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A Thesis submitted in conformity with the 
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philo sop hy in the 

University of Toronto 

2^ 7 S^ 





2:00 p.m., Wednesday, Txay 12th, 1954, 
at 44 ho skin Avenue 

HEmi bouraSSh and Canadian n^xTIONalisJi 

Committee in Charge 

Professor D. G. Creighton, Chairman 

Professor F. H. Underhill 

Professor R, li. Saunders 

Professor R. M. Dawson 

Professor A. Brady 

Professor h, G. Taylor 

Professor C, B. Tiacpherson 

Professor V, ,/. Bladen 

Professor S. D. Clark 

Professor K. F. \'., Helleiner 

Professor F. C. a, Jeanneret 



( (Sumr.ary) 

This accoiint of the I'r.tionalist move'^ent has been 
designed to show how it was part of a broader reaction to 
strains and anticipated strains vrithin French Canadian 
society in the opening decades of this century, and to 
suggest how its philosoph.y, ciij stated cy Kcnri Bourassa, 
was shaped by both old and no; elements of the social 
system, Boui'Aoss's Ilationaliom wa3 an a.?frressive res- 
ponse to three main external forceo cf change of such 
long-term consequence to require a new and total strat- 
egy for ethnic, cultural, and social development. First, 
v;as the impact on Canada of the nsv; ir.porialism which 
spanned the period bctv^ser. tho South African w'rr and the 
Imperial Conference of 19^3 and which, in its concern to 
consolidate and make available for united action the 
military and naval forces cf the Zmpire, opened for 
Canadians, for the first time, prospects of direct in- 
volvement in imperial vrars in an ago of sharpening im- 
perial rivalries. The second ma^or Go.irce of was 
the rapid development after 19C0 cf the CanaJian ..'est 
on the basis of a lar;,- anvi diverse inraijcrant population- 
which, coupled vdth a steady loss in statue; for the 
French language and separate schools ia th::t aieji between 
lo90 and 1905, raised new barriers to -'^hs l'!a":ior.nlist 
goal of dual nationality throur^hout Canada, Tina" ' . 
Nationalism under Bourasca was en j^ttCiipt to ?nlxuence 
the whole complex of adaptations being ri^.tc in C^nebec to 
urban industrialis:-n v/hich had begun to trarrform the 
older agrarian society which h^d ^:ithcrto ysstarj^ed the 
nationality and proved its rv?silic.-iC3 uncDr stress c The 
conjuncture of these forces created anxiety as tc the 
collective destiny and orcvid-.-i " ^c tc.3--S for "?^u.onal- 

Nation?lism cleve?.opcd to fi.^ ii/'perialism. to 
transcend colonialism and provinci:iliJ-n in Trench Canada, 
to foster the idea cf Garx-.cian i,.'- jpcndsnce under the 
Crown, to advocate nGub--'.'J-ity in Jritich v:ars in vrii.ich 
the defence of Crnada v.'as not cle.'rly an issue, and to re- 
establish defence policy en a military alliance v/ith the 
United States c.-d r.jrcosrrihip in the F.:.n-Air.erican Union. 
Nationalism vas developed, secondly, to advocate an 
Anglo-French nation ext^r.^xr^G thr^ughcvi Canada and giving 
its people a distinctive cha-a^j'er- Its principle of 
dualism' expressed aspiration'^, for equality and guarantees 
of permanence for French Car.auia:. natjonality. Realization 
of the principle was thought tc entail a reduced ajid 
selective immigration to the '..'or.t. and the spread of Franco- 


Catholic groups to the English-speaking provinces with 
provision therein of such securities as the basic ele- 
ments of a separate school system and bilingualism. 
Reaction to industrialism was seen partly in appeals 
to French Canadians to preserve the older rural society 
and its values, and to continue to shelter in tradition- 
al small and medium industry and comr.erce. But Nation- 
alist industrial policy after 1903 followed the growth 
of industrialism with a more positive programme of 
conservation of natural resources, public ownership of 
essential utilities and power sources, statutory regu- 
lation of labour-employer relations, protection of 
national industry from foreign competition, and the 
enrolment of the new French Canadian working classes 
in Catholic national unions. Fear of future class 
strife under industrialism led to attacks upon modern 
capitalism and to reliance on corporatist solutions 
as espoused in papal encyclicals. Disillusionment with 
parliamentary democracy v/orked by political parties was 
pronounced during and after /orld .ar I, Political 
changes suggested from time tj time by Bourassa were 
not of im^aediate significance, but pointed in the dir- 
ection of group government, limited franchise, dispro- 
portionate weight for rural representation, and plebis- 
cites to sanction important governmental policies. 

Bourassa' s Nationalism was conservative in spirit, 
often excessive in expression, troubled by conflicting 
currents, self-defeating in certain particulars, but 
intended to appeal to Canadians on the broadest basis. 
It marked a decisive break with the narrow, separatist, 
and theological nationalism with which the century closed, 
and began the m.odern period in which national, inter- 
national, economic, and social questions predominate. 
Its maximum political force was developed in ^.uebec on 
imperial issues and contributed to the defeat of Laurier 
in 1911. But thenceforth the movement declined in 
strength, mainly because of the inadequacy of both its 
methods of action and assessment of the conditions of 
collective welfare. 


1916 - Born, Victoria, British Columbia 

1942 - 3. A., Ciueen's University 
1947 - M. A., University of Toronto 

1943 - 1950 - Instructor, Department of Political 

Economy, University of Toronto 
1952 - 1954 - Lecturer, Department of Political 
Economy, University of Toronto 

t'o^o ~ ]q^V) School of Graduate Studies, 
x^?u xvp^;- University of Toronto 


Major Subjects: 

Political Theory and 

Government of Canada - Professor A, Brady 

Professor R.M.Dawson 

Minor Subjects: 

Economic Theory and Professor G, A. Elliott 

Economic History - Professor H.A.Innis 

Canadian History - Professor F.H. Underbill 










Introduction: The Background of Nationalism 1 

Henri Bourassa, 1868 - 1899 43 

The Origins and Development of the Nationalist 

Movement, 1899 - 1905 70 

Nationalism and the North-West Schools, 1905 105 

The Development of a Non- Party Politics 136 

The Rise and Decline of Nationalism, 1909 - 1913 161 

Nationalism and the Har of 1914 - 1918 189 

Bourassa and Changing Currents in Nationalism, 

1920 - 1952 218 

Social and Political Philosophy 236 

Conclusion 282 

Select Bibliograpby 294 



French Canadian society during the opening yoers of the 
twentieth century developed severe political, social, and econonic 
strains. Indeed, it is no/ exa<-goi*ation to describe the first two 
decades as a period of crisis. Prominent amone the major efforts to 
cope with new strains within the society and with forces impinging on 
it from without, was a movement of nationalism developed and led by 
Henri Bourassa between 1900 and 1920, The nature of the task he set 
himself was not easy. Impelled by the sense of a new era in the his- 
tory of the French Canadian people, he proposed to every 
aspect of their situation: political, social, economic, moral, reli- 
gious, and intellectual, and to expound principles basic to their 
thought and action in what he considered radically new circumstances. 
Thus conceived, Nationalism was a doctrine and movement broader and 
deeper than the anti-imperialism with which it was often identified. 
Complex as was the nature of his task, its performance was made the 
more difficult by n-onerous factors: qualities of temperament, ten- 
dency to over-statement, an erratic political activity that alternated 
between plunges into the electoral process and complete withdrawal, 
and not least by an openess to new ideas and v/ays that contrasted with 
his profound social conservatism. The chapters w'- ich follow give an 
account of Bourassa 's political and social thought ir. relation to 
Nationalism and the circumstances that brought it into being end led 
to its decline. The analysis is extended into the period between the 
two World Iters, since Bourassa 's importance as a political leader and 
social thinker continued long after the I'ationalist movement as such 
had spent its forco. 


Throe eloEents in the new era were of special concern. rir«t 
was the impact upon Canada of the new imperialism, opening up prospects 
of direct involvement in imperial wars in an ace of mounting imperial 
rivalries, and threatening to undermine /toleration of cultural and ethnic 
difference in Canada. The second major change in circumstance was the 
rapid development after 1900 of the Canadian West on the basis of a large 
immigrant population of diverse peoples, posing grave difficulties to the 
achievement of the ideal of a dual nationality throughout Canada, Finally, 
he became much concerned with the deeper significance to /rench Canadim 
nationality of the whole complex of adaptations -- ideological, moral, 
economic, and social — being made in response to the coming of ITorth 
American urban industrialism to the province of Quebec. 

In attempts to influence the adjustments of Canadians to these 
changes, the Nationalist movement was born. It was without formal orga- 
nization other than the Ligue nationaliste , begun in Montreal in 1903 by 

a group of young intellectuals, notably journalists, of whom Bourassa 

was unchallenged leader. Through newspapers, principally Le 2,'ationaliste 

(1904) and Le Devoir (1910), and mass rallies, and in the actions of a 

few independents in Parliament, particularly Bourassa and Lavorgne, the 

Nationalists sought a following and a body of opinion independent of the 

two political parties. Their movement was entirely conservative in spirit, 

governed by an ideal of hierarchy and balance in society, and offered as a 

force making for stability of conditions. It emphasized traditional social 

order and institutions of authority and control, especially the Roman 

Catholic Church, It nevor becanie a political party, although the irationalists 


Among the founders of the League were Olivar Asselin, CCier Heroui, and 

Arnmnd Lavorgne. 

^See for example, Le Devoir, Sept, 3, 1910, "rrench Canadians have ex- 
perienced such profound changes through the force of arms and accidents 
of history in their national situation, their political constitution and 

social state, that they have, so to speak, clung fast to the Papacy as 
the most stable of institutions governing men." 


engaged in heated electoral campaigns in favour of one party or the 
other. Bourassa himself could not have been a party leader for he 
could not endure party discipline, and would too readily have sacrificed 
party interest or power for a principle. 

Adjusiment to change and instability took many forms and was 
general throughout French Canada. It was evident in the domains of 
government and education; in the emergence of new organizations and 
activity in agriculture, labour, and industry; in cultural activity; and 
in the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec to foster and in- 
fluence adaptations to urban and industrial life. This widely-based 
response was the background and, in part, the stimulus to the Nationalist 
movement ^rtiich in itself was the most spectacular of the adjustments 
undertaken in the first few decades of the century. 

The Nationalist movement was designed to slow the pace of 
industrial change, while making secure the position of the small proper- 
tied classes, and enrolling the new urban working classes in national and 
Catholic labour unions, thus integrating them with the general purpose of 
social unity and ethnic survival. It was designed, secondly, to fight 
imperialism and to foster the marimum independence of Canada compatible 
with remaining under the Crown, A main object of the movement's anti- 
imperialism, which was its salient feature and upon which it developed 
its maximum political force, was to orient Canada's defence policy in th« 
direction of neutrality in wars of the Einpire that were not fought strictly 
for the defence of Canada, Finally, the Nationalist movement was founded 
upon the advocacy of an Anglo-French nation extending throughout Canftd»» 
and requiring the spread of Franco- Catholic groups into the English- 
speaking provinces with the provision therein of Catholic education and 
a general bilingualism. 


In all their endeavours in imperial affairs, dual nationality, 

and problems of social order, the Nationalists stressed the broad Canadian 

character of their interest and outlook. The direction of their thought 

was stated by Bourassa in 1904 in an exchange of views with Jules Paul 

Tardivel, whom he believed, though with little justification, an ijnportant 

precursor of Canadian nationalism. In his newspaper, La VeVit^, Tardivel 


wrote : 

Our nationalism is French Canadian nationalism . , , The 
patriotism we wish to see flourish is French Canadian 
patriotism . , . For us, the homeland, while not precisely 
the province of Quebec, is French Canada. The nation we 
wish to see founded at the hour set by divine providence is 
the French Canadian nation. 

To this narrowly French, Catholic, and separatist nationalism Bourassa 

replied in Le Ilationalisto, the weekly newspaper recently launched by 

Asselin and others to promote the new Nationalism: 

Our nationalism is a Canadian nationalism founded on the duality 
of races and the distinctive traditions which that duality 
implies. He work for the development of a Canadian patriotism 
which is in our view the best guarantee of the co-existence of 
the two races and of the mutual respect they owe each other ... 
The homeland for us is the whole of Canada, that is to say, a 
federation of distinct races and autonomous provinces. The nation 
we wish to see develop is the Canadian nation composed of French 
and English Canadians . , , separated by language and religion and 
legal arrangements , . , but united in a sentiment of fraternity 
and devotion to a common homeland. 

To the three elements in this concept of nationalism; that is, 

See the article by Bourassa on the tenth anniversary of Tardivel 's death 
in Le Devoir , April 26, 1915, "If I seek the oricins of some of my ideas 
I have no difficulty in finding them in the articles of Tardivel, and even 
more perhaps in our too infrequent conversations." 

2 . 

La Verity , April 2, 1904, See also Ibid ., April 15, 1905, . . . perhaps 

we may be permitted to suggest a solution to the problem, that is to re- 
partition the Dominion on a new basis, subdividing it into two or more 
confederations." See also Tardivel 's Pour la Fatrie , (l/ontreal, 1895). 
3Le I.'ationaliste, April 3, 1904. Both citations may be read in Abbe Arthur 
Maheus{, "Le Nationalisme canadien-f rancais an I'av.rore du XX" siecle," 
Canadian Historical Association , Annual Report, 1945, 68-9. See also 
Olivar Asselin, A Quebec View of Canadian ^.'aticnalisc; An Essay by a Dyed 
in the Wool French Canadian, on the Best : leans of Assuring the Greatness 
of the Canadian Fatherlan d, (l.lontreal, 1909), a par.phlet of 61 pages 
dedicated to "The Great English Race". 


cultural dualism, provincial autonomy, and the idea of the whole of 
Canada as the nation, was added the idea of national independence under 
the British Crown — an independence to be aade effective and concrete 
in a distinctive Canadian foreign policy, which meant a foreign policy 
free from all taint of military or sentimental inperialism. I.'o longer 
tenable was the nineteenth-century passive colonialism svunmed up in the 
fonrula "No annexation, no separation from Great Britain, let us renain 

as we are," The relatively sudden fluidity of things was only too appa- 
rent to acute observers. From the viewpoint of the nationalist what was 
needed in the new era was an expansive, yet selfish concept of the 
national interest that could appeal to both nationalities. Central to 
this concept was a policy of peace abroad and of integral dualism, or 
justice and liberty, at heme. 

Under Bourassa's leadership the Nationalists reached the climax 
of their political strength in the general elections of 1911 when, allied 
with the Conservative party, they so weakened the grip of Sir Wilfrid 
Laurier upon his native province as to contribute to the defeat of his 
govornment. As a political movement the Nationalists thereafter declined 
in significance. School and language disputes in Ontario after 1912 and 
the outbreak of the World i*ar in 1914 brought renewed activity but the 
movement never regained its former prestige or popular following. This 

was partly because in practical politics it chose limited objectives de- 
signed to defeat policies rather than to implement alternatives; partly 
also because of its failure to hold together the parliamentary group of 
some twenty-seven members elected in the Nationalist cause in 1911; and 
partly because of the quick reassertion of Liberal party leadership in 
the province of Quebec. Until the 193C's Nationalism under Bourassa 


con-tinued raainl/ as an idoolosical curreirt, still stronrly preoccupied 
with laperial affairs, but more and more concernoa with social and 
economic problens of lar^^e-scale industrialism. Preoccupation with 
moral and religious questions, as vroll as with questions of social 
order, bore witness to the ; resence of strains. 

The depression of the Thirties and the outbreak of the 
Second World .7ar opened a new period of uncertainty and strain and 
brought into being a revitalized nationalism undor new leaders. Like 
the earlier phase developed by Bourassa, the newer expression of nationa- 
lism was concerned with imperialism, minority rights, provincial autonomy, 
and social and economic organization and reform. Unlike Bourassa 's 
nationalism, however, these nev7er movements — for example: the Action 
Libe'rale ilationale , the Union Nationale and the Bloc Populaire Canadien — 
were all organized as political parties and as such contested elections. 
With the exception perhaps of the last naned, their chief centre of inte- 
rest was the provincial field, and in this also they can be distinguished 
from the movement led by Boui^ssa, Bourassa 's nationalism coincided with 
the early stages of a period of great economic expansion and social and 
political change throughout Canada. Dominating the period between liercier 
and the more recent movements, and characterized by internal conflicts 
reflecting the desire to promote the old order along with qualified accep- 
tance of the new, it functioned to discharge collective anxieties and to 
reduce the costs of rapid change, 

A more extended analysis of underlying conditions in the 
development of Nationalism Till conclude this introductory chapter, 
Bnphasis will be placed upon major economic, social, and political changes 
affecting Canada and especially the province of Quebec in the period 


roughly from 1890 to 1920. In sone cases, fi-ires are cited for a 
longer period to show the continuation of so-.e trend of significance to 
Nationalism, Since the principal components of these radical changes 
of kind and of degree are generally fauiliar, they may be referred to 
hero in outline only. 

Regional expansion was unparalleled in Canadian experience 
and brought about new alignments of economic and political power altering 
the balance between French and English-speaking citizens. The completi) n 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Pacific Coast in 1885 and the pro- 
vision of branch lines opened the mineral resources of the Kootenay and 
the Crowsnest regions to exploitation in the early 1890*3. Expansion in 
agriculture, mining, fishing and lumbering on the Pacific Coast, ranching 
and fruit fanning in the interior, and the gold rush to the Yukon after 
1896, brought a rapid increase in population and demands for heavy capital 
equipment, inveslment, and consumers' goods. Transportation and immigra- 
tion policies and the tariff reflected the state's concern with political 

unity through an economic integration achieved by linking the needs of new 

areas with those of the old. 

Heavy immigration into the Canadian West after 1900 from Eastem 

Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Europe, and the rapid growth 

of wheat farcing for export, together with high prices and bumper crops 

further increased the demand for new railway lines, elevators, and the 

construction of towns, and this in turn supported the expansion of industry, 

trade, and financial institutions in Central Canada. Eastem Canadian 

agriculture became more specialized to dairying and animal and food products. 

See H. A. Innis, An Introduction to the Economic History of Ontario from 
Outpost to Empire , Reprint from Vol. XXX, Papers and Records, Ontario 
Historical Society, "The problem of Confederation was that of linking 
together relatively isolated areas and of providing a new base for the 
support of debt lifted from the shoulders of the provinces . . . The 

tariff was extended to provide revenue to support new capital inveslrjent 
and to guarantee control over new areas." (p. 119), 

Large amounts of investment capital were mobilized in Great 
Britain and in the United States to exploit the forest, mineral, and water 
power resources of Northern Ontario and Queboc to meet the increasing 
Canadian and American demands for wood, paper, newsprint, metals, and power. 

Expansion in the coal, iron and steel industries in Nova Scotia 
was aided by fiscal measures; and a general stimulation of agriculture, 
fishing, and lumbering in the Maritime provinces supported their partici- 
pation in the new level of economic prosperity. 

Expansion "nas measured in impressive statistics. Railway mileage, 
for example, increased from about 10,000 in 1885 to 18,000 in 1900 and 
30,000 by 1914, Between 1900 and 1914 bank deposits rose from $305, million 
to $1,114. million; custoas receipts from $28, million to $105. million; 
the value of imports from $173, million to $619, million and of exports 
from $183. million to $455. million; and capital investment from British 
and American sources rose by some $2,383 million. During the first two 
decades of the century, farm investment multiplied three and one-half fold 
and investment in manufacturing by seven fold. Population growth was most 
marked in the prairie provinces but was general except in the Maritimes, 
The tliree western provinces grew in population from 152,506 in 1891, to 
419,512 in 1901; and had reached 1,328,121 in 1911 and 1,955,082 in 1921, 
In the same period, 1B91-1921, British Columbia's population increased 
from 98,173 to 524,582, The Llaritimes increased by about 20,000 persons, 

while Quebec increased by some 873,000 and Ontario by 819,000 persons, 

Total population in the period 1891-1921 rose from 4,833,239 to 8,767,949, 


See L!, Q, Innis, An Economic History of Canada (Toronto, 1935), pp. 290- 
92; B, A, Mackintosh, The Economic -ackground of Dominion-Provincial 
Relations ; A study prepared for the Royal Commission on Dominion- 
Provincial Relations, Appendix 3, (Ottawa, 1930), p. 27; The Canada Year 
Book, 1943-44, p. 79. 


Of equal importance to the fact of unprecedented physical 
expansion was the transfonned character of the economy in teras of 
specialization and integration and the new depth and complexity .-iven 
to it by the development of modem industrialism. The degree of inter- 
dependence and unity was reflected, for example, in the adjustment of the 
economy in General, and of the export trades in particular, to the domi- 
nating export position of the prairie provinces. For other regions of 
Canada, particularly Ontario and Quebec, the development of the prairies 
as a great wheat exporting area, meant a rapidly expanding home market 
for manufactured goods and for services; while in turn, the development 
of industrial and commercial centres to provide goods and services further 
enlarged and stabilised the home market of consumers. Manufacturing for 
the home market increased in value from about |9.4 million in 1900 to 
^39. million in 1910 and $603, million in 1923. Not only were the cen- 
tral provinces integrated in this way with the economic development of the 
Westj their own export trade broadened out from natural products to include 
manufactured goods; for example, automobile parts, agricultural implements, 
and rubber products and the export of pulp and paper and mineral products. 

Change was equally apparent at the turn of the twentieth century 

in a persistent trend to large scale operations and to concentration of 

control in industry. This was due in part to competition in a relatively 

small market but even more so to the need for large capital outlay and to 

the i^pidity of technological changes. A marked movement towards combines 

and international agreements was evident in Canada between 1900 and 1914, 

in textiles, rubber, coal, steel, cement, paper milling, meat packing, and 

in banking and financial institutions. Anti-trust le-islaticn a-reared in 

I ' 

L, G, Reynolds, The Control of Competition in Canada , (Cambridge, lv40), 
Ch, I; *The most striking fact about Canadian manufacturing is the fewness 
of the producers in most fields," (p. 4). 


18f9 and 1910 but on the whole provincial and federal governnents tolerated 

and indirectly fostered the consolidation movement in Canadian industry. 

At the same time there began a heavy inflow of American investment to 

Canada, a large proportion of which was placed directly in the form of 

branch plants or affiliated companies, Plostility to large scale indus- "^ 

trialism, combines and trusts, and to American economic penetration of <" 

Canada became prominent features of Bourassa's nationalism during and 

after the first World V7ar. 

