the 
thirteen colonies, it kept sure possession of Quebec and Nova 
Scotia, and in them, as well as in Newfoundland and Rupert's 
Land, it held the basis for a new empire in North America. 

4 The Coming of the Loyalists 

The peace made in 1783, the Treaty of Versailles, not only had 
to recognize the establishment of the United States; it had to 
wind up the affairs of the old united British American empire. 
These involved questions of boundaries, fishing rights, and the 
fate of the large faction in the thirteen colonies who had supported 
the British side the 'Tories' of American history, the 'Loyalists' 
of Canadian. 

Now that the continent was to be divided between the new 
American republic and the remaining colonies of British North 
America, the peace treaty had to fix a final line of separation. By 
the close of the war, the British had gained ground down the 
Atlantic coast, and still dominated the Ohio country that had been 
attached to Quebec by the Quebec Act. But in part a shaken faith 
in the value of American possessions, in part a desire for a lasting 
settlement, led Britain to accept the boundary line of the St Croix 
river on the Atlantic coast; and, in the west, to give up title to the 
lands south of the Great Lakes. Nevertheless this border would 
cause difficulties in future. In the east, it would do so because the 
line above the St Croix, along the Appalachian ridges between 
Quebec and New England, was vaguely drawn through unknown 
country. In the west, trouble would arise because the lands that 
had been yielded cut in half the fur-trade kingdom of the St 
Lawrence, which still controlled the Ohio wilderness. 

With regard to fisheries, the Americans in their colonial days 
had been used to fishing in the waters of the Gulf of St Lawrence 
and to drying their catch on shore. The New Englanders had built 
up a powerful interest in these northern inshore fisheries. It 
would have been hard now to keep them out. On the insistence 

109 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

of the United States, Britain granted in the peace treaty the right 
of Americans to continue to fish inshore within British North 
American waters, and to dry their catch on unsettled mainland 
coasts. This arrangement, whether necessary or not, represented 
a continual invasion of the Canadian Atlantic fisheries, and was 
also to breed future difficulties between the United States and the 
British North American colonies. 

Most significant for Canada, however, was the question of the 
Loyalists in the Treaty of Versailles. It had been asserted by 
John Adams, American revolutionary leader and later President, 
that as much as one-third of the population of the thirteen colonies 
had favoured the British cause; perhaps another third had actively 
supported the Revolution. At any rate, over fifty Loyalist Ameri- 
can units had fought on the British side, and at least a hundred 
thousand Loyalists were finding life hi the United States so un- 
bearable at the close of the conflict that they were ready to 
emigrate. 

These British sympathizers found life unbearable in America 
because the bitter feelings roused by the war had brought them 
under repeated persecutions. No doubt the persecutions would 
have been reversed, had they won; but those on the losing side, 
which was quite heavily weighted with the upper classes and 
richer members of society, had their homes pillaged, their proper- 
ty confiscated and their persons attacked. Mobs cried after them 
and laws gave them very little protection. 

Britain tried to secure protection for the Loyalists in the terms 
of the peace treaty, but because the American Congress had not 
yet much power over the states composing the young republic, 
all the United States could agree to do was to recommend to the 
state governments that a good deal of Loyalist property be re- 
stored and further seizures be halted. In the angry mood of the 
time, this recommendation was almost completely ignored by the 
citizens of the republic. Then it was that Loyalists began to leave 
the country in large numbers, and Britain recognized that the least 

no 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

that could be done was to give aid to these people who had fought 
to preserve a united empire. 

Of the Loyalist emigrants, about a third returned to Britain and 
others went to the West Indies or Spanish Florida. Yet up to forty 
thousand of them turned north to Quebec and Nova Scotia. The 
main movement to Nova Scotia went by sea from the city of New 
York, which was held by the British until the end of the war. 
There in the closing stages of the conflict Loyalist refugees and 
soldiers gathered, well aware that their days in the former thirteen 
colonies were numbered. In the spring of 1 783 the British authori- 
ties at New York, then commanded by Sir Guy Carleton, arranged 
a mass migration to Nova Scotia. During that year, whole fleets 
of ships carried nearly thirty thousand Loyalists to the province, 
in vessels crammed with men, women and children, and their 
chests of clothes and furnishings, their damask table-cloths and 
china tea-cups, treasured reminders of a life that had gone forever. 

These Nova Scotia Loyalists came generally from the long- 
settled coastal areas of the American provinces. There was a large 
element of educated and formerly wealthy people among them. 
Now they were suddenly flung into a raw frontier colony, and 
many of them into the empty forests. No wonder that, despite 
government aid in land grants, provisions, and tools, harsh suffer- 
ing and bleak despair were often in their midst. Some gave up 5 
and drifted back to the United States or moved on to Britain. 
Some sought to be government hangers-on, and maintained a 
threadbare, unreal snobbery in minor official posts. Others col- 
lapsed frankly into ruin. But despite all the detractions from the 
Loyalist story, which are often too easily made to-day, this firm 
core of fact remains : that the mass of them fought through the 
bitter times and met the stern challenge of the hard northern land. 
They built a new age for Nova Scotia. 

The population of the province during the Revolution had been 
only about 17,000. Almost double that number were added to it 3 
swallowing the older 'neutral Yankee' elements in an ardently 

ill 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

Loyalist mass. The influx of professional men and cultivated 
people meant that this strengthened colony also advanced un- 
usually rapidly from an unlettered frontier state to one of com- 
paratively high standards of learning and culture. At the same 
time a new province, wholly Loyalist in character, came into 
being. So many Loyalists had settled on the northern shore of 
the Bay of Fundy, remote from the centre of government at 
Halifax, that this area was marked off from the peninsula of Nova 
Scotia and set up in 1784 as the separate province of New Bruns- 
wick. Saint John became its main port, Fredericton, up the Saint 
John river, its capital. 

The Loyalist movement to Quebec was smaller and of a differ- 
ent kind than that into Nova Scotia, yet it was quite as significant. 
Only about ten thousand came, some by water from Nova Scotia. 
Yet many others moved overland, trudging on foot, their few pos- 
sessions, saved from angry mobs, piled in rough carts. In winter 
they travelled by snow-shoe, dragging sleighs through the deep 
drifts. And so the determined little army came, north by Lake 
Champlain and the Richelieu river, or through the dark Iroquois 
country to the upper St Lawrence and the Canadian shores of 
Lake Ontario. Some journeyed to the far end of Lake Ontario, 
crossing at Niagara below the mighty Falls. Most of the Iroquois 
themselves, who had fought for the British during the Revolution, 
removed to Canada and were settled west of Lake Ontario on large 
reservations. The white settlers were placed in three main areas, 
all of them well to the west of the old St Lawrence farmlands of 
New France : in the Niagara peninsula, around the Bay of Quinte 
on Lake Ontario, and along the upper St Lawrence between that 
lake and Montreal. 

The Loyalists who entered the province of Quebec (which 
then, of course, included the region of the Great Lakes) were 
largely drawn from loyal American regiments, together with their 
families, or they were often frontier farmers from the back- 
country regions of the American colonies. They were better fitted 

112 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-9! 

than Loyalist town-dwellers who went to Nova Scotia for life in 
the wilderness, although at the same time they brought less learn- 
ing and leadership with them. Quebec's Governor, Haldimand, 
set up a base camp at Sorel, between Montreal and Quebec,, and 
from here transported many Loyalist parties to settle in groups 
along the upper St Lawrence, granting them land and supplies as 
in Nova Scotia. Yet this Quebec migration had much in common 
with the normal advance of the frontier in North America into 
new lands. It began while the Revolution was still in progress and 
did not really stop thereafter. The earlier parties of Loyalists came 
to Quebec because of their British sympathies and to avoid perse- 
cution; but the later groups increasingly came in order to obtain 
land. After the war Loyalists in Canada might write to friends in 
the United States who had not yet broken away, telling them of 
the free grants of good land given to the supporters of King 
George. In time, those who came to Canada might not be c Late* 
Loyalists at all, but typical land-hungry American frontiersmen, 
part of the westward-moving flood of settlement, which here had 
overflowed the bounds of the United States. 

Though the original Loyalists in western Quebec were at length 
outnumbered by the later American settlers, they still remained of 
crucial importance. These Loyalists would form the backbone of 
western resistance in a second war with the United States, the 
War of 1812. They were the original founders of the present prov- 
vince of Ontario, and did much to mould its character. On one 
hand they brought to Canada a conservative outlook, a quick dis- 
trust of any new idea that might be called republican, and a readi- 
ness to make loyalty the test for almost everything. On the other, 
they themselves represented a declaration of independence against 
the United States, a determination to live apart from that country 
in North America. As a result, they helped to create not only a 
new province, but a new nation. 

The western Loyalists, despite their better preparation, had to 
face the hardships of wilderness life as did those of Nova Scotia. 

113 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

There were times of near-starvation, times of grim fortitude, as 
they planted between the stumps of forest clearings and struggled 
to raise the first crops. But after the 'hungry year 5 of 1789, the 
western settlements took firm root and began to flourish. In con- 
sequence the same question was raised here as in Nova Scotia. 
Should this newly settled area, remote from the Quebec capital, 
be erected into a new province? In the case of Quebec, moreover, 
there were greater problems than distance to consider. Few 
Loyalists had settled in the French-speaking regions of Quebec; 
in particular, because they did not like the seigneurial system of 
land holding. In the western country they held their farms as 
they had in the old colonies. Besides, the language, customs, and 
religion of Quebec were not theirs; and under the Quebec Act 
they did not find the representative system of government which 
they had always known. 

Accordingly, in 1791, the old province of Quebec was divided 
in half to meet the changed conditions; for despite Carleton's 
earlier arguments, Canada was no longer wholly French. The 
Constitutional Act of 1791 replaced Quebec by two provinces of 
Upper and Lower Canada. The western province of Upper 
Canada was English-speaking and received English law and in- 
stitutions. It would become the modern province of Ontario. 
The eastern and mainly French-speaking province of Lower 
Canada (the present Quebec), kept seigneurial tenure, French 
law, and the privileges of the Catholic church granted by the 
Quebec Act. Representative government, however, was now es- 
tablished in both the Canadas. 

The Constitutional Act signalized a new beginning for Canada. 
The British North American colonies were starting to take definite 
form; the age of the Revolution was drawing to a close. Yet the 
American Revolution had been almost as important for Canada 
as it had for the United States. In fact, by dividing the continent, 
it created modern Canada no less than it created the American 
republic. Furthermore, the Loyalists of the Revolution brought 

114 



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CAPTAIN COOK ON VANCOUVER ISLAND, 1778 




LOYALISTS AT SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK, 1784 




CORDUROY ROAD IN EARLY UPPER CANADA 




TRAVEL BY DOG CARIOLE IN HUDSON'S BAY TERRITORY 



THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, 1760-91 

to those colonies that had remained British a population that 
wanted whole-heartedly to stay British. The Loyalists began to 
build a Canada that was not predominantly French. Modern 
English-speaking Canada really goes back to them 3 and to the 
Revolution that drove them out. In a sense the American Revo- 
lution itself really answered that old problem of 1763 of how to 
make Canada thoroughly a part of the British empire. 



CHAPTER 8 

THE SHAPING OF BRITISH 
NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

I Constitutional Changes and the Second Empire 

By 1791 the reorganization of the British possessions in America 
made necessary by the shattering blow of the American Revolu- 
tion, was fairly well complete. The colonies of the northern half 
of the continent were being refitted into a Second British Empire; 
British North America was settling into shape. While Newfound- 
land and Rupert's Land continued much as they had been from 
the old empire, the newly populated provinces of Quebec and Nova 
Scotia had been carved into several units. The former had been 
divided into Upper and Lower Canada, and from the latter four 
provinces had been created. Besides New Brunswick and a smaller 
Nova Scotia, these included the colonies of Prince Edward Island 
and Cape Breton. Cape Breton was reattached to Nova Scotia in 
1820. The three other maritime provinces remained in existence, 
as they do to-day. 

This division of the old northern provinces reflected a new 
imperial policy, one that was not only due to the desires of the 
Loyalists, but arose as well from the whole reaction of the British 
authorities to the American Revolution. The new governments 
constructed, the provisions of the Constitutional Act of 1791, were 
largely shaped by what Britain thought were the lessons of the 
American Revolution. As Canada had been brought into the First 
Empire under a general plan of unifying the American posses- 
sions, so it entered the Second under a rather disillusioned policy 
of keeping colonies small and dependent. 'Divide and rule' was 
the principle. 

The general British view of empire had not really changed 
following the American Revolution. In time, it is true, develop- 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

merits largely within Britain made political leaders there doubt 
the value of a dependent empire. Then, indeed, the American 
Revolution was pointed to as proving that colonies were bound 
to grow towards independence, and that control of their trade was 
unwise and unnecessary. But for some time after the Revolution 
British authorities still accepted the old mercantilist ideas of em- 
pire, under which colonial government had to be subjected to 
imperial authority and colonial trade had to be made to flow in 
certain fixed channels. The 'Old Colonial System 5 of subject col- 
onies regulated by imperial laws of trade by no means disappeared 
from the Second Empire after 1783. 

As far as official policy was concerned, therefore, the lesson of 
the American Revolution was not that mercantilist restraints and 
imperial control over colonial governments had led to clashes and 
finally to disaster. It was instead that the Revolution had arisen 
from too much strength in the American colonies and too much 
self-government there. Colonies should be kept small, and hence 
dependent on Britain. The power of their representative assem- 
blies should be limited, so that noisy democracy and dangerous 
radicalism could not grow too strong. If anything, colonies had to 
be more fully subjected to control from the motherland. 

This was the policy applied in British North America after the 
Revolution. But there were redeeming features. There was much 
good will on both sides. Britain was not seeking to punish or keep 
down rebellious provinces but to preserve loyal and orderly com- 
munities in that contented state. The troublemakers, so to speak, 
had left the empire. The British North American provinces, and 
especially the Loyalists within them, also tended to agree that 
democracy and too much self-government were dangerous. For 
the Loyalists, democracy raised memories of armed rebellion and 
mob-violence. The provinces looked to Britain for guidance, and 
in their weakness readily accepted a state of dependence. Further- 
more, far from quarrelling with imperial control of trade, they 
relied on the British trading system for protected markets for 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

their products and for aid in developing their commercial life. 

The colonists of British North America themselves represented 
a rejection of the ideas behind the American Revolution. They 
stressed loyalty, not liberty, traditional ties, not a break with the 
past. They feared the power of the new United States and trusted 
Britain. Thus they were easier to deal with than the old American 
colonists, who had been only too conscious of their own strength 
and put no special weight on the imperial bond. Accordingly, the 
constitutional changes carried out after the Revolution met little 
opposition in the British provinces and for a generation at least 
gave reasonably satisfactory government to British North America. 

The division of old Nova Scotia was in line with the British 
policy of forming small colonies. Prince Edward Island, in fact, 
had been set up by itself even as early as 1769. Representative 
government was applied in each of the new Maritime provinces, 
except for under-populated Cape Breton, where a governor and 
council ruled alone. In Nova Scotia proper, the old assembly was 
simply continued. New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island 
received a similar system of governor, council, and assembly. But 
in all three the assembly remained weak. This was particularly so 
in Prince Edward Island, which was gradually peopled by Loyal- 
ists and pre-Loyalists from the mainland, because the island was 
really controlled by a few absentee landlords who rented their 
wide acres to settlers but stayed in Britain. In New Brunswick 
the overwhelmingly Loyalist population founded a tradition of 
loyalty and obedience to authority at the start; so that the elected 
assembly was a docile body, content to leave real power in the 
hands of the governor and his appointed council. 

Still, the fact that there were assemblies in these Maritime 
provinces showed that Britain did not mean to withhold the rep- 
resentative form of government. In part also, the presence of 
assemblies indicated that the Loyalists, however loyal, expected 
to have the same kind of constitution as they had been accustomed 
to in the old colonies. Those who came to Quebec had similar 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

expectations. There was also the problem of taxation to be dealt 
with. Britain had indeed learned during the Revolution not to 
try to tax colonies against their will. Assemblies would be needed 
to grant taxes, in order that colonies might meet the costs of their 
own government. 

For these reasons the Constitutional Act of 1791, while carrying 
out the policy of divide and rule, provided for elected assemblies 
in both Canadas. This provision, to some extent, also brought 
final success to the merchants of Quebec in their long agitation 
for representative government, though they did not want the 
colony divided. They had pressed their case vigorously, once the 
Revolution had showed the failure of the Quebec Act policy; and 
Carleton, now Lord Dorchester, who had returned to Quebec as 
governor, no longer had the same faith in his old ideas. According- 
ly the unrepresentative government of the Quebec Act was readily 
brought to an end, although the special rights it had granted 
remained to give French Canada its separate character. The 
French could sit in the new Lower Canadian assembly; and this 
they speedily came to control, since the main body of English 
settlers now fell within the borders of Upper Canada something 
the merchants had not at all intended. 

The Constitutional Act also applied the British policy that 
aimed at restraining the representative or popular element in 
government. The same form of government was provided for 
both the Canadas. There was to be a governor-general over both 
of them, with nominal authority, rarely exercised, over all British 
North America. Upper and Lower Canada were each to have a 
lieutenant-governor, an executive council, a legislative council and 
a legislative assembly. The assembly's control of the purse was 
to be more limited than in the old colonies, so that it could not 
restrain the governor in the same way. Hence the assembly had 
far less power. 

But the chief limitation on the assembly's power was meant to 
lie in the two appointed councils set over it. The executive council 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

was not new. It was simply the old council, the group of the 
governor's advisors chosen by him to carry on the chief tasks of 
government. But now there was a legislative council as well, an 
upper house in the colonial parliament, whose members were 
appointed for life and were beyond the control of the assembly 
or the people. Without the consent of this legislative council no 
laws could pass. It was meant to be a colonial House of Lords, 
to check democratic or radical tendencies in the assembly. The 
legislative and executive councils gradually came to contain many 
of the same men, often early Loyalist leaders who had received 
large land grants. They formed a closed and compact official body, 
or oligarchy, about the governor who controlled the province, 
leaving the assembly to be little more than a debating club. 

In further attempts to strengthen authority and to weaken the 
'popular' element, the Constitutional Act also envisaged setting 
up a colonial aristocracy and an established church. The former 
scheme was never carried out the thought of backwoods dukes 
pitching hay was too much but the latter was effected in the 
provision for clergy reserves. In either province, so the Act ran, 
an amount equal to one-seventh of the public, or crown, lands 
granted, should be reserved in order to create a fund for the sup- 
port of c a Protestant clergy'. This for some years was taken to 
mean the clergy of the state Church of England. Through this 
clause, and later additions, the Anglican Church became a power- 
ful state-endowed body in Canada, where it worked on the side of 
the governors and the conservative ruling groups against any 
radical tendencies among the mass of the colonists. 

The clergy reserves and the restrictions on the power of the 
assembly were to spell much trouble in future, but a few good 
words may be said on leaving the Constitutional Act and the 
policy it expressed. 'Divide and rule,' had at any rate more reason 
in the Canadas than in the Maritimes. In the Canadas two very 
different communities had developed. The French in the east 
would not willingly have yielded their law and their special rights 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

by the Quebec Act. The Loyalists of the west above all wanted to 
establish English forms of law and to escape the seigneurial sys- 
tem. Indeed, the line drawn between Upper and Lower Canada, 
when they were created, ran along the boundary of the farthest 
western seigneury. It would at least have been hard to have kept 
these two Canadas together, however beneficial it might have 
proved in the long run. 

As for the 'anti-democratic' tendencies of the Constitutional 
Act, the inhabitants of the Canadas were, up to the War of 1812, 
on the whole content to leave most of the powers of government 
in the hands of a small group of leading men in church and state. 
The French authoritarian tradition in Lower Canada, Loyalism 
in Upper Canada, helped to make the colonists accept this state 
of affairs. Upper Canada, moreover, was still too backward and 
thinly populated to be much interested in governing itself or to 
question the rule of an oligarchy. Furthermore, the ruling oli- 
garchy might represent the educated and public-spirited few as 
well as the office-seekers and parasites. Given goodwill, and the 
weak state of the Canadas in the first period after the American 
Revolution, the Constitutional Act could function without grave 
difficulty. For the same reasons, the somewhat restrictive policy 
of the Second Empire did not really create trouble for British 
North America during this early period. 

2 The Rising Colonies of British North America 

By 1791 the British North American colonies were beginning 
to advance within the framework of the Second Empire and to 
work out patterns of life which would remain much the same till 
the coming of railways, steamships and the factory age. In the 
western half of the continent, beyond the Canadas, a new kingdom 
of the fur trade was arising; a world in itself, it will be left for later 
discussion. In the east, Newfoundland was still under naval 
governorship, without representative institutions, but the resident 
fishery was steadily growing. The island held about 15,000 people 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

by the closing years of the eighteenth century. Seal hunting began 
to emerge as a supplement to the cod fishery. 

The Maritime provinces were slowly emerging as prosperous 
communities dependent on the sea : on its fisheries and on its com- 
merce. There was not much immigration to this region after the 
Loyalist wave had swept over it, although some Highland Scots 
did come to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island 
thereafter. There were probably about 80,000 inhabitants in the 
Maritime provinces by the end of the century, and the very lack 
of a constant stream of new immigrants allowed these English- 
speaking communities to become more closely knit and relatively 
more mature than Upper Canada in the same period. 

The comparative lack of immigrants arose from the fact that the 
Maritimes had less space and less fertile land to offer to settlers 
than Upper Canada. In this realm of the sea and the forest, 
farming was not as important as fishing, shipping, and lumbering^ 
except in little Prince Edward Island. But on sea and forest the 
Maritimes successfully founded their way of life. Shipbuilding 
developed to complement the rapidly rising fishing industry of 
Nova Scotia. Lumbering, especially in the upland forests of New 
Brunswick, supplied the timbers for ship building. Nova Scotian 
vessels entered the British West Indies trade, carrying dried cod- 
fish and lumber to the sugar islands. 

It seemed that the Maritime provinces would come to fill the 
role in the Second Empire that New England had played in the 
First; that is, of furnishing the British West Indies with necessary 
supplies while the islands concentrated on sugar production. The 
Maritimes, however, proved a weak replacement for New England. 
They could not supply sufficient foodstuffs, apart from fish. 
Nevertheless, because they were parts of the British empire they 
were in a privileged trading position. The mercantilist British 
Navigation Acts decreed that empire commerce should be kept 
for empire ships. Therefore the Maritimes were protected from a 
good deal of American competition in the British West Indies. 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

Thanks to the laWs of the Old Colonial System, Nova Scotia in 
particular built up a thriving trade by sea, especially after 1806, 
when bad relations between Britain and the United States further 
cut down American competition in the protected imperial 
-markets. 

New Brunswick was more concerned with lumbering and ship- 
building than fishing and seafaring, though each province shared 
some of the other's main interests. When the imperial government 
gave a preference to British North American timber in the 
British market after 1794, New Brunswick lumbering was en- 
couraged. During the Napoleonic Wars, moreover, the preferen- 
tial rate for colonial timber was greatly increased, because Britain 
wanted a sure supply of ship timber for the Royal Navy that would 
be far from embattled Europe. As a result, New Brunswick em- 
barked on a lumber boom. Each winter armies of lumbermen, 
who were often farmers in the summer, invaded the forests and 
set up camps. They cut out the straight, lofty tree trunks that 
were floated down the St John and Miramichi rivers in the spring 
in broad rafts of giant, square-hewed beams. On reaching the 
coast the big 'sticks' were loaded through large ports at the stern 
of specially built lumber ships, to lie the full length of the vessel 
in the voyage across the Atlantic. 

Clearly, these Maritime provinces of British North America 
were flourishing within the Second Empire, and largely because 
of the trade preferences and protection supplied by the Old Colo- 
nial System. The Canadas were similarly advancing within the 
imperial framework. The timber trade with Britain developed in 
the St Lawrence valley as well as hi the Maritimes, and lumbering 
cleared the land for settlers as well as providing a valuable cash 
crop. Square-timber rafts were floated downstream from Lake 
Ontario to Montreal and Quebec. The fine stands of trees in the 
Ottawa valley became a leading source of forest wealth. By 1800 
lumbering had joined the fur trade as one of the main or staple 
activities of the Canadas. Moreover, as the land was cleared 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

in Upper Canada a new staple, wheat, began to develop. 

The French Canadian farms of Lower Canada generally grew 
crops for home use only, but the rich new lands of Upper Canada 
early began to produce a supply of grain for sale in Britain. 
Again, the Napoleonic Wars, having largely cut Britain off from 
European grain fields, created a market for this British North 
American product. For some years after 1800, however, the mar- 
ket was very uncertain, and so was the crop. Still the foundations 
of the future Canadian granary had been laid. And as the three 
main exports of the Canadas, furs, lumber and grain, were tied to 
the British market, so these colonies, like the Maritimes, depended 
on the imperial trading system for their well-being. 

Settlement continued to flow into the Canadas from the United 
States after 1791. In that year the two provinces contained approx- 
imately 180,000 inhabitants, of whom only about 14,000 lived in 
Upper Canada. By the time of the war of 1812 there were over 
90,000 people in Upper Canada and more than 330,000 in Lower 
Canada. In the latter case, however, the growth was mostly due 
to the natural increase of the French-speaking population. Only 
about 9,000 Americans had come there, settling chiefly in the 
Eastern Townships south of the St Lawrence and mingling with 
earlier Loyalist elements. 

While some settlers, principally Highland Scots, had come to 
Upper Canada from Britain, the great British immigration did 
not begin until after 1820. Thus during this first period of British 
North America, when the American frontier movement was spil- 
ling over the border into Canada, Upper Canada became almost 
an American community, only about a quarter of which was 
Loyalist in origin. Yet far from fearing this situation, John Graves 
Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of the province, busily en- 
couraged American immigration. Simcoe, leader of the famed 
Queen's Rangers in the Revolution, himself looked down on 
American republicanism and revered the British constitution, 
whose 'image and transcript', he said, had been granted Upper 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-182! 

Canada in the Constitutional Act. Yet he had great faith in the 
power of an oath of allegiance and a generous land grant to con- 
vert Americans; or perhaps he was carried away by his eagerness 
to see Upper Canada populated. Still, it was not too difficult for 
men who had earlier in their lives been subjects of King George 
III to come back to that allegiance. The sense of nationality 
had not yet hardened in the United States, especially in the back- 
woods from which these 'new subjects' came. 

Under Simcoe's energetic guidance roads were begun in Upper 
Canada, and a provincial capital founded: York, the future 
Toronto. The roads were little more than forest trails; traffic con- 
tinued to go mostly by water. York, established in 1793, though 
graced with little brick parliament buildings, was still only a 
village in 1812. It was not yet a leading commercial centre and 
was noted chiefly for its mud. Nevertheless this new western 
province of Upper Canada had made the most rapid progress of 
any in British North America. 

Lower Canada had also advanced. Montreal was now the chief 
city of British North America, with a population of some 30,000 
by the War of 1812. Here the wealthy rulers of the fur trade 
dwelt in their stone mansions, while lumber merchants tended 
to gather in Quebec. In these cities, as in St John and Halifax, 
powerful groups of merchants had arisen, men who carried on 
business on a large scale. There was nothing small about their 
business activities, although they were in young colonies, because 
the staple trades of British North America demanded large-scale 
organization to bear the high cost of carrying goods to the far-off 
markets. As well as the merchants, the leading towns held the 
governing officials and the officers of the garrison. Altogether 
they formed a little upper-class society which copied the ceremony, 
dress, and customs of the courtly British aristocracy. In sharp 
contrast to this society was the rude frontier world of the Upper 
Canada clearings, the unchanging country existence of the Lower 
Canadian habitants, the rough life of New Brunswick lumber 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, I79I-I82I 




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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, I7QI-I82I 




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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

camps, or the isolation of the little Nova Scotia fishing villages in 
their lonely rocky coves. 

The differences between the lives of the town and the country 
would be reflected in the politics later of British North America. 
In any case, however, by the time that the colonies had to face 
their next great test in the War of 1812, they had emerged as small 
but solidly established communities, each with its own special 
character, although the main distinctions lay between the pro- 
vinces of the sea, the French lands of the St Lawrence, and the new 
frontier farming province of the interior. 

3 Danger on the Western Border 

From the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 until the outbreak of a 
second war with the United States in 1812, the western border of 
young Canada was never secure. Trouble arose in the lands south 
of the Great Lakes; in the Ohio country which had been officially 
granted to the United States in 1783, but which had remained 
tied to the St Lawrence fur trade. The final consequence was open 
war. The trouble began almost with the signing of peace in 1783, 
when Britain quickly came to regret the ready surrender of so 
much of the West, and sought at least to delay its transfer to the 
United States. 

The chief reasons for delay arose from the fur traders and the 
Indians who were still the masters of the unsettled Ohio West. 
The Canadian fur merchants of the St Lawrence drew most of 
their trade from that country, and they asked that the transfer be 
postponed for two years until they could adjust their business to 
this heavy loss. The Indians supplied the major reason, however. 
They declared that they had been ignored in the Treaty of 
Versailles and that Britain had handed over their lands, which 
they had never ceded, to the United States. There was danger 
that if the West was transfsrred and opened to American settle- 
ment the Indians would, in revenge, attack the thinly held and 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

almost unprotected British settlements in Upper Canada. 

Taking advantage of vague wording in the peace treaty, there- 
fore, the British held on to the military and trading posts in the 
West below the Lakes, giving as their reason the failure of the 
Americans to carry out the term of the treaty that called for the 
restoration of Loyalist property. It was a sound reason, but not 
the chief one for failing to transfer the West. 

This situation dragged on into the 1790'$, while the Americans 
feared that the British were arousing the Indians against them, 
and the British feared lest the Indians should become aroused. 
Dorchester, as governor, darkly expected a new war with the 
United States, and had some hope of building an Indian state in 
the Ohio country that would stand between the Americans and the 
Upper Canadian frontier and help to protect the latter. The 
Americans, meanwhile, were pressing forward from the region 
south of the Ohio, and sending forces against the Indians in order 
to break their hold on the western country. In 1794 one of these 
expeditions completely defeated the tribes at the battle of Fallen 
Timbers, and hope of an Indian 'buffer state* collapsed. The tribes 
ceded their lands to the United States. 

In 1794 as well, Britain and the United States at last reached a 
settlement by Jay's Treaty. Britain agreed to surrender the 
western posts by 1796, while the United States agreed to allow 
British traders still to enter the West, and promised to handle the 
Loyalist claims more effectively. Yet the western troubles were 
not ended. Though the posts were transferred, the Indians con- 
tinued to come to posts on the Canadian side to trade. The 
British gave them supplies, still in an effort to keep their friend- 
ship and to prevent their attacking Upper Canada in the event of 
a war with the United States. Americans believed, as a result, that 
the British were forming an armed alliance with the Indians 
against the republic. At the same time American fur traders, who 
earlier had not been able to compete effectively against the 
Canadians in the Ohio, had managed to have the British right of 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

free entrance for trading restricted until it was almost meaningless. 
The strain was increasing. 

Other disputes added to it. At sea, Britain's life-and-death 
'struggle with Napoleon after 1802 had led to decrees of blockade 
and counter-blockade. In an effort to prevent war supplies reach- 
ing French-controlled Europe, Britain was stopping and searching 
neutral vessels at sea, including American ships. British warships 
were also seizing suspected deserters from the Royal Navy aboard 
American craft, often on uncertain evidence and in high-handed 
fashion. The Americans protested against the right of search, and 
finally tried to cut off all their trade with the warring countries in 
Europe in order to force a settlement. The attempt did not suc- 
ceed. Instead the quarrel over the right of search embittered feel- 
ings between the United States and Britain. It even led to a battle 
between the British ship Leopard and the American Chesapeake 
in 1807, and made the two nations look towards war. 

The rapidly advancing western states of the American union 
made good use of the growing warlike spirit in the republic. They 
held that the place to punish Britain was in Canada. Filled with 
the forceful confidence and expansive drive of the frontier they 
wanted to add Canada to the American union: a Canada which 
American frontier settlement had already invaded. Was not Upper 
Canada by now practically an American state? The 'war hawks' of 
the American West clamoured for an easy conquest. Their chance 
seemed to arrive in 1811. 

In that year the western Indians, being steadily pushed back 
by advancing American settlement, attempted a last stand. Led 
by the chief Tecumseh, they formed a league to resist further in- 
roads. The Americans saw this as the threat of a new Pontiac 
uprising, of savage Indian raids on the frontier. They attacked the 
Indians, and by their victory at the battle of Tippecanoe, destroyed 
Tecumseh's league. Yet the American West was not satisfied. It 
was fully convinced that the British had been behind the Indians, 
although the Canadian government had actually sought to keep 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

the Indian league at peace. It seemed that the West would only 
be safe when the British had been driven out of Canada. The war 
hawks cried for blood, the American frontier wanted new lands 
to conquer, and the American East was newly aroused by fresh 
skirmishes over the right of search. The United States declared 
war in June, 1812, and set out to capture Canada. 

4 The Second Struggle with the Americans 

The War of 1812 in British history is only a side-show, not 
altogether successful, during the huge and victorious contest with 
Napoleon. In United States history it is a second war of indepen- 
dence, chiefly against the weight of British sea-power. In Cana- 
dian history it is above all a land war, a second struggle against 
American invasion. All these pictures are partly true; and in 
studying the Canadian version one must bear in mind that it 
portrays only the War of 1812 as it affected Canada. Yet for Canada 
the war was vitally important; far more important than it was for 
Britain, and much more dangerous than it was for the United 
States. 

British North America faced a foe that outnumbered it ten 
to one and was much further advanced in civilization. Nor did 
British support level the scales, for there were less than 5,000 
British troops in Canada at the start of the war and no reinforce- 
ments could be spared from the greater conflict in Europe until 
close to the end of the fighting. Fortunately for the British colon- 
ies, the United States never gathered its full strength against them, 
since the republic was much divided over the war and by no means 
solidly behind it. Furthermore bad planning and unwise use of 
the American forces helped to balance the sides. Even so, it was 
a heavy task for the few regulars and the limited militia to defend 
the thinly-settled, spread-out northern colonies. 

The war was fought chiefly in the Canadas. On the Atlantic 
coast British sea power kept the Maritime provinces secure. In 
any case their New England neighbours were not disposed to 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

attack, for New England did not support a war that cut off most 
of its overseas trade. In the Maritimes, therefore,, the War of 1812 
meant chiefly profitable privateering ventures against American 
ships, which added to the legends and traditions of a seafaring 
people; though a New Brunswick Loyalist regiment did make a 
notable winter march overland through the wilderness to fight in 
Canada, arriving without losing a man. 

The Americans attempted to carry the war into Lower Canada. 
They made efforts against Montreal in 1813 and 1814, but these 
expeditions were not powerful enough, nor well led, and they were 
thrown back at Chateauguay and Lacolle. Instead of concentrat- 
ing on capturing Montreal, which would have cut Canada in two 
and certainly have doomed Upper Canada, the United States 
wasted its forces in invading the outflung western province, slash- 
ing away at the branch instead of cutting through the trunk. 

Yet the reasons for this concentration on Upper Canada, if not 
militarily sound, were plain enough. This weakly-held province 
was closest to the warlike American West. It lay in the path of 
the American frontier and seemed fated to join the Union. And, 
particularly in the western half, Upper Canada was full of Ameri- 
can sympathizers or, at least, recent American immigrants who 
were indifferent to British rule. In these dangerous circumstances, 
Upper Canada largely survived because of undecided American 
leadership and strong and successful British command at the 
outset of the war. 

Though the American forces ranged against Upper Canada 
were large in comparison with those of its defenders, the quarrels 
among the attacking troops and their incompetent generals (until 
late in the war) were worth at least several regiments of British 
regulars to Canada. And, on the other hand, in General Isaac 
Brock the British troops had a commander worth several more 
regiments. The keen-minded Brock knew well the wavering sym- 
pathies of a large part of the people of Upper Canada, and saw that 
only rapid and resolute action could fix them on the British side. 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

Working with the fur traders, he struck quickly at the key 
western post of Michilimackinac and took it by surprise. The 
American fur-trade West again fell into British hands, the Indians 
came in on the British side, and the whole American frontier was 
in danger of Indian attack. The British held Michilimackinac 
throughout the war, giving the Canadian fur trade a last brief 
reign over much of the American West that had been lost to it. 

Meanwhile the Indian peril raised by the British western vic- 
tory, and Brock's own bold advance on Detroit, brought the 
American commander there to surrender his much larger army, 
with which he had been about to invade Canada. Brock then 
turned to repel another American invasion at Niagara, and fell in 
the battle of Queenston Heights which drove off this assault. He 
had commanded only from June to October of 1812, yet he did 
much to decide the war. There were no Americans in Canada at 
the end of the year; the American dream of easy conquest had 
been shattered. 

But far more than that, the British successes under Brock, es- 
pecially the surrender at Detroit, had really ended the danger of 
Upper Canada going over to the Americans. The Loyalists, of 
course, the backbone of the militia, were as always sternly deter- 
mined not to fall again under American control. Now, however, 
the open supporters of the United States had been driven out and 
the indifferent majority in Upper Canada had swung away from 
the American side because they realized that Upper Canada was 
not going to fall as easily as had been forecast. Later experiences 
with American armies on Upper Canadian soil made these people 
view the United States forces as invaders, not liberators. By the 
end of the war it would have been hard to tell that the emphatic- 
ally *loyaT inhabitants of Upper Canada had not all been so 
emphatic in the past. 

Of course, the war was not over because Upper Canada had 
become definitely anti-American. Two more years of changing 
tides of battle followed, years of invasions and repulses. The little 

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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-182! 

capital of York was captured and its parliament buildings burnt 
in an American raid; but each time the main attacks were halted 
and the invaders flung back by regulars, militia, and Indians. 
Late in 1814, reinforced at last, the British began their first major 
offensives,, attacking by sea on the Atlantic coast, south from 
Montreal and Lake Champlain, and finally at New Orleans. The 
raids from the sea were successful, and the capitol at Washington 
was burnt as York's had been; but the attacks on New Orleans 
and Lake Champlain failed. Apparently the British forces could 
do no better in someone else's country than the Americans could. 
Thus the war ended late in 1814 in a stalemate, which was prob- 
ably a good thing for future peace. 

It was not completely a stalemate. Britain still held the West 
and some of the Maine coast, and the British naval blockade was 
strangling American commerce. But in the peace negotiations the 
Americans made clear their readiness to go on fighting rather than 
yield territory. Faced with a revival of Napoleon's power in 
Europe at that very moment, Britain did not press the point. As 
a result the Treaty of Ghent of 1814 simply stopped the fighting, 
restored the pre-war boundaries, and said little about the prob- 
lems that had caused the conflict. 

Nevertheless in the next few years many of these problems dis- 
appeared. The question of the right of search ended with the 
Napoleonic Wars, and vanished in the long years of peace after 
1815. The Indian problem declined as American settlement filled 
in the old West; the tribes had been too weakened by the war to 
offer any further resistance. The American war-hawks had found 
Canada no willing mouthful, and the United States was turning 
away to expand in a new direction, towards the south. 

Moreover, the Rush-Bagot Convention of 1817 and the Con- 
vention of 1818 further made for peace on the border between 
British North America and the United States. The former de- 
clared that no more large war vessels should sail the Great Lakes. 
This agreement was reached mainly to forestall a naval building 

134 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-182! 

race. In later years it helped lead to an unfortified frontier, since, 
without warships, naval bases and forts to defend them could also 
be dispensed with on the Lakes. But the era of peaceful relations 
between the United States and Canada is often too readily dated 
back to this bare beginning. In the twenty years following the 
Rush-Bagot Convention, Upper Canada's greatest border fortress 
was built: Fort Henry, at Kingston, preserved to-day with all its 
heavy masonry and old-fashioned cannon as a memory of the bad 
old days along the boundary. 

The Convention of 1818 sought to settle other outstanding 
difficulties between the United States and British North America. 
First, it defined the boundary line more fully, extending it from 
the Lake of the Woods, beyond the Great Lakes, to the Rocky 
Mountains along the forty-ninth parallel. From there to the 
Pacific, the empty land, the so-called 'Oregon country, 5 was left 
jointly in the hands of Britain and the United States for a term 
of years. The border in the far West would thus have to be settled 
in future; and in the east the Convention did not redefine the 
old vague line of the St Croix and Appalachians, leaving another 
problem for later settlement. The Convention, however, did some- 
what limit the fishing rights of Americans in British North Ameri- 
can waters under the Treaty of 1783. 

Thanks to these Conventions, and to the passage of time, British 
North America by 1820 was on far more solid footing on the con- 
tinent than it had been before the War of 1812. It had come 
through the perilous second struggle with the Americans success- 
fully; and had even advanced towards settled, if not yet friendly, 
relations with the United States. Meanwhile the war had not 
interrupted the steady growth of the British colonies. The war, 
indeed, had meant a trade boom in the Maritimes and prosperity 
for the St Lawrence fur trade. Nor had it done any great damage 
in Upper Canada. One advantage of a pioneer community is that 
there is not as much to destroy or to rebuild. 

Yet the war had left lasting marks. Pride in the successful 

135 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

defence against invasion had planted the roots of Canadian nat- 
ional feeling. Both British and French Canada had shared fully 
in that defence. The French-Canadian militia had turned back 
the Americans at Chateauguay and Lacolle, as the English-Cana- 
dians had at Crysler's Farm and Queenston Heights. French 
Canada had been active in this war, as it had not been in the 
American Revolution, largely because the benefits of the Quebec 
Act, combined with representative government, were now much 
appreciated. The French realized that they would not enjoy their 
special rights of law and religion in the American republic. Be- 
sides., the French Revolution had destroyed the old Catholic feudal 
France from which Quebec had sprung. French Canada, as a 
result, had even favoured Britain in its wars with the revolution- 
ary and irreligious French republic. 

The War of 1812 thus tended to bring British North America 
together and strengthened the bond with Britain. Any common 
feelings among the colonists, however, were largely directed 
against the United States. This anti- American spirit was still a 
narrow basis on which to build a Canadian nationalism. Anti- 
Americanism was particularly evident in Upper Canada. Further 
American settlement was largely prevented there, and American 
settlers already in the province were in danger of persecution 
the Loyalists* case in reverse if their declarations of British sen- 
timents were not loud enough. Nevertheless, on the whole these 
reactions to the strain of the War of 1812 were understandable; 
and not an extreme price to pay for the survival of British North 
America. 

5 The Kingdom of the Fur Trade 

While the settlements of British North America were slowly 
forging ahead, and struggling through the War of 1812, far to the 
west the Canadian fur trade was winning a vast, wild kingdom 
that stretched to the Arctic and Pacific oceans. This was a realm 
much larger than the old territory of Rupert's Land around Hud- 

136 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA., 1791-1821 

son Bay; it covered the prairies of the north-west, and crossed the 
Rockies to the Pacific slopes. And the whole domain was subject 
to the St Lawrence fur trade, ruled from Montreal by the North 
West Company, the powerful new rival of the Hudson's Bay 
traders. 

The story of this empire of the north-west begins with the 
arrival of the English-speaking merchants in the old province of 
Quebec after 1760. These merchants, it will be recalled, had taken 
over the St Lawrence fur-trading system of New France and made 
it much stronger, thanks to their higher efficiency and greater re- 
sources. To the south-west, they controlled the trade of the region 
below the Great Lakes, the Ohio and Mississippi country. To the 
north-west, beyond the Lakes, they reached into the prairies, ex- 
panding the trade which the French had begun to develop under 
La Verendrye. 

In the north-west, of course, the St Lawrence traders came into 
competition with the Hudson's Bay Company, as the French had 
before them. But now the men from the St Lawrence could also 
offer the cheaper and better quality English trade goods, which 
had been such an advantage of the Bay Company in times past. 
Because the traders from Canada went directly to the Indians as 
the French had done, they could cut off much of the fur traffic 
before it reached the posts on the Bay. Hence the north-west 
Canadian fur trade flourished, threatening the masters of Rupert's 
Land as never before. 

Yet for some time after 1760 the south-west fur trade, which 
the French had developed more fully, remained the mainstay of 
the St Lawrence merchants. When in 1783, however, the Treaty 
of Versailles ceded the lands south of the Great Lakes to the new 
American republic, the south-west trade was thrown on the de- 
fensive. It was only a matter of time till the United States took 
effective control of the Ohio and Mississippi and drove the Cana- 
dian traders out. Their position was still fairly secure until the 
British finally gave up the posts south of the Lakes in 1796, in 

137 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

accordance with Jay's Treaty. Even afterwards the St Lawrence 
interests managed to keep a large part of the south-west trade, and 
during the war of 1812 largely regained control of their old realm, 
thanks to the capture of Michilimackinac. Then the Peace of 
Ghent, destroying the last hopes of the St Lawrence traders, re- 
turned this western region to the United States. But the Canadian 
south-west trade was doomed in any case by the steady advance 
of American settlement. Settlers always spelt the end of forests 
and furs. 

As the south-west fell away, more and more energy was turned 
to developing the fur trade of the north-west, where opportunity 
for expansion seemed almost unlimited. Even before the Treaty 
of 1783 forecast the end of the south-west trade, English-speaking 
adventurers from the St Lawrence had passed far beyond the 
limits reached by the French in the north and west. The French 
had known Lake Winnipeg, and had found the great Saskatche- 
wan river that flows across the prairies into that lake. But in 
1778 Peter Pond, a Yankee merchant come to Canada, had crossed 
from the Saskatchewan to the Athabaska river, reaching waters 
than ran northward to the Arctic. Soon Canadian traders were 
eagerly tapping the trade of the fur-rich Athabaska country. 

A young Scotsman, Alexander Mackenzie, took up Pond's work 
at Lake Athabaska. In 1789 he journeyed 'down north* from there, 
down the long waterway that now bears his name to its mouth on 
the Arctic ocean. 'River Disappointment 5 he called it, because he 
had hoped that this broad stream would lead through the western 
mountains to the Pacific, and not to an ice-filled sea. Yet the 
Mackenzie river to-day is the vital trade route through what may 
be the last great Canadian frontier. 

Mackenzie still hoped to find a way to the Pacific, that would 
open up the rest of the north-west of the continent to the Canadian 
fur trade, and would perhaps allow the far-flung western posts to 
be supplied more easily by sea, by way of the Pacific ocean. In 
1793 he turned westward from Lake Athabaska, along the Peace 

138 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-182! 

river into the heart of the Rockies, and made his way to the dan- 
gerous Fraser that flowed out on the other side. Finding that 
roaring river too difficult, he left it and went on overland, to reach 
the Pacific at Bella Coola inlet, only a month before Captain 
George Vancouver arrived there by sea in the course of charting 
the north-west coast for the British navy. On a rock beside the 
ocean Mackenzie painted a sign in vermilion and grease : 'Alexan- 
der Mackenzie, from Canada by land, July 22, 1793'. The con- 
tinent had at last been spanned. 

Other Canadian explorers and traders followed. Simon Fraser 
in 1808 traced the river that Mackenzie had left down to the sea, 
and gave his name to it. The Fraser valley would be the route of 
Canadian transcontinental railways in a later age. David Thomp- 
son, in 1811, followed another great western river, the Columbia, 
through the ranges to the ocean further south. He uncovered the 
whole Columbia water system, and down its length the St Law- 
rence traders built a chain of posts that brought bountiful returns 
from this farthest mountain province of the fur trade kingdom. 
The Canadian traders obtained such a hold on the Columbia, 
indeed, that when Americans also entered the Columbia region, 
they could not compete successfully. Thus in 1813 John Jacob 
Astor, leader of the American Fur Company, sold his post, 'As- 
toria,' at the mouth of the Columbia to the Canadians, and left 
the north-west Pacific region, c the Oregon country,' as part of the 
great British North American fur preserve. 

This rapid conquest of the western half of the continent, this 
speedy realization of the hope of three centuries, to find the way 
to the Pacific, was a monument to the daring, skill, and fortitude 
of the Canadian fur-traders; both the English-speaking leaders 
and the French-speaking voyageurs who manned their canoes. Yet 
it was also a sign of the constant need of the fur trade to expand in 
the face of competition; to get behind rivals, and find rich new fur 
resources that would bear the mounting costs of the ever-length- 
ening line of transportation back to Montreal. The high cost of 

139 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA,, 1791-1821 



Fort Chipewyan 
(N.W.) 

^"^ f? Fort Churchill =3 

" (H-B.) 



e 
XHouse(H.B.) 

-> ' \ v y 



MAP V 

WESTERN EXPLORATION 
BEFORE 1821 




I4O 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

transportation had early led the St Lawrence traders to combine 
in their ventures to the far north-west. In 1787 the various tem- 
porary partnerships in Montreal were merged in one large, loose 
but permanent organization, the North West Company. The 
North West Company took over and controlled the building of 
the St Lawrence fur-trade kingdom from that time on. Macken- 
zie, Fraser, Thompson and many other bold adventurers were its 
agents. The Company constructed a great transport system across 
the continent, based on the waterways. Heavy supply canoes 
travelled regularly from Montreal to Fort William at the head of 
the Great Lakes, where, every summer, the 'wintering partners,' 
the men who stayed at the western posts, came in their lighter 
craft to meet the Montreal partners, to bring their furs and receive 
their supplies for the new season. 

The enterprise and efficiency of the Nor' Westers soon aroused 
the Hudson's Bay Company. As early as 1774, the threat of the 
traders from Canada reaching behind them to the west led the 
men of the old Company to break with the long successful policy 
of staying on the Bay. The first inland Hudson's Bay post, Cum- 
berland House, was founded to turn the trade of the Saskatche- 
wan to the Bay. But then the Nor' Westers jumped beyond, into 
the Athabaska country. Here a steady struggle for furs went on, 
as North West and Bay posts were built almost side by side. The 
Bay still had the advantage of a shorter supply route to salt water. 
Thus Mackenzie sought the Pacific, to open a sea-supply route for 
the North West traders. When the Nor' Westers invaded the 
Peace Country the servants of the Bay again followed, and so the 
competition went on. 

For a time, however, the most violent struggle was that between 
the North West Company and the 'New North West', or XY 
Company. This was another Montreal organization, largely made 
up of traders who had turned from the declining south-west 
trade. After much ruinous competition, and actual bloodshed, 
the XY was merged into the North West Company in 1804. 

141 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

Nor' Westers and Hudson's Bay Company were again the chief 
foes. It was a contest between the trading systems of the Bay 
and the River. 

The St Lawrence traders had the advantage in timing and 
enterprise. They moved first, on almost every occasion, getting 
behind the men of the Bay. Their western agents showed more 
enterprise, because they were profit-sharing partners, and not 
company servants on fixed wages. On the other hand, the Bay 
had the long-run advantage of geography that had defeated the 
French on the St Lawrence in days before. They could ship their 
goods from Britain to York Factory on Hudson Bay for the same 
cost as for goods sent to Quebec. But then the Bay supplies were 
half-way across the continent, while the Nor' Westers still faced 
the long canoe haul from Montreal. Indeed, the Nor' Westers 
had been forced to move first each time, to press on westward, in 
order to overcome the Bay Company's constant advantage of 
position. When there was no more west to advance into, when 
that forward movement meant only ever-rising costs, then the 
Nor' Westers faced inevitable defeat. 

It came finally in 1821. But first there was a brief episode of 
open war that led quickly to the final collapse of the Canadian fur- 
trade kingdom. Lord Selkirk, a rich and philanthropic Scottish 
nobleman, had sought to relieve the suffering of dispossessed 
Scottish farmers by settling them in British North America. When 
his efforts to place them in Prince Edward Island and Upper 
Canada had only limited success, he boldly planned to start a 
further settlement on the distant north-western prairies, on the 
Red river that flows into Lake Winnipeg. The Red river country, 
however, lay within the bounds of Rupert's Land, and so the 
Hudson's Bay Company held formal title to the land. Of course, 
this title had not at all stopped the Nor' Westers from building 
posts there and elsewhere throughout the Rupert's Land claim, as 
well as far beyond it. 

In order to found his colony, Selkirk secured a controlling 

142 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-182! 

interest in the Hudson's Bay Company. He bought it with little 
trouble, for the Bay Company was also hard hit by the ruinous 
fur competition and only too glad to sell stock. In 1811 the first 
Selkirk settlers came out to York Factory. The next year on the 
fertile prairies they began the little colony of Red river, the an- 
cestor of the present province of Manitoba. At once, however, 
they had to face the bitter hostility of the Nor' Westers. The Red- 
river colony lay across the main North West trade routes to the 
west, and in the heart of the buffalo country where the Company 
secured the pemmican supplies that were essential for feeding its 
western posts. 

The Nor' Westers could only view the little settlement as a 
Hudson's Bay attack designed to destroy their transport and pro- 
vision system; and they knew only too well that settlers were 
natural enemies of the fur trade. Hence they stirred up the 
French-speaking half-breeds of the Red river, the Metis, buffalo 
hunters who supplied the Nor' Westers with pemmican. Metis 
threats, thefts, and acts of violence against the settlers that were 
sharply returned, led at last to open battle. In 1816 occurred the 
so-called massacre of Seven Oaks, on the outskirts of the modern 
city of Winnipeg, where twenty-one colonists were killed, includ- 
ing their governor, Semple. 

Selkirk took strong action to defend his little colony, bringing 
in some disbanded Swiss soldiers to seize Fort William, the main 
interior post of the Nor' Westers, from which the attacks on Red 
river had been directed. His action was too strong in fact. Since 
it was quite unauthorized, it led to a series of law suits in Canadian 
and British courts, where each side charged the other with unlaw- 
ful activities. Meanwhile Selkirk had restored the Red river 
settlement. Henceforth it grew safely, although slowly, until, long 
after the fur trade had passed away, a new age of railways and 
wheat-farming found it lying across the gateway to the prairies. 
Out of the Red river forms the great city of Winnipeg at last 
emerged. 

143 



BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, 1791-1821 

Selkirk had lost his health and his fortune in law suits between 
the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies. He died soon 
after, while in 1821 the heavy costs to both companies forced them 
to combine. It was a merger and not a complete victory for the 
Bay, since North West men and money went into the new com- 
bined company. Yet its name was still the Hudson's Bay Company, 
and, above all, it operated mainly from the Bay and not the river. 
The Montreal merchants had to find new trades to develop. The 
fur trade which had done so much to raise the largest city in 
British North America had left it, and returned to the masters of 
Rupert's Land. The brilliant but short-lived St Lawrence fur 
kingdom was no more. 

Yet it too had left a lasting mark on British North America. 
Montreal and the St Lawrence merchants would not decline, but 
would turn to richer uses the wealth and the trading organization 
they they had built up under the fur trade. A new colony had 
meanwhile been born in the prairies, and British rule had been 
extended to the Pacific, to provide for western colonies of the 
future. The years of the fur-trade kingdom, in fact, had completed 
the shaping of British North America from sea to sea. 



144 



CHAPTER 9 

IMMIGRATION, DEVELOPMENT 
AND THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

I The Migration from Britain 

Following the War of 1812, an age in the movement of people 
into British North America came to an end. Since the fall of New 
France the main flow of immigrants to Canada had been from the 
old thirteen colonies. Whether ardent Loyalists or indifferent re- 
publicans, most of the English-speaking settlers in this period had 
been North Americans long established on the continent. But 
now the American immigration by land largely ceased, and was 
replaced by a movement by sea, from Britain, of people new to 
North America. They not only greatly increased the population 
and speeded the development of British North America; they 
added new elements to its society and did much to mark it off 
further from the American republic. 

The flow of American settlement died away after 1815 for 
various reasons. In the Maritimes, of course, American immigra- 
tion had really ended with the Loyalist influx, and it had never 
reached Newfoundland. Nor had it been large in French-speaking 
Lower Canada, whether Loyalist or not. But in Upper Canada, 
which had received the greatest number of settlers from the 
United States, the anti-American spirit after the War of 1812, and 
new enactments preventing Americans obtaining land until they 
had been residents for seven years, discouraged further migration. 
More than this, however, the westward movement of the American 
frontier by now had carried it past Upper Canada. The frontiers- 
men of the United States saw broader fields to conquer in the 
opening American Middle West. 

Meanwhile new conditions had arisen across the Atlantic that 
would provide a stream of immigration far greater than British 

145 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

North America had yet known. Up to 1815, long years of war had 
kept most of the people of Britain at home. The dangers of war- 
time emigration and the constant need for man-power during the 
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars had reduced the 
movement of British people overseas to a low level. Earlier, the 
American Revolutionary War, which had also involved fighting 
between France and Britain, had had the same effect. But after 
1815 an era of peace followed in Europe, and a great tide of 
British emigration set in, to fall away only after 1850. 

Hard times as well as peace were responsible for sending people 
from crowded Britain to empty, fertile fields overseas. The end of 
the Napoleonic struggle caused sudden depression and serious un- 
employment. Although times gradually improved, the very speed 
of industrial change in Britain continued to bring strain and suffer- 
ing to the poorer classes, and many among them turned their eyes 
abroad to look for a new life. Others besides the poor also looked 
to the colonies, attracted by stories of the great opportunities to 
be found in young lands crying to be developed. Accordingly, 
between 1815 and 1850, though mainly from 1820 on, British 
North America received a stream of settlers from Britain that 
ebbed and flowed but never really stopped. After 1850 the gold 
rush to Australia did much to turn the ebbing tide to the Pacific 
colonies, while the onset of mid- Victorian prosperity in Britain 
about the same time finally brought this first great age of British 
emigration to Canada to a close. There was far less desire to leave 
a more contented Victorian Britain, despite the so-called 'Great 
Depression' of the later nineteenth century. 

Changed world conditions by 1900 led to a new flow of British 
settlers into Canada, but this second British migration was accom- 
panied by other streams from the United States and continental 
Europe. Hence it was not so striking nor so all-important as the 
first British migration of the earlier nineteenth century. During 
that time, of course, British migrants went to other British colo- 
nies besides those in America, and, indeed, went to the United 

146 




fc 

o 



CO 

W 



H 

cj 

a 

M 

CO 









THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

States in greater numbers than they came to Canada. Yet in the 
United States they were absorbed into a population that was al- 
ready large. In Canada they almost swamped the small existing 
English-speaking communities, especially in Upper Canada. They 
made the North American colonies more British than they had 
ever been before. As a result, the significance of this first British 
migration can hardly be stressed too much in Canadian history. 

Between 1815 and 1850 more people came to the British North 
American colonies from Britain than there had been in all these 
provinces at the earlier date. Their total population rose from 
under half a million in 1815 to nearly three million in 1850. In 
all, nearly 800,000 immigrants came; discharged soldiers and half- 
pay officers from Wellington's armies, Irish weavers and paupers, 
Scottish artisans and dispossessed crofters, English country labour- 
ers and factory workers. There were numbers of middle- and 
upper-class emigrants, who often failed in their hopes of becoming 
gentlemen-farmers in the wilderness, but the urge, indeed, the 
need, to emigrate was strongest in the lower ranks of society. On 
the whole those who came proved themselves hardy and self- 
reliant. Many, however, had scraped together their last funds for 
passage-money for themselves and family. They arrived almost 
penniless, to tax the limited resources of the colonies. The Irish 
famine-immigrants of the late 1 840*3 were perhaps the worst case 
of this sort. Starvation and disease carried them off in hundreds 
in the 'emigrant sheds' on their arrival. Yet, if a man were strong, 
the constant need for labour in a new land gave even the penniless 
arrival a chance to earn a living, to learn the ways of the country, 
and to save enough to buy a farm of his own. 

Although some of the emigrants received aid from the British 
government or private charitable societies, most came at their own 
expense. The more well-to-do travelled in the cabins of regular 
packet ships, but the poor made the long voyage under sail in the 
steerage of crowded emigrant vessels. Often they were crammed 
into the dark holds of timber ships, which thus picked up a cargo 

147 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

of living ballast for the trip back to British North America after 
having discharged their lumber in Britain. Even the cabin passen- 
gers had to carry their own supplies, and, despite regulations 
against overcrowding, the problem of cooking and eating, sleep- 
ing and living, in an airless confined space below decks, with sea- 
sick or possibly diseased neighbours close by, sometimes made 
the voyage in the steerage a nightmare. At least the coming of the 
steamship shortened the length of the nightmare, but undoubtedly 
the Atlantic passage helped the British settlement of Canada in a 
ruthless way by getting rid of the more unfit on the journey. 

Of the new arrivals, about 40,000 went to Nova Scotia between 
the years 1815 and 1838. After this time the last frontiers in the 
province had been fairly well occupied, and immigration declined. 
More than half of the immigrants were Scots, who came to form 
the third group in Nova Scotia, following the Loyalists and the 
pre-Loyalist New Englanders. Scots went also to Prince Edward 
Island in considerable numbers. New Brunswick secured well 
over 60,000 settlers, two-thirds of them Irish, and filled up the 
fertile St John valley and the Gulf of St Lawrence shore. The 
crest of the movement to New Brunswick came later, particularly 
in the i84o's, when the 'famine Irish' arrived. The result was to 
lessen the staid Loyalist character of this province, as was the 
case in Nova Scotia, though in both provinces Loyalist groups 
continued to dominate society. Newfoundland did not share parti- 
cularly in the great British Atlantic migration, though a trickle of 
settlers continued to go there. The island was being chiefly popu- 
lated from Ireland and the west of England. 

As for the Canadas, few of the British immigrants settled in 
Lower Canada except in the Eastern Townships or in Montreal 
and Quebec, but many passed through on their way to Upper 
Canada. The broad confines of Upper Canada received the largest 
flow of settlers. This province grew very rapidly. Rising only 
after 1820, the flood of British immigrants to Upper Canada 
reached 12,000 in the year of 1828, 30,000 in 1830, and 66,000 two 

148 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

years later. Outbreaks of cholera, the dreaded scourge of the im- 
migrant, and troubled times in Upper Canada, sent more British 
settlers elsewhere in the later thirties, but a new peak of immigra- 
tion was reached in the 1840*8. English, Welsh, Lowland and 
Highland Scots and Catholic and Ulster Irish all shared in the 
immigration. The English, indeed, had entered into all the prov- 
inces, but since they did not settle in blocks as the Scots and Irish 
did, or retain their national characteristics as long, they are less 
easy to trace. 

In Upper Canada several large group settlements were made. 
In the western part of the province, above Lake Erie, the Talbot 
Settlement considerably lessened the American character of the 
region. Colonel Thomas Talbot, an English backwoods despot, 
gathered in 30,000 settlers, founded the town of St Thomas, his 
namesake, and scattered British names in the forest, from the 
British edge of Lake Erie to the new village of London. On the 
shores of Lake Huron the Canada Land Company, formed in 
1823 with John Gait, the novelist, as its first secretary, sought to 
settle a million acres. The towns of Guelph and Goderich were 
founded by the Company and this western Huron Tract began to 
flourish. Meanwhile the whole shore of Lake Ontario had been 
filled in and settlement was pushing inland. Settlers were also 
following in the wake of lumbermen up the Ottawa valley. The 
population of Upper Canada reached almost 400,000 by 1838 
and nearly a million by 1850. 

This expansion was not always achieved easily. The immi- 
grant's troubles were by no means over with the trying Atlantic 
passage, even if he arrived with money enough to buy a farm. Con- 
fused policies of granting land in Upper Canada, favouritism 
among officials, the holding back of crown and clergy reserves 
from sale, combined with much land speculation, too often made 
farms either expensive to buy or hard to reach. The hard and 
lonely life of pioneering placed a heavy burden on people from an 
old and well-populated land, even if they had not been town- 

149 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

dwellers there. And finally, if their health and spirit were not 
broken in the dark forest clearings, they might find that the lack 
of roads and uncertain markets in Britain limited the sale of the 
grain crops they had raised with so much toil. It is every honour 
to these immigrants that so many of them survived the grave 
difficulties and won through to success, developing Upper Canada 
in the process, and helping to shape its society as they did so. 

The influence of the British immigrants could be seen every- 
where throughout the society of British North America. The 
Scottish imprint remained on Nova Scotia, and is still clear to-day, 
especially on the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders of Cape Breton. 
The Catholic Irish communities in New Brunswick and in the 
cities of Quebec and Montreal formed distinct and important 
elements in the population. In Upper Canada, Protestant Irish 
outnumbered Catholic Irish nearly three to one, and the Ulster 
influence in this community was visible in the wide growth of the 
Ulstermen's Orange Society. Unfortunately it was also seen in 
mounting religious faction between Catholic and Protestant 
settlers. The strongly pro-British and anti-American leanings of 
the Loyalists in Upper Canada were strengthened by the Orange- 
men's devotion to the British tie; while the anti-Catholic outlook 
of Ulster came to affect the Upper Canadian view of the French 
Canadians. In general, the powerful Ulster Irish influence in- 
creased the conservative tendencies in Upper Canada that had 
been brought into being by the Loyalists and by the reaction to 
the War of 1812. The English influence also tended to work in 
this direction. English gentlemen who entered the government 
service or the dominant Church of England brought a decided 
belief in class distinctions with them and a dislike of 'levelling 5 
democracy. At the same time, the English half-pay officers or 
small gentry who settled on farms tended to supply what educa- 
tion there was in the backwoods, though a number of doctors, 
ministers and teachers continued to come to Upper Canada from 
the United States. 

150 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

Not all British immigrants in Upper Canada, however, joined 
conservative ranks. Some brought new liberal or Reform ideas 
from Britain, or developed democratic feelings in North America. 
Some were roused by the land muddle to question the ruling 
powers in the colony. In any case, the entrance of immigrants in 
large numbers all over British North America nearly everywhere 
disordered society and raised pressing problems of government. 
Hence a new age of political change began, a time of growing pains 
for the expanding colonies. This age of change led finally to self- 
government for British North America, which, thanks to irnrrti- 
gration, was becoming strong enough to manage its own affairs. 
And during the years up to 1850, while self-government was being 
achieved, immigration also went hand in hand with general 
economic development, another important aspect of the new age. 

2 Advances in Transportation 

The commercial development of the British North American 
colonies after 1815 generally followed lines laid down before the 
war of 1812. Lumbering and grain-growing remained the chief 
concerns of the Canadas; lumbering and shipbuilding, shipping 
and fishing, the principal employments of the Maritimes. The 
period up to 1850, however, saw great progress made in all these 
activities. This economic advance resulted both from immigration 
and from improvements in the means of transport. At the same 
time commercial prosperity invited more immigration^ while im- 
proved transportation brought in settlers more easily and carried 
their goods more readily to market. 

One of the greatest improvements in transportation came with 
the introduction of the steamship. In the long run this triumph 
of the Industrial Revolution affected the British North American 
colonies, as it did all the overseas possessions of Britain, by bring- 
ing them closer to the centre of empire. The bonds of the sea were 
knit tighter. The products of rising British industrialism were 
poured more freely into British North America. In return, the 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

growing factory towns of Britain demanded more lumber for 
building and more grain for bread from the lands across the ocean. 
This was indeed a long-run development. The day of the sailing 
vessel did not finally pass away until the later nineteenth century. 
Yet the coming of the steamship and the whole age of steam 
pointed in the direction of continually increasing trade with 
Britain. 

Steamships also came into use on the waterways of British 
North America. As early as 1809 the steamer Accommodation had 
been launched at Montreal and had successfully plied the St 
Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec, though sometimes she 
required the help of oxen pulling on shore to move her upstream 
against the strong current. By 1816 the first Canadian steamship 
on the Great Lakes, the Frontenac, had made her appearance. By 
the i83o's steamboats were found on even the smaller lakes and 
rivers. They were ungainly creatures that belched clouds of black 
wood smoke through tall thin funnels, and were often built like 
wooden boxes on rafts. Yet they supplied easy, and sometimes 
very comfortable transportation by water while much of the land 
was still almost impassable by road. 

Especially in Upper Canada, the roads, to dignify them by that 
name, were often impassable for anything but a mounted rider 
or a pedlar's pack horse. Military roads like the Dundas highway 
west of Toronto, Yonge Street to the north, and the Danforth 
road to Kingston and Montreal in the east, were at least well 
surveyed and sometimes roughly bridged. But even they descen- 
ded at times to deeply rutted paths cut through the all-embracing 
forest. The practice of building 'corduroy' roads, particularly in 
swampy sections formed of logs laid side by side across the track 
improved travel while the road was new; but sinking and rotting 
logs added a new hazard and made for a bumpy journey at best. 

Travel by springless stage coaches was, therefore, none too 
pleasant. It was best in winter, when runners replaced wheels, 
and the stage glided over a frozen track. The mud of the spring 

152 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

thaw, however, closed down the roads for a considerable length of 
time. Of course, highways were gradually improved as the years 
went by, and the worst of the conditions described were found 
before 1830. Yet, until the building of railways, travel by land 
remained difficult in British North America. The first railways 
appeared well before 1850, but they were few, short, and relatively 
unimportant. The railway era did not begin for Canada until after 
1850. It was only then that great interior areas could be opened 
up. 

The period under discussion was thus the age of the waterways. 
In Upper Canada, the Great Lakes and the river systems draining 
into them, in Lower Canada, the St Lawrence, still supplied the 
means of communication, though sailing schooners and steam- 
ships had now replaced canoes. Even in the Maritimes, where 
distances were less and roads often better (though not in 
rugged Newfoundland) most traffic went by water. The coasting 
trade around the Gulf of St Lawrence and down the Atlantic 
shores handled most of the needs of the Maritimes and Newfound- 
land. A large local merchant marine developed in this region, as it 
did on the inland waters of British North America. 