Features common to industrial expansion in Canada appeared in 
Quebec often in an accentuated form, making more difficult the adjustments 
of French Canadians to new economic relations and practices. Particularly 
evident was the emergence of a few large producers in certain fields and a 
relatively low degree of diversification of industrial activities. The 
trend towards monopoly, coupled with the overwhelming financial and indus- -> 
trial predominance of Anglo-Canadian, British, and American enterprises, \ 
raised special social, economic and cultural problems closely related to 
the Nationalist movement. 

The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed the develop- 
ment of a considerable manufacturing industry, and an extension of commer- 
cial activities in the province of Quebec, Llachine industry developed in 
Montreal after 1850 in relation to transportation improvements, and was 

primarily concerned with the nroduction of consumer goods. Capital and 

skill were imported from Great Britain, or accumulated within the existing 

provincial enterprises which were largely in Anglo-Canadian hands. Economic ^ 

Report of Commissioner, Combines Investigation Act , (Otta^va, 1045), "Canada 
and International Cartels', p. 1. i.-cV- <<--|p»»l <4i, gr*-"'^ ". |f-''^- 
^Ibid,, pp, 41-43. 


L. G, Reynolds, The British Immigrant; His Social and Econociic Adjjstpent 

in Canada , (Toronto, 1935), pp. 90-92, 

See Simon A, Goldberg, The French Canadian and the Industrialization of 

Quebec, (unpublished 11, A, Thesis), L'cGill University, 1940, pp. 80-86, 


expansion after Confederation was checked by the depression of 1873, 

but continued slowly after the inauguration of the National Policy of 

protection to industry in 1879, Prolonged depression set in four years 

later and lasted until the ceneral recovery of 1896-97, During the long 

depression period, there took place heavy enigration from Qi'ebec to the 

New England States, checked to some extent by colonization in the Lake 

Saint John area and in the Ottawa River Valley, After 1896 spectacular 

economic development continued with minor recessions, and with increasing 

tempo during the first World War, until the general collapse of 1929. 

The population of the province of Quebec increased by over 350,000 in each 

of the first two decades of the century and by over 500,000 in the third 

decade, L'ore significant still was the pronounced increase in urban and 

metropolitan population — almost six-fold from 1871-1531 -- chile the 
rural areas remained fairly stable at about one million persons. The pro- 
portion of urban population in the total population of the province rose 

from 22. 82f, in 1871, to 33,57^ in 1851, 39,67^ in 1901, 48,2^ in 1511, and 

to 56. 03^ in 1921, The population of L'ontreal grew from 325,653 in 1501 


to 450,504 in ISll and reached 618,506 in 1521, Spectacular advances in 
population, indicative not only of rapid industrial development but of mi- 
gratory movements as well, were evident in the emergence of towns and cities 
within the metropolitan area of Montreal, and in rural areas situated close 
to strategic natural resources. Verdun, for example, grew from 1,858 per- 
sons in 1501 to 25,000 in 1921; Sherbrooko in the same period grew from 
11,765 to 23,515; lull from 13,993 to 24,117; Chicoutimi fron 3,826 to 

8,937; Shawinigan r'alls from to 10,625; Granby from 3,773 to 6,785 and 


ITie Canada Year Book , 1946, p, 94. 

Ibid., p. 121, 

Ibid. , p. 125, 


Grand'LIere from 2,511 to 7,Cj1. 

Another indication of basic eccnonic chance and expansion in 

the province was revealed in the movement of capital invesiinent. In three 

leadinc industries between 1900 and 1910, for exaople, the grovTth was 

marked and illustrates the general trend; investirent in electric li^iht 

and power rising from approrLmately |3.5 million to $24,5 million; in 

pulp and paper from C4,3 million to $19.3 million; and in slaughtering 

and packing from fl.O million to $2,9 million. In the next decade, 1910- 

1S20, capital invested in manufacturing in Quebec had almost tripled to 

stand in 1920 at $878,859,638. 

Surplus agricultural population which in the past had migrated 

to New England or under Church guidance to new areas of colonization, was 


increasingly absorbed in Quebec industry and cocmerco, A persistent trend 
in migration from Quebec to the I-faritime Provinces was paralleled after 
the turn of the century by a movement to Ontario and the West. A compari- 
son of figures at Confederation and in 1931 si).£sests the growth of French- 

speaking provincial groups. From 1871 to 1931, the French Canadian popu- 
lation of the Llaritimes increased from about 87,000 to 205,000; and that 
of Ontario from 75,000 to 300,000, By the latter year their numbers had 

increased in Manitoba to 47,000; in Saskatchewan to 50,000; in Alterta to 


Ibid ., 1948-1949, pp. 144-45. 

Detailed figures for a list of selected industries are given in Annuaire 
Statistique , 1913, pp. 312,13, and cited in S. A. Goldberg, op.cit . , p. 1 7. 

^ Tbe Canada Year Book , 1943-44, p, 364; and ibid ., 1931, p. 408, 
^See Notre Llilieu, Arorpu general sur la province de Quebec , collection 
dirigee par Esdras Uinville, ('"^on'treal, 1942); especially Part I, "Le 
Milieu Physique", for studies of regional characteristics and development 
based largely on the writings of Raoul Blanchard, 
^See Leonidas Joubert, "Des Groupements de Canadians-f ran(f»if au Canada", 
in Etudes Economiques, Publications de I'Ecole des Hautes i^tudes Conner- 
ciales de Montreal, Vol. V., (.\:ontreal, 1935), pp. 77-109; also Adrian 
Page, "Ia Colonization dans la Province de Qufibec depuis 1930*. Ibid ., 
Vn, 1937, pp, 367-79, 

38,000; and in British Columbia to 15,000. In that year the proportion 
of French Canadians in the various provinces ranged from some 33^ in Hew 
Brunswick, lif. in Prince Edward Island, and 11,°^ in "ova Scotia; to B.lf. 
in Ontario, 6,7% in tlanitoba, 5.5;:; in Saskatchewan, 5% in Alberta, and 
2.1% in British Columbia. In most of the provinces except British Colunbia 
the French Canadian settlements were relatively well grouped for cultural 

defence and development, and had established classical colleges, educational 

associations and newspapers. They had shown a preference for areas rela- 
tively untouched by the inrush of European, British, and Aaerican settlers 
where traditional cultural patterns could more easily become established. 
Their capacity to survive and increase had been evident since the turn of 
the centi'.ry. Protection and development of these groups throughout Canada 
becane a prominent feature of the Nationalist movement, as has already been 
noted, while their existence provided the basis of the Nationalist claim 

for a country-wide dualism which they saw as one of the strongest links 

uniting the provinces and forming a dependable barrier to American influences. 

French Canadians had taken a relatively minor part in the indus- 
trial development of the province of Quebec. In part this was because of 
their predominantly rural background and the orientation of their social 
thought towards a rural civilization emphasizing spiritual and ideological 

T ■ 

For examples, colleges at Sudbury, St. i^onifaco, Gravelburg, and 3dnonton; 
and newspapers in Ottav/a, Winnipeg, Prince Albert and Ednonton; respec- 
tively, Le Droit , La Liberte , Le ratriote de I'Cuest and La Survivance .^fap ^^jf \ 

2 -"^ — -J 

See for example a typical statement by Bourassa to an audience in lAbelle 

constituency and reported in Le Devoir , August 1, 1927; "In the sar.e way 

that Confederation was possible in 1S55 only by the co-operation of the 

French Canadians and the Catholic episcopate, its restoration and survivaJL 

will be assured only by the dissemination and increase of Franco- Catholic 

groups in the different parts of the country, and on the condition that 

these groups find everywhere the same neasure of liberty which the Anglo- 

protestant minority finds in the province of Quebec". See also Le Devoir , 

October 5, 1925 for the appearance of these opinions in the election cam- 

paign in Labelle constituency in that year. 


factors rather than careers in business and industry. Their minor role 
in industrial development was partly due to the orientation of their 
educational system to recruiting for the liberal professions, but even 
more so to the small share which they held in the past in the commercial 
and financial institutions in which capital for industrial expansion was 
accumulated. The basic unit of French Canadian economic enterprise was 

the relatively self-contained family farm, and this did not produce the ^ 

surplus capital required for comnercial or industrial enterprise. Coloni- 
zation and emigration reduced the pressure of population upon the agricul- 
tural system and postj)oned general cultural adjus-bnents to an industrial 
economy. Accordingly, when rapid expansion set in at the end of the cen- 
tury on the basis of non-agricultural resources and new techniques, 
French Ceinadians were not fully prepared to take a part commensurate with 
their numbers or their aspirations to maintain their national and cultural 
position in Canada, The accumulation of capital, the development of busi- 
ness skills and industrial methods, and the growth of a tradition of indi- 
vidual enterprise and of a system of expectations related to comnercial 

activity, had been retarded or left in the main to Anglo-Canadian initiative. 

Great Britain had long provided much of the capital and the 

great majority of the skilled workers, technicians and managers, in the 

iron and steel and allied industries of Montreal, The same was true for 

the textile industries, althouj-h the movement of plants, personnel, 


See E. C, Righes, French Canada in Transition , (Chicago, 1943), Ch, II; 
and Simon A. Goldberg, op. cit ., pp. 89, 134, 

^See E. C. Ilughes and M, L. l.'acdonald, " French and English in the Economic 
S-tructure of i.^ontreal". The Canadian Journal of Econcraics and Political 
Science , Vol. VII, Ho, 4, 1841, for an attempt to measure the pecuniary 
strength of French and English enterprise in Montreal; also E, C. liighes, 
"Position and Status in a Quebec Industrial Town", American Sociological 
Review , Vol. Ill, No. 5, 1938, pp, 709-17, 

See L. G. Reynold's, The British Immigrant, pp, 77, 79 ff. 


managers, and techniques from New England becaae important after 1900, 

American capital and skill, sonetines in the fom of cccpleted industrial 

enterprises, began to move into towns and cities and to dr«.w unskilled 

labour from the countryside. Both an economic and an ethnic invasion of 

the province had begun. The province of Quebec provided the rich natural 
resources of its forests, sines, and waterpower, a lar;?e force of surplus 
labour, and a government, dominated by the Liberal party from 1897 to 1935 
and friendly to econoaic expansion. 

The French Canadian commercial and industrial bourgeoisie 
were restricted for the most part to snail industries, often familial in 
character, based upon the natural resources of the province, requiring a 
relatively small capital outlay, and operated without highly technical 
management. Even the traditional French Canadian enterprises (saw mills, 
grist mills, tanneries, boot and shoe factories, furniture shops, machine 
shops and foundries, etc.) were subject to absorption by larger firms. 
From 1850 to 1900, French Canadians in industry and commerce had remained 
predominantly small entrepreneurs both in fact and in outlook. They were 
rot large employers of wage-earners. Like the fanners, their livelihood 
and experience of the economy were largely corJTined to their own province. 
The same general pattern was carried over into the period of rapid expan- 
sion after 1900, In the newer lines, for example, in the electrical, 
chemical and non-ferrous metals industries, and renerally in all those 
fields where modern scientific kno^yledge and engineering skills zrere re- 
quired, French Canadians were noticeably weak or absent. This was true 
both in respect to ownership and management and to a great extent of 
French Canadian workers as well. The industrialization of Quebec continued 
to be largely a matter of imported capital, skill, and management, 


Goldberg, op. cit, , p. 144, ff. 

Industrialization brought increased occupational and social / 
mobility to a hitherto relatively stable society based in largo part on 
agriculture, on limited professional and mercantile pursuits, and emigra- 
tion. The rapidity and the unique character of the economic development -^ 
of the province emphasized the inferior position of the French Canadians. \ 
All social strata end all traditional social institutions were put under 
strain in adapting to new institutions and practices. This strain was a 
primary source of the self-consciousness and militancy finding outlet in • 
the Nationalist movement. The greatest effects r/ere felt perhaps among 
the urban working classes and among the merchant and professional bourgeoi- 
sie. These classes experienced a more impersonal and secular existence xi 
contrast to the closely-knit family and parish life of their rural back- 
ground. To some extent also there was being created a situation in which 
the urban working classes were being separated from the influence of the 
older ^lite at a time when the latter were facing competition from new 

leaders of their own and of alien nationality called into existence by 

the socio-economic changes. The strongly conservative and traditionalist 

bias underlying the Nationalist movement was related to these changes and 

to efforts to restore unity and control. 

Particular concern was shown for the implications to a hitherto 

stable and united society of small producers of the appearance on a large 

scale of the social relations of an industrial order, namely the relations 

between employers and wage earners. These relations, in Bourassa's view, 

as will be noted later, were responsible for the class conflicts of modern 

industrial nations. Not only T;as he to lose faith in parliamentary 


See E, C, liaghes, "Position and Status in a Quebec Industrial To^r.", 

or), cit ., p. 717, 

See Chapter IX below. 

democracy and the party systoa of govemnent as a aeans of reconciling 
such class conflicts; he came to believe thorn likely to destroy parlia- 
mentary deaocracy itsolf , A search for ways of avoiding social strife 
and disunity, and thus of maintaining the conditions for democratic liber- 
ties and cultural defence became prime objectives of leadinj^ Nationalists, 
IJany, like Bourassa, believed that ethnic and cultural siarvival depended 
on strengthening the older order which rested on familial enterprise in 
faming, and on small and medium enterprise in industry and commerce. 
But Bourassa was among the foremost also in favouring tho national and 
Catholic trade union movement begun in Quebec in 1003, and in seeking to 
bring it into harmonious relations with other social classes. 

The population actually engaged in faming was no loss siffected 
than the urban groups, for here adaptation involved new faming methods 
and products and brought changes in family organization, new ways of living, 
new forms of professional association, and new ideas. Examples drawn from 
a recent history of agriculture in French Canada suggest a general national 

devolopment and an accelerated movement towards connercial agriculture in 

the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Progress began with the open- 
ing of butter and cheese factories in the Eastern Tov/nships after 1865 and 
by the introduction of machinery to dairying in the 1880 's. The Societe 
d 'Industrie Laitiere founded in 1882 assisted in the organization of mune- 
rous local societies and in the establishment of a dairy school at Saint 
Hyacinthe in 1892, and resulted in tho convening of an agricult>jral con- 
gress in Quebec in 1893, Societies for the improvement of live stock and 
feeding methods, and of production in fruits, market produce, and other 

farm products, spread aftar 1890 and were linked in regional and provincial 

Firmin Letoumeau, rlistoiro de I'Agriculture (Canada franpais ), (^ontreal, 


f edertitions, A Syndicat des riiltivateurs comroaed of leaders in acri- 

culture, journalism, the Church, and politics, and modelisd upon that of 

France, \7as forEod in 18Q2 and devoted to the organization of local 

associations, information services, and co-operative activities. Schools 

for the advancement of scientific agriculture were established at St, 

Anne de la Pocati'ere in 1858, at Richmond in 1875, Compton in 1894, and 

were followed by the Institut Agricole d'Oka in 1893 and by Uacdonald 

College in 1907. Agronomists were first graduated from the two latter 

schools in 1911. The experience of French, German, and 3elgi«»\ co-operatives 

was drawn upon to develop organization in production, marketing, purchasing, 

savings, and credit, A confederation of agricultural co-operatives was 

formed at Oka in 1916 to link some 100 branches begun in 1903, After a 

number of experiments in organization, the Union Catholique des Chjltiva- 

teurs was formed in 1924 and affiliated with the Canadian Council of 


In all these developments which reflect the commercialization 
of agriculture, adaptation through professional association had been 
stressed. Professional organization in turn facilitated the integration 
of these adjustments with the over-all strategy of cultural defence and 
progress. There was thv.s created a greater capacity for united and natio- 
nal action. Urbanization, colonization movements, and the re-organization 
of agricultural life implied, moreover, a renewed interest in the founda- 
tions of social order, in equilibrium, and authority, such as was shown 

by Bourassa and I'atioiialists in gener^il, 


Op. cit,, pp. 198-281, Discussion of more recent date has been concerned 
with the organization of a Corporation d 'Agric-.lture to be given a statu- 
tory foundation, and to unite all the federated and regional agricultural 
societies and co-operatives under a single authority with the power to 
impose its decision upon its members. 


Paralleling economic and social changes in agriculture were 

syndical orcanizations aaong French Canadian Catholic workers beginning 

in 1903, and resulting in the formation of the province-wide Confedera- 

tion des Travailleurs du Canada at PIull in 1921, A significantly slower 

development took place among r'rench Canadian industrialists, 

A reflection of tho extent of the change and of the difficulties 

of adjustment is caught in the poetry written in Llontreal between 1890 and 

1915 characterized by a nostalgia for the rural life, memories of a youth 

spent on the family fara, and of cradlos, shade trees, and church bells, 

A more personal note and an investigation of psychological problems however 

began to appear in the poetry at this time suggesting the impact of the new 

environment. The founding of the Ecole Litteraire de I.'ontreal in 1395 by 

a group of youthful enthusiasts was in reaction to a sense of the stagna- 
tion and inertia into which poetry had fallen. Experimentation with tho 

Parnassian tradition and with the symbolist techniques of France was sug- 

gested as an approach to a new orientation of French Canadian literature. 

The habitant, fidelity to the natal soil, and religious and patriotic sen- 

tinent continued, however, to be the prevailing themes. 

Success in new urban and industrial occupations implied the 

adoption of standards of organization, education, and of specific attitudes 

similar to those of the predominant Anglo-Cane.dian groups and raised in a 

new form the threat of cultural assimilation. Nationalists joined with the 

See J, P. Dfipres, Le Llouvement ouvrier canadien , (tlontreal, 1946), p. 58, 

See Association Prof essionnelle des Industriels, Comment Sauvegarder 
L'Enterprise Priv6e , (Montreal, 1945), p. 10 and passim . 

Seo for example Albert Lozeau, L'Ane Solitaire , (Paris, 1907); and Paul 
Uorin, Le Paon d'£faail , (Paris, 1911). 

See Jean Charbonneau, L'Ecole Litteraire de Montreal , (Montreal, n.d.),p.20. 

See A. J. Jobin, Visagos Litterr-ires dxt Canada-franQais , ("Montreal, 1941), 
pp, 54-62, 

traditional elito in calling for a slowing down of the pace of industria- 
lization as security for an adaptation which would preserve the national 
culture. Readiness and capacity for change v/as limited by the need 
to maintain religious, cultural and social unity. The reaction took 
many forms. Among the pronounced featvires especially after 1S20 was an 
hostility to "foreign economic dictatorship" wfiich through investments and 
control of natural resources and through its working class institutions 
remorselessly transformed the social fabric. Economic depression empha- 
sized the dependence of the people upon the initiative of "foreign* 
management, while both depression and prosperity threatened the small 
entrepreneur with absorption by "big business* and "foreign" rivals. 

These attitudes implied a tendency to misdirect analysis of 
social and economic relations into resentments against the encroachments 
of an alien civilization. Modern industrial capitalistic enterprise v,-as 
associated with Protestant and materialistic values and related to social 
anarchy, as manifested for example in the breakdown of family life, in 
divorce, birth control, and in class antagonisms. Protests against urba- 
nization were supplemented by support for Catholic and national trade 
unions, for agricultural and professional associations, and for more ex- 
tensive colonization measiires. rrom the Nationalists' viewpoint, as in- 
dicated above, the safety of the culture appeared to rest with the rela- 
tively stable, moral, and prolific rural populations, although after 
1920 increasing emphasis was placed on gaining control of the commercial 
and industrial life of the province in order to impose upon it in a more 
systematic way the ideals of a Roman Catholic and French civilization. 

Criticism, analysis, and efforts to control adaptation were by 
no means restricted to Nationalists. The Roman Catholic Church played a 
supremely important part in influencing the character of the adjustient 

to broad social change. Criticism by members of the higher clergy of 
the effects of modem industrial capitalism were balanced however by 
the opposition of the Church to economic and class radicalism, not only 
because of fear of the divisive results within the French Canadian cul- 
ture, but even more in accordance with Catholic social doctrine, PLadica- 
lism was thus channelled away from class lines and from a socialist 
solution of the problems of economic control, and into the nationalist 
current, Laval University, and the University of Ottawa after 1880, 
became centres for the propagation of Thomist philosophy and of the en- 
cyclicals of Leo XIII, emhasizing an equilibrium and harmony of social 

forces through charity and inter-class solidarity. This, too, stressed 

a national rather than a sectional tpproach to socio-economic problems. 
It tended also to discourage preoccupation with economic affairs in favour 
of contemplating ideals of spirituality and social balance. 

Recruits for Nationalism were supplied by a number of Church- 
sponsored associations. This was especially true of the youth. Among 
these organizations were; tha Association catholique de la jeunesse 
canadienne-frangaise (1904); a national women's federation of the Saint 
Jean Baptiste society; closed retreats begun in 1909 and adapted to occu- 
pational classes; the Semaines Sociales, begun after the war; and the 

Ecole Sociale Fopulaire (1911), under the guidance of the Jesuit order. 

See Kermas Eastien, L'Snseignement de la philosophie au Canada Sran ^&is, 
("ontreal, 1936), pp, 27-30 and passim where it is remarked that Thomist 
doctrine emerged during "the most unstable period of ziedieval civilisa- 
tion", (p, 46), 
See Le Devoir , July 1, 1914, speech of L'r, Vanier, on the "vanguard" 

conception of the A.C.J.C, in which he declared t'.e intention was to 
form "energetic, disinterested and persevering warriors" for a kind of 
lay apostolate to work in the social and intellectual sphere rather 
than in the political. For a long time this movement was confined to 
university circles. Groups such as the A,C.J,C, produced iraticnalists, 
and because of their emphasis upon religious and social interests, they 
contributed to the supra-party character of that movement. 


This latter institution was dedicated to tho study of social problens 
v/ith special emphasis on the needs of the modem proletariat and sr.all 
taisinossman, and upon the ideal of class conciliation. It and other 
organizations were specially concerned with the formation of elites in 
business, agricultural, labour, and professional circles and their inte- 
gration into the broad raovenent of ideas and of action Irnov/n as Sociel 

Catholic isrij. 