Because of the importance of water transport, steps were soon 
taken to improve it. Better types of vessel were developed in the 
Canadas long before the coming of steam. Bateaux, large open 
boats, usually driven by poles or sweeps, replaced canoes; Durham 
boats, still bigger craft that often carried sails, replaced the 
bateaux. On the open Great Lakes, in particular, quite large sail- 
ing vessels appeared. As a military example, the noble line-of- 
battle ship St Lawrence, built at the Royal Naval dockyards at 
Kingston on Lake Ontario in 1814, was larger than the Victory, in 
which Nelson had died at Trafalgar nine years earlier. 

The most important improvement in transport affected the 
water routes themselves. After 1815 British North America em- 
barked with great enthusiasm on canal-building. Canals had 
proved highly successful in Britain, where they preceded the rail- 

153 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

way-building age. They seemed to be having equal success in 
developing the inland waterways of the United States to their 
fullest use. In 1825 the most outstanding American canal was 
completed, the Erie Canal between Lake Erie and the Hudson 
River, which linked the Great Lakes by water with the Atlantic 
port of New York. The Erie entered on an enormously profitable 
career, since it carried much of the traffic of the American West 
to the ocean at New York City. 

In British North America there were canal projects in the 
Maritimes, but the main efforts were made in the Canadas in an 
attempt to improve the St Lawrence-Great Lakes system as a 
great water highway between the West and the sea. The steady 
flow of traffic along this St Lawrence waterway was broken by the 
thundering cascade of Niagara Falls, by long stretches of foaming 
rapids in the upper St Lawrence, and by shallows between Quebec 
and Montreal which stopped the largest ocean-going craft at the 
former port. Canal-builders attacked these breaks in easy water 
communication. In 1825 the first canal was completed around the 
Lachine rapids, one of several of the 'white water' barriers in the 
upper St Lawrence. In 1829 the first of eight Welland canals was 
built to join Lakes Erie and Ontario and avoid Niagara Falls. 
Three years later the Rideau canal was opened, linking Lake 
Ontario at Kingston with the Ottawa river. It completely avoided 
the rapids of the upper St Lawrence, since small vessels could 
now sail to Lake Ontario from Montreal by going up the Ottawa 
to the entrance of the Rideau canal. 

This, however, was a rather roundabout route. The Rideau 
canal had really been built by the British government for military 
purposes, to provide a pathway between Montreal and Upper 
Canada that would be distant from the United States border. Then 
in wartime the Americans would not be able to cut off communi- 
cations along the upper St Lawrence as they had threatened to do 
in the War of 1812. Yet a better commercial route was necessary 
if the St Lawrence was to succeed as a great highway between the 

154 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

West and the sea. High costs and political difficulties held this 
project back, but at last, by 1848, a chain of canals had been con- 
structed around the St Lawrence rapids, A larger Welland canal 
had also been completed and the shallows below Montreal 
deepened. 

Before 1850, therefore, ships could sail by the St Lawrence 
from the sea to the Upper Lakes along channels nine feet in mini- 
mum depth. The canals did not achieve all that their creators had 
hoped for the St Lawrence, and they were not deep enough for 
later ocean-going vessels. But they did provide a basic line of 
water transport, which steadily improved and is still vital to mod- 
ern Canada, even though the age of the all-important waterways 
has passed away. 

3 The Maritime and St Lawrence Trading Systems 

While the population of British North America was rising and 
its means of transport steadily improving, far-reaching empires of 
trade were being constructed, based on the waterways and the 
advancing wealth and progress of the provinces. The day of the 
fur kingdom was over in the eastern half of the continent, but 
powerful business interests were thriving on exporting the staples 
of lumber, fish, and grain. In the Maritimes the commercial 
interests were built on trade by the Atlantic, in the Canadas, on 
the St Lawrence trade. They came to wield much power even in 
the political life of the colonies. 

Maritime commercial life was not as tightly organized nor as 
closely focused on one city as that of the Canadas, which largely 
revolved about Montreal. Nevertheless the shipping interests of 
Saint John and the lumber kings of the Miramichi were powerful 
in New Brunswick, as the West Indies merchants of Halifax were 
in Nova Scotia; while the big commercial houses of St John's in 
Newfoundland came to dominate the island's fisheries. Most of 
the goods required by the fishing outports of Newfoundland 
came by way of St John's, which also gathered in their catch 

155 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

for marketing abroad. The island's fishermen, however, utterly 
dependent on their one 'crop' of fish, were often desperately 
poor. 

This was the day of c wood, wind and water' in the Maritimes, 
and it was close to being their golden age. Until the iron and steel 
steamship finally drove sail from the oceans of the world, the 
Maritimes were well equipped by position and resources to pros- 
per in the age of wooden wind-ships. Trade still went by water, 
not by rail, along the coasts of the continent. Maritime coasters 
built of the plentiful Maritime timber, were busily occupied. 
Hundreds of fishing schooners sailed to the banks and carried 
their catch to the West Indies. New Brunswick shipyards turned 
out great wooden vessels for the open sea as well; and Nova 
Scotian 'Bluenose* seamen, sailing far over the globe, developed 
one of the world's leading merchant fleets. Saint John and Halifax 
harbours were crowded with ships from the seven seas. The clip- 
per ship, the last and most splendid achievement of the age of sail, 
was so well fashioned in the Maritimes that some of the noblest 
American clippers were designed by Bluenose ship-builders who 
had gone to the United States. 

Nor was the steamship ignored by Maritime sea-enterprise. In 
1833, the Royal William, built at Quebec, had already been the 
first vessel to cross the Atlantic under steam the entire way, though 
she had also used sails to assist her. Soon afterwards the British 
government was considering the possibility of establishing a regu- 
lar Atlantic steamship service for mails. Sailing ships might take 
from six to sixteen weeks in passage, if the winds so decreed, but 
letters could travel quickly and on schedule by steamship. Few 
men, however, in Europe or America would then risk establishing 
a steam mail line. Yet the leading business figure in Nova Scotia, 
a shareholder in the Royal William, was prepared to do so. In 
1839 Samuel Cunard of Halifax secured a British government 
mail contract, and the next year the first Cunarder 'steamship on 
schedule' crossed the Atlantic. The huge Cunard Queen ships of 

156 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

to-day can trace their ancestry back to Maritime provinces of 
British North America. 

In the interior provinces the one great trade route of the St 
Lawrence gave a single direction to commercial enterprise that 
was lacking in the Maritimes. As it had done since the time of the 
French fur trade, the St Lawrence route opened the way to the 
centure of the continent and carried inland commerce to the sea. 
Though furs had departed from it, the St Lawrence system 
flourished on forwarding grain and lumber to Europe and trans- 
porting British manufactures to the spreading farms of Upper 
Canada. Yet the powerful mercantile interests of Montreal, that 
had grown up with the fur trade, felt that handling the commerce 
of the Canadas was not enough. Once the St Lawrence traders 
had commanded most of the traffic of the American West besides, 
directing the flow of furs towards Montreal from south of the 
Great Lakes as well as from the north-west. Now that American 
settlements were reaching into the prairies, why should the St 
Lawrence not control their trade, carrying their farm products to 
European markets and supplying their wants? 

The St Lawrence route still had its natural advantages, on 
which the Montreal merchants counted heavily. It supplied a 
direct water route behind the Appalachians from the Atlantic to 
the prairies. From points on the Great Lakes the rich American 
carrying-trade could be linked to Montreal and Quebec, which 
lay closer to Europe than the seaports of the United States. There 
were only a few breaks in the system of easy water communica- 
tion. Thus it was that canal-building was so important to those 
merchants who shared the vision of a St Lawrence commercial 
empire ruling the whole interior of North America, Canadian and 
American alike. 

Yet the grand St Lawrence dream achieved only partial success. 
American trade routes penetrated the Appalachian barrier and 
offered increasing competition. They tied much of the western 
carrying-trade to Atlantic ports in the United States. In particular, 

157 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

the Erie canal, that led to New York City, diverted a great deal 
of the traffic from the St Lawrence river outlets. Here once again 
was the old rivalry of the St Lawrence and Hudson valleys for 
the western trade, a rivalry that had begun with Champlain at 
Quebec and the Dutch at Albany. The 'Erie ditch', completed in 
the same year as the first St Lawrence canal, the Lachine, tapped 
the Great Lakes and carried traffic in a southerly direction to a 
port larger than Montreal and one that was ice-free all the year 
round. New York defeated the Canadian city. The difference in 
the present size of the populations of these two chief metropolitan 
centres of the United States and Canada seems to suggest the 
margin of victory: New York, eight million, Montreal, one 
million. 

Nevertheless, the St Lawrence trading system still controlled 
the lands north of the Great Lakes and did not yield the commerce 
of the American West without a struggle. The final outcome was 
not clear in the years before 1850. After the building of the Erie 
canal the men of the St Lawrence countered with their thorough- 
going canal improvements, only completed hi 1848. The construc- 
tion of railways in the United States, however, overcame these 
canals; whereupon, after 1850, the main St Lawrence trading 
interests increasingly turned from waterways to railways, in an 
attempt to win the American western carrying trade through this 
new means of transport. 

Hence the St Lawrence trading system did not abandon its 
vision of empire, although as well as American competition it had 
to face problems within its 'home' provinces of the Canadas. The 
farmers of Upper Canada were not always ready to pay tribute to 
a St Lawrence empire if they could import goods at a lower cost 
via New York and the Erie canal, or send crops to market more 
cheaply that way. The division of Upper and Lower Canada put 
the St Lawrence route under two governments and sometimes 
disputes over commercial policies and customs duties hampered 
the flow of trade. The St Lawrence was one economic unit, but 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

politically it was cut in two. Finally., quarrels arose within Lower 
Canada between the English-speaking merchant group and the 
French Canadian majority, which opposed the great power of the 
trading interests and objected to their expensive plans for develop- 
ing the St Lawrence. 

All in all, however, the St Lawrence system proved that it did 
have strength by continuing to grow in the face of these dis- 
advantages. It served still to bind Upper and Lower Canada to- 
gether in mutual dependence. It brought wealth and develop- 
ment beyond what the Maritimes knew. New York may have 
defeated Montreal; but Montreal and its trading network remain 
to-day one of the largest commercial systems in the world. The 
traffic of the American West was not held in the long run, but the 
Canadas continued to pour their rising wealth into the St Lawrence. 
And, in a later day, that vast north-west that had been lost to the 
Hudson Bay fur traders would return to the St Lawrence com- 
mercial system, once railways, settlement, and grain-farming had 
opened it to civilization. 

4 The Pioneer Age 

Up to 1850, this growing, changing British North America was 
still in the pioneer age. Though conditions of life naturally varied 
a good deal between the sea coasts and the Great Lakes, the 
colonies at this time were, on the whole, in the stage of pioneer 
development, the first carving of civilized communities out of the 
raw North American forests. Lower Canada, where the French- 
speaking community had gone through its pioneering stage in the 
days of New France, seems the obvious exception to this state- 
ment. Since the end of the French regime there had been little 
change in the placid farming existence of the habitants in Lower 
Canada. Even here, however, English-speaking immigrants in the 
Eastern Townships and French Canadian fanners advancing in- 
land from the long-cultivated banks of the St Lawrence provided 
a pioneer fringe. And in the Maritimes, though the areas of 

159 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

frontier settlement were smaller, there was still much pioneering 
to be done up to 1850. As for Newfoundland, in the lonely out- 
posts scattered along the coasts the inhabitants lived constantly 
under stern frontier conditions. 

Yet Upper Canada was the chief centre of pioneer life, and the 
home of the largest farming frontier. It was only after 1850 that 
the last good wild lands were taken up in the fertile Upper Cana- 
dian peninsula between the Great Lakes. Until then, though 
towns on the Lakes were growing into busy commercial centres, 
and the farmlands of the 'Front' were taking on an old settled look, 
there was always a broad belt of back-country, a region of bush 
farms and lonely log cabins, where the frontiersmen were steadily 
cutting back the margin of the forests. 

The life of the pioneer farm was hard and even brutal. There 
was no time for learning or social graces; the refinements that 
settlers might bring with them from a more civilized background 
soon tended to drop away. It is unwise to be too romantic about 
the simple charms of the crude shanties and the ignorant, hard- 
drinking and over-worked population who lived in them. But 
such a life had its merits as well. If it was lonely, then neighbours 
some miles apart by forest trail were the more valuable to one 
another. They combined against the weight of the wilderness in 
*bees' to clear each other's land, or to raise the barns and hewn- 
log cabins that replaced the first rough shanties. If there was 
ignorance, there was also a desire to bring schooling to all, and 
not to a privileged few. If pioneer life could mean drab monotony 
and a bitter struggle to succeed, it also brought freedom, a sense 
of self-sufficient strength and the constant hope of a steadily im- 
proving future. Year after year, as the fields spread out, as frame 
or brick houses replaced cabins, and the forest gave way to a 
bountiful countryside, that hope seemed to be justified. 

Apart from the mass of the pioneer population, the pedlar, the 
teacher, and the preacher were the notable figures of the frontier. 
The first brought the scant luxuries to be purchased in the 

160 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

backwoods or the few necessities not provided by the pioneer 
farm, whether clocks or shawls, salt or tea, or knives and iron pots. 
The second was usually a frontier-dweller too infirm or incapable 
to farm for himself: perhaps a disabled soldier, or an old seaman 
in the Maritimes. Men like these, who turned their little cabin 
into a school and often taught in return for food and firewood, 
obviously made poor teachers. They knew little more than their 
pupils and sought to fill in the gaps with frequent use of the rod. 
Yet from this small beginning popular education was born on the 
Canadian frontier, and from it rose a demand for a general system 
of public schooling. 

The preacher was a most important figure on the frontier. 
His regular visits supplied almost the only release from the mono- 
tonous toiling round of daily life, and so it is small wonder that 
religious services among the pioneers were emotional in the 
extreme. The services held in the little log churches built for 
travelling ministers, or in great 'camp meetings' under the trees 
were religious revivals, popular holidays, and exciting public festi- 
vals all rolled in one. As a result, the more formal and restrained 
Church of England, which claimed religious control in the prin- 
cipal English-speaking colonies, was not widely popular on the 
frontier. Indeed, its clergy tended to stay among the officials and 
well-to-do merchants in the towns and left the back-country to 
Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist ministers. The Methodist 
c circuit-riders', in particular, who were often from the United 
States, built up the power of Methodism among the pioneers of 
British North America. 

The widespread growth of churches in the colonies was also a 
sign of the beginnings of culture. Catholicism, of course, was 
firmly based in Lower Canada, but it came with the Irish and 
Highland Scots to Upper Canada and the Maritimes as well. In 
Nova Scotia, Presbyterianism early established a strong foothold, 
and rose with the growing Scottish population in that province. 
In Upper Canada the narrow but powerful mind of Archdeacon 

161 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

John Strachan did much to advance the Church of England and 
to found higher education in the colony. Higher education, in 
fact, was closely connected with the churches. Thus in Nova 
Scotia in 1802, the Church of England foundation of King's Col- 
lege (now part of Dalhousie University) became the first university 
to be chartered in British North America. In 1827 the earnest 
Strachan secured a charter for a King's College in Upper Canada, 
which later grew into the University of Toronto. The University 
of New Brunswick came into being in 1829. and McGill Univer- 
sity in Montreal, Lower Canada, arose out of the bequest of a rich 
North West Company trader, James McGill in 1821. Other insti- 
tutions founded by religious bodies before 1850 included Queen's' 
University (Presbyterian) and Victoria University (Methodist) in 
Upper Canada, and Acadia University (Baptist) in Nova Scotia. 

Meanwhile education was advancing on lower levels. In the 
1840'$ a province-wide system of government-controlled primary 
education was set in operation in Upper Canada, and the first 
public secondary schools were similarly established in the i85o's. 
Egerton Ryerson, Methodist minister, newspaper editor, political 
reformer and superintendent of education, was the true founder 
of this school system. In the other provinces as well, the state 
provided for public primary education. These 'common' schools 
were not generally under the control of the churches, except among 
the French-speaking people of Lower Canada, where the Catholic 
Church continued to manage the many tasks of education as it 
had in the time of New France. In Newfoundland, however, 
control of the school system was divided between the leading 
churches, Anglican, Methodist, and Catholic. 

With increasing education went also an increasing interest in 
books and newspapers. As well, no doubt, the gradually passing 
of the hardest stages of pioneering produced a people with more 
time to read and to discuss public questions. British North 
America was becoming strongly politically minded. Hence little 
newspapers sprang up on every hand to recount the doings of the 

162 



THE PIONEER AGE, 1815-50 

colonies' governments; some to cry out against abuses and to urge 
reforms. These journals were symbols of growing cultural matur- 
ity, though for a long time to come they were almost the only 
literature produced in the British North American provinces. 
Only in Nova Scotia, where traditions of culture had deeper roots, 
thanks to the educated Loyalists who had gone to that colony, 
were there the beginnings of a real native literature before 1850. 
Here Judge Thomas Haliburton, son of a Loyalist, produced his 
humorous chronicle of Sam Slick the Clockmdker^ which won 
much fame in Britain and the United States as well as in Canada. 
Before 1850, therefore, while the frontier stage was at its height 
in eastern Canada, not only were the colonies being solidly popu- 
lated and their commercial life developed, but these pioneer com- 
munities were also laying the foundations for a culture of their 
own. Out of the pioneer age there came a growing self-conscious 
spirit, impatient of outside direction, that turned itself towards 
the goal of self-government for British North America. 



163 



CHAPTER 10 

THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

I The Problem of Colonial Government 

By the iSso's the expanding colonies of British North America 
were outgrowing the forms of government laid down for them at 
the close of the American Revolution. Their inhabitants were less 
content to be ruled from above by small minority groups, backed 
by the imperial government in London. Grievances grew, reform 
movements developed. In the two Canadas, indeed, reform moved 
on into armed rebellion. Yet this too was a sign of advancing 
maturity, for it expressed the impatient desire of some of the colo- 
nists to gain control of their own affairs. The provinces were 
growing up. 

In this somewhat painful process, the colonists were chiefly con- 
cerned with the local provincial authorities. There was not the 
same clash of interests of colony and mother-country that had 
marked the American Revolution. The old opposition to imperial 
controls over trade did not appear again; the northern provinces 
were flourishing within the British colonial system, thanks to the 
Navigation Acts that fostered their shipping, and the imperial pre- 
ferences on their grain and timber. The comparative weakness of 
these colonies, their Loyalism and anti-Americanism, and the 
powerful influence of recent British immigrants in their midst, 
also kept them turned towards Britain. Hence the unrest in Bri- 
tish North America did not really produce a movement to break 
from the empire. This was by no means a second American 
Revolution. 

Nevertheless the imperial government was linked with the 
mounting discontent in the provinces, less because of what it did, 
than what it did not do. To be sure, the British government did 
not seek to rule these colonies with a strong hand or even to inter- 

164 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

fere actively in their affairs. Indeed, it often neglected them and 
paid only passing attention to their grievances. Their problems 
were tucked away in the Colonial Office, which, though it con- 
tained able and devoted civil servants, was a small and secondary 
department of the British government, and was given scant 
attention by the leading political figures of the time. 

This lack of interest in colonial affairs was largely a result of 
Britain's rise to the industrial leadership of the world during the 
first half of the nineteenth century. Now that every country was 
eager to buy the products of British factories, the small protected 
colonial markets seemed of little value. When the whole world 
could serve as Britain's trading empire, colonies appeared to be 
only unnecessary burdens, costly to manage and defend. In any 
case, it was argued, they would separate from Britain when they 
grew up, just as the former American provinces had done. 

This dark view of empire was of sufficient influence in British 
political circles to create an attitude of indifference to colonies. 
The Old Colonial System continued to operate, almost as a matter 
of habit, but its mercantilist restrictions were gradually cut down 
after 1820. At the same time, while the imperial government did 
not actually seek to set the colonies free ('adrift' would be a better 
word), it practically assumed that separation would come in time. 
As a result, small attempt was made to frame new constructive 
colonial policies, and Britain was largely content to keep things 
as they were in the realms of colonial government. 

Keeping things as they were, however, meant supporting a 
political system in British North America which was becoming in- 
creasingly unpopular. Under that system, which was generally 
the same in all the colonies except Newfoundland, a British 
governor responsible to the Colonial Office ruled over each pro- 
vince with the assistance of an appointed council, or councils, 
while an assembly elected by the inhabitants passed laws and 
levied taxes. In the Maritime provinces the same body of officials 
sat either as the executive council, which advised the governor 

165 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

and carried on the daily work of government, or as the legislative 
council, which discussed and revised laws passed by the legislative 
assembly. In Upper and Lower Canada, of course, the Constitu- 
tional Act of 1791 had created separate executive and legislative 
councils, but here too their membership largely overlapped. 

The assemblies that represented the people of the colonies did 
not fully control either law-making or public finances. Some of 
the main sources of government revenue, for example, were not 
under their control. Their laws could be revised in council, 
vetoed by the governor, or set aside by him for the consideration 
of the imperial authorities. Government was not at all respon- 
sible to the assemblies that voiced the opinions of the colonists. 
The real power lay in the hands of the council members and their 
connections, a small minority in each province. 

True, the governor was the head of the government, but he was 
a visitor for a short term of years, while many of the officials were 
appointed for life and were leading colonial citizens who knew 
their country well. The governor usually saw his province through 
their eyes they were the truly loyal and British element, they 
assured him and their 'advice 9 generally settled the policies of 
government. Hence the principal officials formed powerful ruling 
groups or oligarchies, managing affairs, filling offices, and over- 
riding the wishes of the popular assemblies as they saw fit. The 
chief business men and the higher clergy of the Church of 
England, which held a commanding position in most of the colo- 
nies, were allied with the oligarchies. The principal judges and 
the appointed justices of the peace in the countryside were also 
closely connected. The members of the oligarchies usually came 
from a fairly small number of well-to-do and long established 
families, often of Loyalist origin. Hence the use of the term 
'family compact' to describe them. 

The compacts were not necessarily corrupt or incapable in the 
government that they gave the British North American colonies. 
Many of their members were able, cultured, public-spirited citi- 

166 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

zens, who believed sincerely in the duty of the upper classes to 
rule;, and distrusted the wisdom of the 'mob', as they would call 
the people. Yet the people of the advancing colonies, becoming 
conscious of their own power, and generally living a life of equality 
in the wide, free countryside, objected more and more to this rule 
by their 'betters'. Influenced by American democracy and by the 
rising British reform movement, they began to seek a larger share 
for themselves in the affairs of government. 

In each province there were particular grievances felt by the 
colonists which were expressed in their elected assemblies. But, 
thanks to the British policy after the American Revolution that 
had feared too much popular power, these assemblies were weak 
in the face of the solidly planted oligarchies. Little could be achieved 
in the way of reform until the oligarchies had been dislodged. The 
various grievances all came back to the problem of government. 

Consequently, the Reform movements that arose in the differ- 
ent provinces began to demand changes in the political system. 
Reformers were elected to the assemblies to make the most of the 
limited powers of those bodies, or to arouse such public feeling 
that the imperial authorities would be moved to step in and make 
changes. A large part of the population, however, sided with the 
oligarchies, fearing that the Reform challenges to established 
authority would lead to disloyalty, and were dangerously radical 
and 'republican' in their aims. And the sweeping language of 
some earnest radicals in Reform ranks lent at least a little colour to 
this view. Accordingly, since those supporting the compacts 
could appeal to the powerful British and Loyalist sentiments 
among the colonists, strong Tory parties, as well as vigorous 
Reform movements, sprang up. The two sides fought strenuously 
in the provincial assemblies and at the elections. 

Despite the weighty local questions in each province, the core 
of the problem was still the power of oligarchy in government. 
But if that power were broken, and government were tied instead 
to the will of the colonists, what then? Each province would be- 

167 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

come master of its own internal affairs, the British governor would 
become largely a figurehead, no longer the effective instrument 
of the Colonial Office. The imperial government, in short, would 
lose much of its final control over the colonies. This was the rub; 
and here the problem of colonial government brought Britain in 
again, and led the authorities in London to oppose the reform of 
the political system in British America. 

British statesmen believed that colonies could not be colonies 
and govern themselves; that is, manage their own internal affairs. 
And while Britain granted minor concessions in all goodwill, they 
could not really touch the heart of the matter, the need to do away 
with oligarchic government. Moreover, British leaders were often 
still inclined to distrust popular power in the colonies as unruly 
and disloyal. It was unruly; but it was not disloyal. What most 
Reformers wanted were British forms of parliamentary govern- 
ment under British rule. 

In the last resort, the imperial government usually tended to 
decide in favour of existing authority when pleas were carried to 
it from both sides in the colonies. Hence oligarchy was supported 
and unrest continued to grow unchecked hi British North America, 
although British officials sought honestly and sincerely to rule in 
the provinces' interests. At last the shock of actual rebellions 
jarred Britain out of indifference and led to a full investigation of 
the troubles in the colonies. Imperial policies were finally revised, 
and a large measure of self-government was granted to the British 
American provinces: a landmark in the development of the 
British empire and the modern Commonwealth. But for many 
years there was no solution to the basic problem of colonial 
government that lay beneath the troubles in British North America. 

2 Reform and Rebellion in Upper Canada 

Nowhere was the problem of oligarchic government more ap- 
parent than in Upper Canada. There the power of the group with 
the definite title of the 'Family Compact' had created numerous 

168 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

causes of discontent. And if the Compact was not always respon- 
sible for grievances that were really beyond its control, its com- 
manding position made it easy to blame. One good example in 
this regard is the land question. During the eighteen-twenties 
and -thirties, although settlement rapidly advanced in Upper 
Canada because of British immigration, it still did not reach the 
rate of progress attained across the border in the mid-western 
United States, nor did Upper Canada enjoy the same soaring 
heights of prosperity during good times. Some of the immigrants 
to Canada, in fact, kept moving on and went out of Upper 
Canada into the western states. Upper Canadians bewailed this 
drain, and contrasted the 'stagnation 5 of the colony with the 
bustle across the border. In reality, stagnation was not at all a 
true description, and the greater advance in the United States 
could be explained by the ever-constant fact that the American 
community was far larger and much richer, and that there were 
almost endless areas of fertile soil to be brought under the plough 
in the American prairies. 

Yet it was easier to blame land policy in Upper Canada for lag- 
ging development and emigration to the United States, and to 
seize on the harmful power of the Compact and its allies as the ' 
cause of the trouble. Undoubtedly, land policy under the Com- 
pact did make for trouble. Crown or public lands were readily 
granted to wealthy speculators but went far less easily to actual 
farmers. Friends of the Compact held vast areas of empty land, 
keeping the prices up and blocking regular and easy settlement. 
Roads that opened the settlers' way to markets were slow to be 
built, though the Compact officials were ready enough to spend 
public money on canals that aided their merchant allies in the 
towns. And there was evidence of extravagance and corruption as 
well as favouritism in land-granting and canal-building. But the 
core of the land question lay in the clergy reserves. 

The clergy reserves, large tracts of wilderness, were the product 
of the Constitutional Act which had resulted in one-seventh of the 

169 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

lands in Upper Canada being set aside for the support of a Pro- 
testant clergy. The Anglican church, as the established church in 
England, had claimed that it was also the official church in Canada, 
and its ministers the Protestant clergy named in the Act. Thanks 
largely to its alliance with the Compact, this claim had been 
made good, so that the Church of England received the income 
from the rent or sale of the clergy reserves. Other Protestant 
churches contested this position; and the established Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland in time was also granted a lesser share of the 
reserves endowment. But meanwhile the clergy reserves stood as 
two-hundred acre lots of waste land scattered over the province, 
breaking the front of advancing settlement, cutting farmers off 
from their neighbours and blocking the building of roads. Gradu- 
ally they were sold, but at high prices. The reserves were really a 
nuisance more than a serious burden; yet they added fuel to the 
grievances over the difficulties of getting farms, the privileges of 
the Church of England, and the power of the oligarchy that lay 
behind the whole land question. 

The discontent over the clergy reserves was, of course, closely 
related to religious unrest over the favoured role of the Anglican 
church, which again was maintained by the oligarchy. While there 
was freedom of worship in all the colonies, and while the Anglicans 
were a large group in Upper Canada, they were nevertheless out- 
numbered by other Protestant sects which had no special privi- 
leges. It was far easier, for example, to maintain a state church in 
England where the large majority were Anglicans than in Upper 
Canada, where the Methodists were the largest sect. Archdeacon 
Strachan, however, the leader of the Church of England in the 
colony and a member of the Compact, insisted on Anglican domi- 
nance, and sought to extend it also over education. As president 
of the provincial Board of Education he tried to keep the school 
system an Anglican preserve and in securing the charter for a pro- 
vincial university, King's College, in 1827, intended to make this 
an Anglican foundation. 

170 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

The Methodists, accordingly, began a campaign against reli- 
gious privilege led by one of their ablest ministers, Egerton Ryer- 
son. In 1829 he became editor of the Christian Guardian, the 
voice of the new movement. The Methodists founded a college of 
their own, which grew into Victoria University, while Ryerson 
carried his campaign to the Colonial Office. He was able to see the 
the right to celebrate marriage extended to the Methodists. 
Meanwhile other sects, and even some Low Church Anglicans, 
rallied to the cause of religious equality. They and the Methodists 
naturally joined with the rising forces of Reform in politics. By 
1826 the Reformers were urging the secularization of the clergy 
reserves, that is, that they be sold and the proceeds be devoted to 
public education. 

Other factors were also increasing dissatisfaction with Compact 
rule. The frontier farmers, often in debt, mistrusted the banks and 
business men of the towns. They blamed some of their woes on too 
close a connection between the merchants and bankers and the 
Compact. When the Bank of Upper Canada was founded in 1821 
with the government holding a quarter interest, the farmers were 
sure that this was only creating a powerful machine that would 
plunge them deeper into debt. Bad times, in particular, increased 
this grievance. The western farming frontier, always a restless 
area, tended to support the Reform movement against the Tories 
centred in the towns and the older settled regions. 

Furthermore, when serious criticism began after the War of 
1812 by which time the province had advanced too far to accept 
rule from above without question the oligarchy showed that it 
meant to repress popular protests sternly, and even harshly. A 
Scotsman, Robert Gourlay, was arrested and expelled from Upper 
Canada in 1819 because he began to arouse the pioneer fanners 
against the Compact's land policy. Soon afterwards, Marshall 
Spring Bidwell, who tried to carry criticism to the floor of the 
assembly, was expelled from that body on the grounds that he 
was the son of an American, an alien, and not eligible to sit there. 

171 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

This assertion affected the rights of a large body of settlers of 
American origin, and as a result a movement began in the assem- 
bly to pass a law protecting these settlers. The Compact delayed 
its passage until 18285 but meanwhile a Reform party had begun 
to take shape in the assembly in 1824. 

In that same year, however, William Lyon Mackenzie, a fiery 
little Scottish immigrant, had founded a newspaper to support 
the Reform cause. Thanks to his ability as a journalist, he quickly 
became the chief public figure on that side. Mackenzie was none 
too sure of what he wanted to put in the Compact's place, but he 
showed skill and courage in exposing its abuses. His telling but 
violent attacks, indeed, so angered the friends of the oligarchy that 
in 1826 a mob of Tories, led by sons of prominent Compact mem- 
bers, threw the presses of his Colonial Advocate into the waters of 
Toronto Bay. But this only made Mackenzie a Reform hero. In 
1828 he was elected to the assembly which for the first time had a 
Reform majority. 

The next few years saw a ding-dong battle between the fairly 
well balanced forces of Reform and Toryism. Yet the power of the 
councils and the weakness of the assembly kept the Reformers 
from achieving very much; while their failure to do so, and the 
widespread Loyalist and Orange feelings in the province, streng- 
thened the Tories anew after every defeat. Violence flared at elec- 
tions. Mackenzie was elected and expelled four times in a row 
from the assembly, and he grew increasingly extreme in his views. 
His growing radicalism was surely understandable, but it divided 
him from the more moderate sort of Reformers led by Bidwell 
and a quiet young man, Robert Baldwin. In 1833, moreover, 
Egerton Ryerson broke with Mackenzie and soon carried the 
strong Methodist wing over to the Tory camp. 

Ryerson, the son of a Loyalist, had never been at all radical in 
politics, and the Methodists had been chiefly concerned with reli- 
gious problems, not with the basic political changes that Macken- 
zie was starting to advocate. Mackenzie was now urging an elec- 

172 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

tive legislative council, somewhat after the American republican 
model; that is, he wanted membership in this body, which was 
the chief check on the popular assembly, to be made subject to 
election. Thus an irresponsible oligarchy could not control the 
council, for it would be chosen by the votes of the people. Yet 
many other Reformers besides the Methodists did not want to go 
as far as adopting an American form of elective government. Men 
like Robert Baldwin, for instance, preferred the British plan of 
responsible government. That is to say, government would be 
made responsible to the assembly, and would stand or fall by the 
votes of this body. The calm, shrewd leader of the moderate 
Reformers and his practical plan would be heard of again. 

Mackenzie and the radical Reformers moved on into strong 
language and sweeping remedies. In 1835 they issued the re- 
sounding 'Seventh Report on Grievances' in the assembly; but 
they were still blocked by the councils from achieving any of their 
cures. The following year a new and inept lieutenant-governor, 
Sir Francis Bond Head, was appointed to Upper Canada by 
mistake, it is said. In the stormy elections of that year Head virtu- 
ally made himself a candidate and loudly proclaimed that the issue, 
was one of loyalty or republicanism. This appeal to the British tie, 
and against American influences, resulted in a Tory election 
triumph. Head had won his victory; but he had practically driven 
Mackenzie and the radicals to rebellion. They saw that reforms, 
apparently, could not be achieved by peaceful processes, and they 
knew now that the Colonial Office had declared itself against self- 
government in the colonies. And, exasperated by Head, they were 
ready to take up the role of disloyalty that he had cast them for. 

The next year was one of severe hard times, and in the late 
autumn of 1837 rebellion broke out in Lower Canada. With un- 
rest at its peak, the time seemed ripe for the Upper Canadian radi- 
cals to act together with those in Lower Canada. Early in 
December, Mackenzie and his followers gathered at Mont- 
gomery's Tavern, a few miles north of Toronto, planning to seize 

173 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM., 1815-37 

the capital and overthrow the government, for Head had sent his 
regular troops to aid in Lower Canada. But the whole plan was 
badly conceived and feebly carried out. Mackenzie was not a 
military leader. The date of the attack was changed; risings plan- 
ned in the west of the province had not begun when the Toronto 
affair was over. Several hundred ill-armed rebels milled in con- 
fusion about Montgomery's, while alarm bells rang in the city and 
loyal volunteers gathered there. On a brisk December day in a 
field near Montgomery's, now a busy street-corner in the city of 
Toronto, the loyal militia scattered the rebel farmers in a twenty- 
minute skirmish. Mackenzie fled to the United States. The Upper 
Canada rebellion of 1837 had failed. 

There were still border raids to contend with, for in the United 
States Mackenzie raised American sympathizers to fight for his 
cause. These raids went on during 1838, and at times, indeed, it 
seemed that Upper Canada was engaged in another War of 1812, 
since the American attacks cost far more fighting than had the 
rebellion at home. Yet the United States government did not 
favour these raiding ventures, and by 1839 the border had been 
restored to order. The rebel cause had been hopelessly lost. In 
truth, it had been hopeless from beginning to end. The rebellion 
had no definite purpose. Rebels sought variously to win terms 
from Britain, to gain independence, or to join the United States. 
The rebellion had been weakly supported. Only the radical wing 
of the Reformers had approved of it, and few of these radicals had 
actually been willing to fight. 

In fact, the most obvious fact about the rebellion is how strong 
and immediate the resistance to it was. Loyal militia kept pouring 
into Toronto from outlying farming regions long after the fighting 
was over, or scoured the countryside trying to find any trace of 
rebels. The eastern and more populous half of the province was 
firmly loyal, and the western proved not as restive as expected. In 
general, the Upper Canadian colonists, and most Reformers, made 
clear they had no desire to take to violence or to break the British 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

tie in seeking any changes. Yet the rising did much to awaken 
Britain to the necessity of change. In this way,, then, the hopeless 
rebellion of the muddled, embittered, yet somehow heroic 
Mackenzie won success out of its very failure. 

3 Racial Strife and Rebellion in Lower Canada 

In Lower Canada the unrest over oligarchic government was 
greatly complicated by quarrels between the French- and English- 
speaking inhabitants of the province. In many ways, in fact, oli- 
garchy was only the problem on the surface. Behind it lay the 
deeper and more lasting problem of the relations of the two 
peoples of different language, viewpoints, and interests. In general, 
the governing compact in Lower Canada was tied to the English- 
speaking minority, while the large French Canadian majority, 
thanks to their numbers, easily controlled the elected assembly. 
In this colony, therefore, the political conflict between the privi- 
leged oligarchy and the popular assembly reflected a racial conflict 
between English and French. 

Nevertheless, as in Upper Canada, the grievances of the assembly 
and of the mass of the people centred about the power of the oli- 
garchy. Grievances could only be remedied if that power were 
weakened. Thus the existing system of government, the same as in 
Upper Canada, came under fire, and a Reform movement de- 
veloped. The causes of battle might have been different, but the 
battle-ground was the same. Here again, in short, the problem of 
government was all-important. The French-speaking majority 
necessarily came up against it in opposing the policies of the 
English-speaking elements who had the ruling compact on their 
side. 

The racial split between the defenders of oligarchy and the 
champions of the assembly and reform was not complete. On the 
side of the compact, known as the Chateau Clique in Lower 
Canada (the governor's residence was the Chateau St Louis), were 
some French Canadians who held official posts or looked for 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

government favour. On the side of the assembly, a group of 
English-speaking Reformers made common cause against com- 
pact rule with the main French-Canadian body. Still, the dividing 
line put most of the English-speaking community, and, above all, 
the commercial interests of the St Lawrence, on the Tory or 
government side, while the French-Canadian habitants, parish 
clergy, and professional men favoured the Reform ranks. The 
Tories in Lower Canada, indeed, referred to themselves as the 
'British' party. 

This racial division ran back to the Constitutional Act of 1791, 
and beyond. When that Act granted representative government to 
the two new provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, the French 
Canadians were quick to realize the value of an assembly, al- 
though they had not known one earlier in their history. In the 
overwhelmingly French province of Lower Canada they forged 
the assembly into an instrument for defending or advancing the 
special interests of French Canada. The people of the St Lawrence 
had not forgotten their heritage from New trance. The Quebec 
Act, indeed, had already safeguarded much of that heritage, and 
by its special treatment had made the French more conscious of 
their separate position. The Constitutional Act enabled the French 
Canadians to make that position still stronger. Using the assembly, 
they set out to gain a secure place for themselves as a distinct com- 
munity with its own language, laws, religion and customs. There 
was little desire to break with the British empire. Indeed, it was 
the British grants of privileges for their laws, church and seig- 
neurial system in the Quebec Act, and the British grant of repre- 
sentative government in the Act of 1791 which made this whole 
campaign possible. Nevertheless, French-Canadian nationalism 
was being born in British North America. 

As a result, after 1791 the English-speaking merchants of 
Lower Canada and the British governors found themselves brought 
together in the fact of rising French-Canadian nationalism. The 
governor could no longer work easily with the not-so-'docile' 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

French; the English commercial class found that they could only 
protect their interests against a hostile French majority by en- 
trenching themselves in the oligarchy. They heartily protested 
their British loyalty, and the governors forgot their earlier suspi- 
cions of these once-democratic tradesmen, who at least were not 
foreign in their views and aims. The democratic tradesmen, in 
fact, rising in the world, had grown with the St Lawrence com- 
merce to be merchant princes and true-blue Tories. Along with 
some of the Loyalists in Lower Canada, the leading merchants 
the old foes of Sir Guy Carleton filled the councils and 
the official positions in the province, forming the Chateau 
Clique. 

Trouble between the French and English groups in Lower 
Canada might have arisen in any case because they lived largely 
different lives, each with its own outlook and aims that clashed 
one with the other. The French were still a farming people, 
dwelling in a stable society built on the firm authority of the 
Catholic Church and the seigneurial system. The English moved 
in the restless world of commerce, always ready to challenge and 
change. With the fall of the St Lawrence fur empire in 1821 the 
partnership of the two peoples in the fur trade, never an equal one, 
came to an end. As the English began building a greater com- 
mercial empire of the St Lawrence, the French held aloof. Even 
before, they had distrusted the English money-mindedness and 
desire for change, and had resented being made almost the lower 
class of Lower Canada. They were naturally suspicious, as well, of 
any threat to French culture or the use of the French language; 
that is, of any attempt to anglicize their people. At the same time 
they feared for their cherished peaceful rural society, should the 
unsettling power of commerce become too great: a fear still felt in 
French Canada to-day. 

The English, on the other hand, deemed the French backward 
and hostile to progress largely because their standards of life were 
different. They could not see why the French opposed their plans 

177 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

for developing the St Lawrence trading system, although the 
French argued that its development benefited only the English 
merchants. On the whole, however, the French disliked being 
kept from the rewards of business although they condemned 
the business way of life. They set out in the assembly to tax and 
control commerce. They objected to granting public money for 
canal-building, so necessary to improve the St Lawrence. One of 
the great hindrances to the St Lawrence interests, therefore, in 
their competition with American routes for the western trade lay 
in the Lower Canadian assembly. It is understandable that the 
English business elements should thus rely on the overriding 
powers of the oligarchy in order to gain their ends. 

In consequence, the political quarrels grew as the assembly 
sought both to advance French power in government and to 
defend French society by restraining English commercial develop- 
ment. Although the French Canadians in politics called them- 
selves Reformers it should be remembered that in many ways they 
were very conservative. In commercial matters, at any rate, the 
'British party 3 stood for change and growth. The French certainly 
wanted political reform, but they wanted it in order to break the 
hold of the English-speaking minority, so that their old way of life 
could be maintained. The French Reformers really sought self- 
government in order to preserve the old world of New France in a 
fast-altering British North America. 

The racial division brought political clashes in Lower Canada 
long before they became significant in Upper Canada. Before the 
War of 1812 the assembly had launched attempts to fix the costs of 
government on commerce, while the merchants wanted them met 
through a tax on land. Sir James Craig, governor from 1807 to 
1811, sided with the merchants and took strong steps to bring the 
assembly to order. The war, however, brought English and French 
together against a common American enemy. But afterwards the 
conflict began again, and on a growing scale. 

The same factors of racial antagonism, concern for special 

178 




FUR-TRADE TRAFFIC AT FORT EDMONTON ON THE 
SASKATCHEWAN, 1825 




THE OPENING OF THE FIRST WELLAND CANAL, 1829 




W 
W 

a 
o 

HH 

w 



O 
H 
55 
O 

O 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

French rights, and quarrels over the St Lawrence commerce con- 
tinued to bring clashes and discontent in Lower Canada. The 
disputes, however, turned increasingly on the question of the 
assembly's right to control public finances. As has been noted, the 
colonies of the Second Empire in America did not have command 
of a large part of their government revenues. But after the Napo- 
leonic Wars the imperial authorities, really in the interest of simpli- 
fying and decreasing their colonial burdens, sought to transfer to 
the provincial assemblies the full control of local revenues in 
return for a fixed civil list, or a permanent sum set aside to pay the 
salaries of government officials. This bargain was made fairly 
easily in the Maritime provinces and was finally concluded after 
considerable dispute in Upper Canada in 1831. In Lower Canada 
it was warmly opposed by the assembly because a permanent civil 
list would make the English-speaking officials in the oligarchy 
even more independent of French control. 

Instead, under the leadership of its new Speaker, Louis Joseph 
Papineau, the Lower Canadian assembly sought to take over all 
public revenue without conditions. The purpose, of course, was to 
make the government wholly dependent on the assembly for funds 
and to gain a complete control of commercial policy. The tall, 
courtly Papineau, elected Speaker in 1815, was an effective leader 
in this effort He well understood the practices of English parlia- 
mentary government and he was a powerful parliamentary orator. 
He was also affected by the democratic and anti-clerical ideas of 
the French Revolution. Yet he was the champion of an old seig- 
neurial and Catholic French-Canadian society. Papineau became 
a seigneur himself He used his liberal and even radical political 
ideas to serve a conservative French nationalism. 

In its budget of 1819 the assembly led by Papineau went so far 
as to reduce the salaries of some unpopular officials in an attempt 
to assert authority over the government. Thereupon the legislative 
council threw out the whole budget. The financial quarrels dragged 
on; and in 1827, when the assembly refused to vote a budget^ the 

179 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

governor dissolved it. The British parliament now moved to in- 
vestigate the political troubles of Lower Canada, and its Canada 
Committee recommended some limited concessions. When these 
were refused by the assembly, the imperial government in 1831 
even handed over most of the revenues without conditions. But 
by this time the long dispute, with harsh language and strong 
actions on both sides, together with other clashes on racial issues, 
had raised tempers too high to permit an easy settlement. Papi- 
neau had now gone beyond demanding financial powers equal to 
the British House of Commons. He was seeking an elected legis- 
lative council on American lines, just as the radicals under 
Mackenzie were urging in Upper Canada. 

In fact, in 1834, the Lower Canadian assembly produced a 
document, rather like Mackenzie's Seventh Report, that rang 
with admiration for American forms of government and with 
veiled threats on the possibility of repeating the American Revolu- 
tion in Lower Canada. This document, the Ninety-Two Resolu- 
tions of Grievances, marked the turning towards revolt for Papi- 
neau and his more extreme followers. They really had no close 
affection for American ways, but they, too, intended somehow to 
throw' off the English yoke. 

The result, as in Upper Canada, was that the moderate Re- 
formers took alarm. Although some English-speaking radicals led 
by Wolfred Nelson stayed with Papineau, the main body under 
John Neilson, who wanted change only on British parliamentary 
lines, broke with the French leader. So did the French-speaking 
moderates, who feared that the growing Americanism of the 
extreme group would end in French Canada being swallowed up 
in the United States. Finally, the Catholic Church, aroused by the 
anti-clerical utterances of Papineau and the radicals, made clear 
its opposition to any use offeree. This was a telling blow to the 
radical cause in Catholic French Canada. 

In consequence, the rebellion in Lower Canada, when it came, 
was almost as feeble as in Upper Canada. From 1832 to 1836 the 

180 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

eastern assembly and council had continued in a stalemate over 
finances. Then in 1837 the British parliament issued its Ten 
Resolutions, declaring that the colonies could have neither self- 
government nor an elective legislative council, and permitting the 
government in Lower Canada to use local revenues without the 
assembly's authority. The Reformers were outraged. Papineau 
talked of revolution. 

He had even fewer plans for it than Mackenzie in Upper Canada, 
but his violent words inflamed his radical supporters. They organ- 
ized the Sons of Liberty, in imitation of the earlier American 
revolutionaries. In reaction, English-speaking Lower Canadians 
organized semi-military bodies. In the tension of the times, and 
with racial suspicion and anger at their height, a riot soon broke 
out between the two organizations in Montreal, a largely French- 
Canadian city but also the capital of the English commercial 
interests and one-third English-speaking in population. To avoid 
more trouble Papineau and his chief lieutenants left the city; but 
nervous officials, fearing they had gone to raise a rebellion in the 
French-Canadian countryside, ordered their arrest. This order 
became a signal for actual rebellion. 

Papineau fled to the United States, while a leaderless resistance 
broke out in several villages. On 23 November 1837, the Patriotes 
of St Denis, plain farmers like the rebels of Upper Canada, re- 
pelled a detachment of troops who were seeking Papineau and 
other leaders. More troops, however, defeated a rebel group at St 
Charles two days later. Another gathering of 500 Patriotes at 
St Eustache was shattered in December, and the rebellion was 
really over. It had occurred only in the district around Montreal, 
where racial antagonism were most in evidence. Even here, lack 
of leadership, weak support, the presence of regular troops, and, 
above all, the opposition of the Church, had made the rebellion 
hopeless. No doubt far more habitants sympathized with the 
rebel cause in Lower Canada than had settlers in Upper Canada; 
but long habits of obedience to authority in church and state, and 

181 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

doubts about Papineau's American and anti-religious leanings, 
made their weight felt. 

Thus the reform movement in Lower Canada had also apparently 
ended only in bloodshed and defeat. Yet this rising, too, affected 
Britain. In fact, by its greater bloodshed it aroused Britain more 
than that in Upper Canada. In consequence, a new era of reform 
and self-government was shortly ushered in. And this finally gave 
French Canada the broad political liberty and the national security 
that it had vainly sought in racial strife and rebellion. 

4 Peaceful Reform in the Maritimes 

During the period up to 1837 reform movements were both less 
active and less violent in the sea-coast colonies than in the 
Canadas. The high tide of reform in the Maritimes came later. 
When it came, however, it was far more orderly than in the 
Canadas, and in the beginnings of reform the eastern movements 
were similarly peaceful. Therefore, while it is of some interest to 
observe reform progress up to 1837 in the Atlantic provinces, 
it is more important to explain the absence of violence and 
rebellion there, in both these years and the years that followed, 
even though the Maritimes faced the same basic problem of 
oligarchic government. 

Two great sources of angry feelings in the Canadas were lacking 
in the Maritime provinces. There was neither the racial division 
of French and English nor the heated appeal to Loyalism as found 
in Upper Canada. The first point is clear, but the second needs 
expanding. In Upper Canada there was still the half-healed scar 
left by the War of 1812. It could easily be inflamed by raising an 
anti-American cry and damning Reformers as Yankee republi- 
cans. In this province, moreover, the Loyalists had at first been 
a small group in a largely American settlement. They cherished 
their Loyalism fiercely and became a privileged element glorying 
in their devotion to the British tie. 

Yet while the Maritimes were no less loyal, loyalty was not 

182 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

really an issue there. The War of 1812 had been felt far less, and 
though there was little love for the United States there was not 
the same suspicion of American influence. Moreover, since the 
Loyalists had largely swamped the original New England character 
of the Maritimes, a Loyalist background on the Atlantic coast was 
not the special mark of a privileged Tory governing class but was 
found as fully among the Reformers. The red herring, as it largely 
was, of loyalty could not be drawn as readily across political con- 
flicts in the Atlantic provinces, to rouse Tories to patriotic passion 
or to embitter Reformers and finally drive some of them to actual 
disloyalty. 

Other factors also made for more peaceful political changes in 
the Maritimes than in the Canadas. They were smaller, more 
closely knit and more mature communities, in which popular 
movements could be effectively organized and directed into parlia- 
mentary activities. There were not the same local cross-currents, 
nor was the yeasty ferment of the frontier as strong within them. 
In general, too, Maritime Reformers had more success in gaining 
the ear of the Colonial Office: precisely because they could not be 
so readily condemned by their foes as disloyal French or 'Yankee- 
loving* republicans. Finally, many of the worst grievances of the 
Canadas were absent in the Maritime provinces. There was no 
great struggle over canals and commerce, over clergy reserves and 
Anglican dominance, nor were the oligarchies as high-handed in 
governing. Although the Anglican Church stood in a close rela- 
tion to these oligarchies, its privileges weighed less heavily. In 
Nova Scotia it voluntarily gave up the possibility of clergy reserves 
in order to avoid breeding discontent. 

Because of this general state of affairs there was less unrest in 
the Maritimes. Hence the Reform movements developed later 
and did not go to extremes. In Prince Edward Island, the chief 
grievance was the land question. The ownership of the land of the 
province by landlords living in England seemed especially grie- 
vous when it kept wild lands out of settlement. The provincial 

183 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

assembly sought to have these lands revert to the Crown. The 
assembly's case, however, was the weaker because its purpose was 
largely to gain the lands for local speculators, and some of the 
government officials joined it in this effort. The local oligarchy, in 
fact, was not really the foe of the assembly on the land question: 
the absentee landlords were. The council and assembly joined in a 
long memorial to Britain in 1838. Hence, despite constant agita- 
tion, the land problem of Prince Edward Island was not closely 
related to the problem of oligarchy, and rather distracted the 
reform movement there from an attempt to seek more self- 
government. 

Land, apparently, was a major issue also in New Brunswick, 
but here the land in question was crown lands, and these were 
under heavy forest. In short, crown lands in New Brunswick 
chiefly meant timber preserves in that lumbering and ship- 
building province. The assembly sought to gain control of the 
crown lands and in so doing clashed with the governing oligarchy. 
This, however, was largely a clash of rival timber interests : the 
favoured friends of officialdom versus the powerful timber barons 
who dominated the house of assembly. In 'the Loyalist province' 
there were as yet few ideas separating the official, or Tory, party 
from the opposition in the assembly. 

The New Brunswick political contest took shape as in Lower 
Canada over the question of the assembly's right to control public 
revenues, but with very different results. The income from timber 
duties on crown lands, or from their sale, was the chief revenue 
that the New Brunswick assembly sought to control. And what it 
wanted, in essence, was control over the thickly-wooded crown 
lands themselves. There were several delegations to the Colonial 
Office from the assembly. Seven of the list of eight grievances 
which the mission of 1833 took with them concerned crown lands 
and limber. Receiving a ready hearing, the delegations were able 
to win concessions. Finally, in 1837, after some opposition from 
the governor and officials, that arose despite the expressed will of 

184 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

the Colonial Office, control of the crown lands and public revenues 
generally were transferred to the assembly in return for a perma- 
nent civil list. Some members of the 'popular party' were also 
appointed to the executive council. With this New Brunswick was 
satisfied. It was, indeed, the most tranquil province in British 
North America in the year of revolt, 1837. Its reform goal had 
been largely a practical one, the imperial authorities had listened 
sympathetically, and with the rich plum of the crown lands in its 
hands there seemed no need for any further change in the existing 
political system. 

There was no one outstanding grievance in Nova Scotia such as 
this crown-lands question; but on the other hand the reform 
movement attacked the general problem of oligarchic control, 
and sought to make government responsible to the assembly. This 
province, in fact, supplied the best example of a straightforward 
political contest to establish the colonists' will in public affairs, 
without major complications of a racial, religious, or economic 
kind. Led by the bluff but brilliant Joseph Howe, Reform in Nova 
Scotia by 1837 had set out on a clear-cut and orderly advance 
towards self-government: and this while the Canadas floundered 
in misdirected rebellion, and the New Brunswick assembly re- 
jected the very thought of a government responsible to the repre- 
sentatives of the people. 

The compact that ruled Nova Scotia dominated its economic as 
well as its political life, containing as it did the leading provincial 
bankers and merchants as well as the chief judges and the Anglican 
bishop, who virtually controlled education. Yet it was more able 
and more liberal in outlook than the oligarchies in the Canadas. 
This again made political life less bitter in Nova Scotia. Men like 
Joseph Howe, however, the editor of the Novascotian since 1828, 
opposed the compact's thorough-going, if gentlemanly control. 
The son of a Loyalist, Howe had a constant vision of a united 
British empire but an empire united through freedom. He 
attacked government imposed from above on Nova Scotia, and 

185 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

distrusted c the caprice of men in office'. The oligarchy thereupon 
tried to crush him and his newspaper by taking him to court for 
libel in 1835. Howe's skilful and courageous speeches in his own 
defence instead won him the suit, made him a popular figure, and 
carried him to the assembly in 1836. He soon rose there to be the 
leader of the gathering forces of reform. 

Under his leadership Reformers turned from planning an elec- 
tive legislative council to overcome the compact, and concentrated 
on a demand for the separation of the executive and legislative 
councils in Nova Scotia. Already achieved in New Brunswick, 
this would divide and considerably weaken the oligarchy. Further- 
more, Howe and the Reformers also sought to tie the executive 
council to the assembly. Their efforts bore fruit, for in 1837 the 
Colonial Office ordered the separation of the two councils and 
also instructed that four members of the executive council should 
henceforth be chosen from the assembly. The rebellions in the 
Canadas for the moment checked the hope of any further advance 
towards self-government, but the path for Howe and Nova 
Scotia was clearly marked ahead. 

Newfoundland, during much of this period, was really at an 
earlier stage of development. The rule of the island by naval 
admirals only ended in 1825, when the first civil governor was 
appointed. But this very act showed that at last Newfoundland 
had been recognized in Britain as a true colony, not a fishing base. 
It would not be long before representative government would also 
be established, placing the island under much the same political 
system as the rest of the British North American colonies. 

Although the new civil governor, Sir Thomas Cochrane, a hard- 
driving, constructive ruler, well pleased the islanders, they began 
to demand regular British institutions for their rising population. 
Accordingly, in 1832 an assembly was granted. It was to share 
the work of law-making with a small legislative council. The first 
assembly met in 1833, but almost immediately there began the 
typical quarrels between council and assembly over the control of 

186 



THE DEMAND FOR REFORM, 1815-37 

finances. They led, indeed, to violence at elections and appeals to 
the Colonial Office in 1837. Yet despite further years of political 
storms, Newfoundland gradually learned to make its new system 
work, and went on to seek more self-government. Even in this 
colony, therefore, both the oldest as a British possession and the 
youngest in political development, the problems of government 
in British North America led to a demand for responsible control 
of its own affairs. 



187 



CHAPTER II 

SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 

1837-50 

i The Meaning of Responsible Government 

Reform movements and rebellions in British North America 
had made clear the necessity for solving the problem of govern- 
ment in the colonies. The bold and successful solution that began 
to emerge was responsible government. Through it the grievances 
of oligarchic rule were overcome, yet the British empire remained 
intact. The Canadian provinces were set on the path to nation- 
hood , the Second Empire began its transformation into the modern 
Commonwealth: all thanks to the application of the principle of 
responsible government. 

What was this principle that was first applied to the Canadian 
colonies of Britain and to a large extent took shape there? It was 
nothing more than the extension of the British cabinet system to 
the realm of colonial government. Under that system, the minis- 
try or cabinet which governed the country was responsible as a 
body to parliament. It could rule only as long as it had the support 
of a majority in the House of Commons. Failure to keep that 
support 'loss of confidence' required the cabinet to resign so 
that a new government could be formed with sufficient parlia- 
mentary backing. In practice, of course, this meant that the party 
which won a majority of parliamentary seats at elections formed 
the government. The party's leaders in parliament became the 
cabinet ministers, and the chief among them the prime minister. 

Applied in the colonies, this system would make the colonial 
executive council a true cabinet, responsible as a unit to the repre- 
sentatives of the people. The oligarchic legislative council would 
be by-passed; the governor would become simply a constitutional 
ruler, like the king in Britain, taking as his ministers only those 

188 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

with the confidence of the elected assembly and accepting their 
policies of government. The leaders of the majority in the assembly 
would actually rule. In sum, under the responsible or cabinet 
system the colonies would govern themselves. 

THE MEANING OF 
RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT 

I. THE OLD COLONIAL 
SYSTEM 



I EXECUTIVE COUNCIL | 
The Oligarchy ^ 

| LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL | 



| LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY | 



THE COLONIAL PEOPLE 



II. THE RESPONSIBLE 
SYSTEM 



Barrier 
' Government rwt 

responsible to 
1 Assembly and People 




Barrier broken 
Government responsible 
to Assembly and People 

Oligarchy by-passed. 
Governor becomes largely 
a figurehead 



THE COLONIAL PEOPLE 



All this could be achieved without revolution, without changes 
in the existing structure of government^ without introducing an 
elective system or destroying the governor's position as the link 
with imperial Britain. The colonists could obtain self-government 

189 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

without breaking with the empire, as the American provinces had 
had to do in an age before the responsible system had been clearly 
developed in Britain itself. And, in a later age, the colonies of the 
Second Empire in America could gain the benefit of a more 
advanced kind of government. For, despite many qualifications, 
the fact remains that the cabinet system has some advantage over 
the American congressional type of government. By linking the 
legislature (the law-making body) and the executive (the governing 
authority) together, the cabinet system permits greater flexibility 
and prevents friction between the two. At the least, the cabinet 
ministers under the responsible system sit as members of the 
legislature, where they are constantly available to supply informa- 
tion and enter debate, while under the congressional system the 
ministers (department heads) are appointed separately by the 
president and seem on occasion to be regarded as suspect out- 
siders by a congress with whom they are not as closely connected. 
The realization that responsible government would meet the 
needs of the colonies, yet preserve the empire, came only slowly 
in Britain. For one thing, the workings of cabinet government 
were not fully recognized in that country in the late eighteen- 
twenties, at which time an Upper Canadian colonist, Robert 
Baldwin, saw that the extension of the responsible system might 
be the answer to the political problems of British North America. 
Baldwin was no radical. He wanted only the full British constitu- 
tional practice^ and his very aim was to preserve the imperial bond. 
In 1828 his father, Dr William Baldwin, had sent a letter to the 
existing British government on this subject, but it received little 
attention at that early stage. Robert Baldwin tried again, in 1836. 
He visited the Colonial Office personally to propose responsible 
government as a means of removing the threat of radicalism in 
Upper Canada. He still had no success. Meanwhile Joseph Howe 
in Nova Scotia, another deep admirer of the British constitution, 
was also developing the principle of cabinet rule as the goal of his 
reform activities. 

190 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

Yet in Britain as well there was, by this time, a rising group of 
men interested in the colonial problem. A prominent statesman 
and an ally of this group of Colonial Reformers, John Lambton., 
Earl of Durham, would himself propose responsible government 
as a broad, constructive imperial policy. Responsible government 
might not have been won in British America without the work of 
Baldwin and Howe, and it is probable that they had a clearer 
understanding of its operation there than Durham or his friends. 
Yet it is equally true that without the mighty voice of Durham 
and the efforts of the Colonial Reformers at the heart of the 
empire, Baldwin's ideals might never have been embodied in a 
grand new imperial design: one that produced an empire held 
together by freedom not force, bound by 'ties though light as air, 
as strong as links of iron'. 

The Colonial Reformers somewhat tempered the prevailing 
British indifference to empire. Though few in numbers they were 
able and vigorous in proclaiming the value of colonies and the 
need for a systematic reform of the whole colonial system. They 
were chiefly active in politics in the eighteen-thirties and -forties, 
in the same period when Reform parties in British America were 
striving towards self-government. Here was a happy coincidence, 
indeed. 

Colonies were particularly valuable, the Colonial Reformers 
declared, as spacious homes for the overcrowded British people. 
They encouraged organized emigration movements. They sought 
to develop new Britain overseas, under free British institutions, to 
grow as partners of the parent land. Granting the colonies self- 
government, they said, would not mean their inevitable separation 
from the empire but would bind them with ties of gratitude and 
interest. On the other hand, witholding the full rights of British 
subjects abroad would drive them to separate. Because of these 
views the Colonial Reformers attacked the irresponsible regime in 
the colonies. They blamed the overriding authority of the Colonial 
Office for much of the discontent in America. If the empire were 

191 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

to be held; it could only be held through generosity and a free 
spirit, not through a tight and interfering control. It was in this 
very spirit that Lord Durham came to British North America, 
after the rebellions of 1837, to inquire into the troubles there. 

2 The Durham Report 

When the news of the outbreaks in the Canadas reached Britain 
the weak government of the day, that of Lord Melbourne, had 
been dangerously shaken. The Colonial Secretary, Glenelg, had 
undoubtedly done his best to settle the colonial discontents; but 
given the existing system and view of empire, it had not been 
enough. Accordingly, in order to stave off some of the certain 
criticism, Melbourne appointed the Earl of Durham as governor- 
general of all British North America, charged with both calming 
the provinces and reporting the causes of their grievances. It was 
a clever move. 'Radical Jack' Durham was one of the most ad- 
vanced liberals of the time and the idol of the Colonial Reformers. 
His appointment early in 1838 also took out of the kingdom a 
sharp-tongued critic of the government and a statesman, it was 
said, who might some day replace Melbourne as prime minister. 

Durham was a strange mixture of ardent democratic ideals and 
proud aristocratic behaviour. A believer in freedom who ruled 
with absolute authority, he had inevitably a short and stormy 
career as governor-general. He was only in British North America 
for five months, and resigned his post in hot anger because the 
home government declared that he had exceeded his already 
sweeping powers. He stayed long enough, however, to gather 
with his capable assistants a mass of valuable information on the 
Canadian problem. This he issued in his famous Report of 1839, 
produced on his return to England. The Report set forth his 
recommendations for solving the problem in such a clear, con- 
structive, and compelling way, with meaning for the whole 
empire, that this great document may well be regarded as the 
foundation-stone of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. 

192 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

Durham died not long after, a victim of tuberculosis. Yet, though 
he never became prime minister, who should say that his short 
and feverishly active life had not reached fulfilment? 

Durham brought with him to Canada the leading Colonial 
Reformers, Edward Gibbon Wakefield and Charles Buller, both 
of whom left their stamp on the structure of the empire around the 
globe. Without doubt, they did much to shape the Report. Yet 
it was the powerful figure of Durham behind the Report which 
gave it the weight and influence that otherwise it might not 
have had. He put the seal of a first-ranking imperial statesman 
upon it. 

On arriving in Canada Durham found the real danger of rebel- 
lion past. There was a brief new skirmish in Lower Canada later 
in 1838, and during that year groups of 'Patriots', mainly 
American volunteers, raided the borders of Upper Canada. The 
Lower Canadian rising, another small, ill-conceived local out- 
burst, was quickly suppressed, while Upper Canadian militia re- 
pulsed the American attacks; though one of them, indeed, at the 
'Battle of the Windmill 3 on the upper St Lawrence, resulted in 
as many British casualties as the battle of Queenston Heights 
in the War of 1812. In Lower Canada representative government 
had been suspended, and Durham was authorized to rule there 
through a special council, which thus, in drastic fashion, removed 
the voice of the French majority in the assembly from politics. 
In Upper Canada the existing constitution was not suspended, 
but the Tory party was in the saddle, hunting hard for treason, 
and crying 'rebel' after even moderate Reformers. Nevertheless, 
on comparing the limited extent of the punishments meted out in 
Upper Canada under the Tories to the suppression of many 
another rebellion, and considering the actual warlike threat on the 
borders, some of the legend of Tory violence at this time seems 
rather overdone. 

In any case Durham moved quickly to establish an imperial 
policy of generosity. Charges were dropped against all those 

193 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

accused of rebellion except for Papineau, Mackenzie and a few 
leaders who had fled the country, who could not return except on 
pain of death. Eight convicted rebels were exiled to Bermuda. 
Because that colony was not under Durham's control it was this 
act which exceeded his authority and caused his early resignation. 
But even after resigning he stayed on in British America to com- 
plete his tasks. Hence he saw that order within the Canadas was 
effectively restored, although French Canada, while not rebellious, 
was silenced rather than satisfied under government by a special 
council. 

Order on the frontiers between Canada and the United States 
was also gradually re-established, to some extent because of 
Durham's wise dealings with Americans on the border. He had 
none of the then widespread British scorn for United States democ- 
racy. He was almost the first British statesman to win a good 
opinion from the Americans. The United States government and 
its military commanders on the border also worked to prevent 
American Patriot invasions and to put down the secret 'Hunters' 
Lodges' whose activities came close to banditry. It took several 
years, however, to solve various frontier problems. For instance, 
there was also a disturbance at this time on the border to the east, 
where New Brunswick and Maine lumbermen disputed the 
boundary line between them in a private struggle sometimes called 
the Tork and Beans War'. The eastern boundary between the 
United States and British America had been only vaguely drawn 
north of the St Croix river at the end of the American Revolution. 
At length in 1842, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty fixed the line, 
while each side claimed that its agents had given away too much 
which was probably a sign of a moderate compromise. The Treaty 
also disposed of other points at issue, and closed the period of 
strain between British America and the United States that had 
begun in 1837. New border problems were soon to arise in the 
far west of the continent, to be dealt with in the Oregon Treaty of 
1846, but its discussion properly belongs in another place, 

194 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

Meanwhile, besides settling the immediate trouble in the 
Canadas, Durham had been investigating its roots., hearing com- 
plaints and suggestions from all sides, including a memorandum 
from Robert Baldwin on responsible government, soon to be 
reflected in the Report. When the Report was issued in 1839 it 
proved full of keen insight into the grievances of the Canadas, 
which was amazing, considering Durham's short stay. It also 
touched on the Maritimes, Durham having received delegates 
from there while at Quebec. 

The Report condemned in ringing words the evils of oligarchic 
rule, the abuses in land-granting, and the narrow privileges of 
Anglicanism. It saw clearly what few British authorities then 
realized, that the struggle in Lower Canada turned on the racial 
conflict of French and English. It dealt with immigration, public 
lands, education, canal-building, local government, justice, finance 
an astounding range. It offered a mine of information and a 
wealth of suggestions on material improvements in British America. 
But the main recommendations of the Report, those of greatest 
consequence, were three: the granting of responsible government, 
the division of imperial and local affairs, and the uniting of the 
two provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. 

In advocating responsible government the Report did not make 
clear whether Durham meant the complete cabinet system as 
Baldwin understood it; that is, with the governor merely accepting 
policies of government put forward by a set of ministers who were 
backed by a majority in the assembly. Instead the Report rather 
suggests that the governor should still frame the government poli- 
cies, although he should choose only men with majority support 
in the assembly as ministers to carry them out. But in any case 
Durham's main purpose was to do away with irresponsible govern- 
ment, and to tie it to the assembly where sat the representatives of 
the colonists. The colonies were indeed to be granted control of 
their own affairs. He stressed that the Canadians could be trusted 
with this grant. Giving them their freedom would only strengthen 

195 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

their loyalty. It was in sounding this note of bold confidence that 
the Report was at its best. 

On the question of how imperial unity could be maintained in 
the face of colonial self-government, the Report noted that there 
were actually few imperial interests involved in the ordinary day- 
to-day governing of colonial affairs. Instead, imperial interference 
in matters of local concern had really threatened the unity of the 
empire far more by making the British government a party in 
every local squabble. Consequently local and imperial affairs 
could well be separated. The former could be left to colonial self- 
government, and the latter, covering only a few subjects, reserved 
for British control. The reserved subjects were: changes in the 
constitutions of the colonies, regulation of trade and foreign 
relations and the management of their public lands. In actual fact 
these imperial reserved powers were in time gradually taken over 
by the colonies, as they expanded their field of self-government 
from the purely local concerns that Durham had meant for them. 
Control of public lands was in Canadian hands from the first. 
Yet the Report's very division of imperial and local powers made 
it seem possible to grant colonies responsible government without 
endangering the empire. On this basis, and in its own day, this 
recommendation of Durham was very important, indeed. 

The union of the Canadas was not as fortunate a suggestion, 
though Durham meant it to go hand-in-hand with the grant of 
responsible government in the two provinces. Union, in fact, was 
to be the answer to racial conflict in Lower Canada. It was to 
swamp the French, to make it safe to grant self-government with- 
out its fall ing under the control of French Canadian nationalism. 
Durham approved of the French demand to govern themselves, 
but did not approve of the desire to maintain a distinctive French- 
Canadian community which lay behind their demand. While he 
liked the rural French Canadians, this son of progressive, indus- 
trial Britain considered them uneducated and backward in their 
thinking, a people doomed to fall by the wayside in the march of 

196 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

progress. Hence their out-of-date nationalism had to be overcome. 
Responsible government had to be granted in a way that would 
absorb the French, not strengthen them in their separateness. The 
old policy of assimilation was to be tried again. 

A union of the Canadas, combining the English-speaking frac- 
tion in Lower Canada with the wholly English-speaking popula- 
tion of Upper Canada would leave the French in a minority in the 
united province. In this way responsible government would lie in 
English hands and would be operated on English terms, which the 
French would have to accept. Durham in no way considered this 
an unjust arrangement. Believing in the power and superiority of 
British civilization and government, he thought that the French in 
this union would be led gradually and naturally to give up their 
separate ways, until, without their religious faith at all being 
threatened, they could be peacefully absorbed into a wholly British 
Canada. This process, moreover, would not only end the racial 
conflict in politics but would permit necessary economic progress. 
In an English-dominated union the French could no longer hold 
up the development of the St Lawrence route and the rise of 
Canadian commerce. The unity of the great river valley would be 
restored. 

It was a well-meaning and rosy dream, but it is understandable 
that French Canada did not view Durham's Report with a 
friendly eye, despite his support for self-government. In fact, on 
the whole, the Report at first made far more enemies than friends. 
Besides the French Canadians, the English-speaking Tories of 
Upper and Lower Canada were angered by Durham's onslaught 
on 'loyal 5 Compact rule; and while those of Lower Canada liked 
the idea of union, they objected to its price, responsible govern- 
ment, which would destroy the power of the English Tory minority. 
Only the Upper Canadian Reformers, now led by Baldwin, wel- 
comed the Report. 

In Britain the prevalent belief that, Durham or no, imperial 
unity could not be maintained along with colonial self-government 

197 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

led to a cool reception for the Report. Yet it was too great to be 
put by. Reformers in the colonies made Durham's recommenda- 
tion of responsible government their goal. His impressive outline 
of a new imperial system began to work on the mind of Britain. 
Within ten years much of what Lord Durham had recommended 
had been accomplished in British North America, and a new age 
was beginning for the whole British empire. 

3 The Union of the Canada* 

One main point which the British Government did accept from 
Durham's Report was the project of Canadian union. In a desire 
to settle the racial problem by swamping the French, an imperial 
Act of Union was passed in 1840. In 1841, therefore, the United 
Province of Canada came into being. It had the same structure of 
government as the two Canadas : a governor and executive coun- 
cil, an appointed legislative council, and an elected assembly. But 
the union was not really complete because both old provinces were 
given equal numbers of representatives in the new united assem- 
bly. This was done because at the time the population of the 
mainly French-speaking Lower Canada was still considerably 
larger than that of Upper Canada. Giving Upper Canada as many 
representatives as Lower was an attempt to ensure a definite 
English-speaking majority in parliament from the start. Yet such 
a plan destroyed Durham's very idea of a complete blending of 
the two peoples. It kept alive two distinct sections in the politics 
of the union: Canada West and Canada East, which were often 
popularly called by their old names of Upper and Lower Canada. 
Equal representation only fastened sectional division on the new 
union and fostered the French feeling of separateness in Canada 
East. In consequence, if the project of union had ever had any 
chance of absorbing the French Canadians, as it was applied, it 
had none. 

Nevertheless, the union of the Canadas did allow French and 
English-speaking Reformers to form a common political front to 

198 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

seek the responsible government that Durham had dangled before 
their eyes. This alliance grew only slowly. But in Canada West 
the lively mind of Francis Hincks, Baldwin's chief lieutenant, soon 
realized how powerful a united Reform front might be. In Canada 
East, Louis Lafontaine, the new moderate leader of the French 
Reformers, came to see that if the French Canadians were already 
in the union they might at least make the best of it and seek 
responsible government there, for this could still give them a share 
in controlling their destinies. In fact, to the French responsible 
government came largely to mean overthrowing English Tory con- 
trol in Canada East. Clearly, in the French section the small 
English-speaking Tory group could not reign supreme if respon- 
sible government were once established. French-Canadian nation- 
alism, newly aroused by Durham's very scorn for it, began gradu- 
ally to concentrate on gaining responsible government. Yet this 
nationalism was more moderate in its aim and methods than in the 
hot radical days of Papineau. It could work very well with the 
Baldwin Reformers of English-speaking Canada West. 

Before the vital Reform alliance developed, however, a new and 
capable governor-general had come to Canada. This was Charles 
Poulett Thompson, soon named Lord Sydenham. Sydenham had 
come out in 1839, even before the union, with his first task to win 
acceptance for that scheme from the two Canadas. A first-rate 
administrator and a skilled diplomat, he quickly won over the 
Upper Canadian assembly. Lower Canada, still under the special 
council, could raise no objection in any case. The plan of union 
went through, and Sydenham became first governor-general of 
the united province. Thereupon he undertook two other tasks : to 
develop the prosperity of the province and to make Canada con- 
tent with less than responsible government. In both he largely 
succeeded. 

The fact was that the British Government with the best will in 
the world, still could not swallow Durham's first great recom- 
mendation. Colonies simply could not rule themselves and be 

199 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

colonies. The government sought earnestly to content Canada 
without yielding on this apparently basic point. A large loan for 
public works, practical reforms under Sydenham, the notable Lord 
John Russell in the Colonial Office, all this showed Britain's desire 
to please. Russell even sent instructions in 1839 which allowed 
colonial governors to change the members of their executive 
council as they saw fit. This was to overcome the tendency to make 
ministers life appointees, to free the governor's hands, and to 
break up the unpopular oligarchies in the council. As a result the 
old compacts at last lost most of their power, and Sydenham pro- 
ceeded to change his ministers fairly readily, even bringing in 
Baldwin for a time, in an attempt to keep good relations between 
the governor and the elected assembly. And his strong and con- 
structive policies of developing the country did win the warm 
support of a fair-sized middle group, a group that might better be 
called Conservative than Tory, the older, narrow term. 

Now this was still not responsible government as Baldwin saw 
it; but nevertheless it was a long step forward. That is to say, the 
governor was at least trying to choose ministers acceptable to the 
assembly. He was doing so at his own will. He was still shaping 
government policy. In his very efforts, however to prevent an 
outburst over responsible government he was increasingly tying 
the ministry to the assembly. In his own opinion, Sydenham was 
succeeding very well in staving off responsible government, when a 
riding accident in 1841 caused his sudden death. But he had really 
been acting as his own prime minister in order to keep control over 
the assembly. Aless skilful politician, with less money to spend for 
practical improvements, might find that Sydenham had simply 
built up an impossible position for the governor from which retreat 
was the only way out. 

4 Achieving Responsible Government in Canada 

The next governor of the United Province, Sir Charles Bagot, 
had to face the true difficulty: how to maintain a steady majority 

200 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

behind the governor in the assembly, to which government had 
now been closely tied. The growth of formal party lines meant that 
Sydenham's tactful ability to attach assembly leaders to himself 
would no longer have worked so successfully. The Tories., who, 
of course, had opposed responsible government, would readily 
back the governor ; but they were a minority in the whole union. 
Baldwin's Reformers were declaring that responsible government 
was already half granted and should be completed, and the French 
under Lafontaine had formed a large block that was the real 
balance weight in politics. Bagot saw that to carry on government 
he must have French support. Accordingly, he took French 
leaders into his executive council, which rather upset both the 
Tories and the British government. But by now the Reform alii- 
ance had begun to work. The French leader, Lafontaine, success- 
fully insisted on Baldwin's also entering the ministry, Thus a 
Reform group came to sit in the government, although this was 
not yet a solid one-party cabinet and the governor still dominated 
it. 

In 1843, however, Bagot retired because of illness. His suc- 
cessor, Sir Charles Metcalfe, a strong-minded veteran of thirty- 
seven years' government service in India, was determined to yield 
no further. When Baldwin and Hincks sought the right of a 
responsible ministry to approve all official appointments, Metcalfe 
refused. The ministry resigned. An election followed in which the 
governor's supporters accused Baldwin and his friends of a greedy 
and disloyal desire for every last trace of power. Though the 
charge of disloyalty was unfounded, especially against Baldwin, a 
moderate but sincere imperialist, popular feeling was sufficiently 
affected by what seemed the excessive Reform demands to return 
a bare majority favourable to Metcalfe. Excited Reformers did 
not help their cause, moreover, by railing against the governor as 
'Charles the Simple', or 'Old Square Toes'. At any rate a new 
government, that might loosely be called Conservative, was 
formed, and it held office for the next three years, feeing increas- 

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SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

ing difficulties, while popular sentiment began to swing back to 
the Reformers. 

But in the meantime a revolution in Britain sharply altered the 
whole confused political situation. This was the peaceful but pro- 
found revolution that brought free trade to Britain and her empire. 
Beginning in 1846 with the repeal of the Corn Laws, it finished by 
removing all the old mercantilist restrictions on the freedom of 
trade in the British empire. By 1849, the Old Colonial System 
had been ended. The colonies were free to trade as they wished. 
This was a vitally important step; important because in time past 
it had been argued that colonies could not be given self-govern- 
ment since the imperial authorities had to be able to control them 
in the interests of the colonial trading system. But now that the 
Old Colonial System was being abandoned, now that trade was 
freed and the colonies' economic life was not to be controlled, 
there seemed little reason to control their political life either. The 
colonies could have self-government. Moreover, in the free trade 
ministry that came to power in Britain, Lord Grey was the new 
Colonial Secretary^ and he shared some of the ideas of the Colonial 
Reformers on the virtues of freedom as an imperial bond. 

Grey was prepared to grant responsible government to the colo- 
nies. The ideals of Durham and free trade in Britain had now 
joined together to transform imperial policy. No longer was it 
argued that a colony could not govern itself and remain a colony. 
Instead Grey asserted (as early as 1846 in a dispatch to the gover- 
nor of Nova Scotia) that the government of the British American 
colonies could only be carried on in accordance with the wishes of 
their inhabitants. This meant that governors were henceforth to 
take their ministers from whatever group held a majority in the 
colonial assembly, and to change them whenever the confidence of 
the assembly changed. This meant, in sum, the full responsible 
system for the internal affairs of the colony, with a party cabinet 
and a party prime minister, and the governor withdrawn from 
politics. 

202 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

In 1847 Lord Elgin, an imperial statesman who was a worthy 
son-in-law of Durham, was sent out to replace Metcalfe in Canada 
and to carry out Grey's new policy, by which the Colonial Office 
frankly and freely granted what before it had yielded only reluc- 
tantly and piecemeal. Elgin's chance to apply the generous new 
imperial policy came with the elections of 1848. When the 
Reformers won a large majority in the assembly that year, the 
governor-general simply called on their leaders, Baldwin and 
Lafontaine, to form a government. In this quiet way the struggle 
over responsible government was settled at last, as a one-party 
cabinet, a solid Reform ministry, took office in the province of 
Canada. 

Responsible government had still to face a less quiet test in 
Canada. In 1849 a bill was introduced in the assembly to pay 
persons in Lower Canada for losses suffered during the rebellion 
of 1837. A similar measure had been passed for Upper Canada 
during the Metcalfe regime, but the Lower Canadian bill was so 
broad in its terms that the Tories called it a payment for rebellion. 
They urged Elgin not to sign it. The Rebellion Losses Bill never- 
theless passed the assembly and had the support of the Baldwin- 
Lafontaine ministry. Whatever his own private feelings, under 
responsible government Elgin had no course but to sign the 
measure. 

He did so, for the sake of that system, in spite of a violent Tory 
outcry against the government and the governor-general. Not yet 
accepting the conditions of responsible government, the worst ele- 
ments of Toryism broke into rioting in Montreal, attacking the 
homes of the Reform ministers and stoning Elgin's carriage, while 
he bore their anger with calm courage. The riot grew. A shouting 
mob invaded the parliament building in Montreal, ransacked it, 
set it on fire, and left it a glowing ruin. Yet the violence was over 
almost as the ashes cooled. It was dear the mass of the people, 
French or English, were not in sympathy with it. Despite the 
flames of the night of 7 April, self-government was secure in the 

203 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

province of Canada. This was only a last outburst in a troubled 
but tremendously important period in the colonies along the St 
Lawrence. 

5 Achieving Responsible Government in the Maritimes 

While Nova Scotia, like Canada, passed through a struggle for 
responsible government and, indeed, achieved that principle 
shortly before Canada the other Maritime provinces were given 
self-government later, once the system had been established by the 
Nova Scotian and Canadian contests. There was little that could be 
called a political struggle after 1837 in New Brunswick, which had 
been the most contented province in that year of crisis. The Re- 
formers,, led by Wilmot, were generally satisfied with the success- 
ful settlement of the crown lands and civil list question during 
1837. A number of mixed governments of Tories and Reformers 
followed until 1854, although in 1846 the Assembly did carry a 
resolution approving the principle of responsible, one-party govern- 
ment. In any case Grey, as Colonel Secretary, intended that the 
new principle should be established in New Brunswick as else- 
where; and when in 1854 the Reformers won a sweeping majority 
at the elections they formed the first one-party, responsible 
ministry in the province. 

In Prince Edward Island, the old struggle over the land question 
and a long personal feud between the governor and the speaker of 
the assembly did much to prevent concentration on the principle 
of responsible government; until in 1851, in line with Grey's 
established policy, the first responsible ministry was formed under 
George Coles. Newfoundland was granted responsible govern- 
ment similarly in 1855. Leaders of the provincial assembly had 
been appealing to the British government to introduce the system 
since 1848. Though the imperial authorities at first held back 
because of Newfoundland's undeveloped state, the wide con- 
cessions of self-government to the Cape of Good Hope and the 
Australian colonies, as well as to British America, by 1854 made 

204 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

it impossible to withhold the grant from the great Atlantic island. 

Nova Scotia, however, saw a long contest for responsible govern- 
ment, but without the violence of Canada's. This orderly develop- 
ment was, of course, the result of different conditions in the 
politics of Nova Scotia that have already been discussed. But 
much of the credit, as well, must go to the political genius of 
Joseph Howe. Here was a man who was as thoroughly loyal in 
temper as Robert Baldwin, who saw the meaning of responsible 
government quite as clearly, and yet had also the skill of Francis 
Hincks at party management and parliamentary tactics. Nova 
Scotia was really too small a stage for one of the ablest statesmen 
of the Second Empire. 

Howe had already begun the campaign for responsible govern- 
ment before Lord Durham's Report; in fact, before the rebellions 
in the Canadas. The Report, however, gave a powerful British 
endorsement to the Nova Scotian Reformers. They hailed it with 
gleeful excitement as proof that a leading British figure also be- 
lieved that imperial unity and colonial self-government could go 
hand-in-hand. Accordingly, when Lord John Russell spoke in 
the imperial parliament in 1839 on the Report, to deny that self- 
government could be combined with unity, Howe composed four 
public Letters to answer Russell, then the Colonial Secretary. In 
these he set forth the doctrine of responsible government with 
great vigour and clarity, founding it, as ever, on a desire to streng- 
then the bonds of empire. 

In October, 1839, Russell issued his instructions allowing colo- 
nial governors to change their executive councils freely to suit 
'public policy'. Howe seized on this as a chance to advance respon- 
sible government. Although the instructions were really meant to 
give the governor a free hand in shaping his ministry, Howe, like 
Baldwin in Canada, insisted that changing ministers to suit 
'public policy 3 required the governor to choose his government 
according to the majority in the assembly; in other words, to 
establish the responsible system. On this point he moved a vote 

205 



SELF-GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE EMPIRE, 1837-50 

of want of confidence in the existing ministry and actually brought 
about the governor's recall over it. 

This first blow at Russell's plan for 'everything but responsible 
government 5 (as it might be termed) was struck in 1840. However, 
that year Governor-General Sydenham briefly visited Nova Scotia 
and exposed Howe to his political charm. Howe agreed not to 
force the pace while Sydenham still faced so many problems in 
Canada. In return he entered a non-party coalition government 
in Nova Scotia a typical Sydenham suggestion. But after 
Sydenham's death, the failure of Nova Scotia to advance further 
towards responsible government caused the Reform leader to 
break with the Tories in the coalition ministry. He and his friends 
withdrew in 1843, to begin the fight in the assembly again for the 
full responsible system. 

The victory of free trade in Britain in 1846, the coming of a new 
imperial government with Lord Grey at the Colonial Office, 
spelt success for Howe and his close ally, J. B. Uniacke. In that 
year Grey issued the new instructions to the governor of Nova 
Scotia that ordered him to establish a responsible ministry. The 
elections of 1847 were a Reform triumph. Thus when the new 
assembly met early in 1848 and passed a vote of no confidence in 
the existing ministry, a new Reform government, a true party 
cabinet, was automatically put in its place. Nova Scotia, a small 
province, had won responsible government two months before 
Canada. By its own energy, moderation, and unquestioned 
loyalty Nova Scotia had done much to pave the way to self- 
government within the empire for the rest of British America* 
and, indeed, for the other British colonies around the world. 



206 



CHAPTER 12 

THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

i The Canadian Commercial Revolution 

By 1850 a new question was beginning to emerge for the colonies 
of British North America. By that date, or shortly after, the 
principal provinces had achieved a large amount of self-govern- 
ment. Now that they had won the right to manage their own 
affairs, the first stage on the road to nationhood, could they go on 
to build a single nation-state in British America? Would union be 
added to self-government? Indeed, could British America sur- 
vive, divided into a set of small colonies, however free, or must it 
be welded into a broad national unit in order to hold the northern 
half of the continent? The next twenty years decided the question 
of union. The rapid progress made in this era, the problems that 
arose, laid the basis for uniting the provinces. And the dangers 
that also developed, in truth, demanded a union, forcing it sooner 
than it might otherwise have come. 

First, however, there were years of economic change, after 1850, 
that thrust the colonies forward and made union seem both possi- 
ble and valuable for almost the first time. True, men had often 
dreamed of uniting the weak and scattered provinces. Durham 
had briefly toyed with the idea. But the Canadas and the Mari- 
times were separated by miles of wilderness. They had little con- 
tact and almost no trade with one another. The great West was an 
empty realm of the fur trade. It was only after 1850, then, that 
sweeping economic changes in the colonies began to bring union 
within the bounds of possibility. 

These sweeping changes are sometimes described as the Cana- 
dian Commercial Revolution. To explain them, one must go back 
into the 1840*8, and especially to the advent of free trade in 

207 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

Britain. Until the day of free trade, while the old British colonial 
system was still in being, the North American provinces had 
continued to benefit from the imperial preferences for their timber 
and grain. In fact, in 1843 the Canada Corn Act, passed by the 
imperial parliament, had given a larger British preference to flour 
from Canada. As a result, the St Lawrence commercial interests 
had thrived as never before, shipping grain and flour from Canada 
and even bringing in wheat from the American West to be milled 
into flour in Canada for shipment to Britain. The vision of the 
St Lawrence empire, directing the whole flow of western com- 
merce, seemed almost realized. The new canals were being finished, 
great business expansion was under way. Three years later the 
blow fell. 

The repeal of the British Corn Laws in 1846 destroyed the 
privileged market in Britain for Canadian flour and grain. Other 
free trade measures also wiped out the timber preference. The St 
Lawrence interests found themselves over-expanded, and at the 
same time world trade depression closed in. There were stirrings of 
discontent in British America, not, as in the case of the former 
thirteen colonies, because of the weight of the British mercantile 
system, but for the very opposite reason: because it had been 
removed. The dependent British American colonies found them- 
selves flung suddenly out of the old sheltered system of empire 
trade into the cold, hard realm of world trade, where they were 
ill-equipped to compete. Truly, the coming of free trade had 
struck them with all the shock of a revolution. 

It seemed to some of the leading St Lawrence merchants, sup- 
porters, of course, of the Tory party in Canada East, that Britain 
was abandoning them, the steadfast British garrison in a mass of 
rebellious French. At the same time responsible government was 
transferring power in Canada East from the English-speaking 
Tory minority to the 'disloyal' French-speaking majority. In their 
shock at defeat and abandonment, especially after the passage of 
the Rebellion Losses Bill, some Montreal merchants and Tories 

208 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

signed the Annexation Manifesto of 1849. This document called 
for the province of Canada to be joined to the United States, pro- 
claiming that without the old British trading system Canada was 
ruined and could only find new markets and new prosperity within 
the American republic. Britain herself had made clear that she 
wanted to free herself from the weight of colonies. She was 
adopting a purely self-interested free trade policy to suit Man- 
chester manufacturers, who saw the empire as only a drain on 
their profits. Or so the Montreal Tories said, and they were not 
completely wrong. 

The Annexation Manifesto, however, was overwhelmingly re- 
jected by popular opinion in all parts of the province of Canada. 
The Maritimes were not concerned in the matter. Tories in 
Canada West called for a general British American union, instead 
of annexation, as the best means of making the colonies strong 
enough to overcome the loss of the protected imperial trade. Those 
Tories in Canada East who had signed the Manifesto soon regret- 
ted that they had done so in a fit of gloom; and after 1850 annexa- 
tionist feelings all but disappeared in Canada. Yet there had been 
one important truth in the Manifesto: to make up for loss of 
markets in Britain, Canadian trade had to gain entrance into the 
rich American market. Some way had to be found through the 
high tariff wall that kept so many foreign products out of the 
United States. 

Reciprocity was the answer. That is to say, the British American 
provinces and the United States should lower the trade barriers 
between them by a mutual, or reciprocal, removal of customs 
duties on a wide range of goods. The coming of free trade had 
ended imperial restrictions on the flow of Canadian commerce, as 
well as making a new trade policy necessary for British North 
America. Accordingly, discussions concerning reciprocity could 
be undertaken with the United States. The governor-general. 
Lord Elgin, was especially interested in obtaining some agreement 
for reciprocal trade. He believed, indeed, that only reciprocity 

209 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

could prevent annexation, by filling the colonies' need tor new 
trade outlets. 

As it turned out, this dark view was not wholly justified. Before 
reciprocity with the United States was finally secured in 1854, 
Canadian commerce had managed to recover from the worst 
strains caused by the end of the old colonial system. World pros- 
perity had begun to revive in 1850. Canada found that it still 
could hold some of the British grain market, and a wave of British 
investment in the province brought rapid development. The Cri- 
mean War with Russia (1854-6) also increased the demand in 
Britain for Canadian grain by cutting off much of the eastern 
European supply. Thus when reciprocity was achieved it was not 
just a means of preventing annexation. Instead it was a construc- 
tive measure that aided an economic recovery in Canada which was 
already well under way. Nevertheless reciprocity proved enor- 
mously valuable to the colony. 

The successful arranging of a Reciprocity Treaty, however, 
largely depended on another issue than trade: on the fisheries 
question which affected the Maritimes more than the inland pro- 
vince of Canada. Ever since the Convention of 1818 had set 
limits to the right of Americans to fish inshore in British North 
American waters there had been disputes with the United States 
over the extent of this right. The fishermen of New England, as of 
old, were busily engaged in getting all that they could of the rich 
fishing harvest of the cold northern waters. There were sharp new 
clashes with them in 1852-3. Thus when free entrance to British 
American fisheries was offered to the United States as one term of 
a reciprocity treaty, that country soon became interested. 

At length the Reciprocity Treaty was signed in Washington in 
1854, its way eased by Lord Elgin's genial diplomacy and large 
quantities of champagne. It provided for a free exchange of natural 
(not manufactured) products between the United States and 
British America, free navigation of the American-controlled Lake 
Michigan and the Canadian-controlled St Lawrence, and free ac- 

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THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

cess to each other's fisheries. The points which mattered most in 
practice were that the Americans could now share freely in the 
northern fisheries, while the Canadians could send grain and lim- 
ber to the United States, and the Maritimes their fish and timber. 

Because of this Reciprocity Treaty, and later the wartime boom 
of the American Civil War (1861-65% British North American 
trade with the United States rose rapidly. It grew with the ever- 
increasing American market, as the republic spread across the 
continent. The Maritimes found another important outlet for 
their goods besides the British West Indies, which were declining 
with the failing prosperity of their overworked sugar plantations. 
Furthermore, although the colonies' trade in massive ship timbers 
would soon be threatened by the passing of the wooden ship, the 
rapidly growing towns of the United States produced a steady 
demand for building planks and sawn lumber from the Canadian 
and Maritime forests. Saw-mills and lumber towns sprang up in 
Canada West, in particular, and a busy north-south lumber trade 
began to replace the old east-west one across the ocean. 

Thanks, therefore, both to reciprocity and to the changing eco- 
nomic patterns of the age, the Commercial Revolution began trans- 
forming British North America. Half Canada's trade and two- 
thirds of the Maritimes' was still with Britain, but now as well 
there was an expanding commerce on the North American conti- 
nent. Canada was shaping a long-lasting system of trade, whereby 
she stood with one foot in the British market and the other in the 
American. She has shifted her weight more to one foot or the 
other with the passage of time, but the position itself was the out- 
come of the Canadian Commercial Revolution. The British North 
American colonies had adjusted themselves to the coming of free 
trade, and had changed total economic dependence on Britain for 
partial dependence on both Britain and the United States. 

But the Commercial Revolution meant still more. It led, for 
instance, to another step towards nationhood: the right of the 
colonies to direct their own trade policies even, if necessary, in 

211 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

opposition to Britain. Thus in 1859 the province of Canada im- 
posed a tariff of its own which burdened manufactured goods from 
abroad, including British, with heavier duties. This caused an out- 
cry among some manufacturers in Britain as it denied the now- 
accepted British principle of free trade. However, the Canadians 
declared that when Britain had dropped the direction of colonial 
commerce she had also thrown on the colonies the responsibility 
of making their own trade policy; and while free trade might be 
best for Britain, it might not be for the colonies. Besides, respon- 
sible government was meaningless if a colony could not control its 
own economic life. As a result, it was recognized that free trade 
for Britain also involved freedom for the colonies to settle their 
own trade and tariff policies. 

Finally, the Commercial Revolution leading as it did to new 
British American prosperity, pointed a finger towards union. The 
very growth of the colonies laid a much sounder basis for uniting 
them. They were more now than backwoods settlements. They 
were increasingly wealthy and enterprising communities, and 
might think with new confidence of joining together to control 
half a continent And the very fact that reciprocity might not last 
for ever made them consider the prospects of developing more 
trade relations among themselves, in case the American market 
might some day be cut down as the British had been. Before reci- 
procity had been won, a British American union had been proposed 
as a means of building up a vigorous commercial exchange between 
the provinces. When reciprocity did come to an end in 1865, the 
colonies turned back upon themselves in an attempt to keep, 
through union, some of the prosperity they had gained out of the 
changes of the Commercial Revolution. 

2 The Coming of Railways 

Mounting British American prosperity in the 1 850'$ was not only 
due to reciprocity. It was due also to the coming of the railways. 
The building of railways produced a great boom, and even though 

212 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

the boom burst in 1857, the new lines further developed the colo- 
nies and provided more solid groundwork for union. Railways, 
in short, made it possible to link the far-spread provinces together, 
while their high costs finally required a union, because only a 
union could afford to meet them. The first railway lines in British 
North America had been built in the 1830'$. But they were only 
a few miles long, and although longer lines were planned in the 
next ten years, it was only in the fifties that the railway age really 
began. By then there was an ample supply of British money and 
railway-building skill looking for new worlds to conquer. And the 
now flourishing American provinces were eager to acquire that 
latest instrument of progress, the railway. 

Lines were built in the Maritimes Unking Halifax and Truro in 
Nova Scotia, and Saint John and Shediac in New Brunswick. But 
the principal railway building went on in the larger province of 
Canada. Here the first lines constructed were attempts to improve 
the existing water transport system. Though the St Lawrence 
canals had been built, most of the traffic of the American West still 
flowed through American channels. Railways, in the right places, 
it was hoped, would turn the flow into the St Lawrence. Thus a 
line was planned from Montreal to the ocean at Portland, Maine, 
to overcome the closing of the St Lawrence by ice for half the 
year. This winter route to the sea, the St Lawrence and Atlantic, 
was opened in 1851. Then the Northern Railway was built from 
Toronto to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, to bring traffic down 
from the Upper Lakes and the West beyond. The Great Western 
similarly shortened the distance to the West by reaching across 
the Ontario peninsula from Hamilton, on Lake Ontario, to 
Detroit, opposite the western tip of the province. 

All these lines had some success in tapping the trade of the 
American West for Canada, but the greatest project of them all 
was the Grand Trunk Railway. The original plan for a through 
route called for a line from the western end of Canada to the 
ocean at Halifax, to be built by all the provinces. The eastern link, 

213 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

however., the Quebec to Halifax,, or Intercolonial railway, could 
not be agreed upon, and the province of Canada went on alone 
with its own Grand Trunk. It was to cross the whole province 
from the western end to the lower reaches of the St Lawrence. 
This Grand Trunk, therefore, represented a new stage in the 
dream of the commercial empire of the St Lawrence. If canals 
and river could not gain mastery of the western trade for the 
Canadian route, especially now that the preferences in the British 
market had gone, then perhaps a new St Lawrence route of steel 
could win the day for what was still the most direct path between 
the sea and the heart of the continent. 

Accordingly, contracts for building the railway were let to a 
British engineering firm, and British money, backed by the great 
British financial name of Baring, was freely invested in the new 
Grand Trunk. The Canadian government poured in money too, 
by borrowing large sums to put towards the cost of the line. The 
weight of these debts came to be a steadily growing burden on the 
Canadian taxpayer. As construction advanced, the railway com- 
pany had to appeal repeatedly for more aid from the provincial 
government, which meant more public debts. But by 1859 the 
tracks had been laid from Quebec to the western end of the pro- 
vince, and the St Lawrence and Atlantic had been taken into the 
GrandTmnk.Theresultwasthelongestrailwayin the world in that 
day, 1,100 miles in length. Yet from the first it did not pay. By 1861 
the Grand Trunk was bankrupt and owed thirteen million dollars. 

Again the best hopes of the St Lawrence interests had failed. 
It was the old story: New York and the Hudson valley had once 
more defeated Montreal and the St Lawrence in a commercial 
contest that began with the fur trade. When canal barges had re- 
placed fur-canoes, the Erie canal had conquered for New York 
City. When the St Lawrence had built canals, New York had built 
railways. When the St Lawrence built its Grand Trunk it came 
too late and it was too expensive to win the American western trade 
away. The much bigger American population again meant greater 

214 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

traffic and lower rates for the railways in the United States. New 
York's port facilities were larger and cheaper than Montreal's and 
on the open sea all the year around. 

Yet though the Grand Trunk failed in its main purpose, tiae 
railway-building era was by no means a failure for British North 
America. Perhaps the American western trade was not gained, 
but there was a growing traffic within Canada itself. Though this 
could not make the Grand Trunk a paying proposition it had im- 
portant results for the province as a whole. Its districts were 
joined together, towns rose rapidly as trading centres. The colony 
grew busier and richer. Montreal and Toronto forged ahead as 
the capitals of a thriving Canadian business world. The railways, 
besides, really brought the Industrial Revolution to British North 
America. Iron foundries, locomotive shops, rolling mills, ap- 
peared. Factories sprang up in the larger towns to produce for 
all the regions joined by railway lines. 

Railways also brought large public debts, made higher tariffs 
necessary to raise the money to pay them, tied the government to 
the fate of railway companies, and caused extravagence and cor- 
ruption in politics. Yet it would be hard to say that they were not 
worth the price. With the scream of the locomotive whistle 
through the dark Canadian forests, the pounding of the wide- 
stacked engines and swaying cars through the backwoods, pioneer 
loneliness and hardships fell away. In the mid-nineteenth century 
railway-building carried British North America out of the pioneer 
age. The Railway Revolution went hand-in-hand with the Com- 
mercial Revolution. 

But more than this, railways led toward union. If their tracks 
had linked up the province of Canada, they could join Canada 
and the Maritimes or Canada and the Pacific. New inter- 
provincial contacts and trade could come with them. Moreover, 
the very problems raised by railways suggested British American 
union as an answer. If separate provinces could not agree on con- 
structing a line from Quebec to Halifax, could not one country 

215 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

build it? And if the Grand Trunk could not pay within Canada, 
could it not pay if it were extended across the whole continent, 
and one large country shouldered the cost? 

The point was that the Grand Trunk had failed because it 
reached only the American West, and insufficient American traffic 
had come to it. But to the north west, beyond the province of 
Canada, lay great tracts of land under the British flag that stretched 
to the Pacific. If these could be opened up by railway lines, and 
a union, the Grand Trunk might yet succeed. In time this 
thought took hold. Gradually attention began to turn from the 
American West to the North West of British America, where the 
dream of a trading empire tied to Montreal and the St Lawrence 
might once again come true, just as it had in fur-trade days. 

3 The Question of the West 

In 1850 all the British lands beyond the province of Canada, 
from the Upper Lakes to the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, were still 
under the Hudson's Bay Company, as they had been since 1821. 
In that year the amalgamation of the North West Company with 
the older company of the Bay had left the latter in undisputed 
mastery of the vast West. In Rupert's Land proper, that broad 
indefinite region that drained into Hudson Bay, the Company 
ruled in any case by right of charter. In the lands beyond it hence- 
forth had a monopoly of trade, and carried on whatever govern- 
ment there was. 

Under a vigorous governor, Sir George Simpson, who ruled 
like a king over the great western domain during most of this 
period, Hudson's Bay government was orderly and efficient. The 
tireless, demanding Simpson kept his widely scattered posts under 
almost military discipline. The Bay Company brought law to the 
West at the same time as it enjoyed its golden years of fur-trade 
monopoly. Simpson kept up efficiency by constant tours through 
his fur-trade kingdom, and insisted on being treated with the 
proper ceremony due his authority. When his brigade of canoes 

216 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

would sweep up to a fort deep in the wilderness, flying the Com- 
pany's own red ensign, the fort guns would boom out an official 
salute to the formal little top-hatted figure seated stiffly behind 
his hard-paddling voyageurs. 

But although Hudson's Bay Company government might mean 
order and efficiency in the fur trade, it did not bring settlement to 
the North West. As always, fur trade and settlement were enemies. 
In any case few settlers would yet have gone to the distant West 
while much more easily available land could be found in the 
American prairies or, under the British flag, in the Canadas to the 
east. Yet the weakness of Company rule when faced with an on- 
rushing tide of settlement was made very clear in the case of the 
Oregon country. 

The Oregon country lay on the Pacific coast between California 
and Alaska. Fur traders from Canada, men of the old North West 
Company, had first opened it up by land. During the war of 1812 
they had driven out American traders. On the union of the Hud- 
son's Bay and North West Companies, accordingly, the Bay Com- 
pany had gained effective control of most of the Oregon trade. 
The Convention of 1818, however,had extended the boundary line 
between the United States and British North America westward 
along the forty-ninth parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the 
Rockies, and had agreed that beyond the Rockies, for thetimebeing, 
Oregon would be under joint British and American occupation. 

This uncertain state of affairs still existed in the 1 840*5 when 
American settlers began to cross the continent and enter the fertile 
Pacific slopes of the southern half of the Oregon country. They 
formed their own government and demanded entrance into the 
American union. The weak Hudson's Bay posts in the region could 
do nothing about this move. In the United States a cry went up 
for 'fifty-four forty or fight' : that is, for a boundary line up to 
Alaska, then held by Russia. Preparations for war were begun. 
But Britain had no desire to fight, and endanger Canada, and the 
United States was on the verge of war with Mexico. A treaty was 

217 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

signed in 1846, dividing Oregon by extending the line of the forty- 
ninth parallel to the Pacific, but leaving all Vancouver Island in 
British hands. 

The Oregon Treaty had all but finished the division of the con- 
tinent between British America and the United States. It had also 
shown the danger of leaving a fur-trade company to hold a region 
when a settlement invaded it. Consequently, the imperial govern- 
ment took some action to try to strengthen the British position in 
the far West. In 1849 they set up Vancouver Island as a Crown 
colony and sought to found a settlement there. The Hudson's Bay 
Company, however, was granted the island on condition of estab- 
lishing settlers. As usual, a fur-trade company put very little effort 
into this task, and the colony grew very slowly; though Victoria 
did emerge as a minor port-of-call and a miniature capital. 

Then in 1856 a new threat loomed. Gold was discovered on the 
empty mainland opposite Vancouver Island, on the Fraser river. 
American miners rushed up the coast into the gold reefs in the 
canyons of the Fraser. A wild new frontier developed overnight, 
and there was the danger of another Oregon. In this crisis, the 
bold James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island and chief 
Hudson's Bay official there, moved rapidly. He proclaimed his 
authority over the mainland and at once enforced order. Courts 
were set up; Royal Engineers acted as police. The miners found 
this a very different frontier under British law, but they accepted 
and obeyed it. 

In 1858 a separate colony of British Columbia was created on 
the mainland with Douglas also as its governor. It was ruled by 
governor and council; Vancouver Island by now had also a little 
'assembly 3 of seven elected members. As gold discoveries spread, 
the Royal Engineers carved a soaring, winding roadway along the 
mountain sides to the Cariboo gold fields, and over this 'Cariboo 
Road' came men on foot and riding, pack mules, ox wagons, stage 
coaches, and even camel trains. In 1862 the c overlanders', men 
from Canada, reached the Cariboo fields. They crossed bush, 

218 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

swamp,, plain, and mountain to become the first settlers from 
eastern Canada in what would some day be the Pacific province of 
a transcontinental dominion. The gold rushes died away; most of 
the American miners left. Nevertheless the foundations of the 
modern province of British Columbia had been laid, and the rest 
of the British Pacific Coast had been saved, thanks largely to 
Douglas. But it was not yet secure. Only union with the rest of 
British North America could promise any permanent sort of 
answer to the danger of an 'Oregon 3 settlement. 

Such an answer, however, seemed absurdly remote while the 
whole huge territory between the Rockies and the Great Lakes 
was a wilderness dividing the eastern colonies from the tiny pro- 
vinces of the Pacific. In all this lonely land only at the Red river 
was there any settlement. Here Selkirk's few Scots farmers had 
hung on and built a little colony around Fort Garry (now Winni- 
peg), the chief Hudson's Bay post in the plains. By 1850 there 
were about 5,000 settlers in the Red River Colony, the original 
group having been increased by retiring Hudson's Bay servants 
and their descendants, often French or Scottish half-breeds. Here 
also the Company showed no wish to see the settlement spread, 
though at its existing size it was useful as a supply base for the 
posts further west. 

The Red river inhabitants accepted this state of affairs. They 
felt no particular desire to see their colony grow through contact 
with Canada to the east. They had no real ties with that province 
and the few Canadian settlers who made their way to the Red 
river in the 1850*3 were frequently unpopular. This was largely 
because they wanted, and expected, to see the colony joined to 
the province of Canada, which had a somewhat thin claim to the 
western plains running back to the French period. But while the 
people of Red river hoped some day to escape the absolute 
Hudson's Bay Company control, they thought of separate exist- 
ence as a Crown colony, not of union with a far-off and unknown 
province of Canada. 

219 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

Yet there were forces making for union. These again were 
bound up with the danger of approaching American settlement. 
The westward movement of the frontier in the United States was 
raising a whole row of new states across the plains and American 
railways were creeping steadily west and northward. American 
expansion would not be stopped on the open plains by a fur trade 
company, any more than in Oregon. Already in the i85o's the 
Red river was being tied into trade with the American state of 
Minnesota, and a small American element was appearing in the 
colony, and there urging annexation. The Canadians in the Red 
river in alarm called on Canada, in 1857, to annex the colony 
first, in order to head off the growing danger from the south. 

Meanwhile in Canada there was increasing support for such a 
step, and in Canada West in particular. Here most of the good 
farm land had been taken up by the early i85O 5 s. The rest of the 
province fell within the rugged Shield. The next good land lay 
far beyond the Shield in the western plains. Thus the 'land 
hunger' of Canada West fanners was reflected in a demand for 
Canada to take over the North West and the Red River Colony 
from the Hudson's Bay Company. 

The demand was most strongly voiced by the so-called 'Clear 
Grit* Reformers of Canada West, who particularly represented the 
farming element. George Brown, their powerful leader, also had 
allies in the Toronto business world, which had schemes of its 
own for opening the North West and gaining its trade. Brown 
owned the Toronto Globe., the most influential newspaper in 
Canada. The Globe began a steady campaign for acquiring the 
West, and in 1857 the Clear Grits adopted this demand as a lead- 
ing party aim. In the same year the British government, also 
worried about the future of the North West in the hands of the fur 
trade, opened a parliamentary inquiry into the position of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. The Canadian government sent repre- 
sentatives to London to press its claims to the West. The inquiry, 
however, decided that the Hudson's Bay charter of 1670 was still 

220 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

valid, although the Company's monopoly in the regions beyond 
Rupert's Land was to end in 1859. As for the Red river, it might 
be ceded to Canada on terms reached with the Company. 

Such a decision left things as they were, since Canada would 
not yet agree to pay for territory which she had claimed as her 
own, and which she could not yet settle in the absence of any 
system of communications. And as Canada did not assume 
control, the Hudson's Bay Company was left in actual possession 
of all the West. Yet the threat from American settlement was still 
present, and growing. Union remained the only possible answer, 
and the very threat would one day make it necessary. 

4 Sectionalism and the Canadian Union 

The question of union really came to a head in the province of 
Canada. Oddly enough, it was a breakdown of union, within 
Canada itself, which finally forced the issue, since the Canadian 
troubles led to a discussion of new forms of union which might 
include all the provinces of British North America. The break- 
down was due to the violence of sectional conflicts in Canada, and 
these in turn arose from the unfortunate terms by which the two 
old Canadas had been tied together in the Act of 1840. 

It will be remembered that, despite Durham's recommendation, 
Upper and Lower Canada had been given equal numbers of seats 
in the parliament of the united province. Thus a clear-cut division 
was made between two evenly balanced sections in the new pro- 
vince. Far from French-speaking Canada East being absorbed in 
an English-speaking majority, it preserved a special character. It 
kept its own system of laws, land-holding, and Church authority 
that dated back to the Quebec Act. Its racial feelings had been 
newly aroused by Durham's hopes of assimilation. Hence the 
French Canadians drew together to control Canada East, and to 
make it a solid block in the politics of the united province. Having 
equal power, this block could not be overcome. 

In fact, since the great majority of the French in the assembly 

221 



THE QUESTION OF UNION,, 1846-60 

combined into one group, while English Canadians were divided 
into various groups of Tories and Reformers, the English-speaking 
majority could not assert its total strength. Under responsible 
government as a result, any cabinet had to be a loose alliance of 
French and English, representing equally the English-controlled 
Canada West and the French-controlled Canada East. There was 
really a double premiership, such as that of Baldwin and Lafontaine, 
with a leader for each of the two racial and sectional divisions. The 
very capital had to be moved every four years from Toronto to 
Quebec, because Montreal had disgraced itself in 1849, and East 
and West could not agree on any other city. 

French and English also tended to have different political ideas 
and aims. In consequence, any government was bound to be a 
shaky alliance, and a solid, province-wide party system cutting 
across sectional lines was impossible. Under these conditions 
party politics tended to collapse into sectional disputes and angry 
prejudices. And there was little hope of any remedy as long as the 
unsound union endured. 

Yet the union did have great value in overcoming old trade 
barriers between the two Canadas. Geography had declared that 
the St Lawrence lands were one. The union recognized that fact. 
Commercial advance and growing wealth went with it, even while, 
politically, the united province was falling apart. Thus it was that 
any return to two separate provinces seemed a backward step, and 
in the long run the principal desire was to recast rather than to 
destroy the union. And the powerful St Lawrence interests, who 
for reasons of trade had always sought to keep the St Lawrence 
lands united, were determined to avoid a separation. 

After 1850 the demand to alter the form of union came mainly 
from Canada West. Chiefly because of continued British immigra- 
tion, its population had climbed level with Canada East's, and now 
was steadily moving ahead. Year by year, therefore, the scheme of 
equal representation was becoming more and more unreal. Though 
Canada West had more inhabitants it still had no more seats in 

222 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

parliament than Canada East: it was said that four voters in the 
eastern section had as much power as five voters in the western. 
But, of course, most of the French Canadians had little wish to 
change a scheme of union that gave them, a minority group, a 
position of practical equality and provided good protection for 
their special interests. 

Canada West complained, however, that while it paid much the 
greater share of taxes most of the public money was spent for 
Canada East. It charged that government was under Trench 
domination', and with some truth, for any government had to 
depend on keeping the support of the key French block in the 
assembly. Accordingly, a rising cry went up in the western section 
for 'representation according to population*, which indeed would 
alter the union by giving Canada West a majority of seats in parlia- 
ment. French Canada resisted this demand, for while 'rep by 
pop' would create a true union, it would also swamp the 
French vote and destroy the special sectional position of Canada 
East. 

Given the problem of sectionalism in the union, it was not 
surprising that the old party lines began to break down once the 
question of responsible government had been settled. After the 
rights of self-government had been won there was little to keep 
the French and English Reformers together. The Baldwin- 
Lafontaine alliance, that had formed a strong majority and carried 
through responsible government, rapidly crumbled away. In 1851 
its two leaders retired from parliament:. They had had enough of 
the bewildering new state of politics. Many Englisb-speaking Re- 
formers in Canada West wanted to press on with a reform pro- 
gramme, in which the responsible system had been only the 
necessary first step. But the French Reformers of Canada East 
drew back, revealing their basically conservative outlook. Indeed, 
they now wished above all to conserve the favourable position 
that they had won in the union. 

In Canada West, however, a new radical movement arose that 

223 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

was impatient with even the main body of English-speaking 
Reformers. This was the 'Clear Grit' movement, so called because 
it wanted only pure-hearted radicals, men who were 'clear grit' all 
through. The Clear Grits were largely a revival of the old radical 
group that had followed William Lyon Mackenzie and which had 
been submerged after his defeat and during the leadership of the 
moderate Robert Baldwin. Like Mackenzie, the Grits wanted an 
elective system of government on American lines rather than the 
British cabinet system, and they began to seek complete democ- 
racy as well a very radical idea in Canada of that day. The Clear 
Grits began, moreover, to take the lead in the demand for seculariz- 
ing the clergy reserves, that old sore-spot of Upper Canadian 
politics. The money derived from the sales of reserves had been 
divided in Sydenham's time among the leading churches, with 
the Anglican church still receiving the lion's share. But seculariza- 
tion called for a final settlement of the reserves, and for turning 
the funds over to public education. 

With these policies the Clear Grits made a rapid advance in 
Canada West. Meanwhile a somewhat similar radical movement 
was emerging among the French in Canada East. This, the Parti 
Rouge, was partly a revival of Papineau radicalism, and it too 
believed in American-style government and complete democracy. 
Yet the Rouges were strong French nationalists besides, and 
attacked the British connection. They also attacked what they con- 
sidered to be the excessive power of the Catholic clergy in French 
Canada, and this anti-clericalism only weakened their chances 
among a people devoted to its church. Hence, unlike the Grits in 
Canada West, the Rouges soon ceased to make headway. If any- 
thing, they confirmed the mass of the French Canadians in their 
conservatism. 

This very conservatism made possible a strange new political 
partnership. The main French group, known as the Bleus, came 
to ally with English-speaking Tories with the party that had 
formerly condemned the French Canadians as disloyal and had 

224 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

tried to keep them from political power. But the Tories, after 
1850^ especially as influenced by bright young men like John A. 
Macdonald, were growing ready to accept responsible government 
and French political power as accomplished facts. They saw that 
by joining forces with French power they could gain a majority 
and govern once more, even under the responsible system. The 
Tory merchants of Montreal, the centre of the great St Lawrence 
business interests, soon realized that with French support such a 
government could carry through their railway schemes for the St 
Lawrence route. The French in their turn, eager to protect their 
Catholic conservatism, were ready to make terms with Toryism 
in order to gain a political majority, even at the price of dropping 
their old dislike of commercial expansion. 

Therefore the St Lawrence commercial Tories lay down with 
their old French enemies in a common conservatism. They agreed 
jointly to protect French rights in the existing union and to 
develop English business interests. With them were allied a 
moderate group of Canada West Tories or Conservatives 
under John A. Macdonald and those Canada West Reformers, led 
by Francis Hincks, who opposed the Clear Grit radical demands. 
These 'Hincksite* Reformers were also interested in business 
development and railway-building; whereas the Grits, being 
largely western farmers, tended to be suspicious of the cost and 
corruption involved in these policies. 

In consequence, in 1854, the Tory-French-Hincksite combina- 
tion came to power under the inspired name of the Liberal- 
Conservative party. The party was to have a long record in Cana- 
dian history, especially under the gifted master politician who did 
much to shape it, John A. Macdonald. It was to be distinguished 
for both nation-building and expensive, or even corrupt, politics. 
But perhaps it was most distinguished for having successfully 
combined French and English in a political partnership which, 
though loose, was lasting, and fulfilled Macdonald's deep-felt 
desire to maintain unity in Canada. With Macdonald went his 

225 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

close and constant ally as French-Canadian leader, the lively and 
determined Georges Cartier. It was a notable sign of the French- 
English alliance that Cartier had been solicitor for the new Grand 
Trunk, which the Liberal-Conservative party vigorously pressed 
forward, despite debts, scandal, and blistering criticism. 

This criticism was forcefully directed by the earnest George 
Brown, a first-rate journalist who began to rally the shattered 
forces of Reform in Canada West. An ardent admirer of the 
British constitution and friend of the British tie. Brown had at 
first sharply opposed the 'bunkum-talking cormorants', the Clear 
Grits, in his Toronto Globe. But in 1851 he entered politics to 
battle for the separation of church and state; that is, to prevent 
any church being supported or recognized by the government: a 
popular cause in Protestant Canada West, especially among Clear 
Grits. Brown pressed for the secularization of the reserves, to end 
Anglican privileges. He also opposed bills for establishing state- 
supported Catholic schools in Canada West, which, he said, would 
undermine the existing system of general public education. He 
claimed that the bills to found 'separate' schools in the largely 
Protestant West were the result of French-Catholic domination 
of the government. This separate school question would long con- 
tinue to trouble Canadian politics. 

The Liberal-Conservative Coalition of 1854, however, at least 
agreed to secularize the clergy reserves; and also to do away with 
the seigneurial system in Lower Canada, which had now been out- 
grown, and was unpopular among the French Canadians. Mean- 
while Brown and the Grits came together to oppose the Coalition 
and 'French-Catholic domination*. They demanded representa- 
tion by population. With this cry, and attacks on the costly failure 
of the government's Grand Trunk policies, Brown increasingly 
swung Canada West behind the Clear Grits. At the same time 
his strong-minded leadership brought them to drop their early 
support of American democratic ideas. George Brown made the 
Grits much more a regular (and respectable) British Liberal party, 

226 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 

believing in free trade, parliamentary government, and the British 
empire. 

Yet as Brown and the Grits swept ahead in Canada West, the 
Rouges, led by A. A. Dorion, fell behind in Canada East. They 
were Brown's natural Liberal allies, but his attacks on French 
power and their dislike of the bond with Britain made any working 
agreements between them far less successful than those between 
Macdonald and the main French group. As a result, a Brown- 
Dorion government formed in 1858 lasted only two days. 

But the very fact that one came to be formed at all, showed how 
sectionalism was undermining the Conservative strength. The 
Macdonald-Cartier government had fallen, indeed, because a num- 
ber of its French supporters had left it temporarily when Ottawa 
had been chosen as the new capital of Canada. They did not like 
the capital going to English-speaking Canada West, even if the 
choice was not Toronto, and although Ottawa lay in the middle, 
on the river separating the two sections of the province. Carrier 
and Macdonald returned to power after this brief French protest. 
But the strange shifts and devices which they had to adopt to form 
a government known as the Double Shuffle showed that they 
too were in a weak position. 

In short, government was failing. Canada West was becoming 
increasingly Clear-Grit Liberal, insisting on 'rep by pop'; Canada 
East increasingly French Conservative, or Bleu, determined to 
resist the demand. The Canadian union was splitting into two 
hopelessly opposed and equally balanced halves. Final deadlock 
did not come until the i86o's. Yet its shadow was already there. 
Thus it was that from both Liberal and Conservative sides plans 
for new kinds of union were now put forward. They led to the 
great plan of Confederation, the linking of all the provinces of 
British America. Thanks to the pressing problems of Canada, the 
largest province, the question of union took on new urgency. Out 
of the sectional struggles came a driving force that went on to 
mould a new nation in North America. 

227 



THE QUESTION OF UNION, 1846-60 



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228 




THE QUESTION OP UNION, 1846-60 



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BRITISH NORTH AMERICA 
BEFORE CONFEDERATION 



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CHAPTER 13 

THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

I The Movements Within 

On i July 1867^ the separate colonies of British North America 
united in Confederation to become the Dominion of Canada. The 
seven years before were one of the most important periods in 
Canadian history. During those years, powerful movements with- 
in the colonies and strong pressures from outside carried British 
North America onward to Confederation. They answered the 
question of union. It took a few years more before the new 
Dominion stretched completely from the Atlantic to the Pacific, 
but the final stage, that of bringing in the Great West, was already 
decreed by the successful uniting of the main provinces in 1867. 
The advance to Confederation at that date was the all-important 
achievement. It is one of the most compelling stories in Canadian 
history. 

Picture the colonies of British America in 1860, when the story 
begins. On the Pacific shores are two little outposts, Vancouver 
Island and British Columbia, linked only by sea with the outside 
world. Between them and Canada by land lie two thousand miles 
of silence, of mountains, endless plains, and the bush-country of 
the Shield. Only the cluster of farms at Red river breaks this 
empty expanse. But south of the forty-ninth parallel the restless, 
ever-spreading flood of American settlement is sweeping up over 
the prairies. Beyond the Great Lakes, in Canada, where some 
voices are raised in warning for the West, the St Lawrence pro- 
vince is racked with angry sectionalism, turned in upon itself. Yet 
while parties wrangle and French and English accuse each other 
of wrecking the union, the hum of mills and factories begins to 
rise, railway lines creep east and west. And the feeling grows that 

230 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

sectional troubles, trade development, railways, all point to a new 
and grander union. 

On the Atlantic coast, meanwhile, the Maritime provinces are 
glorying in the height of the age of wood, wind and water. Water- 
driven local industries, easy water transport, wood for their tall 
wind-ships : the Maritimes are well provided with these. They 
have brought golden prosperity. But what of the future? How 
will the Maritimes fare in the approaching age of iron and coal, of 
large steam-driven factories, railways and steel steamships? The 
Atlantic provinces have far less resources for this new era. They 
must plan carefully for the future. One of their most cherished 
plans is for a railway to link their ocean ports with Canada and the 
West. Then in an age of steam and steel the Maritime ports, closer 
to Europe than those of the United States, may still flourish, 
pouring forth the rich trade of the continental interior. But the 
Martimes cannot build an Intercolonial Railway alone. They may 
be led to unite with Canada in order to arrange and pay for the 
expensive line. 

Canada is still a far-away and strange place to the Maritimers, 
who look with doubt on the stormy Canadian record of rebellion 
and racial conflict, and pride themselves on their own loyal and 
orderly political development. Yet thoughts of a great British 
American union linking the Atlantic with the Pacific are not un- 
known in the eastern provinces. And was it not Nova Scotia's own 
Joseph Howe who predicted in 1851 that some of his audience 
would live to hear the whistle of the locomotive in the passes of 
the Rockies? 

This, then, was British America in 1860, and some of the stir- 
rings in its mind. Proposals to investigate the prospects of union 
had already been heard in the Maritime parliaments. But the 
most definite proposals had been put forward in Canada, by far 
the biggest province. Here the idea of federal union had been 
taken up, and this was a most fruitful suggestion. The British 
American colonies were actually too divided by geography and 

231 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

distance, too different in their interests, to see themselves swal- 
lowed up in a complete, or legislative, union under one govern- 
ment. The smaller ones would find themselves powerless to 
protect their special interests because the bigger provinces, con- 
taining a majority of the population, would regularly be in control. 
French Canada, on the other hand, would be fearful for its parti- 
cular rights in a largely English-speaking British American state. 

A looser, federal form of union, however, would meet the 
difficulty. Under federalism the powers necessary to maintain a 
single large state would be given to a central government while 
those matters of regional or sectional importance would be kept 
for provincial governments. The United States supplied the ob- 
vious example of how a federation could overcome the problem of 
North American distances and regionalism. In the Canadian case 
the movement for federal union went under the name of Con- 
federation, as if to distinguish it from the American example. But 
the essential plan and purpose were the same. 

In 1858 Alexander Gait had proposed a British American con- 
federation in the Canadian assembly. He suggested that the 
federal principle could be applied to a general union of Canada 
East, Canada West, and the Maritime provinces. Gait, a leader 
of the Montreal business world, shortly afterwards joined the 
Cartier-Macdonald government as Minister of Finance. Here he 
was responsible for the 'protective' tariff of 1859, which by raising 
the duties against British manufactured goods had protected Cana- 
dian manufacturers and caused an outcry in freer trade Britain. 
Gait had entered the Conservative government of Macdonald and 
Cartier on their promise to take up his project for general federa- 
tion at the Colonial Office. Such a change in the constitutions of 
British America would, of course, still require action by the im- 
perial parliament. But Britain showed that she was not yet 
interested in a general union, particularly because the other colo- 
nies had so far not pressed for it. Therefore the Cartier-Macdonald 
government let the matter drop, having fulfilled their oromise ; for 

232 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

aside from Gait they were not yet convinced of the need for such 
a federation. 

Nevertheless the Liberal-Conservative side in politics had thus 
proposed federation. Next the Reformers., or Liberals, under 
George Brown, took it up, although they sought only a federal 
union of the two Canadas. In 1859 a crowded Clear Grit conven- 
tion in Toronto endorsed a plan, backed by Brown, that would 
remove the sources of sectional conflict yet preserve the merits of 
the existing union. It aimed at setting up a general authority for 
both Canadas and two provincial governments to handle subjects 
of sectional or racial concern. And Brown in a mighty speech full 
of vision and persuasion made clear that this plan was to be the 
first step in building a great British American nation. 

For several years after the Convention, however, the Clear Grits 
still hoped to gain representation by population, and concentrated 
on that rather than federation. But French Canada would not 
yield c rep by pop' and be swamped by the English in parliament. 
Hence the sectional struggle dragged on. No government could 
last long. Neither Conservative or Liberal cabinets could find a 
secure province-wide majority when the West was falling ever 
more completely into the hands of the Grit Liberals, and the East 
to the French Conservatives. Macdonald, his own Conservative 
support sinking in Canada West, strove gamely and skilfully to 
build cabinets and to make the union work. But government was 
slowing to a halt. By June of 1864 there had been two elections 
and four governments in the previous three years. None had 
succeeded; little work could be done. Clearly the union could not 
continue on this basis. 

2 The Great Coalition in Canada 

As hopeless deadlock settled down on the province of Canada in 
1864, George Brown carefully but firmly stepped forward. He 
proposed a parliamentary committee to discuss the problem on a 
non-party basis and suggest the best solution. Here was a states- 

233 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

man-like act, seemingly unlike Brown. It had often been charged, 
with some justice, that Brown's violent outbursts against French- 
Catholic power and Conservative corruption had done much to 
embitter provincial politics; though it might also be claimed that 
the roots of bitterness were there without George Brown. At any 
rate, the impatient and hot-tempered Scot, warm friend and grim 
enemy, had of late been showing surprising restraint. He had 
decided that the dangerous question of the union must now be 
settled, and could only be settled by moderation and a turning- 
away from sectional and party strife. 

He soon made clear this decision of immense consequence. In 
June of 1864 Brown's committee reported to the assembly, recom- 
mending a federal union of all the colonies or at least of the two 
Canadas. On that very day yet one more cabinet fell, and Brown 
announced that he was willing to form any government with the 
Conservatives that would be devoted to solving the problem of 
union. Willing to join with his worst enemies it was a brave and 
dramatic move. At once the political picture changed. Deadlock 
vanished. A strong government of both Liberals and Conserva- 
tives could readily be formed to end the sectional evils. No wonder 
the assembly burst into cheers when they heard the news. No 
wonder an excitable little French Canadian member dashed across 
the floor and flung his arms happily about the towering, and 
startled, Liberal leader. 

The coalition government that was now formed, the 'Great 
Coalition' of 1864, agreed that it would first seek a general British 
American federation and, if that failed, would then bring in a 
federal union for the two Canadas with provisions for including 
the West. The first and larger scheme thus represented the original 
Conservative proposal made by Gait, the second, the plan of the 
Clear Grit Convention of 1859. Brown, who now entered the 
government with Macdonald, Gait, and Cartier, was quite satis- 
fied if the first could be won, since in any case it included the 
smaller Liberal scheme of federating the union between the two 

234 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

Canadas. And federation would mean that in the central govern- 
ment Canada West would receive the proper number of members 
that its population deserved; there would be representation by 
population. Canada West would also obtain its own provincial 
government, to look after the sectional interests that had been 
interfered with under the Trench domination' of the old union, 
In addition, Brown, as a British American nationalist (though 
none the less devoted to the imperial bond), could enter eagerly 
into the project for building a continent-wide union. 

On the Conservative side there were also grounds for satis- 
faction. For Macdonald and his English-speaking followers, it 
meant a continued share of power when they had felt themselves 
slipping. The unity of the St Lawrence they had fought to save 
would not be lost. It would be built into a larger whole. Further- 
more, Conservatives had been more interested than Liberals in 
the suggestion of union with the Maritimes and in building the 
accessary Intercolonial Railway to give that union meaning. Now 
the railway-building party could plan the eastward expansion, 
while the 'land-hungry' Clear Grits could look to bringing in the 
West. French Canada, too, could find its rights safeguarded under 
federalism, which would leave its language, kws and religion safe 
under a French-Canadian provincial government Hence Cartier 
joined with Macdonald in accepting the offer of alliance that 
Brown had made. Carrier's acceptance was no less brave and 
statesmanlike than Brown's offer. It was brave to join with the 
man his French supporters hated most; and it was statesmanlike, 
despite their suspicions, to see that, while French Canada could 
not hold out for ever in the old union against the demands of the 
English majority, federation offered it every necessary protection. 

Brown and Cartier were perhaps the vital figures at this critical 
stage in the movement for confederation since they controlled the 
largest blocks of votes in the Canadian parliament. Yet also im- 
portant in the province of Canada were Gait, the far-seeing 
financier, who had first put forward the confederation plan, and 

235 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

Thomas D'Arcy McGee, the brilliant Irish orator, whose national 
vision of a dominion from sea to sea put fire into the movement 
and aroused wide popular support. Above them all in the long 
run, however, rose the ambling, friendly figure of John A. Mac- 
donald. 

He had been lukewarm towards federation almost to the last. 
He had fought always to make the existing union work. But when 
the sweeping scheme of general confederation was adopted as the 
first aim of the Coalition of 1864, Macdonald came into his own. 
It caught his imagination. This was union in a larger realm, and 
it was the idea of a firm and powerful union that Macdonald 
stressed above all. His tactful diplomacy and ready good humour 
did much to carry it through in the discussions that followed with 
the other colonies. He left his mark on the strong structure of 
federal union that was finally adopted for the Dominion. And his 
long career of nation-building that really began with the Coali- 
tion of 1864 deservedly makes John A. Macdonald appear as the 
greatest Father of a Confederation which other men set under way. 

Yet the work of Confederation had only begun with the forma- 
tion of the Great Coalition in Canada. While the largest province 
had definitely set the movement going, the other provinces, and 
Britain, had not yet spoken. It was largely Canada's own internal 
difficulties which had led it to act first. Perhaps the other pro- 
vinces, not facing these problems, would not feel the same urge 
towards federation. Fortunately, however, there were other forces, 
from outside British America, which affected all the colonies and 
pressed them on towards union. These outside influences came 
from both Britain and the United States. But in particular, they 
stemmed from the American Civil War, and the grave problems 
it raised for British North America. 

3 The Forces Without 

In 1 86 1 the great and terrible Civil War broke out in the United 
States. From the start the British American colonies were affected. 

236 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

It was not merely that an earnest dislike of slavery bound their 
attention to the war so close at hand, and even led some Canadians 
to fight in the Northern armies against the slave-holding South. It 
was rather that bad feelings between Britain and the American 
North threatened to involve the British provinces in war them- 
selves. For in the event of war between Britain and the United 
States the Americans would strike at the closest British territory. 
The colonies would be invaded., as in the war of 1812; but this 
time they would face a far stronger foe, who had one of the largest 
armies in the world. 

The hard feelings between Britain and the United States were 
the results of faults on both sides. In Britain, old anti-American 
prejudices were expressed in a belief, or perhaps a hope, that the 
United States had finally failed. There was a tendency in some 
quarters to look on the South as a new and separate nation and to 
decry the Northern efforts to restore the American union. On the 
American side there was fire-eating talk of 'punishing' Britain for 
being too friendly to Southern rebels, and there were suggestions 
that the American armies could find better employment in the 
conquest of Canada. Nor was the feeling entirely absent that a 
war against the old British enemy of American Revolutionary days 
would close the breach in the republic and turn its warlike passions 
outward. However, despite the fire-eaters, cooler counsels in 
government circles on both sides of the Atlantic prevented such a 
tragic conflict. But the people of the time could hardly be sure 
that a war would not break out. 

For British America, in particular, the first battlefield of such a 
war, there was a new period of strain in relations with the United 
States, Looking back on history, one can see that the general peace 
between Canada and the United States dates from 1815; but in 
the mid-nineteenth century there was no sense at all that permanent 
peace had yet been secured. There had long been boundary prob- 
lems and mutual suspicion. There had been border fighting in 
1838 and a war-scare over Oregon in 1846. Why should the Civil 

237 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

War of the i86o's not release a new and desperate struggle? 
Through most of that decade the strain continued. It did not end 
when peace had been restored in the United States in 1865, for 
now there was a fear that the victorious Northern forces, freed 
from their tasks in the south, might be turned against Canada. 

It was during these years of strain, of repeated crises, that 
Confederation was achieved. In part, Confederation was an at- 
tempt to band together the strength of British North America to 
resist any American threat. The United States, therefore, not only 
supplied an example for a new northern federation : it supplied an 
urgent reason for it. A union would at least be better equipped to 
meet the general problem of British American defence. As the 
Civil War progressed, and quarrels flared between the United 
States and Britain, the question of defence loomed ever greater in 
the northern provinces. A sense of urgency began to invade the 
discussions of union. As D'Arcy McGee put it, the opening guns 
of the Civil War had warned Canada that she might sleep no more, 
except in arms, in constant readiness to defend herself. 

Now this awareness of a defence problem varied considerably 
throughout British North America. The colonies of Newfound- 
land, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, for instance, felt 
secure enough under the protection of the Royal Navy. But New 
Brunswick, and Canada especially, had long land frontiers to 
guard. Canada West was the most exposed, the furthest from 
British aid. Even here, however, there were many, George Brown 
among them, who felt that certain angry-voiced American news- 
papers did not represent the good sense of the American people or 
government : that there was no reason to fear war. Still, there was 
always the possibility to be guarded against, and several alarming 
incidents sharply brought home the unprepared state of the British 
colonies. 

The first of these incidents was the Trent affair of November, 
1861. Two Southern envoys to Britain were seized in high-handed 
fashion from the British steamer Trent by a United States warship 

238 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

at sea. Restraint by both British and American governments 
avoided war, and the envoys were set free. But the problem of 
defending British territory in America became suddenly plain. 
Over ten thousand British reinforcements were hastily shipped to 
Canada while the danger of war was at its height. To reach the St 
Lawrence colony in winter they had to go overland in sleighs from 
New Brunswick by the Madawaska c snow road'. If there had been 
war, much of Canada might already have been lost before their 
arrival. Accordingly the British government began an inquiry 
into the reorganization of Canadian defences, while the provincial 
government had to make plans for raising a larger and more 
effective militia force to aid the regular troops. 