See Lo Devoir , November 13, 1911, for the speech of an officer of the 
Ecole Scciale Populairs ; "Our work is in the interest of the popular 
classes. In our contemporary society there are three classes: the 
rich, the poor, and the niddle classes. All need more justice, charity, 
and prudence. But those who have to suffer cost are the workers in in-r 
dustry and on the land, tho small cultivators, the snail artisans, and 
the snail employers. It is they who constitute the ioc-.ense anthill of 
a society." Though this raovecent is complex in its agencies, it is 
animated by a single philosophy; nan:ely, that social problems cannot be 
solved except under the Christian conceptions of charity and of justice, 
and that for the individual Catholic, it is a duty to engage in social 
activity. Two words sximmarize the niethod: study and action. It is a 
movement devoted only in part to reform, mainly to reconstruction. It 
is state interventionist in social and economic life and repudiates both 
revolutionary socialism and the non-interventionist teachings of the 
Liberal schools. Social Catholicism in a general sense also advocates 
the development of institutions which will relieve the state of much of 
the adirinistration of social welfare, and regulation of economic life. 
This latter objective points to the omergence of some modernized form of 
the ancient guild organization, in which representatives of capital and 
of labour meet in joint boards to regulate the affairs of trade, conduct 
vocational training, establish social insurance, etc. This naturally 
brings to the front the protection of property, and, because of an 
orientation towards intermediate classes, a desire also to increase the 
number and security of small holdings, along with encouragement of co- 
operatives in trades, in agriculture, and in credit institutions, and 
schemes for profit sharing and co-partnership in management. From all 
this, there arises the habit of viewing the movement as one of originality 
and as an ideal equilibrium between liberty and authority, or as a new 
point of view from which to absorb what is tnae from the two modern 
exaggerations of "individualism" and "socialism". The close association 
of Social Catholicism with corporatist doctrines and movements will be 


The EXjropean experiences of the Roman Ca+holic Church wore 
drawn upon for methods of dealing with the social problems of modern 
industrialism in Canada, This noant a continuing emphaois on expanding 
the various fores of associational lifo. To sone of these attention has 
already been dravvn. Co-operatives of many kinds were encoura^jed anong 
the farmers and townspeople, and national and Catholic labour unions 
amonc workers. Priests wore trained to meet the problems of particular 
urban groups, A Catholic daily newspaper, L'Action sociale catholique 
was founded by the Archbishop of Quebec in 1907, Thus in the first 
decade of the century the Church had launched an integrated intex-vention 
into the life of French Canadian society in response to nev; conditions. 
B^ it was only a beginning, and to a large extent Church leaders still 
clung to their ideal, most perfectly realized in the first fifty years 
after the conquest, of a rural-centred society. Its social influence and 
concern for order and stability indirectly promoted the industrial expan- ? 
sion, which it did not fully accept, however, until the middle of the century. 

The state, both national and provincial, favoured the forces of 

economic expansion, and especially after 1880 in the governments of 

Chapleau, Llercier, Parent, and C-ouin. After 1900 technical, connercial, 

and art and craft schools beg^n to equip French Canadians 77ith the skills 

necessary in an industrial age. These schools were, moreover, expressions 

of nationalism. They were justified by Prime Minister Gouin, for example, 

as enabling French Canadians to climb out of the manpower reservoir in 

whiph they merely served English or American capital. Assistance to agri- 


Itural improvenent and adaptation was given in the form of training 

schools and encouragement for professional organization. The natural 

"T-umilly, Histoire de la province de Queljec , XIII, pp. 17, 12:^-127, Two 
technical schools, a Polytechnic Institute, and the Ecole des Kautes 
Etudes Commercialos were provided for by legislation in 1907, 


resources of the province were put at the disposal of lumber merchants, 

pulp and paper enterprises, and hydro-electric nower companies, as well 

as others, A law for the conciliation of labour disputes was passed in 

1901. Co-operation between Church and atate in Quebec brought support 

for economic erpansion while at the same time the Church was able to 

exercise considerable influence in reducing the social costs of rapid 


On the whole, the Nationalists found most support anonc the 

traditional leaders of the society; the older arofessions, the farmers, 

lower clergy, small businessmen, and students. The working class did not 

respond to the same extent. Not only were they forming their o7/n orga- 
nizations of class defence and improvement, but they also welcomed prob- 
ably more than any other class the expansion of economic opportunity 
associated with industrialism. To some extent, young men and women when 
they reached the age of twenty were surplus labour on the family farm, 
and in the past had either to emigrate, begin new farms, or enter the 
professions. Urban and industrial growth meant widening opportunities 

for employment and accordingly appealed to rural youth and fathers of 

families seeking to establish their many children. Social leaders con- 
cerned with the cultural effects of industrialism after 1900, and the 
youth of the universities gave most support to the Nationalists, 

Not only was the Nationalist movement related to regional 
developments throughout Canada and to a greater degree of integration in 
the political and the economic structure of the nation; its character 

The first issue of Le Devoir , January 10, ISlC, carried the bold asser- 
tion that "all the youth oi Quebec -- young professionals, young mer- 
chants, clerks, workers, and students are He-tionalists*. The reference 
was to Quebec Citv. 
See E. C. Hughes, French Canada in Transition (Chicago, 1943), Chs.I, II. 

was even more clearly influenced by changes taking place in the British 
Sapire since 1875, and especially in the years 1895-1914. In this 
period the question of Canada's imperial relations was raised in an 
acute form, first by the dispatch of Canadian contingents to South 
Africa (1899-1900), secondly, by the decision to build a Canadian navel 
force (1909-1911), and finally, by the full participation of Canada in 
the World War, 1914-1918, The problems raised on these occasions were, 
in part, simply the continuing problems of adjusting the duties, func- 
tions, and symbols of status of the colony in keeping with economic, 
political and social development. The growth of Canadian national senti- 
ment pressed constantly for a wider sphere of autonomous action. Yet 
there v/as a very wide-spread desire to express national feelings and 
aspirations in harmony with imperial interests. The twin movements of 
opinion were illustrated by the emergence of the Canada First party in 
the early 1670 's, and its appeal for independence; and by the organiza- 
tion of the Imperial Federation League across Canada after 1885, an 

organization which reflected a more positive desire for imperial unity 

through a federal imperial parliament. 

But the character of the problems was changing, and in the 
period from 1899 to 1914, imperial relations became the subject of bitter 
controversy. Viewpoints on imperial relations increasingly divided the 
country along the lines of nationality at a time vrhen economic expansion 
and social change rendered opinion uncertain. The activities and jingo 
sentiments of imperialist circles in English-speaking Canada were evidence 
of a steady growth in one direction, while the emerging Nationalist move- 
ment in Quebec v/as v/itness to the organization of a militant oaposition, 
I ' 

See Colonel George T, Denison, The Struggle for Imperial Unity , 

(Toronto, 1909), 

Problems of adjustment were complicated by appeals emanating froc 
England for material evidence of imperial solidarity. 

At the turn of the century the inperialist novenent was 
doninated by the personality and activities of L:r. Joseph Chacberlain, 
Secretary of State for the Colonies, Kis conception of empire left 
little doubt of his hope of welding the "British race" into a self- 
sufficient, mutually supporting system through cormercial, military, 
and political arrangements. Believing that the inexorable tendency 
of the age was to concentrate the major elements of social power in 
imperial institutions, he bent his great talents to the unification of 
the Sapire, He felt the urgency of a rare opportunity to crystalize 
the expressions of imperial solidarity raised at the Queen's Jubilee 
celebrations in London in 1897 and during the South African Bar. He 
was keenly aware of the increasing industrial rivalry of the United 
States and of Gennany. To hin the liknpire was yet in its infancy; com- 
pared with its future possibilities, it was gravely under-developed. 
Its future lay in cementing the colonies, which he referred to as 
"states", into "the greatest empire the world has known" by ties of 

interest, blood, sentiment, and institutions. In a speech in Glasgow 

in 1903 Lr. Chamberlain explained: 

Our object is, or should be, the realization of the greatest 
ideal which has ever inspired statesnen in any country or in 
any age — the creation of an Sbpire such as the world has 
never seen, (^loud cheers^ '.Ve have to cer.ent the union of the 
states beyond the seas; we have to consolidate the British 
race; we have to meet the clash of competition, commercial 
now — sometimes in the past it has been otherwise — it may 
be again in the future. '.Thatever it be, whatever danger 
threatens, we have to meet it no longer as an isolated coun- 
try; we have to meet it fortified and strengthened, and but- 
tressed by all those of our kinsmen, all those powerful and 
contim-^ally rising states which speak our common tongue and 
glory in our common flag, ^cheers^ 

I ^^^ 

Rt, Hon. Joseph Cheunberlain, il. P., Imperial Union and Tariff r-efcrm , 
Speeches delivered from L'ay 15 to I'ovember 4, 1903, ri^ondon: Grant 
Richards), p. 22. 

Discussions of an inperial trading system protected by inqperial 
tariffs, and of the establishment of an Inporial Council, or an Imperial 
Parliament in which the self-govorning colonies would b© represented, had 
kept imperial questions before the public mind since the 18C0*s. Efforts 
to consolidate i:.:perial defence forces, and a desire to r^sV.e all the 
material resources of the Qnpire available for centralized military plan- 
ning, along with a search for precedents and tokens of solidarity in 
time of crises, added fuel to the debate. To aost^anadians at the turn 
of the century it seemed possible to satisfy both their feelings of natio- 
nal and inperial pride, and the interests of the metropolis in turning 
them to £Ood account by drawing ti~hter the bonds of empire. The Empire 
was not felt to be unduly confining, but few were willing to formalize 
their sentiments in permanent military, economic, or political arrangements, 

■As a component people of the Sinpire, French Canadians had a 
vital interest in the relations of the Supire to other world empires. 
For if changes in Canada, and in the balance of forces and ideas within 
the Sinpire, vzere rapid at the turn of the century, so also were changes 
in the total world situation of the British Sinpire, As an empire, it 
existed within a system of world empires developed by the leading European 
powers since the seventeenth century and characterized in the late nine- 
teenth century "oj intense economic competition. To the older commercial 
empires there were now added great accretions by the leading industrial 
nations, Britain, ^'rance and Germany, The United States entered the 
headlong rush to occupy the lands of older crumbling empires; and after 
18S0 Britain, France, Germany, and Italy began the last scramble for 
Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. These empires in a basic sense 
represented the penetration of the expansive forces of modern economies 


into all paf'ts of "the world; they reflected the prominent role of 
force in the relations of Europe to non-Eviropoan countries, and sugjjestod 
reliance on force by European states in their relations with each other 
once economic expansion was checked, Snpires were of special interest 
to the commercial, industrial, and financial classes of the nation, but 
their value and necessity had been raado the subject of extensive popular 
propaganda. They were accepted as national institutions involving not 
only prestige and honour but also the smooth functioning of the socio- 
economic structure of ihe stato with which they had been integrated. 
The whole nation had thus become closely associated with the security of 
its empire, and the empires in turn -^ere organized increasingly in terns 
of national power and security. National unity became ever more impor- 
tant as the increased weight of imperial burdens made it more difficult 
to attain. The nationalist movement in Quebec v;as a reaction to efforts 
of the British Empire to maintain its dominance among world empires in a 
worsening international environment, ^^ 

Vast areas and large populations were added to the European 
empires after 1880, although for the most part the lands were sut^tropical 
and unsuited for colonization. Economic motives were predominant. The 
new territories v/ere regarded as sources of raw materials, markets for 
manufactured goods, fields for profitable investment, and elements in the 
structure of military power. Great Britain added to her dominions between 

1878 and 1900 an estimated 4,7 million square miles of territory and a 

population of about eighty-eight million persons. These lands included 

J, A. Piobson, Imperialism , 2nd ed, (London, 1905), p. 18, Exact figures 
are impossible because of the nature of the territories acquired. Esti- 
mates vary with the sources, and the figures in any case have a limited 
significance only because of the great differences in the character of 
the resources acquired, and of the different levels of civilization 
among the populations. 

huge tracts of Africa and Asia, and islands in the Southern Pacific; 
most of the increase being acquired in the fifteen years of goneral 
depression between 1885 and 1900, or during the period of mounting 
imperial sentiment in Canada, The completion of the Canadian Pacific 
Railway in 1885, the deepening of the St. Lawronce canals to fourteen 
feet by 1901 and of the ship channel below '..'ontreal to thirty feet by 
1906, combined v/ith financial stringency between 1885 and 1900, and the 
desire for relief through the developnent of the Canadian .Vest, were 
related movements reinforcing an emphasis upon exjoorts and exiDanded 
British markets. Problems of Canadian geographic and economic unity 
were thus reflected in imperial sentiment. 3y 1900 the Empire stood at 
some thirteen million square miles with a population (including the 
English-speaking elements) of between 400 and 420 millions. 

An official policy of German colonial expansion began in 1884 
when Bismarck announced imperial protection for German commercial settle- 
ments in South West Africa, In the preceding fifteen year period, the 
first steps to Qnpire had been taken in the establishment of trading sta- 
tions, factories, and naval stations, and in negotiating favourable commer- 
cial treaties in South America and in the southern Pacific Islands, 3y 

the year 1885, Germany claimed an Qnpire of one million square miles and 

from ten to fourteen million subjects, Italy turned to share in the race 

for Africa, The massacre of an Italian scientific expedition in Eritrea 

in 1885 resulted in the occupation o£ ^•■ii'>^*^on the Red Sea, Artificial 

stimulation of the old Roman imperial traditions supported a decade of 

Italian conquests in Africa, until military disaster in Abysini^ia in 

1896 brought expansion to a temporary halt. The weakening of the Turkish 

1 ' ' ~~ 

M. E. Towns end. Origins of L'odern German Colonialism 1871-1885 , (New 
York, 1921), p, 36, See clso J. A. Hobson, op. cit ., p. 2U~. 


Qnpire in northern Africa and the growing rivalry of France and Gemany 

along the northern African littoral provided imperialist anbitions in 

Italy with new opportunities and led to the seizure of Tripoli and 

Libia in 1911-1912. France ranked with Great Britain in the extent of 

her colonial expansion under the new Imperialism, In Africa and Asia 

between 1880 and 1900, she extended her dominion over some 3,5 million 

square miles and a population of about 37 million inhabitants, Belgixim 

and Portugal made modest gains in Africa, Russian expansion eastward 
and to the south in Asia brought her into conflict with Great Britain, 
and to military defeat by Japan in 1905, American imperialism made it- 
self felt in the Western Hemisphere in the last half of the nineteenth 
century, and at the opening of the twentieth century turned to expansion 
across the Pacific to\mrds Asia, The disintegration of ancient empires 
in the L'iddle and Far East in the twentieth century kept alive among the 

great powers of Europe expe ctations of further imperial gains or con- 


In both France and Germany, and in England, theories of the 
necessity of economic expansion coupled with crude theories of racial 
superiority developed in support of imperialism and indicated an in- 
creasing fanaticism. Emotional nationalism, racial do^na, and rational 
industrialism became close allies. The total effects implied a decreas- 
ing ability to tolerate differences within empires wherever differences 
or dissent inconvenienced the affairs of the dominant groups, Reaction 
to these developments was evident in French Canadian nationalism, 

Canada caurht the imperialist fever in 1S99 and thre'r her 

1 "" " 

J. A, Hobson, op, cit ., p, 20, 

See L'. J. Bonn, Tlie Crunbling of Eh.^ire; The Disintegration of Tforld 

Economy, (London, 192c;, t? • 141-143, 

weight into the British conquest of the Transvaal and the Orange Free 
State. It was a very nodest effort of less than 5,000 men and it coot 
the country about two million dollars. Canada acquired no territories; 
she sought no trade advantages; she had no share in provoking the war 
and no control over its conduct; she had no voice in settling the peace 
terms. She had no interest in the dispute. Yet, in union with the 
Australasian colonies, she had rushed to give evidence in a military 
form of her imperial solidarity. Ur. Chamberlain, believing all history 
to be the "history of states once powerful and then decaying" and accord- 
ingly anxious "to weld the empire into a solid whole", said of Canada's 

response to imperial needs in South Africa, "It is something for a 


At the end of that minor engagement, the great imperial powers 

faced each other more than ever in the posture of gladiators, but the 

balance of strength was no lor.gsr in Great Britain's favour, British 

commerce and industry had expanded, but the rate of expansion had been 

vastly greater in the United States and in Germany. This was trae even 

in the iron, coal, and steel industries upon which British dominance had 

once been based. In the newer industrial techniques based upon physics 

and chemistry and the use of electrical energy and lighter -etals, C-reat 

Britain was outdistanced to an even greater extent by her twentieth cen- 

tury rivals. British economic supremacy no longer existed and her mili- 
tary and naval power were threatened by her greatest European coc^etitor, 

Germany. In these circumstances it was natural that measures looking to 

T ~ 

See Imperial Union and Tariff Iveforas , (London, 1903), pp. 78, 5, 

See G. P. Jones and A. G. Pool, A liindred Years of Ixononic Development 

in Great Britain , (London, 194C), Ch. IX. 

See A. E. Kahn, Great Britain in the World Economy , (New York, 1946), 

pp. 72 ff. 


the consolidation o£ the linpire should assvime a more urgent aspect. 
But the character of the appeals and the implications of a full response 
to them were such as to make natural also the emergence of counter move- 
ments in the colonies. 

Economic and social developments in Canada, the question of 
French and Catholic minorities in the western provinces, and reaction to 
the new imperialism were significant factors shaping the Nationalist 
movement. One additional set of factors, related to those mentioned 
above and of importance to Nationalism should be considered; namely, 
certain features and changes in the political party system as it func- 
tioned in the province of Quebec. These were such at the tiarn of the 
century as to cake difficult a defensive reaction in the political 
order to the changing environment, both internal and external, the 
character of which had aroused the apprehension of leaders of the society. 

A striking feature of the party system since its inception in 

Quebec about 1854 has been the dominance over extended periods of time 

of one political party. A transfer of .v.ass voting support from one to 

the other of the two major Canadian political parties has been exceptional. 

Indeed, it is fair to say that such a shift of allegiance has occurred 

only twice in the past century in provincial politics, and only once in 

the federal sphere. In the first case, a long Conservative party regime 

was terminated in the decade 1886-1897, while its si-xcessor, the Liberf.l 

party, lost the allegiance of the electorate in 1936, In the second case, 

in federal politics, a long Conservative part" uo.-.irance :vas broken in 

Quebec also in the decade after 1866, and thereafter tLe province gave 

virtually unchallenged support to the Liberal party. This pattern of 


The Liberal party returned to power between 1Q40 and 19-14, but only 
under the exceptional circunstances of the war and of the decisive and 
unusual intervention of the Federal Cabinet ministers in the provincial 
elections. Apart from this single T^eriod, the province has given over- 
whelming support to the new '■'n'r''' '^f-t^' rr.ale party until the present day. 

one-party doninance may be illustrated by the proportion of membera 
of each of tho major parties sent to the Kouse of Conr::ons and to the 
Quebec legislature. Between 1867 and 1896, the Conservative party held 
an average of 6>2% of tho seats assigned to Quebec members of the House 
of Conunons, despite the fact that in tho two general elections of 1887 
and 1891 their proportion was rapidly declining, standing at 50^ in the 
former year and 47;; in the latter. In the half century that followed, 
the Conservatives obtained an average of only 12/! of the Quebec delega- 
tion to the House. On two occasions in this latter period the Liberal 
party's leading position was threatened; once in 1911 as a result of a 
Nationalist-Conservative alliance led by Bourassa and F. D. l.ionk, when 
42^ of the Quebec members were returned in opposition to the Liberals 
and the party defeated in the country as a whole; and second, in 1930, 
when mainly as a result of economic depression, the Conservatives took 
31% of the Quebec seats and again defeated the Liberal party in the 
country at large. But apart from these two occasions when the Quebec 
electorate contributed to the defeat of the ruling federal party, sone- 
v/hat in sjrmpathy with shifts of voting behaviour in other provinces, 
though without going over to the alternative party itself, the dominant 
position of the Liberals was unshaken. Not once since 1G87 had a Con- 
servative party majority been elected in the province of Quebec for the 
federal House. It is true that in the earlier period the parties had 
been relatively more evenly balanced, but even then, only once before 

1886 had the Liberals been able to obtain a slight lead over their 


In the general elections of 1074 the Liberals won 5i;I of the seats but 
the circumstances were unusual, in that the main issue had not been 
public policy, but electoral scandals that had defeated the previous 
government in the House and had precipitated an election. 


A similar sequence of doninance by one party followed by 

dominance by the other over long periods of tine can be traced in 

Quebec provincial politics, where there is revealed also a persistent 

tendency to support the saae party at Quebec as at Ottawa, at least 

until 1936, Betv/eon 1871 and 1897, tho Conservatives hold an average 

of 61/' of the seats in the legislature despite the fact of strong 

Liberal governments under liercier between 1887 and 1892. i-'rom 1897 until 

1936, Conservative strength fell to an average of IS.i of the seats in 

the legislature. At no tine in this latter period vms the ruling position 

of the Liberal party challenged. Its average of 85;l! of the seats in the 

legislature gave it najorities that never fell bolov/ 40 mecbers in a house 

that varied in size from 73 v/hen the period opened to 90 at its close. 

The absence of a strong opposition and of an alternative 

government \7as further indicated in the apparent necessity of accocplish- 

ing through the agency of political party alliances such transfers of 

allegiance as did take place. Thus, in 1886-1887 an alliance of Liberals, 

dissident Conservatives, Uationals , Castor s, and Ron res brought together 

by iJercier during the popular protest against the hanging of Louis Kiel 

at Regina for his part in the ITorth-iVest risings of 1885, and under the 

impact of economic depression, took power at Quebec, beginning a decisive 

trend in voting in both provincial and federal elections. Again in 1936, 

the Liberal party regime was brought to a close by the Union "a tionale 

party, an alliance of dissident Liberals who formed the Action LiVerale 


The provincial Conservative party returned to power again between 1892 
and 1897, though the circumstances were exceptional rather than q^lestions 
of government policy. The J.ercier government was dismissed by the 
Lieutenant Governor in 1891 as the result of disclosures of railway 
scandals in the Gaspe, 


IJationale n artv. and Conservatives under '/. Duplossis. 

A full analysis of this pattern of long periods of one-party 
dominance in Quebec politics cannot be ~iven here. Nor is it succ®8ted 
to be a phenomenon peculiar to Quebec alono since it appears in other 
provinces as well, notably in Nova Scotia, •■^^'^^"'•btedly it reflects 
pressures within Quebec society for unity aaong its leaders in view of 
its special problems of cultural and national security. The dominant 
role of the Roman Catholic Church in shaping the social and political 
thought of French-speaking Canadians has contributed to a supra-party 
tradition associated with the superior interests of the society and 
tending to confirm support for the ruling party. Extended periods of 
rule by one party may suggest its general adequacy in expressing the 
political needs of such a defence-oriented society which is at the same 
time relatively homogeneous in a cultural sense, and characterized by 
general equality in the social and economic order. The habit of describ- 
ing the Quebec members of the Canadian Parliament as a ■delegation", of 
considering them the diplomatic negotiators for the society in its rela- 
tions with English-speaking Canadians, and upon critical occasions demand- 
ing that they act as a bloc, attest to the vitality of a politics above 
party lines. Undoubtedly, also, the knowledge that the success of federal 
ministries has largely depended on winning the svipnort of the Quebec mem- 
bers who comprise between one- third and one-quarter of the total member- 
ship of the House has confii-med the practice of returning a united party 
delegation. The non-party, or supra-party tradition can be traced most 

See li, i'. ^ainn, "Tl:ie I.ole cf the Union Rationale Party in Quebec Politics, 
1935-48", Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science , November, 
1949; Gordon Rothney, "irationalism in Quebec Politics since Laurier", 
Canadian Historical Association, Annual Report , 1943, Over the period 
between 1936 and 1952 the Union liaticnalo has held an average of 62;^ of 
the seats of the Legislature, including the period of Liberal party rule, 


readily in such movements since Confederation as the PrgfT'V y ng 

Catholique and the parti nlB.^c. of the 187C's, the Castor or ultranon- 

tane Conservative party in this and succoedinc decades, and the advocacy 

of a Catholic or Centre party by Jules Paul Tardivel in the last decade 

of the nineteenth century. 

The strategy of such croups striving for a political form that 

would unite French Canadians under one banner for all important questions^ 

was stated by the exponents of tho Parti in L'Opinion Riblique of 

June 11, 1874: to organize Eimong the educated middle classes men of 

"independent character and means", whose j^uide would be patriotism, not 

party interest, and whose function would be not to seek pov/er, but to 

"observe ... scrutinize . . . and carefully examine" the motives and 

actions of the major political parties, and lead the voting public to 

support one or the other party as religious and national interests dic- 

tated, A similar purpose of maintaining a non-partisan elite animated 

the Castors . This group formed the extreme right wing of the Consei-vative 

party, and was recruited among the upper bourgeoisie and the higher clergy. 

Their political activities rested on the existence of nvunerous politico- 
religious problems in Quebec which arose as economic and social change 
brought demands for reform in institutions and practices and for the 
extension of state activity. Every enlargement of the sphere of the 
state where it touched vested clerical interest was challenged by the 
Castors as evidence of the spread of pernicious liberal and secular 

^ '■ ^ ; 

See L'Opinion publique , June 11, 1874; La Ve'rite , September 26, 1896, 
L'ay 4, 1901; L. G. David, Souvenirs et ^iojra, hies , 1870-1910, (I'ontreal, 

1911), pp. 56-68. 

Running accounts of Castor activities are found throughout the early 
volumes of Rumilly, liistoiro cle la Prcvinco de Qu^ec ; see Vols. lY, V, 
See L. 0. David, Souvenirs et Biographies, for sketches of Castor leaders. 


doctrines and practices seen as fatal to a relicious-centered society, 
and eventually to the survival of French Canadians as a distinct cul- 
tural and ethnic croup. 

More than any other faction, the Castorg had made the period 
in wtiich Bourassa crew up an epoch of theological cnn political quarrels, 
which reflected the internal strains of the society and the bitterness of 
debate over the proper lines of its evolution. An inquisitorial spirit 
was abroad, and raore pronounced in those self-appointed defenders of the 
faith and the nationality than among the clergy, though the latter left 
on the age the stamp of spiritual coercion. It was their spirit that 
was expressed in the frnp-rg-nnB ncthnlig^iA of 1871, in which voting for 
the Conservative party was made virtually a religious and patriotic duty 
for French Canadians, Stimulus to their ideas and activities came 
partly from Europe, and was related to such events as the pronouncecent 
of the dogma of papal infallibility in 1870, attacks upon the temporal 
power of the Pope, and the general hostile reaction of the papacy to 
European liberalism and modern doctrines. 

The Castors were the political expression of the ultramontane 
tradition of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, They fonned an impor- 
tant link between nationalism and the most orthodox Catholicism, and 
Bourassa was to return to their spirit, if not to their programme, when 
a new crisis in French Canadian affairs developed. But the issues of 
church and state on which the Castors dwelt had diminished in appeal at 
the turn of the century, to be replaced by problems of imperial relations, 
economic development, the relations of the two nationalities in 


English-speakinc Canada, and questions of business-like adninistration. 
And when the Conservative party was finally rejected in the province of 
Quebec in 1897, the pastor s ceased to be a significant political force. 

As the Castors had functioned to control the Conservatives 
and to defeat liberalism in all its manifestations, prepared to vote 
for permanent broad objectives regardless of party policies, so also the 
Rouge party functioned as the radical doctrinaire wing of the Liberals 
in the last decades of the century. Excessive and detailed harrying by 
the ultramontane Castors had developed a superf:Jcial anti-clerioalism 
among certain Rouro leaders. In the main, however, they represented a 
demand for political, social, and economic change in keeping with liberal 
and democratic ideals as they found them expressed in France and in the 
United States. Their early intellectual centra was the Institut Canadien 
incorporated in Montreal in 1852, and its branches throughout the province. 
This came under the determined assault of the Bishop of Montreal after 
1854; its large library v,'as condemned for harbouring books containing 
dangerous doctrines, and the Institut, as well as Rou^? newspapers, was 
destroyed over the next twenty years. 

The party was attacked for opposing the monarchical form of 
responsible government in Canada and favouring a republican and more 
democratic state which would incorporate such American features as fre- 
quent elections and the election of officials. Opposition to the Confe- 
deration proposals, and occasional expressions of annexationist sentiment 

added to the suspect character of the Routes in the eyes of relifdour 
leaders, Roiu'-o proposals for education reform, together with favour- 
able comments of some of their number on the advantages of "mixed", 

as opposed to "separate" schools, and recurrent criticism of religious 

orders kept the party under constant attack. After 1867, however, 

enhanced prospects of cultural and national survival brought about by 

the adoption of the federal system of povemnient, rodiiced pressures 

among French Canadians for political confomity, and the moderate 

Liberal party, which a decade earlier had berun to detach itself from 

the more radical Rouc-es , was able to gain ground. 

This moderate v/ing of the Rourea shook off its ideolorical 

roots in French liberalism, covered over its anti-clerical background, 

and effected a closer alliance with the Ontario Liberal school of Mowat, 

Blake, and liackenzie. Success in the federal elections of 1873, and 

in the provincial elections of 1886 reflected its growing strength in 

Quebec, It based its principles on the English Liberal school of which 

Gladstone was then the most prominent representative, ^urier's famous 

speech of 1877 on the meaning of political liberalism, his distinctions 

between the European and Epglish traditions, and between religious and 

political liberalism, made explicit the orientation of the Quebec 

Liberals towards the English tradition and to safety. His selection in 

I ~~~~ 

■ See ;.:. Ayearst, "The Parti-ilouge and the Clergy", Canadian Historical 
Review , Vol. XV, Ko. 4, pp, 390-405. 
Sec Wilfrid Laurier on the Platform 1871-1990 , comp, Ulric Barthe, 
(Quebec, 1890), speech on "Political Liberalisms", pp, 51-80, See also 
L'Hon. Charles Langelier, Souvenirs Politiques de 1878 a 1990 , (Quebec, 
1909), I, pp. 14-17, 38-42, 104-107. 


1887 as national leader of the Liberal party was followed by success 

in the peneral elections of 1896, 

The radical Roures . . or as they called thenselves, the vrei 

rouges "suffered the same fate as had the Castors; they were reduced 

to a role of insignificance, and the Liberal party in power becane 

increasingly moderate in its tone, and compromising in its policies. 

Thus, by the end of the century both the radical Conserva- 
tive and the radical Liberal groups no longer played an important 
part in Quebec political debates, and the main Conservative party it- 
self was in eclipse. It was against this background of emerging 
Liberal party dominance, combined with the disappearance of all effec- 
tive opposition groups, that the Nationalist movement developed, 
Bourassa entered politics in the critical decade between 1887 and 1896, 
describing himself not only as a "passionate Roure " , but also as an 
"uncompromising ultramontane Catholic"; that is, in close sympathy with 
the Castors, and their purpose to maintain the role of the Church in 
society and the authority of the Pope in the Church, 

His Nationalist movement was an attempt to unite and revive 
the radical traditions of the right and of the left, the Castors and 
the Roures, in an epoch of crisis for the society, when effective 
opposition and alternatives to the existing political power combinations 

See P. A. 
for the vi< 

Castors and on the neglect of the vrai routes by Laurier once the 
party had been victorious. 

Choquette, U n Demi-siecle de vie politique , (Montreal, 1936), 
Lews of a "doctrinaire" Rriro on the Political tactics of the 


no longer existed. But the nature of the probloms was now such 
that they could not be solved by debate and decision within r'rench 
Canadian society alone. This fact helps to account for the design 
of creating a movement of ideas, and a critique of policy, appli- 
cable to the national rather than the provincial sphere. An account 
of these ideas, and attempts to make them influential in Canadian 
politics, is given in the chapters following. 

The preceding analysis has suggested in broad outline 
some of the factors related to the origin and later development of 
the Nationalist movement in the province of Quebec, The purpose has 
been to emphasize certain developments throughout the ilestem world, 
and to indicate in what manner the Nationalist reaction was linked 
with the broader and more coraplox adjustments of French Canadian 
society. The role of the Nationalists in the total situation should 
not be exaggerated, for other agencies of adjustment were equally 
active. In some respects, their function appears to have been to 
organize and discharge a volume of protest related to the character 
and extent of the disturbance felt within the society. This was 
reflected in the prominence given to the revolutionary nature of 
changes in the political and economic basis of national existence. 
But that which most distinguishes this expression of nationalist 
sentiment from those which preceded it was the conscious effort 
made by Bourassa and others to transcend a purely cultural and 


defensive nationalism, oriented solely to French Canadian problems, 
and to formulate a distinctive concept of a Canadian nation, a 
Canadian nationality, and an exclusive Canadian interest in imperial 
and world affairs. This was a recocnition of the inadequacy of past 
attempts at defensive organization, and represented a re-definition 
of the long-run terms of development. 



HEnmi BaJHASSA, 1868-1899 

Joseph-Henri-IIapoleon Bourassa was born in Llontreal on the 
first day of September, 1868 into a family distinsuished for cenor*- 
tions in the political, professional, and ecclesiastical life of French 
Canada, Kis father was Ilapoleon Bourassa, painter, author, architect 
and sculptor; his mother, Azelie, was a daughter of the fanous French 
Canadian political leader, Louis-Joseph Papineau, Henri was the fifth 
and last child, his mother dying within one year of his birth, 

Bourassa's father held an important place in the cultural 
life of French Canada during the second half of the nineteenth century. 
Born at L'Acadie in the province of Quebec, the sixth child of Francois 
Bourassa, farr:er at Montebello, he -.Tas educated at the Sulpician Semi- 
nary in Llontreal. He gave up legal training to pursue an interest in 
art, studying for three years in Rone and Florence. Here he caae under 
the influence of the German religious painter, Overbeck, whose methods 

he followed in decorating and aainting churches in Quebec and ITew 

England. In 1856 ho opened a studio in L'ontreal, held an exhibition of 

his paintings including a number of portraits, and a few years later 
founded a School of Art (1860). This proved to be a short-lived vonture, 
but ijr, Bourassa continued to teach classes in design and painting and to 
deliver public lectures on art. He was a founding member and for five 
years vice-president of the Royal Academy of Art. Contributions to cul- 
tural develoDinent were recognized in h is election as president of the 

I '- ~~~ 

See A Standard Dictionary of Canadian Biography , 2 Vols., I, ed. C. G, 
D. Roberts and A. L, Tunnell, (Toronto, 1934;, np. 64-5. Among examples 
of his work are the f|scoes in the Chapel of the Ilazareth Asylum in 
Montreal, the Church of !:otre Dame de Lonrdes, :.:ontreal, the Church at 
Fall River, Llassachusets, and Notre Dame de Bonsecours de I^ontebello 
for which he was the architect. 


Saint Jean-3aptis-te Association of l.lontreal in 1882, By this time he 

had won a name in literaturo. In 1064 he helped to establish and became 

president of Lg Revue Canadienn e to which he contributed articles for a 

number of years. In 1866 he published his best known work, Jacques et 

!.!ari e , a novel based on the life and customs of the Acadians, 

Napoleon Bourassa was by tenperanent and interest unlike his 

son. He was universally known for his c^^tle disposition. He professed 

a strong aversion to politics. This was shown in a letter written in 

1861 to decline a request that he present himself as a candidate for the 

legislature of the Province of Canada: 

I have until now lived outside of these realities, I am 
ignorant of what are called the interests or the trans- 
actions of the municipality, county, or indeed of the 
province , , , I have never taken much interest in our 
parliamentary debates , , , I detest the incessant dis- 
putes, the prolonged discussions, the eternal invectives 
, , , I detest then to such a degree that three months of 
that life would render me , , , incapable of any reasonable, 
or at least of any useful, occupation. I could not live 
there, I naturally love solitude. 

It saddened him to see his son surrounded by political adversaries, 

"Here I am", he protested in 1903 as the Nationalist League was being 

organized, "tormented like a hen who has hatched a duck's egg , , , and 

finds her chick taking its first plunge." He urged upon his son the 

need for moderation, suggesting that his political judgments be tempered 

by the knowledge that public men violently attacked in the past often 

became entirely rehabilitated in the opinion of succeeding generations. 

In a country undergoing such "feverish* development as Canada, and 

composed of such diverse and sometimes antipathetic elements, it was 

^Other works published include I Jos Gi-andaeres , and collections of lectures, 


llapoleon Bourassa, Lettr es d'un artiste canadien , col. "lie, Adine 

Bourassa, (Bnjges, 1929), p. 40. 
Ibid., p, 433. Letter to Henri Bourassa, October 11, 1903, 


the function of statesmanship, he counsollod, to sook balance and order. 

Even the errors of those who take up this task should be given a generous 

tolerance. Typical of the noderating influence of the father 7/as his 

wish expressed during the 1908 election campaigns that the Nationalist 

leader avoid excess, presenting his case simply and dispassionately, 

"without ill-will towards Laurior and inspiring and confirming the con- 

fidence of moderate English opinion in the manner of Lafontaine," 

Other members on the Boi'rassa side of the family were active 
in politics and in the Church, One of Henri's uncles, Francois 2ourassa, 
represented Saint John's (Quebec) in the Canadian parliament for forty- 
two years (1854-1896) as a supporter of the Reform or Liberal party. 
Another uncle, L'edard Bourassa, after a nxinber of years spent as an 

Oblate missionary in the Saint-Maurice and Ottawa River valleys, became 

cure (1858-1887) at llontebello upon the Papineau seigniory, Henri's only 

brother, Gustave, (1850-1904) vre.s ordained priest in 1884 and soon after- 
ward was appointed Secretary of the Montreal branch of laval University, 
In this post he delivered a number of public addresses, one of which, 
"Le Patriotisne", given before the Lontebello section of the Alliance 
Rationale in 1894, is of interest in affirming the symbols of race, homo- 
land, and Church in a manner anticipating that which his brother later 
made familiar. Special emphasis was given to the American or Continental 
basis of the French Canadian homeland; on the idea that the homeland was 
co-extensive with the race wla^^er it had taken root in the IJew TTorld; and 
upon the noed, which an uncertain political future transformed into an 

imperious duty, to rise above the divisive forces of party spirit and 

T ~~ 

Ibid . , pp. 475- S, 

See Abbe liLchel Chamberland, Ilistoiro de iiontebello , (llontroal, 19"':), 

Chs, 8, 16, 



eztrene individualism, Tv/o of Bourassa's sons. Francois and Bernard 

continuing the fanily tradition, entered the Church as membera of the 

Jesuit order. 

On the Papineau side of the family, the tradition of political 
leadership dates from 1792, v/hon liovrassa s -"oit. -randfathor, Joseph 
Papineau, v/as elactecl to the first le^islativo assenbly of Lcv/er Canada, 
The long and brilliant career of Henri's grandfather, Louis Joseph 
Papineau, is v/ell know-n. It \tc.s he, v;ho botvvoon 1812 and 12C7, as 
leader of the popular Assembly and the Patriots' Party, did r.cre than 
anyone else to inspire, and organize into a political movemont the emer- 
gent nationalism of I'Vench Canadians. Ke was "a ^eat parliamentary 

liberal, a great patriot forced by circumstances to be a nationalist*. 

Papineau v;as an "incrovanf but attended High IJass in his capacity as 
seignior. Believing much in the social and noral valiie of religion, ho 
educated his children in the Roman Catholic faith. One of Henri's most 
colorful uncles, Amedee Papineau, a son of Loiiis Josef h, and the founder 
of the Sons of Liberty during the rebellion period, had been forced to 
flee to the United States where he vvas admitted to the bar of "ew York, 
After a soujourn in France he returned to Llontreal and v;as for many years 
protonctary. Upon the death of his father in 1871, AmSdee Papineau became 
seignior at I'ontebello. In 1803 he gave public notice of his conversion 
to the Presbyterian faith in which his wife had been bom, and which he 
described in a letter to the c\:re as "the nost rational of the Christian 

I ; 

See Qustave Bourassa, Conferences et Discours , (Montreal, 189C), pp. 169-72, 

Of Bourassa's three sisters, two were spinsters, while the third, !:arie 
Llarguerite Kenriette, married Hector Chauvin (1862-1922), a la\yyer, 
appointed a Superior Court judge in 1912, 

Jean-C, Bonenfant and Jean-C. I'alardeau, 'Cultural and Political Impli- 
cations of French Cane.dian irationalism", Canadian Historical Association, 
Annual Report, 1946, p. 59, 


sects". At the same tico he sought unsuccessfully to interest hi 


nephew, Kenri, in a movenent for independence as the 'reludo to union 

with the United States, 

A great-uncle, Denis Benjanin Papineau, on the other hand, 

took no part in the robollion of 1837, and soon after this event accQ- ted 

office as meniber for the County of Ottawa in the legislature of the 

Province of Canada in the successive administrations Draper- Viger, 

Draper- Papineau, and Sherwood-Papineau, which intervened between the two 

Reform administrations of Lafontaine and Baldwin of 1842 and 1047, 

laving little taste for politics he spent the greater part of his life 

in colonizing and developing the lands of the seigniorv of La Petite 

Nation around Montebello. Ke possessed a fief at Plaisance and was the 

founder of the town of Papineauville, a few niles v/est of "ontebello. 

He is reported to have been a non-practising Catholic but died in the 


sacraments of his Church. It was his great granddaughter, Josephine 

Papineau, daughter of the notary, Godfrey Papineau, whom Henri Bourassa 
married in 1903, 

Of this union which took place in IJontreal there were eight 
children: four daughters, none of whom subsequently married; and four 
sons, two of whom, as indicated above, became priests of the Jesuit 
order, while the other sons took up the traditional occupation of farming. 

In a society in which tradition and family connections were 

important aids to influence, Bourassa was much favoured. As L, 0. David 


renarkod, he '.vs-s not "le "ror.icr vc!:u ". -'e had rccts in the -olitical 

See Abbe Chamberland, op. cit ., p, 258, 


See Le Devoir , October 8, 191C. 

3 - 
Abbe Chanberland, op. cit ,, pp. 66, 87, 


L. 0. David, Souvenir et Biographies , 1870-191C, ('Jontreal, 1911), p. 


and landed aristocracy, in the cultural elite, and in the clercj. 
In politics the family rjroup v/aa predominantly Tr" ~^. "r Liberal, 
Running thrcugh its history was a conspicuous thread of intellectual 
and political radicalism bespeakinc the energy and strong-^Tilled inde- 
pendence of its members. This was nanifested particularly anonjj the 
Papineaus and revealed not least in their unorthodox religious behaviour. 

The first eighteen years of Bourassa s life were sjent in 
IJontreal whore he was educated, and in I'ontobello upon lands inherited 
by the five Bourassa children in the division of the Papineau seigniory. 
During this period he and the other children were under the care of their 

maiden aunt Exilda Papineau who had come to live with them upon the death 

of their mother. Partly because of ill health while attending city 

schools, Bourassa was placed \inder the private ti.itorship of a French pro- 
fessor, Frederic Andre, and was thus subject to a manner of education 
that no doubt helped accentuate his pronounced individuality. With I'r, 
Andre he followed the classical course, advancing through "Rhetoric" 
but concluding before the final year "Fhilosophy". lie was a diligent 
student attracted particularly to modern history with an emphasis on the 
history of the Roman Catholic Church, France, and England, He acquired 
"a love of mathematics" and for one year (1885) pursued a general inte- 
rest in science at the Polytechnic Institute in Montreal, To perfect 
his command of the English language he was sent to the Jesuit's Holy 

Cross College in Worcester, ''assachussetts, but remained for one term 


only, rotijrning in the some year (1886) tc ;:ontebQllo. las 

Exilda Papineau (died 1894), a semi-invalid, was the second daughter 
of Louis Joseph Papineau. She exerted a considerable religious in- 
fluence upon Henri to be noted below. See also Le Devoir , October 14, 
See Napoleon Bourassa, Lettres d'un artiste canr.dien, pp. 231, 2C6. 

education was thus completed without special traininc for any specific 
occupation or profos.sion, althouch for a few months ho studied in the 
law offices of a legal firm in Quebec City, 

The settlement and management of the family lands on the 
seigniory of La Petite Nation occupied 3oura3sa's energies between 
1886 and 1800. •'he seigniory, named after an Algonquin tribe of the 
area, was acquired in 1801 and 1803 by Joseph Papineau from the Seminary 
of Quebec partly by purchase and partly in recognition of legal services. 
Situated some eighty miles west of Montreal, it extended about fifteen 

miles along the Ottav/a River and v/as fifteen miles in depth, an area of 

more than one quarter million acres. The seigniory comprised the pre- 
sent parishes of llontebello, Papineauville, Plaisance, St. Andre Avellin, 
Notre Dame de la Paix, and Fasset, Colonization began with the opening 
of tlie Ottawa Valley to lumbering operations after 1810, A census of 

the seigniory in 1825 showed a population of 512 which reached 3,356 by 


During the last quarter of the century the surrounding area 

was rapidly settled and the Papineau and Bourassa estates shared in the 

exjiansion, becoming the heart of the neT/ rural county of Labelle, 

Napoleon Bourassa wrote in 1884 that: 

the value of the lands has doubled . . , I hope that before 
three of four years the property in that rear portion of our 
territory will be worth what it is on the river, and by 
building two or three saw mills in the most wooded sections, 
we will open up a source of revenue hitherto untapped. 