There were other incidents. In 1864, for example, a band of 
Southerners (many of whom had sought refuge in Canada) slipped 
over the provincial border to raid the town of St Albans in Ver- 
mont. The provincial government acted to seize the raiders on 
their return to Canada, but not firmly enough to suit Americans, 
who felt that, at the least, the Canadians were not patrolling their 
borders properly, and, at the most, were aiding the Southern 
rebels. The United States government put strong controls on 
border crossings to Canada and announced that it might have to 
rearm on the Great Lakes, left free of warships since 1817, in 
order to protect its boundary. American warships on the Lakes 
would require British warships there too : the thunder of naval 
guns, silent since 1815, might be heard again on these freshwater 
seas. 

Fortunately, the Civil War in the republic came to an end in the 
spring of 1865, and the United States did not move to rearm on 
the Lakes. Yet a spirit of resentment was left on the American 
side of the line. When the following year saw raiding in the oppo- 
site direction the American authorities did little to check it. These 
new raids were the work of the Fenians, an Irish revolutionary 
group dedicated to ending British rule over Ireland. If they could 
not reach Ireland, at least their powerful Irish-American sup- 

239 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1 860-7 

porters often discharged soldiers from the Northern armies 
could do the next best thing and attack British lands in Nortf 
America. Fenians massed at points along the border in 1866. Thej 
made only one actual invasion of Canada, near the village of For 
Erie in the Niagara peninsula, where local militia threw them bacl 
after three days of alarms and excitement. Yet the threat of Feniai 
raids was widespread. An attempt on New Brunswick helped tc 
convince that province that strength lay in unity, and so inclinec 
it more towards the plan of British American federation. 

Militia marched and counter-marched in the colonies, and th< 
same kind of enthusiasm and feelings of common loyalty wer< 
roused as in the days of 1812 or the American raids of 1838. I 
was clear to the colonists that Fenian attacks were an annoyana 
rather than a real menace to their safety. The Fenians were no 
the United States army. The American government made no mov< 
towards war, and finally checked Fenianism when that movemen 
was dying of its own failure. Yet the raids did reveal American un 
friendliness, and underlined the need to show that the colonie 
would stand together to ensure their own future in North America 
Some Americans were talking again of annexing Canada. A pro 
posal for its peaceful annexation was even briefly made in Con 
gress. Perhaps more significant, however, was the ending of tb 
Reciprocity Treaty by the United States, another sign of America] 
unfriendliness, and a hard blow at all the northern colonies. 

The United States announced early in 1865 that it meant t< 
end, or abrogate, the Reciprocity Treaty. This was in accordanc 
with the Treaty term that it was to run for ten years and then b 
renewed or cancelled by either party, with an extra year of grac 
if it should be cancelled. The Treaty would end, then, in 1866 
A flourishing system of commerce would be cut off. Maritim 
fish, Canadian lumber, and many other colonial goods would n 
longer have free entry into the United States. The America- 
abrogation of reciprocity was undoubtedly influenced by th 
thought that these losses would lead to the annexation of British 

240 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

America, that the colonies could not survive without the American 
trade. While reciprocity was the happiest state for the provinces, 
however, they were not so utterly dependent on it as Americans 
believed; and in reaction to that belief British America only 
became more determined to shape a future of its own. 

Thus was encouraged that general feeling of British American 
nationalism which had almost been forced upon the provinces by 
the strained relations with the United States during the Civil War 
and by the Fenian outrages afterwards. As a result the movement 
for union was strengthened, particularly in the Maritimes, where 
it had been weaker. A British American nation should be the 
answer to talks of annexation. A union would remove trade bar- 
riers between the colonies, encourage an interprovincial commerce 
to replace what had been lost. It would even build the railway 
over which the new trade would flow between the St Lawrence and 
the Atlantic centres. An Intercolonial Railway and general federa- 
tion seemed even more tied together and even more necessary. 
Railway problems, as well as matters of trade and defence, were 
also influencing the colonies. The world-wide money power of the 
Barings' bank, which was behind the Grand Trunk of Canada, 
brought pressure to bear on the cause of union in an effort to save 
British investments hi the railway. In 1861 Edward Watkin, a 
Baring financial expert, was sent to Canada to investigate the 
'organized mess 5 of the Grand Trunk. He reported that the rail- 
way lacked traffic and could only be made to pay by extending 
eastward and westward, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, until it 
became a transcontinental line carrying a great trade from ocean 
to ocean. Thanks to this dazzling suggestion, British banking 
interests became concerned both with the projected Intercolonial 
Railway, the link with the Atlantic, and with opening the West, so 
that a line could be constructed to the Pacific. In 1863, indeed, 
Watkin and a financial group in London even bought a controlling 
interest in the Hudson's Bay Company, intending to open its west- 
ern lands to Canada in order that a Pacific railway might be begun. 

241 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

Old enemies, the Clear Grits and the Grand Trunk banking 
interests, were coming to share a common desire to unlock the 
West. 

As yet, however, Canada was unwilling to pay the price asked 
for the West. Indeed, it looked as if a British American union 
would be needed to take over all the lands from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific. Only such a big union would have sufficient credit to 
undertake to acquire the West and construct the railways to the 
two sea-coasts. Accordingly, British bankers and the Grand Trunk 
joined in working for the Confedration movement, and they had 
much influence in official circles. They looked with approval on 
Maritime desires for an Intercolonial Railway. Renewed con- 
ferences to discuss the Intercolonial were held between Canadian 
and Maritime representatives even before the Canadian Coalition 
of 1864 took up the question of a general federation. 

Watkin, moreover, had the ear of the Colonial Office. The 
British government was becoming increasingly interested in the 
ideas of opening the West and building new railways in British 
America the ideas that led logically to union. Yet more impor- 
tant in the mind of the British government were considerations of 
defence. Opening the West to Canada was the only means of 
saving it, in the long run, from advancing American settlement; 
and a Pacific railway could carry British colonists there. An Inter- 
colonial Railway would end the dangerous weakness displayed 
during the Trent Affair of 1861, the fact that British troops could 
not be rushed to the defence of Canada when the St Lawrence 
was frozen over in winter. 

Indeed, the stress and dangers of the American Civil War 
aroused the British government on the question of defence even 
more than it did the colonists of British America. Britain faced 
the main task of defending the empire and bore most of its costs. 
And at this very time when North American defence seemed to 
raise so grave a problem, a large element of opinion in free-trade 
Britain was proclaiming that colonies were only a burden and 

242 




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THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

expense. Some free traders, like Cobden and Bright, even deman- 
ded that the British American provinces be let go be 'allowed' to 
join the United States. 

While this view was not general in Britain there was at any rate 
a widespread desire that the costs of colonial defence be reduced, 
and that the North American colonies assume more of the burden 
of defending themselves against the United States. Here again a 
union of the provinces promised to allow them to shoulder that 
burden more cheaply and effectively. In time Britain began to 
exert strong pressure to bring about Confederation, and chiefly 
because of the defence question. In this case, too, the emergency 
raised by the Civil War had made its influence felt. It had fused 
together the movements within and the forces without, into a great 
drive that achieved Confederation. 

4 The Achievement of Confederation 

In June of 1864 the Great Coalition had been formed in Canada 
to seek general federation. In September of that year the Man- 
times were to hold a conference of their own to discuss a smaller 
project: a union of the Atlantic colonies. This plan was a result 
of the growing concern of the Maritimes for their future. 'Mari- 
time union' would strengthen them both politically and economi- 
cally. It was fairly popular in the coastal provinces and it had the 
blessing of the British government. But Maritime union was 
destined never to be achieved. It was swallowed up in the plan 
for a greater union. Representatives of the Canadian Coalition, 
seizing the moment when Maritime delegates were meeting to 
consider new ties, swept down on their conference at Charlotte- 
town, Prince Edward Island, and captured it for the Canadian 
project of general federation. 

The Canadians succeeded at Charlottetown because they came at 
a critical time. The Civil War was crashing to a bloody victory of 
North over South, and no one knew what might happen when the 
Northern armies were free to turn to other quarrels. The outside 

243 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

pressures of defence, of trade questions, were rising. So was 
British American nationalism. The Canadians drew splendid pic- 
tures at Charlottetown of a strong and secure new northern nation, 
linked by railways, in which Canadian wheat and industry would 
complement Maritime mines, fisheries, and ocean commerce. It 
was a noble prospect, and in it the Maritimes saw the question of 
their future answered. They agreed to send delegates to a further 
conference at Quebec to work out a scheme of British American 
union. 

In the next few months the movement for Confederation was at 
its peak all over British North America. Party differences and 
party feelings were forgotten in the general enthusiasm. A Con- 
servative government in Nova Scotia, for instance, under Charles 
Tupper, and a Liberal government in New Brunswick, under 
Leonard Tilley, worked with the Coalition in Canada. The great 
figure of Howe, then out of power in Nova Scotia, gave at least a 
first approval to the idea of general union. And the Grand Trunk 
railway, labouring hard in the cause, carried Canadians to the 
Maritimes and Maritime delegates on tours across the province of 
Canada. Furthermore, kte in 1864 and early in 1865, the St 
Albans raid and the American announcement of the abrogation of 
reciprocity increased the sense of the urgent need for union. 

In this time of strong feeling for Confederation the Quebec 
Conference of October, 1864, was able to draft plans for an endur- 
ing British North American federation. The conference, indeed, 
went through its business speedily and quietly, although in time to 
come it would be charged with showing too much haste. But in 
those burning, eager weeks there seemed no reason for delay. 
There was, besides, general agreement that the new federal union 
had to be a strong one. It was to provide wide powers for the 
central government in order to avoid those weaknesses of the 
American system, where the states had the wider powers, which 
had apparently produced the Civil War. 

The Conference that met in a hall overlooking the broad sweep 

244 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

of the St Lawrence, as it curved beneath the heights of Quebec, 
was composed of some of the ablest men in British North America. 
Among them were Macdonald, Gait, Tilley and Tupper, Cartier, 
Brown and McGee. They were there from French and English 
Canada, from the three coastal provinces and Newfoundland too; 
for the great island was meant to become a partner in the general 
union. These Fathers of Confederation, in their dark Victorian 
clothes and stiff collars, might seem a less colourful assembly than 
the eighteenth-century group in wigs and bright waistcoats that 
met in Philadelphia in 1787 to frame the American constitution. 
But the Quebec Fathers also held in their hands the future of half 
a continent. And it was fitting that they should meet in the old 
capital of New France, beside Cartier's great river of Canada. For 
here in the seventy-two resolutions that the conference drew up a 
new Canadian nation was born. 

The Quebec Resolutions, the plan of union, now had to be 
accepted by the provinces themselves, or rather by their parlia- 
ments, before Confederation could go forward. In the spring of 
1865 they were adopted in the Canadian provincial assembly, after 
some of the finest debates in the political history of Canada. The 
French and English Conservatives and the Canada West Liberals 
under Brown gave them a resounding majority. The only con- 
siderable group opposing were the Canada East Liberals or 
Rouges led by Dorion, who charged that Confederation was merely 
a Grand Trunk job', designed to get the railway out of bank- 
ruptcy. As usual with half-truths, this was a dangerous statement, 
because there was an element of fact in Dorion's charge which 
obscured the many other forces behind Confederation. But the 
weak Rouge opposition was not sufficient to turn the tide. 

In the Maritimes, however, the Resolutions ran into difficulty. 
By now a natural reaction against the excitement of Confederation 
was under way in these provinces, which had not inspired the 
project of federation, as Canada had, but had rather been led into 
it. Once the federal terms were on the table all the forces of Mari- 

245 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

time criticism could be turned upon them. The financial terms of 
the Quebec Resolution were attacked: it was said that the eastern 
provinces had not been provided with sufficient income under the 
new arrangements. The old suspicion of the unknown Canadians 
was revived: the Maritimes would be swamped in the federation, 
which was only a trick to get Canada out of her own problem of 
deadlock. These were negative influences; but on lie positive 
side, the easterners' love for their own little self-governing pro- 
vinces made them reluctant to see their identities lost in a large 
new state. 

Accordingly, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland rejected 
the Quebec resolutions outright. The former, a farming and fish- 
ing island in the Gulf of St Lawrence, shared little of the interest 
in a railway to Canada that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick felt; 
and, of course, the Royal Navy had sheltered the island colony 
from the alarms of the Civil War. Newfoundland had only been 
an observer at the Quebec Conference, and had even fewer ties 
with the continent of America than Prince Edward Island. Much 
of its trade was with Europe. In addition, having so recently 
achieved self-government, Newfoundland did not want to lose 
some of it in a union with far-off Canada. Government from 
Ottawa seemed as distant and uncontrollable as that from London. 
And Newfoundland in the 1850*8 had just won a fight to keep 
London from ignoring its interests by granting France too many 
fishing rights on that annoying Trench shore', which dated from 
the Treaty of 1713. Looking outward to sea, the island would have 
nothing to do with the 'desert sands' of Canada, as the Newfound- 
land foes of Confederation described them. 

The fate of Confederation did not turn on these two relatively 
small eastern provinces but on Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 
Anti-federation forces were strong there too. In Nova Scotia, 
Howe organized a powerful opposition to the Tupper government 
that supported the Resolutions. Howe had turned from his early 
approval of union; in part, perhaps, because he had not been able 

246 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

to attend the Quebec Conference and appreciate the problems of 
arranging the Resolutions ; in part because he believed his beloved 
province was being sacrificed to Canada. At any rate, Tupper had 
to hold back and did not even dare to bring the Resolutions to a 
vote in the Nova Scotia assembly. 

Norwouldsuchavotehavematteredforthetimebeing^sinceNew 
BrunswickhadmeanwhilerejectedtheQuebecscheme. Confedera- 
tion was impossible unless the middle province. New Brunswick, 
agreed. Its whole future hung here. In March, 1865, when Tilley 
decided to hold an election over the Quebec scheme, he and his 
government were thoroughly defeated. All the anti-federation 
forces in New Brunswick had come together, including powerful 
business interests that did not want the province's money spent on 
its share of a railway to Canada, but rather on a line to the Ameri- 
can border to link up with the railways of Maine. 

Gradually the balance began to turn, as the anti-federation re- 
action played itself out. The new government in New Brunswick 
proved unable to settle the railway issue or offer any alternative to 
federation. The abrogation of reciprocity, which came finally in 
March, 1866, made Nova Scotia and New Brunswick see more 
value in a union with Canada, and the Intercolonial supporters 
urgently demanded it. The Fenian attempt on New Brunswick 
further influenced public opinion. On one thing the Maritimes 
were determined: they would remain British in America, and if 
this required union, union there would be. 

Yet the deciding factor was the influence of the British govern- 
ment. From an early indifference to general union and an ap- 
proval of the limited Maritime union, Britain late in 1864 had come 
swiftly to favour the plan of Confederation. Defence was the 
great reason. After the Trent affair, she had been alarmed by 
Canada's apparent failure to raise sufficient militia to share effec- 
tively in her own defence, and there was always the demand at 
home to lower the cost of imperial burdens. If, as Canadian dele- 
gates to England now assured her, a general union would be able 

247 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, l86o~7 

to deal fully with defence, as well as take over the exposed West, 
then Britain would support such a union. 

Therefore in 1865 the British government closed its ears to anti- 
federation protests from the Maritimes and instructed the British 
governors in the two main eastern provinces to use their influence 
on behalf of Confederation. Their influence still was wide, even 
under responsible government. It came into play the next year, 
when the weak anti-federation government began to collapse in 
New Brunswick. At a new election in that province the governor's 
power and Grand Trunk money was thrown in on the side of 
Confederation, although the latter perhaps only cancelled out 
other money spent by those desiring the railway to Maine. 

The result was a sweeping victory for Tilley and Confederation; 
and, in Nova Scotia, Tupper was now able to get support for 
sending delegates to a new conference on British American union. 
It met in London, late in 1866, under the encouraging eye of the 
British government, and included representatives from New Bruns- 
wick and Canada as well as from Nova Scotia. At last Confedera- 
tion was on the high road to success. 

The London, or Westminster Conference accepted the Quebec 
Resolutions as the basic plan of union and made only minor 
changes, including larger money grants to the Maritimes and a 
definite statement that the Intercolonial railway would be built. 
There would be four provinces in the new federation: Nova 
Scotia, New Brunswick, and Ontario and Quebec (the former 
Canada West and Canada East). Meanwhile talks were proceeding 
on the method of handing over the vast North West to the new 
federation. One notable result of the Conference was that the 
name Dominion of Canada was adopted for the British American 
union. Tilley, it is said, found the key word, 'Dominion' in 
Psalm Ixxii. 8 : 'He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and 
from the river unto the ends of the earth . . .' 

Trom sea to sea' would be the well-chosen motto of the new 
Dominion. Soon it would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, 

248 



THE PATH TO CONFEDERATION, 1860-7 

and from the St Lawrence to the end of land on the edge of the 
Arctic Ocean. But first the imperial act creating the new state in 
accordance with the resolutions of the Westminster Conference 
had to be put through the British parliament. Early in 1867 this 
measure, the British North America Act, embodying the new 
federal constitution of British America and the terms of its union, 
was passed by both houses of parliament. On i July the Act came 
into force. The Dominion of Canada began its career. By 1873 it 
had brought in the North West, British Columbia, and Prince 
Edward Island. Newfoundland remained outside until 1949. But 
the vital step had been taken in 1867, when the plan of Con- 
federation triumphed, when the age of the British American colo- 
nies passed away, and that of the Dominion of Canada began. 



249 



FART IV 
THE CANADIAN NATION 



CHAPTER 14 

THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

I The Structure of Government 

In the autumn of 1867, the first parliament of the Dominion of 
Canada met in the rising town of Ottawa. Ottawa, chosen a few 
years earlier as the capital of the province of Canada, had now 
been selected for the Dominion capital. There beside the Ottawa 
river, on steep cliffs that looked northward to the blue line of 
Laurentian mountains, fine new parliament buildings had already 
been erected. They were too fine, George Brown had declared, for 
a mere province; but they would suit the dignity of a young nation. 
At any rate, these expansive buildings with their Victorian Gothic 
spires (one of which reminded Macdonald of a cow-bell) well 
served the needs of the new federal government. But what was 
the form of government housed within their walls? 

As set forth in the British North America Act of 1867, it was a 
combination of federalism and the British parliamentary system. 
There was a Governor-General at the head of the government, and 
two Houses of Parliament, the Senate and the House of Commons. 
Because, of course, responsible government continued in effect, a 
prime minister and cabinet actually governed Canada, dependent 
on the support of the House of Commons. The Governor- 
General largely played the formal part of the Crown in Britain; 
although for some time he continued to exercise more influence on 
the counsels of government than did Queen Victoria at West- 
minster. The Senate, the members of which were appointed for 
life, gave equal representation to the principal sections of the 
Dominion. The House of Commons was elected on a basis of 
representation by population and represented the people of Canada 
as a whole. The right to vote in electing this house was still 
restricted to men with property, but the amount required was low, 

253 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

the number of voters was large, and by the end of the century 
Canada was generally speaking a broad-based democracy, with 
manhood suffrage the rule in both provincial and Dominion 
elections. 

The House of Commons was a much more powerful body than 
the Senate, since the cabinet rested solely on the Commons' vote 
of confidence, and not on that of the upper house. On this vital 
point Canada was following the established practice of the British 
parliamentary system. But federalism entered the Canadian con- 
stitution in the principle of representing sections equally in the 
Senate, and in the more important fact that certain powers of 
government did not belong to the Dominion parliament but lay 
with the provinces. 

The provinces had much the same structure of government as 
the Dominion. There were provincial parliaments or legislatures 
and provincial prime ministers or premiers, who governed accord- 
ing to the cabinet system. Lieutenant-governors, appointed by the 
Dominion, served as the formal heads of the provincial govern- 
ments. On entering Confederation New Brunswick and Nova 
Scotia had kept their old provincial legislatures which contained 
two houses, an appointed legislative council and an elected legis- 
lative assembly. Because, however, the province of Canada had 
now been divided into Quebec and Ontario (the former Canada 
East and Canada West) two new provincial constitutions had been 
required. They were set forth in the British North America Act. 
That of Quebec had two houses, as in the Maritimes, but Ontario 
adopted only a single elected chamber. To-day all the Canadian 
provinces except Quebec have adopted this simpler, single- 
chamber form of legislature. 

The provincial governments had been given the necessary 
powers to look after affairs that were largely of local concern, in- 
cluding control over property and civil rights, civil law, muni- 
cipal governments, licences, the chartering of companies within a 
province, and the right to raise money by direct taxation in order 

254 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

to meet government expenses. Thesepowers sixteen inail were 
listed in Section 92 of the British North America Act. Education, 
especially, was a jealously guarded provincial power; and no- 
where more than in Quebec, which thus sought to preserve the 
special ways of French Canada by keeping control of the teaching 
of its young. The division of federal and provincial powers, more- 
over, generally served to protect the French minority in Quebec. 
And as an extra safeguard, it was decreed that Quebec should 
always have sixty-five members in the federal House of Commons, 
in order to give the French Canadians a fairly large representation 
there. Other provinces would have more or fewer members, in so 
far as their population was greater or smaller than Quebec's. As 
population patterns altered, membership was to change accord- 
ingly, around this central pivot of Quebec. 

The powers of the Dominion government were listed in Section 
91 of the British North America Act under twenty-nine headings. 
They included control of the armed forces, postal service, coinage 
and banking, fisheries, criminal law, the regulation of trade and 
commerce, and the right to raise money by any mode of taxation, 
direct or indirect. Obviously the Dominion powers were wider 
and more numerous, as was fitting for the government of a large 
state. The Dominion was given a general authority over all matters 
affecting c peace, order and good government', except when they 
fell within the fixed provincial fields. It was made clear that any 
remaining (or residuary) powers lay with the central government. 
The provinces had no more than the set of powers definitely listed 
for them. 

This was done because the British North America Act was 
meant to create a strong union : to shape a federal government with 
wide authority and local governments with only limited powers. 
The explanation of this fact goes back to the Quebec Conference, 
which largely drafted the plan of union that was later embodied 
in the British North America Act. At Quebec in 1864, there was 
every desire for a strong union. The pressures from outside were 

255 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

high, driving the colonies together. There was a sense of urgency 
created by the growing troubles with the United States. At the 
same time Macdonald, who was becoming the leader of the Con- 
federation movement, had still his old preference for complete 
union. If that were not possible, then the strongest possible 
federal union was the next best thing. The central government, 
therefore, was not only provided with wide powers; it was also 
given the right of naming the provincial governors, who were to 
be its local supervisors, and the right to review provincial laws and 
if necessary to reject or 'disallow' them. Clearly the central 
authority was the superior. Furthermore, the principle that resi- 
duary powers belonged to the Dominion was also meant to streng- 
then the union. It was intended to avoid the apparent flaw in the 
federal system of the United States, then in the throes of Civil War. 
In that country the reserve of power had remained with the states, 
and half the union had gone to war to assert the supremacy of 
'states' rights'. 

If the strength of the federation was one distinctive feature of 
the new system of Canadian government, another was the imprint 
of British influences upon it. It would be wrong to think that 
because this was a federal system that it was generally a copy of 
the American constitution. A 'British American 3 constitution, 
Canadians proudly called it; their own particular blend of British 
and American influences, as was their country itself. Though the 
designers at Quebec turned naturally to the United States to study 
federalism in North America, they did so largely to see what to 
modify or avoid. The Canadian Senate, for example, had only the 
same name as the powerful American chamber. As an upper house 
on the British parliamentary model it was not meant to be more 
than a revising body, or a brake on the House of Commons . There- 
fore it was deliberately made an appointed house, since an elected 
Senate might prove too popular and too powerful, and be able to 
block the will of the House of Commons. The Canadian Senate 
was really the old British colonial legislative council under a new 

256 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

name. Besides, it did not represent separate provinces or states, as 
in the American system, but sections; Ontario and Quebec each 
had twenty-four members, and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick 
twenty-four together. This 'section' principle was continued as 
new provinces were added to the Dominion. 

The Canadian structure of government, moreover, wedded the 
British cabinet and the whole unwritten British constitution to a 
written plan of federalism. Although the written part of the con- 
stitution, the British North America Act, would hereafter be sub- 
ject to the decisions of courts of law, which sometimes hampered it 
in adjusting easily to new needs, the unwritten part could go on 
developing in parliament, as in Britain, in order to meet the 
changing requirements of government. Finally, the whole manner 
in which this new structure of government was established in 
Canada showed its British background. It was not done by a com- 
pact between independent states, as in the American case. Al- 
though the colonies did plan the federal union, and agreed to 
adopt it, in legal fact the union was enacted by the authority of the 
imperial parliament. A British act created the Dominion of 
Canada. The right of framing colonial constitutions still lay with 
the British parliament. This power to alter the Canadian constitu- 
tion long remained at Westminster, though it was used only at 
Canada's request. Nor did the Dominion make any attempt to 
change this situation for many years to come. 

The British North America Act also dealt with other matters 
than forms of government, such as providing for the admission of 
new provinces to the east or west, agreeing to begin the Inter- 
colonial within six months after union, and, most important, fixing 
the financial terms on which the Confederation should operate. 
The question of financial arrangements had been one of the hard- 
est to deal with at the Quebec Conference. Dissatisfaction with 
the terms adopted had been a main factor in the anti-federation 
movements in the Maritimes afterwards. The problem was still in 
existence when the Dominion began its career. The great diffi- 

257 



THE NEW DOMINION,, 1867-78 

cully was that, in giving up to the new central government the 
right to collect indirect taxes, the right to fix a tariff and levy 
customs duties, the provinces were losing their main source of 
income. This hit the Maritimes particularly hard. Direct taxation 
had never been as fully developed in the Atlantic provinces as in 
Canada. 

In consequence it was agreed at the Quebec Conference that all 
the provinces should receive certain yearly payments or subsidies 
from the Dominion, in accordance with the size of their popula- 
tion, because of the taxing powers which they had given up. These 
subsidies were later raised for the Maritimes, when they com- 
plained that their financial problems had not been met, and pressed 
for 'better terms'. All in all, the principle of subsidies was really 
a basic part of the new structure of government: a main factor in 
making it possible, and an important item as well in the dispute 
which in time would arise over the relations between the provinces 
and the government of the Dominion. 

2 Rounding Out the Dominion 

The first great task of the young Dominion was to extend its 
boundaries from sea to sea to bring in all the broad northern lands 
of the continent. This was done within six years of the founding 
of the new Canadian union and under the guiding genius of its 
first prime minister, Macdonald now Sir John A. Macdonald. 
By 1873, only Newfoundland among the former British American 
colonies had failed to join Confederation. Supporters of union 
had carried on an active campaign in the island between 1865 and 
1869. Though the colony had not shared in the London Confer- 
ence of 1866-7 that had drawn up the final plans for the British 
North America Act, talks had been reopened in 1868 between 
Newfoundland and Canada. A delegation had visited Ottawa and 
returned to the island with the draft of an agreement for union. 
The next year, however, the Newfoundland government which 
backed the agreement was thoroughly defeated at an election. The 

258 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

people of the colony thought the financial arrangements were in- 
sufficient, and the general ignorance, and even suspicion, of 
Canada were successfully played upon by the enemies of federa- 
tion. As a result, after 1869 Newfoundland dropped thoughts of 
union for some time to come, arid determined to go forward on its 
own. 

There were other questions as well as that of Newfoundland 
facing the Dominion in the east. For example, the promised Inter- 
colonial railway had to be constructed. It was begun at once as a 
government project and finished in 1876. The line ran through 
New Brunswick as far from the American border as possible, for 
reasons of defence, and so was too remote from the settled areas to 
gain much traffic. Yet though it did not pay, this first railway link 
between the Maritimes and the interior was a necessary step in 
completing the Dominion. Railway lines at last had pierced the 
Appalachian barrier, through the deep, wooded trough of the 
Matapedia valley, to join the St Lawrence region with that of the 
Gulf and the Atlantic. 

Another and more serious eastern problem was the renewed anti- 
federation movement in Nova Scotia. In 1867, at the first Domin- 
ion elections, anti-unionists led by Joseph Howe had swept that 
province. Howe still had his fears for his native province, and 
managed to swing the closely balanced forces in Nova Scotia in 
his favour. It was here that Macdonald found a chance to display 
his talent for union-making. When Nova Scotia's anti-unionists 
failed to influence the British government and parliament, Sir 
John undermined their stand on separation by arranging better 
financial terms for their province and by persuading their leader, 
Howe, to accept a seat in his coalition government. Nova Scotia 
was fairly well settled in Confederation thereafter, though for 
Howe this was the last, and perhaps the least, period of his great 
career. But it would not be the last time that Macdonald's politi- 
cal skill and the Dominion treasury would work together to 
cement the new Canadian union. 

259 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

The financial power of the Dominion also served largely to 
bring in another province in the east. Prince Edward Island was 
running into money problems, and looked on union with Canada 
with new favour. The island had built a railway for itself, but had 
gone heavily into debt. Funds were needed as well to end that age- 
old burden of the little province, the absentee ownership of land. 
Entrance into the Dominion would provide more money for the 
railway and help in buying out the absentee land-owners. By 
now the island province also wanted a good connection with the 
growing railway system on the Canadian mainland. The guarantee 
that a regular ferry service would be maintained formed one of its 
terms for union. In 1873, therefore, Prince Edward Island became 
the third Maritime province to join the Dominion of Canada. 

But meanwhile the main expansion of the Dominion was pro- 
ceeding westward. The transfer of the North West to Canada had 
been one of the prime aims of the Confederation movement. The 
new Dominion at once took up this question, which chiefly in- 
volved settling the price for which the Hudson's Bay Company 
would agree to give up its charter to Rupert's Land. In 1868 the 
British parliament passed the Rupert's Land Act, to ensure the 
transfer of the Hudson's Bay domain to Canada when terms had 
been reached, and in 1869 the Company accepted a Canadian 
offer of 300,000 and large western land grants. Rupert's Land 
and the North West Territory beyond, where the Company had 
held the trade monopoly, could now be transferred to Canada. 
The young Dominion would reach to the Rockies, and north to 
the Arctic Ocean. This tremendous addition it decided to rule as 
the North West Territories, under a lieutenant-governor and 
council appointed in Ottawa. 

Yet the feelings of the little settlement at the Red river, in the 
heart of this great new empire, had not been consulted during the 
transfer. Under the absolute authority of the Hudson's Bay 
Company, the settlers had little voice in their own government. 
They began to wonder what their future might be. While, on the 

260 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

whole, they had come to accept the idea of union with Canada 
there were some who hoped to establish a separate colony under 
British rule. The rather noisy, overbearing handful of Canadians 
in their midst, who looked down on the other inhabitants, the un- 
expected appearance of Canadian land surveyors, who plotted out 
square land divisions as if the long, thin river-bank farms of the 
Red river did not exist, added to the uneasiness of the settlers. 

The largest group at Red river were the English- and French- 
speaking half-breeds, who feared for their free life of the plains if 
Canadian settlement should begin in earnest. The more numerous 
French-speaking half-breeds, the Metis, were also worried over 
the fate of their Catholic religion and French culture when 
English Canadians poured in. Their hope of raising a new French 
Canada in the West, a hope shared by the Catholic Church and 
Quebec, seemed dangerously threatened. And now the danger 
was at hand. In the autumn of 1869 the new Canadian lieutenant- 
governor, William McDougall, who had worked with George 
Brown in seeking the West for Canada, reached the Red river to 
take over the colony. 

At this point the Metis found a leader, the clever but unbalanced 
Louis Riel, a French-speaking inhabitant of Red river with a dash 
of Indian blood. Seizing on the fact that McDougall had arrived 
ahead of the date when his authority was to begin, while that of the 
Hudson's Bay Company had lapsed, Riel set up a 'provisional 
government* of his own. He took over Fort Garry, the chief 
Hudson's Bay post at the Red river, and stopped McDougall at 
the border of the settlement. Yet this was not quite a rebellion. 
There was no thought of rebelling against Britain; Canada had 
not yet actually taken over the West, and would not do so until 
she could obtain peaceful possession. Riel's government, more- 
over, established orderly rule and set up a representative assem- 
bly; it was accepted by most of the Red river colonists, the French 
and English half-breeds, the former Hudson's Bay men, and the 
descendants of Selkirk's settlers. Only the small Canadian group 

261 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

opposed it. And this led to the one act of violence that in the 
long run proved fatal: the execution of Thomas Scott, a young 
English-speaking Canadian who resisted Kiel's authority. He 
brought down on himself the fury of the M6tis leader, whose 
vanity could hardly bear opposition. 

Kiel's purpose in setting up his government was to win terms 
from Canada, so that the Red river could enter the Dominion as a 
separate province with guarantees for the Metis land and protec- 
tion for French rights, as in Quebec. Accordingly Red river dele- 
gates travelled to Ottawa, while Macdonald sent a new repre- 
sentative to the West to replace the unsuccessful McDougall in 
treating with Kiel. Terms were reached that gave the Red river 
almost everything it sought, and it was clear that the Riel govern- 
ment would peaceably disband. But in order, as well, to give the 
new Canadian authority proper force in the West it was agreed 
that a military expedition should go to the Red river. A few hun- 
dred British regulars and Canadian militia under Colonel Garnet 
Wolseley marched west through the wilderness beyond the head 
of the Great Lakes in the summer of 1870. And that year the Red 
river settlement was set up apart from the rest of the North West 
Territories as the new province of Manitoba. By the Riel rising, 
therefore, Manitoba had been forced into being as a full partner in 
the Dominion, although as yet its population was quite small. In 
the new province both the French and English languages were to 
be in official use, and Catholics and Protestants were to have their 
own school systems. Apparently the French M6tis had succeeded 
in creating a little Quebec in the west. 

But meanwhile feeling was rising in English-speaking Canada, 
especially in Ontario, over the execution of Scott. Ontario de- 
nounced Riel as a traitor and murderer and regarded the Wolseley 
expedition as an army sent to put down rebellion. Quebec natur- 
ally regarded Riel as a hero, and warmly defended him. Perhaps 
he was both hero and murderer, for despite the orderliness of his 
provisional government it did not have the power to put a man to 

262 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

death. Here Kiel's lack of balance had carried him into needless 
violence. Accordingly, when the Wolseley expedition approached., 
fearing punishment, Kiel fled the Red river. His government col- 
lapsed. Canada had gained the West and made a province; but 
the Kiel rising, with the bad feelings it caused between French and 
English in Quebec and Ontario, was to cast its shadow over the 
Dominion in years to come. 

The next step for Canada was expansion to the Pacific coast. 
There on the western slopes of the continent Vancouver Island 
had been joined to the province of British Columbia in 1866. But 
the province was still weak and backward, with only about ten 
thousand inhabitants, and representative, but not responsible, 
government. The gold rush was over by now; British Columbia 
not only did not grow but floundered in financial difficulties. The 
only way out seemed to be union with Canada or with the United 
States. When, however, a document calling for annexation to the 
republic was put forward in 1869 only one hundred and four per- 
sons signed it. The majority wanted 'British' Columbia, indeed. 

On the other hand there was a growing desire for union with 
Canada. This became particularly strong when the Dominion took 
over the North- West and so moved next door to the Pacific prov- 
ince. The campaign for union with Canada gained force, pressed 
on by a colonist who had taken the splendid name of Amor de 
Cosmos (his real name was Smith). Led by de Cosmos and the 
imperial authorities, who still wielded much power in British 
Columbia, the unionist cause readily won its victory. In 1870 
delegates from the province reached terms of union in Ottawa, 
including the promise that the Dominion would begin a railway 
to the Pacific in two years and finish it in ten. And in 1871 
British Columbia joined Confederation, as another full partner, 
with its own responsible provincial government. 

The Dominion stretched from sea to sea A man usque ad 
mare, as its motto declares. It had taken only four years to reach 
across the continent, while the United States had taken more than 

263 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

half a century. Yet this very difference in speed was a result of 
the presence of the United States. The constant threat of Ameri- 
can expansion, that had made the question of union so pressing, 
had created a constant sense of urgency. Canada had grown so 
fast because the ceaseless advance of American settlement in the 
west and the aggressive mood of the United States after the Civil 
War had driven her on. These dangers had also made both the 
British colonists outside the borders of the Dominion and the 
government in Britain eager to support the cause of union. There 
were Fenian stirrings at the Red river, though the Metis rallied 
against them; the United States had bought Alaska from Russia 
in 1867 and was talking of taking over the entire Pacific coast. 
The Dominion had need to expand quickly. Of course, the fact 
that it brought in territories that were already British enabled 
Canada to grow as rapidly as it did. 

At the same time this rapid expansion stretched Canada thin. 
Because of the need for haste, the Dominion did not grow as the 
United States had done, hand in hand with settlement and com- 
merce, but far ahead of them. In rounding out the Dominion not 
much more had been accomplished than the staking of a claim 
across the continent. Now it had to be filled in, if it were to endure. 
Railways and settlements had to move west. The union had to be 
made real in men's interests, hearts, and minds. These were the 
next problems for Canada. 

3 Macdonald Conservatism and a Liberal Interlude 

During the dramatic first six years of the Dominion, when 
Canada gained far more land than she had held in 1867, Sir John 
A. Macdonald had governed the country. There followed five 
short years of Liberal rule, and then Macdonald returned to power, 
to hold it from 1878 until his death in 1891. Nor did the Liberal- 
Conservative party which he had moulded finally fall from office 
until 1896. Macdonald Conservatism, therefore, is vitally con- 
nected with the first thirty years of the Dominion's history. And 

264 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

it was during Macdonald's first Dominion government that the 
outlines and policies of Conservatism took shape. 

Officially, his first cabinet was a coalition. Before the elections 
were held in the summer of 1867 to fill the new federal parliament, 
Macdonald and his allies had raised a cry for a no-party govern- 
ment to launch the Dominion in a spirit of unity and patriotism. 
It was a highly successful appeal. George Brown, once more 
Macdonald's chief foe now that Confederation had been carried, 
found himself and the Clear Grit Liberals put in a false position 
as unpatriotic 'anti-unionists' which they were not because 
they wanted to start the new governing system on the basis of 
party politics. And so, despite Brown's strong hold on the largest 
province, Ontario, Macdonald swept into power. Thanks largely 
to his no-party cry, he gained many Liberal votes in all the prov- 
vinces; and these together with his Conservative support gave him 
a firm majority. The Ontario Grits retreated angrily to opposition. 
George Brown retired into private life, although as owner of the 
chief Liberal journal, the Toronto Globe, he continued to exercise 
much influence over his party until his death in 1880. 

In office meanwhile, Macdonald brought into his cabinet some 
lesser Liberals from Ontario, as well as Tilley from New Bruns- 
wick, and soon Howe from Nova Scotia, in order to prove that 
this was indeed a coalition government. Yet the leading men in 
the cabinet, including Carrier and Tupper of Nova Scotia, were 
Conservatives. Under Macdonald's powerful leadership, more- 
over, the whole cabinet began to take on a one-party colour. It 
became a Conservative government, devoted to building up the 
Dominion and to preserving the federal union. To these ends it 
was ready to spend money freely, to make grand and costly plans 
for a big Canada, and to tie itself closely with wealthy business 
and railway interests. Such an attitude, of course, came down 
from the Liberal-Conservative party of the old province of Can- 
ada. And the vital partnership between the French Canadians 
and leading English-Canadian business men was also carried over 

265 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

into the Dominion Conservative party. It stood for a union of the 
two peoples and all the provinces. To maintain that uncertain 
union Macdonald used all his warm personal charm and sharp 
political craft which once brought a prominent Liberal to ex- 
claim., 'Ah, John A., John A., how I love you. How I wish I 
could trust you!' 

On the other side Liberalism was also taking shape in the 
Dominion, building largely on the Clear Grits of the former 
Canada West. The Liberal party was at first much looser than the 
Conservative because it represented a jumble of discontented pro- 
vincial groups rather than one general national alliance. The 
Liberals remained strong in the province of Ontario, however. 
Here Oliver Mowat, a former follower of George Brown and a 
Liberal Father of Confederation, ruled the provincial government 
for at least as long as Macdonald controlled the federal govern- 
ment at Ottawa. In Dominion circles, the Liberals gradually took 
on definite form as they steadily opposed the sweeping and expen- 
sive schemes of Conservative ministers. As the earlier Clear Grits 
had done, they attacked the dangerous influence of railways and 
business on the government, and stood by the farming interest. 
They called for a slower, more cautious development of Canada, 
in keeping, they said, with the true limits of the country's wealth. 
In particular, the Liberals came to stand for provincial rights, 
whereas Macdonald repeatedly stressed the superior power of the 
central government. Accordingly Liberalism gathered support in 
most of the provinces from those who felt that the Dominion was 
riding rough-shod over the just rights of the different sections that 
had entered Confederation. 

The fall of the Macdonald government came in 1873 with a full- 
blown scandal that seemed to prove the Liberal arguments con- 
cerning the waste and corruption of Conservative rule. The scan- 
dal, moreover, was linked with the government's policy of rapid 
expansion and expensive railway building, and the promise to 
British Columbia to begin a Pacific railway within two years after 

266 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

that province's entry into Confederation. The Dominion govern- 
ment had offered a charter on very attractive terms to any com- 
pany that would build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Two power- 
ful financial groups, one centred in Toronto, one in Montreal, 
had been struggling to gain the Western railway contract. When 
in 1873 some of the Montreal interests were granted the charter^ 
their enemies alleged that the award was the result of a corrupt 
bargain, whereby the favoured group had poured money into the 
Conservative party's election funds. Copies of letters and telegrams 
were produced as proof of the 'Pacific scandal*, and the Liberals 
in parliament demanded that the government resign. 

Now it is clear that Macdonald had not personally been bribed, 
and the system of 'friends' contributing to party funds in the hope 
of favours was an unfortunate but well-established practice in 
Canada and elsewhere. Besides, the company that had been given 
the charter was not wholly the same as the original group that had 
contributed funds. Nevertheless public opinion was thoroughly 
aroused, and the Liberal party swept a new election to form a 
government under Alexander Mackenzie. It seemed that the Paci- 
fic scandal had revealed the worst features of Conservatism, that 
arose from dealing too freely with great sums of money and having 
too close a connection with powerful business groups. 

The new Mackenzie ministry looked very different. Macken- 
zie had been Brown's chief lieutenant and succeeded him as 
Dominion Liberal leader. Sharing Brown's dislike of extravagant 
government, Mackenzie was honest and hard-working; but he 
lacked the vision of either Brown or Macdonald. And while he 
determined to give Canada what it seemed to need cheap, effi- 
cient government his ministry turned away from the Macdonald 
programme of nation-building. With regard to the Pacific railway, 
Mackenzie found it impossible to attract capitalists and proceeded 
to build the line as a government project in sections between exist- 
ing waterways. British Columbia became impatient with the slow 
progress of the railway, and angry arguments developed. It took 

267 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

the cool diplomacy of Lord Dufferin, the Governor-General, to 
smooth down the disputes, after a special trip to British Columbia. 

Nevertheless under Mackenzie some hundreds of miles of track 
were laid in British Columbia and between the Great Lakes and 
Manitoba. A survey was also carried out for the whole route, 
which selected passes through the lofty western ranges. During 
this time, moreover, new settlements were begun in Manitoba. 
The western wheat lands were opening. 

Aside from this limited expansion westward, the chief achieve- 
ment of the Mackenzie era lay in carrying Canada farther along 
the road from colony to nation. The Liberals were at their stron- 
gest in this kind of nation-building, in widening Canada's powers 
of self-government. Through Edward Blake, asMinister of Justice 
in the Mackenzie cabinet, a Canadian Supreme Court was set up, 
which reduced appeals from Canadian courts of law to the imperial 
Privy Council in London. Blake also managed to have the instruc- 
tions of the Governor-General changed, in order to limit the 
power that he still had to act on his own, without the advice of the 
Dominion cabinet. From this time forward the Governor- 
Generals of Canada on the whole had much prestige but little 
power. All in all, however, any advances towards nationhood 
made during the Mackenzie period were overshadowed by the 
government 5 s failure to make practical gains in unifying and 
strengthening Canada. By 1878, when the Liberals fell, their 
government faced a mass of discontents with little policy for the 
future. 

The root of the problem was the great world trade depression 
that began in 1873 and lasted, with only a few short periods of 
recovery, until 1896. The Mackenzie government could hardly be 
blamed for the effects of depression on Canada but, human 
nature being what it is, it was blamed. And undoubtedly, the 
Liberals* dislike of strong government action and their belief in 
keeping down expenses prevented them from taking any bold 
steps to meet the sharp decline in Canada's trade and the growing 

268 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

discontent in the country. Their one hope had been a renewal of 
the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. Believing in free 
trade, the Liberals looked back, as to a golden age, to the time when 
the Treaty had removed trade barriers between Canada and the 
United States and brought a high level of commercial prosperity. 
George Brown had been sent to Washington in 1874 to obtain a 
new reciprocity agreement. He had failed, since the United States 
was following the opposite policy to free trade, of raising tariffs 
ever higher and higher. 

After this failure, the Mackenzie Liberals had really no pro- 
gramme, as financial difficulties mounted, except to try to cut 
expenses. But they themselves were forced to increase the Cana- 
dian tariff slightly, in order to bring in sufficient revenue as trade 
fell off. By now there was a powerful agitation in the Dominion, 
especially among manufacturers, for a higher Canadian tariff. 
Faced with heavy competition, the manufacturers wanted to keep 
the Canadian market for Canadians by burdening goods imported 
from abroad with heavy customs duties. The sharp-eyed Mac- 
donald saw in this high-tariff or protectionist movement a means 
of returning to power. He seized on the demand that, if there 
could not be reciprocity of trade with the Americans, there should 
be 'reciprocity of tariffs'; that is, Canada should impose her own 
high tariff to strike back at the United States. 

It was not a wholly sound idea, but it suited the mood of the 
times. The Conservative leader, moreover, could claim that, since 
the tariff would have to be increased in any case to meet the 
government's need of revenue, the increased duties could be 
arranged to the advantage of Canada: to protect the home market 
for Canadians, to foster Canadian industry, and so to bring about 
a national revival of trade. Under the persuasive name of the 
'National Policy,' Macdonald put his plan before the country in 
the election of 1878. The free-trade Liberals clung to a low tariff. 
But having failed to halt the trade decline, failed to build the 
Canadian Pacific, and roused discontent in most of the provinces, 

269 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

they were readily defeated. Macdonald swept back to power, and 
the first uncertain age in the Dominion's history came to a close. 
The hard times of 1878 put a gloomy ending to the era. Yet 
Macdonald Conservatism was back in control, and hopes were 
high for the future. 

4 The Life of the Young Dominion 

When the Dominion of Canada came into being in 1867 it con- 
tained about 35300,000 people, and the addition of new provinces 
hi the next few years did not bring many thousands more. On- 
tario and Quebec together held about three-quarters of this popu- 
lation. While Ontario had the larger share and continued to grow 
fairly steadily, Quebec's population increased only slowly, thanks 
to the constant drain of large numbers of French Canadians into 
the factories of the north-eastern United States. The emigration 
to the United States from all parts of Canada was, in fact, the 
chief reason why the Dominion did not grow as fast as expected 
in the years that followed. The peak of immigration from Britain 
had passed before Confederation and a great new wave from the 
British Isles did not begin until the turn of the twentieth century. 
Consequently, by the time of Macdonald's death in 1891, the 
population of Canada had only risen to 4,800,000. But one result 
of the decline of immigration was that the people of English- 
speaking Canada grew increasingly 'Canadian' in their outlook. 
And though the Dominion rose rather slowly, foiling the brightest 
hopes of the nation-builders, it still gave a good life to the mass of 
its inhabitants, even in the long depression after 1873. 

The main ways of life in the new Dominion had not changed 
greatly since the pioneer age. Lumbering was still of prime im- 
portance in 1867; wooden ship-building reached its highest peak 
in the years after the American Civil War. Fishing in the Mari- 
times, farming in central Canada, and mining and the fur trade in 
the West remained the other chief employments. Yet the comforts 
of life had improved considerably since pioneer days. Towns had 

270 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

grown, railways and manufacturing spread; and already by 1867 
important changes were under way that would greatly alter Canada 
in the next thirty years. 

These changes were for the most part the result of the rise of 
industry in central Canada. Compared with the industrialism that 
came in a later day, this was small-scale manufacturing, a matter 
of boots and shoes, woollens, furniture, and farm machinery. But 
compared with what had been, it was an important step forward 
for the Dominion. As the factories of central Canada grew, so its 
farmers turned increasingly from growing grain for export to 
mixed farming in order to supply the local manufacturing towns. 
Ontario's grain fields in any case were passing their prime. Thus 
by the i89o's, central Canada was becoming a region of mixed 
farming, dairying, and fruit growing; while, of course, broad new 
grainlands were being brought under the plough in the far western 
prairies. Various minerals, copper, lead and gypsum, for example, 
were being produced in central Canada, and other minerals, es- 
pecially coal, in the Maritimes. Eastern Canada as a whole was 
broadening out into new activities, and its old basic occupations 
of lumbering and ship-building were less important than before. 
Central Canada in particular was becoming a well-rounded, thick- 
ly settled region of small farms and busy towns. 

The Maritimes, however, were falling behind in the rising in- 
dustrial age. Their coal went to central Canadian factories; indus- 
try did not come to the Maritimes. Nor did the great flow of 
trade that they had hoped for come to their ports over the new 
railways. Although the lines did bring some traffic, the plain feet 
was that, since water transport is cheaper than land, it paid to ship 
most inland goods through Montreal or American ports, and not 
to make the longer rail journey to the Maritimes' harbours on the 
eastern tip of the continent. And so the Atlantic provinces made 
far slower progress than the rest of Canada. 

In Ontario and Quebec, meanwhile, the growing strength of in- 
dustry showed itself in the mounting demand for a protective 

271 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

tariff that would preserve the home market for Canadian manu- 
facturers. The growth of finance went with industrial advance. 
Toronto had now become a powerful rival of Montreal ; its own 
great banks and financial companies competed with those of the 
older centre for control of Canadian business. By the 1890*5 
Toronto had become the second metropolis of Canada. Two other 
leading Canadian cities really began in this era. With the com- 
pletion of the Canadian Pacific in 1885, Vancouver came into 
existence as the western outlet of the transcontinental railway 
system, while Winnipeg soon rose out of Fort Garry as the chief 
prairie business centre, once western settlement was under way. 

Although Canada was altering, in the first thirty years of the 
young Dominion, most of its people continued to live in the 
country, not in the towns. The life of the Quebec farm, or the 
Maritime fishing village had changed but little, even though the 
roar of trains and the humming of telegraph wires through the 
countryside told of a changing pace in Canada. In Ontario stone 
or brick farmhouses had replaced pioneer log cabins, orchards and 
pastures the dark bush, and trim buggies on springs the bone- 
bruising carts of early days. Yet still the people lived close to their 
own countryside and found their pleasures in the family circle, the 
church 'social' or perhaps the political picnic. Though communi- 
cations had greatly improved there was not yet much travel from 
province to province, except for the 'drummer', or travelling sales- 
man, from some city trading-house. 

The principal towns showed signs of progress in the many new 
churches or the large public buildings raised most of them, un- 
fortunately, in the worst period of Victorian bad taste in architec- 
ture. Gas-lighting and horse-drawn tram cars made their appear- 
ance. Yet even the main streets were usually still unpaved, and 
'sidewalks', where they were found, were frequently only of 
planks. In the towns, however, the level of culture was rising. 
Theatres were well attended, especially when European 'greats' 
from Jenny Lind to Madame Modjeska arrived on tour. Musical 

272 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

societies, public libraries, philosophical clubs, all sprang up. 
Painting and sculpture were slower to develop, though the first 
Canadian artists made a beginning at this time, and French 
Canada had long had a tradition of fine wood-carving. 

A truly Canadian literature was also slow to appear. Quebec 
had laid foundations with F. X. Garneau, the first great historian 
of French Canada, who died in 1866, and with Octave Cr6mazie, 
the 'father of French-Canadian poetry', who lived till 1879. Wor- 
thy successors followed them in prose and poetry, but in English- 
speaking Canada there was less literary development. In 1877, 
however, William Kirby wrote The Golden Dog, a tale of Quebec 
City in the last days of New France, and this was probably the first 
important English-Canadian novel. In English Canada, moreover, 
some of its ablest journalists were at work in the period after Con- 
federation. Out of this journalism gradually came monthly and 
weekly periodicals that showed promising ability and an earnest 
desire to be Canadian; in short, to give the new Dominion a 
character and viewpoint of its own. 

Much of this development was related to the Canada First 
movement, which began in the early 1870*5 among a group of able 
young men in Toronto. Its aim was to build a new nationality; to 
shape a national spirit in Canada, and unite the parts of the 
Dominion in a common outlook that would, indeed, put Canada 
first The movement latgely expressed the bright confidence of 
the first few years after Confederation, and soon foundered in the 
Great Depression that followed. Yet before its death Canada First 
produced the writings of William Foster and Charles Mair, the 
poet, as well as a short-lived but brilliant journal, the Nation. The 
Nation (1874-6) was influenced and supported by Goldwin Smith, 
former Oxford professor of Modern History, who had settled in 
Toronto with high hopes for the future of Canada. Edward 
Blake, the prominent Liberal, at first also befriended Canada 
First, believing as he did in greater national freedom for Canada. 
But Canada First was not to capture the Liberal party. The older 

273 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

Liberals feared that it meant the empire last or not at all, and 
George Brown's mighty Globe strongly attacked the Nation. Blake 
also abandoned the movement, although it was not really opposed 
to the British tie. And Goldwin Smith, who had certainly looked 
to national independence for Canada, became bitterly disillu- 
sioned. He spent the rest of his long life in the Dominion attack- 
ing the dreams of nationalism and suggesting annexation to the 
United States as the only way out. 

Canada First and the Nation., however, left a heritage for the 
future. The Canadian Monthly (1872-82), both a political and 
a literary paper, carried on the effort to develop Canadian culture 
and sounded the national note of Canada First. The Week (1883- 
96) was less directly connected with the earlier movement, but its 
literary merit was even higher. In fact, it has been judged the 
best weekly journal that Canada has yet seen. Charles G. D. 
Roberts, a youthful poet from the Maritimes, edited it briefly. 
His writings and those of Archibald Lampman and many other 
new authors appeared in its pages. In 1880, Roberts had pub- 
lished his Orion and Other Poems:, with this a Canadian school of 
poetry began. Lampman, then a university student in Toronto, 
found in Orion proof that Canadian literature no longer need lag 
behind, making colonial copies of the work of older lands. He 
was greatly stirred by it, and so were other young poets. By the 
i89o's, Lampman^ Roberts, Bliss Carman, and Duncan Campbell 
Scott, were shaping the 'golden age of Canadian lyric poetry'. 
This far, at least, the young Dominion had come. Despite the 
discouragements of depression years, Canada was beginning to 
express her own spirit and feelings. 

Education was also developing steadily in the new Dominion. 
The University of Toronto was already a large institution when 
the Dominion was born, and several other colleges came to unite 
with it on a federal basis, like that of Canada herself. The flour- 
ishing universities were founding a tradition of Canadian scholar- 
ship. Public education was general, and by now it was usually 

274 




CHIEF BIG BEAR TRADING AT FORT PITT, SHORTLY BEFORE 

JOINING THE RISING OF 1885 




VOLUNTEER TROOPS ON THE PRAIRIES IN THE NORTH WEST 
REBELLION OF 1885 




FIRST C.P.R. THROUGH TRAIN REACHES PORT MOODY, 1886 



THE NEW DOMINION, 1867-78 

free and compulsory. On the whole the young Dominion had 
little to be ashamed of, either in the standards by which most of 
its people lived, or in the amount of learning that they could 
obtain. Granted that progress was faster and prosperity greater 
in the United States; granted that learning and the arts were 
more advanced there and above all in Europe: Canada still 
offered ample opportunities for a healthy, diligent people. Its life 
might seem less spacious and comfortable than the American, its 
culture far behind Britain's. But the young Dominion that had 
so recently emerged from the pioneer age had reason only for self- 
criticism, not for disappointment. 



275 



CHAPTER 15 

MACDONALD NATIONALISM AND 
SECTIONAL DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

I The Brave Days of the National Policy 

When Sir John Macdonald returned to power in September 
18783 he laid down plans for one of the most daring periods of 
nation-building in Canada's history. For his ventures he had the 
eager support of the mass of the Canadian people, who felt that 
the Liberals had failed them in their time of need, leaving the 
Dominion divided, the western empire still empty and the Pacific 
railway unbuilt. In the next ten years Liberalism could make 
litde headway against 'John A.' Mackenzie had been replaced as 
Liberal leader by Edward Blake, the ablest lawyer in Canada and 
a powerful parliamentary debater. But all the sharp thrusts of the 
keen, cold mind of Blake against the government's follies and 
waste could not convince the people that the Liberals' grey policy 
of caution was the right one for Canada. They believed in Mac- 
donald's bold national plans, shared his breezy, dauntless confi- 
dence. And a brief recovery of trade, soon after the Conservatives 
were elected, seemed at first to justify that faith. 

Macdonald had at once plunged ahead with his National Policy 
of tariff protection. The tariff of 1879 made the greatest change of 
any up to that time in Canadian commercial policy. It brought in 
a thorough-going scheme of protective customs duties, on farm 
products as well as on manufactures, and raised the duties on 
manufactured goods from 17$ per cent to 25 per cent and over. 
This was still not as high as the American tariff; in general, 
Canadian protective tariffs would not rise as high as those of the 
United States. Yet it was a far cry from British free trade and 
even from past Canadian tariff policies before Confederation. 
After the removal of the old colonial system had permitted the 

276 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

colonies to control their own tariffs, Canada, and the Maritimes 
especially, had kept their customs duties fairly low. Because young 
countries have not much wealth to tax directly, it had been neces- 
sary for them to raise government revenue through duties on im- 
ported goods. Hence, although free trade was the ideal, low or 
'revenue' tariffs had been the practice in British North America. 
True, the Canadian tariff of 1858-9, that had caused an outcry in 
free-trade Britain, had given a certain amount of protection to 
Canadian manufacturing. Its stated purpose, however, had been 
to raise more revenue to meet large public debts. The duties had 
been lowered again before Confederation, and from the birth of 
the Dominion to 1879 revenue tariffs had once more been the 
rule. But now the National Policy was bringing in protection. 
Could it be justified? 

A protective tariff plainly meant that goods would cost more to 
buy in Canada, since purchasers would have to pay the extra cost 
of the customs duties, or their equivalent. This affected the far- 
mers particularly. They sold a large part of their own products 
abroad, and thus could not reap the full advantage of higher prices 
in the Canadian market, although they still had to pay more for 
the goods they bought. In time, opposition to the protective 
tariff was to centre among the farmers of the Dominion. On the 
other hand, manufacturers, or any interest that sold mostly in the 
home market, would be helped by higher prices and the cutting 
down of competition from abroad. Given protection, it was 
argued, these interests would grow, and Canada's wealth and 
prosperity with them, until the demand for all sorts of goods at 
home became so large that every kind of producer, farmers in- 
cluded, would benefit from good times and ample markets in 
Canada. 

The value of such an argument can hardly be settled here. 
Clearly the widespread adoption of protection harms world trade 
and has left nations to-day struggling against a world-wide tangle 
of extremely high tariffs. Just as dearly, no country has been able 

277 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

to afford free trade, except Great Britain at the height of her power. 
The answer, as usual, lies probably between the two extremes of 
trade policy. Yet as far as Canada is concerned, the protective 
tariff system that was adopted under Macdonald, and which still 
exists, with increases here, decreases there, did much in the long 
run to develop the wealth and encourage the industry of the 
Dominion. The system begun in 1879 has become woven into the 
history and life of the country, though no one can truly say what 
else 'might have been'. 

Macdonald's National Policy, moreover, was adopted at a diffi- 
cult moment, when other policies had failed. It was arranged to 
promise something to everyone, even the farmers, and it was 
coupled with two other great designs: the building of the Cana- 
dian Pacific and the settlement of the West. All three were meant 
to work together. The tariff would shape a national market, the 
railway would serve it from coast to coast. The railway, also, would 
carry settlers to the West and bring their farm products to eastern 
purchasers. And, thanks to the tariff, eastern industry would 
grow rapidly; both to supply manufacturers for the rising num- 
bers of western farmers and to provide a large town population 
that would constantly need western foodstuffs. The National 
Policy, then, was really a three-cornered scheme of nation-build- 
ing, dependent on railways and settlement as well as the tariff for 
its full success. Its aim was a well-balanced, prosperous nation. 

The tariff had been easily adopted, but now railway-building 
and western settlement had to go forward. Settlement, obviously, 
could not come until the railway was built, for no great number of 
settlers could move to the vast and far-distant West except by 
railway; nor would they want to go until they could obtain sup- 
plies fairly easily and ship their products out to market. The 
Macdonald government accordingly turned to the question of the 
Canadian Pacific. They considered that only a private company 
could build the line quickly enough. Although their fingers had 
been burnt before, they again offered terms for a charter to build 

278 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

the C.P.R. The charter terms seemed sufficiently generous. The 
railway company was to receive the track mileage already com- 
pleted, a money payment to aid in meeting construction costs of 
twenty-five million dollars, and a grant of twenty-five million 
acres of good land, consisting of every second 'section* (six hun- 
dred and forty acres) within a belt twenty-four miles wide on 
either side of the railway line across the prairies. The idea behind 
this railway land grant was that the company, by selling farms to 
incoming settlers, would earn back the tremendous costs of build- 
ing the transcontinental, and, it was thought, make a good profit 
besides. 

Besides all this, the Canadian Pacific company was to be for ever 
free of taxation on its railway property, and to have a monopoly 
of traffic for twenty years in western Canada. That is to say, no 
competing railway could be built to the border to link up with 
American systems until the east-west traffic of the C.P.R. had 
been established with a twenty years* head-start. In return for 
these terms the company had to build a railway from central 
Canada to the Pacific within ten years. Surely the Liberals were 
right in attacking the charter as a most extravagant kind of bargain. 

And yet the task involved was so tremendous that before the 
railway was finished the charter terms had proved insufficient. 
The United States had been a powerful, wealthy nation of forty 
million people when it built its first Pacific railway in the i86o's. 
The young Dominion had only four million when it undertook a 
similar line in the i88o's. Moreover, while American lines could 
begin in the rich and well-populated Middle West, the Canadian 
railway had to cross nine hundred miles of the Shield, a barrier of 
bleak, difficult wilderness, offering small hope of traffic, before the 
great prairies were even reached. Then, too, the Pacific mountains 
were higher and harder to cross in the Canadian half of the conti- 
nent. A pass suitable for a railway through the blank rampart 
of the Selkirks was only found in 1882, when the track was 
nearing the mountains. And in addition, the Canadian Pacific 

279 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

company found it hard to raise funds in the London money mar- 
ket, the financial centre of the world. British investors remembered 
the losses of the Grand Trunk, and would have little to do with 
this new Canadian railway that would one day turn out to be a 
striking success. 

Consequently, the company that secured the Pacific railway 
charter in October, 1880, was for the most part a Canadian group 
centred on Montreal. By constructing the Canadian Pacific, Mon- 
treal renewed its old commercial links with the far west, lost since 
fur trade days. A new commercial empire of the St Lawrence 
sprang up, based on railway lines, but far greater than that of the 
unsuccessful Grand Trunk. Once again an east-west trading 
system reached across the northern continent, linking it together, 
tying the Pacific slopes and the North- West prairies with the 
great river and the Atlantic. And the men who built the railway, 
who gave the vast and vague Dominion a backbone of steel, were 
no less daring and determined than Alexander Mackenzie and the 
fur lords of the old North West Company. Donald Smith and 
George Stephen, the railway financiers, William Van Home, the 
construction manager: these were the new moulders of Montreal's 
destiny, and moulders, too, of a Canadian nation 

While Smith handled affairs at headquarters in Montreal and 
Stephen toured New York and London money markets in search 
of funds, Van Home pressed the building forward with all possible 
speed. The line crept along the edge of the Shield, beside the 
rugged shore of Lake Superior, around rocky bluffs and over 
bottomless muskeg swamp, until it came into the prairies, where 
it raced rapidly ahead, over the flat lands. But meanwhile the 
Company's financial problems had grown steadily more pressing, 
and time after time it had to seek more aid from the government. 
Finally even the confidence of Macdonald, under relentless Lib- 
eral attack, was shaken by the mounting cost and the prospect of 
pouring money into a C.P.R. pit as bottomless as the muskeg. It 
was then that a party follower reminded him that 'the day the 

280 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

Canadian Pacific busts, the Conservative party busts the day 
after.' The two had become so thoroughly entwined. But at this 
critical moment, in 1885, a rebellion broke out in the prairies of 
the North West, and, strangely enough, saved the railway by 
proving its value to the public. 



2 Problems of Opening the Prairies 

The North West rebellion of 1885 had much in common with 
the earlier rising in the Red River. Most of the Metis had moved 
west to the empty banks of the North Saskatchewan river as 
settlement spread in Manitoba. They could not breathe easily in 
civilization. But now, as the railway approached, civilization was 
threatening them once more on the Saskatchewan. Surveyors 
appeared again, and again the Metis feared for the titles to their 
land. When petitions to Ottawa brought little response the Metis 
sent to their old leader, who was living in the United States, to 
ask his help. Louis Riel returned to his people. But this was an 
even more unbalanced Riel, who had spent two of the fifteen 
years since the Red River rising in mental hospitals. If Mac- 
donald's government deserves blame for not meeting the Metis* 
grievances in time, Riel brought no benefit to his followers. 

He soon launched the M6tis' protests on a more violent course. 
This time there was the presence of Indian bands to add to the 
violence. The plains Indians, tied by blood to the Metis, shared 
their confusion and their fears. The buffalo herds that they lived 
by were fast disappearing from the prairies. The approach of the 
railway and settlement threatened to destroy their world of end- 
less horizons and leave them only the limits of the Indian reserva- 
tions. For them as for the Metis, therefore, the rebellion of 1885 
was a last-ditch defence of the old life of the hunter and fur trader 
against the new age of the locomotive and the farmer. There were 
several sharp and bitter clashes Duck Lake, Frog Lake, and in 
the gun-pits at Batoche. Indian war cries for the last time struck 

281 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

terror into white men in Canada, and Metis' hunting rifles made 
guerilla warfare effective and deadly. 

Yet the rebellion, a hopeless effort, was quickly put down. Riel 
was filled with wild dreams of a new state and a new religion and 
gave no effective leadership, while the Catholic priests of the 
French Metis were thoroughly opposed to the rising. More than 
seven thousand troops were hurriedly raised in eastern Canada. 
Under General Middleton they moved west, crushed the rebel- 
lion, captured Riel, and made terms with the Metis and Indians. 
And the troops sent west moved swiftly over the Canadian Pacific 
to the e end of steel 3 at Regina. They took days to reach the prairies, 
whereas the expedition to the Red River in 1870 had taken 
months. It was striking proof of what the railway could do. 

After this there was little trouble in granting the Canadian 
Pacific sufficient aid to finish the job. It was very near completion 
now. On 7 November, 1885, at Craigellachie in a rocky pass high 
in the British Columbia mountains, the last spike was driven. 
East and West had been joined in five years, not ten. Joseph 
Howe's prophecy had come true, as the whistle of the locomotive 
echoed through the lonely canyons of the Rockies. Macdonald 
was one of the early passengers to cross the continent on the new 
railway. As he stood by the Pacific shore on Burrard Inlet, where 
the new port city of Vancouver was rising, he might have reflected 
that this was the end of a journey that had begun at Charlottetown 
on the Atlantic twenty-two years before. Steel and steam, vision 
and daring, had met the challenge of a continent. 

The C.P.R. was in being; now western settlement could pro- 
ceed. Much had already been done under Macdonald towards 
opening the West. In 1873 the North West Mounted Police- 
later the Royal North West Mounted, now the Royal Canadian 
Mounted had been formed to bring order to the great domain. 
In 1874 three hundred men had ridden west in the bright scarlet 
tunics that weremeant to remind the Indians of the British red- 
coats, whom they had long ago learned to trust. By sheer will and 

282 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 



MAP VIII 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF 

THE WEST 1869-1919 




Canadian Pacific Railway 

(Original main line,, completed 1885) 

Other Canadian Pacific lines 

Canadian Northern, began 1899 x Combined with Grand Trunk and 

Grand Trunk Pacific-National Intercolonial, 1923, to form 

Transcontinental, begun 1903 ) Canadian National Railways 

(other connecting lines are not shown) 



283 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

force of character the men of the North West Mounted earned 
respect and established law. They drove out American whisky 
traders who were mining Indian health and morals. They success- 
fully moved Indian tribes on to reservations in order to open lands 
for fanning. In general, they prepared the West for settlement. 
Nor did the short outburst of 1885, which affected a limited area 
only, change the general picture of orderliness that marked this 
last great North American frontier. Meanwhile, in 1877 a separ- 
ate government for the North West Territories had been set up 
at Battleford. The Dominion government had also established a 
general western land policy which offered land for sale at reason- 
able prices, but included a large amount of free or 'homestead' 
land that could be secured by farmers who developed it. Yet 
settlers did not come in the onrushing wave that had been ex- 
pected. 

There had been some new settlement in Manitoba in the seven- 
ties, part of it group settlement, such as that of the Icelanders, or 
the Mennonite religious communities. Pioneers came as well from 
Ontario; indeed, it is often said that Manitoba is the child of On- 
tario. In the early i88o's the building of the C.P.R. had caused a 
brief land boom along the railway route in Manitoba and Sas- 
katchewan. Winnipeg had jumped ahead. But the bubble burst 
when it was discovered that settlers were not following the railway 
in, except by handfuls. The brief world trade recovery had ended; 
the flurry of activity in Canada, due to the railway construction, 
stopped when the railway needed no more men and building 
materials. The feet was, that in the renewed depression people 
did not have the money to strike out for the Canadian West and 
begin a new life there. In any case the American West was easier 
to reach and still had land available. Moreover, because of the 
depression, the world did not need could not buy the produce 
of a great new wheat-producing region. And so lie West stayed 
empty. There was no reason to settle it yet. 

Hence Macdonald's National Policy failed at the vital third 

284 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

point, western settlement, and because of this, the whole design 
failed. The railway did not flourish; the tariff did not build 
national prosperity, but only rising discontent in those sections 
which felt especially burdened by the weight of customs duties. 
Though Macdonald's nation-building had accomplished an amaz- 
ing amount in a few short years, it had not achieved its main 
objects. Now the brave days of the National Policy were to be 
succeeded by a long period of mounting protests against the ideals 
and policies of Macdonald nationalism. 

3 The Rise of Sectional Discontents 

Many of Canada's troubles in the later eighties and early nine- 
ties could be traced to the great depression that had gripped the 
world since 1873. As its shadow did not lift, but darkened, the 
early spirit of unity and confident nationalism that Macdonald 
had won for the Dominion was succeeded by reviving sectional- 
ism. Perhaps the depressed times hit the Maritimes the hardest, 
for in the Atlantic provinces there was little industrial growth, as in 
central Canada, which the tariff at least might shelter from the 
worst effects of depression. Instead the Maritimes seemed to be 
going into a decline. The depression, indeed, had come at the 
worst possible time, when the old Atlantic trading system had 
fallen on evil days. The steady shrinking of the important West 
Indies trade as the sugar islands went downhill, the loss of Mari- 
time shipping advantages in the new era of iron and steam, the 
comparative failure of Maritime ports to make railways pay all 
these things spelt gloom and discontent in the three Atlantic 
provinces. They condemned Macdonald's protective tariff for 
adding to their burdens and doing them no good. They accused 
it, too, of raising industry in central Canada at the expense of the 
Maritimes, though it was natural that industry should concentrate 
itself in the much bigger central market. In addition, because 
Confederation had unluckily occurred when the Maritimes' golden 
age of 'wood, wind and water' was coming to an end, they tended 

285 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT., 1878-96 

to blame their changed condition on the federal union. Hence 
sectional unrest grew strong in the Acadian region. In 1886 a 
Liberal government in Nova Scotia even introduced a resolution 
for separation from the Dominion as the only possible answer to 
the problems of that province. The resolution was largely a talking 
point, however, and no steps towards separation were taken. 

Sectionalism was growing hi the West as well. British Columbia 
was fairly content, now that the Pacific railway had been built, but 
Manitoba was anything but pleased with the C.P.R. It did not 
like the term of the Canadian Pacific charter which gave the rail- 
way a monopoly of traffic for twenty years. This, in Manitoba's 
eyes, simply allowed the C.P.R. to charge high rates, since it had 
no competing railways to fear. The province therefore passed laws 
chartering lines to the border that would link up with American 
railroads. But the Dominion government was determined to 
protect the monopoly guaranteed to the Canadian Pacific and re- 
peatedly used its power of disallowing provincial laws to cancel the 
Manitoba railway charters. Meanwhile the weak little province of 
Manitoba, struggling in the depression, felt that high railway rates 
were holding back its development. Besides, since the public 
lands of the province had been put under Dominion control for 
purposes of settlement, Manitoba had lost an important source of 
income, and its government was hard put to make ends meet. For 
these reasons feeling mounted in this prairie province over what 
seemed the Dominion's disregard for its just rights. 

Ontario under the Liberal government of Oliver Mowat was 
even more outspoken in defending provincial rights against the 
Dominion. Mowat had early made himself the champion of the 
provinces in opposing the powerful central government that Mac- 
donald believed in. The Ontario leader fought numerous battles 
in the law courts and on the election platform to preserve what he 
considered to be the rightful field of provincial authority, especi- 
ally against the wide use of the Dominion's power of disallowance. 
Accordingly, as Macdonald's national policies foiled to live up to 

286 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

their early prospects, and zeal for nationalism declined, Mowat 
led the attack on the c over-mighty' rule of Ottawa. Probably 
Macdonald had pushed the Dominion's young national spirit too 
far and too fast. He had used the powers of the federal government 
vigorously, treating the provincial governments as little more than 
county councils. But loyalty to the Dominion was new, while 
loyalty to the provinces was old, and might well be put first in 
times of stress, when the federal union did not seem to be pro- 
gressing too successfully. 

The power of provincial loyalty was particularly evident in 
Quebec, always a special section of the Dominion. For some time 
after Confederation, however, Quebec had raised fewer problems 
for Macdonald than the other provinces, since the Conservatives 
had maintained their hold on French Canada. Cartier had died in 
1873 but Macdonald had found new French-Canadian lieutenants 
in Langevin and Chapleau. The Quebec Liberals, QT Rouges, more- 
over, continued in a state of weakness. Their previous history of 
opposition to the power of the Catholic clergy continued to brand 
them as anti-clericals, a damaging tide in Quebec. And in the 
1870*8 the sworn foes of anti-clericalism, the ultramontanes, who 
believed in broad powers for the church in this world, were 
advancing rapidly in French Catholic Canada. They linked the 
very idea of Liberalism with hostility to Catholicism. The Rouges 
were struggling hard just to keep alive in Quebec when, in 1877, 
an able young Liberal, Wilfrid Laurier, who had been reared in 
English as well as French thought, began a campaign, to align 
Quebec Liberalism with British Liberalism. He sought to show 
that his party in Canada was not in the anti-religious, revolutionary 
tradition of the Liberals of Europe, but in the Christian, tolerant 
and moderate tradition of British Liberalism. Laurier put his 
faith in British political ideas of freedom and justice. His ability 
to set them before his fellow French Canadians did much to save 
his party and to give it a new lease of life in Quebec. 

This Liberal revival under Laurier took some time to affect 

287 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

French Canada. Meanwhile Macdonald Conservatism, backed by 
the ultramontanes, seemed solid and secure in Quebec. But in 
1885 came the North West Rebellion, and the reappearance of 
Louis Kiel let loose a harsh new racial conflict. Conservative 
unity began to crumble. Indeed, French and English in Canada 
threatened to break apart as the old gulf between them that had 
apparently been closed by Confederation spread wide once more. 

The problem really went back to the first Kiel rising, and to the 
fact that Louis Kiel was a hero to almost half the Canadian people 
and a rebel to the other half. Kiel's escape from Red River to the 
United States had prevented the dispute over him from coming to 
a head in 1870; but in 1885 he had been captured. English 
Canada was determined that this time the dangerous 'fanatic 5 
should pay the full price for two rebellions. French Canada was 
quite as convinced that Riel was a patriot who had fought un- 
wisely but bravely for an ill-treated French-speaking people. The 
murder of Thomas Scott, committed in 1870, rose up again to 
embitter the issue. English Canada, Ontario especially, demanded 
that Riel be hanged for his crimes; Quebec spoke earnestly for 
mercy. Riel was tried in Regina, North West Territories (now 
Saskatchewan), in the summer of 1885. Though there seemed to 
be good reason to call him insane, he rejected such a defence and 
was sentenced to hang. Quebec at once called for the sentence to 
be altered. But Macdonald, who had been only too happy to see 
Riel escape in 1870 saw that the question could not be avoided 
this time. He made a firm decision to carry out the sentence, how- 
ever bitterly Quebec protested. In November Riel was hanged, 
and probably did more by his death than by his life to affect 
Canada, and in no way for the good. 

His hanging heightened the sectional passions. In Quebec Mac- 
donald Conservatism steadily lost ground. The skill of Macdonald, 
backed by Langevin and Chapleau, held Quebec votes in the 
federal field for a few years more, but in the provincial election 
of 1887 the Conservatives were driven from power. A new French 

288 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

Nationalist Liberal government, led by Honore Mercier, took 
office. Mercier had all the resentment of French Canadian nat- 
ionalism behind him, and he was no anti-clerical Rouge but a 
friend of the ultramontanes. In the federal sphere he allied with 
the Liberals, now led by Laurier, and in the provinces he made 
common cause with Mowat of Ontario against the power of Mac- 
donald and the Dominion. Riding on the wave of protest against 
Macdonald and his policies, Mercier called a conference of the 
provinces at Quebec to reconsider the basis of Confederation, and 
see whether the federal union should not be changed naturally 
in the direction of weakening it. 

The Interprovincial Conference met at Quebec in October, 
1887. This outburst of sectional discontents represented a power- 
ful reaction against Macdonald nationalism, with its expensive, 
sweeping policies that had not succeeded, and its lordly domina- 
tion over the provinces. Yet this second, and less constructive 
Quebec Conference achieved very -little. Macdonald kept the 
Dominion out of it. British Columbia and Prince Edward Island 
also stayed away, and of the provinces represented at Quebec all 
but Manitoba were under Liberal governments. Macdonald could 
therefore shrug off the Conference as a Liberal party gathering. 
But more significantly, the provinces at Quebec were united only 
in attacking the Dominion government. They had little else to 
agree on. The Maritimes objected strongly to the tariff, Ontario 
and Quebec were not as concerned; Manitoba's railway problem 
did not interest the others. And while Ontario and Quebec were 
divided by racial feelings, they stood together as wealthy provinces 
in the suspicion that the smaller ones chiefly wanted more federal 
money grants, which, in the imin^ citizens of Ontario and Quebec 
would have to pay. The Conference resolutions therefore had to 
be vague. They did call for larger subsidies for the provinces, to 
please Manitoba and the Maritimes, and for a reduction of the 
Dominion's powers, mainly to please Ontario and Quebec. But on 
the whole the Conference achieved little except to blow off steam. 

289 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

Yet it was important. In the first place, it was the beginning of 
a line of interprovincial conferences which, for better or worse, 
have greatly affected Canadian policitical development, and have 
set up almost a new organ of government in Canada. In the second 
place, despite the obvious strength of sectional feelings, the Con- 
ference revealed how the variety of these feelings prevented the 
development of a really united opposition to Dominion authority. 
This would work in the federal government's favour in confer- 
ences to come. But in the third place, and most important in the 
day of Sir John Macdonald, the Conference of 1887, whether 
the Conservative leader by-passed it or not, revealed how limited 
still was the nationalism that he had tried to develop. It showed 
the dangers of sectionalism that loomed ahead. The skill of 'Old 
Tomorrow' might yet steer a course through them but under any 
lesser captain they could wreck the Conservative ship. 

4 The Fail of Macdonald Conservatism 

In 1887, the year of the Interprovincial Conference, Macdonald 
managed to win yet another Dominion election. The magic of his 
presence had not vanished, and behind him rallied all the hope 
that remained in Confederation. Sectionalism had not completely 
conquered. The same forces which had always bound Canada to- 
gether along the St Lawrence route, which had determined that 
British North America should build its own life, still expressed 
themselves in support for Macdonald and the Dominion, even in 
Quebec. For nationalism as well as sectionalism was present in 
every province, and Conservatism still had strength. 

In fact, after the election of 1887 Edward Blake resigned from 
the leadership of the Liberal party, oppressed by his constant 
defeats at the hand of Macdonald. Laurier now became Liberal 
leader, and he and his chief followers brought forward a powerful 
new policy to pit against the National Policy of Conservatism. 
Instead of the old Liberal refrain, calling for a revenue tariff and 
rigid economy in government, a dull tune at best, the Liberals 

290 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

proposed complete or unrestricted reciprocity with the United 
States as the cure for Canada's woes. It was an attractive idea, 
the removal of all tariff barriers between the two countries 
complete free trade. Surely this would bring prosperity to Can- 
ada, as reciprocity had done once before. Instead of costly half- 
successful schemes to build a national market in the Dominion by 
means of the National Policy, the rich American market would 
open again to Canadian trade. And there seemed to be reason to 
think that if Canada suggested complete reciprocity, not partial, 
as in times past, the United States might accept the offer. At the 
same time, however, unrestricted reciprocity meant a complete 
abandoning of Macdonald's hope for a well-rounded Canadian 
economic life to fill out the bonds of Confederation. 

Accordingly, during the last four years of his life Macdonald 
was on the defensive, straggling to save all he could of his work 
of nation-building. The Conservative government gave ground, 
repealing the monopoly clause of the C.P.R. charter that had 
angered Manitoba, rearranging tariff duties to soothe Nova 
Scotia, giving up its free use of the power of disallowance that all 
the provinces had attacked. But Macdonald was determined not 
to yield on any main point. As the 1890'$ began the Dominion 
seemed to reach a low point in its career. Its population was al- 
most at a standstill, since the number of people leaving the country 
for the United States nearly equalled the rate of births and the 
trickle of immigration put together. This 'drain to the States' of 
some of the oldest-established elements of the Canadian people 
was one of the Dominion's gravest problems. Together with the 
state of deep trade depression and the discontent aroused by the 
tariff, it gave new strength to the Liberal demand for unrestricted 
reciprocity. As the demand rose, in 1891, another election had to 
be faced. Macdonald was ready to make it the fight of his life. 

He was convinced that the policy of unrestricted reciprocity 
meant not only the end of his cherished national plans but the end 
of the Dominion of Canada as well; since it would tie Canada into 

291 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

the United States so completely that annexation would become 
only a matter of time. And so Sir John at the age of seventy-six 
hurled himself into a campaign for 'the Old Man., the Old Flag, 
the Old Policy/ This was more than just an effective slogan, or 
a flag-waving appeal to Canadian loyalty. It covered what seemed 
to be the main question to Macdonald : whether Canada should 
continue as a united British dominion, following his designs for 
building a separate nation in America, or accept the total depend- 
ence of the various sections of Canada on the United States, with 
little real future for them but annexation. 

Certainly Macdonald's appeal to old anti- American sentiments 
and British loyalties helped to win him the election. But he was 
also appealing to the struggling spirit of Canadian nationalism. 
And it is worth noting that the former Liberal leader, Edward 
Blake agreed with him, and opposed unrestricted reciprocity as 
dangerous to Canada. Many Liberals also agreed with Blake. This 
split in Liberal ranks, as well as the power of Macdonald's appeal, 
saved the election for the Conservative party, despite all the dis- 
content in Canada. As a result, the Liberal party not long after- 
*wards abandoned unrestricted reciprocity. Actually it had been 
an unreal policy, from the start. For all Liberal hopes, the United 
States had little intention of lowering its tariff wall to suit Canada. 
It would have done small good to establish the policy in the 
Dominion when the republic would then have rejected it. 

Yet the victor of 1891 had exhausted himself. Worn out, he died 
shortly after this, his last battle. He died when the Dominion he 
had given his life to build was still in its darkest hours. For the 
last twenty years he had almost been Canada himself; and by sheer 
will as well as skill and confidence had held Confederation to- 
gether. Yet though he died at a dark moment, and five more years 
of trouble lay ahead, a bright dawning would follow, when the 
dreams he had had for his country would come true, and his bold 
national policies would succeed at last. And so passed the greatest 
of the men who made modern Canada; a man accused of many 

292 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

faults, of political trickery and lack of principles; but a man as well 
of kindness, courage, and one all-embracing idea : the creation of a 
Canadian nation, 

Macdonald was succeeded by four Conservative prime ministers 
in a short space of years. Some were leaders of ability, but all 
were lesser men who had to face the great problems that he had 
only just been able to deal with. Unrestricted reciprocity was 
dead, and the most angry attacks on Conservative national policies 
had been quieted. Sectionalism, however, was very much alive; 
and now there arose a burning sectional issue that wrenched 
Canada apart and ended in pulling the Conservative party from 
office. It was the Manitoba schools question, which awoke the 
whole provincial rights movement, 

By the Manitoba Act, which had set up the first prairie pro- 
vince in 1870, French-speaking inhabitants of Manitoba were 
assured of their own Catholic schools, supported by the govern- 
ment. But since that date the original French community that 
had once been so important in the province had been almost 
swamped by incoming English-speaking settlers, mainly from 
Ontario. In 1890, therefore, the largely English-speaking and 
Protestant provincial legislature passed an act that established a 
single, state-supported, non-sectarian school system and abolished 
Catholic separate schools. The Catholics of Manitoba, English as 
well as French, now felt that rights guaranteed to them in the 
Manitoba Act had been ignored, French Catholic Quebec warmly 
agreed. Ontario, meanwhile, was being swept by an 'Equal 
Rights', ultra-Protestant movement, in reaction to Mercier's 
strongly pro-Catholic policies in Quebec. It readily supported 
the abolition of separate schools in Manitoba. 

The terms of the Manitoba Act had provided that the Dominion 
government might step in and pass a Remedial Bill if the pro- 
vincial legislature interfered with the rights of a religious group in 
the field of education. The Manitoba Roman Catholics now 
appealed to the federal government to pass such a measure, and 

293 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

the ultramontanes in Quebec fervently echoed their demand. It 
was a difficult situation for the Conservative government, and the 
wisdom of Macdonald was gone. Quebec insisted on a Remedial 
Bill; Ontario and the majority in Manitoba were opposed. French 
and English members of the Dominion cabinet themselves were 
divided. At length the Conservatives decided to bring in a 
Remedial Bill, although this was wielding the Dominion's sword 
of authority over a province when Macdonald himself might have 
let the weapon lie. Before the Bill could be passed in 1896 it was 
time for an election. The election naturally emphasized the Mani- 
toba schools question. 

While Sir Charles Tupper, the Conservative prime minister, 
fought the election on the grounds of the Dominion's right to 
interfere to protect a religious minority, Laurier, the Liberal 
leader, who had wisely kept silent as long as he could, came out 
unexpectedly in defence of the right of Manitoba to fix its own 
educational system, even if this involved doing away with Catholic 
separate schools. It was a daring step. Laurier, the French 
Canadian Catholic, was opposing the clearly expressed will of the 
ultramontane leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, 
who had ordered their followers to support the Remedial Bill. But 
was it unwise? Laurier had taken his stand squarely on the well- 
established Liberal principle of provincial rights : the Dominion 
should not interfere in education, a field which by the British 
North America Act belonged to the provinces. Laurier had re- 
moved the issue from the hottest sectional grounds. He also made 
clear that, while a faithful Catholic, he was not ready to accept the 
Church's orders in political matters. On this stand he swept the 
election of 1896 for the Liberals. 

Protestant Ontario, where the Liberal Mowat ruled, took to 
Laurier's doctrine of provincial rights. Provincial feelings across 
the Dominion supported the Liberals. Yet Laurier still needed 
seats in Quebec which surely would reject him. But it did not: 
Quebec would not lose the opportunity to make a French Cana- 

294 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

dian prime minister., who might be better equipped to settle 
Catholic rights in Manitoba. In this French Canada undoubtedly 
went against the judgment of its Roman Catholic bishops., yet it 
did so in part from feelings of French Canadian nationalism. And 
Laurier, after all, was still a Catholic, who shortly afterwards 
secured the approval of the Papacy for his policy in Manitoba. He 
also managed to save some special school rights for Catholics there, 
by discussion, as he had hoped, and not by the forceful use of 
Dominion power. 

In such a way the long rule of Macdonald Conservatism came 
to an end in Canada. It might seem that a very different era was 
about to begin under Liberals, stressing provincial rights. Yet 
Conservative nationalism was played out. It had ended in a new 
outburst of sectional strife, and in this outburst Macdonald's 
policy of making strong use of the Dominion's power would only 
have increased sectional unrest. Laurier's policy of protecting the 
provinces was necessary to calm angry feelings and reunite the 
Dominion. In his own way Laurier, too, was a nation-builder, 
one who had other tasks than Macdonald to accomplish for 
Canada. Above all, he had to bring the two peoples hi the country 
together through policies of moderation, tolerance, and co-opera- 
tion. 

To a great extent, however, Liberal rule under Laurier did not 
begin a new era but maintained and built on the basic national 
policies of Macdonald: the protective tariff, the transcontinental 
railway, and the opening of the West. Macdonald nationalism 
had not failed. It was the age that had failed, the long lean years 
of depression. For the final summing up of Macdonald comes to 
this : he had shaped the new federal union, rounded out its bor- 
ders, built its Pacific railway, planned its economic development. 
In the years of bitterness he had still held his Dominion together 
and saved the main points of his programme. Whatever successes 
came after his death, it is certain that Macdonald had not failed 
during his own lifetime. 

295 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

5 Macdonald and the North Atlantic Triangle 

Macdonald nationalism was not taken up entirely with develop- 
ing the Dominion at home. It was also concerned with advancing 
Canada's place in the world, to suit the new importance of the 
continent-wide union that had replaced the separate British Ameri- 
can colonies. As Canada looked abroad, two countries engaged 
her attention above all: Britain, the centre of empire, and the 
United States, the great neighbour to the south. Indeed, all three 
countries were closely connected with each other, whether they 
liked it or not. They formed what has well been called the 'North 
Atlantic Triangle/ And Canada, the weakest point of the triangle, 
was the most open to the forces that flowed around it : for example, 
during the American Civil War, the clashes between Britain and 
the United States had only affected those nations briefly, yet they 
did much to shape an enduring Confederation for Canada. 

Trouble between Britain and the United States would always 
spell grave danger for the Dominion, a British possession exposed 
to the full power of the republic. On the other hand, the might of 
Britain put weight and influence behind a thinly settled Dominion 
striving to hold vast stretches of territory next door to the thickly 
populated, fast-expanding American union. Without the British 
tie, Canada might never grow to be a nation. It might cease to 
exist, fall piecemeal into the republic. Macdonald saw these things 
very clearly and shaped his policies accordingly. 

First and foremost he placed the necessity of maintaining the 
British tie, in order to preserve a separate life for Canada on the 
North American continent. If this was imperialism, it was nat- 
ionalism as well. And as long as this first principle was safe, 
Macdonald was ready to seek changes in Canada's relation to 
Britain in order to make her less a colony and more a partner in 
the empire. To that end he decided to place a minister in London 
to represent the Dominion in the imperial capital in a way be- 
fitting its new size and dignity. This led to the appointment of the 
first Dominion High Commissioner in 1879, a post first held by 

296 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

Sir Alexander Gait and later by Sir Charles Tupper. Although 
the Liberals under Blake and Mackenzie talked more of widening 
the scope of Canadian nationality., in actual practice Macdonald 
worked much as they did in this direction. 

Accordingly he showed little interest in the idea of uniting the 
empire through an overall federal system of government, an idea 
which was much discussed in Britain and the colonies during the 
i88o's and ? 9o's. There were ardent supporters of imperial federa- 
tion in Canada, but the lead came mainly from the Mother 
Country. In Britain, at the time, interest in the colonies had 
revived considerably and there was an earnest desire to make the 
empire stronger and more effective by knitting it more closely 
together. Imperial federation was only one plan proposed for this 
purpose by the rising British imperialists of the late nineteenth 
century. The revival of British interest in empire had many causes. 
For example, the long trade depression after 1873 made colonial 
markets seem far more valuable than in the hopeful flush of free 
trade prosperity at the middle of the century. New dangers of 
war, linked chiefly with the rise of German power after 1870, had 
underlined the need for uniting the strength of the empire. And 
there had been a reaction in Britain against the old, cold policy of 
waiting for the colonies to leave home particularly when it was 
realized that the colonies did not want to leave after all. 

On this last fact, however, the new imperialists built too much. 
If the colonies did not want to break away from Britain, neither 
did they want to move in the other direction. As for Canada, on 
the whole she had no desire to turn back on the path towards full 
self-government within the empire, on which she had been moving 
since the time of Durham, Baldwin, and Elgin. Macdonald there- 
fore took no step towards closer imperial unity, despite the flatter- 
ing attentions showered on the colonies at the first Colonial Con- 
ference, held in London in 1887. But while the prime minister 
politely sidestepped all proposals to tighten the imperial bond, he 
equally rejected any policy which he thought would loosen it. 

297 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

Thus he opposed the Liberals' plan of unrestricted reciprocity on 
the grounds that it would turn Canada from Britain to the United 
States, and fought his last election on a cry well designed to get 
votes and yet deeply meant: C A British subject I was born, a 
British subject I will die.' 

Perhaps the value of the British tie as a counterbalance to the 
United States was most evident in the early years of Macdonald's 
rule over the Dominion. Between Confederation and the Treaty 
of Washington, signed in 1871., Canada continued to watch her 
American neighbour in all uneasiness. The United States felt new 
yearnings for more territory, and after the purchase of Alaska 
from Russia, in 1867, Americans talked of rounding out their hold 
on the continent to the north. In addition, bad feelings between 
Britain and the United States still ran high in the years after the 
Civil War, and the republic laid heavy claims for damage done by 
Southern raiders, notably the Alabama, that had fitted out in 
British ports. These 'Alabama 9 claims, the United States sug- 
gested, might be met if Britain withdrew from North America 
completely, leaving her northern colonies free to join the American 
union. And, in fact, it could be said that so far the republic had 
hardly recognized that there was a new Dominion of Canada occu- 
pying the northern half of the continent. 

In these circumstances the value of the British tie as a security 
to Canada seemed only too plain to Macdonald. The United 
States, however, did not seek to press further for northern expan- 
sion once it realized that Britain would not yield, sell, or trade 
British North America. Accordingly it was finally agreed that 
British and American representatives should meet in Washington 
in 1871 to discuss all the questions that had arisen out of the Civil 
War. Sir John Macdonald was to attend as a member of the 
British delegation in order to represent Canada's interests. 

The Treaty of Washington that emerged from the discussions 
to a great extent did settle the outstanding questions, and brought 
to an end the period of strain with the United States. Yet in many 

298 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

ways Canadian interests were set aside, thanks to the British desire 
to win good relations with the Americans and the American inten- 
tion of making the wooing expensive. As a single member of the 
British delegation there was little Macdonald could do. Thus 
Canada's claims for damage due to the Fenian raids were not dis- 
cussed. The Americans were granted free navigation of the St 
Lawrence and the Atlantic fisheries of each country were opened 
to the other for ten years. Canada had no opportunity to bargain 
again for reciprocity with her more valuable fishing grounds, al- 
though five and a half million dollars was later awarded to her for 
their use by the United States. Macdonald was attacked over the 
Treaty on his return to Ottawa ; but he had simply had to pay the 
price for Canada's being a colony. 

And yet this price was also connected with Canada's position 
as the weakest member of the North Atlantic mangle. If the good 
relations with the United States that Britain sought had not been 
won, Canada stood to suffer most of all. By herself, moreover, she 
would have had small chance, in 1871, of making a bargain with 
the republic. Again the security of the tie with Britain was the 
most important concern for Canada, and for this Macdonald 
accepted the losses involved. Besides, the Treaty of Washington 
really brought to a close the long-felt American pressure on the 
Canadian lands to the north, for by the Treaty the United States 
recognized that the Dominion had made good its claim to the 
northern half of the continent. Gradually thereafter the unfriendly 
feeling between the two neighbours disappeared. The term, c the. 
undefended boundary*, came to have real meaning. The period of 
true peace between Canada and the United States properly goes 
back to the Treaty of Washington of 1871. 

As a result, Macdonald's later years in office saw no major 
problems in relations with the United States, although the fishery 
question re-emerged. And while the unrestricted reciprocity cam- 
paign revived charges that the Americans looked to reciprocity to 
bring about the peaceful annexation of Canac^, on the whole it 

299 



NATIONALISM AND DISCONTENT, 1878-96 

seems that the United States at that time was not much interested 
in Canadian proposals for reciprocity or anything else. Conse- 
quently, when Macdonald Conservatism finished its course in 
1896, it left Canada on good terms with the republic and on close 
terms with Britain: secure in her separate place within the North 
Atlantic triangle and still advancing towards nationhood. 

Nationhood involves duties as well as privileges, responsibilities 
as well as rights. During this first age of the Dominion, that closed 
in 1896, Canada began to assume one of the basic duties of a 
nation: that of defending itself. In 1871 the last British troops 
were withdrawn from Canada, except for a garrison at Halifax, 
which was still the Royal Navy's main north-west Atlantic base. 
The Dominion took over the task of its defence by land, though 
naval defence was still an imperial responsibility. And so it was 
that while in 1870 British regulars as well as Canadian militia 
marched west to the first Riel rising, in 1885 Canadian troops 
alone put down the second rebellion. Only a few years after 1896, 
during the South African War, Canada would even send armed 
forces overseas. This was clearly a sign of the growing stature of 
the Dominion, the result in part, of long years under the sway of 
Macdonald nationalism. 



300 



CHAPTER 16 

LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 
1896-1914 

I Immigration and Western Settlement 

The year 1896 not only saw Laurier and the Liberals take office 
in Canada. It witnessed the revival of world trade and the return 
of prosperity to the Dominion. In fact, Canada embarked on the 
greatest boom it had yet known. A new tide of immigration set in, 
the West was rapidly occupied, and all parts of the country 
flourished. Laurier and the Liberals, who were fortunate to be in 
office during the boom, fell from power in 1911, yet the good 
times continued almost up to the outbreak of the First World War 
in 1914. By that date, the outlines of the Dominion had been 
filled in, and a prosperous Canada had developed a new, confident 
national spirit. It was a mark of the national confidence that 
Laurier could say, 'The nineteenth century was the century of the 
United States, the twentieth century will be the century of 
Canada.' 

The basic achievement of the new era, on which the rest of the 
national advance depended, was the settlement of the West. And 
here the prime reason for the success of the Laurier government 
was the recovery of world trade. As the factories of Britain and 
western Europe throbbed in quickening pace, their crowded in- 
dustrial towns demanded new supplies of foodstuffs from the soil 
of North America, The demand for food rose constantly, yet the 
good western lands of the United States had by now been occupied 
and what remained was of far less agricultural value. Only in 
the last, best West' of Canada was there a great reserve of fertile 
soil whose crops could feed the factory population of Europe. 
Now at last there was good reason to settle the Canadian West. 
Settlers flocked to the empty prairies, from Britain, from the 

301 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY., 1896-1914 

United States, from continental Europe. Year by year the rustling 
wheatfields reached further into the western grasslands, year by 
year the crops poured eastward through the narrow funnel of the 
Canadian Pacific, and yet the demand for grain continued to grow. 

There were other developments which aided the settlement of 
the Canadian West. The filling up of the American plains before 
1900 turned the whole western frontier movement northward into 
Canada. Once before, in the years between the conquest of 1760 
and the War of 1812, the frontier in its march across the North 
American continent had swung into Canada. In that day, New 
Englanders, Loyalists, and American frontiersmen had done much 
to occupy the eastern lands of British America. In later years, 
although large numbers of settlers had come to the colonies from 
Britain, the main movement of the North American frontier had 
been westward across the United States. After 1850 there had 
been little frontier advance in Canada at all. But around the turn 
of the twentieth century, the Canadian frontier came into its own 
again, and by the time the movement had run its course the 
western half of the Dominion had been peopled. 

Another factor in successful settlement was the improvement in 
farming methods and the development of new strains of wheat. 
The prairies were lands of fairly low rainfall. They required a 
system of 'dry' fanning, and this by now had been worked out in 
the equally dry American plains. The system demanded farms of 
large size, but the development of agricultural machinery by this 
time made it possible to work large farms effectively. And if the 
problems of low rainfall and early frost could be overcome, no 
finer land for grain crops could be found anywhere than in the 
Canadian West. As for the question of frost, the answer lay in the 
new strains of wheat. High-yielding, quick-maturing varieties 
were developed. Once they were tested, it became possible to grow 
grain in a shorter season, with the result that the wheat lands could 
push further and further towards the north. The greatest triumph, 
Marquis wheat, came in 1908, when the western boom was at its 

302 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

height. Its development by Charles Saunders, a botanist in the 
service of the Canadian government, is one of the most fascinating 
and significant stories in Canadian history. Maturing in under a 
hundred days, bountiful Marquis added thousands of northern 
acres to Canada's wheat lands. In recent years still other kinds of 
wheat have advanced the western fanning frontier far north to the 
Peace river country, where grain has been produced that has won 
the world wheat championship. 

Government policies also had their share in tfib successful 
opening of the West. In many ways they merely continued on 
lines laid down under Macdonald, but they were ably administered 
by the Laurier government. Clifford Sifton, the Minister of the 
Interior in charge of western settlement, brought driving energy 
and enthusiasm to his task. He organized vigorous publicity cam- 
paigns in Britain, the United States and Europe to attract immi- 
grants to the Canadian West and stationed immigration agents 
widely in all three. He arranged train tours of the prairies so that 
selected Canadian and American farmers and newspaper men 
could see for themselves the value of the soil. The Dominion's 
land policy, carried over from the previous period, made farms 
easily available. The prairies were surveyed in numbered square 
sections of 640 acres each. In the odd-numbered sections the 
Dominion sold the land at moderate prices to raise a revenue. 
These sections also contained the lands granted to the Canadian 
Pacific, and other types of grant, which were sold in the same way. 
In the even-numbered sections farms could be obtained free, as 
homesteads, if the homesteader fulfilled certain conditions of 
developing his 'quarter section' of 160 acres. So great was the 
demand for farms that both homestead and purchased land were 
readily taken up. And the Canadian Pacific, the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and other interests which held grants soon saw that it 
paid to sell their land cheaply in order to develop the West, in- 
crease its railway traffic, and gain from the general prosperity. In 
fact, the government at length decided that it was worth while to 

303 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

give the rest of its western lands away to keep up the flow of 
settlement. In 1908 it opened what was left of the odd-numbered 
sections to free homesteading. 

Thanks to all these circumstances, Canada was swept by the 
greatest wave of immigration in her history. Between 1896 and 
the First World War, about two-and-a-half million people entered 
the Dominion. Well over half a million came from continental 
Europe, more than three-quarters of a million from the United 
States and close to a million from the British Isles. During the 
height of the movement, between 1901 and 1911, the population 
jumped from five to seven millions, an increase of over one-third. 
But the change in the size of the population was no more striking 
than the change in its composition. While the new immigrants 
were English-speaking in the great majority, a sizeable number 
were from Germany and Scandinavia, from Russia, Poland, and 
the Ukraine, from Austria and Italy. Canada for the first time 
became what the United States long had been, a melting-pot of 
peoples. Canada was still much less a melting pot than the repub- 
lic, and the British and French stocks continued to dominate. But 
whereas persons of other than British or French origin had formed 
only a tiny part of the Canadian population at Confederation, by 
the First World War they formed almost one-fifth of it. 

On the whole these European immigrants were gradually ab- 
sorbed into the two older Canadian peoples, though mostly into 
the English-speaking majority. Group settlements of foreign-born 
in the West, particularly if they were religious groups, proved the 
most difficult to absorb. The Doukhobors, a small but earnestly 
religious sect from Russia, provide an obvious example here, since 
an extremist minority among them, which has settled in British 
Columbia, has even found it hard to fit its religious ideas to the 
accepted laws and customs of the Canadian people. Yet the mass 
of the foreign-born came to think of themselves simply as Cam- 
dians, while they added colour and variety to the Canadian per- 
sonality and new arts and crafts to Canada's culture. 

304 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

At the same time, the largest group of immigrants gave Canada 
a new infusion of British stock, while the next largest set of 
arrivals, from the United States (about half of them returning 
Canadians), supplied farmers already trained in North American 
agriculture. These were of particular value in bringing the West 
under cultivation. Not all the immigrants went west by any 
means. Many of them settled in the now thriving eastern towns 
or entered into new northern mining and lumbering develop- 
ments. Altogether, about a million new inhabitants went to the 
prairies and British Columbia in the peak period, 1901 to 1911. 
Probably the majority were Canadians and Americans, and the 
rest British and continental Europeans in about equal numbers. 
The Barr 'colony', for instance, at Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, 
was a strikingly successful example of a British community settle- 
ment. 

With the inrush of settlement the West advanced rapidly. Rail- 
way lines branched out, roads were built, and towns sprang up. 
Regina and Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton mushroomed out 
of trading posts and board shanties. The first sod huts of settlers 
the open prairies did not supply wood for log cabins were soon 
replaced by frame dwellings, planks for which were shipped in by 
railway. The red-brown grain elevators began to dot the plains, 
and on every side there was a sea of grain, trembling in soft green 
shoots in the spring rains and tumbling in golden waves under 
the hot, blue summer sky. The plains turned almost overnight 
from the wilderness life of trapping and hunting to the complex 
business of raising a crop for the world market, with every aid of 
science and machinery. There was really no stage in between, of 
pioneer farming for bare existence, as in eastern Canada. 

From the first the western settler was a business man, producing 
for a cash sale and buying his needs, even some of his food, from 
the world outside. He was supplied by the same railways that 
carried his product on its way to markets half-way around the 
globe. And although the size of western farms scattered settlers 

305 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 



|(i) CANADA, 1873 [: 



Dates given are of these provinces 
entrance in Confederation. ' 




|(iii) CANADA, 1905| 



jSASKAT-; KEEWAT1N 

CHEWAN i . . ./ t" ^ 

ONTARIO \ 




306 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 




MAP IX 

THE GROWTH OF 

THE CANADIAN 

UNION 



i?^ TERRITORIES ! p< 
EH) % ^>, % |* 

S? ' *? I 3 




Dates given are of the northward 
n of the boundaries of these 



provinces, except for Newfound. 
land's date of entrance into tte 
Confederation. 



k. J1912)%\< 1912 > 7 'M^JQVA SCOTIA 
*^Ur^L_X--V-' & ' 



307 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

far apart, their life was not the solitary one of the eastern pioneers. 
There was no barrier of thick forest; roads and railways kept far- 
mers in touch with the outside; and from the start they organized 
in groups, whether for social reasons, or to market their grain 
more effectively, or to bring pressure to bear in politics for a new 
road or a branch-line railway. 

The rapid rise of the West led also to changes in the field of 
government. Even before the great boom, gradual western growth 
had caused the governor-and-council system set up for the North 
West Territories in 1875 to be replaced by representative govern- 
ment in 1888, and by responsible government in 1897. Bu * now 
the rapid rise in the population called two more provinces into 
being. In 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan were carved out of the 
North West Territories as two new members of Confederation. 

A few years later the North West Territories were further re- 
duced when the boundaries of Quebec and Ontario were extended 
northward. The discovery of the Klondike gold-fields on the 
Yukon River in the far north-west also led to the creation of a 
separate Yukon Territory, when miners raced north in the dram- 
atic gold-rush of 1898-1903, so colourfully set forth in the writings 
of Robert Service. Klondike gold also helped western growth by 
making the sub-Arctic west important for the first time. But in 
a few years the Yukon fields passed their prime, and the Terri- 
tory's population declined. And the remaining North West Ter- 
ritories, still a tremendous empire, continued almost empty except 
for the Indian fur trapper, the Hudson's Bay factor and the 
missionary. 

At the same time, however, Alberta and Saskatchewan came 
quickly out of childhood. Public education was made province- 
wide, thanks to the system of 'school lands' which were sold to 
support it. Provincial universities were founded. They also flour- 
ished in Manitoba and British Columbia, which shared greatly in 
the boom. Yet the western boom and western settlement were not 
the only striking developments of this remarkable age. There were 

308 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

others, all across Canada, all of them closely linked together, and 
tied as well to the triumph in the West. 

2 The Success of the National Policy 

The western growth was so sudden that it strained the existing 
Canadian railway system. The Canadian Pacific was jammed with 
traffic at its Winnipeg bottleneck each year as the crops moved out. 
A new transcontinental line seemed necessary. In 1903, when the 
Liberal government announced its whole-hearted readiness to 
support vigorous railway-building, two powerful railway groups 
were eager to go ahead. The Grand Trunk was prosperous at last 
and was dreaming again of extension to the Pacific. The western 
railway promoters, Mackenzie and Mann, who had strung a num- 
ber of small lines together, were hoping to make theirs a trans- 
continental railway system. The obvious plan, since Mackenzie 
and Mann wanted to extend to the east and the Grand Trunk to 
the west, would have been for the two groups to join hands. But 
neither wanted to give up their own scheme for a transcontinental 
railway. And so strong was the confident mood of the time that 
they believed there was room for two new great railways in 
Canada. The government and the people believed it too. 

Hence Mackenzie and Mann built their Canadian Northern 
into a transcontinental railway, while the Grand Trunk laid the 
Grand Trunk Pacific across the West. In addition, the govern- 
ment undertook to construct a new eastern route of its own, the 
National Transcontinental, which was to be leased to the Grand 
Trunk. This trunk line stretched east from Winnipeg, reaching 
high 4 across Ontario and Quebec, to open up their northern regions 
and provide a main track direct to Quebec City. From here it ran 
down through the Maritimes by a shorter route than the old 
Intercolonial, yet stayed wholly in Canada, as the Canadian 
Pacific's 'Short Line' to Saint John did not. 

The new age of railway-building bound all the regions of Canada 
together in a far stronger web of steel. It linked the Pacific coast, 

309 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

where the northern port of Prince Rupert was now opened, 
through several more mountain passes to the rest of Canada; it 
crossed the barrier of the Shield with two new trunk lines, and 
joined central Canada more effectively with ice-free Maritime 
harbours. Yet the happy belief that all these tracks would pay 
was only the over-confidence of boom times. Canada's railways 
were gravely overbuilt. Through the Shield in particular, com- 
peting lines often ran side by side for miles through a country 
that could not supply traffic enough for one. And because the new 
railways had been constructed in a flush of prosperity, when prices 
were high, they had to carry an extremely heavy burden of costs. 
Very early, therefore, they began to collapse under their load of 
debt, even before boom conditions had fully disappeared. 

As a result, by the end of the First World War the Dominion 
government had been forced to take over the bankrupt Canadian 
Northern and Grand Trunk. They were combined with the gov- 
ernment's Intercolonial and National Transcontinental to form 
the Canadian National Railways, a state-owned rival of the Cana- 
dian Pacific, which successfully survived as a private company, 
thanks to the much sounder state of its finances. The Canadian 
National continued to run into difficulties in later years, largely 
because of the heavy load of debt it had inherited from its bank- 
rupt parents. Within the Laurier era, however, the building of 
railways added greatly to national prosperity. Their construction 
offered employment to many immigrants. It made mighty de- 
mands on Canadian industry and lumbering for materials, and the 
new lines across the Shield uncovered hidden mineral riches. In 
this northern realm a new Canada began to develop, once the 
railways had opened the door to its resources. In northern On- 
tario, in particular, a mining boom was under way, as gold, silver, 
copper, and nickel mines were brought into production. The soft- 
wood forests of the Shield started supplying wood-pulp for hungry 
mills that made the world's newspapers. And the Shield, that had 
been a dividing waste land but was now emerging as Canada's 

310 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

treasure-house, was promising to become a power-house as well. 
The new century had brought the age of electricity made from 
water-power; the many rivers of the Shield could readily be har- 
nessed. Hydro-electric power was also being developed outside 
the Shield, at Niagara Falls,, for instance. This new source of vital 
energy was of great significance to the booming factories of central 
Canada, which had been compelled to bring in coal to furnish 
them with steam power. 

Despite these important developments, the most significant 
feature of the new age of prosperity was the growth of trade from 
east to west, carried across the continent by the railways. As west- 
ern settlement advanced and western grain production mounted, 
the east-west trading system of Canada began to flourish as never 
before. While wheat moved east to Atlantic ports, farm machinery 
and manufactures went west from eastern factories. The St Law- 
rence interests of Montreal controlled a golden commercial empire 
beyond the dreams of the days of the fur canoe or the canal era. 
Winnipeg grew as Montreal's outpost, gathering in the western 
trade. Toronto competed with Montreal to some extent, but 
thrived on the east-west commerce as the heart of a large industrial 
region. The outlying sections and their cities also gained from the 
growth of east-west trade. Vancouver benefited as the Pacific out- 
let of the continent-wide system, and British Columbia supplied 
the prairies with fish, lumber, fruit, and minerals. The Maritimes 
advanced less, but were aided by the development of Saint John 
and Halifax as the winter ports of east-west commerce. 

More than this, Canada's trade relations with Britain grew 
closer, for Britain became her best customer for western grain; 
the east-west system really ended on the other side of the Atlantic. 
As a result, an enduring pattern of trade developed, whereby 
Canada sold the bulk of her farm exports hi the British market, 
and these soon included meat, dairy products, and fruit as well as 
wheat. Yet grain remained the staple export of the east-west 
trading system. Canada's old staple of fur had long since lost its 

311 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

importance and the cutting over of eastern forests had affected 
the export of lumber. Sawn lumber still went in great quantities 
to the United States, but the old square timber trade with Britain 
disappeared about 1 900. And then came western grain to strengthen 
or rather transform, the trading ties with Britain. Although Canada 
continued to sell many products to the United States and to buy 
from there rather more than she sold, she balanced her books by 
the sales to Britain. A new period of heavy British investment in 
Canada during the Laurier boom also strengthened trans-Atlantic 
commercial ties. 

The rise of east-west trade had another powerful consequence. 
It spelt success at long last for the National Policy of Mac- 
donald, which the Liberals now took over as their own. The 
National Policy of protection was firmly fixed on Canada from 
then on, since both major parties had accepted it. The Liberals 
might still talk more of lower tariff rates and work to reduce some 
of them, but they had really dropped any intention of interfering 
with the basic policy of a protective tariff. 

The Liberal conversion became clear almost at the start of the 
Laurier government's career. Its first tariff, that of 1897, did not 
really alter the protective system, and left out the offer of reciproc- 
ity with the United States which had long been included in the 
various Canadian tariffs. Laurier, indeed, announced that there 
would be 'no more pilgrimages to Washington 5 to seek reciprocity 
from the United States. This changed Liberal attitude was in part 
an expression of the new national confidence caused by the age of 
prosperity. Yet the Liberal conversion had deeper roots. The party 
had altered its character. No longer was it based chiefly on the 
farm vote and opposed to a Conservative party supported by big 
business. Though the Liberals had still kept most of their farm 
support, they had gradually built up a powerful backing of rail- 
way, banking, and industrial interests. As the party in power 
during the boom, they attracted an even larger business following, 
and served it well enough with their policies of railway-building, 

312 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

tariff protection and lavish government expenditure shades of 
Macdonald Conservatism! In fact, there was not much difference 
now between the two great Canadian parties. In this era of boom, 
free trade and government economy were forgotten. The Liberals 
had simply adopted most of Macdonald's expensive nation- 
building policies, and had generally succeeded with them. 

The reason why the Liberals succeeded where the Conserva- 
tives had failed, is not hard to see. Macdonald's national plans 
had required a Pacific railway and western settlement as well as 
the protective tariff. In the long depression, the failure of western 
settlement had meant that the railway had been half used and the 
tariff had but partly served its purpose. But now the life-blood 
of settlement and east-west trade coursed through the system 
Macdonald had moulded. The railways, vastly extended under 
the Liberals, carried both the settlers and their crops; the indus- 
tries that had been built up behind the tariff found ample western 
markets: and the West fed the East and the world overseas. The 
purposes of the national policy had been achieved. Canada at last 
had a balanced economic system, a unity based on trade. 

The balance was still far from perfect. The success of the system 
depended greatly on good times and a healthy world market. The 
west would soon complain that it carried the larger share of the 
tariff burden and railway charges for the benefit of eastern indus- 
try. In years to come there would be repeated protests against the 
tariff and railway costs in both the West and the Maritimes. Yet 
the uneven burden of the tariff could be offset by the practical, if 
not always admirable, policy of increasing subsidies for the prov- 
inces that complained. And the Dominion government could work 
to modify objectionable railway rates, as, for instance, in the 
Crowsnest Pass agreement of 1897, wherein the Dominion gave 
aid to the Canadian Pacific's new Crowsnest Pass line in return 
for a lowering of rates between the West and central Canada. 

In general, complex, uneven and expensive as it might be, the 
national policy succeeded during Laurier's day in making Canada 

313 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

more than just a collection of governments or a name on the map. 
It was, in a sense, another response to the challenge of the land, 
to the forces that divided the country into separate regions. 
Though the policy of protection helped to build up powerful 
and privileged business interests* the majority of Canadians accep- 
ted its costs and its faults as part of the price of successfully main- 
taining their separate existence in North America : as part of the 
price they paid for their geography. 

3 Nationalism and Imperialism 

With the prosperity of the Laurier era and the success of the 
national policy, sectional strife dwindled away in Canada, and 
unity and nationalism again became the order of the day. ^Fhe 
feeling of harmony was widespread, though not complete. There 
were still mutterings of the racial storm between Ontario and 
Quebec, and in the latter province the purely French-Canadian 
kind of nationalism was soon to rise in an angry new outburst. 
Yet for the time the dominant mood was one of national pride, a 
belief that Canada was at last coming into her own in the world, 
and that all Canadians could stand together to see their country 
receive the greater recognition which she now deserved. Laurier 
himself was a living symbol of this nationalism, stressing as he did 
that Canadians should think neither of English Canada nor of 
French, but of Canada as a whole. 

The feeling of nationalism was clearly evident in literature; foi 
example, in the writing of history; for during this period the first 
large-scale studies of the Canadian past were undertaken as group 
projects. It appeared in poetry, where the chief representatives 
of the golden age of the 'nineties Roberts, Carman, Duncan 
Scott were striving still in the new century to set forth the 
scenes and spirit of Canada, as were Wilfred Campbell and many 
others. And by 1914 young artists were emerging later, notably, 
the Group of Seven who viewed Canada through Canadian eyes, 
and no longer approached the rocks, sweeps, and storms of their 

314 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

northern landscape with the painting styles developed in the 
milder countrysides of Europe. In every way Canadians were 
growing more self-conscious, more eager to assert themselves. 

In this new mood, under Laurier, Canada looked to the world 
outside. As yet she had little contact with countries other than 
the United States and Britain, but within the North Atlantic tri- 
angle she showed much more independence of mind. With regard 
to the United States, the turning away from reciprocity was a sign 
that Canada felt a new readiness to make her own way in North 
America. With regard to Britain, Canadians on the whole stood 
out against the tide of ardent imperialism which was still running 
high in the mother country. Imperial questions bulked large in 
this era, because of Britain's hopes of strengthening the empire's 
trade, government, and defence to meet the mounting rivalry of 
great powers in the darker world that loomed ahead. And yet, 
however understandable were Britain's intentions, and though she 
meant only to realize them through free agreement between 
motherland and colonies, the fact was that these imperialist aims 
ran up against the growing counter-force of nationalism in the 
principal colonies. Nationalism was not only appearing in Canada, 
although, as the eldest Dominion, it was more advanced there. 

This nationalism, however, was of a fairly moderate sort. In 
opposing centralized imperial control it still believed that the 
empire might be strong through the free development of its parts, 
and generally thought that ties of friendship and common loyalties 
might prove more lasting thgn new imperial machinery. This was 
the viewpoint of Laurier nationalism in Canada, where there were 
keen imperialists as well, but moderate nationalism proved more 
powerful. There was in truth little basic disagreement among 
Canadians over relations with the empire. Few nationalists, even 
among the French Canadians, had any desire to break the British 
tie, and few imperialists meant to abandon Canada's national eco- 
nomic policies. The disagreements, which could be noisy, were on 
smaller, particular questions. Hence, while the Conservatives still 

315 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

talked more warmly of empire, they stood by the National Policy 
they had created in the face of British free trade. And while the 
Liberals wanted fuller national rights they continued to seek them 
inside the imperial framework. 

To some extent both the so-called imperialists and nationalists 
in the Dp-minimi expressed the same spirit of the new century : the 
desire to have Canada assert herself. The nationalists wanted her 
to do so by avoiding tighter imperial bonds and by gaining more 
freedom to deal with external affairs. The imperialists wanted her 
to play a greater part in the empire and to win some share in the 
framing of imperial policies. But both wanted Canada to make 
a larger mark in the world. 

Imperial questions came to the fore almost as soon as the 
Liberals took office. In 1897 a Colonial Conference was held in 
London on a grand imperial occasion, the celebration of Queen 
Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. To London thronged representatives 
from the Queen's vast domains around the globe. From Canada 
came a tall, distinguished French Canadian with a courtly air and 
a cordial manner, equally at ease in French or English, in Windsor 
Castle or among his rural supporters of Arthabaska, Quebec. This 
was the Dominion's prime minister, Wilfrid Laurier. Laurier, to 
be knighted Sir Wilfrid in London, came to Britain when the 
strong-minded Joseph Chamberlain ruled the Colonial Office and 
there had made his goal the achievement of empire unity. If 
imperial federation or an imperial customs union could not be 
obtained, then some form of imperial council representing Britain 
and the chief colonies might be established. But Laurier said no, 
in the politest of terms, at the Conference; and apparently the 
other colonies largely felt as he did, since the meeting broke up 
expressing satisfaction with the existing ties of empire. 

Laurier and Canada pointed instead to the principle of imperial 
preference, which the Liberals had introduced in their first tariff, 
that of 1897. The imperial preference was a lower rate of customs 
duty specially granted to British goods. Actually it was a com- 

316 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

promise measure, which did not really affect the principle of tariff 
protection that had now been adopted by the Liberals, but which 
somewhat appeased both low-tariff and imperialist feelings in 
Canada by reducing the protective rates in Britain's favour. If, 
however, all the parts of the British empire could give each other 
similar favoured treatment, then a system of imperial preferences 
might increase the flow of trade within the empire and strengthen 
imperial bonds in quite a practical fashion. But while the centre 
of empire, Britain, maintained a policy of free trade and a market 
open to all the world she could not respond with special favours 
for her colonies. Canada's grant of an imperial preference, broad- 
ened in 1898, remained a one-way offer. 

The next year a far more urgent question arose in imperial 
relations. The South African War broke out in 1899, and Canada 
had to decide what its policy would be towards this empire 
struggle. Chamberlain felt that imperial unity might be strength- 
ened by the leading colonies sending troops to the war. Lord 
Minto, the Governor-General in Canada, and many Canadians 
also hoped to see a force dispatched. Laurier, however, was faced 
with a difficult problem of maintaining national unity. As British 
forces met defeats in South Africa in the early stages of the war, 
the demand swelled in English-speaking Canada for the sending 
of troops. But the French Canadians were uninterested or op- 
posed; both because they felt the war was not Canada's concern 
and because they tended to compare the position of the Boers to 
their own in an English-speaking empire. A purely French- 
Canadian nationalism stirred again, condemning English Cana- 
dians as war-mad imperialists who put Britain ahead of their own 
country, Canada. The old racial division began to crack open: a 
challenge to Laurier who had dedicated his life to harmony be- 
tween the two peoples of Canada. 

In these circumstances the government took a middle course. 
Laurier, a French-Canadian, determined to raise and send a force 
to South Africa in response to the will of the English-speaking 

317 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

majority. On the other hand the force was made up of volunteers 
and was maintained in South Africa by Britain. The first contin- 
gent sailed from Quebec in October, 1899, and more followed. 
In all, more than seven thousand Canadians served in South 
Africa, through the bloodshed of Paardeburg, the relief of Lady- 
smith and the capture of Pretoria, until the war ended in 1902. 
Meanwhile at home Laurier's policy had avoided serious trouble 
between French and English, and between nationalists and im- 
perialists as well. For once more, the sending of troops to South 
Africa had been almost as much nationalism as imperialism. 
Canada was asserting herself, and acting by her own decision. 

After the war. Chamberlain in Britain hoped to build on the 
feelings created by a common imperial war effort. However, in 
the Colonial Conference of 1902 Laurier opposed plans for greater 
unity in defence or government, and again held to the idea of 
trade preference. Chamberlain himself came to support that plan, 
which would require Britain to drop free trade. But in a campaign 
to bring "tariff reform' in Britain, Chamberlain succeeded only in 
splitting his own Conservative party, so that the Liberals came to 
power. Although the free-trade British Liberals could not con- 
sider imperial preference, they still thought that some other means 
of strengthening the empire might be found. Laurier agreed to 
their plan of making colonial conferences regular meetings held 
every four years, under the more imposing title of the Imperial 
Conference. He shared fully in the conferences that followed. 
But he still held back from any proposals for more centralized 
controls over the empire, fearing that Canada would find herself 
committed to policies which she had not been able to influence, 
since the British government maintained that relations with for- 
eign countries had to be left in the hands of Britain. Then too, his 
particular problem of finding a middle ground between both 
French and English in Canada required him to be ever-cautious. 

Defence, particularly naval defence, was now becoming the 
central problem in imperial affairs. As the dangers of war in 

318 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

Europe mounted., Britain and Germany entered on a grim race to 
build the most modern type of battleship. The new German fleet 
was coming perilously close to the British in size. To Germany, 
a land-power, the building race was largely a matter of prestige; 
to Britain, living by the sea, it was a matter of life or death. The 
cost was enormous, and since the Royal Navy defended the whole 
empire, the British government sought to have the colonies share 
in its support by making definite contributions to the imperial 
fleet. Laurier again held back, on the same ground that, in con- 
tributing, Canada would be committed to aid where she could not 
influence. He stated clearly that, 'When Britain is at war, Canada 
is at war, 9 but felt that in the event of any war the Dominion, as 
a self-governing colony, had to decide on its own contribution. 
By keeping commitments beforehand as low as possible, Canada 
would be more able to decide freely. 

In any case, the British Admiralty's belief that imperial naval 
forces would have to be under one command removed another 
possibility; that, instead of a direct contribution to the Royal 
Navy, a Dominion might raise its own naval forces as it already 
did its army. In 1909, however, the naval race with Germany 
was running so close that the Admiralty gave up its stand in 
order to obtain whatever aid it could. As a result, at the special 
Imperial Naval Conference of that year Australia and Canada 
agreed to begin their own fleets, though New Zealand would offer 
ships and men direct to the Royal Navy. Early in 1910 Laurier 
introduced a bill in the Dominion Parliament to create a Canadian 
navy, and this Naval Service Bill was passed. . 

The Canadian Prime Minister had carried his point on a major 
imperial question. To a great extent his policies of nationalism 
within the empire had so far been successful. At the least he had 
steered between imperialist and nationalist extremes, kept Canada 
reasonably united, and brought her wider national powers, of 
which the founding of a Canadian navy was only a part. At the 
most, he had largely prevented the rigid centralizing of the empire, 

319 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

leaving it free to develop into the Commonwealth. But his day 
was almost over, and the Naval Bill would help to cause his fall. 

4 American Problems and the Naval Question 

Laurier lost office in 1911, in an election in which the Naval 
Bill played a large part. Another main reason for his fall, how- 
ever, concerns the United States rather than the British empire, 
and involves examining Canada's dealings with that country dur- 
ing the Laurier era. Relations with the United States had been 
disturbed around the turn of the century by the Alaska boundary 
dispute, and for a time tempers had been high in the Dominion, 
although the anger soon passed. 

The question of the indefinite Alaskan boundary on the north- 
ern Pacific coast, where Yukon and British Columbia bordered 
the Alaskan 'panhandle', first became important with the Klon- 
dike gold-rush in 1898. Skagway in the panhandle, or coastal 
strip, was the chief harbour that gave entrance to the Yukon river 
and the Klondike. It lay up a long inlet; and if this inlet reached 
beyond the limits of the coastal strip that was part of Alaska, then 
Skagway was a Canadian port and goods from Vancouver could 
enter there duty free. If the American claim extended inland 
beyond Skagway, then American customs houses could enjoy the 
gold-rush traffic. This dispute over trade thus drew attention to 
the boundary line which had never been clearly drawn when the 
United States had purchased Alaska. 

The United States probably had the better case for drawing 
the border further inland than Canada desired, but the manner 
in which the question was handled showed that the Americans did 
not mean to rest their case on arguments alone, and roused much 
resentment in the Dominion. The republic was now going through 
a period of imperial expansion of its own; its temper was firm and 
unyielding. Though the United States brought Britain to abandon 
treaty rights in Panama, where the great Panama Canal was to be 
built, it refused to make any returns in Alaska. It refused to refer 

320 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

the boundary to an outside decision, while President Theodore 
Roosevelt ordered troops to Alaska and announced that he was 
prepared, if necessary, to run the boundary without regard to 
Britain or Canada. And when a six-man 'impartial' commission 
was set up to decide the line, the three American representatives 
were selected because, in advance, they had already publicly 
accepted the claim of the United States. 

As for the other side, two Canadians and the Lord Chief Justice 
of England were chosen to sit on the commission. The old difficul- 
ty of divided interests, as in the Washington Treaty, appeared once 
more, and it is not beyond understanding that Britain put the 
cause of Anglo-American friendship ahead of the Canadian claims. 
At any rate, Lord Alverstone, the Lord Chief Justice, under both 
British and American pressures, voted with the United States 
members of the commission. The boundary settlement, announced 
hi 1903 in American favour, was not as important as the influence 
of the whole dispute: and that is why it deserves attention. Not 
only did it revive old Canadian suspicions of the United States ; it 
made Canada feel that it was not wise to leave too much to imperial 
authorities, and so strengthened Laurier's hand in opposing the 
movement for closer imperial relations. 

Gradually, however, Canadian anger cooled, and relations with 
the United States improved. Anglo-American friendship was now 
well established, and Canadians had forgotten their old fears of 
American attack. Although there would still be disagreements, 
the plain fact was that Canadians and Americans got on well to- 
gether and the Canadian way of life was closely tied to the 
American. But in this era as well, the settlement of several out- 
standing arguments further helped the growth of good-will. For 
example, the age-old Atlantic fisheries question was settled by an 
award of the International Court in 1910, an award, incidentally, 
which favoured Canada. The previous year an International Joint 
Commission was set up by the two countries to deal with ques- 
tions arising from their common water boundary of the Great 

321 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

Lakes,, or, indeed, with any border problems referred to it. This 
permanent body, working quietly with a mass of practical prob- 
lems, was a landmark in the development of friendly co-operation 
between Canada and the United States. In fact the two countries 
were getting on together so successfully that in 1910 the question 
of reciprocity emerged once again and this time it was raised by 
the United States. 

It was not the state of trade but the fortunes of politics that 
suddenly revived reciprocity. In the United States rising prices 
had brought outcries against the lofty rates of the American tariff 
of 1909, and President Taft was anxious to head off the growing 
opposition by some new measure of tariff reduction. A reciproc- 
ity agreement with Canada seemed the answer. When Laurier 
heard of Taft's readiness to discuss reciprocity he was doubtful 
at first. But he faced his own mounting political difficulties. Be- 
sides problems raised by his Naval Service Bill> he was confronted 
by a vigorous western demand for a lowering of the Canadian 
tariff. In the summer of 1910 Laurier had made his first trip to 
the West, and there he had met powerful organizations of western 
farmers with long lists of grievances, chief among them the height 
of the tariff. Late that year, indeed, the new national farm organi- 
zation, the Canadian Council of Agriculture sat down in Ottawa 
to press the western demands. It seemed that the reciprocity offer 
had come at the perfect moment, to charm all the Liberals* 
troubles away. Both parties were astounded by the golden gift 
that had fallen into Laurier's kp. 

Agreements on reciprocity were speedily reached. Unlike the 
agreement of 1854 there was to be reciprocity in certain manufac- 
tured goods as well as in natural products, and it was not to be 
established by treaty but by laws passed in both the United States 
congress and the Canadian parliament. But while reciprocity 
passed through congress it was held up in parliament, both by the 
Conservatives and by a group of Liberals under Clifford Sifton 
who had left Laurier's side. And opposition grew outside parlia- 

322 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

ment. It was another strange turn of events. After years of hoping 
for reciprocity, long denied by the Americans, it was now offered 
by them, and Canada held back. How could this be? In part it 
was plain enough. All the powerful interests in Canada entrenched 
behind the tariff, the Canadian Manufacturers 9 Association, the 
railway interests, the Conservative party, and the Liberals allied 
with business and banking, began a violent campaign against reci- 
procity. They largely appealed to the emotions, to loyalty and the 
British tie, and hailed reciprocity as the first step to annexation. 
And here prominent Americans helped by making unwise state- 
ments stressing that very point. The speaker of the United States 
House of Representatives supported reciprocity on the ground 
that it pointed towards the day when the American flag would 
float as far as the North Pole. Though the United States govern- 
ment quickly denied any such purpose behind reciprocity, the 
damage was done. Since some Americans insisted, as in former 
days, in coupling annexation with reciprocity, Canada, as in for- 
mer days, was put on her guard. 

But this is not sufficient explanation. More significant is the 
fact that by 1911 reciprocity had been a dead issue in Canada for 
almost twenty years, and she was prospering nicely without it. 
The sudden revival of the old theme did not rouse a very deep 
response. The east-west system seemed to be working effectively* 
and questions of north-south trade were not pressing. Further- 
more the spirit of Canadian nationalism developed in the Laurier 
era worked against American reciprocity, just as it did against 
British imperialism. Canada was doing very well on her own 
too well to seek entanglements with Americans who assumed that 
she could not stand on her own. Nor was American stiffness in 
Alaska wholly forgotten. Though such a reaction might have been 
mainly emotional, it was a root cause of the defeat of reciprocity. 
Laurier decided to hold an election on that issue in the autumn of 
1911. When he went down to defeat, he was in part beaten by the 
very nationalism which he had helped to develop. 

3*3 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

He was beaten as well by another sort of nationalism, the strong 
French Canadian variety that was revived in Quebec by his Naval 
Bill. The Bill that passed parliament in 1910 called for a Cana- 
dian navy of five cruisers and six destroyers. It was only to be 
a beginning, a unit for training and coastal defence, but the Con- 
servatives attacked the 'tin-pot navy' as useless in the empire's 
time of danger, and called for direct contributions to help supply 
the battleships that Britain really needed to match the German 
fleet. The chief attack on Laurier's navy, however, came from the 
other side, from French nationalists led by Henri Bourassa. Bour- 
assa was a grandson of Papineau, and like his grandfather had 
great powers of mind and oratory and a staunch patriotism for 
French Canada. Unlike Papineau, however, he was also a firm 
ultramontane and thus was well equipped to lead the clerical and 
racial extremists of Quebec. Although he professed to admire 
British Liberalism, as Laurier assuredly did, he had little of the 
tolerance that marked both Laurier and British Liberalism at its 
best. 

The extreme nationalists of Quebec had been fairly quiet in 
the earlier years of Laurier's rule, especially after his notable vic- 
tory over ultramontanism in that province in 1896. But gradually 
they began to revive, as Laurier's external policies, which were 
too lukewarm for the imperialists of Canada, seemed too friendly 
to English and imperial interests to suit many French Canadians. 
When the Naval Bill was passed, all the French hostility to im- 
perialism and the dominance of English Canada burst forth, skil- 
fully fanned by Bourassa. Quebec wanted no navy at all. A 
French Nationalist party took shape, denouncing Laurier as a 
traitor to his people, and the Bill as an imperialist trick to involve 
Canada in foreign wars. The result was to split the vote in Quebec 
in the critical election of 1911. The great influence of Laurier still 
carried the province for the Liberals, but with a much reduced 
majority; and they lost sufficient seats elsewhere, particularly in 
Ontario, to lose the whole election. 

324 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

The Conservative victors of 1911 had little to be proud of. On 
the whole Laurier's defeat was due to the unpopularity of his own 
measures, the Naval Bill in Quebec, and reciprocity in most of the 
other provinces. Yet the way in which his opponents attacked 
these policies gave them a resounding but unlovely triumph. It 
was not merely that the Conservatives made frantic appeals to 
every imperial sentiment while battling reciprocity, but that at the 
same time they allied with the violent anti-imperialists of Quebec. 
In Ontario they attacked Laurier's navy because it was hopelessly 
insufficient, in Quebec because it was far too much. The two ends 
successfully combined against the middle. 

Once in power, however, the Conservatives threw off the re- 
straints of the Quebec Nationalists and produced a naval measure 
of their own. Their new leader, Robert Borden, a serious, rugged 
Nova Scotian, showed in office that he had views as definite as 
Laurier's on what Canadian external policy should be. Borden 
proposed that because of the continuing naval emergency the 
Liberals' navy measure should be dropped for the time being 
and a direct contribution be made to Britain to provide the Grand 
Fleet with three battleships at a cost of $35,000,000. This plan 
he introduced in a new Naval Bill in 1912. It was not, however, 
simply a matter of emergency aid. Borden believed that before 
any permanent defence measures were decided upon, Canada 
must secure from Britain some share in the making of imperial 
foreign policy. In short, he was ready to take on imperial defence 
burdens in exchange for a voice in the control of imperial policy. 
Laurier had sought to avoid commitments; Borden would accept 
them and make use of them. His was that sort of Canadian im- 
perialism that wanted to see Canada gain more standing through 
the empire itself. And in this way he too was a nationalist, seeking 
to assert the new power of Canada. 

As for the emergency contribution of three battleships, this 
Borden desired because he recognized the vital significance of 
British naval power in the world. Without the shield of the Royal 

325 



LAURIER AND CANADA'S CENTURY, 1896-1914 

Navy the overseas empire lay open to German sea power, and the 
strength of that shield depended then on battleships above all. 
Germany's building programme was still pressing dangerously on 
Britain's lead, as the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Chur- 
chill, made plain to Borden. His Naval Bill for a contribution, 
however, was defeated in 1913 by a Senate full of Liberals appoin- 
ted during Laurier's long reign. Liberalism still believed it was 
Canada's place to build her own navy and not turn over the task 
to Britain. But before another naval plan had been framed the 
state of emergency had ended in open war. In August 1914, the 
First World War began. There was no more question of giving 
battleships. They would have been built in British shipyards, and 
now Britain was building all she could. Canada's money could 
best go to her own war effort. Hence the naval question came to 
an end without Canada ever having settled it. 