Under Henri's energetic management some 150 families were 

I ~~ 

See Abbe lu'ichel Chamberland, Histoire de ?.:ontobello , (.Montreal, 1929), 

pp, 35-7, 54-60. 

Ibid ., pp. 81-2. 

Napoleon Bourassa, Lettres d'un artiste canadien, p. 266, 


settled on the land, buildings were erected, new lands acqitirod, and 

a much-needed order effected in contracts and arrears. Ho has told 

how he went throu[;h the woods with "axe in hand and flour bag on his 

back"; and his fathur 'vrote, 

Your brother sinks his roots little by little into the 
country . . . He has become attached to the country to 
the point of fleeing the city the moment he sets foot 

In all this, Bourassa gained first-hand knowled^^-e of the 

needs and problems of the farr.ners and inhabitants of the area and won 

their respect and confidence. He never lost his preference for country 

life nor the kind of steady and unspectacular economic expansion which 

this rural border county was undergoinc. He shared the agrarian view- 
point of Jefferson in his emphasis on land and on industries based on 
local natural resources, as in his dread of urban industrialisn with 
its propertyless wage earning classes, ' ^^ 

In 1887 the bulk of the Bourassa estate, about 33,000 arpents , 
was sold to a wealthy lumber merchant of Quebec City, I'.r. TTillian Owens, 

who acquired other large portions of the seigniory from Amedee Papineau 

one year later, Bourassa, however, continued to farm at Montebello 

where he raised registered cattle, hogs, and sheep. He aspired to be a 

^ Ibid ., pp. 348, 357; La Patrie , August 14, 1907, report of a speech 
by Henri Bourassa in which he used his own experiences in si:ccessful 
colonization activities to challenge the provincial government's ad- 
ministration of lands and forests, 

The county of Labelle (erected 1892) showed a population of 30,391 in 

1901 and of 46,292 in 1921, The majority were of French origin but the 

county at the turn of the century included 5,260 persons of "British* 

origin of ;rfiom over half were Irish, and some 1,000 of German, Italian, 

and other extraction. Two towns approached a population of 3,000 each, 

while several others had populations between 1,000 and 2,000, (See 

Census of Canada, 1901, Tables 7, 9.) In 1911 the census showed 150 

manufacturing establishments v/ith ar. invested capital of $3,810,625, 

employing 1,670 wage workers. Log products accounted for 71^ of the 

value of manufactures ±n that year and gave employment to 75^ of the 

7/age earners, (See Census of Canada , 1911, Table 9, p, 296.) 

3 — — — ^^-^^— ^— ^ 

Chamberland, op. cit., p. 67, The Bourassas are reputed to have received 

$16,000, for their land, Tlie property changed hands several times over 
the next thirty years at considerably enhanced prices. 

model farmer, advertising the milk and cream which he y^rod^ced at 
"Ste. Anne de Loulay" to be of "superior quality", i.o won a jold 
nedal awarded by an agricultural society recently sponsored by the 
Mercier government, and became vice-president of the county agricul- 
tural association. 

He vTas now taking a leading part in municipal and parish 
affairs and discovering his oratorical talents. In 1890 at the age of 
twenty-one he was elected '.'ayor of iVcntebello, a post he held for four 
years. He was chosen president of the local Saint Jean-Baptiste Associa- 
tion, and a fov/ years later (1893) his fellow parishioners elected him 
one of three church vmrdens. Within a few nonths he was appointed 
trustee charged with the erection of a new parish church to be designed 
by his father. In 1892 he purchased a small neT7spaper, L'Interprete, 
which had circulated for the past four years among the French- si. eaking 
population of Eastern Ontario. Moving it from Alfred, Ontario, to 
Klontebello he published it for two years in professed independence, 
but none the less in vigorous support of Laurier and the Liberal party. 
In 1894, L'Interi:rete and 30C copies of Laurier's portrait vjhich he was 
distributing as premiums to subscribers in good financial standing were 

sold to a syndicate of French-speaking Canadians, and re-appeared at 

Clarence Creek in Ontario as Le F^allierrent . 3our«.ssa retained a small 

intere'-t in Le P.alliement and contributed articles. He placed his in- 
fluence behind the Liberal party's tariff reform proposals and Laurier's 

promise to settle the L^nitoba school dispute by conciliation rather 

T — — 

About twenty issues of L'Interprete beginning witi: that cf February 
19, 1893, and some tv/o years (.i-'icomplete) of Le P.alliement from April 
11, 1895 to June 3, 1897, have been preserved by L'. P.osario Gauthier 
of Papineauville, Quebec, to whom the author is indebted for the 
opportunity of reading their contents. 


than by remedial lerislation of "the federal covernnent as proposed by 

the niline Conservative party. In this period of the early 1890' s he 

v/as active also in promotinc local lines of railv/ay and in ostablishinc 

local industries, notably the Papineauville Lumber Conpany, 

With the constitution of the area as the electoral district 

of lebelle, Bourassa became known as the most likely Liberal • artv 

candidate, and he began to ^-ive his full oner;-i9s first to provincial 

and then to federal politics, lie was mayor, newspaper proprietor, church 

warden, head of local societies, and model farmer. He vms the ^jrandson 

of Papinoau. In his mid- twenties, he was already known for his ardent 

temperament and oratory. In 1887 he campaigned through Ottavrti County 

in a provincial by-election in support of a candidate of I'ercier's 

Parti ^rational , a party composed mostly of Liberals, or F.ougos, who had 

come to power with the aid of provincial Conservative and 'national* 

elements under the stress of the Kiel agitation of late 1835, j^ough 

tlercier, whom he brought to Llontebello, he was introduced to provincial 

political intrigues which he later thought "cannot yet be told*. He 

left ;!ercier, however, v/hon the latter, at the height of his power, 
becane *puffed up and ostentatious", and his party "insufferable with 
vanity , and upon one occasion he supported a rival candidate, A fore- 
taste of his transcendence of purely party consideratiors v.'as manifest 
by his return to L'ercier's causo at the time of the "Angers coup d'etat" 

in 1891, when he thought the Lieutenant-Governor's action in dismissing 


his cabinet "a dangerous precedent ageinst provincTal aiitonony". 

See Le Devoir , October l-l, 1943, 
^On December 16, 1891, as the result of certain charges against the 
government in connection with the Bale des Chaleurs railway scandals, 
and after an investigation by a Ko;ml Commission, the Lieutenant- 
Governor, A, R, Angers, dismissed the cabinet and called upon de 
Bouchorville (Conservative) to fona a government. 

In the federul cenernl elections of IGOl ho campaicned 
vicorously for the Liberal party candidate for Ottav/a county, and in 
December of tho next year he wont into L' Islet county v/ith Laurior 
and others to seek the election of J. Israel Tarte. Two years later 
he spoke in Prescott county, Ontario during a provincial by-election 
in favour of the Liberal party's candidate, Alfred Evanturol. On the 
two latter occasions he discussed the Manitoba separate school question 
from the viewpoint of the Liberal party. During the summer of 1895 he 
accompanied Laurier, Tarto, and r, X. Lemieux on a pre-election tour 
of the Quebec district, "All my parliamentary blood stirred", he wrote 
of this period. But it was not always to be so, for he steadily became 
disillusioned with political parties and with parliament itself, 
Rumilly has described the group as the "most brilliant team" in French 
Canada, and his account has suggested one ground at least of Bourassa's 
usefulness to the Liberal party, particularly during the school contro- 
versy; namely, his undoubted Catholic orthodoxy. Laurier spoke much 
but did not corjnit himself; Tarte undertook to criticize the chai^cter 
of the bishops' intervention; while Bonrassa, "who was not far from 

thinking as they", refused to attack the hierarchy's attitude but 

declared himself for I«.urier, 

In June 1896, Bourassa was elected by a large majority to 

the House of Commons for Lebelle, a seat he was to represent for some 

twenty-one years divided into two periods. The first period ended in 

1907 v/hen he resigned to enter provincial politics, v/hile the second 

extended from 1925 to 1935 when he was defeated in general elections. 

He had refused party financial help in his election campaign, and in 

contrast to the official Liberal rarty policy of free trade, he declared 
I ' ~~ — 

References to the above campaign activities may be found in Rumilly , 
VII, pp, 65, 231-32, and in Le Devoir, October 14, 1943, 


himself to be a "moderate protectionist". He frequently warned that 

he was determined to vote independently of his party should he deem it 

necessary in the interests of Church, country, or nationality. But 

though ready to break ranks, he thought himself a "soldier of the 

Liberal party" — the party, he said, of " justice and ideals", the 

party favourable to farmers and smaller businessmen. His politics were 

being shaped as an appeal to supra-party interests, and as rooted in 
certain strata of the social order, mainly independent, familial, small- 
scale enterprise, 

Bourassa's father has given some glimpses of his son's over- 
whelming enthusiasm for political agitation, "You knov/", he wrote to 

2 " 
another of his children, 

how energetically Henri likes to play all his parts, We 
never meet but on the threshold. We advise each other by 
telegraph of hours of arrival and departure. It is our 
good fortune if he misses his train ... He is everywhere 
in action, neither sleeping nor staying at hone, running 
from one assembly to another, talking tariff, free trade, 
reciprocity, misery of the people, etc., etc. Even in the 
rare moments when we do meet he does nothing but make 
speeches, rounding the corners of the dining room. Imagine 
the multiple horrors of your Aunti She thought she had 
hatched a chicken, but finds now an eagle under her wings . . . 

The description of Bourassa written by Senator L. C. David, 

biographer of leaders of the Liberal party, and life-long friend of 

lAurier, is interesting and accurate: 

... of medium stature, elegant and straight as an "I", a 
fine head abundantly endowed with black hair cut short in 
the manner of Titus, sharp sparkling eyes and a firm mouth, 
smiling, but ironically, , . , a vivacity united with bold- 
ness , . , rapid energetic words and gestures, an elastic 
step and military bearing, the air of a gentleman and all 
the allure of a French officer ... 

•"•See Le Devoir , July 3. 1911; Cctobor 14, 23, 1?43; Le Rallier.ent , 

December 5, 1895. 
Napoleon Bourassa, Lettres d'un artiste canadien , pp. 355, 368. 

3 ■ 

L. 0. David, Souvenirs et Biographies, pp. 211, 216, 


He combined the literary taatoa of his father with a flair for 

criticism, controversy, and love of popularity cliaracteristic of 

Papineau, His words, according to Senator David, flotvod like an 

avalanche in a continuous stream as if unable to give free vent to the 

thoughts and feelings animating him. Militant, though not fanatical, 

he communicated profound convictions with an eloquonce made the more 

persuasive by an accent of sincerity. He was too zealous and too 

devoted to ideal causes to be often moderate. But to many he symbolized 

the most reliable orthodoxy in matters reckoned important for survival 

of the nationality, and he was to become the most effective propagandist 

of his generation. 

During this early period his complex political and social 

attitudes became evident, "in the prime of my youth", he wrote, *I was 

entirely and uncompromisingly ultramontane Catholic and passionate 

Rou'-'e", and the key to his piiblic character lios in an attem-^t to unite 

such deep-rooted and opposing poles of Quebec politics. He was Jastor , 

or conservative with respect to religion, the Church, and social insti- 
tutions in general, and Rn^ire with respect to politics. It vms a pre- 
carious balance and strains ware evident in his radical temperament and 
a tendency to extremes while striving for equilibrium. He was not readi^ 
fathomed by his own compatriots. Laurier spoke for many when remarking 
in jest, "Bourassa is a Caator-Ronge , a monster ... I have never known 


Influences and cross currents in his mentality may often be 
observed. The Riel affair first awoke his political passions. He stood 

as a youth of sevontoon anong the Sunday croTjd in Montreal late in 

1 ~~~~ 

Le Devoir, ses orig ines, sa naissance, son esprit , (Montreal, 1V30), 

p. 3. 



llovenber 1885 to hear Mercier in his booming voice protest the 

hanginc of "my brother Kiel", lie was equally impressed with Laurier's 

nore reasoned defence of the rebel leader. Two years later, v/hon the 

province of Quebec still returned a Conservative majority in support 

of the offending government at Ottawa, Bourassa was chagrined that 

the national pride of his people could be go easily satisfied with an 

emotional outburst and not take a more positive and practical turn. 

So Rouro and emotionally implicated were his politics that upon the 

death of Sir John A, llacdonald in 1891 he obstructed the passage of a 

resolution of condolence in the Ottawa county council, remarking that 

the members had "no business expressing sympathy for a man who had made 

Riel hang". Ke refused to attend the funeral in an official capacity, 

but ever after regretted his action. Macdonald, he told his readers in 

L'Interprete of Ilarch 29, 1894, "made himself accepted as the rampart of 
Catholicism and as the leading support of Orangeism, he who probably 
believed neither in God nor in the devil", Tory doctrine, though conceal- 
ing itself behind pretexts of loyalty, he declared in the extravagant and 

polemical style that never left hin, was: 

Grind the people down with taxos, bleed them v/hite for the 
maintenance of the British Empire, and in compensation 
England will from tine to time choose some good Tory and 
send hin here and there to conclude treaties in which 
Canadian interests will generally be sacrificed to the 
interests of England. The people cry famine: it does not 
matter, Toryism is satisfied, the Snpire is united, Britannia 

But no sooner '.vas the Liberal party secr.rely in power and an imperialist 

T ' 

See House of Commons Debates , June 15, 1926, p. 4509; Le Devoir , October 
14, 1943; Le Devoir, October 25, 1952, "Kommage \ Henri Bourassa: 1868- 
1952", p. T, 
L'Interprete, October 12, 1893. 


current coursinc throuch Canadian politics, than Bourassa came to an 
entirely fresh evaluation of I.'acdonald and his achievement, describing 
him in the end as the "only ti-uly national statesinan" that Canada had 

He early proved his Castor affiliations by an alert defence 
of the prestige and position of the Roman Catholic clergy, warning his 
readers, as in L'IntonTrete of October 5, 1893, against those who would 
reform "our old national clerey" and urging them to be on guard against 
a tendency in the educated classes of the province to revolt against 
ecclesiastical authority. Two years later in Le nallierient of October 
3, 1895, he struck at the defenders of an "enlightened religion" who 
praised Leo XIII in ordor to detract fror.- Pius IX, and he castigated 
clerical "roformers" v/riting in such Montreal nev/spapers as Lo riovoil. 

In his first parliamentary year Bourassa vis.s mainly occupied 
with the --anitoba school problem, Tlie chief factors of this question, 
which agitated federal politics since 1890, may be briefly recalled. 
In that year the i-Ianitoba government abolished the separate school sys- 
tem of the province — a system of denominational schools, Protestant 
and Roman Catholic, each section sharing in public educational funds and 
enjoying some measure of autonomous administration. Under the new regu- 
lations, taxes raised for educational purposes would be expended only 
for a unified system of public schools. At the sacie time the official 
use of the French language was discontinued. 

L'any causes contributed to this action on the part of the 
Manitoba governmont. Since the time of Confederation a steady movement 

I '^ ] 

See a recent reviev; in '.V. L. l.orton's "l Manitoba Lichools and Canadian 
Nationality, 1890-1923", The Canadian Historical flFSocJation , p.eport 
of Annual Meeting, 1951, pp. Sl-T^?. 

of settlers into I'Anitoba from Ontario end from Great Britain upset an 
original balance betv/oon the English and vrench-sneakinc ijroups, placing 
the English in a lar^je majority, Tlie econocic developnent of the 
province drew the tv/o coranunities closer to^jether and raised in a more 
acute fom the question of the costs of maintaining a dual system of 
schools with tlie resoi:rces of a frontier econony, Tlie increasingly 
mixed ethnic character of the province, and the prospects of f'.irther 
heavy immigration from Eastern Europe, led to a demand for "national" 
schools; that is, for a single non-dGnominational state-Eupportod system, 
with a view to the formation of a common nationality. The principle of 
duality in the school system was further criticized by the English- 
Protestant section of the corriunity on the grounds that it advanced the 
political power and activities of the Roman Catholic Church. It was 
argued that separate Catholic schools supported by public funds violated 
liberal principles of the separation of church and state. These views 
were kept alive with fresh arguments drawn from the recurrent anti- 
Catholic and anti-French agitations in Ontario, the most recent of which 
had stemmed from the animosities aroused by the Riel affair, and by the 
Jesuits Estates Act of 188S passed by the IJercier government in Quebec, 

Whereas the majority in Tanitoba, and English-speaking 
Canadians in general, may have looked upon the abolition of the separate 
school system as marking the progress of a Canadian nationality, (certain 
bilingual clauses were deleted later in the School Act of 1916, thus 
making English the sole language of instruction), for the Trench this 
action raised not only a serious obstacle to the maintenance of their 
distinctive national character in Llanitoba, but constituted a defeat 
also of the ideal of a dual Canadian nationality. The "est they regarded 


as the coraraon property of both races to be developed with the most 

complete freedom for the institutions and practices of each croup. 

Indeed I-anitoba v;ith its French settlements, its educational system 

and bilingualism once raised high hopes aciong Quebec leaders of becomine 

a second French province. The success and safety of French-speakinc 

minorities everywhere in Canada had, moreover, bocone an inportant ele- 
ment in the psychology of all French Canadians, being closely related to 
their sense of justice, aspiration for equality, and natural desire for 
material evidence of their survival. Anxiety over the abolition of 
separate schools, v/hich in large part were French language schools, vyas 
therefore general aciong French-speaking Canadians. The iss'-e v/as alv/ays 
of a double character; the right to a Catholic and state-supported educa- 
tion, and the right to be taught in the naternal tongue \7ith sufficient 
safeguards for the teaching of the other official langT.:ago of the country. 

The issue when taken to the Judicial Committee of the Frivy 
Council v/as decided in favour of "anitoba, but on a subsequent hearing 
by the same body it was declared that if an injury had been incurred by 
the aggrieved minority, an appeal for remedial action lay to the 
Governor-in-Council; in effect, to the federal government. This appeal 
being made, the Conservative government, after first being met with the 
refusal of the Manitoba government to accede to an order-in-council 
(L'arch 1895) requiring the restoration of Catholic privileges, then pre- 
pared a Remedial Bill (February 1896). This Bill, however, could not be 
passed before the legal life of Parliament had expired and over the oppo- 
sition of the Liberal members who v/ere joined by a few Conservative dissi- 

dents. The Liberal party took its stand against "coercion* of the 

See A. R. I.I. Lower, Colony to ::ation; A history of Canada , (Toronto, 
1946), ^p. 354, 394 ff. 
Op. cit., p. 395. 


province. It objected to a cn.'.cial measure bein^ enacted in the last 

days of the Parliaiaent, and it promised under lAurier to achieve more 

for the French and Ronan Catholic cause in Llanitoba throuch a negotiated 

settlement in a spirit of conciliation. 

Soon after the Laurier ccernment assayed office, 3ouragsa 

and Israel Tarte, :.!inister of Riblic TJorks, went on a cood-will tour 

of the West, In TTinnipeg, they joined informally in the necotiations 

leading to the Laurier-Greenway settlement of the school dispute. 

Earlier in October, 1896 Bourassa had taken a prominent part in drawing 

up the petition signed by forty-five Liberal Catholic members of the 

House of Commons and Senate which was sent to the Pope to protest the 

violence of clerical intervention in political affairs during the 

school crisis, and in which an appeal was made for protection of the 

consciences cf Catholic electors, 

ITiroughout the whole dispute from 1890 to 1397 Bourassa 
had taken an essentially moderate course. He had refused not only to 
follow certain bishops in their politico-religious crusade but he also 
refused to go to the other extreme of violent counter-attacks or even 
of public criticism, Ilis basic position was that since the I.!anitoba 
School Act cf 1890 had not been disallowed within the legal time limit, 
there remained no course for the government to follow but to seek settle- 
ment through friendly negotiation. Remedial legislation — the solution 
proposed by the federal Conservative government before its defeat — 
passed by one government and enforced by another govcrrj:.cnt, did not 
appear to him a satisfactory protection of the rights of the Ronan 


The petition may be read in Skelton, II, -.. 3?-:.^. ^ej clso Le Devoir, 
June 27, 1911; October 28, 1943; and House of Commons Debates , i:av 12, 
1898, pp. 5425-31, and Ibid., April 5, 1?>05, p. See"?. 


Catholic minority in Manitoba, For this reason he supported Laurier's 

"sunny ways" and urged a fair trial of the settlement announced late in 

November, 1896. The essentials of this compromise settlorient v/ere en- 
acted by the li^nitoba legislature in 1897 as an amendment to the School 
Act of 1890. The dual system of schools was not re-established by the 
settlement nor was the i'rench language restored to its official status 
in the province. Religious teaching was permitted, howevor, in the 
public schools for one half hour after the regular school day, and it 
was provided that when ten or more pupils spoke r'rench or any other 
language than English, instruction could be given in that language upon 
the bilingual system. 

The agitation which had come to a peak immediately before the 
election in June 1896, now broke out again in full force. The Ultra- 
montane press, with the Conservative press of both r'rench and English- 
speaking Canada, denounced the settlement as a betrayal of legitimate 
Roman Catholic rights. Liberal newspapers defended the terms of the 
agreement, and in Quebec certain Liberal newspapers waged open warfare 
on those bishops who were most publically opposed to the settlement, 
(in particular I.Isgr. Lafleche of Three Rivers and Usgr. langevin of 
St. Boniface). Some indication of the intensity of the struggles is 
shown in the condemnation from Rome on December 19, 1896 of L. C. 
David's book Le Clerge canadien, sa mission, son oeuvre (!!ontreal, 1896), 

a book which in large measure traced the relations of the clergy with the 

Liberal party. One week later the foremo st Liberal daily of the Q'jebec 

See Lo Ralliemont , robruary 20, 1896. One week after tl.e Conservative 
government had presented its Remedial Bill, Bourassa wrote: ''e have 
always stated, and we say again, that Mr. Laurier could achieve a better, 
more effective result by his conciliatory attitude than the government 
could ever achieve with its sterile blusterings". See also the issues 
of L:ay 23, 1895 and January 23, 1896. 

Rumilly, Histoiro de la province de Q.iebeCy VIII, p# 138. 


district, L'Electeur (Quebec) was condemned and disappeared. 