Yet in the few years before war burst upon it the Borden 
government worked at home to modernize the army and to estab- 
lish the common standards for British and Dominions forces that 
had been recommended by the Imperial Conference of 1907 and 
the Imperial Defence Committee. Otherwise the Conservatives 
largely carried on the policies of the Laurier government, aiding 
railway building and promoting western settlement. The West, 
however, was almost filled, and in 1913 the long boom period was 
coming to a close. There were signs of depression when the out- 
break of war caused a new flurry of activity and hid the fact that 
an era had ended for Canada. Though Laurier after 1911 was 
Leader of the Opposition and no longer Prime Minister, this 
whole period was truly the Laurier era. He had risen with it, 
helped to build its prosperity, its confidence and nationalism. 
The age that followed after 1914 would strain that nationalism 
severely, but would also see Canada advance to the full achieve- 
ment of nationhood. 



326 



CHAPTER 17 

THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 
1914-31 

I Canada and the First World War 

In the golden summer of 1914 the muttering thunder clouds 
that had been gradually rising suddenly burst over Europe. War 
descended on a world long at peace, as Germany's swelling mili- 
tary might and restless plans of expansion finally overturned the 
uneasy balance of power. In the tremendous struggle that fol- 
io wed, Germany and Austria faced Russia in the east and Britain, 
France, and Italy in the west. Yet so powerful was the well-pre- 
pared German war machine that it took all the efforts of the 
European Allies, together with those of the United States and the 
British Dominions, to turn back the German invaders and bring 
their military empire down. Before the collapse came in 1918, 
Germany had forced Russia from the war in the throes of a com- 
munist revolution, had swept deep into eastern Europe, and in 
the west had made France the main battleground of the war with 
the western Allies. It was on this western front that Canada was 
chiefly to be engaged. 

When on 4 August, 1914, the cables and the new wireless tele- 
graph flashed the message 'War' across the Atlantic, Canada for 
the first time found herself flung into the midst of world affairs. 
Since the conquest of New France, great European conflicts had 
largely passed her by. Canada had been a remote colony, weak 
and dependent, with struggles of her own, but she had been kept 
securely distant from the quarrels of Europe by a wall of British 
sea power. Now the distant colony, no longer weak and struggling, 
entered a world of stern dangers and high responsibilities, the 
world she has been in ever since. This new stage brought sacrifice 
and heavy burdens for Canada. Yet with them came the rights of 

327 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

nationhood. Out of the vast world conflict Canada became a 
nation, a full partner in an empire that had been transformed into 
the British Commonwealth of Nations. 

In the period before 1914, Canadians had not worried greatly 
about the prospect of a world war. Despite the naval building 
race, the growing strain in Europe, and the arguments over the 
naval question, they had in general been too busy with their own 
development at home. They had enough to think about in railway 
questions, the problems of western settlement, or the booming 
state of trade. Not only British sea power but the American 
Monroe Doctrine seemed to keep them safe. Since their only 
close neighbour, the United States, was no longer to be feared, 
the Monroe Doctrine, which declared that the republic would 
oppose any attack on the Americas from without, virtually pre- 
sented the Canadians with the further protection of a nation of 
ninety million people. This, of course, had tended to make the 
Dominion feel less concerned over defence problems than Britain 
was herself. And how could anyone worry in the bright new 
twentieth century, where all was progress? Canada had yet to 
learn that this was the false brightness that comes before a 
storm. 

When, however, the storm broke, Canada went wholeheartedly 
into the war. French and English Canadians alike supported it, 
and there was no question that Britain's declaration of war had 
bound Canada as a part of the empire. But what led Canadians 
to accept the conflict so readily? To some extent, no doubt, it was 
lack of awareness of what might be involved; there was still a 
colonial habit of mind in Canada which simply accepted decisions 
made outside. To a degree, also, it was the strong desire to help 
Britain felt among English-speaking Canadians, and an eagerness 
for adventure as well. Yet beyond these things, the national 
interests of Canadians were deeply concerned in the war: their 
trade, their security, the kind of world that they lived in, and for 
which Britain stood. Distant North America could not stand 

328 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

aloof; as even the much more self-contained United States decided 
hi 1917. 

As quickly as possible, in August of 1914, the Dominion parlia- 
ment was called into special session, and the Canadian war effort 
began to take shape. The War Measures Act was passed, which 
gave the federal government extremely wide power to deal with 
the wartime emergency. The raising of 25,000 troops was ordered, 
and the army grew rapidly from its tiny pre-war size as volunteers 
flocked in. Within two months the first contingent had set sail for 
England in a swift convoy of liners, cruisers and destroyers, the 
largest troop movement that had yet been made across the Atlan- 
tic. The first Canadians crossed from England to France early in 
1915, and by that autumn the two Canadian divisions that had 
now arrived on the western front were set up as a separate Cana- 
dian Corps. Before 1917 there were two more divisions in the 
Corps, as well as separate bodies of special troops. In all Canada 
raised over 600,000 men for the army, while others served in 
British or Canadian naval units and supplied a sizeable part of 
the Royal Flying Corps, later the Royal Air Force. 

In the air, in those days of light aircraft and no parachutes, 
fighting was a matter of daring and personal skill, with little re- 
liance on organized battle tactics. The Canadians took readily to 
the man-to-man air combats, and counted some of the leading 
Allied aces among their number, including 'Billy 5 Bishop, who 
had a record of seventy-two enemy aircraft destroyed. A group 
of seasoned Canadian pilots was developed, some of whom would 
use their skill and knowledge after the war to conquer Canada's 
vast northern distances by air. 

At sea Canadians took a less spectacular part. The tiny Cana- 
dian navy was chiefly engaged in patrolling the coasts in two old 
cruisers lent by Britain, in motor launches and in armed yachts. 
But during the endless watch at sea, through Atlantic fog and 
blizzard, a group of trained men was built up which, in later 
years, would be able to expand the Royal Canadian Navy into the 

329 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

third largest convoy fleet in the world, in order to meet the needs 
of a second World War. 

It was on land, however, that the Canadians played their largest 
role. In 1915 the First Division met the first German gas attacks 
at Ypres, and when French Colonial troops next to them fled 
before the murderous green clouds they blocked the hole in the 
line. They held on when the gas was turned against them, cough- 
ing and dying without gas masks. In 1916 the whole Canadian 
Corps entered the massive Somme attack, working with the new 
secret tanks, and henceforth, as Lloyd George said, the Corps 
was marked out as the spearhead of attack *in one great batde 
after another*. Nineteen-seventeen saw the mud and bloodshed 
of Passchendaele and the perfectly executed capture of Vimy 
Ridge, the key to the whole Arras batdefront. Here a great 
Canadian war memorial now crowns the Ridge, raising its twin 
white shafts high above the Ypres flatlands. In 1918 came a long, 
unbroken string of Canadian victories in the final, successful 
Allied attack. Then in 'Canada's Hundred Days', from 4 August 
to ii November, the Canadian Corps sliced through the deep 
defences of the formidable Hindenburg Line and driving ahead 
with the First British Army reached Mons on the last day of the 
fighting; the town where so long ago it seemed the little British 
army of 1914 had first met the advancing German legions. When 
the war ended Canada had lost as many men as the powerful 
United States, out of a population of less than a tenth the size. 
Sad and heavy as the cost was, it was an imposing effort for the 
young Dominion to make. 

Home-front developments were no less remarkable in their own 
way. Since the war was cutting off or destroying much of Europe's 
farming production, Canada's wide farmlands became immensely 
important in feeding the western Allies. Almost as much prairie 
land was brought under the plough in the war years as had already 
been farmed in 1913. Wheat, flour, meat, and cattle exports soared. 
So did lumber, since Germany blocked the way to Baltic forest 

330 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

lands. The need for Canadian wood pulp also rose, because the 
Swedish supply was not available. Mining, in particular,, jumped 
ahead in the Shield and the Rockies, as the roaring armament 
factories demanded more and more metals copper, lead, zinc, 
and above all, nickel. Near Sudbury, Ontario, there lay one of the 
richest supplies of nickel ore in the world, and nickel was essential 
for hardening armour plate and making armour-piercing nickel- 
steel shells. Canada came to control over ninety per cent of the 
world's nickel production. 

Thanks to all this activity, the east-west trading system was 
strained to the limit. The transcontinental railways throbbed with 
traffic, the Atlantic ports were crowded. Halifax came into its own 
again as a naval base, and its magnificent harbour saw many a long, 
grey convoy assemble in Bedford Basin; and saw too the terrible 
explosion of 1917, when a fire on board a French munitions ship 
ended by wiping out half the city. But Halifax recovered and 
worked on ceaselessly, as did all Canada in the feverish haste of 
wartime production and shipment. 

Yet perhaps the most striking developments came in industry. 
Canada had already had numerous factories before the war; but 
except, perhaps, for railway shops and farm-machinery plants, 
there was a lack of heavy industry and large-scale machine pro- 
duction. Canadian mineral products, for example, were chiefly 
exported to industries in other lands, and there were few skilled 
machinists in the Dominion. It remains true today that because 
Canada produces such a great quantity of minerals and other raw 
materials, most of them still go abroad. But, under the pressure 
of war, heavy industry and machine skills began to spread in 
Canada as the need for the weapons of battle mounted constantly. 
Most of this war production was taken up with shells and guns, 
under the guidance of both the Canadian government and the 
Imperial Munitions Board. By 1917 close to a third of the shells 
fired by British forces in France had come from Canada. This was 
a bitter kind of industrialism, its products shattering themselves in 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

spreading destruction, but it was a matter of stern necessity. And 
after the war the factories built and the skills learnt in machining 
shells, fuses, and guns could be turned to broader uses. Besides, 
by the war's end Canada was also turning out steel ships and air- 
craft frames, and had built up a large industrial labour force with 
a high standard of living. 

The Borden government played a considerable part in shaping 
this war effort. Since Canada had never before sought to produce 
on such a scale it was not surprising that there were mistakes and 
blunders as well as notable successes in the government's wartime 
policies. One great problem was the financing of the war. Canada 
until now had been a debtor country, borrowing money for her 
development mainly from Britain. But Britain, pressed to the 
limit, had no more funds to spare; and as well as paying her own 
way, Canada found that she would have to lend to Britain to help 
pay for British war purchases in the Dominion. A drastic change 
was taking place in the financial relations of the two countries. 
Almost overnight the Canadian government found that it must 
stand on its own resources, though provinces and private industry 
resorted more and more to the American money market. In con- 
sequence, new taxes were laid on the Canadian people, including, 
in 1917, the first Dominion income tax. But the government's 
main resource was the Victory Loan. Victory Loans were repeat- 
edly floated, until over $2,000,000,000 had thus been raised. 
Their success was a mark of the growing financial strength of 
Canada; but they also helped to stimulate greatly a runaway war- 
time boom that brought ever-mounting prices and serious difficul- 
ties for the ordinary mass of the people. 

Attempts to control the rising prices and share out goods in 
short supply were none too successful. The Borden ministry 
dung to the long-accepted attitude in Canada, that government 
should interfere as little as possible in economic affairs. But the 
rising public demand for state action, forced them to set up partial 
and rather half-hearted controls : a Cost of Living Commissioner 

332 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

in 1916, a Food Controller in 1917, and a War Trade Board in 

1918. The lack of connection between these offices only increased 
the demand for effective government control of wartime living 
problems. Unrest remained, labour and farm organizations grew, 
storing up grievances that would burst forth once the war was 
over. Perhaps the most successful government system of control 
was that established in 1917 to handle and market the whole 
Canadian wheat crop. This became the Canada Wheat Board in 

1919. It too would have its consequences for the future. 

The chief home-front problem, however, was that of man- 
power. It was a question of finding sufficient men in this nation 
of eight million people not only to carry on the strenuous work of 
production in farms and factories, but to maintain the armed 
forces that were meeting heavy losses on the western front, in a 
conflict that cost the Western Allies a far higher rate of casualties 
than the Second World War. To some extent the Borden govern- 
ment succeeded in meeting the manpower problem. The need for 
labour in the rising factories was met, partly by calling on the 
great reserve of woman-power. One well-deserved consequence of 
this was the extension of votes to women, by acts passed during 
and shortly after the war. The government also managed to keep 
the Canadian Corps up to strength. In all, it assembled a volun- 
teer army of well over half a million men. Yet, as the blood-letting 
of war went on, the question of maintaining the flow of new 
recruits grew ever more pressing. And it was here, in meeting the 
manpower problem, that the Borden ministry encountered its 
gravest difficulties. Its policies produced a new division between 
French and English in Canada, and a racial crisis that left lasting 
scars. 

2 Conscription and the Racial Crisis 

When the war began there was no sign that it would endanger 
the national unity that had been built up in the Laurier era. 
Laurier himself, as leader of the Liberal opposition, pledged his 

333 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

full support to the war effort, and swung his wide influence in 
French Canada behind the war which, he declared, was a struggle 
both for world freedom and for very existence. Even Henri Bour- 
assa approved Canada's entry into war, while tie leaders of the 
Quebec clergy urged loyal support for Britain. French Canadian 
volunteers streamed in as readily as English-speaking Canadians. 
Never had Canada been more united than in preparing for the 
great conflict. 

If only matters had been better handled, this mood of unity 
might almost have made the shock of war seem worth while. But 
very soon racial disputes began to arise again. The fact that at first 
they were not even connected with the war only made them more 
tragic. There was another schools quarrel, this time in Ontario, 
where the new Regulation 17 sought to limit teaching in French 
in a few 'border' areas of the province inhabited by French Cana- 
dians. This unwise effort to absorb French-speaking citizens was 
only the largest of a nyniber of petty disputes on the home front: 
petty, that is, in comparison with the tremendous struggle that had 
to be faced overseas. Yet, to the French Canadians, whose gaze 
turned inward from living so long in their own world of the St 
Lawrence, such questions loomed larger than they did to the 
English Canadians, who had been led to look outwards by their 
much closer ties with Britain across the sea. 

As French irritation grew, so did that of English Canada, be- 
cause of reports that the French Canadians were falling behind in 
supplying men for the army. In some degree this was true. As 
calls went out for more and more volunteers, the rate of French 
enlistments declined. The French did not share the strong emo- 
tional drive to enlist that affected English-speaking Canadians. 
They viewed the war as a noble adventure, not as a life-or-death 
struggle. Their feelings for Britain were those of respect or 
thoughtful support, not of warm sentiment, and they had too 
long gone their separate way to feel deeply about Britain's ally, 
France. In addition, they were a farming people, and farmers 

334 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

traditionally are harder to enlist than the less firmly rooted popu- 
lation of the towns. It seems clear, as well, that French Canadians 
did not fully sense the meaning of the war: that their whole 
secure, isolated world would be in danger if the conflict were 
lost. Here English Canada showed more awareness. Yet at least 
the French attitude was understandable. 

And it might have developed on other lines if the Borden 
government had not mismanaged French-Canadian recruiting. 
Little attempt was made to see the French point of view. There 
was not much understanding of the language problem in training 
French-Canadian volunteers, who sometimes knew no English, 
although the brilliant overseas record of a regiment such as the 
Royal Twenty-Second, the famed 'Vandoos', showed what a 
wholly French-Canadian unit could do. Yet few distinctly French- 
Canadian units were raised, despite the natural French desire for 
them. Nor did the direction of the Minister of Militia, the ener- 
getic but wayward Sir Sam Hughes, help matters. He shared the 
superior attitude and uninformed prejudice regarding French 
Canadians that are among the worst characteristics of some Eng- 
lish Canadians (although the same thing might also be said on the 
other side). As if it were not enough to have an anti-Catholic 
Ulsterman as Minister of Militia, some Protestant clergymen 
were among the recruiting officers sent to Quebec: a measure not 
likely to soothe the feelings of that Roman Catholic province. 

In these circumstances, it is not altogether surprising that 
French Canadian enlistments lagged. But, as casualties mounted, 
it was also natural that English Canada, suffering much heavier 
losses, should accuse the French of not doing their share. Harsh 
words were exchanged, and French Canada began to retreat more 
and more into its old narrow nationalism. The French Canadians 
could see in the English Canadian demand for an all-out war 
effort only that imperialism again, which put British interests 
ahead of Canada's. By 1916 there were riots against recruiting in 
Quebec towns and Bourassa was openly opposing the war. 

335 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

At the same time the need for recruits was becoming serious. 
The already large number of men in the forces and the demands 
of farms and factories meant that it was increasingly difficult to 
keep up enlistment through the volunteer system. By the end of 
1916 it was failing to meet requirements for recruits. The govern- 
ment had previously opposed the idea of conscribing men for 
military service, which was not then fully accepted in the Domin- 
ions. But early in 1917 Borden returned from a visit to England, 
where the critical need for every last man in arms had been pressed 
upon him. While realizing the bitter opposition it would arouse 
among the French, he was convinced that Canada must accept 
conscription. 

Other countries faced their troubles in adopting conscription; 
but in Canada, with its two peoples, one of them feeling as the 
French did, it was either a very brave or very foolish thing to do 
or both. A Military Service Bill for conscription was put before 
parliament. Borden hoped to avoid splitting the nation over the 
dangerous question by forming a union government; that is, by 
combining with the Liberals to carry conscription as the only 
patriotic policy. Many English-speaking Liberals were willing to 
support a union or coalition government, for they too were con- 
vinced that conscription was necessary. Laurier, however, refused 
Borden's offer of alliance. He knew that French Canada would 
not accept conscription, even from a party coalition, and he felt 
that such a measure could never pay for the destruction of national 
unity. Up to this point Laurier had fully supported the war effort. 
He continued to believe in Allied victory. But he could not believe 
that Canadian conscription would be vital to that victory, though 
he feared it would be ruinous to Canada. Indeed, he saw the 
whole work of his lifetime hanging in the balance. 

But though Laurier felt thus, he could not prevent a split in his 
own party. Led by Sir Clifford Sifton, most of the English- 
speaking Liberals, especially from Ontario and the West, left 
Laurier for Borden. In October, 1917, a Union government was 

336 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-3! 

established, under Borden, containing ten Liberals and thirteen 
Conservatives. An angry, excited election followed, in which, as 
might be expected, the government carried every province but 
Quebec. Laurier, on the other hand, won all but three seats in 
Quebec, and only twenty in all Canada beyond. This result showed 
how dangerously far the racial division had gone. In effect English 
Canada was ranged against French Canada, and passions were 
high. Conscription was assured; but was it worth it? 

One thing was certain. A new breach had opened in Canada 
which robbed the national successes of the war effort of much of 
their effect. The bitterness and suspicion produced on both sides 
would take a long time to live down. And politics and govern- 
ments would long be affected by the memories of the conscription 
crisis. As for the conscripts, only about 60,000 of them had been 
raised by the time the war ended, and few of them ever reached 
France. The whole result, then, seems definitely not worth it. 
There are, however, a few things to be said by way of qualification. 

In the first place, it is easy to judge by the wisdom that comes 
after the event, and say that 60,000 men who were hardly used 
were not worth all the trouble. Manpower policies had to be set 
ahead, and there was no way of knowing in the bleak days of 1917 
that the next year would see the sudden collapse of Germany. In 
the second place, the division of races was not quite as sharp as 
it first appeared to be. In the total of the votes cast in Canada, 
in the election of 1917, Laurier was not too far behind Borden; it 
was the soldiers' ballots and the government's arrangement of 
special voting provisions to strengthen its hand, that gave it such 
a telling majority of seats in parliament. The point here is that 
others besides the French Canadians strongly opposed conscrip- 
tion, especially among the farmers and the trade unionists. And 
in the third place, Canada continued to hold together once con- 
scription had been established. There was rioting in Quebec City 
and there were some attempts among French Canadians to avoid 
being conscribed as a matter of principle. But considering the 

337 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

heated feelings roused by the question of conscription, one might 
say that this new racial crisis had revealed that by now the bonds 
that knit the Dominion together had toughened considerably. 

At any rate, Canada emerged from the conscription crisis as she 
did from the war, shaken and strained, but by no means exhausted 
or gloomy. And if Canadian nationalism had suffered a setback at 
home, abroad it was advancing steadily, rounding out the new 
position that Canada had earned by right of blood and effort. 

3 Borden and the Commonwealth 

During the war the Dominions of the British empire made 
heavy contributions to the Allied cause. Britain's contribution 
was on a greater scale than theirs, but the aid freely given by 
these young, self-governing countries was plainly important; so 
important that they began to occupy a larger place in the world. 
By the close of the war they were becoming nations in their own 
right, though they still kept the bond between them. Out of the 
empire, in fact, the British Commonwealth of Nations was now 
emerging as a group of free peoples sharing equal membership in 
a world-wide community, held together by freedom and common 
ideas, and not, as in times past, by the ultimate authority of 
Britain. Of course, the British empire was already far advanced 
in the development of freedom and self-government. Because of 
that fact it could move on still further to achieve the Common- 
wealth, a striking example of a working world-partnership in an 
age that sorely needs co-operation between its peoples. 

The British empire had been changing before the First World 
War, but that mighty conflict much increased the rate of change. 
National sentiment in the Dominions was strengthened by their 
war efforts; they had been suddenly called on to undertake grave 
new responsibilities and had found themselves able to meet the 
challenge. There was a new awareness of nationality among the 
large bodies of Dominion, troops overseas, while, at home, pride 
in the fighting record of these soldiers roused a keener spirit of 

338 




A SETTLER'S FIRST HOME IN MANITOBA 




THE LAURIER SMILE- SIR WILFRID CAMPAIGNING IN 1908 




SCOTTISH IMMIGRANTS AT QUEBEC, 1909 




DUTCH IMMIGRANTS AT QUEBEC, 1909 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-3! 

nationalism. That spirit was reflected in a growing desire for a 
fuller recognition of Dominion rights in the empire. In the 
changes that followed, Canada played a leading part. Just as 
Sir Wilfrid Laurier had stood for wider Dominion powers before 
the war, so did Sir Robert Borden in the time of battle and in the 
peace settlement that followed. 

One problem affecting the position of Canada within the empire 
during the war revolved about the control of Canadian troops 
overseas. While British military commanders at first planned to 
absorb the Canadians into British or imperial army formations, 
Borden, with Canada behind him, insisted that they be treated as 
one unit as a Canadian army formation. This demand was met 
by the establishment of the Canadian Corps, into which most 
Canadian troops were fitted. The Corps served in various 
British armies but kept its own unity within them. After a suc- 
cessful career under a British general, moreover, General Byng, of 
Vimy fame, the Corps received an able Canadian commander in 
General Arthur Currie, who led it until the end of the fighting in 
the final 'Hundred Days'. 

More significant than this question of purely military control 
was the wider one of the general management of empire war 
policy. This at first was wholly in the hands of the British govern- 
ment. Borden felt keenly that while Canada might put half a 
million men in the field she had no voice in shaping plans for 
waging a war in which she was vitally concerned. 'Is this war' 3 he 
asked, 'being waged by the United Kingdom alone, or is it a war 
waged by the whole empire? 3 For some time his protests received 
sympathy but little more from the British government. The Brit- 
ish authorities still held to the principle that the control of the 
empire's external policy could not be divided but must remain 
with Britain. At the Imperial Conference of 1911 it had been 
agreed that the Dominions would be kept informed on major 
foreign questions by Britain, but the mother country was still to 
have sole direction of imperial foreign policy. 

339 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD., 1914-31 

By 1916., however, the Asquith government that had expressed 
these views had been replaced in Britain by a coalition under the 
energetic Lloyd George. Seeking in every way to strengthen and 
reorganize the British war effort, at a time when the fortunes of 
war were hanging in the balance, he sought as well to urge the 
Dominions to farther activity. Therefore Lloyd George was willing 
to reconsider the problem of directing the war., and to meet the 
stronger national feelings of the Dominions by forming an Im- 
perial War Cabinet in which they would be represented. Such a 
body was set up in 1917, and consisted of the Dominion prime 
ministers or their representatives sitting with the British war 
cabinet, the inner group of five ministers chosen to guide Britain's 
war programme. At the same time an Imperial War Conference 
was called to consider ways of permanently reorganizing the im- 
perial structure in order to give the Dominions a share in its 
control. 

The Imperial War Cabinet was a weighty step, and was received 
with much enthusiasm in Canada and in the other Dominions. 
The Dominions had at last been given a voice in shaping empire 
policies that greatly affected their interests. It was, besides, an 
answer to Borden's chief demand that if Canada took more res- 
ponsibilities in the world she should in return have greater rights. 
It met his view of nationalism : that Canada should no longer have 
external policies made for her, but should enter into making them. 
Such a plan, he believed, would give the Dominions full power in 
world affairs and yet would preserve an undivided imperial for- 
eign policy. The Imperial War Conference endorsed this view, 
declaring that the empire had become a Commonwealth of free 
and equal members, who should meet in 'continuous consulta- 
tion 5 to lay down a common policy for their relations with the 
outside world. 

During the rest of the war the Imperial War Cabinet carried 
out the plan of a common imperial policy and 'continuous consul- 
tation', although Dominion prime ministers could usually attend 

340 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD,, 1914-31 

its meetings only for short periods at a time. When the war ended 
the same plan was adopted for making the Peace Treaty of 1919. 
Indeed, the Imperial War Cabinet virtually became the 'British 
Empire Delegation' that went to France to work as a unit at the 
Versailles peace conference. The aim., in short, was still to main- 
tain a common imperial foreign policy, in peace as in war. Yet 
difficulties arose almost from the start, as Borden found on his 
return to England after the Canadian conscription crisis. Britain 
had begun talks with France and Italy, without informing the 
Dominions, and had hoped that Borden would serve on the single 
British Empire Delegation as representative of all the varied 
Dominion interests. Instead the Canadian leader made clear that 
Canada, at any rate, expected her full share of recognition at the 
peace conference in view of her notable role in the war, especially 
when small independent countries, which had taken much less 
part, would be separately represented. In consequence, all the 
Dominions were given the right of separate representation, al- 
though in practice they continued as well to sit on the British 
Empire Delegation, which carried on the real work of the con- 
ference. 

This double role was really a sign in itself of the double position 
of the Dominions still half colonies and half nations. Yet it also 
showed that the idea of a common imperial front was beginning 
to lose its force now that the urgent pressures of war were re- 
moved. Dominion nationalism was again making itself felt. This 
time it led further to the separate signature of the Peace Treaty 
by each Dominion^ although there was also a general signature for 
the empire as a whole. Borden held out as well for the right of the 
Canadian parliament to approve the Treaty for his own country, 
and this too was accepted. Nor were these mere formalities. 
Borden was trying to gain recognition of Canada's right to 
decide for herself on vital questions of war and peace. These 
powers of the Dominion to act in matters of external policy 
were further increased when Borden won for Canada a seat of 

341 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

her own in the new League of Nations that was meant to prevent 
another world war. Separate seats were also given to the other 
Dominions. 

Aside from these questions of national standing, which Borden 
pressed firmly, Canada was fairly quiet in the long debates over 
the terms of peace. She was a small power, with no desire to gain 
territory, and sought only to make a sound and lasting treaty. As 
a result, though she took only a minor part in the drafting of the 
Treaty of Versailles, her influence was a useful and moderating 
one, and Borden played an admirable and highly respected role on 
various committees. But from Canada's viewpoint, the important 
points to her were those principles of national recognition that she 
had secured through her prime minister: the right of signing and 
approving the Peace Treaty herself, the right to sit as a member 
nation in the League and the International Labour Organization, 
and the right to send her own diplomatic representatives to foreign 
countries. This last power Borden also obtained, although it was 
not exercised for several years. 

In general, Borden had led the way in securing broader recog- 
nition for all the Dominions, but other Dominion leaders had 
shared largely in this effort, especially General Smuts of South 
Africa. By 1920, when ill-health forced Borden to retire from 
political life, it could almost be said that he himself had given 
Canada an established place in world affairs. And by helping to 
build up the national rights of all the Dominions he had sent the 
empire further on its way to becoming the Commonwealth. 

Yet in all this development Sir Robert Borden had not for- 
gotten the idea of a common imperial foreign policy based on 
continuous consultation. What he wanted, however, was to round 
out the rights of the Dominions as he saw them, so that they could 
then join in imperial counsels with Britain on an equal footing. 
He and Smuts both hoped to maintain a single imperial front in 
foreign affairs through the Dominions entering freely into discus- 
sions to fix policies, which would then be carried out by the 

342 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

British Foreign Office. The failure of this common-policy idea, 
after Borden's retirement, led to the full development of the 
Commonwealth as it is today, and, in other hands, to the complete 
realization of Canadian nationhood. 

4 Mackenzie King and Nationhood 

On Sir Robert Borden's retirement, one of his ablest lieutenants, 
Arthur Meighen, became prime minister. Meighen was a man of 
undoubted talent but of firm and uncompromising character, and 
his imperialist leanings and strong conscriptionist stand during 
the wartime crisis had made him many enemies in French Canada. 
He and the Conservative government were swept from power in 
the first post-war election, in 1921. In part, the result was due to 
French Canadian dislike of the Conservative conscriptionists, a 
feeling which would long affect the party's fortunes. In part as 
well, it was the natural swing away from the wartime government 
when post-war problems and grievances emerged. 

Meighen's successor in office was the new Liberal leader, 
William Lyon Mackenzie King. Laurier had died in 1919, his 
last years darkened by the racial strife he had always sought to 
avoid. The man who assumed his mantle was a devoted follower 
of the great French Canadian. King, an Ontario man, had been 
Canada's first Minister of Labour in Laurier's pre-war govern- 
ment, and had been out of politics studying labour problems in 
the United States during much of the war. He had supported 
Laurier but was not too involved in the conscription question: a 
very fortunate thing for the future of the Liberal party in Canada. 
King had little of Laurier's charm of manner nor his splendid 
powers of oratory. Yet he showed political skill matched only by 
Macdonald. This quiet, reserved, plump little man turned out to 
be the most successful party leader Canada has yet seen, and this 
in an era when sectional strains were often acute. As a result, he 
made a period of Canadian history as much his own as Macdonald 
or Laurier had ever done. He governed the Dominion from 1921 

343 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

to I948 > with only one real break, the five years from 1930 to 1935 
when the Conservatives returned to office. 

Mackenzie King held office longer than any other Canadian 
prime minister had done: longer, even, than any British prime 
minister, for he passed the old eighteenth-century record of Sir 
Robert Walpole. And in this, Canada's Walpole era, King, like 
that famous English statesman, largely followed a passive policy 
of 'letting sleeping dogs lie'. It may be argued that Canada 
needed such a long period of comparative inaction in government 
to rebuild the national unity that had been seriously strained at 
home. But in external affairs, at least, King pursued a very 
definite policy. He worked to round out national rights, in order 
to give Canada the complete status of nationhood. As his name 
might suggest, William Lyon Mackenzie King was a descendant 
of the 'little rebel*. He was Mackenzie's grandson. And King 
seemed to feel a mission to carry on the work of his grandfather. 
Not that he was in any way a rebel, nor did he ever seek to break 
the tie with Britain; but he believed in freeing Canada from the 
last traces of colonial restraints, restraints that his ancestor had 
struggled against when they bore far heavier on the country. 

King believed that full nationhood must come for the British 
Dominions. In this, time has apparently proved him right, though 
his work itself did much to make the Commonwealth a loose 
organization of separate nations. Yet it would be wrong to call it 
a 'mere' association of separate nations. If formal ties were re- 
duced to a minimum, the ties of friendship remained strong; and 
King put his faith in these. In any case, he was determined that 
nationhood should be finally achieved for Canada. 

Now nationhood is not inevitably a good thing in itself. There 
is no thought in these pages that its gradual achievement is the 
grand or final theme in Canada's story. In many ways, besides, 
Canadian nationhood is still weak, especially when it comes to 
trying to distinguish the Canadian 'national character' from the 
American Furthermore, any blind worship of nationhood is 

344 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

unreal and unwise in an age where all parts of the world are closely 
tied to each other and no nation can afford to stand alone. Never- 
theless, for better or worse, the rise of nationalism has seemed to 
play a prominent part in the history of peoples, and so it has been 
in Canada's case. If Canadian nationality still has limits, the 
growth of nationalism has formed an important theme in Canadian 
history, at least since Confederation. And because Canadian 
nationalism arose within the British empire, and grew gradually 
there, it has seldom gone to the extremes of the worship of inde- 
pendence for its own sake or a belief in complete isolation from 
the world. Nationalism did not destroy the British empire. It 
changed it to something new for a new age; the Commonwealth. 
Canada, therefore, rose to final nationhood under King without 
withdrawing from the great world association; and while this 
national advance is plainly significant, it should not be allowed 
to overshadow other aspects of Canadian development. 

It might well be asked why Canada at this time pressed her ad- 
vance to nationhood within the Commonwealth more, say, than 
Australia or New Zealand. The answer that Canadian national 
feeling was more fully developed itself needs explanation. Canada 
was older than the other Dominions ; that was one factor. Beyond 
this, however, Canada contained a large and influential minority 
of a non-English-speaking people, the French Canadians, who 
were always much more advanced in thinking on national lines, 
and at the same time were suspicious of empire 'entanglements'. 
This naturally affected Canadian policy, as the presence of the 
Afrikaner majority in South Africa also shaped the nationalistic 
policy of that Dominion. 

Furthermore, Australia and New Zealand developed apart by 
themselves, linked only to Britain. Canada grew up beside a 
large, free, English-speaking republic and had strong ties in this 
direction as well. In the beginning, the presence of the United 
States stimulated the early growth of Canadian nationalism be- 
cause of the challenge it set before the weak northern colonies. 

345 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

In later, more friendly days the powerful United States seemed 
to provide extra security for Canada, in addition to British sea 
power. While Australia and New Zealand, fearing rising new 
powers in the Pacific first Germany, then Japan drew closer 
to the empire and sought to find security there, Canada felt much 
more able to follow her own course. This had been true under 
Laurier. Now, under King, the only great sea menace to Canada, 
the German navy, was gone, and her only close neighbour re- 
mained the friendly United States. Canadian nationalism that 
had been so much aroused by the war thus continued to flourish 
in a state of security. 

There was a feeling in post-war Canada that the problems of 
Europe and the rest of the world were remote, that even the prob- 
lem of a common imperial foreign policy was no longer of concern, 
and that all that mattered for the Dominion was the achievement 
of complete freedom in international affairs. The Commonwealth 
should be maintained: few would still break the old links of tradi- 
tion and sentiment. But there should be no involvement in 
quarrels that were not Canada's, and Canada should settle her 
own policies for herself. To some extent this was a narrow pro- 
gramme of isolation, and so it was not wholly realistic. Yet in the 
disillusion that followed the war, when it was seen that all the 
blood shed had in no way solved the troubles of Europe, it was 
a natural enough reaction. Besides, this truly 'Canada first' policy 
also expressed a resolve to let the Dominion stand on its own feet, 
to let the world know that Canada had come of age and was no 
longer a colony. 

Canada, of course, had made many practical gains towards 
nationhood under Borden. Yet theory had now to catch up with 
practice. It had to be made clear what these gains implied, they 
had to be completed, and the whole Commonwealth had to be 
redefined to fit the new world standing of Canada and the other 
Dominions. King took up this project from the start, though he 
moved slowly and only as particular questions arose. The first 

346 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

thing to be altered was the common imperial foreign policy that 
Borden had believed in. 

The system of continuous consultation and joint action had 
seemed much more possible during wartime, when close co- 
operation against a common foe was utterly necessary. But once 
that main purpose had been removed, the Dominions had varying 
interests in many different parts of the world. The difficulty of 
shaping one single imperial foreign policy was soon made appar- 
ent, despite some success in maintaining it at the Washington 
Conference of 1921 on disarmament. JQ 1922 Britain faced re- 
newed trouble with Turkey, an enemy during the First World 
War. This was the so-called Chanak crisis. The British govern- 
ment had to take a stand before the Dominions could be consulted, 
but when it cabled Canada to ask for aid in event of a clash, the 
King ministry would not commit the Dominion over an issue that 
was outside its knowledge. The fact that the request for aid came 
without warning and was announced in the British press before it 
was officially received in Canada added to the feeling that Britain 
was forcing the pace on a question that was not really of Canadian 
interest. As a result, the King government's unwillingness to act 
caused a breach in the idea of a common imperial policy. The 
breach went further in the Treaty of Lausanne, shortly reached 
with Turkey. Canada declared that since she had not been a party 
to making this agreement she would not consider herself bound 
by it. The old unity of the empire in diplomatic affairs was coming 
to an end. 

That fact was made even plainer in 1923, when Canada signed 
the Halibut Treaty with the United States in her own right, with- 
out the formal addition of the British minister's signature, which 
had previously been the rule. Then the Imperial Conference of 
that year, instead of working out a permanent basis for a common 
imperial policy, as had earlier been expected, affirmed the general 
right of Dominions to make treaties with foreign states. Canada 
had thus obtained a most necessary power for conducting her own 

347 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

foreign relations. At the same time the plan of the common im- 
perial policy based on continuous consultation was finally aban- 
doned. The nations of the Commonwealth, of course, might still 
co-operate and consult with one another as need arose, but the 
fact that these nations had varied interests was now definitely 
recognized. Each member of the Commonwealth would hence- 
forth conduct its own foreign policy as far as it desired, a principle 
pressed by King and Herzog of South Africa. 

By now it was plainly necessary to draw up a definition of the 
developing Commonwealth and to make whatever changes were 
required in the imperial system of government to suit the much- 
altered state of affairs. This important problem was dealt with in 
1926 at the next Imperial Conference, which produced the Balfour 
Report. The Balfour Report, the foundation-stone of the modern 
Commonwealth, declared the members of that association to be 
'equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another, 5 though 
united by a common allegiance to the Crown and working together 
in complete freedom. 'Every self-governing member of the Em- 
pire is now the master of its destiny.' 

A number of recommendations were then made in the Report 
in order to make this new declaration of equal partnership a 
reality. Henceforth the Governor-General of a Dominion should 
clearly represent only the great unifying symbol of the crown, not 
the British government in any way. Any Dominion which did not 
enter in the making of a treaty would not be bound by it. And 
various legal problems which remained were set forth for refer- 
ence to committees of Commonwealth lawyers and experts for 
study and settlement. In 1930 the experts' views on these ques- 
tions were put before a further Imperial Conference, which adop- 
ted their proposals. The year after they were enacted into law by 
the British parliament in the Statute of Westminster. The Statute 
recognized rather than established the new Commonwealth, but 
in so doing made it a legal fact. 

The Statute of Westminster of 193 1, which has been termed the 

348 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-3! 

Magna Carta of the Commonwealth, fulfilled the Balfour Report 
and made legal changes necessary to effect the Dominions' 
new position of equality with the mother country. It repealed the 
Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865 which had declared that in the 
event of any conflict, a British law was to override a colonial law, 
and henceforth Dominions might alter any imperial law in force 
within their borders; it granted the Dominions control over 
their own merchant shipping and in general gave them the full 
powers of nationhood in the field of law. There was still some 
imperial authority left. Only Britain still could pass laws for all 
the Commonwealth, though these would only apply to a Dominion 
with its consent. The British parliament was still entrusted with 
the power to amend the Canadian constitution, although the 
amending power remained because Canada had not yet decided 
how to use it herself, and it would only be exercised at Canada's 
request. The Judicial Committee of the imperial Privy Council 
was still generally maintained as a final court for deciding certain 
classes of legal cases, although again this arrangement rested on 
the consent of the Dominions. But on the whole the Statute of 
Westminster completed the development of Dominion nation- 
hood, and, for Canada, filled out her national powers while keeping 
her within the free circle of the Commonwealth. 

Canada's new world standing was meanwhile being rounded out 
in other directions as well as on legal lines. She began official dip- 
lomatic relations with other countries of the world. In 1926 the 
first Canadian minister was sent to the United States, and by 1930 
Canadian diplomatic posts had been established in France and 
Japan, two world powers with which Canada had important con- 
nections. Canada had long had a High Commissioner in London, 
but in recognition of the new equal Commonwealth relationship 
a British High Commissioner was sent to Ottawa and later Canada 
exchanged High Commissioners with the other Dominions. Of 
course, it remained true that Britain and the Dominions were 
'equal in status but not in stature' j that is, that Britain and Canada, 

349 



THE ACHIEVEMENT OF NATIONHOOD, 1914-31 

for example., were equal in national standing but not in power and 
influence in the world. 

There were still changes to come in the Commonwealth and in 
Canada's relation to it; but on all important points the develop- 
ment was complete. Nationhood at last had been achieved. It had 
been won not by revolution and separation but by a process of 
careful discussion and gradual growth. The benefits of friendship 
and trust, frequent consultation and free co-operation had not 
been lost. These invisible bonds of the Commonwealth would 
prove their value in the Second World War. In the evolution of 
the great world partnership Canada had taken a major part. In- 
deed, it had really begun when Canada first won responsible 
government on British lines. From the days of Robert Baldwin 
to those of Laurier, Borden, and King, Canadians had not only 
been shaping their own nationhood. They had been building the 
Commonwealth as well. 



350 



CHAPTER l8 

CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 
I9I9-39 

i Post-War Growth and Renewed Sectionalism 

After the First World War there was a short post-war boom 
followed by a three-year slump in trade. Then in 1923 began a 
bright flush of prosperity that lasted until late in 1929, when the 
'great crash 3 occurred. A long and ruinous world depression fol- 
lowed in the I93o's, but during the booming 'twenties Canada 
seemed to have returned to the Laurier era of rapid advance. And 
many features of the development under Laurier continued into 
the post-war years. Immigration went on, reaching a peak of 
165,000 in 1929. Still more western farms were taken up, and 
Alberta and Saskatchewan grew steadily. New strains of wheat 
pushed the grain frontier into the northern half of these provinces, 
while bumper wheat crops in the 'twenties kept the east-west 
trade system running busily. Canada, apparently, was launched 
again on the limitless Laurier boom. 

Yet there were differences in the post-war scene. The Laurier 
period had really completed Canada's advance across the con- 
tinent. She could not go on advancing for ever; western farmlands 
were not limitless. Already, under the encouragement of wartime 
demands, farms had spread too far into areas that were really 
grazing country, as in the dry Talliser's Triangle' of south- 
western Saskatchewan and south-eastern Alberta. Here a pro- 
longed drought could spell disaster. It could turn the powdery 
soil, stripped of protecting grass roots, into whirling clouds of 
dust. Furthermore, the railways, whose building had played so 
large a part in pre-war prosperity, were in constant difficulties 
after the war. The Canadian Pacific was paying its way, but the 
government's Canadian National was in trouble even in boom 

35i 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 

times, both because of the debts it inherited and because of the 
expense of keeping up many miles of track that did not pay but 
were necessary to the people who settled along the line. 

On the other hand, many features of the post-war growth were 
new, or had been much less important in the earlier period. The 
greatest developments were not in wheat farming but in manufac- 
tures, minerals, pulp-wood and newsprint. The most striking 
advance was not in the prairie West but in the North, especially 
in the semi-barren Shield. And the conquering gods of the new 
era were not the steam engine and the railway, but oil, electric 
power, the automobile and the aeroplane. Finally, the old Canada 
of farms and frontier settlement was passing away. To the north 
ky a broader frontier than there had ever been before, but it was 
being mastered by the aeroplane and it did not invite settlement. 
The majority of the Canadians were becoming a race of towns- 
men. In the I92o's the Dominion's urban population passed that 
of the countryside, and most of the city-dwellers were found in 
the two main industrial provinces of Ontario and Quebec. 

But these post-war developments were of high importance. 
They gave Canada a more balanced, stable way of life, less depen- 
dent on the ups and downs of the world market. They gave her 
new staple exports besides wheat. The post-war period saw the 
steady rise of gold, copper, nickel, and other base metals, and of 
pulp wood and newsprint. These new staples, however, travelled 
more on north-south lines than along the east-west system. Their 
main markets were in the United States. Britain remained Can- 
ada's chief outlet for the older products of farming, but the high 
value of the new products meant that in 1921 the United States 
took a slight lead to become Canada's best customer once more, 
despite the high American tariff wall. 

The rise of new staples brought developments all over Canada. 
Along the Appalachian ridges and across the Shield lumbering 
took a new lease on life, this time devoting itself to the thick soft- 
wood forests, to cut for wood-pulp. Large pulp-mills sprang up 

352 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

in the North, driven by the plentiful water-power of these hilly 
regions. Whole new towns appeared among the rocks and birches 
of northern New Brunswick or northern Ontario and Quebec. 
The gold of Noranda in northern Quebec, the asbestos carved 
from open pits in the Eastern Townships, the copper and nickel 
of Copper Cliff, Ontario, the oil of Turner Valley, Alberta, the 
lead, zinc, and copper of the Kootenay region in the mountains 
of British Columbia all these brought tremendous advances in 
the realm of mining. The list seems endless : gold at Flin-Flon in 
northern Manitoba, in the Porcupine and Kirkland Lake regions 
of northern Ontario, radium and uranium mined at Great Bear 
Lake, high in the North West Territories, and shipped out by air; 
suffice it to say that the endless rock barrens of northern Canada 
had turned into a national treasure chest. 

Another important advance came with the wide development 
of hydro-electric power, which in Ontario, under the province- 
owned Hydro-Electric Power Commission, gave the province one 
of the cheapest and most efficient supplies of electricity in the 
world. The building of automobile highways that linked up the 
settled parts of Canada far more effectively was another feature of 
this prosperous period. So was the amazing rise of c bush flying', 
which carried even bulky machinery into the roadless North and 
brought Canada the world's heaviest air freight-traffic. And 
through the air the conquest of northern distances became pos- 
sible. Hudson's Bay posts, missions to the Eskimos, and radio 
weather stations, that were now extended to the shores of the 
Arctic Ocean and the islands beyond, were linked by the aero- 
plane. Steamboats to the Arctic on the long Mackenzie river in 
the summer and tractor-driven sleigh-trains in the winter supplied 
heavier transportation for this new Far North. The Arctic really 
entered Canadian history for the first time, in terms of furs, oi! 5 
gold, and other minerals. 

Yet much of this post-war growth tended to cut across the east- 
west unity of Canada and was felt unevenly in the different regions. 

353 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

The northern development, for example., chiefly benefited the 
provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the powerful business 
interests concentrated there. Toronto built a great mining empire 
in northern Ontario, but its connections generally ran north and 
south, strengthening regionalism, not the east-west system of 
Canada. Vancouver and British Columbia flourished, especially 
after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913 gave the Pacific 
port a good sea-way to the markets of Europe. But, as a result, 
Vancouver began to drain part of the western prairies' trade into 
this sea-way, competing with the railway links across the con- 
tinent to the East. The Pacific coast and central Canada were 
thriving as separate regions. Other parts of the Dominion were 
not doing as well. 

The prairies were still growing, but plainly not at the same 
rate as these other sections. Their own hope of a short sea-way 
to Europe, led to the building of a railway from the plains to 
Churchill on Hudson Bay. But this northern route, however, 
facing ice dangers, a short season, and high shipping charges, did 
not develop successfully. At the same time the Maritimes were 
again feeling themselves the step-children of Confederation. They 
were sharing little of the post-war development; in fact, they were 
dose to depression. The division was sharpening between 'have* 
and 'have-not' sections of Canada. 

The Maritimes were still facing their old problem, the fact that 
they had few resources left to develop after the age of wooden 
ships had passed away. Their area was small, good farmland was 
limited, and while Nova Scotia had excellent supplies of coal, 
that in itself was not sufficient to bring industry to this outlying 
region of the continent. The Atlantic provinces still relied heavily 
on the fisheries, but since the war fish prices had been low. The 
wartime boom at the ports of Halifax and Saint John was over, 
the steel shipbuilding industry that had been started was closing 
down. Though Prince Edward Island was by now fairly well 
adjusted to a quiet but contented farming way of life, and though 

354 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

coal mines and steel mills on Cape Breton Island helped Nova 
Scotia, the Maritimes on the whole were almost at a standstill. 

Thus it was that a movement developed in the 1920*8 for 
'Maritime Rights'. The Maritimes blamed the tariff structure for 
building up central Canada at their expense, and charged, too, 
that Dominion governments generally had paid little attention to 
their special problems. They took a strong stand on the powers of 
provinces in Confederation, claiming that the Dominion had over- 
stepped the proper limits of its authority. The King government 
thereupon appointed a Royal Commission to investigate Maritime 
grievances, and on its report in 1927 moved to solve the problem 
in the typical way; by granting new subsidies to the Atlantic pro- 
vinces. This disposed of the provincial rights question in the East 
for the time being, but more serious sectional movements were 
developing in the prairie West. 

These movements in part centred around the 'Natural Re- 
sources Question 5 , which was pressed by all three prairie prov- 
vinces. At Confederation the old provinces had kept control of 
their natural resources lands, forests, minerals but in the case 
of the new provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta 
that had been erected out of the North West Territories, the con- 
trol of their resources had stayed with the Dominion. This was 
done to give the Dominion a fund for developing the western 
country. Through railway land-grants, for example, it had used 
western land to help pay the Canadian Pacific Railway for building 
its line. In the 1920*8, however, when so much development of 
natural resources was going on, especially in lumbering and min- 
ing, the three prairie provinces demanded control of their own 
resources. The Dominion gave way, but the whole question 
helped strengthen sectional feeling. 

More important in the long run for the re-emergence of sec- 
tionalism was the growth of a western farm movement in post-war 
politics. Prairie farmers objected generally to the costs of the 
tariff and railway rates. They felt that the West was paying to 

355 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS., 1919-39 

fatten the East, There were besides numerous particular griev- 
ances against the eastern powers that handled western trade: 
against railway companies., large industrial corporations, banks 
and financial houses. After the war, the high prke of wheat, the 
result of great wartime demands, had dropped sharply. Yet the 
debts that the farmer had incurred to expand his wartime produc- 
tion still had to be paid at high rates of interest. The government 
Wheat Board, moreover, which had marketed his crops during the 
war, was brought to an end in 1920, and the prairie fanner felt he 
was completely in the hands of eastern business, which paid him 
low prices but fixed high charges in return. The western sense of 
grievance grew. Farmers began to organize political parties to 
oppose the 'big interests' of the East. 

This mounting farm revolt was backed as well by eastern far- 
mers, who shared many of the same grievances against the power 
of business. It was, indeed, an eastern farmers' party that first 
won political victory in Ontario in 1919. Yet all things considered, 
the farm revolt was more deeply rooted in the West. Its effects 
were more enduring and more widely felt in the prairies, the 
greatest farming region in Canada. Thus the spirit of western 
sectionalism loomed large behind the farmers' movement and the 
new political parties that developed from it. 

2 New Currents in Politics 

The rise of new parties in the period between two World Wars 
challenged the hold of the two old parties on Canadian political 
life for the first time since Confederation. Some of the new 
groups tended to fade as quickly as they had grown, and in any 
case the Liberals and Conservatives managed to keep to the fore. 
They were firmly rooted throughout the Dominion and stood for 
national unity. The new organizations were tied more closely to 
sectional interests and might be strong in one region but very 
weak in others. Hence they never captured national power. Yet 
by the 1930*5 there would be three and even four parties in federal 

356 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

politics, quite aside from successful new groups in the provincial 
field. Clearly there were fresh currents stirring in the Canadian 
political stream, and some of them would have lasting influence. 

At the close of the First World War in Canada there was a 
growing demand for new goals in politics. There was an upsurge 
of democratic feeling after c the war to make the world safe for 
democracy' ; there was new hope of progress, and, at the same time, 
a desire for broad government social policies that would improve 
the welfare of the people and balance the scales for the ordinary 
citizen in a world where wealth had so much power. On the 
whole, before 1914, Canadian politics had been far less con- 
cerned with democratic progress or social advance than with the 
problems of developing half a continent. Canada seemed to have 
plenty of room to expand, and rather accepted the North American 
idea of 'go west, young man' as the answer to the troubles of 
society. The governments, furthermore, had not sought to check 
the power of private wealth but had worked in partnership with 
it in order to develop the country. In general, they had given the 
large business interests a free hand. 

By the end of the First World War, however, it was becoming 
clear that conditions of life in Canada were changing. The era of 
easy growth was ending; there was very little of the last, best 
West' left for the young man to go to. There were still many lines 
for development; but most of these lay in industry or the mining 
North, and took money which usually returned to business inter- 
ests or to controlling companies in the United States. More and 
more Canadians were living in towns and working in factories. 
Accordingly, as the old open horizons closed down, demands arose 
for new policies that would, above all, favour the mass of the 
people more than powerful special groups. The core of these de- 
mands was for more state action to serve the public interest. 
Wider state ownership of necessary services or utilities, such as 
railways and power plants, heavier taxes on profits and large in- 
comes, old-age pensions, labour laws, health measures : these were 

357 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

but some of the new goals in politics that emerged between the 
wars. 

The rising labour movement supplied another new force in 
Canadian life. It first became important in this period between 
the wars. There had been trade unions in Canada long before, and 
in 1886 a national Trades and Labour Congress had been estab- 
lished. But union membership had been small for many years, 
since so many factory workers stayed outside, especially among 
the Catholic, conservative-minded French Canadians. With the 
growth of industry during the First World War, however, union 
membership doubled. And afterwards, the unemployment caused 
by shifting from war to peace production, and the removal of war- 
time price controls while living costs soared, brought much work- 
ing-class discontent. There were exciting ideas abroad as well, 
stemming from the recent Russian Revolution, or from the plan 
of 'One Big Union' to overcome the power of big business by the 
massed power of labour. Eastern union leadership remained 
cautious; but some western unions, impatient at this restraint and 
aroused by the O.B.U. idea, hoped for a nation-wide strike to 
overthrow private business. A strike among metal workers in 
Winnipeg in 1919 actually spread to city-wide proportions, 
though it was severely repressed by frightened local authorities, 
backed by the Dominion government, which feared red revolu- 
tion. These extreme fears were groundless; the great mass of 
Canadian labour was very far from revolutionary. Yet it was stir- 
ring in politics, and this current would run on into the future. 
One sign of it was the election of several Labour members to pro- 
vincial legislatures. 

Meanwhile the farm discontent was taking shape, in the East 
as in the West. In 1918 the Canadian Council of Agriculture, the 
national association of farmers, issued what it called the 'New 
NationalPolicy*. This was along, detailed document whichattacked 
the protective tariff as creating powerful privileged groups and 
demanded tariff reductions, taxes on business profits, the public 

358 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS., 1919-39 

ownership of utilities, and political reforms to strengthen the 
power of democracy. Here was a programme which had a wide 
appeal, not only within farm ranks. It expressed many of the new 
currents in Canada and it soon led to action. The first move came 
in Ontario, where the farmers quickly organized themselves for 
the provincial election of 1919. In that year the United Farmers 
of Ontario, supported by many besides farmers, swept the polls 
and installed a U.F.O. government at Toronto under E. C. Drury. 
In the general mood of excitement and unrest, strong United Far- 
mers parties sprang up in the prairie provinces, and weaker ones 
in the Maritimes. 

Building on all these movements, the Canadian Council of Agri- 
culture called a convention at Winnipeg in 1920. There was 
launched a new Dominion party, the National Progressive Party, 
backed by all the United Farmer groups. Its leader was T. A. 
Crerar of Manitoba, its programme the New National Policy. The 
next year Progressivism went into a Dominion election, and with 
wide popular support did so well in its first try that, although the 
Liberals won, the Progressives displaced the Conservatives as the 
second largest group in parliament. 

Progressivism did not keep up the pace. In 1919 the Liberals 
under Mackenzie King, who had studied and written on labour 
and social problems, had themselves adopted a programme to meet 
the new demands of the time, calling for tariff reductions and 
social welfare measures. The scheme was not as sweeping as the 
Progressives', and in office the Liberals were strangely slow in 
carrying it out. Yet King could argue that his aims were really 
the same as the Progressives', and they preferred to work with him 
rather than with the Conservatives. As a result they lost much of 
their own sense of purpose, A split developed within the party 
between those who argued that it was better to side with the 
Liberals and push them onward into reform and those who in- 
sisted that Progressivism should stand apart and work solely as a 
farmers' movement. 

359 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

Dissension grew, and Progressivism rapidly declined. The elec- 
tors were discouraged by the new party's failure to achieve any- 
thing on its own. The U.F.O. government fell in Ontario in 1923 
and the Dominion election of 1926 practically killed the National 
Progressives as an effective party. The fanners had never linked 
themselves successfully with labour, Progressivism had never 
penetrated French Canada, and it had been weak in the Mari- 
times. But if the Progressive movement faded in eastern Canada 
it fared better in the West. There the United Farmers parties sur- 
vived in provincial politics. A U.F. A. Government ruled Alberta 
until 1935. On the national level, however, many of the remaining 
Progressive members, including Crerar, were absorbed into the 
Liberal party. 

The period of high prosperity between 1923 and 1929, which 
revived farm prices, helped also to still the general demand for 
new social policies, at least for the time being. Yet the spirit of 
Progressivism remained alive in the prairies. A movement for co- 
operative societies spread among the farmers as a means of escap- 
ing some of the control of eastern business. Spurred on by men 
like Henry Wise Wood, leader of the United Farmers of Alberta, 
they organized 'Wheat Pools' among themselves to market their 
grain jointly and replace the lost Wheat Board. And the enthusi- 
asm for more advanced democratic and social ideas remained 
strong in this western region. 

Then in the I93o's came the blackest depression ever to hit 
Canada. In its long, hard years the demand for social changes 
arose with new force all across the nation. Once again it was 
strongest in the West, which in many ways suffered most from 
the depression. In Alberta the U.F.A. government fell in 1935 
before a more radical movement, that of Social Credit. Social 
Credit is based on a plan to redistribute the wealth of a com- 
munity gradually through "social dividends' paid to its members 
by the government. Under William Aberhart, Social Credit began 
in Alberta by promising dividends of $25 a month; but though it 

360 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

failed to fulfil its promise, Aberharfs vigorous leadership and 
Alberta's firm rejection of both old parties helped to keep a Social 
Credit government in control of the province. Similarly Social 
Credit controlled Alberta's block of seats in the Dominion parlia- 
ment, though for some time it made little headway elsewhere. On 
the whole, therefore, it remained a distinctly Albertan experiment. 
Alberta, it is said, likes to be different. 

A more important new party, which also developed on the 
prairies in the depressed early 'thirties, was the Co-operative 
Commonwealth Federation, or C.C.F. To a considerable extent 
the C.C.F. was built on old Progressive foundations, since it was 
backed by the United Fanners of Alberta and other western far- 
mer organizations. Thus far it was another expression of the farm 
revolt, of the long-felt western grievances against the power of big 
business that had revived tenfold in the bleakness of depression 
years. Yet the new party also had strong ties with the labour 
movement, for working-class groups in the four western provinces 
shared in its formation. Beyond this, the C.C.F. was new, indeed. 
It was a socialist party. It stood not only for more government 
controls but for government ownership of major industries, finance, 
and utilities, and not only for certain social measures but for over- 
all social planning. 

In one sense the C.C.F., backed as it was by labour organiza- 
tions, was Canada's version of Britain's Labour party. Its social- 
ist principles came chiefly from British Labour thought. It, too, 
believed in the British parliamentary system and gradual, peaceful 
progress to the goal of socialism. It turned its back on communism 
and the tiny communist party that made only minor and temporary 
gains in Canada during the depression. But if the C.C.F. followed 
British Labour in ideas, it was distinctly North American in its 
descent from Progressrvism and its deep-rooted western farm 
support. Though the party made headway in British Columbia 
ports and mines and in Ontario factories, its strength continued 
to centre in the prairies, particularly in Saskatchewan. 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

It was here at the provincial capital of Regina in 1933 tibat the 
C.C.F. issued its definite platform. This, the Regina Manifesto, 
set forth a short-run programme to meet depression problems and 
a long-range plan for socialism. The few Progressives left in parlia- 
ment joined the C.C.F., and the party entered both federal and 
provincial politics. Its federal leader was J. S. Woodsworth, a 
Methodist minister turned social reformer, who had sat as a 
Labour member from Winnipeg after making his name during 
the Winnipeg strike of 1919 as editor of the strikers 5 newspaper. 

Under Woodsworth^ahigh-mindedjUniversallyrespectedleader^ 
the C.C.F. firmly established itself in national politics. Yet it did 
not grow to anything like the size of the two old parties in parlia- 
ment. One reason for this limited growth was the fact that many 
trade unionists still rejected socialism., especially in the East, where 
dwelt the bulk of the working class. While the C.C.F. received 
a significant amount of labour support, it thus could not make the 
thorough-going connection with trade unionism that had proved 
so valuable to the British Labour party. In addition, the C.C.F. 
made no headway in French Canada, where the powerful Catholic 
church frowned on socialism. And no national party can really 
hope to control Canada without some measure of French Canadian 
support. 

French Canada was producing its own new party in the depres- 
sion of the 1930*8. This was a wholly provincial party; and it came 
on the conservative right rather than on the radical left, when 
another upsurge of conservative-minded French Canadian nation- 
alism created the Union Nationale in Quebec. The new group 
practically replaced the Conservative party in provincial politics, 
for the Quebec Conservatives had never recovered in French 
Canada from their party's stand on conscription. Yet this latest 
nationalist movement was somewhat different because it was 
closely related to the rise of industrialism in the province of 
Quebec. Since the First World War the spread of industry had 
been transforming the old rural world of New France into a 

362 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

region of crowded cities and great factories. Quebec was going 
through the strains of the industrial revolution. And then on top 
of these were added the problems of trade depression and unem- 
ployment. 

Out of this troubled background emerged a demand among 
French Canadians that the financial and industrial control of their 
province be wrested from the dominant English-speaking business 
interests. Big business was being denounced in the depression in 
Quebec as elsewhere, but here the racial division coloured the pic- 
ture. In the growing clamour a clever politician, Maurice Dup- 
lessis, came forward, promising both to modernize and to 'free' 
Quebec and to carry out a new social programme. His Union 
Nationale drove the provincial Liberal government from power in 
1936. Soon, however, he seemed to have reached his own terms 
with the existing business interests, although his hold over 
Quebec's sectional feelings still kept his place secure. 

In Ontario meanwhile, the Liberals under Mitchell Hepburn 
broke up a long Conservative reign in 1934, following a campaign 
to reduce government spending during the depression that was 
strongly supported by the old Ontario farm interest. Soon angry 
quarrels flared between the Hepburn government at Toronto and 
the Dominion Liberals in Ottawa, for Hepburn took a firm stand 
on 'Ontario rights'. Here was yet another sectional party. In sum, 
the trying years of the depression were plainly encouraging a 
variety of sectional movements at the expense of national parties. 
This was true of Social Credit under Aberhart in Alberta, of 
Hepburn Liberalism in Ontario, and Duplessis Nationalism in 
Quebec. Only the C.C.F. could be called a new national party, 
and it was only partially so. The political trend of the 'twenties 
and 'thirties was not only to raise new social demands, it was to 
weaken national unity. In the depression of the 1930*8 Canada 
had to face a testing of her national system as stern as any since 
the birth of the Dominion. 



363 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

3 The Federal System and the Depression 

It might be said that the Liberals governed Canada for much 
of the inter-war period less through their own strength than 
through the weakness of their foes. The new parties were still not 
effective rivals in national politics and the Conservatives were held 
back by their troubles in Quebec. But in any case the Liberals 
gave no strong national leadership. That fact was seen in the way 
the King government set aside the Liberal social programme of 
1919 as merely a set of ideals for the future and generally ceased 
to direct the development of Canada, although the Dominion 
government had regularly taken the lead in the day of Laurier or 
Macdonald. Yet in one respect the decline in Dominion leader- 
ship could hardly be charged to the King Liberals. They could do 
little about a change in the whole balance of the Canadian federal 
system, which made the Dominion government much weaker and 
the provincial governments far stronger than the Fathers of Con- 
federation had ever intended. 

The change in the balance of power had long been developing. 
It was chiefly the result of legal decisions by the Judicial Com- 
mittee of the imperial Privy Council. Since the British North 
America Act of 1867 that established Canadian federalism was a 
kw of the imperial parliament, legal cases concerning the extent 
of federal or provincial powers under the Act could be referred to 
the Privy Council justices in London for final decision. And in 
the decisions that the Privy Council had handed down there had 
been, at least since 1896, a strong trend in favour of provincial 
interests over Dominion. Apparently the justices of the Privy 
Council had their own ideas on federalism, which put consider- 
able stress on provincial rights. Yet the consequence was that the 
intentions of the men who had shaped the Confederation scheme 
were ignored. 

The Fathers of Confederation had clearly wanted a strong 
federal state in Canada. The British North America Act, there- 
fore, had given the Dominion a general ancj. superior power in 

364 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

government as well as certain particular powers listed under num- 
bered headings. These 'enumerated powers', the Act declared., 
were set forth merely 'for greater certainty 9 and did not limit the 
general authority of the Dominion to make laws for 'peace, order 
and good government'. Yet in 1896 the Privy Council ruled that 
the Dominion could normally use only its enumerated powers, 
and that the general reserve authority was simply meant for great 
national emergencies such as war. In effect, Canada was made a 
weak, not a strong federal state. The Dominion had one set of 
fixed powers., the provinces another, and the Dominion's reserve 
of power was set aside. It was only in time of war that the federal 
government could be really strong, for then it could call on the 
reserve 'emergency' authority to enact sweeping laws like the War 
Measures Act of 1914.5 use d in two world conflicts. 

Thanks to various Privy Council decisions., the provinces ceased 
to be the local authorities planned in 1867 and became the near- 
equals of the Dominion. Of course, the federal government still 
ranked above them because it represented the whole country, and 
in many ways its set of powers was still the wider, especially in the 
field of taxation. But because its reserve of authority had been put 
aside, the Dominion found it difficult to enter new fields of govern- 
ment to meet new problems. In fact, the widening range of 
government activities in the years following the First World War 
led to a number of Dominion-provincial conferences hi which the 
division of new government duties was debated back and forth 
almost as between independent states. 

When it came to expanding the duties of government, the 
powers already granted to the provinces gave them a good deal of 
advantage. For example, by the Act of 1867 'property and civil 
rights' lay with the provinces. When granted in 1867, this power 
had meant little more than the control of the civil laws that pro- 
tected real property and personal rights, a task well suited to a 
local authority. But in the world of the twentieth century, when 
government was called on to do more and more, this vague term 

365 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

could cover labour laws, pensions, social insurance a variety 
of social measures that the new age demanded, all of which 
naturally affected the property and personal rights of the people. 
The framers of Confederation could not foresee this development. 
But if the Dominion had been left with the reserve power to take 
up new tasks, as had been planned, the problem would not have 
arisen. As it was, however, the national government could only 
proceed on various social measures by agreements with the prov- 
inces, many of which preferred to go ahead with their own social 
schemes. Thus the standard of government services was uneven 
across Canada, varying between the richer and poorer provinces. 

Still, all the provinces were forging ahead at their own best rate 
in the new field of social services. They were also broadening their 
activities through the highway-building and hydro-electric devel- 
opment of the post-war era, both of which fell in the provincial 
field. There was a serious difficulty here. In the new age, it 
seemed, the provinces were the advancing powers; yet they did 
not really have the financial strength to back their ambitious pro- 
grammes of services and development. The British North America 
Act had given most of the taxing power to the Dominion. The 
provinces could finance their expansion through their limited tax 
resources only while times were good. But when the depression 
of the 'thirties arrived, it found the provinces heavily committed 
to activities that many of them could not really afford, while the 
Dominion had the money but not the power to take these func- 
tions over. Clearly the federal system was badly off balance, and 
at a critical time for Canada. 

By 1930 all parts of the Dominion were swept into the vicious 
circle of depression. As world trade dropped, unemployment 
mounted, so that people could not afford to buy, and trade sank 
lower. Immigration was halted. Canada had trouble enough with 
her existing population. The industrial East was hard hit, but here 
the continuing advance of gold-mining in the Shield helped to 
ease the blow. The far West was also affected by the decline in 

366 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

Pacific commerce and fishing, but again raining in the Rockies 
helped British Columbia. As for the Maritimes, because they had 
never risen so high they had less far to fall, though life in the little 
fishing outports was hard, indeed. But the prairie West, depend- 
ent on one great crop, was especially affected. The collapse of 
world wheat prices struck heavily at the prairies, and cut the 
incomes of the railways that served them, to increase Canada's 
costly problem of railway debts. In addition, drought in the West 
reduced the wheat crop to an all-time low, often wiping out what 
little income a farmer might hope to receive. The people of 
Talliser's Triangle' were particularly in distress. Prairie govern- 
ments were facing bankruptcy as revenues fell and the bills for 
unemployment relief soared. It was out of this background that 
the new radical parties, Social Credit and the C.C.F. sprang up 
in the West. 

As these problems swiftly developed, the King government still 
gave no lead; and so, in 1930, the Conservatives at last came back 
into office, with a promise to end the depression. The new Con- 
servative prime minister was R. B. Bennett, who had replaced 
Meighen as party leader in 1927. Bennett was a mixture of un- 
doubted ability, bold energy, and arrogant assurance; in some 
ways he was his own worst enemy. His first move was along 
traditional Conservative lines. He raised the protective tariff 
steeply, higher than it had ever been before. This was partly done 
to save what was left of the Canadian market for Canadians, and 
it probably benefited industry to some extent. But in its m^jn 
purpose, 'to blast a way into world markets' by showing Canada's 
readiness to meet other nations' tariff increases with those of her 
own, it was a complete failure. 