The covornraent feared a and collective denunciation 

by the bishops of the Laurier-C-roenway agreement. It had sent the 

L'inister of Justice, Mr, Charles i-'itznatrick , to Rome and ho with 

others sought the appointaent of an apostolic delegate to Canada. At 

the end of January 1897 Bourassa called for a cessation of attacks 

against the bishops, and he rr.ade it plain in his newspaper articles in 

Le Ralliement that he would submit to their views if the settlement of 

the school problem was formally condemned. This covrse drew praise from 

certain Conservative newspapers: La Vorite remarking that Le r.alliement 

was the only Liberal newspaper of the French-language press which dis- 

cussed the issue "serieuscr.ent et cathni -i qi:ft- -TPint''^ ',7hile Le ."londe of 

Montreal noted that Bourassa was the sole Liberal editor to show himself 

completely submissive to the Church, At the ssime time Bourassa pointed 

otit that: 

those who say that the Laurier settlement gives nothing to our 
compatriots and co-religionists of uanitoba are extremists, and 
those who assort that the settlement regiilates the question 
definitively are others. 

He called for a fair trial of the arrangements as provisional and as 

capable of progressive improvement from the point of view of the Catholics, 

Bourassa 's position in the dispute was further defined in an 

article in Le Ralliement of February 6, 1897 entitled "Les Droits des 


7;e Catholics [he said] accept the teaching of the Church without 
restriction and without repugnance, -Te recognize in the bishops 
the right and duty of intervention in political matters en every 
occasion when the interests of religion are involvod. 

The newspaper appeared immediately under a new name, Le Soleil . See 

Rumilly, Ibid ./p, l-l-l. 
2 ~~~^ 
See la Verite , January 23 and Febraary 6, 1897, 


See Le r.alliement, February 18, 1897 for reference to Le londe . 

Rumilly, VIII, p, 147. See also Lc. Verite, April 17, 1897. 

His unwillincness to take now, or at anytime, an anti-clerical attitude 
was further illustrated when he v/ent on to noint out that altho'i^h the 
maintenance of separate schools v/as not an article of faith or ;.oini, of 
discipline in the United States, the matter was one in which the bishops 
wore the entire and absolute judges subject only to the final decision of 
Hone. It belon~od to the bishops to decide according- to the spiriti^al 
needs of each diocese and of each country to what degree religious instruc- 
tion should be given in the schools, and therefore, he conclrded, the 
bishops of Canada had the right of maintaining the .rirxiple of separate 
schools, and the more so, he added, "in that the principle is a valuable 
guarantee of our national interests*. 

On the other hand, Bourassa contended, public men "receive 
from God lights befitting their station" and it is they, not the bishops 
who boar the responsibility of choosing the human means, or the parlia- 
mentary tactics which they judge the most suitable to iiaintain and safe- 
guard the principles proclaimed by the religious authority. He referred 
his critics and ardent Conservatives like Tariiivel to certain encyclicals 
of Pius IX and to the pronouncements of the Canadian bishops of 1872 when 
the Hew Brunswick separate school issue was debated. This disposition 
of rights and duties he summed up in the formula: 

■.7e will be Catholics in faith, morals and disci-line, and free 
citizens in political and civil matters. 

The issue, however, was not to be so easily settled upon a 

division of questions of religion and politics, and of functions between 

the lay and the ecclesiastical authorities, for many of the latter 

asserted the right to choose the neans that supported the principle -- 

in this case the Conservative proposal of remedial federal legislation ~ 

as well as to decide the principle itself. To this Bourassa seemed 

rdady to submit should the matter be made a question of formal discip- 
line. And in this, an essential difference between his liberalisra and 
that of English-Protestant liberalism was made more precise — his 
v/illingness to accept direction of individual conscience by an objective 
ecclesiastical authority. 

In Le Rallioment of January 28, 1897 he wrote a long article 
re-iterating his attachment to the principle of the right of the 
Archbishop of Saint Boniface, supported by the episcopate of the country 
and enlightened and led by Rome, to fix the extent of the denands of 
Catholics in the separate school issue in I-Ianitoba, He stated as clearly 
his agreement with the general philosophy of religious control of educa- 
tion, noting that the Church since its inception had alv/ays proclaL-ned 
that moral and religious formation must predominate over the intellectual 
culture of man and serve him as a base, and that the Church, being the 
guardian of the faith and morals of its children, must see to their 
education both in the family circle and the school. The system of public 
instnaction should give the Church the right and the means not only of 
teaching its doctrine to its members, but also of supervising purely 
intellectual instraction, in order that such teaching strengthen and 
complete religious training. This, he said, was what Catholics of 
Europe had struggled for throughout the nineteenth century. It v/as the 
fundamental law of the Cliurch and could not be ti-ansgressed by pope, 
bishop, priest or layraan. 

But although the law be maintained intact, it was applied by 
the Church, he explained, more or loss strictly according to circumstances. 
Under some circumstances the Church tolerated civil laws contrary to its 
doctrine in order to avoid worse evils. This nractice illustrated the 


disciplinary power of the Church, of which it was as complete master 

as of its doctrine. In consequence, the Church was free to raako it a 

duty of the faithful to demand from the state the full measure of its 

rights in education in a certain country or province, whereas elsev/hore 

it mitjht seek only a part of its ri^^hts, or ask only the sane liberty 

as '.vaa accorded to other religious groups v/hose doctrinal equality it 

did not, however, recognize. Hence it was not legitimate to argue from 

the discipline applied in the United States to the case in Canada, or 

in Manitoba. It v/as entirely up to the bishops of the Roman Catholic 

Church to fix the duty of Catholics concerning separate schools in both 


The article concluded by expressing the opinion that the 

state in Canada could concede no more than ur, Le.urier had obtained in 

his settlement with the Premier of J-'anitoba, and that the Church "cannot 

and should not ask for more at the moment*. But, if in the end the 

religious authorities saw in the compromise solution the negation of a 

doctrinal principle or of a disciplinary rule, Bourassa again declared 

himself ready to submit "by word and heart", more solicitous, he said, 

"to maintain the integrity of our faith than the interests of our party". 

One v/eek after the arrival in Canada of the apostolic delegate, 

L'sgr. Merry dol Val, Bourassa was made editor of La Patrie , the leading 

Liberal newspaper of Montreal, La Patrie had been bought early in 

February, 1897 in the name of Israel Tarte with funds supplied in part 

by the Liberal party. The former editors, being Rouges of the radical 

school .were nov; considered too advanced for the Liberal rarty. It rms 


Le Ralliement, January 28, 1897, 


hoped that in acquiring control of editorial policy, La Patrie could 
be saved from sufforinc "the sano fate as L'Electe'^r. "^Iiis waa to be 
achieved by raodoratinc its tone with rospect to the clercj and to the 
Manitoba school settlement. In the issue of April 6, 1897, Bo'irassa 
wrote, "Today I assume the political direction of La Patrio*. .''e des- 
cribed the ne7/spaper as the "most accredited voice" of the party in 
Quebec, and set forth his ov/n ultramontane faith as the basis of its 
religious policy. But it was his last article. His a-ipointr.ont as 
editor proved too ^reat a change in the newspaper's traditions, and he 
retired or was relieved of his post immediately. La Verite, which had 

approved Bourassa's January and February articles in Lo Ralliement, 

commented on the appointment: 

[Jr. Bourassa will not be Catholic like Uontalerabert nor yet as 
Lacordaire, but Catholic quite short, that is to say. Catholic 
as the Pope and with the Pope, in a word, ultramontane. But 
what v/ill Mr, Laurier and, Tarte say? 

The papal encyclical Afari Vos of December 0, 1897, pronounced 

the Laurier-Greenway settlement to be imperfect and inadequate, but 

urged its acceptance as an instalment of justice and as partial satis- 

faction. Tension was eased. The issue ceasod to be vital in federal 

politics, and even in the Quebec provincial elections of J.'ay, 1897, 

both political parties sou^^ht to avoid it, French Canadians had shown 

themselves unwilling to follow those who demanded extreme legislative 

measures to secure certain religious and educational privileges of their 

compatriots outside the province. This fact became apparent again in 

1905 when Bourassa and others called unsuccossfull:;' for a large measure 

of separation in the school system of the nowly created provinces of 

Alberta and Saskatchewan, 

J. P. Sculet in La Verite , April 17, 1097, 

See Skelton's Laurier, II, p. 41-43. 


In the House of Conmons during the session of 1898 Bourassa 

interested himself in the building of short lines of railway in his own 

and neighbouring counties to assist in colonization and development. 

He urged, for example, the extension of the Chemin de fer du I'ord from 

its terminus at St. Jerome in Terrebonne county to L'ont Laurier in 

Labelle county, and he sponsored a bill for the chartering of t-.e ontfort 

and Gatineau colonization Railway Company, In l.iarch, 1898, he took part 

in the debate in the House to repeal the Electoral Franchise Act of 1885 

and to amend further the Dominion r'ranchise Act, He approved the action 

of the Liberal government in abolishing the Act of 1885 which he regarded 
as a centralizing instrument in that it had provided for a uniform and 
country-wide franchise. Ke welcomed a return to the use of the provincial 
franchises for future federal elections. The province of Quebec, he 
protested, should itself be able to determine what class of people it 
would send to Ottawa to help frame the general laws of the country. 
Provincial autonomy was the basis of Canadian unity, and this fact 
should be reflected in the franchise. The franchise, moreover, Bourussa 
declared, had an important social aspect of particular interest to 
French Canadian social order, and he -.Tamed against the "levelling philo- 
sophies* which saw in universal suffrage the cure of social evils. 

In these first few years of parliamentary life, Bourassa had 
followed fairly closely the path marked out by the Liberal party, al- 
though the independence and strong conservative bias of his general 

outlook wore at tir:es plainly evident. In 1898 he was ap-cinted 


See House of Corxions Debates, 1G98, I, d. 173o. 
Ibid ., Llarch 2^ , 1898, I, p. 2703-07. A nore eitonded discussion of 
Bourassa 's viev/s on the franchise follow in a later chapter. See also 
W. L. L'orton, "The Extension of the franchise in Canada", Canadian 
Historical Association, Annual Report, 1543, pp. 72-Sl. 

Canadian secretary to tho Joint Hich Commission between Great Britain 

and the United States, which met at Quebec ajid Washincton to settle 
differences between the two countries with respect to Canada, But he 
resigned his post after a year of service, complaining in a letter to 
laurier that the secretaries were ignored by tho cornraissioners, and 
that ho was wasting his time and talonts, i-o j^ad the confidence and 
goodwill of Laurier; he was v/inning general adniration of his abilities; 
and he was an accomplished speaker in both French and English. But the 
future was to deny tho brilliant career in the Liberal party which 
seemed to open before him. 

His first major break with the Liberal party cane with the 
decision of the govornajent in 18?9 to dispatch a contingent of volun- 
teers for service in the South African rJar, In attacking this action, 
the Nationalist movement took its origin, and beceine stamped with the 
anti-imporialist features v/hich it never lost, ^'oi' l:ourassa, the issue 
was far wider than a mere question of party loyalty or of political ex- 
pediency. He saw in the govern~".ent's action tho beginnings of a deep 
revolution in imperial affairs pointing to tighter imperial organization, 
and opening up for all Canadians the dismal prospect of permanent commit- 
ment to British wars throughout the world, Thout^ the circumstances 
naturally focused attention on the subject of imperial defence and unity, 
for Bourassa participation in the '.fer was a setback to the evolution of 
Canada from her colonial status to an independent nation controlling her 
own foreign policy. Independence became for him a passionato ideal which 
he pursued for the next half century. He equated its substance with 
neutrality as of right, and in practice, in wars in which the safety of 

Canada was not imniodiatoly at stako, and in its service he fought at 
tiir.Qs an extravacantly conceived imperial monster. his basic 
position v/as eminently reasonable, and, it night be areued, in t^o sace 
of the South African War, at least, more in accord with liberal;t^.t 
than the position of those who favoured intervention. In any case, he 
never ceased to believe that ::aticnalisra eytorciG'] t'lc liberal tradition 
into external affairs. These developments are traced in the chapter 
which follows. 




1899 - 1905 

Tlio indopondonce of political action foreshadowed in 
Bourassa s election campai^in of ICC'6 was put to the teat in October 
1899, In that month the South African '.fer broke cut between Great 
Britain and the Goer Pepublics of the Transvaal and the Grange "roe 
State, Canadian intervention in the war, thou^ limited in charcctcr, 
marked the first enploymont of Canadian troops outside their own 
territory in the service of the Snpire, Other self-^oveminc colonies 
gave similar aid. There was thus inrriediatoly raised the wholo question 
of the relation of colonial manpower to British foreifjn policy. The 
prospect opened of seemingly certain corxtnitment to future icirerial • 
in a world engared for the past fifteen years in imperial expansion and 
rivalries. To organize resistance to what appeared a new era in imperial 
relations vras the raison d' etre of the Mationalist --cvei-^ont. 

In Canada a general consensus on the issue of contributing 
to wars of Great Britain could not be expected. Discussion for the 
most part was carried on in an emotionally charged a-bnosphere in which 
dissenting opinion v/as too readily classed as disloyal. English-speaking 
Canadians had developed a pent-up fund of imperialist sentiment based 
partly on thoir own sense of increasing strength, on natural -ride in 
the majesty, exploits, and "civilizing mission" of the Hbpire, and 
partly upon the reasoned conviction that their own safety and best 
interests -^vere bound up with the fate of "^^o S'; ire. Tliis sentiment 
was stimulated by the activities of such ^pire builders as Rhodes and 
Jameson, and the pageantry of such events as the Diamond Jubilee of 


Queen Victoria in 1897. It was given a further and sudden impetus 
by the Boer War. To move closer to Great Britain, to share in the 
burdens and glories of Empire, to pive aid beyond the requirements 
of formal duty with little thought of distant consequences, accorded 
well with the English Cajiadian sense of patriotism. Their concept of 
the national interest was suffused with imperial thoughts and feelings, 

French-speaking Canadians, on the contrary, could not share 
in the sentimental attachment to things imperial in anything like the 
same degree. The complexities of their position, together with con- 
tinuous discussion of it, had long accustomed then to a more rational 
approach, ^hey were a people whose loyalty to the British Crown had 
begun when New France v/as ceded to England in the Treaty of Paris. In 
imperial France they had no interest. For Catholic France and for 
French culture they had a natural sympathy. But this, together with 
any feelings of admiration, gratitude, or distrust they may have felt 
towards Great Britain, had long been subordinated to a lively native 
patriotism. Their duties to Great Britain they would closely construe, 
emphasizing the Crown rather than the Supire. They would be correct 
in their loyalties but opposed to increased imperial burxiens or closer 
imperial ties. Their military tradition had never been stressed. It 
was confined to fighting only for their homeland. Seeing themselves a 
small people struggling for existence and growth, they were unlikely to 
favour sharing in war against other small peoples like the Boers of 
South Africa. Their concept of the national interest would naturally 
spring from their experience and outlook, and therefore be more local 
or "nationalistic* in substance. Compared with the outward-looking and 

-^ I 


imperial viewpoint of English Canadians whose cultural and economic 
affiliations were so different, that of the rYench Canadians was inward- 
looking and national. But tho contrast should not be overdrawn, for 
differences of kind and degree were modified by the unifying influences 
of a shared existence in Canada, Furthermore, although at times of 
imperial crises it seemed submerged, there was developing in Canada as 
a v/hole a stronger sense of national identity and interest which pointed 
towards greater autonomy and independence under the Crown, This was a 
bond of unity between French and English-speaking Canadians, 

It was not surprising then, that the most pronounced adverse 
reaction to intervention in the ?/ar in South Africa should come from 
French Canada, or that most concern should there be felt over the future 
significance of this new step in imperial organization. The current of 
nationalist sentiment and ideas which now arose found in ^ourassa an 
eager and able spokesman and director. Hot only was objection taken to 
the government's failure to summon parliament after its decision to dis- 
patch troops, and to the role played by the Colonial Secretary, I.!r. 
Joseph Chamberlain, A demand was made also for a full review of the 
larger question of imperial relations. It became apparent that the 
Nationalists would demand a return to the former practice of "colonial 
nationalism", as summed up in the formula of no responsibility for 
British foreign policy and no active share in British wars not directly 
affecting Canada; or failing this, an accelerated growth of Canadian 
autonomy in the conduct of foreign affairs and a policy of neutrality 
in ^pire wars. In any case. Nationalism meant a right to neutrality 
as well as a policy of neutrality in British wars. 


Parliament had been prorogued two months before the out- 
break of war and was not to meet again until February 1, 1900, Before 
the session came to a close, Sir Wilfrid l<iurier, yielding to pressures 
originating in British South African interests, moved an expression of 
sympathy with the plight of British subjects in the Boer Republics, and 
approval of the course followed by the British government on their be- 
half. After stating the dubious theory that Great Britain was the 
sovereign power in the tv/o republics, Laurier went on to place the issue 
above one of imperial interests, asserting that the "noble, moral and 
just cause* of the Uitlanders, who demanded only the realities of equal 

citizenship with the IXitch, was one which should appeal to the "conscience 


and judgment of mankind at large". The motion received the unanimous 

approval of the House, 

Bourassa was absent when the resolution was voted, but next 

day expressed in an interview with Laurier fear lest Canada be committed 

to the consequences of British policy without any voice in that policy, 

The resolution was of little importance, leurier assured him, and confided 

that while in London attending the Colonial Conference of 1897, L'r, Joseph 

Chamberlain had asked him whether in the event of war in South Africa 

Canada would send troops. To this question leurier had given a firm "no", 

Bourassa was unconvinced. He pointed out that whereas the Prime Minister 

had replied "no* in private conversation, he had made compromising 

speeches in public, declaring that should England ever be in danger, she 

need but blow the bugles and licht the fires on the hilltops and Canadians 

would rally to her aid, 
I __— 

House of Commons Debates , July 31, 1899, p, 8994, 

Le Devoir, November 11, 1943. 

Loc, cit. 


Breakdown of negotiations for a settlement in South Africa 
was followed by the Boer ultimatum of October 9, and the opening of 
hostilities on October 12, 1899. In Canada a rapidly mounting war 
fever fanned by the press forced the government into action. On the 
evening of October 12, a meeting was held in Ottawa to which Bourassa 
had been called by I.'r, Tarte, the Minister of Public Works, Before a 
small group of members Sir IVilfrid lAurier explained his dilemma, 
Sone, he said, wanted to aid Great Britain by the dispatch of 10,000 
troops; others, like ;.!r, Tarte, would send none; as Prime Minister he 
must find a middle way. ^ourassa, according to his own account, re- 
minded him of his declaration made only a week earlier and published in 

the Toronto Globe in which he had asserted that troops could not be 

sent to South Africa without a breach of the Canadian constitution. 

The attitude of other French Canadians at the meeting gave Bourassa no 

satisfaction, Loaer Gouin, who earlier opposed participation, remained 

silent; Rodolphe Lemieux made a pun, "Puisque le vin est tire'^, il faut 

le Boer *. Bourassa left the meeting "la moutardcau nez" , but offering 

to be guided by Laurier as to whether he should resign or simply vote 

against the government's intervention policy. In a letter to the Prime 

Minister next day, however, he asserted entire liberty of action* 

and 'exclusive control* of his attitudes. 

On October 13, the government of Canada passed an order-in- 

council providing for the equipment and movement of Canadian volunteers 

to South Africa. It decided not to call Parliament into special session, 
I ■ 

The constitutional difficulty lay mainly in a provision of the liilitia 

Act confining the use of Canadian troops to the defence of Canada, 

Loc, cit, 

I<iurier Papers, Bourassa to Laurier, October 13, 1899, P.A.C. 


combatting with all his strength the new current of imperialism. 

Reaffirming his sentiments of "affection and admiration* for I«urier, 

he concluded by declaring, "I shall always regret what I consider an 

act of weakness on your part*. 

Replying on November 2, the Prime Minister argued that even 

had Bourassa's constitutional objections been overcome by Parliament 

being called into session to voice approval and vote supplies, the 

latter would "still have been against every proposal of aid to Great 

Britain in the war against the Boers", This was undoubtedly true, but 

it did not dispose of the constitutional issues involved. Other aspects 

of the question weighed more heavily with Laurier, French Canadians, 

he wrote, must avoid being isolated in the Confederation. "They must 

choose between English or American imperialism". There was no other 

alternative. He could not admit that the growth of Canadian indepen- 
dence would be advanced by seeking representation in Imperial Cabinets 
cr Parliaments to secure some small voice in foreign policy. 

It was evident that leurier was inclined to broaden the 
discussion to show a conflict of interests and principles in order to 
support some reasonable and workable compromise, whereas Bourassa sought 
to confine it, if possible, to some single overriding principle, thus 
reducing the area of manoeuvre. He seized upon the constitutional 
dilemma involved in Canadian participation in Snpire wars, while I«urier 
endeavoured to transcend the constitutional question or place it in a 
larger political context. The events of October began Bourassa's 
alienation from party politics. The compromise with principle, and the 


Ifiurier Papers, Bourassa to Laurier, October 27, 1899, P,...-, 


Ibid., llovember 2, 1899, PJ^.C. 


party demand for unity, which he saw as little more than appeasement 
of the dominant groups, were more than he could endure. To raise fears 
of Quebec isolation through opposition to national policies, to offer 
the false alternative of English or American imperialism, and to con- 
fuse questions by insisting on a distinction between major and minor 
wars, and between technical belligerency and freedom to choose practi- 
cal neutrality or participation -- these were for him only the appro- 
priate party techniques to disguise the first plunge into the new 
imperialism, "You have played the first act in a political revolution*, 
he wrote ^urier, ... Posterity will be hard on you". Their corres- 
pondence ended with Laurier re-affirming belief in his role of concilia- 
tor, and declaring that the results which would flow from following 

Bourassa s way would be disastrous. 

When the House met again, Laurier asserted the right to an 
independent Canadian decision while conciliating both those who cla- 
moured for imperial solidarity and those who opposed all participation. 

He stated: 

. . • I am free to say that whilst I cannot admit that Canada 
should take part in all the wars of Great Britain, neither am 
I prepared to say that she should not take part in any war at 
all. I ajD prepared to look upon each case upon its merits as 
it arises. 

He thus drew a distinction between major wars when Britain's 

security was threatened, and therefore a Canadian national interest 

directly involved, and secondary wars in which the existence of neither 

Britain nor Canada was at stake. In determining the degree of active 

participation appropriate for Canada in any war whatever, he claimed 

I ■ ~~" 

Ibid ., Bourassa to laurier, November 4, 1829; August 14, 1900; and 
Jjaurier to Bourassa, August 20, 1900, P.A.C. 

House of Commons Debates, Febrriary 4, 1900, I, p. 68. 


complete independence from British influence. But in the present 

instance, though the war was evidently of a secondary nature, he 

believed that sufficient reasons justified active intervention. 

Bourassa's reply was given to the House in a long and 

brilliant speech on March 13 in which he challenged point for point 

the arguments advanced in the government's defence. No Canadian 

interest was involved in the war, no consultation had taken place 

beforehand, Canadians would not share in determining the peace terms. 

Had there been any justification for the government's haste? "r. 

Chamberlain himself and a host of others hJid disposed of that argument 

by proclaiming that the display of solidarity was not dictated by the 

necessities of the war but had been intended as "an example and a warn- 

ing to the world". Could not this example and warning have been given 

one month later? Would it not have been more striking with the sanction 

of parliament? i?as not the real purpose of the haste to prevent sober 

consideration of the issues? And if it required some 2,000 men and 

$2,000,000. from Canada to give this example in destroying two small 

states of 250,000 persons, what would be the cost to Canada were Britain 

engaged in war with a major power? Doubtless the lesson had been intended 

for first class powers. 

Against the argument that public opinion had demanded 

immediate action, he was able to point to the general opposition of 

the French-speaking newspapers and of sections of the English press. 

In any case it was the government's duty in such circumstances to inform 

and lead opinion, not bend before sudden storms. Moreover, far from 

I ~~ 

Ibid., pp. 65-67. The reasons given by Laurier were: (1) the injustice 
done to British subjects in the Transvaal, and (2) the enthusiasm for 
the war in Canada. 

^Ibid., p. 1801. 


recognizing the "no precedent" clause in the governmont's order-in- 

council, Mr. Chamberlain had expressly accepted the dispatch of 

troops as evidence that Canada wished, as he said, 'to share in the 

risks and burdens of Einpire*. This could only mean in the present 

state of affairs that troops would be forthcoming in the future upon 


Bourassa then advanced a constitutional theory which was 

to be heard often again. It bore the stamp of radical democrtitic 

practice. Its basic tenet was that plebiscitary consultation and 

agreement must be obtained from the people before either the government 

or parliament could proceed with constitutional change. Important 

policy decisions, such as the decision to dispatch troops to South 

Africa, appeared to Bourassa to be constitutionally significant, and 

therefore to require the sanction of a plebiscite. Parliament must 

ascertain "exactly what is the true feeling of the people" and this 

must be done in a plebiscite "free from all other political issues". 

He asked parliament to approve the reservation contained in the govern- 
ment's order-in-council of October 13, 1899; namely, the "no precedent* 
clause. He presented a motion seeking to have ratified the principle of 
the "sovereignty of parliament and of the people" as regards any con- 
stitutional change looking to intervention in imperial wars. The 

resolution declared that change must be "initiated" by parliament and 

"sanctioned* by the people of Canada, The motion was lost, gaining the 

support of nine members only (5 Liberals, 4 Conservatives) all from the 


House of Commons Debates , f.iirch 13, 1900, p, 1803. 

Ibid ,, p, 1621, See Chapter IX below, 

Ibid., p. 1837, 



province of Quebec, 

Two months later he blamed the slow growth of reaction to 

imperialism on the "racial cry" heard at every turn. Because of it, 

English Canadians were led to confuse loyalty with jingoism, and 

French Canadians to mistake cringing and servility for conciliation. 

The reaction however would be "inevitable" and it would be strongest 

among English Canadians, he felt, because they would come back from *a 

longer way off*. In a stormy debate on June 7, 1900, Bourassa refused 

to join the majority in voting an address to congratulate Her Majesty 

on the successful course of the War in South Africa. The ?te,r, he said, 

would be judged in the future "one of the most unfortunate events of 


English politics during this century*. 

Parliament was dissolved on October 9, 1900, and general 
elections announced for November 7th. Bourassa contested Labelle 
constituency as a Liberal anti-in5)erialist, and was re-electod by a 
large majority. The Liberal government, far from having lost in popu- 
lar favour as a result of its South African War policy, actually in- 
creased its majority in the province of Quebec by nine members, winning 
a total of fifty-eight of the sixty-five seats in that province. 

Early in the first session of the new parliament Bourassa 
moved a resolution (March 12, 1901) opposing the dispatch of additional 
Canadian troops, and stating that it was the wish of Canadians that the 

British government conclude a peace in South Africa, recognizing the 

I ~~ ~~~ 

The nine were: Angers, Chauvin, Dugas, Ethier, Legris, :Jarcil, 
Uariotte, Monet, and I.'orin. According to Bourassa, he had shown the 
resolution a few days earlier to Laurier who had at first wished to 
have it voted, but turned against it after consulting with his colleagues, 
(See Le Devoir , May 14, 1913), "Posing ever since as a martyr, a role 
he was to assume repeatedly with constant success, he protested his 
boundless love for the Mother Country and gracefully posted himself 
between the blows of the "extremists" on both sides", 

?Iouse of Commons Debates , May 3, 1900, p, 4594, 

Ibid .. June 7, 1900, pp, 6905-09, 


independence of the Boer Republics, Though opposed to the initial 
Canadian intervention, ho thout^ht that parliament had now acquired the 
right and duty to express an opinion on the results of the IVar and to 
make suggestions *on any matter of vital interest to British power* in 
that connection. That such political action could be taken without 
impairing Canada's full liberty and self-control of action he thought 
possible. It was now i«iurier s turn to object to such intervention in 
imperial affairs, and he was not slow to point out that the offer of 
advice implied a readiness to share responsibility for policy, and to 
contribute to the force sanctioning that policy, Bourassa's proposal, 
if given effect, could be construed as a further step towards a unified 
imperial foreign policy, something neither he nor Bourassa were willing 
to promote. The resolution received the support of only two members. 
On April 23, Bourassa seconded a motion by Mr. Charlton supporting 
British supremacy in South Africa, favouring a peace of conciliation, 
and declaring that British rule "in its general and higher manifesta- 
tions is good rule". And thus, so far as parliament and the country 
were concerned, the issues of the Boer War ceased to command attention. 
In 1901 Bourassa left for his first trip to the British 

Isles to sound out the depth of the new imperialism. He visited 

Ireland and Scotland, and arrived in London furnished with introductions 

from Goldwin Smith of Toronto, who had been an outspoken critic of the 

South African War, and from Dr. Weldon of Nova Scotia, a professor of 

international lav/. In London he met people on both sides of the issue; 


See i-a Verit'e , August 10-September 14, 1901, for a series of interesting 
impressions of Britain, "En Voyage", 



among others, Leonard Courtney and Austen Chamberlain. He refused an 
opportunity to meet iVr. Joseph Chamberlain on the grounds that such a 
meeting with the arch-imperialist would be "too painTul". His Pro- 
Boer title had been of "much service" to him in London, he declared. 
Liberals welcomed him with a "charming cordiality", and Tories found 

him quite "moderate" in his attitude, citing him as an example to their 

adversaries. He formed the habit of looking at two Englands; the one a 

remnant of a glorious past (Little England), the other a swollen imperia- 
list giant with a dubious future of war and revolution. The safety of 
England, he wrote, depended on "the strength of endurance of the politi- 
cal descendants of Bright and Gladstone", and to these he added William 

Pitt because "Mr. Chamberlain has broken equally with the traditions of 

the two old political parties", 

Boui^assa left England more than ever convinced of the opening 

of a new era of imperial politics and of the depth of the imperialist 

current freshly agitated by the War in South Africa, In Montreal, in 

the National lionument, he delivered his first major public address, 

later published as Great Britain and Canada: Topics of the Day, In it 

he stressed what appeared to him the revolutionary character of the new 


Leonard Courtney (1832-1918) becajne a close friend. Cambridge scholar, 
editorial writer on the Times, lecturer in political economy, and mem- 
ber of Gladstone's adninistration, Courtney was one of the band of 
Liberals who held out against the Chamberlain school. He had separated 
from Gladstone because the latter had not supported proportional repre- 
sentation in the Franchise Act of 1884, and again separated from his 
leader on the Home Rule Bill of 1886. With the return of the Liberals 
to power he was elevated to the peerage (1906), During World War I, 
he was a persistent advocate of peaceful overtures, and of a peace of 
reconciliation. In his independence and anti -imperialism he was, 
perhaps, Bourassa's model among English Radicals, 


See La Verite , August 24, 1901. 
Loc, cit. 




A new chapter is opened, in the history of our country, which 
alters the situation so favourable to us of sixty years ago, 
and this, I think I may here point out without violating my 
oath of allegiance. The champions of our liberties are no 
more; their disciples reduced to impotency, have been succeeded 
in the British cabinet by adherents of a new school of thought, 
the direct descendants of the very men who had planned our 
enslavement. To sum up, I tell you in the language of our 
neighbours: 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty'. 

Nothing so impressed him as the military implications of the new efforts 

to reorganize the Snpire, and he seized upon this as his dominant and 

almost exclusive theme, 

British Imperialism -- as opposed to British democracy, to 
British traditions, to British grandeur — is a lust for 
land-grabbing and military domination , , , in short, 
in men and treasure, but mainly in men, constitute British 

Liberalism in England he judged divided and weakened. In Canada both 

political parties were bending before the new tendency. A vigorous 

reaction of traditional colonial nationalism appeared essential, and 

in this thought was begun the Nationalist movement. He began to work 

out a doctrine based upon a simple dialectic of opposing forces, 

imperialism and nationalism, centralization and decentralization, and 

set within a theory of change emphasizing equilibrium through reaction. 

There were in human nature he said "two ever-warring 
instincts"; the one "individualism" by which man strives to prevail 
over the community and free himself from laws, taxation, and respon- 
sibilities; and the other *connunism" by which men seek a larger sum of 

power through combined efforts. Of the latter instinct were born such 

I ~ ~~ 

Great Britain and Canada , p. 19. 

Ibid . , (Montreal, 1902), preface, iv. 

See Ibid., pp. 8-9, 12. 

groups as family, tribe, nation and empire, and the numerous 

associations in which individuals give up some of their individuality 
to achieve objects beyond their unaided powers, "in a proper balance 
between those two instincts lies the best guarantee of individual 
liberty and national prosperity", he asserted. In the political sphere, 
the principle required that the spirit of association "must be propor- 
tioned to the intellectual and physical powers of each race", and be 
adjusted to the peculiar conditions of the country where it has developed 
its "hereditary instincts". Nations ^ich overstep their "limits" and 
overtax their powers and temperament for whatever cause will be subject 
to "individual" reaction. The violence of that reaction would correspond 

to the previous over-tension, and the association thereby brought back 

within its normal limits. 

The mechanical nature of this conception of change, as well 
as the ideal of stable equilibrium which it suggests, are evident. But 
the theory suited his purpose of giving nationalist reaction a basis in 
the design of nature and the course of history. To encourage a reaction 
in the interests of balance, to hold an empire within its "normal limits", 
could readily be justified upon his theory as a patriotic duty. If not 
checked, an over-expanded empire must lead to centralizing measures, 
intolerable strains, and eventual breakdown. 

The British Snpire, he never ceased to insist, had been built 
up "outside any general theory" or pre-concerted plan of action, often 

without government help, and was in its decentralized character, a 

Ibid., pp. 8-9. 


product of the "anti-imperialistic sense" of the English people. 

The systematic efforts of new imperialists to reorganize the linpire 

on centralizing principles in political, military, and commercial 

fields meant a reversal of the path traced by the development of the 

"hereditary tendencies" of the Qnpire, A new form of government 

threatened to emerge doing violence to the temperament and powers of the 

people concerned. However much sanctioned by lofty ideals, it was 

doomed to disaster. The true statesmen, he said, are they who, in ruling 

the state, are guided not by their own philosophical conceptions, but by 

the instinct of the people. "With men", he said, "instinct rtither than 

reason is the controlling principle". Statesmanship, true patriotism, 

and the popular instinct as it had been manifest thus far in linpire 

history, dictated a policy of anti-imperialism. 

What Bourassa meant by instinct was never made explicit. It 
may be roughly translated by "comnon sense", and it includes the idea 
of a collective sense and awareness of the worth of traditional ways. 
He did not mean the strictly irrational, for he was well aware that 
internal peace and co-operation depended on a reasoned politics, "hat 
he was expressing was the conservatism of Burke and de i-laistre. His 
theory of government according to the instincts of the people led to the 
demand for plebiscites on important occasions, since it was assumed that 
a general consensus existed, and that the popular will could be expressed 
in this way free from the corrupting and obscuring work of political 

His theory of dialectical change was further supplemented by 

the idea of a cyclical pattern of evolution in human institutions. 

I ~~~~~ '■ 

Ibid., pp. 12-15. 


Thus, empires pass through the various stages of human life: "birth, 
growth, expansion, decay, death". How consistent this notion ms with 
his principle of maintaining balance, Bourassa did not pause to con- 
sider. It was sufficient to urge upon his hearers that the Qnpire was 
reaching the summit of a long historical curvo, that it was veering off 
on a disastrous centralizing and military course, and that safety lay 

in the traditional Liberal doctrine of an eventual "natural and harmonious 

disjunction of its component parts*. 

Analysis continued in this public address with references to 

the weakening of Great Britain's position relative to the corainercial 

and military power of Germany and the competition of other industrial 

nations, notably the United States. Such were present imperial rivalries 

that England might find herself at war with France, Russia, or Germany, 

should she at any time appear aggressive or exacting in her foreign 

politics. England, he believed, must inevitably seek to extend her 

political influence for the sake of markets and for military aid if she 

were to maintain her expansive and militarist policies, ^'or her defence 

she must either resort to conscription at home or appeal for aid to the 

colonies; both equally dangerous courses: 

Conscription spells danger from within; conscription conjxires 
up revolt from five millions of angry British toilers, a fresh 
curse to be grafted on Irish hatred; possibly, conscription 
means the disruption of the United Kingdom, the overthrow of 
Monarchy and the advent of social revolution, 

Forced contributions from the colonies were of course "out of the 

question". But Imperialists clung to the plausible hope that at the 

critical moment the problem would be solved by an amalgamation of 


Ibid ., pp. 9, 24. 

Ibid., p. 30, 

military and coamercial imperialism. British taxpayers would be 
induced to accept increased taxation in favour of colonial products 
in order to avoid conscription, while the colonies would fill up the 
military ranks of the Snpire in return for trade concessions. 

Colonial membership in the Imperial Parliament, he thought, 
was altogether out of the question, and he doubted whether an Imperial 
Council would satisfy both the principle of a colonial share in raising 
and controlling monies for imperial affairs, and the necessary principle 
of the "supreme control by Great Britain over foreign policy. Yet, if 
Canadians were to contribute directly or indirectly to the imperial 
exchequer, as they did by financing the dispatch of troops to South 
Africa, they must be given some form of imperial representation. «*hile 
protesting his readiness to discuss such altered imperial relations, 
Bourassa made it clear that he preferred the status quo; no military aid, 
and no membership in imperial political institutions. 

Better guarantees against imperialism, he told his audience, 
existed in England than in Canada. Tlie "coldness" of the English to 
jingoism, and the reasoned opposition of the middle and educated classes 
to imperialism, would in the long run serve Canadian interests. 
Australia and Hew Zealand, he believed, would be more strenuous opponents 
than Canadians to the new movement. In Canada he found parliamentarians 
"cheering to the echo" imperialistic speeches of party leaders. In the 
British Qnpire League, once the club of a few enthusiasts like Dr, 
Parkin and Colonel Denison, there were now to be found Ministers of the 
Crown and a whole regiment of senators and members of the House anxious 
to make up for lost time. Public indifference, an asset in England, was 



a positive danger in Canada, A too strict party discipline prevented 

full criticism of public policy, and racial division further weakened 

Canadians in the face of the new imperialism, finally, he said, a 

danger to the national interest lay in the want of an influential class 

of men who, while taking an interest in politics, kent aloof from the 

movements and intrigues of faction. 

In this latter thought lay the germ of the idea of the 
Nationalist League soon to be formed, and of the founding of a newspaper 
to spread nationalist doctrine. There was in England, Bourassa observed, 
"a large class of highly educated men" watching the course of politics, 
expressing their views in newspapers and magazines, in business and 
professional clubs, and social circles. Free from party ties, they 
exerted a considerable influence upon public opinion. They helped the 
middle class give England a truly national politics. A middle class, 
educated, non-partisan, but politically-minded elite was the core around 
which he hoped to build the Nationalist movement. As journalists, 
lawyers, parliamentarians, leaders in labour, business, and professional 
organizations, and to some extent also the clergy, they were in a position 
to communicate ideas and influence the thought and behaviour of the masses. 

The object of Canadians in the present juncture, according to 
Bourassa, should be to develop a sense of common nationality expressed 
in a purely Canadian standpoint on all constitutional and political 
questions. This did not presuppose national independence. Indeed, the 
issue of independence was said to be of no present moment. There was 
not, in his opinion, a sufficiently sincere and definite understanding 
between both races to justify immediate independence, nor were Canadians 

Ibid ., pp, 31, 39, 43-44. 


seemingly prepared to base their foreign policies upon purely 
national grounds. The 'immediate and exclusive neighbourhood* of 
the United States cautioned a postponement of the "day of our emanci- 
pation*. But if imperialism became intolerable, a decided movement 
towards independence should be encouraged. Premature independence, 
however, by placing the constitution under the absolute control of the 
Canadian parliament, would expose it to "terrible assaults* directed 
mainly against the French Canadian minority. He thought they would be 

forced to seek refuge in Pan-Americanism. \'ihat he would prefer, he said, 

in concluding his analysis was: 

that between the old British frigate which threatens to founder 
on the rock of Imperialism and the American corsair, naking 
ready to pick up her wrecks, so cautiously and so steadily 
should we steer our bark that we shall neither be swallowed up 
in the abyss with the former, nor be carried away in the track 
of the latter. Let us not break the chain in a hurry, but let 
us also beware of foolishly riveting the links of it. 

Thus, in the end, his nationalism, which seen by contemporaries as the 
doctrine of an extremist and by some as close to sedition, came down to 
this plea for a moderate drift towards greater independence under the 
Crown without assuming in the meantime new burdens of Qnpire, 

By the end of 1901 Bourassa had taken the first small steps 
leading to the fuller nationalist reaction soon to follow — resignation 
from parliament followed by the endorsement of his position through re- 
election by his constituents; a well-reasoned account of his views 
before the House early in 1900; a trip to Great Britain in 1901 where 
he became familiar with anti-imperialist circles; and the publication 
in both French and English of his public address on the relations of 

Great Britain and Canada, in which the doctrines and nethod of action 

I — — - 

Ibid. , p . 48 . 

of the Nationalists were foreshadowed. It could not be said that he had 
seriously influenced as yet tho decisions and power of the Liberal party, 
or government policy. Yet he had established in his first five years in 
the federal House an independent position for himself, and it was evident 
that he would be the leader of anti-imperialist forces should future 
events further encourage their development. 

Imperial themes occupied a prominent though by no means 
decisive place in public discussions throughout 1902. The Canadian 
Annual Review for that year records that Boards of Trade in Montreal, 
Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver passed resolutions expressing hope 
that the new (1902) British duties on grains and flour would be modified 
by preferences shown for colonial products. Some saw in the tariff 
changes steps towards an Imperial Customs Union, with the related purpose 
of serving Empire defence by creating an imperial food supply for Great 
Britain. Lt. -Colonel George T, Denison, a founder of the British Qnpire 
League in Canada, campaigned widely for a special tax of five to ten 
percent imposed on all foreign goods entering ports in all British pos- 
sessions, the proceeds to be devoted to Imperial defence, Canadian 
leaders variously emphasized the desire to maintain the power and pres- 
tige of the Qnpire by sharing in the cost of gene^s-l Qnpire defence. 
The Montreal Board of Trade suggested an annual appropriation in the 
Dominion budget for this purpose. The Toronto Board of Trade suggested 
cash contributions. Some stressed contributing to an Bnpire fleet, 
while others favoured the building of a Canadian navy. Others, like Mr, 
John Charlton, U,P., and Lord Strathcona, gave more weight to colonial 
defence and to the indirect contribution to Imperial defence of the 
material development of Canada through spending on ports, railways, and 


immigration. The Ciovernor-General, the Earl of Minto, appealed in 
Montreal for greater efficiency in the Canadian militia, but stressed 
that efficiency depended much on strictly recosnizing that colonial 
forces should be territorial armies for the defence of their own pos- 
sessions. The Conservative press played strongly upon the idea of 
increased participation in imperial defence, while the Liberal news- 
papers on the whole emphasized the voluntary nature of contributions, 

the inadvisability of formal arrangements, and the case for local 

defence with common action in time of war. 

Whatever schemes were to be followed, and no consistent pat- 
tern was evident, there were numerous declarations of solidarity should 
emergencies arise. Enthusiasm was notably absent from the French- 
speaking newspapers. Loyalty to the Crown without increased imperial 
burdens and with a cautious approach to new imperial organizations 
were everywhere affirmed. Evidence of an awakening and more vocal anti- 
imperialism was manifest in the protest meeting addressed by Bourtissa 
in Drummondville on June 29, and in the vehement protest of Mr. J. H. 

Perrault at the Uontreal Chambre de Commerce on October 30 against 

"crushing Canada under the burden of militarism . 

A circular calling the people of surrounding districts to 
the Drummondville demonstration illustrated the character of the atti- 
tudes developing in Quebec. The themes emphasized were those of 
Canadian sacrifices for imperial glory, and retarded internal progress 


Canadian Annual Review , 1902, pp. 129-44. 
Ibid., pp. 140-146. 

for ventures on distant battlegrounds: 

Seeing that the yellow press and the fanatics have organized 
a campaign for the triumph of their anti-national idea, that 
is to say for the sacrifice of the resources of our country 
in favour of militarism and raising soldiers and sending them 
to the four quarters of the globe for the defence of the 
finpire, instead of employing its resources for the development 
of its wealth; Seeing that they endeavour by their clamour to 
prevent the voice of sound public opinion from being heard; 
Seeing that it is our duty as citizens to protest against these 
actions, whose aim is to sacrifice Canada for the glory of the 
Empire, and whose success would be the last blow to our influence 
as a nationality; Seeing that the future of our country is 
threatened; Therefore the French Canadians of Drummondville in- 
vite the citizens of all the parishes of Nicolet to protest 
against the Imperial campaign and to adopt resolutions approving 
the position taken by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in his reply to the 
Secretary of the Colonies, that is to say, no contribution to 
the wars of England. 

Some 5,000 persons attended the meeting, of which the L!ayor, 
Napoleon Garceau, and others who were then forming the Ligue nationaliste 
were prominent sponsors. A resolution affirming the duty of national 
defence only, and condemning intervention in imperial wars received en- 
thusiastic endorsement. It was the first of a long series to follow. 