There was still another kind of tariff measure that might offer 
hope: imperial preference, first proposed by Canada in Laurier's 
day. In 1932 the depression led Britain to abandon free trade. 
A system of empire preference at last became possible, whereby 
Dominions could give British goods lower rates in their tariffs in 

367 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

exchange for similar preferences in the British tariff. An Imperial 
Economic Conference met at Ottawa and after hard bargaining 
reached a series of agreements. Canada's were mainly with Brit- 
ain. They provided for lower rates on British steel, coal and manu- 
factures entering Canada in return for similar British rates on 
Canadian wheat, lumber and farm products. The preferences 
were limited, however, because Canada was by now an industrial 
nation herself and sought still to protect her own industry. Britain, 
moreover, did not mean to tie her food market down too much to 
one supplier. Nevertheless a freer flow of trade in the Common- 
wealth was an advantage, although it was not large enough to cure 
the depression. 

By 1934, although the worst of the depression had passed, it 
still hung heavy, and new Dominion policies were plainly needed. 
The Bennett government re-established a Wheat Board to market 
the reduced western crop, gave loans and grants to the provinces, 
particularly to bankrupt Saskatchewan, and reorganized the con- 
trol of the government's railways. But the main Dominion activ- 
ity consisted in footing the provinces' bills for relief, and while 
spending for relief was sorely necessary it was not solving any 
problems. Accordingly, in 1935 (when a new election was ap- 
proaching) Bennett suddenly produced a surprising set of sweep- 
ing measures that would reduce farm debt, control export trade, 
regulate business, and establish unemployment insurance and 
minimum wages in order, as he said, to reform the capitalist 
system and restore the nation's health. It was Canada's version 
of Roosevelt's New Deal, then challenging the depression in the 
United States. 

But these new measures, introduced almost without warning, 
nearly split the Conservative party. The bulk of the Conservatives 
were not convinced of the need for such a sweeping programme, 
and the country as a whole was none too convinced by Bennett's 
sudden change of policy. And so, although the 'New Deal' laws 
were rushed through parliament, King and the Liberals were re- 

368 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

turned in the election of 1935. They could not have been more 
fortunate : the Conservatives received all the blame for the depres- 
sion, and trade began reviving as the Liberals came back to power. 

King, however, still pursued a very cautious policy. In a typical 
move for time he referred Bennett's laws to the courts for testing. 
The Privy Council acted true to form. It declared most of them 
beyond the powers of the federal government. Apparently a tre- 
mendous depression was still not enough of a national emergency 
to allow the use of the Dominion's reserve authority. This final 
judgment, however, together with the unbalance of the federal 
system, glaringly revealed by the depression, led King to appoint 
a Royal Commission in 1937 to inquire into all the problems of 
Dominion-provincial relations. 

This, the Rowell-Sirois Commission, produced a report in 1940 
that was a masterpiece of investigation and proposed what was 
almost a plan of refederation. Its chief proposals called first for 
the Dominion to round out its already wide taxing powers by 
'renting* much of the provinces 9 power of taxation. In return the 
Dominion was to take over provincial debts and pay a series of 
'adjustment grants'. These would help finance the provinces, so 
that the services of all could be kept at one national level. The 
Dominion would assume the whole burden of unemployment 
relief and unemployment insurance, while there would be a nation- 
wide system of social services administered by the provinces and 
aided in certain cases by the federal government. The problem of 
the Dominion having money but not power, and the provinces 
power but not money, would be overcome. Finally, the barriers 
in the federal system raised by the Privy Council decisions would 
be avoided since the plan did not attack provincial powers but 
sought only to proceed by agreement. 

The Rowell-Sirois Report was a product of the question of 
federalism and the depression, but its results lie in a later period. 
Meanwhile, as the Commission was sitting, trade was recovering 
in Canada, reflecting a world recovery that was connected with a 

369 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

rising armament boom, as another war loomed abroad. Yet King 
undoubtedly aided Canada's revival by tariff reductions that in- 
creased her trade with both Britain and the United States . More 
important, in 1935 and 1938, he was able to reach mutual trade 
agreements with the Roosevelt government of the United States, 
which did not share the extreme high-tariff ideas of previous 
American governments. Canada kept her basic policy of protec- 
tion, and the empire preferences as well, but also reduced the 
duties on about half of her American imports in return for similar 
treatment by the United States. The King government could well 
say that it had brought back the reciprocity principle that had 
been lost since 1866. 

Nevertheless King had not cured the depression any more than 
had Bennett: it had simply gone away. The Liberals had con- 
tinued their policy of doing nothing in particular and did it very 
well. Yet perhaps King was right in thinking Canada needed such 
a policy in days of powerful sectional forces. He believed that his 
own chief task was the preservation of national unity. On the 
whole he pursued it successfully by not letting major issues come 
to a head: he appointed Royal Commissions instead. Such a 
policy, of course, may seem to do very little and still require a great 
deal of hard running to stay in the same place. At any rate, despite 
the unrest and friction of depression years, not greatly eased by 
Bennett, King was able to lead a united nation into the Second 
World War in 1939. Perhaps the very extent of the problem of 
federalism and the depression had shown the strength of an 
underlying belief in Canadian unity that, despite angry criticisms 
and dark prophecies, simply took it for granted that the national 
system would survive. Perhaps this is the strongest basis for an 
enduring nation. 

4 Canada Enters World Affairs 

Thanks to the achievement of nationhood under Borden and 
King, Canada entered world affairs in the period between the 

370 




SASKATCHEWAN GRAIN ELEVATORS 




WEALTH OF THE SHIELD -FORESTS AND WATERPOWER 



STEP 




A RECRUITING 'STATION' IN THE WAR OF 1914-18 




YELLOWKNIFE, NORTH WEST TERRITORIES 
THE NORTHERN MINING FRONTIER 




H.M.C.S. SWANSEA, DESTROYER OF TWO U-BOATS, ON 
NORTH ATLANTIC CONVOY DUTY, 1944 




CANADIANS UNDER FIRE IN GERMANY, 1945 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

wars. She continued her close relations with Britain and the 
United States within the North Atlantic triangle. But now to 
these were added direct contacts with other countries, through the 
League of Nations and the Commonwealth, and through the gradual 
spread of Canadian diplomatic posts abroad. For the first time, 
therefore, Canada was able to carry on her own foreign policy. 
The question was, what lines should it follow? Certain main lines 
of policy were already clear for the Dominion: for example, the 
need to work for the best possible relations between Britain and 
the United States, and the vital interest that a fairly small nation 
with a very large overseas trade had in a world at peace. Yet be- 
yond these general considerations the young Canadian foreign 
policy seemed to be shaped chiefly by a desire to avoid commit- 
ting Canada to any definite stand in world affairs. 

This policy of 'no commitments' was to some extent a reflection 
of a general North American feeling of isolation; the American 
continent seemed far from Europe and its troubles, and did not 
want to be drawn into them. Isolationism, however, was more 
widespread in the United States. A purely Canadian cause of the 
desire to avoid advance commitments lay in the difference of the 
viewpoints of French and English Canada on many world ques- 
tions. Any very definite line of policy only invited a clash of 
opinion between the two groups of Canadians, and this King in 
his concern for unity particularly sought to avoid. On the whole, 
the French Canadians were firmly isolationist. They feared that 
English Canada's main aim in foreign policy was the support of 
Britain, which thus might lead to new entanglements in 'British 
wars'. English-speaking Canadians were far from being as thor- 
oughly imperialist as the French believed, but there was a strong 
feeling among them that Canada should back up British foreign 
policy more or less automatically. And even when English Cana- 
dians proposed a course of action on national grounds French 
Canada suspected that this was disguised imperialism. Accord- 
ingly, in an effort to avoid as much friction as possible, King 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS;, 1919-39 

pursued a vague policy of no commitments, expressed in his 
famous phrase for putting off to the future Canada's decisions on 
world questions : 'Parliament will decide.' 

Even King's campaign to complete Canadian nationhood was 
in part an effort to avoid the commitments resulting from being 
bound by British foreign policy. It was not so much a construc- 
tive effort as an attempt to withdraw more into isolation. Hence, 
although the rights of nationhood were a major achievement for 
Canada, it was the right to say no' that she made most use of in 
foreign affairs. Nevertheless the freedom to say 'no' was impor- 
tant, and on the whole, the nation accepted this negative sort of 
policy. Furthermore, a small state like Canada (small in world 
power, for all her great size) could not make a great mark among 
the nations merely by taking a strong line of policy. 

The pattern of no commitments began to appear almost as soon 
as Borden had won separate membership for Canada in the League 
of Nations. Article X of the Covenant that established the League 
called for collective action by all the member-states against any 
country that endangered world peace by committing an act of 
aggression. This article was really the keystone of the League plan, 
since it tried to create a world police-power, based on all the 
League members, that would prevent any country from threaten- 
ing the security of the world. It was disliked by many nations 
because it committed them in advance to actions that might lead 
to war, and it was never very effectively used. Canada, however, 
strongly objected to the plan for collective security. Borden pro- 
tested against such a grave obligation, that could involve Canada 
in European struggles with which she had little connection when 
she herself, living in secure America, had no need of aid in return. 
As a Canadian representative at the League put it, Canada lived 
in a fireproof house, far from the danger of flames, and thought 
she should be able to pay a lower insurance rate. 

In spite of Borden's protests in 1919, Article X was kept in the 
League Covenant; but in the following years Canada still sought 

372 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

to limit the commitment that it involved. It was not her efforts^ 
however, but the steadily sinking faith of the leading powers in 
collective security which really killed Article X. In any case that 
principle, and the League itself, had largely been built on the 
belief that the United States would be a member of the League of 
Nations. Instead, isolationism in that country led it to reject 
League membership, and the loss of the great American strength 
was disastrous. Canada, at least, was a member, though not a 
very effective one, and so found herself with the task of repre- 
senting North America in a largely European body. 

The failure of the League to check the Japanese invasion of 
Manchuria in 1931 or the Italian attack on Abyssinia in 1935 
doomed the principle of collective security. The Canadian dele- 
gate at the League did propose oil sanctions that would have cut 
off Italy's oil supply for the Abyssinian War. But the Canadian 
government, true to its policy of no commitments, hastily rejected 
this effective but dangerous measure, stating that Canada's dele- 
gate had acted without authority. The League took no effective 
action. Italy, led by the fascist dictator Mussolini, had proved,, 
apparently, that aggression could pay. As a result, another fascist 
dictator took heart. Under Hitler, Nazi Germany began the acts 
of violence and aggression that greatly enlarged German territory, 
but ended in the Second World War. 

The rise of Germany as a storm centre and the steady decline 
of the League caused Britain and France, the leading European 
powers, to try to keep the peace by satisfying Nazi demands. 
Here was the policy to be known as appeasement. Appeasement 
was as unreal as isolationism, but because European countries 
were not far enough away to ignore Hitler they tried to come to 
terms with him. Canada, on the whole, approved of the British 
policy of appeasement, largely because this too seemed a way of 
avoiding trouble and commitments. By this time in Canada the 
country's foreign policy was in dispute among nationalists and 
imperialists, isolationists and collectivists or groups which called 

373 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, I9I9~39 

each other by these names. The collectivists were those who saw 
the only hope in a return to the idea of collective security through 
the League. Still King held them all off, and turned aside their 
insistence on some definite stand with the statement that when 
the time came for decision, parliament would decide: a rather 
doubtful statement since he and his party controlled parliament 
in any case. Yet any other course would surely have split the 
country. 

The time for decision was fast approaching. While still hoping 
to appease fascist violence the democracies of Europe began to 
rearm, and in 1937 Canada also began an enlarged defence pro- 
gramme. But meanwhile she was greatly strengthening her posi- 
tion in the North American continent through the improvement 
of her relations with the United States. Relations with the United 
States had been satisfactory since at least the start of the First 
World War, and the citizens of the two countries had been build- 
ing lasting friendship from the iSyo's on. Yet in general the 
government of the United States had ignored Canada ever since 
ithad dropped any ideas of annexation. There was little thought of 
a 'good neighbour' policy with Canada in American government 
circles until Franklin D. Roosevelt came to the presidency in 1932. 
The Americans had opposed separate Canadian representation in 
the League in 1919, had sought still to treat Canada as a British 
colony in the 1920'$, and had waged a tariff war with their exceed- 
ingly high tariff of 1930. President Roosevelt's general policy, 
however, was the promotion of close friendly relations throughout 
the Americas. 

In Canada's case, this led to the signing of new tariff agreements 
and to gestures of friendship such as President Roosevelt's visit in 
1938. At the same time his condemnation of fascist aggression and 
his swing away from extreme isolation pleased anti-isolationist 
feeling in Canada, which was as yet much stronger than in the 
United States. In 1938, moreover, Roosevelt on his visit gave a 
pledge that his country 'would not stand idly by' in the case of an 

374 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

attack on Canada : a much more definite and more acceptable pro- 
tection for the Dominion than the terms of the Monroe Doctrine. 
And a few days later Mackenzie King made clear that Canada wel- 
comed this pledge of friendship and common interest, while ready 
still to do her own part in joint defence and while maintaining her 
place in the Commonwealth. In consequence, when war did 
break out in 1939 Canada's position in North America was secure, 
and she found a cordial and very useful ally in the United States 
long before that country also joined in the world conflict. 

In the last few years before the war, Canada's policy of no com- 
mitments was also wearing thin. There was no doubt of Cana- 
dians' dislike for Hitler. Defence costs mounted; in the Munich 
crisis of 1938 King was prepared to back Britain if the crisis led 
to war; and in general, isolationist forces weakened. There was a 
growing feeling of Canada's responsibility in the Commonwealth 
and in the world, a growing recognition that commitments could 
not be avoided. The visit of the King and Queen as the rulers of 
Canada in the summer of 1939 strengthened both the pride of 
nationhood and the sense of Commonwealth ties. And then, in 
September, 1939, the moment of decision came. Britain and 
France at last went to war to end the ceaseless spread of a fascist 
system based on tyranny, fear, conquest, and destruction. This 
time the British declaration did not bind the full-grown nation of 
Canada. As King had promised, the Canadian parliament met to 
decide the issue of peace or war. 

It was not for a moment in doubt. Despite the long internal 
strains of sectionalism and depression, despite the past strength 
of isolationism and the policy of no commitments, the Canadian 
parliament voted grimly but overwhelmingly for war. Undoubt- 
edly sentiment for Britain still played a large part, as in 1914. But 
so did the realization that Canada's national future was bound up 
with the survival of Britain and the free Commonwealth. And 
this time, with the memory of the last bloody struggle still strong, 
there was a new awareness of what the cost might be in racial 

375 



CANADA BETWEEN TWO WORLD WARS, 1919-39 

discord as well as in men and material. Beyond this too, there was 
a realization that Canada did not, and could not, live in a fire-proof 
house in the modern world : as the United States again realized for 
herself in 1941. Canadians saw that they had to do their share to 
save the free and democratic way of life they believed in. Isola- 
tionist, imperialist and collectivism French and English, they 
buried their differences in facing the world menace of fascism. 
There was little excitement. It was an act of sober maturity. 
With the declaration of war on 10 September 1939, Canada really 
came of age in world affairs. 



376 



CHAPTER 19 

THE MATURING NATION, 
1939-50 

I Canada and the Second World War 

When the Second World War began in 1939 it seemed that 
Canada would mainly be called on as a supply base, to furnish 
food and raw materials, as before, and also to provide a wide 
range of industrial products. A division of soldiers was rapidly 
raised and sent to Britain, the first Canadian contingent sailing 
towards the close of the year. It was generally believed, however, 
that Britain and France could win the war against Germany with- 
out a heavy use of troops, by means of a blockade that would cut 
her off from outside supplies and destroy her ability to carry on 
the struggle. Nineteen-forty doomed that hope. The sudden col- 
lapse of France in June, under the lightning German onslaught, 
brought Italy into the war on Germany's side and left Britain and 
her Commonwealth partners standing alone. The shock was 
tremendous, though Britain saved most of her men from France 
in the miracle of Dunkirk and fought on with no thought of 
yielding. 

In Canada, as everywhere, the whole view of the war was al- 
tered. The Dominion now stood as the next strongest nation to 
Britain in the fight against the German-Italian Axis. All her 
strength would be needed. Projects for great new industrial de- 
velopments were laid down, and secret British arms plans were 
sent out for use in the rising Canadian war factories that were safe 
from bombing. Canada became an arsenal, and Britain's chief 
overseas source of war production. At the same time the Domin- 
ion organized and equipped new divisions of troops until in all 
five divisions, two of them armoured, and two armoured (tank) 
brigades had been sent abroad. This was a full army formation, 

377 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5O 

more than half a million strong. The bulk of it went to Britain, the 
free world's last great stronghold in a Europe largely conquered 
by German might. 

For a time after Dunkirk, indeed, the Canadian forces under 
General McNaughton were almost the only troops in Britain fully 
equipped to resist a German invasion. But the brilliant air vic- 
tories of the Battle of Britain and the British command of the seas 
about the island made invasion impossible for Hitler's armies, and 
plans were soon being laid for a grand assault on German-held 
Europe. In the next few years the Canadian army was kept in 
Britain and prepared for the return to Europe, while British and 
other Commonwealth forces fought in battles all around the world. 
Canada did send troops to Hong Kong hi 1941, when Germany's 
Axis partner, Japan, unleashed war in the Pacific, but they were 
captured after the hopeless defence of Hong Kong in December of 
that year. Japan's entry into the war, however, with a sudden 
savage thrust at the main American naval base in the Pacific, Pearl 
Harbour, brought in the giant strength of the United States and 
made possible a powerful and victorious Allied partnership. Mean- 
while the huge Soviet Union had also been brought in by the 
eastward attack of Germany and her conquered European empire 
in June 1941. 

In August of 1942 came the first Allied return to France, when 
the Canadians provided most of the troops for a raid in force on 
Dieppe. The bold Dieppe raid, costly though it was, supplied 
valuable experience for the western Allies in launching the suc- 
cessful invasions of Germany's 'Fortress Europe 5 that came later. 
Then in 1943 a Canadian division was sent to the Mediterranean^ 
and distinguished itself in the conquest of Sicily. After the 
Allied landings in Italy another division was added to form the 
First Canadian Corps in the British Eighth Army. The Canadians 
shared notably in the advance up the peninsula, particularly in 
the hot fighting around Ortona. 

In June of 1944, the great hour struck. A vast Allied armada 

378 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

under the supreme command of America's General Eisenhower 
descended on the coast of France. American, British^ and Cana- 
dian divisions battled their way inland. The Canadians worked 
with the British in clearing the bloody ruins of Caen, the hinge of 
the whole Allied advance. The forward movement of the British- 
Canadian front was less sweeping than the American, but the 
losses were not, for here the main weight of the German armour 
was massed. When the last-ditch German defence of Caen had 
fallen the Canadians moved on at last, now formed into the Cana- 
dian First Army under Canada's General Crerar. This Canadian- 
led army contained strong British units although the Canadians 
were the principal group since the rest of the Canadian units 
were still serving under British command in Italy. 

Canadian forces formed one of the pincers that met with the 
Americans to close the Falaise trap, cutting off some of Hitler's 
best troops. In the sweep through France that followed, the 
Canadians again took a major role. Their task was to anchor the 
northern end of the Allied line as it wheeled ahead, and they had 
to fight then: way through the heavy German shore defences in 
moving up the French coast to Belgium. Their next duty lay in 
clearing the approaches to the big Belgian port of Antwerp, which 
was essential to the Allies as the only port capable of handling the 
huge amount of war material necessary to mount an invasion of 
Germany itself. Again, while the biggest battles and most spectac- 
ular advances went on on other fronts, the Canadians pressed 
through the costly struggle to take the Walcheren Islands, which 
the Germans strove to hold to the end in order to block the use of 
Antwerp and prevent the attack on their homeland. 

When the job was done, and the Allies again swept forward, the 
First Army opened the attack on Germany's Rhineland, working 
closely with Britain's Second Army. Then it turned north to 
liberate all the Netherlands. In this last stage it became a wholly 
Canadian formation, since the units from Italy were transferred 
to it. At last, as Russians and Americans met in central Germany 

379 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

over the ruins of Hitler's empire, the Canadian Army in the 
Netherlands received the surrender of the German armies in that 
region. Allied victory came on 8 May, 1945. Canada's share had 
cost her 41,700 in dead and missing. The cost in lives was lower 
than in the First World War because Canadian troops had only 
been heavily engaged in the final year of the Second War, but 
then they had suffered a high rate of losses. And Canada's sol- 
diers, who had distinguished themselves in rapid advances in the 
First War, had won no less credit in the Second for their record 
in bitter, sustained fighting. 

The Royal Canadian Navy also distinguished itself in the hard 
work of war, without much chance of great battles and victories. 
Its main job lay with the North Atlantic convoys that were vital 
to the whole Allied war effort if the stream of men and materials 
from the North American arsenals were to reach embattled Britain 
and enter the fight against the Axis. For most of the Canadians at 
sea the war was an endless round of grey days and black nights 
with the precious convoys; of storms, ice and northern cold, of 
drudgery and monotony that might suddenly be shattered by a 
torpedo blast and death. There were submarine alarms, tense 
U-boat hunts and running battles at sea to bring periods of sus- 
pense and victory, but the main victory lay in getting the convoys 
through. At times the long, wearing Battle of the Atlantic rose to 
violent heights, as U-boat wolf-packs sank ships faster than they 
could be replaced. But each time new methods and weapons, par- 
ticularly in the use of aircraft at sea, brought the menace under 
control. The little ships and their heavy-laden charges sailed on to 
final success. 

At the start of the war the small Canadian peacetime navy con- 
tained only 5,000 men, but it was expanded to nearly twenty times 
that number until it was the third largest naval force in the world. 
Most of its strength, of course, lay in small anti-submarine craft, 
for it was dear from the start that Canada's chief contribution at 
sea should be to the all-important convoy system and hi ships that 

380 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

she could quickly build and man. In 1943 Canada took over naval 
control of the north-west Atlantic. In the next year the bulk of 
Allied convoys sailed from America under Canadian escort four- 
fifths of them, in the closing stages of the war. At the same time 
Canadians served around the world with the Royal Navy, or fought 
in the Mediterranean in motor boat squadrons; went into battle off 
the French coast in Canadian destroyers, or sailed on the Mur- 
mansk run to Russia. A Canadian fleet unit, newly equipped with 
cruisers and aircraft carriers, had entered the Pacific war when in 
August, 1945, Japan, the eastern foe, surrendered. 

In the air Canada raised her forces from 4,000 to 200,000. She 
sent 45 Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons overseas and pro- 
vided men besides for the air crews of the R.A.F. Canadian fighter 
pilots fought in the Battle of Britain and in the sweeps over 
France; bomber crews joined in the nightly Batde of Germany, 
and by 1944 one-quarter of the air-crews attacking Germany 
under British command were Canadian. Canada's airmen flew 
over Malta, in North Africa, Italy, India, Burma, in Britain's 
Coastal Command and in the Fleet Air Arm. They ferried aircraft 
over the Atlantic and patrolled the Arctic North. They worked in 
Alaska with the Americans and at sea with the Allied navies. In 
this Second War, as in the First, Canada set up an outstanding 
record in the air, but this time her own R.C.A.F. achieved much 
of it. 

One of the chief Canadian contributions to the air war was 
made through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, a 
scheme to provide the large number of skilled airmen who were 
necessary for the air offensive on Germany. Agreements for the 
multi-million dollar Plan were signed late in 1939 between Britain, 
Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. The broad reaches 
of the Dominion, far from the war fronts, served as a training 
ground. Air bases, schools and workshops were erected across 
Canada, and a flow of candidates came there from many parts of 
the Commonwealth. More than half the men trained under the 

381 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-5 

Plan, however, were Canadians. The whole complex scheme was 
a monument to Commonwealth co-operation. It showed that the 
member-nations could work closely and effectively together in a 
fellowship that was real, however slight its formal bonds. 

Indeed, the whole conduct of the war showed once more the 
value of Commonwealth ties in meeting a common danger. The 
member-nations, thanks to their common background, ideas and 
institutions, agreed on the greatest questions. The passage of the 
war actually made formal Commonwealth ties even slighter if 
that were possible. Thus full-scale Imperial Conferences ceased, 
and there was no return to an Imperial War Cabinet. But this in 
part was due to the very success of informal relations. Modern 
communications by air and radio made Continuous consultation' 
a reality, although not in the old sense of framing a joint imperial 
policy. Instead Commonwealth ministers and officials could meet 
and consult with one another as need arose. This development, 
together with the practice of holding Commonwealth prime minis- 
ters' meetings, made the old formal Imperial Conferences seem 
unnecessary. 

Yet while nothing essential was lost in Canada's relation to 
Britain and the Commonwealth, major changes occurred in Can- 
ada's relations with the United States. The war, in fact, saw in- 
creasingly close connections between the United States on the one 
hand and Britain and the Commonwealth on the other. But 
Canada's ties with the republic grew especially strong because of 
their common need to defend North America. An attack on one 
was a threat to the other. That realization led to the signing of the 
Ogdensburg Agreement between Canada and the United States in 
the bkck year of 1940, by which a Permanent Joint Defence Board 
was established to plan the protection of North America. Here 
was a binding military alliance without limit, and one of weighty 
significance. Under the Board joint Arctic defences were planned 
against a northern attack by air. Chains of Canadian-American 
air bases and radio posts were stretched across the northern wastes* 

382 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

The Alaska Highway was pushed through the wilderness for 1,500 
miles, from the c end of steel' in British Columbia across the Yukon 
to Alaska, in order to link that outflung region to the south by 
land. This measure seemed particularly necessary when the Jap- 
anese invaded the islands off the Alaskan coast in 1942. Besides 
these joint military measures, the Hyde Park Agreement of 1941 
tied the Canadian and American economies much closer together, 
and after the United States had entered the war there was a good 
deal of joint planning of production on a continental basis. These 
were significant steps for the future, from which there could be 
no easy thoughts of return. They were an expression of the closely 
entangled interests of the two neighbouring North American na- 
tions in a dangerous new world. Canada had to seek the fullest 
co-operation with the United States, while trying still to preserve 
the Canadian identity in North America that she had struggled so 
long to establish. 

The Canadian war effort produced equally significant develop- 
ments in industry and finance. The First World War had left 
Canada a vigorous industrial nation; the Second made her 
fourth in world importance. Mining and steel-making, tank- and 
shipbuilding, machine and automobile production were all greatly 
expanded, until by the close of the conflict Canada's industrial 
exports much exceeded her staple products in value. Hydro- 
electric development was striking: in Quebec it led to a great new 
aluminium industry, whose raw materials came by sea from Green- 
land and British Guiana. In northern Ontario, similarly, wartime 
needs led to major developments in iron-mining, and, on the 
prairies, to a successful search for oil which brought on a post-war 
oil boom. Meanwhile the West was flourishing again under heavy 
wartime demands for food. Shipbuilding and war traffic brought 
prosperity to the Maritimes and to British Columbian ports. 
Quebec and Ontario factories worked to capacity. So at last did 
the railways. In fact, they were overloaded. 

The increased wealth of Canada produced twelve billion dollars 

383 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~50 

in victory loans and war taxes to finance the war effort. The 
nation was able as well to lend to Britain during and after the 
war sums that in proportion to population greatly exceeded United 
States loans. Canada, moreover, did not take American Lend- 
Lease aid but carried out her own Lend-Lease system of supply- 
ing war materials worth four billion dollars to her allies under the 
name of Mutual Aid. And though the wartime boom mounted, as 
in the First World War, this time an efficient overall system of 
government controls and rationing kept price levels down most 
successfully until the conflict was over. Nevertheless Canada 
faced internal troubles during the struggle. As before they largely 
revolved about the question of conscription. 

2 War and Post-War Politics 

In the First World War Canada had had eight million people 
and had placed over 600,000 of them under arms. In the Second 
War, with twelve million, she raised armed forces of over a million 
men and women. This in itself was a substantial achievement, 
when so great an industrial expansion was going forward, and 
especially since most of it was accomplished on a volunteer basis. 
But inevitably the conscription question arose once again. Since 
Canada's chief allies applied national conscription from the start, 
her own efforts appeared to fall short of total war. When the 
neighbouring United States entered the conflict with full conscrip- 
tion, Canadians questioned their own case more, although they had 
already been at war for over two years. In addition, those whose 
sons, husbands and relatives were fighting overseas naturally re- 
sented the thought that other Canadians could escape the same 
hard burden. Yet, whether it be reason or excuse, the presence of 
French Canada again made conscription a dangerous and des- 
tructive measure in a country composed of two such distinct 
peoples. 

The French Canadians accepted the Second War and a large- 
scale war effort far more fully than they had the First. For them 

384 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-5 

to forget their old resentment at being swamped by the English- 
speaking majority in 1917 was not easy. But in general the French 
Canadians showed a new willingness to depart from their isola- 
tionism. They overthrew the nationalist Duplessis government in 
Quebec and put in a Liberal administration; they followed the 
lead given by Ernest Lapointe, King's chief French Canadian 
lieutenant, in his appeal for national unity; and they volunteered 
for military service in larger numbers than in the First War. Still 
they were determined not to have conscription, which had become 
for them more a symbol of English-Canadian domination than a 
plain question of war policy. Indeed, King and Lapointe had 
largely gained the support of French Canada in their appeals for 
national unity in the war by the promise that the Liberal party 
would not introduce conscription. 

When the war took its grave turn with the fall of France, how- 
ever, the realization grew that Canada could not escape with only 
a partial effort. Freedom would not come cheaply. English- 
speaking Canada was already supplying the greater number of 
troops and it now began to call for conscription. This demand was 
readily taken up by the Conservative party. The Conservatives 
had already lost a wartime election in the spring of 1940, thanks 
partly to their continued weakness in Quebec. They had little to 
lose in French Canada by pursuing their old policy of conscrip- 
tion, and much to gain in the rest of the country. The King 
government took strong steps to expand the war effort but still 
sought to head off the conscription cry by enacting compulsory 
military service for home defence only. This measure somewhat 
quieted the conscriptionist demand without arousing French Can- 
ada too far, because the critical question for the French was con- 
scription for overseas service. Yet the American entrance into the 
war on the basis of conscription swelled the demand in Canada 
again. It grew so powerful that in April, 1942, a national plebe- 
scite was held on the question, in order to see whether the Liberal 
government should be released from its pledge not to introduce 

385 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5 

conscription. The question as put to the voters was skilfully 
worded so that the government merely asked whether it should be 
left free to bring in compulsory service if necessary. A large 
majority voted c yes', in a sharply racial division; there was an 
almost solid French Canadian 'no'. King had still avoided the 
final issue, pleasing neither side, but leaving both in a mood of 
grumbling acceptance of his indefinite policy. 

In the autumn of 1944, however, when the Canadian losses in 
Europe began to mount, the problem of securing sufficient rein- 
forcements to keep the army up to strength loomed larger and 
larger. English Canada would wait no longer. Colonel Ralston, 
the Minister of Defence, insisted on conscription as utterly neces- 
sary for the army. When King accepted his resignation the crisis 
reached a peak. The Prime Minister still delayed, making every 
effort to find reinforcements on a volunteer basis. Then, as he 
knew he must in the final emergency, he gave way to the English- 
speaking majority. Sixteen thousand home-service conscripts were 
ordered overseas as replacements. Quebec cried out angrily. The 
racial crisis of 1917 had apparently repeated itself, the tragic result 
of Canada's greatest internal problem and her great external need. 

But would the racial storm continue? Strangely enough, it did 
not. In the special session of parliament that was then called, the 
government lost Quebec votes temporarily, but the great majority 
of them soon returned to the support of the ministry in the House 
of Commons. Not that French Canada had come to approve 
of conscription; it simply realized it could not hope for a more 
favourable government than that of Prime Minister King. He had 
held out against compulsory service to the last and had yielded 
finally to the necessity of majority rule. He had not pressed 
conscription forward as had Borden. In consequence, there was 
less trouble in Quebec over the drafting of men overseas than 
there had been in the First War, although King and Canada were 
most fortunate in that the war, and hence the need of replace- 
ments, ended as soon as it did the next year. 

386 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~50 

The Liberal leader had saved both national unity and his party. 
Never had his policy of delay and indefiniteness been used more 
cleverly nor to so constructive an end. It was not a noble policy; 
but given the problems of Canada it was a highly successful one. 
Nor had it been easy. Behind tie appearance of drifting before 
the currents of public opinion lay King's cool determination, 
careful calculation, and the readiness to act when the right mom- 
ent came. Perhaps Mackenzie King's handling of the conscription 
question was his greatest achievement in politics. 

Largely because of his success in avoiding a racial division, the 
ageing Liberal leader won victory once more in the general 
election which he called in the summer of 1945. The C.C.F. and 
Social Credit still had only a limited appeal, while the Conser- 
vatives had not made the gains that they had expected from their 
conscriptionist stand. It was in vain that they had acquired a new 
and respected leader in John Bracken, former premier of Mani- 
toba, and under his influence had changed their name to 'Pro- 
gressive Conservatives' and adopted a full programme of social 
measures. There was a feeling that the Liberal government had 
proved its efficiency in the war effort, and the Conservative social 
programme was not so different as to win the voters away from 
the experienced Liberals, 

The Conservatives under George Drew had, indeed, replaced 
the Liberals in the great English-speaking province of Ontario 
during the war, while in Quebec in 1944 French Canada safely 
released its racial feelings by turning out the Liberal provincial 
government and restoring Duplessis and the Union Nationale. 
Yet the Liberal party was undoubtedly still in the ascendant in 
Canada. The C.C.F. which had advanced during the war, be- 
coming, for example, the official opposition in Ontario as well as 
in British Columbia, slipped back to some extent in the post-war 
years. In the general wave of prosperity that continued without 
very much break from the wartime period, Canadians on the whole 
did not seem interested in socialism. It was only in Saskatchewan 

387 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~50 

that the C.C.F. achieved striking success. Coming to power in 
that province in the war years, it continued in office afterwards. 
Under Premier Douglas socialist measures were carried as far as 
seemed possible within a single province, although they stopped 
far short of full socialism. 

During the war the problems of federalism and sectionalism 
greatly declined. The Dominion government was able to exercise 
wide powers in the wartime emergency, and patriotism and pros- 
perity both helped to weaken sectional forces. In 1941 it is true, 
a Dominion-Provincial Conference held to consider the Rowell- 
Sirois recommendations had foundered on the opposition of 
wealthy Ontario and British Colombia, which felt they had little 
to gain, and Alberta, which wanted to go its own Social Credit 
way. But temporary tax-renting agreements somewhat as the 
Report proposed were reached between the Dominion and 
provinces for the war period. Dominion unemployment insur- 
ance was also carried into effect. After the war, moreover, 
there was no swift return to a formal state of peace, for no peace 
treaty was signed with Germany. Hence the broad wartime 
federal powers could still operate. Furthermore, the steady 
post-war boom worked against any strong revival of sectionalism, 
while rising new international dangers again took most of 
Canada's attention as the mid-century mark drew near. 

When the wartime tax arrangements came to an end in 1946, 
the Dominion was able to make new five-year agreements with 
each of the provinces except Ontario and Quebec. Thus the scheme 
of redistributing the financial load could be carried out, for the 
time being at least, in the very parts of Canada where it was most 
required. And, as time went on, almost all the provinces seemed 
willing to reach a fuller, more permanent settlement of the 
financial question with the Dominion. Meanwhile, further 
changes were occurring in the constitutional field. Canadian citi- 
zenship, apart from the general status of British subject, was es- 
tablished in 1947 as a natural accompaniment of nationhood. 

388 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~50 

Appeals to the Privy Council were abolished in 1949 and it was 
enacted that at least in matters relating wholly to federal powers 
the Dominion parliament could itself carry through amendments 
to the constitution. The right to make amendments that would 
affect provincial powers still remained with the Imperial parlia- 
ment, but Dominion-provincial discussions were set afoot to 
try to reach agreement on how this too might be transferred to 
Canada. 

Following the war, federal social legislation advanced with the 
adoption of a system of family allowances, although the steady 
rise in living costs after wartime price controls were removed 
offset the value of these payments to the Canadian people. 
Immigration meanwhile began again, both of European dis- 
placed persons and immigrants from Britain, some of them 
brought by air. Another immigrant tide was swelling, which 
would bring nearly half a million new citizens within six years 
of the war. 

In 1948 Mackenzie King retired from political life, an unde- 
feated champion, indeed. The new prime minister, Louis St 
Laurent, was a leading French Canadian lawyer who had only 
entered politics during the war, when he became Minister of 
Justice on Lapointe's death. After serving briefly at the close of 
the war as Secretary of External Affairs, St Laurent was chosen 
by a Liberal convention in 1948 to be King's successor as party 
leader. This choice of a distinguished French Canadian, fluent 
in both tongues, seemed to recall the great days of Laurier Liber- 
alism. In the election that followed in 1949, St Laurent and the 
Liberals were easily returned over their nearest rivals, the Pro- 
gressive Conservatives, now led by George Drew. The new 
government, however, had to face an ever-darkening world situa- 
tion, and when Mackenzie King died in July, 1950, perhaps his 
passing marked the end of another era for Canada. 



389 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

3 Canada in a Two-Power World 

The coming of the Second World War had made dear to Cana- 
dians the ineffectiveness of a policy of no commitments in the 
modern world. No nation could stand aloof. If it did not share 
in making world decisions, world decisions would be forced on it 
in any case; the war had proved that. Hence Canada's best course 
was to try to influence world decisions along lines that she wanted, 
as far as it was possible for a small nation to do. A world organi- 
zation promised the best means for smaller nations to be heard, 
and though the League had failed, a new association firmly based 
on the principle of collective security still seemed the only hope 
for a lasting world peace. 

During the war Canada had gained a good deal of experience in 
world affairs. The need for maintaining a joint Allied war effort 
had brought her into close touch with Britain and the United 
States through 'combined boards' of all three countries in London 
or Washington, which dealt at the highest levels with such matters 
as military and naval strategy, allied food resources, air transport, 
prisoners of war, and so on. Two great conferences of allied war 
leaders had been held on Canadian soil at Quebec in 1943 and 
1944. In addition Canada had shared with Britain and the United 
States in the secret development of atomic energy. She held one 
of the world's chief supplies of uranium, the raw material for 
atomic power, deep in her North West Territories and built one 
of the few atomic piles to study the new energy at Chalk River, 
Ontario. 

Besides these close contacts with her two mgin allies, Canada 
had also developed contacts with many other allied nations, China 
and Russia, for instance, through a much expanded Department 
of External Affairs. Her Mutual Aid administration also trans- 
ferred war materials to these countries in the general interest. 
There was nothing narrowly national in this except that Canada 
had come to realize that the truest national policy was the building 
of a strong and healthy free world in which she could live at 

390 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

peace. It was in accord with this policy that at the close of the 
war she became a leading member of UNRRA, the United Nations 
Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, whose massive task it 
was to restore and rebuild those countries torn by war. 

Canada became a leading member of UNRRA because she was 
one of the few nations at the war's end with a large surplus of food 
and industrial goods for the work of restoration. This fact raised 
a problem in Canada's newly active relations with the world. Was 
she a small or a great power ? Beside the militarily strong and 
well-populated states like the Soviet Union, the United States, or 
Britain, she was obviously small and could not exert much influ- 
ence. But in terms of her major war effort, her world importance 
as a source of food and materials, and her industrial and financial 
strength, Canada was plainly not small. She was, in effect, a 
middle power, and one of the objects of Canadian foreign policy 
now became to win recognition of that fact. Other middle 
powers like Australia or Brazil also made similar efforts to win 
that standing. 

The question came up at the San Francisco Conference of 1945, 
held to draft a plan for a world organization. This solemn meeting 
to create 'one world' produced the Charter of the United Nations, 
the new international body that was to keep the peace and protect 
human rights. Canada's delegation to San Francisco included 
Prime Minister King and the leaders of the opposition parties. 
Their work at San Francisco might seem to recall that of Borden 
in Paris in 1919, except that this time Canada had already won the 
rights of nationhood, and that this time, also, the peace treaties 
with the defeated enemy powers were to be left for the future 
where they long remained, unsettled and unsigned. 

At the Conference Canada made efforts to have the status of 
middle powers recognized. Thus it was that, in various special 
international authorities set up under the United Nations, Canada 
was given a leading role when her importance warranted it. Hence, 
for example, she became a principal member of the Atomic Energy 

391 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

Commission, the World Food Board, and the International Civil 
Aviation Authority, whose headquarters were established in Mon- 
treal. But in the United Nations itself, whose first concern was 
world security, Canada could not hope to rank with the great 
powers on whom world peace depended. She did not therefore 
gain a permanent seat in the all-important Security Council, 
although in 1947 she was elected for a two-year term to one of the 
non-permanent seats. 

This arrangement of the Security Council with a few per- 
manent members exposed a new and unpleasant truth about the 
post-war world. World peace really depended on a few great 
powers, and on two above all: the United States and the Soviet 
Union. Britain still exercised an important influence in world 
affairs, but by the end of the Second World War it was clear that 
final power had passed from western European countries to the 
two great land-masses, the American and Russian, with their large 
populations and extensive resources. Canada found herself in 
what was basically a two-power world. 

The Second World War had much advanced Canada's own 
power, international standing and sense of responsibility. Yet 
more important was the fact that Canada had come of age in a 
cold new world, where Britain's power could no longer serve to 
protect her, where even the broad oceans could not ensure security 
against air attack and the atom bomb, and where the Arctic wastes 
were no longer an impassable barrier but a frontier to be defended. 
Instead of having her back securely to the Pole, Canada found 
herself looking north on the air highways of the world. The short- 
est air routes between the main continents crossed her Arctic 
regions. This meant new stature for Canada, but it also spelt 
new dangers. 

The dangers seemed to grow as the United Nations did not 
fulfil its early hopes and as the world gradually divided into two 
huge camps of communism and democracy, led by the Soviet 
Union on the one hand and the United States and Britain on the 

392 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

other. Canada lay in an exposed position between the two main 
rivals. As quarrels grew in the United Nations over the Soviet 
Union's use of the veto power to block action by the Security 
Council, as crises repeatedly appeared in Europe and the Far 
East, or in Palestine and the Arab lands, Canada faced world 
problems of utmost gravity. She still could not decide these prob- 
lems. But she had to use her influence on them in any way 
possible, and particularly at the United Nations in trying to re- 
move international trouble spots. Beyond this, however, it was 
necessary to strengthen the defences of the free world. Hence 
Canada took a leading part in forming the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization in 1949, which built on the old North Atlantic 
Triangle to include western European nations in a pact for the 
joint defence of the Treaty partners. Canadian rearmament began, 
and military supplies were sent to Treaty countries. 

In this two-power world, Canada found herself tightly linked 
as well with the United States in the common defence of North 
America. The die had already been cast by the Ogdensburg Agree- 
ment of 1940, but in any case, since there was no thought of siding 
with Russian communism in Canadian minds, Canada was com- 
mitted by position, inclination, and a need for protection to the 
United States. At the same time the common ideas and interests 
of Britain and the United States, the common stake that they and 
the Commonwealth had in a free world, also drew Canada's Com- 
monwealth partners together with the American republic. In a 
vague and general, but real, way the difficult new two-power era 
was bringing the whole English-speaking world more closely to- 
gether than it had been since the American Revolution. 

Nevertheless, since Canada was largely and even basically bound 
to American policy, she had to make her own world views plain as 
never before; for her great neighbour tended to take the smaller 
northern country for granted and often assumed that their inter- 
ests were wholly the same. But Canada still had her own identity 
to preserve and did not necessarily believe that American policies 

393 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

were correct, though she might have to back them in the last 
analysis. It was necessary, therefore, for Canada still to shape her 
own course, to take her own military responsibilities, and on 
occasion to remind some American authorities that she was a 
nation with her own mind to make up. 

In this effort, two great world associations allowed Canada to 
stand outside the pull of American foreign policy, the United 
Nations and the Commonwealth. In the first she worked for 
mediation and compromise, and by no means simply followed an 
American line. Through the second she kept up informal 'family' 
consultations with Commonwealth countries, sought through 
loans and agreements to restore Britain's financial strength, which 
was still so vital to Canadian trade, and joined in the Common- 
wealth Conference at Colombo in 1950 to draft plans for develop- 
ing the backward lands of Asia in order to save them from 
communism. But in these Commonwealth matters Canada was 
working outside the United States, not against her. Indeed, her 
hopes in the two-power world turned on the United States, the 
Commonwealth, and the United Nations all put together. 

Yet, as the mid-century mark drew near and the vital question 
was undoubtedly whether peace and a free world could be pre- 
served the relations of Canada with the United States revived 
historic arguments at home. Some Canadians dusted off the old 
labels 'colonial* and 'imperialists' for those in their midst who 
freely criticized American policies that affected Canada. Others 
warned again of the threat of American dominance, as the United 
States loomed ever larger. It was striking how Canadian history 
tended to repeat itself, even in the two-power world. 

4 Canada Gains a Nezu Province 

On i April 1949, the original plans for the Union of British 
North America were finally fulfilled. Newfoundland joined Cana- 
dian Confederation. Thus ended a period of over eighty years since 

394 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

Newfoundland first rejected the Quebec Conference scheme, dur- 
ing which time the island had followed its own course of history, 
although still much influenced by Canada. It had built up its own 
proud identity, but serious weaknesses in Newfoundland's econo- 
my led it at last to merge itself in the larger nation of the mainland 
as the tenth province of the Dominion. 

In 1867 when the Dominion was formed, Newfoundland had 
a population of 142,000, some of it concentrated in St John's and 
other towns of the eastern Avalon peninsula, but most of it scat- 
tered in tiny fishing outports around the rocky coasts. The interior 
of the island was still almost unknown. Two problems remained 
from an earlier age to trouble Newfoundland's all-important fish- 
eries : the fishing monopoly of France on the western Trench 
shore 5 , which also blocked the effective use of that coast, and the 
more limited right of the Americans to fish in coastal waters. The 
first problem dated back to the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 and the 
second to the Treaty of Versailles of 1783. They both caused 
storms in Newfoundland politics, especially when the island's 
powers of responsible government seemed to be overridden by 
agreements reached between the imperial authorities and France 
or the United States. 

The first few years after 1867 were prosperous ones for New- 
foundland, as its anti-Confederation government strove to show 
that the island could, indeed, thrive on its own. Yet good times 
were largely dependent on a healthy fishery. Although sealing, 
whaling and lobster-fishing were also developed, the island was 
tied above all to the great cod catch; in fact, the word 'fish' simply 
meant cod to the Newfoundlander. Hence a poor run of cod 
catches or low world prices for the island sold most of its product 
abroad, especially in the West Indies and the Mediterranean 
could spell disaster for Newfoundland and strain the limited 
finances of its government. This set an enduring pattern for the 
island. The government, in order to lessen the total dependence on 
the fishery, would put money into new developments in good 

395 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5 

times, which then in bad times it could not afford to keep up; 
leading to a rising burden of public debt and, finally, to bank- 
ruptcy. 

As part of a policy of development, the government-backed 
Newfoundland Railway was begun in the i88o's, and a large dry- 
dock was opened in St John's in 1884 to improve on the fine 
natural advantages of that world port. Farming was encouraged 
as the railway opened up the land, but the small population made 
the railway costs heavy and, along with poor soil, limited the 
growth of farms. Meanwhile the Great Depression that had 
struck Canada also affected the island, lowering the world prices 
for its fish. Railway-building and other development produced 
brief flashes of prosperity, but in general, Newfoundland ceased 
to advance very rapidly. Then in the early 'nineties came a series 
of calamities. A great fire in St John's in 1892 destroyed the larger 
part of the city. Though the loss of life was not large, the cost of 
rebuilding was enormous. There was a poor catch in 1893, an ^ 
in 1894 a serious bank failure overturned the island's finances. 
Newfoundland was in deep distress. 

In this emergency the island considered Confederation with 
Canada once more, since it might no longer be able to afford inde- 
pendent responsible government. Generous aid from Canada in 
the St John's disaster promoted good feelings, which seemed to 
promise that Newfoundlanders would consider Confederation 
without the old suspicion that had worked so much against it in 
the i86o's. Yet in the Ottawa conference of 1895 the Dominion 
itself, pinched for money in the depression, would not meet New- 
foundland's financial terms. The Confederation talks fell through, 
and the island faced the future on its own once more. Fortunately 
the world trade revival after 1896 greatly improved Newfound- 
land's position. 

Improving conditions in the fishery were helped along by the 
settlement of the two old grievances of Newfoundland, the French 
shore and the American claims. In 1904 France gave up her 

396 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5O 

rights to land and dry catch on the western coast through an 
agreement with Britain whereby she gained a strip of territory in 
West Africa instead. This removed a serious trade rival from 
Newfoundland and also permitted the extension of the Newfound- 
land Railway to the western coast. In 1905 a dispute began over 
an island attempt to prevent American fishermen taking bait fish. 
It was settled finally by the International Court at the Hague in 
1910, which decided that the American fishing claims were an 
undue limitation of Newfoundland's right to command her own 
territory and resources. At last the island was in full control of 
its own fisheries. 

In the prosperous early years of the twentieth century, and 
largely under the capable prime minister. Sir Robert Bond, New- 
foundland enjoyed something like the Laurier boom in Canada. 
While the fisheries flourished and railway branch lines spread, 
valuable progress was made in lessening Newfoundland's c one- 
crop' dependence on fishing exports. Mining and lumbering pro- 
duced new wealth. The iron mines of Bell Island that reached out 
under the sea fed the Maritimes' steel industry. Lead, copper and 
zinc were mined in the interior. At Grand Falls, near the north- 
eastern coast, the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company 
began in 1909 to produce quantities of newsprint for Lord North- 
diffe's newspaper empire in Britain. Newsprint became a leading 
Newfoundland export, and the pulp and paper mills raised popu- 
lous modern towns at Grand Falls and later at Corner Brook on 
the west coast. 

The prosperity and new development still did not change the 
basic reliance on fishing, and led indeed to programmes of public 
works and social services which, though limited, were really be- 
yond the island's strength. Moreover, Newfoundland's vigorous 
efforts in the First World War left it at the end with a debt of 
nineteen million dollars and greatly inflated prices that quickly 
collapsed. Newfoundland had sent its men into British naval and 
land forces and suffered casualties at a greater rate than anv other 

397 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

Dominion. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment maintained by 
the island earned a gallant name at Gallipoli and at Beaumont- 
Hamel in 19165 where its strength was cut down in one day's 
action from 753 to 68. It was a fitting recognition of the island's 
war effort that it was afterwards raised to the rank of a full 
Dominion in the Commonwealth. But the heavy drain in men 
and money had ill-prepared the new Dominion for the future. 

Consequently, Newfoundland did not share to the full in the 
world prosperity of the 1920'$. The debt burden remained, rail- 
way costs increased, and the fisheries were affected by the decline 
of the world dried-fish market and the increasing competition of 
frozen fish produced by wealthier Canadian and American con- 
cerns. In 1927 came the award that finally settled the indefinite 
Quebec-Labrador boundary and gave Newfoundland a large in- 
land addition to Labrador in which vast iron resources would later 
be found. But in the I92o's Labrador was still only valuable to the 
island as a mainland coastal strip with whaling and fishing stations. 
It had a population of less than 5,000, a quarter of it Eskimo. 

The grim depression of the 'thirties struck Newfoundland far 
harder than Canada. World fish prices sank so low that New- 
foundland fishermen were flung on relief. Their boats rotted in 
harbour while a hard-pressed government tried in vain to feed 
the fishing people, keep the railways running., and meet the debt. 
Reduced to bankruptcy, the government in despair turned to 
Britain for aid. A Royal Commission was appointed, which 
recommended the suspension of Dominion status and a return to 
colonial control until the island could support itself again. In 
1934 responsible government was replaced by a Commission 
government appointed by Britain, consisting of three Newfound- 
landers and three Englishmen under a British governor. In return 
for this Commission rule under the imperial parliament, New- 
foundland received funds from Britain's taxpayers and began to 
recover from the worst stages of financial collapse. 

The colony was still far from self-supporting when the Second 

398 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

World War broke out, but this time Newfoundland did not main- 
tain its own separate forces and thus its contribution to the British 
and Canadian armed services did not cause the same drain. And 
the new conditions of this Second War gave Newfoundland great 
importance because of its position as that part of North America 
closest to Europe. The air age turned the island into a busy air- 
port, a centre for the air ferry services to Britain, a base for patrol- 
ling over the surrounding oceans. The extension of submarine 
warfare across the whole Atlantic made the port of St John's in 
particular a powerful naval base, where from 'Newfyjohn' the 
convoys approaching and leaving America received guidance and 
protection. The problems of North American defence also brought 
Canadian and American troops and money to the island. They 
built a chain of fortifications to guard this exposed corner of 
North America lest it might serve as a bomber base for an enemy 
attacking the continent. The British-American bargain of 1940, 
that gave Britain old but much-needed United States destroyers 
in exchange for naval bases, established the Americans at Argentia 
and other points in the island on ninety-nine year leases. At the 
same time Canada worked to build up the huge airports of Gander 
in the island and Goose Bay in Labrador. The war had changed 
the whole life and destiny of Newfoundland. 

At its close, the island was self-supporting at last, and prosper- 
ing nicely. Canadian and American money in Newfoundland, and 
the wartime demand for labour for military construction, had 
helped to create prosperity. So had heavy demands in mining 
and lumbering; and in the fishery, the whole catch could be sold 
at good prices. Furthermore, the building of filleting and fish- 
freezing plants adjusted the fishery to world competition. It was 
a stronger and healthier Newfoundland, with a large bank balance, 
that turned again in 1946 to the question of what to do with its 
government. 

In that year the British government called a popularly elected 
Convention in the island to consider some new form of repre- 

399 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

sentative government. But it soon became clear that the only 
choice in the Convention lay between independent responsible 
government or responsible government as a part of the Canadian 
union. The old plan of Confederation, never forgotten, was put 
forward again; for there were fears that the island would not in 
the long run be able to maintain its post-war prosperity and would 
not prove strong enough to stand alone. On the whole., the outport 
regions were most in favour of union with Canada. They looked to 
the wealthy federal government for marketing aids and social ser- 
vices that the island could not supply itself. They also hoped for 
useful subsidies in provincial fields such as educations which in 
Newfoundland had been but partly provided through Catholic, 
Methodist, and Anglican schools. On the other hand, St John's 
and the eastern towns opposed union because they feared that 
without the Newfoundland protective tariff larger Canadian firms 
would take over much of their business. 

The question of "Confederation or Responsible Government' 
was sharply debated in the island for over a year, while the fervent 
oratory of Joseph Smallwood, the Confederation leader, set the 
outports afire. The final result was a close popular vote in favour 
of Confederation at the referendum of July 1948, with the out- 
ports almost solidly on that side and St John's and its neighbour- 
hood as firmly on the other. A deep pride in Newfoundland's own 
past lessened any rejoicing over the victory of Confederation, even 
in unionist circles. Yet the new knowledge of Canada and Cana- 
dians acquired through wartime co-operation also decreased the 
old feelings of suspicion and strangeness. 

In December 1948, terms of union were signed in Ottawa, to 
come into eifect in April 1949. Newfoundland was granted size- 
able subsidies, which took into consideration its particular need 
of improved social services and its special financial problem. The 
new province received six members in the Canadian Senate and 
seven elected representatives in the federal House of Commons, 
and in addition, of course, its own provincial government. Pro- 

400 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~50 

vincial elections were held in the summer of 1949, and that 
autumn the first parliament in Newfoundland in fifteen years met 
in St John's under Premier Joseph Smallwood. The Smallwood 
government at once entered on a programme of road building, 
hospital improvement and tourist trade development. Newfound- 
land's new position in Confederation could not immediately be 
evaluated, but undoubtedly her 'fishing poor' of thfe outports 
proceeded to benefit. And Canada gained by the addition of 
this tenth province of great strategic importance and as yet 
undeveloped resources, especially in Labrador iron and hydro- 
electric power. Besides, the inclusion of over 300,000 staunch 
Newfoundlanders hi the Dominion provided another resource 
of no small value. 

5 The Life of a Maturing Nation 

By 1950 Canada was close to maturity; still young, still with 
vast empty regions and room for development, but much more 
like other adult western nations in her ways of life than a raw 
pioneer community. The old simplicity of the work of forest and 
field had been replaced by the highly complicated patterns of mod- 
ern industrial living. The typical Canadians were no longer the 
settlers and pioneers seeking new homes in the wilderness but 
farm-owners and wage-earners searching for security in a country 
that was already well built up. This did not mean that the people 
of Canada had ceased to look for broad horizons. They still remem- 
bered their past of nation-building and did not expect that process 
to stop. The 'true North, strong and free' was always at their 
backs. Even if it were only for a summer holiday, there were 
always the wilds of lake and forest at hand. There were still bush 
clearings in New Brunswick, hardy French Canadians pioneering 
in little colonies in the forests of the Shield, or new Canadians on 
frontier farms in northern Ontario's Clay Belt; and frontier settle- 
ment was still going on in the Peace river country of Alberta. The 
lure of the far North West or of the mighty Rockies continued to 

401 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5O 

beckon the mining prospector. There were colourful boom towns 
like Yellowknife and Eldorado in the North West Territories and 
unknown mountains and hidden valleys in the heart of British 
Columbia. The cowboys and ranchers of the western foothills or 
the fishermen of the rugged coasts were not mild white-collared 
citizens, and the northern bush flyer ranged as free as the 
coureurs-de-bois or the Nor'Westers had ever done. 

Yet most Canadians lived in a world of towns, factories, auto- 
mobile highways, and fenced-in farms. In the east the countryside 
had acquired an old, settled look with tall elms standing in close- 
cropped fields, lilacs sheltering the farmyards, and orchards 
rounding the gentle slope of hills. Even in the prairies the growth 
of groves of trees as windbreaks and the varying of crops began 
to alter the landscape. In the towns, the bustle of life, the electric 
signs, and the noisy traffic seemed much the same as in any large 
city of the United States or western Europe. The bigger cities with 
their towering skyscrapers looked about as prosperous as those 
below the border. Canada, apparently, had achieved material 
success. But was she succeeding in other ways? Were Canadians 
building in the realm of the mind and the spirit? 

To a large degree they were. Canada had advanced consider- 
ably in all the arts and sciences since Laurier's day. In the field 
of medicine, the discovery of insulin as a cure for diabetes was 
the work of two Canadians, Sir Frederick Banting and Dr Charles 
Best in the 1920*8. In scientific research Canada came to the fore 
in the Second World War, when her National Research Council 
became a partner of Britain and the United States in developing 
radar and the knowledge of atomic energy. Scientific education 
seemed well supported in Canadian universities. 

In the realm of the arts, Canadian literature had become much 
more analytical and self-critical since the rosy nationalism of the 
turn of the century, but this in itself was a sign of maturity. 
Poetry largely turned from the landscape to the people of Canada, 
to tell stories,- to deal with social problems and satire, the minds 

402 



THE MATURING NATION, 1939-50 

and emotions of individuals, the everyday world they lived in. 
The depression of the 'thirties, in particular, strengthened the 
mood of self-examination. E. J. Pratt, a Newfoundlander by 
origin, broke new paths in Canadian poetry, A. M. Klein, A. J. 
M. Smith, Dorothy Livesay and many others carried on the work 
in English-speaking Canada, and the same kinds of current moved 
among French-Canadian poets. 

In the novel, the writings of Frederick Philip Grove closely 
observed the problems of ordinary life in the West, Mazo de la 
Roche traced the history of a family in the rich Oakville country- 
side of southern Ontario in her 'Whiteoaks' series, while Morley 
Callaghan's novels caught the spirit of the cities. By the 1940'$ 
younger writers like Bruce Hutchison, Hugh MacLennan and 
William Mitchell were striving to express the essence of Canada 
and the Canadian scene; Hutchison on the Pacific coast, Mac- 
Lennan in Nova Scotia and Quebec, and Mitchell on the western 
prairies. Their efforts were the sign of a more mature nationalism, 
no longer so self-confident, but filled with a deeper consciousness 
of Canada. Again the same process was going on in French 
Canada. In 1916 a French novelist, Louis Hemon, wrote Maria 
Chapdelaine> which described French Canadian country life with 
great charm and simplicity; but in time there was a revolt against 
this romantic portrait, expressed, for example, in Ringuet's Thirty 
Acres (1938) or Roger Lemelin's The Town Below (1949), a novel 
of the poorer classes in Quebec city. 

In painting too, and sculpture, Canadians were making distinct- 
ive contributions. The work of the Group-of-Seven artists con- 
tinued across the 'twenties and 'thirties, and long was dominant; 
although in time their bold, graphic style came to seem not revo- 
lutionary at all, but almost the accepted way to paint in Canada 
which was not entirely good. In sculpture men like Alfred 
Laliberte and Walter Allward left their mark. The latter designed 
the magnificent Vimy Ridge memorial to the Canadian dead of 
the First World War, which was unveiled in 1936. In music, 

403 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5 

ballet, and drama Canadians were also active, although the people 
as a whole displayed a habit left over from colonial times, a prefer- 
ence for music and plays from outside and a tendency to think 
native Canadian products not worth too much attention. The 
stage did not thrive in Canada, though a strong amateur theatre 
movement and, in particular, the Canadian Broadcasting Com- 
mission provided valuable outlets for acting and writing talents. 

The Canadian Broadcasting Commission, which was first estab- 
lished in 1932, was in fact, one of the chief mediums for encourag- 
ing and spreading the work of Canadian writers. In this broad 
country with its small and scattered population radio played a 
great part in linking the regions together and making them con- 
scious of one another. Canada in radio adopted a typical com- 
promise between British and American practice by setting up a 
government broadcasting commission but permitting private local 
radio stations as well. Despite the attacks that a compromise is 
bound to meet from either side, the CB.C. proved a valuable 
instrument for national unity and national education. Its develop- 
ment gave further signs that Canadians were beginning to develop 
a culture of their own. 

Of course, the growth of any national culture was greatly weak- 
ened by the racial division in Canada, and by powerful influences 
from the United States. Canadians lived in surroundings much like 
those of the Americans, spoke the same language and lay on the edge 
of the vast American market. Hence, inevitably, when the anti- 
American feelings declined, books, magazines, radio programmes, 
motion pictures, and later television from the United States readily 
poured into Canada. The external features of Canadian life 
seemed to resemble American more and more. Canadians ate the 
same nationally-advertised breakfast cereals as the Americans, 
read the same kinds of newspapers, played the same kinds of sports, 
dressed and talked in much the same way. * Americanization' was 
discussed and deplored; in fact, in 1949 a Royal Commission was 
set up to study means of promoting a truly Canadian culture. 

404 



THE MATURING NATION, I939~5O 

Yet, while Americanization went on, differences continued. 
Canada, indeed., seemed to grow more conscious of herself. After 
all, she was rather a patchwork, made up of regions that had long 
been divided from each other and had often been in closer contact 
with Britain or the United States than with one another. Never- 
theless, a Canadian consciousness was growing. It could be seen 
on the C.B.C., in Canadian writing and art, in the Canadian uni- 
versities, and in the rise of a Canadian publishing world centred 
in Toronto. Canadians, to Europeans, might seem much like 
Americans perhaps on the basis that all foreigners, or in this 
case, North Americans, look alike. Both Canadians and Ameri- 
cans, however, sensed differences between themselves that were 
small but significant, extending sometimes even to dress and 
speech. 

At the root of these differences, besides the great fact of Quebec's 
presence in the centre of Canada, there was the fact that Canada 
still represented a middle ground between Britain and the United 
States in ideas and institutions. By the mid-twentieth century 
she was, as a North American nation, closer to the United States 
in a number of ways ; but she still preserved a British system of 
law and government. Furthermore, in comparison with the rich 
and restless republic, Canada was a cautious and conservative 
country: cautious because her path was harder, and conservative 
because of her closer bonds with the Old World and the stronger 
power of traditions brought from Britain and France. Other fac- 
tors that made for difference lay in Canada's continuing decision 
to stay within the Commonwealth, to remain linked with Britain, 
and to maintain the ties that helped to balance the pull of the 
United States. And finally, there was the thoroughly Canadian 
influence of the great north country, which was all her own. The 
North was a reservoir of national strength for the future, for new 
Canadian growth. All these things marked Canada off from the 
United States and gave her reason for her separate and still 
developing national identity. 

405 



CHAPTER 20 

CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

i The Mid-Century Boom 

During the nineteen-fifties the post-war boom in Canada rose 
to dazzling heights. New resources were developed rapidly and 
on a giant scale; the population jumped from not quite fourteen 
million to nearly eighteen million within the decade; and the rate 
of growth in national wealth and well-being seemed to give all 
Canada the bright glow of success. The boom, of course, was well 
under way before the 'fifties opened, after only a short period of 
business readjustment following the Second World War. It went 
on expanding with only brief lulls into 1957, and in some respects 
its passing was not fully plain until the beginning of the 'sixties. 
These mid-century years thus formed an era of exceptional ad- 
vance, though they also shaped grave problems for the future. It 
would take complex and detailed analysis to explain their high 
prosperity. Yet certain main contributing factors do stand out. 

First and foremost was a state of world trade that markedly 
favoured Canada. Her foodstuffs, raw materials, and manufac- 
tures were in wide demand for years after 1945, to help feed, 
re-stock, and rebuild the many countries that had been damaged 
or devastated by war. In particular, British recovery and Europe's 
resurgence under the American-sponsored Marshall Plan pro- 
vided ready markets for Canadian goods, while the fact that the 
German and Japanese economies had been shattered meant that 
two large industrial competitors were temporarily out of the 
running. As a result, Canada's exports, by which the country 
must basically live, enjoyed an almost open field around the 
world. 

Second, Canada had already greatly developed her producing 
and manufacturing capabilities during the Second World War, 

406 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

and at the same time her people had piled up savings in that 
period when ordinary goods were scarce. Hence there was a big 
demand waiting to be filled at home when peace returned and the 
means became available to fill it. Consequently, Canadian pro- 
duction was converted from war to peacetime purposes with 
surprisingly little letdown, certainly without the sharp post-war 
depression that many economists had feared. Government mea- 
sures to re-establish returning soldiers and enlarge social welfare 
services (in part, to offset the depression that did not come) 
probably also served to 'prime' the economy, and to set off the 
great post-war buying spree that ran on through the flush times 
of the 'fifties. 

Third, there was the new wealth created by the opening up of 
more and more of Canada's natural resources in this era of strong 
world demand. For example, the tapping of new oil reserves in 
Alberta in 1947 did much to launch a soaring increase in 
petroleum and natural-gas development that made many more 
jobs and provided more varied products for Canada to market. 
It was notable that these advances particularly affected forest 
and mineral industries. While in the years 1926 to 1929 farm 
products had formed more than half of Canadian exports, by 
the period 1951 to 1954 forest and mineral products had come 
to hold first and second place respectively. Still, western wheat, 
which had once been Canada's leading export, did benefit from 
good post-war harvests and ready overseas markets that helped 
erase the farmers' bitter memories of drought-ridden and de- 
pressed pre-war years. 

Fourth, and highly significant in the long run, was the flow of 
foreign capital into the country, to invest not only in developing 
raw materials but also in manufacturing. It was only natural that 
foreign investments should flow in, since prosperous Canada 
offered wide opportunities for rich returns, and had so many 
valuable resources still waiting to be exploited. Moreover, the 
governments and people of Canada generally welcomed the influx 

407 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

of capital, because it enabled large productive enterprises to be 
undertaken that they could not have financed themselves. The 
money, however, came chiefly from the United States, which 
needed new sources of basic materials close at hand to keep up its 
own high rate of growth, and which had long held many interests 
in the Canadian market. One result was to make the Canadian 
economy increasingly dependent on the American. Another was 
to lengthen and continue the boom in Canada. For when 
Canadians in the flush of wealth began spending more abroad 
than they were selling, the inflow of American money balanced 
the national accounts and kept up the good times. This, of 
course, meant that Canadian prosperity was increasingly riding 
on outside capital, while a massive problem of debt was being 
built up for the future. 

Finally, but still important, there was the remarkable rise in 
Canada's population during the mid-century years. Much of 
this was due to immigration. By 1956 over a million immigrants 
had entered Canada since the war, and nearly two million had 
arrived by the start of the nineteen-sixties. Some still came for 
political reasons, uprooted as they had been by Nazi military 
tyranny or harried by the ruthless power of Communism in 
post-war eastern Europe: for instance, Hungarians who fled 
their country when their anti-Communist uprising of 1956 
failed. But more came to escape the drab austerity of Europe 
after the war, and to find new prospects in rapidly expanding 
Canada. Among them were Dutch, Germans, Estonians, and 
Poles. About one-third of the total arrived from Britain and 
another third from Italy - although proportions varied from year 
to year. 

One evident result was to enlarge the non-British, non- 
French segment of the Canadian population. True, most of the 
European immigrants tended to associate themselves with the 
English-speaking Canadian community, thereby keeping French 
Canada still decidedly in the minority. It would be years more, 

408 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

nevertheless, before immigrants of many tongues and cultures 
were fully integrated with their new surroundings. For the 
present, they had made Canada an obviously more cosmopolitan 
country. In cities like Toronto and Montreal, large close-knit 
foreign-language communities emerged to add colour and variety, 
as well as to pose new problems in Canadian life. New Canadians 
also brought with them valuable knowledge, skills, and more 
capital. They further added to the labour force, and helped to 
keep up the vigorous home demand for goods. 

Immigration, however, was only partly responsible for Canada's 
big population increase. It was caused as much or more by a 
high wartime and post-war birth-rate: Canadians were simply 
raising larger families. This increase alone would inevitably 
have spurred on other developments, because of the ever-larger 
numbers that had to be fed, housed, and provided with goods 
and services. More than that, it helped produce a striking 
expansion of cities. Both native Canadians and immigrants flocked 
to the booming urban factories, and to the expected comforts and 
excitements of city life. Urbanization, the crowding into towns 
with all its attendant problems, became one of the outstanding 
features of the mid-century boom. Skyscrapers and apartment 
blocks shot up; suburbs sprawled out, eating up fertile country- 
side; traffic threatened to choke the towns and impelled costly 
highway, subway, and expressway construction. To cope with 
the complex problems of managing these ungainly new urban 
'agglomerations', a new level of governmental authority was set 
up over Toronto and its suburbs in 1954- metropolitan govern- 
ment, which largely pioneered for similarly troubled Canadian 
cities. 

The impressive growth in the main Canadian centres of the 
south must not hide the way in which frontiers in the north were 
steadily pushed back during the boom years. In order to provide 
warning against air and missile attack on North America from 
across the Pole, chains of radar bases, radio-stations, and weather- 

409 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

stations were strung across the Arctic and sub- Arctic wilderness. 
Their establishment meant the opening of new far-northern air- 
fields, the construction of supply depots, houses, and sometimes 
veritable settlements, in areas where everything from bulldozers 
to building timber might have to be flown in. By 1959, the 
Distant Early Warning or DEW Line of radar posts stretched 
across the top of the continent. In the eastern Arctic, Frobisher 
Bay was developed as a main Canadian base. In the western 
Arctic, Aklavik, the port on the Mackenzie river, was moved to 
a completely new site, while traffic mounted on the great river 
route, and on the Mackenzie Highway built to connect it with 
transportation systems to the south. Still farther north, ice- 
breakers of the Royal Canadian Navy probed for shipping lanes 
through the frozen waters of the Arctic Archipelago; oil-pros- 
pecting reached into the distant Queen Elizabeth Islands; and a 
permanent weather-station was established at the very tip of 
Canada's Arctic territory at Alert Bay, beyond 82, north latitude. 

In the desolate interior of Labrador-Ungava, enormous iron- 
ore deposits were opened up in the early 'fifties to supply steel 
mills in Canada and in the United States, whose own mid- 
continent fields were beginning to show signs of depletion. Rails 
were laid from the port of Sept lies, on the Lower St Lawrence, 
three hundred and sixty-five miles northward to the newly built 
mining town of Schefferville, while the abundant hydro-electric 
power resources of Grand Falls on the Hamilton river were 
tapped to the benefit of both Quebec and Newfoundland. On the 
other side of the continent, up the mountainous coast of British 
Columbia, an equally gigantic project to produce aluminum also 
brought another new industrial community into being, the 
planned city of Kitimat. This whole enterprise involved revers- 
ing the flow of a river inland beyond the Coast Range and 
tunnelling it under the mountains, in order to obtain the great 
amounts of hydro-electric power needed in aluminum refining. 

These leaps forward in iron and aluminum production, two of 

410 




THE ST LAWRENCE SEAWAY 




TORONTO IN THE NINETEEN-SIXTIES 




A PEACEFUL STRETCH OF CANADIAN COUNTRYSIDE 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

the vital ingredients of modern industrialism., were manifestly 
important aspects of resource development in Canada during the 
boom years. Uranium, the source of atomic energy, also played 
a prominent part. It was already being produced at the Eldorado 
mine on Great Bear Lake, taken over by the government in 1944. 
But after the war, the demands of the United States atomic 
energy programme (not to mention Canada's own major atomic 
research centre at Chalk River near Ottawa) brought on a rising 
fever of activity in uranium prospecting and mining. New fields 
were opened on Lake Athabaska. Uranium City was laid out in 
northern Saskatchewan in 1951. Still bigger expansion came 
with the discovery of the Algoma field in Ontario, in 1953, above 
the northern shores of Lake Huron. Here another sizeable new 
town soon appeared, Elliot Lake, though its future largely rested 
on the continuance of uranium-ore contracts with the United 
States and Britain. 

The most striking resource development of all came in oil and 
natural gas. At the war's end, Canada had had only a small 
petroleum industry, chiefly for processing imported crude oils. 
By 1957 she supplied a major part of her own demand and was a 
large exporter besides - for if her own consumption had grown 
three times as large, her production had risen more than twenty- 
fold! This c oil revolution 5 really started in Alberta with the 
blowing in of the well Imperial No. 1 at Leduc in 1947. Hitherto 
Canadian oilfields, centred in Alberta, had been small and were 
declining in yield. The find at Leduc marked the start of a cycle 
of oil discoveries and proving of fields not only across Alberta 
but in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well, and on into the 
North West Territories. The whole western plains region became 
a real or potential oil and gas reservoir. Alberta remained by far 
the leading oil province, and benefited most from the new wealth 
and industry brought by oil, including the royalties that oil 
producers paid to its government. But all three Prairie Provinces 
gained from the cheap sources of fuel at hand for local industrial 

411 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

development or for sale outside. The farming West's old de- 
pendence on the grain crop was considerably reduced. 

To reach outside markets effectively, however, pipe-lines had 
to be built to carry oil and gas from western fields. By 1953 the 
world's longest oil pipe-line ran east from Edmonton to the 
petrochemical centre of Sarnia 1,765 miles away, and to the main 
Ontario market. The same year another line was opened across 
the western mountains to the Pacific, 718 miles from Edmonton 
to Vancouver, and soon extended into the United States. Gas 
lines came a little later: to Vancouver and the American border, 
to Emerson, Manitoba, and the border again, and eastward on to 
Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Montreal. But the arrangements 
made by the federal government with the Trans-Canada Pipe 
Lines Company (essentially to aid the firm in building long 
unprofitable sections of the gas line to the East) brought violent 
clashes in parliament in 1956. Their political significance will 
require more comment later. 

At any rate, during the 'fifties, the heavy outlay on these pipe- 
lines created new links in the national system of communications 
that bound Canada from east to west. The era equally witnessed 
a great increase in air services, and the coming of the age of 
television to Canada: the C.B.C. began transmission in 1952, 
and in 1958 completed a microwave relay system from coast 
to coast. Still further, the construction by federal-provincial 
agreement of a first-class Trans-Canada Highway (not opened 
until 1962) marked an era of outstanding improvement hi national 
communications that recalled the building of the C.P.R. or the 
other transcontinental railways during the Laurier boom. Perhaps 
the greatest single improvement in communications, however, 
came on the old east-west main line of Canada - on the St 
Lawrence-Great Lakes waterway that had been the backbone of 
Canadian development from the very start. 

Here, the decade of the 'fifties saw the realization of the long- 
sought project for a deep-water seaway through the St Lawrence 

412 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

system, one that would open the heart of the continent to the 
bulk of the world's shipping. Another main objective of the 
project was hydro-electric power, to be obtained at dams that 
would harness the upper St Lawrence and overcome its rapids. 
Much of the industrial heartland of central Canada depended on 
hydro-electricity. Despite further large-scale power develop- 
ments at Niagara Falls, on the Ottawa, and on neighbouring 
Quebec rivers, only the upper St Lawrence could promise a giant 
new supply of energy to the region. 

Opposition from United States seaboard interests, which feared 
the competition of a St Lawrence seaway, had blocked American 
signature of an agreement to permit joint Canadian- American 
development of the river through the rapids of its international 
section. But now American Great Lakes steel mills wanted 
Labrador ore easily available at their docks; American lake ports 
like Chicago sought direct ocean trade; and American power 
interests faced a shortage of their own hi neighbouring New York 
State. These influences, combined with the undoubted readiness 
of a thriving, confident Canada to build a seaway on her own side 
of the international section, managed to convince a hesitant 
United States Congress to endorse the project. 

The necessary American legislation was signed by President 
Eisenhower hi May, 1954. In Canada, the federal and Ontario 
governments were only waiting to begin digging. Five full years 
of construction followed, until at St Lambert, Quebec, in June 
of 1959, Queen Elizabeth and President Eisenhower together 
formally opened a St Lawrence seaway, twenty-seven feet deep, 
from the port of Montreal to Lake Erie. It was a fitting climax 
to a decade of momentous achievement. By now, however, the 
Canadian boom was fast disappearing. Already the problems it 
had produced were becoming quite as evident as its positive 
accomplishments. 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

2 Political Affairs from St Laurent to Diefenbaker 

Throughout the peak years of the boom, the Liberals remained 
in power at Ottawa under the leadership of Louis St Laurent. 
They had won a sweeping victory in the election of 1949. That 
of 1953 gave them a smaller but still substantial majority. No 
doubt the good times worked to the government's advantage; 
still, the Liberal regime actively identified itself with the vigorous 
national expansion, and also carried forward a moderate enlarge- 
ment of social- welfare measures. For example, it put through the 
Old Age Security Act of 1951, thus rounding out a federal social 
insurance structure that included family allowances, old-age 
pensions, and unemployment insurance, though not medical or 
hospital care. (A number of provinces, however, developed 
hospital insurance plans, and Saskatchewan would later add a 
government medical care system.) The St Laurent cabinet itself 
seemed to inspire public confidence. Leading ministers like 
C. D. Howe had had years of government experience during the 
long reign of Mackenzie King. The Secretary for External 
Affairs, L. B. Pearson, won wide admiration as Canada's spokes- 
man at the United Nations and in international affairs generally. 
And Prime Minister St Laurent, benign and courtly, - Good 
Uncle to the nation - seemed to represent the amicable concord 
and confident strength of Canada in her era of success. 

It was also true, however, that the rivals of Liberalism re- 
mained weak. The Conservatives led by George Drew had still 
not escaped from their reputation for repeated failure. Quebec 
still distrusted them, and there was little yet to swing significant 
numbers of Canadians elsewhere over to them. Certainly, they 
offered no real alternative to the Liberals, whose policy was 
essentially middle-of-the-road and far from radical. On the other 
hand, the programme of the socialist C.C.F., which had been 
largely shaped during the pre-war depression, had only limited 
appeal in a prosperous, contented Canada - especially when 
Liberals had been judiciously taking over and enacting small, 

414 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

soothing instalments of it for years. As for the followers of Social 
Credit, they remained a somewhat ineffectual fringe, with little 
strength beyond Alberta. 

Nevertheless, the opposition parties continued to hold firm 
bases outside federal politics in provincial spheres. Though 
Liberals dominated the Maritimes, and the French sectionalist 
Union Nationale controlled Quebec, the big province of Ontario 
was solidly under the Conservative government of Leslie Frost, 
while T. C. Douglas and the C.C.F. held Saskatchewan, and 
Ernest Manning and Social Credit ruled Alberta. Here, indeed, 
Social Credit had changed remarkably. The Manning govern- 
ment piled up surpluses (thanks largely to oil royalties), gave 
cautious, careful administration, and directed Social Credit more 
along the paths of right-wing conservatism than of the radical 
monetary theories of its early days. 

In fact, this newer and clearly right-wing version of Social 
Credit was soon successfully exported to British Columbia. 
There, in 1952, Social Credit forces under W. A. C. Bennett 
defeated the existing coalition government of Liberals and 
Conservatives. This coalition, however, had largely served to 
keep the C.C.F. out of power in the Pacific province; for socialism 
had been quite strong among the dock workers, lumbermen, and 
fishermen of the Coast. Accordingly, the Social Credit victory in 
British Columbia virtually replaced a weak and worn-out con- 
servative ministry with a new and vigorous one; another indica- 
tion that broadly throughout Canada the trend was to conserva- 
tive-minded governments of some sort - perhaps even in the only 
moderately socialist regime of Saskatchewan. At any rate, it 
was plain that all across booming Canada there was but limited 
desire for ardent left-wing enterprises. 

In the federal realm in the earlier 'fifties, the sense of national- 
ism seemed strong, and sectional, dividing issues made little 
stir. Certainly, French Canada still continued Maurice Duplessis 
in control of his Quebec provincial empire, from where he 

4*5 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

thundered periodically against the 'centralizing 5 menace of the 
Ottawa authorities. But his sectional regime had lost its aggres- 
siveness; it was growing old in office, and was really content to 
maintain the status quo. Moreover, French Canadians readily 
supported St Laurent as national leader, showing little objection 
to his government's policy of active Canadian participation in 
world affairs, and to decided military commitments abroad such 
as Mackenzie King would never have dared to make before the 
war. 

A further sign of nationalism was the appointment of the first 
Canadian Governor-General in 1952: Vincent Massey, a dis- 
tinguished diplomat and patron of the arts. He had, in fact, 
headed the Royal Commission on the Arts, Letters and Sciences, 
which reported in 1951 after an exhaustive inquiry into the state 
of Canadian culture. Its report led to the founding of the Canada 
Council to aid and develop national cultural activities. A valuable 
and historic social document, the Massey Report expressed 
Canada's desire to shape her own identity without being swamped 
by the mighty influence of the neighbouring United States. It 
clearly recognized that if Canada wanted to be a distinct nation 
culturally no less than economically or politically, she must pay 
for it. What, indeed, would be the worth of a costly transcon- 
tinental system of communications, or the gradual evolution of 
Canada to the rights of political nationhood, if there were no real 
Canadian culture and character to give meaning to the country's 
separate existence on the continent or in the world ? 

Everything changes. The mood of national unity and com- 
paratively good feeling that helped maintain the long-established 
Liberal regime could not last forever. The very strains produced 
by rapid growth^ together with growing evidence that all was not 
rosy in the boom, would surely have brought complaints and 
criticisms to trouble the national government. Still more than 
that, the country began to feel that the Liberals were growing 
complacent and out of touch with the people. Perhaps they had 

416 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

been in power too long. Nothing can be more destructive of 
political power than that feeling. In 1956 the Liberals' course in 
parliament seemed to give reason for it. 

The government sought to pass a bill giving effect to arrange- 
ments it had made for the construction of the natural-gas pipe- 
line from Alberta to the East. This multi-million-dollar measure 
was only introduced in parliament in the middle of May, although 
it had to be carried into law by June 7, if the government's agree- 
ment with Trans-Canada Pipe Lines was to be honoured. Ap- 
parently the ministry felt confident that it could push the bill 
through in this comparatively short time, because of the big 
Liberal majority in parliament. Yet the Pipe Lines Bill drew 
loud and determined opposition criticism, largely over the 
dominance of American interests in the company that would 
control this major Canadian undertaking. Faced with vigorous 
resistance, the government used the power of its majority to 
close off long debates and speed the bill forward. This allegedly 
high-handed use of 'closure' roused still more angry criticism. 
Opposition speakers charged that the cabinet was overriding the 
rights of parliament, that Liberals had grown arrogant and 
dictatorial after too many years in office. The bill passed in 
time; but only after the strongest government pressure and 
after violent protests in the House. Public sentiment swung 
significantly from the party in power to the 'underdog' opposi- 
tion forces. It was really the turning of the ways for Liberalism. 

The change was plainly shown in the subsequent election of 
1957. The Liberals took only 104 seats to the Conservatives' 109, 
while the C.C.K won 25 and Social Credit 19. Jt was not a clear 
victory for the Conservatives, but it was an obvious rejection of 
the Liberals; and it stood to reason that in this rejection a 
conservative-minded Canada would largely turn toward the 
official Conservative party, now led by John Diefenbaker of 
Saskatchewan. George Drew had had to resign as party leader 
because of ill-health, but Diefenbaker, a vigorous western Con- 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

servative who had played a prominent part in the struggle over the 
Pipe Line Bill, displayed an aggressive fighting spirit that made 
him a first-rate campaigner as he fierily denounced the sins of 
Liberal despots and bureaucrats. 

There were other causes, of course, for the Liberal defeat. 
Maritimers felt that their section had not shared sufficiently in 
boom developments, and that the government had not paid 
sufficient attention to the special problems of Atlantic Canada. 
Western farmers, who had been piling up wheat surpluses in 
recent years, thought that not enough was being done to dispose 
of their stored-up wheat. Furthermore, many industrial and 
financial interests in both East and West objected to the govern- 
ment's 'tight money' policy, which was designed to check 
inflation, but also seemed to be dampening business enterprise 
at a time when the boom was showing signs of slackening. 

In the next parliamentary session, the new Diefenbaker regime 
moved promptly to provide cash advances for stored wheat and 
grants for power developments in Atlantic Canada. It also 
increased old-age pensions and eased measures restricting the 
supply of money. This was something for nearly everybody. 
When Diefenbaker called another election in 1958, to try to 
obtain a firm majority for his government, the people responded 
beyond his wildest expectations in their desire to give the new 
ministry a proper chance. The Liberals, now led by Lester 
Pearson, were reduced to a mere 49, the C.C.F. took only 8 
seats, Social Credit none. And the Conservatives won 208 
places, the greatest sweep so far in Canadian history. 

The reconfirmed Diefenbaker government applied itself to 
more nation-building projects: more northern development, 
the huge South Saskatchewan dam and irrigation scheme, and 
more aid to improve the position of Atlantic Canada. Despite 
very heavy government expenditures that brought a succession 
of budget deficits, the Canadian economy did not seem to be 
growing at its former rapid pace. One increasingly grave prob- 

418 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

lem was unemployment, which rose even while many boom 
developments were still going forward. Part of the trouble was 
seasonal unemployment, a condition hard to avoid in a northern 
country like Canada where weather governs many activities, 
though here the government's winter-work programme offered 
help. Part of the unemployment was 'technological', the result 
of advanced modern methods of industrial production that 
stressed highly skilled labour, or even automation, and thus 
threw the less skilled out of work. Here government pro- 
grammes to teach unskilled workers new trades promised some 
assistance, though pockets of people in out-of-date industries - 
unwilling to move or too old or uneducated to be retrained 
effectively - remained an enduring problem. 

Yet much of the unemployment was due as well to Canadian 
producers losing some of their markets to foreign competitors. 
Japan and Germany had recovered, while Europe generally had 
revived so far that its efficient, modernized industries were now 
taking sales away from Canadians at home and abroad. In some 
fields Canadian products were in danger of pricing themselves 
out of the market, and were being undersold by more cheaply 
produced foreign goods. Perhaps Canada had been living too 
high, and beyond her actual means. 

The difficulties that faced the Diefenbaker government, there- 
fore, were largely not ones that it had created or could solve 
easily and in a short time. Yet its policies did not seem to 
achieve any truly significant success, and its opponents might 
argue that it did not squarely face up to fundamental problems. 
Instead, it went on much as if the boom really were continuing, 
priding itself on achievements that might be commendable but 
did not touch Canada's increasingly urgent needs: achievements 
such as the appointment in 1959 of the first French-Canadian 
Governor-General, General Georges Vanier, another distinguished 
diplomat, and the passage of a Canadian Bill of Rights in 1960. 
The latter was an American-model addition to the Canadian 

419 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

constitution that was not previously felt necessary in a British 
structure of law and parliamentary freedoms, and was limited 
only to rights under federal jurisdiction. 

In any case, it was natural that complaints would more and 
more be voiced against the government that had won overwhelm- 
ingly in 1958. Canada was so obviously slipping from boom 
into something approaching a depression. An unedifying quarrel 
in 1961 between the Governor of the Bank of Canada and the 
cabinet over national financial policy did not help Canada's 
standing in investment circles. Capital was ceasing to flow into 
the country. In fact, the movement now turned the other way. 
This threatened a critical fall in the value of the Canadian dollar, 
and beyond that would remove a major support of economic 
growth. 

The upsetting changes were soon reflected in politics. The 
Liberals were newly active. They regained power in Quebec in 
1960, a year after its old Union Nationale master, Duplessis, had 
died. The same year they came back in New Brunswick, which 
had only briefly turned Conservative, although the Conservatives 
still kept their other provincial gains of the 'fifties - Nova Scotia 
and Manitoba. Social Credit, moreover, began making headway 
in back sections of French Canada. There was renewed activity 
on the left as well, stimulated by the spread of economic troubles. 
The powerful Canadian Labour Congress decided to join with 
the C.C.F. in founding a broad party of the left backed by 
unionism, somewhat like the British Labour Party. The com- 
bination produced the New Democratic Party in 1961, under the 
leadership of 'Tommy' Douglas, who left another successful 
re-election in Saskatchewan in order to enter national politics. 
Consequently, when the Diefenbaker government decided to go 
to the country again in 1962, it was bound to be vigorously 
attacked, left, right and centre. 

The results showed how sharply the feelings of the people had 
changed since the last election. It was almost 1957 over again. 

420 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

This time the Conservatives had fallen drastically. They had 
still won the largest number of seats, 116, but they did not have 
an actual majority. The Liberals had climbed back to 100; the 
N.D.P. had taken 19 seats and, most surprisingly, Social Credit 
had obtained 30: a in Alberta, a in British Columbia, the rest in 
Quebec! The results were obviously indefinite. There would 
have to be another election. Still, thus far one fact seemed 
obvious: Canadians had revealed a striking loss of confidence in 
both the major parties in succession, without turning strongly to 
any other one. In short, as Canada's troubles had mounted, the 
votes of her people had largely been negative. No one party had 
yet inspired a broad, positive belief in its policies. 

Moreover, sectional differences had reappeared. Their sig- 
nificance, and that of forces generally that had produced the 
election results of 1962, would grow increasingly evident as the 
new decade proceeded. Hence they may best be dealt with when 
that period comes under discussion. It is sufficient now to say 
that Canada had entered the 'sixties politically confused and 
considerably disunited. 

3 External Relations in the Mid-Century Years 

Generally speaking, Canadian concerns in the world at large 
continued much as they had been in the immediate post-war 
years. There were three major fields of interest, though they 
often overlapped or fused together. First, concern for inter- 
national security and a peaceful, freely developing world - which 
largely shaped Canada's activities at the United Nations and in 
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Second, security and 
prosperity in North America -which essentially meant close 
relations with the United States, together with a firm defence of 
Canadian viewpoints. And third, continued ties with Britain 
and the Commonwealth of Nations - which involved important 
markets overseas and valuable contacts with emerging nations 
in Asia and Africa. 

421 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

Canada took a significant role in NATO, the North Atlantic 
Treaty Organization established by the free nations of western 
Europe and North America, in 1949, for joint defence against the 
threat of Soviet armed power, which had already subdued eastern 
Europe. A Canadian army brigade was stationed in Germany, 
with R.C.A.F. squadrons in support in France. Canadian naval 
units operated under NATO command, while airmen from 
NATO countries were trained in Canada. Canadians, however, 
had hoped to see the North Atlantic community developed as an 
economic and cultural partnership of peoples who had still more 
in common than their urgent need for joint defence. Hence 
Canada's representatives at NATO meetings had tried to stress 
the non-military aspects of the organization from the drafting of 
the Treaty onward. Although their success was limited, it did 
become evident that NATO partners in Europe were moving into 
closer economic co-operation, which might be the necessary first 
step toward a broader North Atlantic relationship. 

Canada was equally active in the United Nations. Here her 
stand against Communist fomenting of international disorders 
often took her to the same positions as her closest associates, the 
United States or Britain. But not necessarily so: basically, 
Canada followed her own course as she strove to reduce world 
tensions and uphold the principle of collective security through 
the United Nations. Hence she sent troops to the Korean War 
of 1950-3, in order to support the U.N.'s declaration that North 
Korea's attack on South Korea was aggression that must be 
halted - not to fight a largely American war against the Com- 
munist Chinese who backed their North Korean allies. In 
general, Canada won recognition in the U.N. as a nation with her 
own mind. This was all-important in enabling her to do valuable 
work in helping to ease clashes between Communist and non- 
Communist forces around the world. In 1954, for example, she 
was chosen along with Poland and India to supervise the armistice 
arranged in Indo-China between the Vietminh Communists and 

422 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

the non-Communist Vietnamese. Canadians had no direct 
interests in Indo-China or South-East Asia, but they knew that 
local wars anywhere threatened the security of the world. 

An equally difficult situation arose in the Middle East in 1956, 
where, after years of border strains and clashes, Israeli troops 
invaded Egypt, while British and French forces moved to re- 
occupy the Suez Canal which Egypt had just nationalized. Again 
Canada pursued her own course. As she had not previously 
followed the United States in bristling antagonism to Communist 
China, so now she did not endorse Anglo-French armed inter- 
vention at Suez. Instead she sought once more to find a means of 
peaceful adjustment through the United Nations. The Canadian 
External Affairs Minister, Lester Pearson, introduced a resolution 
in that body calling for a U.N. Emergency Force to go to the 
Middle East and supervise a cease-fire. The force was sent; 
Canadian troops formed part of it; and the danger at Suez came 
under control as the Israeli, French, and British withdrew. 
Although the trouble-spot was not removed, it was now under 
orderly policing by international authority. Here was construc- 
tive achievement through Canadian policy - for which Pearson 
won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. 

Another international police force was established when the 
Congo erupted into civil war and anarchy after gaining inde- 
pendence from Belgium in 1960. Once more Canada sent a 
contingent with the supervising U.N. expedition, as she con- 
tinued firmly to uphold the principle of collective action to save 
world peace. In the interests of world security - which meant 
her own- Canada by the opening of the 'sixties thus had units 
abroad in western Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia, and 
Africa. This did not include her numerous representatives on 
United Nations health, food, and welfare agencies at work in 
many parts of the world to improve standards of living, so as to 
reduce the suffering, poverty, and ignorance that may lead to 
violence and war. To a large extent, the Canadian record abroad 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

was one of national maturity and responsibility. 

Security still had to be safeguarded at home, in North America. 
During the 1950*83 Canada's co-operation with the United States 
in joint continental defence grew notably, and particularly to 
meet the common danger of attack across the Arctic. They 
shared in maintaining the Pine Tree Line, part of the radar 
warning system, not far above the American border. Canada set 
up the Mid-Canada Line along the 55th parallel, and under an 
agreement of 1955 the United States built and manned the DEW 
Line from Alaska across the Canadian Arctic. This last project 
was thus a permanent American military installation on Canadian 
soil. But Canada could not have met its enormous cost, while 
the United States was deeply anxious to have it. In a common 
cause and need, Canada accepted this new binding commitment 
to the United States, still reserving her future right to take over 
the DEW Line. Military commitment went still further when an 
agreement of 1958 established a joint United States and Canadian 
command for North American air defence. The command, called 
NORAD, had already been organized provisionally the year 
before, under an American supreme commander and a Canadian 
deputy at headquarters in Colorado Springs. 

NORAD sharply underlined the political question whether 
Canada still had any real scope for her own decision in matters of 
peace or war, or was simply bound to follow her much bigger 
partner in the continental command. Yet arrangements for 
NORAD had been begun under the Liberals and concluded 
under the Conservatives. Both major parties, evidently, had 
shared in the process that tied Canada closely to ultimate 
American military direction. There was really a further question, 
still debated by Canadians: was anything else possible when the 
danger was that of nuclear attack and the issue actual survival ? 

In spheres other than defence, Canada found room to bargain 
with and sometimes disagree with the United States, though any 
disagreements were still within the framework of their intimately 

424 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

friendly relations. Quite apart from the fact that even the 
strongest friends will still have their own viewpoints and interests, 
there were two additional reasons why Canada might well try to 
assert her own policies. First, she sought to preserve her national 
lines of development against the inevitably great weight of 
American influences. Second, she had to speak up when the big 
republic threatened to ignore and override her views. Sometimes 
traditional anti-American emotions may have affected her 
response, but it would be foolish to ascribe Canada's attitude 
merely to this. When one shares close quarters with a giant 
however well-intentioned, one is wise to keep pointing out that 
one is there - to avoid being stepped on. 

Accordingly, Canada protested the United States 'grain 
giveaway' programme that cut into Canadian wheat markets 
abroad. She sold goods, within limits, both to Communist China 
and to newly Communist Cuba, doubting that American attempts 
to wholly isolate these states were really wise. And she negotiated 
firmly with the United States on the question of the waters of the 
Columbia river, in order to secure a treaty that would give the 
northern nation a fair share of the water-supply and hydro- 
electric power to be derived from this mighty stream that ran 
through the Far West of both countries. Final ratification of the 
Columbia River Treaty of 1961 was delayed by disagreements 
within Canada herself between the federal and British Columbia 
governments. But one excellent example of an agreement 
reached by the two nations for joint development was that which 
brought about the St Lawrence Seaway. Here, undoubtedly, 
Canada's expressed willingness to proceed alone, while being no 
less ready to co-operate, did much to bring the United States to 
act in 1954. It was an indication that a firm, frank, self-respecting 
policy might earn respect from Canada's continental partner. 

Beyond the continent, and around the world, Canada still 
maintained her significant Commonwealth relationships. Under 
the Colombo Plan of 1950, for example, she provided valuable 

425 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

technical aid to help develop Asian countries that had just risen to 
full Commonwealth membership. The 'Canada Dam' was built 
in Pakistan; Canadian scientists guided the construction of an 
atomic energy plant in India; and Canadian technical knowledge 
was applied to improve Ceylon's fisheries. Moreover, concern 
for the Negro national movements that were creating new self- 
governing states in Africa brought Canada to officially deplore 
the policy of apartheid maintained by the white-ruled Union of 
South Africa, a policy that kept the Union's large Negro popula- 
tion segregated and subjected. South Africa, in fact, withdrew 
from the Commonwealth largely because of the antagonism to 
apartheid made clear by Canada as well as Asian and African 
members at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference 
of 1961. 

In the new Commonwealth that was becoming overwhelmingly 
Asian and African in its membership, Canada's closest associa- 
tions nevertheless remained with Britain and with other e old' 
dominions like Australia or New Zealand, with whom the 
Canadian people still had much in common in government, 
culture, and traditions. Each of them, moreover, had important 
economic connections with Britain under the system of imperial 
or Commonwealth trade preferences established in the 1930'$. 
Indeed, when John Diefenbaker first took office in Canada in 
1957, he promised to strengthen Commonwealth ties, and talked 
of diverting fifteen per cent of Canadian trade from the United 
States to Great Britain in order to ease his country's imbalance 
of trade with the Americans. 

Trade diversion proved easier to talk of than to effect, however. 
When at the Montreal Commonwealth Economic Conference of 
1958 Britain responded by offering a free-trade agreement to 
Canada, the latter country, so long accustomed to its own 
national protective tariff, rejected the offer in rather unhappy 
embarrassment. Not long afterwards Britain began negotiating 
to see on what terms she might instead be admitted to the 

426 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

developing European free-trade area, or Common Market, which 
had been founded by France, West Germany, Italy, the 
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg by treaty in 1957. 
Consequently, Canadians were left of two minds : fearful of the 
loss of the old imperial trade preferences that had ensured the 
British market for many of their basic products; hopeful that if 
Britain did enter 'Euromart' the producers of Canada and the 
whole Commonwealth might profit from the greater trading ac- 
tivity and far larger market that could result from this joining of 
national economies in one of the most highly industrialized areas 
of the world. 

4 Towards 1967 

As Canadians entered the 1960*8, thoughts naturally turned 
towards the hundredth anniversary of Confederation, the cen- 
tenary of the national birthday of 1867. There was much to plan 
for, much to remember with pride. And yet the problems that 
faced Canada seemed as grave as any for a hundred years. She 
was not at war; but she and the whole world faced possibilities of 
mass destruction quite inconceivable to previous ages. Canadian 
representatives strove urgently to promote the cause of nuclear 
disarmament among the great powers. Civil defence authorities 
worked over plans for national survival under atomic assault. 
There was troubled debate as to whether Canada could be in 
some degree defended from bomber or missile attack by aircraft 
or interceptor missiles, and whether she herself should arm with 
atomic warheads. All this sharply demonstrated the tensions of 
the divided, perilous world of the 'sixties, poised on a veritable 
balance of terror between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

At the same time this world offered potentialities nearly as 
incredible to previous ages : jet flight that whittled down the vast 
Canadian land-mass; atomic power, already applied to a pilot 
project in Ontario to produce electricity; and advances in elec- 
tronics that made intricate computers and automated factories 

4*7 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

increasingly a part of the Canadian business scene. Much 
further still, man's reaching out into space that began with the 
successful firing of a Russian satellite into orbit in 1957 opened 
prospects that in all time before had seemed to belong to dreams 
and fiction. In 1962, Canada launched her own first satellite, 
'Alouette'. Although it was fired from a California base by an 
American rocket, its construction and complex instrumentation 
were Canadian, and indicated that this country, too, would share 
the scientific tasks of probing the unknown immensity of space. 

Most Canadians, however, gave considerably less attention to 
the threats of nuclear war or the promises of space conquest than 
they gave to problems much more familiar and close to hand. 
Above all, they wondered and worried about the passing of the 
mid-century boom, and about a rate of unemployment that by 
1961 was one of the highest in all the western countries of the 
world. It was also true that more Canadians were at work than 
ever before in the country's history. Still, there were many more 
Canadians now, and the increase in jobs was not keeping up with 
the growth in population. Had Canada run into doldrums? 
Was she ceasing to advance ? It was too soon to give full answers 
to these questions -but the nation was anxiously hoping for 
light upon them. 

One could contend that Canada's boom-time growth had been 
so rapid and spectacular that when she reverted to a more normal 
rate, the situation, by contrast, looked far worse than it was. 
Whether this be true or not, it does seem clear that the boom had 
been an abnormal period, and like all good things was bound to 
end. It had largely depended on highly favourable post-war 
markets for Canadian products, combined with the great inflow 
of capital. Market conditions alter, however, and the capital 
flow had eventually died off, leaving Canada with much larger 
productive capacities, but facing the need to adjust her production 
and prices to a strongly competitive new era. Though the pro- 
cess could be painful, for a land with Canada's basic resources it 

428 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

scarcely had to be fatal. Growth had not stopped, nor was this the 
deep depression of the 'thirties. 

Perhaps a more serious long-run problem was the way in which 
Canada had become tied into the American market during the 
very years of boom development. Of course,, north-south trade 
ties had long been powerful in Canada, and her forest and 
mineral exports depended largely on American sales. Neverthe- 
less, economic integration with the United States advanced much 
further during the capital influx of the mid-century years. 
United States corporations multiplied their branch plants across 
Canada or bought out Canadian firms. American investors ac- 
quired ownership or control of a very large part of Canada's 
productive capacity, especially in newer fields of power and 
mining development. Much of the northern country's resources 
in raw materials and energy had been channelled to feed in- 
dustries below the border, and at the same time, Canadians had 
come increasingly to accept American goods, styles, and price 
levels. They traded proportionately more with the United States 
and less now with the world overseas; they were still buying 
more from the Americans than they were selling. In almost 
every way, then, whether by control of production, ties of debt, 
markets, or buying habits, Canada was being more and more 
bound in with the United States. The great paradox of the boom 
was that, in enlarging her economy, it had also made her much 
more dependent. 

This says nothing of military integration, or the constant 
influence of American mass media on the northern country 
through movies, periodicals and press, and above all, television. 
It was small wonder that some Canadians grew disheartened in 
the state of doldrums and talked again of their country's inevi- 
table absorption by the United States, or that others reacted with 
newly sensitive and suspicious nationalism against that possibility. 

Still further to trouble the 'sixties, sectionalism was manifestly 
rising again. Once more the boom had something to do with it. 

429 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

Many of the mid-century economic developments had a strongly 
regional or sectional basis: western oil and gas, for example. 
Even though pipe-lines or seaways might be built across the 
country, the new resource developments tended to serve north- 
south lines of trade more than they did the national east-west 
economic pattern. The regional nature of these interests became 
still clearer when the national mood of harmony dwindled with 
the passing of the boom. Furthermore, all regions of Canada had 
not enjoyed the same high degree of prosperity. The Atlantic 
provinces had still suffered from their relative lack of resources to 
develop and from their limited population, and they also feared 
that the St Lawrence Seaway would divert trade from Maritime 
ports. Similarly, Saskatchewan or Manitoba farmers in the later 
stages of the boom faced problems either of grain surplus or of 
prices too low for profit, and felt that they were not keeping up to 
the economic level of other sections of the country. 

Thus the sectional differences grew anew. Atlantic Canada 
sought special grants and aids. Newfoundland under Joseph 
Smallwood quarrelled with the federal Conservative government, 
because he charged that additional payments promised under the 
terms of union with Canada had not been properly maintained, 
And western farmers demanded and got special subsidies to help 
them. Revived sectional feeling became clearly apparent in the 
federal election of 1962. In fact, it was a major reason for the 
failure of any party then to gain a majority. 

Big, industrialized Ontario, angered by Conservative financial 
policies that had not prevented a sharp fall in the value of the 
Canadian dollar on the very eve of the election, went strongly 
Liberal. It also returned a significant number of New Democrats, 
as did British Columbia; in part, no doubt, because of the issue 
of unemployment. The farming West and the Maritimes stayed 
firmly with the Conservatives who had given them the regional 
aid they wanted- except for a Liberal and resentful Newfound- 
land! The most notable fact of all, however, was the rise of 

430 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

Social Credit in Quebec, much reducing the expected Liberal 
gains there. And the unique developments in this most distinc- 
tively different portion of Canada deserve special comment 
themselves. 

Quebec had undergone a new awakening since the death of 
Duplessis in 1959. It was as if an iron clamp had suddenly been 
released from French-Canadian society, and educational and 
social reforms, new energy, ideas and hopes, came bursting forth 
together. It would only be fair to note that changes were already 
proceeding under the short-lived Sauve and Barrette Union 
Nationale regimes that succeeded Duplessis. Nevertheless, the 
rapid sweep of change, the virtual social revolution in Quebec, 
must be strongly identified with the Liberal provincial govern- 
ment of Jean Lesage that was elected in 1960 and re-elected late 
in 1962. Quebec's education, and its universities especially, were 
greatly aided; the trade-union movement felt new freedom; and 
a plan to 'nationalize' provincial power production went quickly 
forward. Lesage was quite as much a believer in Quebec provin- 
cial autonomy and an opponent of Ottawa centralization as 
Duplessis had been; but he achieved a fairly successful basis of 
agreement with the federal authorities as his province surged 
ahead. 

The natural result of the changes, however, was to stimulate 
the French Canadians' idealism and pride in themselves. French 
Canada's own nationalistic sentiment was readily encouraged, as 
Quebec sought to build for itself. In Lesage and the majority of 
Quebecois, this spirit did not preclude working in partnership 
with the rest of Canada, though many said the partnership must 
be made more equal than it had been, and some looked for 
changes in the federal constitution to recognize French Canada's 
rights more fully. Some others went far beyond this. In a 
mixture of heady optimism, idealistic nationalism, and long- 
cherished resentments, they talked of a separate French-Canadian 
nation - a Quebec taken out of Confederation and removed from 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

the dominance of English Canada. 

Separatism did not immediately go into politics in its own 
right; but undoubtedly some of its spirit infused the French- 
Canadian Social Credit movement that suddenly now appeared. 
The substantial Social Credit minority elected to the federal 
parliament from Quebec in 1962 expressed both French- 
Canadian impatience and French-Canadian nationalism, although 
as yet with no clear sense of direction. That nationalism had 
recurrently appeared in politics before. What it might rise to 
this time, and whether it would become outright separatism, 
largely depended on the goodwill and understanding shown in 
English Canada for the vigorous transformation that was taking 
place in Quebec. 

Canada, therefore, faced a formidable variety of questions as 
she moved towards the hundredth anniversary of Confederation. 
And one might even doubt whether there was much that she 
would have to celebrate at all. Deadly world dangers, economic 
dependence, the possibility of American absorption, debt, un- 
employment, sectionalism - these were not even the full list of 
her worries. Was there anything to be said on the other side, 
instead ? 

There was. Despite all her problems, Canada had incontro- 
vertibly gained during the mid-twentieth century. The resources 
she had developed were essentially of high value; their products 
would still be needed in the world. Her population, home 
market, and productive powers were all much greater than they 
had been. She might yet, as she had done before, work out a new 
adjustment to living on the same continent with the United 
States. These adjustments had already been the crux of her 
story for nearly two hundred years. And achievements like the 
annual Stratford Shakespearean Festival (since 1953), the 
Canada Council to assist creative arts and scholarship, and the 
painting of Borduas, Riopelle, Town, Smith, Shadbolt, and 
others, demonstrated that significant Canadian cultural develop- 

432. 



CANADA IN THE LATEST AGE 

ment had not ceased during this latest age. 

Finally, a historic parallel might strengthen Canadians for 
their newest time of troubles : the comparison of their country 
in the i86o's and in the i96o's. When the earlier Canada had 
entered the decade of Confederation, she had even then been 
facing the depressing after-effects of a great boom in the 'fifties, 
which had departed leaving debt, unemployment, and half-used 
railways behind it. There was then a bitter problem of sec- 
tionalism, of strains between English and French Canada, as 
well as complete regional separation between the Maritime 
Provinces and the central Canadian lands. Soon, moreover, there 
would be grave anxiety rising about economic dependence on the 
United States, and the need to build a newly effective northern 
economy to overcome the abrogation of the American Reciprocity 
Treaty. Still further, there would certainly be a need to make 
new adjustments to American power on the continent, greatly 
enhanced by the Northern victory in the Civil War. 

None the less, out of all these foreboding circumstances of the 
i86o's came that great constructive Canadian accomplishment: 
Confederation. Assuredly, conditions one hundred years later 
offered no exact comparisons - but the parallel still might be 
suggestive. At any rate, as Canadians faced the problems that 
lay between them and their centennial year of 1967, they could 
yet look for support to the most distinctive thing about them: 
their history. 



433 



INDEX 



Aberhart, William, $60-1 
Acadia, 57-8. 75, 86, 97 

revolt of, 89-90 
Acadia University, 162 
Accommodation) S.S., 152 
Act of Union, The (1840), 198 
Aklavik, 410 



Alaska, 17, 217 

boundary dispute, 320-1 

purchased by U.S.A., 264 
Alberta, 15,80, 351, 407> 4" 

founded, 308 

University founded, 308 

Alert Bay, 410 
Alexander, Sir William, 57 
Aluminium, 383, 41 
American Civil War, 236-9 
American Fur Company, 139 
Amherst, General, 91 
Anglican Church, 166, 170, 183 
Annapolis Royal, 37, 83 
Annexation Manifesto (1849X209 
Anti-Americanism, 136, 164, 425 
Appalachians, 13, 88 
Arctic Canada, 12, 353> 409- 10 
Assemblies, colonial, 166 
Astor, John Jacob, 139 

Astoria, 139 

Athabaska, Lake, 138, 4" 

Athabaska country, 141 

Athabaska River, 138 

Atomic energy, 390. 39*- 2 4" 

Avalon Peninsula, 27 

Bagot, Sir Charles, 200-1 
Baldwin, Robert, 172, 173* I 9. I 9 I 
195* i97 200, 201, 222 22J 



Baldwin, William, 190 

Balfour Report, 348 

Ballet, Canadian, 404 

Bank of Upper Canada, 171 

Banking, 171 

Banting, Sir Frederick, 402 

Barings, 2 14 

Bay of Fundy, 57, 58,98. "a 

Beausejour, 90 

Beaver, 25, 28 

Bella Coola inlet, 139 

Bennett, R.B., 367 

Bennett, W. A. C., 415 

Best, Dr Charles, 402 

Bidwell, Marshall Spring, 171, 172 

Bill of Rights (1960), 419-20 

Bishop, 'Billy', 329 

Blake, Edward, 268, 273, 276, 290, 
292 

.8/^,224,227 

Bluenose seamen, 156 

Board of Trade, 102-3 

Bond, Sir Robert, 397 

Borden, Robert, 325, 339* 34^-3 

Bourassa, Henri, 324, 335 

Bourgeouys, Marguerite, 66 

Bracken, John, 387 

Braddock, General, 90 

Br^beuf, Fr, 45 

British Columbia, 230, 410, 415. 

425 

founded, 218 
joins Confederation, 263 
University of, 308 
British North America Act (1867), 

249,253-7*364-6 
Brock, General Isaac, 132, 133 
Brown, George, 220,226, 233-5,238, 



435 



INDEX 



245,265 
Buffalo, 20 
Buller, Charles, 193 
Bush-flying, 353 
Byng, General, 339 

Cabot, John, 2 5 
Cabot, Sebastian, 26 
Calgary, foundation of, 305 
Canada Corn Act (1843), 208 
Canada Council, 416, 432 
Canada East, 198 
Canada First Movement, 273 
Canada Land Co., 149 
Canada West, 198,220 
Canadian Broadcasting system, 

404, 412 
Canadian Council of Agriculture, 

348. 359 

Canadian Monthly , 274 

Canadian National Railways, 3 10 

Canadian Pacific Railway, 278-81 

Canadian union, 22 1-7 

Canals, 153-5 

Canso, 83 

Cap Rouge, 34 

Cape Breton, 116 117, 
Highlanders in, 150 

Cape Breton Island, 86 

Capitulations of Montreal, 93 

Carleton, Sir Guy, Lord Dor- 
chester, 102, 108, in, 114, 129, 

177 

Carder, Georges, 226, 234, 235, 245 
Cartier, Jacques, 32-4 
Catholic Church, 40, 49, 64-7, 70-1 
Chalk River, 390, 411 
Champlain, Lake, 38, 39 
Champlain, Samuel de, 37-40, 44, 

64 

Chanak, 347 
Charlottetown, 243-4 
Chateau Clique, The, 175-7 
Chateauguay, Battle of, 132, 136 
Chesapeake, U.S.S., 130 



China, 422, 425 

Christian Guardian, 171 

Church of England, 166, 170, 183 

Churches, 161-2 

Clear Grit Reformers, 220, 224, 226, 

233,235 

Clergy Reserves, 169-70 
Cochrane, Sir Thomas, 186 
Codfish, 25, 26 
Colbert, 48, 50, 51 
Coles, George, 204 
Colombo Plan, 425-6 
Colonial Advocate, 172 
Colonial Conference (1897), 316; 

(1902), 318 
Colonial Laws Validity Act (1863), 

349 

Colonial Office, 165 

Colonial Reformers, 191-2 

Columbia River, 139 

Columbia River Treaty (1961), 425 

Columbus, Christopher, 24 

Commercial Revolution, The, 207- 
12 

Commonwealth, The, 328, 338, 340, 
345-9, 381-2, 394, 425-? 

Commonwealth (Colombo) Con- 
ference (1950), 394 

Compact Rule, 197 

Company of New France, 41, 48 

Company of the Habitants, 41 

Company of 100 Associates, 41 

Conception Bay, 80 

Confederation, 227, 230, 243-9, 258 

Congo, 423 

Conscription, in First World War, 

333-8 
in Second World War, 385-7 

Constitutional Act (1791), 114, 
119-21, 125, 176 

Convention of 1818, 135 

Co-operative Commonwealth Fed- 
eration, 361-2, 387, 414-15, 420 

Cor dilleran region, 15 

CorvSes, 63 



436 



INDEX 



Council of Agriculture, 322 
Coureurs-de-bois, 39, 60, 68 
Craig, Sir James, 178 
Cremazie, Octave, 273 
Crerar, T. A., 359, 360 
Crowsnest Pass Agreement (1897), 

3i3 

Crysler's Farm, 136 
Culture, Canadian, 404-5 
Cumberland House, 141 
Cunard, Samuel, 156 
Currie, General Arthur, 339 

Dalhousie University, 162 
D'Aulnay, Charnisay, 57-8 
de Cosmos, Amor, 263 
Defence, 300 

Naval, 318-19 
de rincarnation, Marie, 66 
de Monts, Sieur, 37, 38 
Detroit, American surrender at, 1 3 3 
DEW Line, 410, 424 
d'Iberville, Sieur, 53 
Diefenbaker, John, 417-18, 419, 426 
Dominion, foundation of, 248-9 

first parliament, 253 
Dominion-Provincial Conference 

(1941), 388 
Dorion, A. A., 227 
Douglas, James, 218 
Douglas, T. C., 415, 420 
Doukhobors, 304 
Drama, 404 

Drew, George, 381, 389, 414, 417 
Drury,E. C, 359 
Dry farming, 302 
Duplessis, Maurice, 363, 415-16 
Durham, Earl of, 191, 192, 193, 195, 

199.207 
Durham Report, 192-8, 205 

Eastern Townships, 159 
Edmonton, foundation of, 305 
Education, colonial, 161, 162 
Elgin, Lord, 203, 209 



Elliot Lake, 411 
Emigration, 145-51 

from Britain, 146-8, 149 
Ericson, Lief, 23 
Erie Canal, 154, 158,214 
Eskimos, 17,20 
Exports, 311-12 

Fallen Timbers, Battle of, 129 
Family Compact, 168-9, 172, 200 
Farming, post-war depression in, 

355-6 

Federal union, 23 1-2 
Fenians, 2 39-40 
First World War, 326-33 

Canadian contingent, 329 

Canadian Corps, 330, 339 

Canadian First Division, 330 

conscription, 33-8 

French Canadians, 335-6 

home front, 330-3 

Imperial War Cabinet, 340-1 

industry, 331-2 

Newfoundland in, 397-8 

Peace Conference, 341-2 

Peace Treaty, 341 

Victory Loans, 332 
Fisheries, 5, 25, 26, 75, 81, 109-10 

151,210,321 

Five Nations, League of, 19-20 
Fort Duquesne, 89 
Fort Frontenac, 55 
Fort Garry, 219, 261 and see 

Winnipeg 
Fort Henry, 135 
Fort Niagara, 91 
Fort Oswego, 86, 91 
Fort William, 141, 143 
Fort William Henry, 91 
Forty-ninth Parallel, 2 17 
Foster, William, 273 
Fraser River, 16, 139,218 
Fredericton, 112 

French Canada, 8, 47-58, 70-2, 232, 
345,408,416,431-2 



437 



INDEX 



Frobisher, 31 
Frobisher Bay, 410 
Frontenac, Comte de, 52, 55-6, 66 
Frontenac, S.S., 152 
Frost, Leslie 3 415 

Fur trade, 5,28, 36-8, 40, 51, 52, 60, 
68, 74-5, 100, 121, 128 

Gait, Sir Alexander, 232-3, 234, 235, 

245, 297 

Gander Airport, 399 
Garneau, F. X., 273 
Gasp Peninsula, 32, 33 
Gilbert, Sir Humphrey, 3 1 
Globe 9 Toronto, 220, 226, 274 
Goderich, 149 
Goose Bay, 399 
Gourlay, Robert, 171 
Government, colonial, 164-6 
Governor-General, 25 3, 348 
Governors, provincial, 166 
Grain-growing, 151,208 
Grand Banks, 25 

Great Coalition, the, 234, 236, 248 
Great Lakes, 3, 4, 13, 39 

boundary problem, 321-2 
Green Bay, 53 
Greenland, 23, 31 
Grey, Lord, 202, 203, 204 
Groseilliers, Medart Chouart des, 

53 

Group of Seven, the, 3 14 
Guelph, 149 

Habitants, 70 

Haldimand, Sir Frederick, 113 
Haliburton, Thomas, 163 
Halibut Treaty (1923), 347 
Halifax, 125, 156, 311, 331 

founded, 83, 99 
Head, Sir Francis Bond, 173 
Hubert, Louis, 39 
Henday, Anthony, 80 
Hepburn, Mitchell, 363 
High Commissioner, 296, 349 



Hincks, Francis, 199,201,225 

Hochelaga, 33 

House of Commons (Canadian), 

253,254 

Howe, C. D., 414 
Howe, Joseph, 185-6, 190, 191, 

205-6,231,244,265 
Hudson, Henry, 31 
Hudson Bay, 3, 12, 14, 16,24, 54 
Hudson Bay Company (French), 54 
Hudson River, 45, 158 
Hudson Strait, 31 

Hudson's Bay Company, 12, 137 
141-4 

cedes Rupert's Land, 260 

founded, 54 

French attacks on, 80 

organization, 79 

territory granted, 79 
Hughes, Sir Sam, 335 
Huguenots, 64 
Hunters' lodges, 194 
Huron, Lake, 39, 149 
Hurons 39, 43, 45 
Hydro-electric power, 311, 353, 366, 



Iceland, 23 

Immigration, 145-50, 304-5, 408-9 
Imperial Conference (1907), 326; 
(1911), 339; (1923), 347; 
(1926), 348; (1930), 348 
Imperial Defence Committee, 326 
Imperial federation, 297-8 
Imperial Naval Conference, 319 
Imperial preference, 367-8 
Imperial War Cabinet, 340-1 
Imperialism, 315 
Income-tax, introduction of, 322 
Indians, 17-23 

and Ohio, 128 

liquor trade with, 43 

missions to, 25 
Indo-China, 422 
Industry, 215, 271 



438 



INDEX 



in First World War, 331-2 
in Second World War, 383 

Interprovincial Conference (1887), 
289-90 

Iron, 410 

Iroquois, 38, 39, 44-6, 49> 55. 73 

Jamestown, 32 
Jay's Treaty (1794), 129, 138 
Jesuits, 42, 43-4, 65 
Journalism, 273 

Kelsey, Henry, So 
King, William Lyon Mackenzie, 
343, 368-72, 374* 375, 386-7, 389 
King's College, Nova Scotia, 162 
King's College, Upper Canada, 162 
Kingston, 55 
Kir by, William, 273 
Kirke, Sir David, 40, 81 
Kitimat, 410 
Klondike, 308 
Korea, 422 

Labour movement, 358, 420 
Labrador, 14,23, 97, 398, 410 
Lachine, 55 
Lachine Rapids, 154 
Lacolle, Battle of 132, 136 
Lafontaine, Louis, 199, 201, 222, 223 
Lalemant, Fr, 45 
Lambton, John, see Durham, Earl 

of 

Lampman, Archibald, 274 
Land policy, Dominion, 303-4 
Lapointe, Ernest, 385 
La Salle, Sieur de, 53 
La Tour, Governor, 57-8 
Laurier, Sir Wilfrid, 287-8, 290-1, 

294, 301, 312, 316, 322-4, 326, 

333-4 336-7 
Laval, Bishop, 49, 64 
Laval University, 66 
La Vrendrye, Sieur de, 80, 137 
League of Nations, 341-2, 372-4 



League of the Five Nations, 19, 20 
Leduc, 411 
Leopard^ H.M.S., 130 
Lesage, Jean, 431 
Liberal-Conservative Party, 225-7, 

264-5 

Liberalism, 266, 268-9, 3 I2 ~ I 3 
Literature, Canadian, 273, 314, 
402-3 

novelists, 403 

poets, 403 
Louis XIV, 47-8 
Louisbourg, 86, 91 
Louisiana, 84, 97 
Lower Canada, 14, 145, 148, 175, 

176-9, 180-2, 195, 196 
Loyalism, 117-18, 164 
Loyalists, 110-15, 133 

in Nova Scotia, in 

in Quebec, 112-14 
Lumbering, 123, 151, 211, 312, 352, 
407 

Macdonald, John A., 225, 233-6, 

245, 258, 264-7, 291-3, 296-300 
McDougall, William, 261 
McGee, Thomas D'Arcy, 236, 238 
McGill, James, 162 
McGill University, 162 
Mackenzie, Alexander (explorer), 

138, 139, 141 
Mackenzie, Alexander (politician), 

267-70 
Mackenzie, William Lyon, 172, 

173-5, 194.224 
Mackenzie River, 138, 410 
Mair, Charles, 27 3 
Maisonneuve, Sieur de, 42 
Mance, Jeanne, 42 
Manitoba, 14, 15,262,286, 411, 430 

Act (1870), 293 

schools question, 293-5 

University, 308 
Manning, Ernest, 415 
Manufacturers' Association, 323 



439 



INDEX 



Maritime Rights, 355 
Maritime union, 243 
Maritimes, 5, 12-13, 118, 122-3, 
159-60,231,241, 418, 430 

accept Federation, 245-7 

depression in, 285-6 

immigration into, 145 

post-war depression in, 354-5 

reform in, 182-7 

trade, 155-7 

War of 1812,132 
Marquette, Jacques, 53 
Massey, Vincent, 416 
Massey Commission and Report, 

416 

Meighen, Arthur, 343 
Mercantilism, 165 
Mercier, Honore, 289 
Metcalfe, Sir Charles, 201, 203 
Methodists, 170, 171 
Metis, the, 143, 261-3 
Michilimackinac, 53, 133, 138 
Middleton, General, 282 
Military Service Bill (1917), 336 
Mining, 271, 352-3, 366-7, 407, 410- 

ii 

Minto, Lord, 317 
Monroe Doctrine, 328 
Montcalm, Marquis de, 90-2 
Montgomery's Tavern, 174 
Montreal, 14, 42, 68, 125, 141, 409 

Tory riots in, 203 
Mount Royal, 33, 38 
Murray, James, 101-2 
Music, 403-4 
Mutual Aid, 384, 390 

Nation, the, 273 

National Policy, 276-8, 284-5, 3 I2 ~ 

13 

National Progressive Party, 359 
National Research Council, 402 
Nationalism, French-Canadian, 

i?6 314, 3i7 323-4, 345-6, 362, 
431-2 



Naval Service Bill (1910), 320, 322, 

324, 325; (1912), 325-6 
Navy, Royal Canadian, 319-20, 329- 

30, 380, 410, 422 
Neilson, John, 180 
Nelson, Wolfred, 180 
New Amsterdam, 47 
New Brunswick, 13, 116-17, 123, 
238 

immigrants into, 148 

Irish in, 150 

land problem, 184-5 

self-government, 204 

shipbuilding, 156 

University, 162 
New Democratic Party, 420, 421, 

43o 

New England, 32 
New France, 34, 36 

defence of, 50 

function of governor, 48-9 

government, 85 

growth of population, 71 

settlement, 50-1 

social structure, 59-61 

town life, 68 

New national policy, 358-9 
New North West Company, 141 
Newfoundland, 3, 13,21,26, 32, 65, 
80-3, 97, 121-2, 160, 165, 238, 
394-401, 410, 430 

air bases, 399 

assembly granted, 186-7 

civil government in, 186-7 

fisheries, 396 

foundation, 80 

French settlers in, 82 

government, 82 

in First World War, 398 

in Second World War, 399 

joins Confederation, 394 

Labrador boundary, 398 

minerals, 397 

newsprint, 397 

1946 Convention, 399-400 



440 



INDEX 



schools, 162. 
self-government, 204 
suspension of Dominion status, 

398 

Newfoundland Company, 80-1 
Newspapers, 162 
Newsprint, 351-2, 397 
Niagara Falls, 154, 413 
Nickel, 331 
Ninety-Two Resolutions (1834), 

180 

NORAD, 424 
Norsemen, 2 3, 2 4 

North Atlantic Treaty Organiza- 
tion, 393, 422 

North Atlantic Triangle, 296-300 
NorthWest Company, 137, 141-4 
North-west Passage, 24-5 
North West Rebellion, 281-2, 288 
North West Territories, 14, 137-44, 

260, 284 

Nova Scotia, 23, 26, 57, 83-4, 86, 89, 
97, 105-6, 116-17, I22 > 2 3 T > 2-38, 
354-5 

anti-federation in, 259 
government of, 83 
immigrants into, 148 
joins Confederation, 259 
Loyalists in, 111-12 
Reform in, 185-6 
representative government 

granted, 98 

self-government, 205-6 
Novascotian, the, 185 

Ogdensburg Agreement (1940), 382, 

393 
Ohio, 137 

fur trade in, 128 

occupation of, 88 
Ohio Company, 88 
Oil, 383,407,411 
Okanagan Valley, 16 
Old Age Security Act (1951), 414 
Old Colonial System, 164-5 



ends, 202 
Ontario, 14, 15, 44, 415, 430 

industry, 27 1-2 

mining, 310,411 
Orangemen, 150 
Oregon, 2 17 

Oregon Treaty (1846), 194,218 
Ottawa, 283 

as capital, 227 

Ottawa Conference (1895), 396; 
(1932), 368 

Painting, Canadian, 403, 432 

Palliser's Triangle, 351 

Papineau, Louis Joseph, 179, 194 

Parish priests, 66-7 

Parti Rouge, 224, 227 

Patrioies, 181 

Peace country, 141 

Pearson, L. B. 414, 418, 423 

Pioneer age, 159-63 

Pipe-lines, 412, 417 

Pond, Peter, 138 

Pontiac, 99 

'Pork and Beans War', 194 

Port Royal, 37,38 

repeated transfer of, 57-8 
Portugal, 24,26,27, 31 
Prince Edward Island, 13, 116, 117, 

142,238,354 

immigrants into, 148 

joins Dominion, 260 

land problem, 184 

self-government in, 204 
Privy Council, 364-5 
Proclamation of 1763, 99-100 
Progressive Conservative Party, 387 
Progressivism, 359-60, 362 
Provincial Governments, 254-5 
Publishing, 405 
Pulp wood, 5, 352-3 

Quebec, 13, 14, 15, 32, 33, 38, 39* 68. 
97, 98, 99, 100-4, 106-8. I2 5 
410,431-2 



441 



INDEX 



capture of, 92 

civil government introduced, 101 

division of, 116 

growth of industry, 271-2 

trade, 69 
Quebec Act (1774), 103-4, 108, 109, 

176,224-9 

Quebec Conference, 257-8 
Quebec Resolutions, 245-7 
Queen Elizabeth Islands, 410 
Queen's University, 162 
Queenston Heights, Battle of, 136, 



Radar warning lines, 424 

Radisson, Pierre, 53 

Railways, 158,212-16,241-2, 309-10, 

351-2, 354 

Canadian National, 310, 351-2 
Canadian Northern, 309 
Canadian Pacific, 278-81, 282, 

35i,355 
Grand Trunk, 2 13-1 5, 216, 241-2, 

244,280,309 

Grand Trunk Pacific, 309 
Great Western, 213 
Hudson Bay, 354 
Intercolonial, 231, 235, 241-2, 

259, 310 
National Transcontinental, 309, 

310 

Newfoundland, 396-7 
Northern, 213 

St Lawrence & Atlantic, 213, 214 
Raleigh, Sir Walter, 32 
Ralston, Colonel, 386 
Rebellion Losses Bill, 203, 208 
Reciprocity, 290-1, 291-2, 299-300, 

3*2-3 
Reciprocity Treaty (1854), 210-11, 

240 

Red River Colony, 143,219-20,230 
Red River Rising, 260-3 
Reform movements, 167-8 
Regina, foundation of, 305 



Regina Manifesto, 362 

Responsible Government, 188-92 

Rideau Canal, 154 

Riel, Louis, 261-3, 281-2, 288 

Roads, 151-2 

Roberts, Charles G.D., 274 

Roberval, Sieur de, 34 

Rocky Mountains, 15-16 

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 374-5 

Rowell-Sirois Commission, 364-70 

Report, 388 

Royal Air Force, Canadians in, 329 
Royal Canadian Air Force, 381, 422 
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 

282-4 
Royal Canadian Navy, 319-20, 329- 

30, 380, 410, 422 
Royal Flying Corps, Canadians in, 

329 
Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 

398 
Royal Twenty-Second Regiment, 

335 

Royal William, 156 
Rupert's Land, 79, 97, 142 
Rupert's Land Act (1868) , 260 
Rush-Bagot Convention (1817), 

134-5 

Russell, Lord John, 200, 205 
Ryerson, Egerton, 162, 171, 172 

Saguenay, 34 

StAlbansRaid,239 

Saint John, 34, 112, 125, 156, 311 

St John's, 8 1, 155, 395-6, 399 

St Laurent, Louis, 389, 414 

St Lawrence, Gulf of, 4, 13,26, 32 

St Lawrence, H.M.S., 153 

St Lawrence 

Plain, 14 

River, 4, 8-9, 12, 16, 33, 69, 157-8 

Seaway, 413, 425, 430 

Valley, 5, 13, 14, 15 
St Thomas, 149 
Sam Slick the Clockmaker, 163 



442 



INDEX 



San Francisco Conference (1945) 

39i 
Saskatchewan, 15, 308, 351. 4. 4*4, 

415, 418, 430 
University, 308 
River, 138, 141 
Saskatoon, 305 
SaultSte Marie, 53 
Sawmills, 21 1 

Scott, Thomas, execution of, 262 
Sculpture, Canadian, 403 
Second World War, 376-87 
Air Training Plan, 381-2 
armed forces, 384 
Canadian casualties, 380 
Canadian First Army, 379-80 
Canadian forces in, 377-8* 
conscription, 385-7 
French Canadians in, 384-5 
industry, 383 
Mutual Aid, 384, 390 
Newfoundland in, 399 
outbreak, 376 

Royal Canadian Air Force, 381 
Royal Canadian Navy, 386 
Sectionalism, 221-4, 227, 286, 293, 

355-6, 430 
in Ontario, 286-7 
in Quebec, 287-8, 43 1- 2 
Seigneurial system, 61-3, i?6-7 
Selkirk, Lord, 142-4 
Semple, Governor, 143 
Senate, 253, 256-7 
Separatism, 431-2 
Sept lies, 410 

Seven Oaks, Massacre of, 143 
Seventh Report on Grievances, 173 
Shield, Canadian, 4, 5. 13. J 4 M 18, 

220,230, 366 
development, 352 
for country in, 53 
Shipbuilding, 151 
Shipping, 151 

Sifton, Sir Clifford, 303, 322, 336 
Simcoe, John Graves, 124-5, 



Simpson, Sir George, 216 

Smallwood, Joseph, 400-1, 430 

Smith, Donald, 280 

Smith, Goldwin, 273, 274 

Smuts, General, 342-3 

Social Credit, 360-1, 363* 3$7> 387, 

415,420,421,431-2 
Sons of Liberty, 181 
South Africa, 426 
South African War, 317-18 

Spain, 24, 26, 27, 31, 32, 47 

Stadacona, 33 

Statute of Westminster (1931), 348-9 

Steamship, introduction of, 148, 
151-2 

Stephen, George, 280 

Strachan, John, 162, 170 

Stratford Festival, 432 

Sub-Arctic Canada, 31 

Sudbury, 331 

Suez, 423 

Sydenham, Lord, 199-200,206 

Talbot, Colonel Thomas, 149 

Talon, Jean, 50-2, 55 

Tariffs, 212, 271-2, 3^-14 

Tecumseh, 130 

Television, 412 

Thompson, David, 139, 141 

Three Rivers, 68 

Ticonderoga, 91 

Tilley, Leonard, 244, 245, 265 

Tippecanoe, 130 

Toronto, 14, 3"* 45, 409 

University, 162,274 
Trade unions, 358 
Trades & Labour Conference 

(1886), 358 

Trans-Canada Highway, 412 
Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Com- 
pany, 412, 417 
Treaty of Ghent (1814)* *34 
Treaty of Ryswick (1697), 73 
Treaty of Versailles (1783), i9> 
128, 137; U9i9) 342 

443 



INDEX 



Treaty of Washington (1871), 298-9 
Trent affair, the, 238, 242, 247 
Tupper, Sir Charles, 244, 245, 294, 
297 

Unemployment, 366, 369, 419, 428 
Uniacke, J. B., 206 
Union Nationale, 362-3 415-16, 431 
Union of the Canadas, 196-7, 198- 

200 
United Fanners of Alberta, 360, 361 

of Ontario, 359, 360 
United Nations, 391-3, 422-3 

UNRRA, 391 

United Province of Canada, 198 
United States, influence of, 9-11, 

405, 408, 416, 425-6, 429 
University 

Acadia, 162 

of Alberta, 308 

Laval, 66 

McGill, 162 

of Manitoba, 308 

of New Brunswick, 162 

Queen's, 162 

of Saskatchewan, 308 

of Toronto, 162,274 

Victoria, 162, 171 
Upper Canada, 14, 132, 160 

(see also Ontario) 

immigration into, 145, 148-9 

King's College, 162, 170 

land policy, 169-70 

liberal influence, 151 

oligarchy in, 168-73 

rebellion in, 173-4 
Uranium, 390, 411 
Urbanization, 409 

Vancouver, 16, 34,282, 354 
Vancouver, Capt. George, 139 



Vancouver Island, 3, 16,230 
Van Home, William, 280 
Vanier, Georges, 419 
Vaudreuil, Marquis de, 90 
Victoria, 16, 162 
Vineland,23 
Virginia, 32 
Voyageurs, 101, 139 

Wakefield, Edward Gibbon, 193 
War Measures Act (1914), 329 
War of 1812, 13 1-4 
Washington, burning of Capitol, 

i34 

Washington Conference (1921), 347 
Waterways, 153-5 
Watkin, Edward, 241-2 
Webster- Ashburton Treaty, 194 
Week, The, 2.J4 
Welland Canals, 154-5 
Western plains, 8 
Westminster Conference (1866), 

248,249 
Wheat, 5, 124, 407, 418, 425 

Marquis, 302-3 
Wheat Board, 356 
Wilmot, L. A.,204 
Windmill, Battle of the, 193 
Winnipeg, 143,272, 311, 358, 359 
Winnipeg Strike, 358 
Wolfe, James, 91-3 
Wolseley, Colonel Garnet, 262 
Wood, Henry Wise, 360 
Woodsworth, J. S., 362 

X.Y. Company, 141 

York, founding of, 125 

capture of, 134 
York Factory, 142, 143 
Yukon, 326, 353, 383 



36 46 56 66 76 86 



07 17 27 37 BP 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 

444