The year nevertheless was one of lessening tension in the 
whole field of imperial affairs. Sar fever was dying down. Evidence 
of the new mood was seen when Laurier declined to discuss defence mat- 
ters at the Imperial Conference of that year. Beginning in 1902 and 
lasting until 1905, Bourassa became "reconciled", as he put it, with 
the leader of his party. Two of Laurier's speeches, those of April 15 
and t.;ay 12, were heartily approved by Bourassa. In them the Prime 

Minister protested it would be a "veritable suicide" for Canada to 

. 2 

become involved in the "vortex of European militarism". 

As printed in the Canadian Annual Review , (Toronto, 1902), p. 140. 

"Veritable suicide" and "vortex of militarism" re_appeared in heavy 
black borders in the upper right-hand corner of the front page of Le 
Devoir, during its anti-Naval Bill crusade of 1910-1911. 


During the same year Bourassa published an analysis of 

French Canadian thoucht and sentiment, Le Patriotisme canadien- 

francais, ce qu'il est, ce qu'il doit etre , and had it printed in 

English in the llonthly Review (London) of September, 1902, as "The 

French Canadian in the British Qnpire", In it he advised avoiding the 

twin dangers of fusion and isolation. He asserted that French Canadians 

had a significant role to play in the evolution of the Qnpire if they 

would but assert themselves. He proposed the formula, "Let us be French 

as the Americans are English", 

In 1902 he was reported to have purchased an interest in a 

small Montreal weekly nev/spaper, Le Pionnier , whose policy was to be 

one of political independence and anti-imperialism. References to 

this newspaper are infrequent, and no issues appear to have survived, 

but it was evident that he was searching for some regular means of 

spreading the Nationalist viewpoint, 

Bourassa s speeches and writings, and the Drummondville 

meeting, were followed early in 1903 by the emergence of the Ligue 

nationaliste in Montreal, Formed by some ten or twelve young intellec- 

guals "coming from all points of the compass", some Conservative, others 

Liberal in background, its mejibers wished "to work in realities" under 

informal, unconfining direction. The League's director and organizer 

was Olivar Asselin, then 28 years of ago, commonly described as the 

most talented journalist of French Canada, but whose trenchant pen and 

fierce polemical attacks on public leaders were to become an ecbarrass- 

ment to the Nationalist movement, Asselin 's interests were eventually 
I _— 

A speech delivered in IJontreal, April 27, 1902, and published in La 

Revue Canadienne, 1902, XLI, I, pp, 423-48. 


to lead him from politics propei' towards a cultural nationalism, going 

under the name of Action francaise . During the first World ?Var ho 

modified his fonner Nationalist position to raise a regiment in Canada 

to fight for French civilization. Concern for economic "emancipation* 

of French Canada appeared in his later works. 

Among others entering the League were Ctaer Heroui, soon to 
become editor of Tardivel's ultramontane and nationalist newspaper, La 
Verite, and from 1910 until the present day editor-in-chief of Le Devoir. 
Less spectacular than others in the movement, he was one of its most 
solid supports, contributing an endless stream of thoughtful analysis 
with special emphasis on closer unity of French groups throughout 
America. Ke took a keen interest in the activities of various Catholic 
and political movements in France, showing more concern than did 
Bourassa in the dangers to the Church of Freemasonry, and probably 
feeling more attr«.ction than did Bourassa to the Action francaise move- 
ment of Charles '.laurras and others, 

Armand Lavergne, 23 years of age, then a student in law, 

whose parents were among Laurier's closest friends, was one of the 

original founders of the League, He had a special fascination for the 

youth in virtue of his nationalist fervour, his *Adoni3-like" physique, 

and his agitations for such practical sj-mbols of equality as bilingual 

stamps and money, and for greater representation for French-speaking 

Canadians in the federal bureaucracy. At first an ardent disciple of 

Laurier, his Rougeism began to wither dxiring the Boer War, and in 


See Joseph Gauvreau, Olivar Asselin, precurseur d 'action frs-ncaise, 

(L!ontreal, 19 37) 

See Armand Lavergne, Trente ans de vie nationale , (l.Iontreal, 1934); 
also "Armand Lavergne" in L'Action ''ationale , I, 1933, pp, 348-57; 
and Un Patriote, Amand Lavergne , L'oeuvre des Tracts, No. 190, 
(Montreal, 1935;. 


disillusionmen-t with the aftermath of the Laurier-Greenway settlement 

in IJanitoba. Like others he turned to the cause of more ideal politics, 

to national sentiment, and to Bourassa, Less restrained and intellectual 
than Bourassa, he made vibrant appeals to the emotional elements in 
nationalism, to racial feelings, and memories. He followed Bourassa into 
the federal House in 1904 and into the provincial legislature in 1908, 
Most conspicuous of the League's features was its conscious- 
ness of being a movement of reaction to initiative taken by others. 
This gave it a negative outlook, and left it exposed to the charge of 
being more concerned to defeat certain specific policies than to take 
continuous parliajaentary action to implement its ideas. This was parti- 
cularly evident during and after the 1911 general elections when the 
Nationalists broke the hold of the Liberal party on the province of 
Quebec. Yet the League members saw themselves performing postive and 
necessary tasks. As Asselin put it, they were to create a "wider 
thought", a "larger idea", a "national spirit distinguishing Canadians 
among the peoples of the world". Nationalism, they believed, v;as the 

politics of the future. Their movement represented "the cry of the 

popular conscience in revolt". 

Their determined non-partisanship found a special response 


in the younger generation unequaled before or since. Non-partisanship 

was integral with their ideal of nationalism above divisive lines of 

party, and it had the practical effect of loosening party allegiances 

for the hai-vest to be gathered in 1911. Attention has already been 


See Ibid ., p, 97, 


See Le Soleil, December 9, 1903; Le Nationaliste , March 6, 1904. 

See Abbe Lionel Groulz, Cu allons-nous ? Les conferences du Devoir, 
No, 1, (Montreal, 1953). 


drawn to the widespread national development and ideological ferment 

at the turn of the century in French Canada, related to the early 

stages of industrialism, urbanization and the nroblems raised by 

" 1 
imperial relations, and the opening of the West, There emerged among 

the youth a militant crusading spirit, emphasizing ethnic and religious 
solidarity. This was best seen, perhaps, in the cult of the Sacred 
Heart and the new interest in Adam Dollard, model of complete self- 
sacrifice for the safety of the group, and in talk of the role and 
necessary fomation of an elite. Such a spirit did much to set the 
tone of the Nationalist movement, confirming its characteristic feature 
~ the intermingling of patriotic and religious themes, « 

The League organized branches in the main towns of the 
province for purposes of study, publicity, and mass meetings. It 
declared its main interest to be in ideas, and it concentrated attention 
on what it called the "educated classes". From the beginning Asselin 
conceived its method of action to be analagous to that of the Free Trade 

League, which in the nineteenth century helped revolutionize the fiscal 

system of England by impressing its views on both political parties, 

Bourassa repeatedly denied all intent of forming a party, insisting that 
the League sought only to create such a climate of opinion that parties 
could not "betray" the national interests, Notwithstanding these state- 
ments, the Nationalist League in its platform, its newspapers, and its 
political campaigns, first in by-elections and finally in the general 
elections of 1911, was an embryo political party. Its leaders, however, 
were not committed to continuing party action and organization, and the 

movement, as indicated above, collapsed between 1911 and 1913. 


See Chapter I above, 
2 • 

Le Nationaliste , October 2, 1904; Llarch 6, 1904; House of Commons 

Debates, Llarch 15, 1904, pp. 120-130, 

The programme of the Nationalist League was presented 
before a public meeting in Uontreal on Llarch 1, 1003, confirmed at a 
large rally in the Monument National on August 23, and discussed at 
a public meeting in the Drill Hall in Quebec City on December 8, where 
Bourassa was heard in that City for the first time. The programme 
called first, in the familiar terms of liberalism, for the maximum of 
political decentralization without significant structural changes: the 
largest measure of national autonomy compatible with the maintenance of 
the link with the Crown; the largest measure of provincial autonomy 
compatible with the federal order; and the maximum possible of municipal 
liberties. It demanded a federal and provincial programme of economic 
and intellectual development that would be essentially "Canadian* in 
character. By this was meant in particular the settlement of the West 
by native Canadians to ensure the formation of a nation on the principle 
of dual nationality, the exploitation so far as possible of Canadian 
resources by and for Canadians, repeal of British preferences, protec- 
tion against American competition, and a nation-wide recognition of the 
French language and of the rights of minorities in education. 

Specific planks were added to the platform from time to time, 
giving it the appearance of a party manifesto: opposition to Canadian 
participation in an Imperial parliament or permanent council; consulta- 
tion by the government of the day with parliament before participating 
in ajiy extraordinary conference of British countries; production at each 
session of parliament of all correspondence and documents exchanged be- 
tween the Canadian government and the Colonial Office; direct appeal to 
the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on disputes between the 
Dominion and Provincial governments; and in other cases, the restriction 


of appeals to Provincial courts on Provincial laws, and to Federal 

courts on Federal laws; the right of representation at any conp;ress 

where Canadian interests were at stake; absolute power to make and 

tenninate comnercial treaties with any country whatever; absolute 

abstention of Canada from participation in any Imperial wars beyond 

the limits of Canadian territory; resistance to the recruiting of 

troops by Great Britain in Canada; opposition to the establishment of 

a Naval School in Canada for the assistance and benefit of the Imperial 

authority; the direction of the Canadian IJilitia exclusively from the 

point of view of the defence of Canadian territory; Canadian Hilitia 

officers to be refused leave of absence to take part in Imperial wars 

beyond Canadian territory; and the command of the Uilitia by a Canadian 

officer named by the Canadian government. 

Such articles of political, commercial, and military nationa- 
lism were advanced as steps toward a "Canadian nation". Some points 
merely emphasized autonomies already virtually achieved, as the making 
of commercial treaties; others pointed in a direction already being 
followed, and some, such as support of appeals to the Privy Council, 
were to be dropped by the Nationalists themselves. What most distinguished 
their position from that of others who would accept ouch of the Nationa- 
list programme, was the policy of neutrality basic to their stand on 
Imperial defence. From the Nationalist viewpoint, neutrality in British 
wars accorded exactly with Canadian responsibilities and national inte- 
rests, and it was insistence on this point more than any other that was 
to drive them in times of national crises into the position of a radical 


See the re-publication of the programme in Le I.'ationaliste , February 17, 
1907; and House of Commons Debates , March 15, 1904, pp. 120-130 for 
references to the early accounts of the League and Bourassa's expiations '\i 
of his relations with it. 


During 1903 the Na-tionalista, with Eourasaa as spokesman, 
attacked what they alleged to be an imperialistic speech of the 
Governor General when addressing the Chtunbers of Conmerce of the Bnpire 
in Montreal on August 20. Three months earlier in the Coramone (I'ay 5) 
Bourassa had criticized public statements of the General Officer Com- 
manding the Canadian Militia, Lord Dundonald, which were purported to 
be imperialistic and calculated to arouse a militarist spirit. Upon 
both occasions he accused Imperial representatives of attempting to 
influence Canadian public policy. On October 23, however, he spoke up 
in the House against the current of outraged public opinion caused by 
the alleged surrender of Canadian interests by Great Britain in settling 
the Alaskan boundary between Canada and the United States. The award of 
the international tribunal, composed of three Americans, two Canadians, 
and one commissioner representing Great Britain was announced on October 
20, with the British commissioner, Lord Alverstone, voting with the 
Americans on the definition of the boundary, and agreeing to American 
ownership of two of the four small islands claimed by Canada. The 
Canadian commissioneres, Sir Louis Jette ajid Llr, Aylesworth, refused 
to sign the award. They were confirmed in their stand by the bitterness 

of the Canadian orotest, and in the Prime Llinister's call for additional 

treaty-making powers for the protection of Canadian interests. 

Bourassa turned the occasion to good account, pointing to 

the folly of relying upon sentiment in British diplomacy, and defending 

Lord Alverstone and his conduct of negotiations from the sole point of 

1 ~~~~~ 

An extended discussion of the settlement of the Alaska-Canadian boundary 
may be read in Skelton's Laurier , II, pp. 126-60, See also F. Yi, Gibson, 
"The Alaskan Boundary Dispute", Canadian Historical Association, Annual 
Report, 1945, pp. 25-48; See the CancLdian Annual Review , 1903, pp. 249, 
327-31, 346-78. 


view of British interests. Canadians should learn the lesson of 

self-interest from the British, and look to their own resources in 

dealing with other nations, 

I do not belong to the school who would ask one iota of a 
sacrifice in order to protect a Canadian interest ... I 
belong to that school of colonials who believe that we should 
ask nothing fr^m the Motherland and give nothing to the 
Motherland while at the same time we should preserve the very 
slight tie which has united us so far . . .^ 

Throughout 1904 the Nationalists gained in strength, Lavergne 

won the Monimagny constituency in a by-election of February 16 as a 

Liberal Nationalist, stressing the symbols of imperialism, militarism, 

and national and minority rights, Le Nationaliste was begun on March 4, 

and though it protested its adherence to a broad Canadian viewpoint and 

to positive ideals, it fell quickly into anti-imperialist tirades and 

invectives, personal attacks upon leading politicians, and drawn-out 

libel cases. In the issue of March 20 appeared a letter from Goldwin 

Smith, "I hail with joy*, he said, "the raising of a new voice in the 

fight against imperialism". Advanta^ie was taken of the amendments to the 


House of Commons Debates , October 23, 1903, pp. 14, 785-87, 

"l present myself to assert the rights of the French Canadian and 
Catholic to have his proper representation at Ottawa, I an Liberal, 
but above all opposed to Imperialism, Militarism, and the crushing 
of Quebec under Tory feet. They wish to buy you, my friends; think 
on our old flag, our dear Province, our ancestors and our religion*. 
Lavergne as reported in Canadian Annual Review , 1904, p, 214, 

Bourassa owned 1/12 of the capital stock, but was not a member of 
the newspaper's executive . See the issue of March 27, 1905, "For 
long I regretted the absence of a journal, however modest, treating 
of national and political questions from a viewpoint absolutely inde- 
pendent of parties. There was indeed La Verite ... but La Verite 
is above all a religious newspaper. It reaches only a special and 
necessarily restricted public, I wanted ... a more popular sheet 
which would reach the mass". 



Militia Act, passed in {.larch, to emphasize Nationalist thanes. 

During the summer the Nationalists made capital of the dismissal of 

the G. 0. C., Lord Dundonald, who had come into conflict with his 

Minister, and they raised an alarm over the apparent approval of 

leading Canadians, particularly in the Conservative party, of the 

Chamberlain proposals of British tariff reform designed to give a pre- 

ference to colonial products in Great Britain, In La Nationaliste of 

April 10, Bourassa reviewed the new imperialism as it was revealed in 

the words and interferences in colonial affairs of Governors-General 

throughout the British Dominions, On another occasion he formulated 

the Nationalist stand on the tariff to be one of moderate protection, 

a "truly national economic policy" to protect Canadian industry without 

surrounding us with a Chinese wall which would deliver us to the mercy 

of the trusts". He supported the appointment of a permanent tariff 

commission to take the issue out of party politics. The year was one 
of general debate in Parliament and in the country on the public 
ownership of such utilities as railways, telephones, telegraph services, 
and municipal utilities, like gas and light. The Nationalists supported 
the principle of public ownership of basic utilities, with state regula- 
tion, but not state operation. 

In the general elections of November 3, 1904, Bourassa was 

I [ 

The amendments sought to clarify the power of sending troops outside 
the country by the insertion of the words "for the defence thereof", 
providing for the calling of Parliament within 15 days of placing the 
Militia on active service, and made the command open to a Canadian 
Militia Officer. 

See the Canadian Annual Reviev/, 1904, pp, 204-210. See House of Commons 
Debates , Liay 5, 1063, pp. 2300 ff.; June 10, 1904, pp, 4624 ff. for 
references to speeches by senior Imperial officers, 

Le Nationaliste, March 4, 1904, *Le Tarif et les partis politiques". 

again returned for the constituency of Labelle with an increased 
majority over his Conservative opponent, Anaand lAvergne was re- 
elected in Llontmagny. According to Bourassa's own account, he had 
wished to retire for a time from politics, mainly for financial 
reasons, but had been induced to contest the elections upon the request 
of one of Laurier's cabinet ministers in order to assist, later, in 
preparing and passing the constitutions of the new provinces of Alberta 
and Saskatchewan. The government would need his support, he was told, 

"for that part of those bills which guaranteed the rights of the 

Catholic minority". There is evidence to suggest that he had sought 

the vacant position of Postmaster of liontreal, and had asked lAurier 

to keep it open until after the elections in the event of his defeat. 

Once elected, he was disappointed that his candidacy for the post of 
Deputy Speaker vras turned down by the government. This office he re- 
garded as a fitting reward for his party services, and a measure of 
recompense for his past electoral campaign expenses, estimated at about 

^,000, It was plain enough that he was not yet through with party 

politics and patronage. Of the incident he wrote in 1911: 

, , , It was a question of a parliamentary function limited 
to the duration of my mandate, I was then in full accord 
with the Prime Minister and his government, I had engaged 
in all the battles of the Liberal party for fifteen years. 
, , . Not only had I given without stint my time, my labour 
and my voice, not only . . . had I spent my money ... I 
was even indebted to I.Iessrs. Tarte and Dandurand for the 
money which they furnished on my behalf, to someone who csune 
to work in my county in November, 1900 . 

He told Laurier, however, that he would not hesitate to resign 

if forced to challenge the ministry on some question arising out of the 

I "" 

See Le Devoir , June 27, 1911; House of Commons Debates , 1930, II, p. 
1585, ~, . , at the insistent request of Sir Wilfrid laurier and Sir 
Charles Fitzpatrick to help in putting through the Autonomy 3iiis". 

Le Devoir , June 27, 1911, 

Loc. cit. 


Autonomy Bills for the North-West, or some new thrust of imperialism, 

He did not get the post. 

During 1903 and 1904, the Nationalists maintained a position 

of friendly neutrality towards the Liberal party, Bourassa and Lavergne 

insisted they were true Liberals, as shown by the Nationalist programme, 

and their independence from party discipline. Referring to the period, 

Bourassa remarked: 

Llr. laurier did not disapprove of the movement. The demon- 
strations enabled him to continue to play an ambiguous role 
and to cling to the 'via media', Lloreover, they prepared 
the anti-imperialist reaction which he desired as much as 
did we , , , The only point on which we were divided was 
that he believed in a final reaction, whereas all I could 
see was a lull in the storm. 

Three times during 1903, he declared, liiurier had offered him entry 

into the provincial Cabinet of L» N, Parent, with the promise of the 

leadership within a short time, but he had declined. 

In this period, in summary, the Nationalist movement had 
advances sufficiently to organize a Nationalist League with a central 
executive and a ntimber of branches throughout the province. It had 
evolved a programme based on the theme of political and economic 
autonomy with special emphasis on anti-imperialism, and had its pro- 
gramme endorsed at several well-attended public meetings, A weekly 


I find no support for the opinion (to which Skelton refers in his 
I«.urier, II, p, 312) that the gulf which soon widened between leurier 
and Bourassa was caused in part by the latter 's resentment over his 
failure to obtain certain offices at the disposal of the government. 
It is true that Bourassa had a pecuniary interest in these positions. 
But he held himself always ready to follow an independent course, and 
from the point of view of the government, it was too great a risk to 
give him a responsible position, Bourassa had laid down his terms of 
independence before the elections in June, 1896, Both he and laurier 
understood and accepted the consequences. So far, I«.urier had the 
better of the bargain, 

See Le Devoir , !Jay 14, 1913, 

See La Patrie , September 23, 1907, for a report of Bourassa 's speech 
at Iberville, 

Sunday newspaper was established, '^he League had at least two able 
spokesmen in Parliament. Its following was relatively small but self- 
conscious and dynamic. It had won the sympathy of some English-spoaking 
Canadians, notably Goldwin Smith, and it had the knowledge that in 

England there were outspoken critics of the new imperialism, among 

whom were John Morley and Leonard Courtney, The protest character of 

the movement predominated. It was working however towards a more 
positive statement of its aims in terms of independence, dual nationa- 
lity, and social order. Thus far, its goals of independence emphasized 
military and trade matters. Elements of political colonialism re- 
mained part of the nationalist doctrine. Questions of social order 
were to become prominent as the first decade of the century came to a 
close. Problems related to dual nationality were raised in the schools 
crises of the North-West in 1905, and in this controversy the Nationalist 
movement took a new forward surge. 


It is highly probably that Bourassa was familiar with the writings 
of G, K, Chesterton and of Hilairo Belloc at this time, though there 
is no direct reference to them in his own speeches or writings. An 
affiliation with many of Belloc 's ideas on property, on the farming 
class, and on the parliamentary system can be noted. During the 
Boer War, both Chesterton and Belloc were outspoken critics of the 
government, and it is quite likely that Bourassa met them and other 
loaders of English Catholicism during his visit in 1901. See Chapter 
IX below. 



Reaction to change in Imperial affairs provided the first 
great impulse and foundation of Nationalism. The second major stimulus 
to the movement came in 1905, and arose from opposition to the school 
clauses inserted in the legislation of that year passed by the Dominion 
parliament, setting up two new provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, 
This legislation, described by Bourassa as the most important since 
Confederation, provoked violent controversy between the advocates of a 
separate school system and those favouring a unified, non-denominational , 
state-controlled system of schools. The I«.urier government, after first 
seeming to provide for separation in accordance with earlier legislation 
on the North-West territories, and after a related Cabinet crisis, modi- 
fied its school clauses to meet the viev/s of the opponents of separate 
schools. A unified system of schools was established, with limited pro- 
vision for certain features of separate schools. 

The dispute marked a significant break between the 
Nationalists and the Liberal party within whose fold they had until 
then considered themselves included. There followed in the next four 
years a series of incidents further deepening the cleavage between 
Bourassa and Laurier. Elements of the Conservative party drew closer 
to the Bourassa movement, and the first signs of serious opposition to 
Laurier becar.e evident. 

The North-nest school issue was a complex of elements: 
legal, constitutional, political, sociological, and historical, of 

which certain limited aspects only can be studied here. It will be 

convenient first to set out the legal and historical foundations of 

the dispute. 

Four legislative enaciments pertained to the education 
arrangements in the North-ffest: the British North America Act, 1867, 
Section 93 and its subsections; the British North America Act, 1871; 
the North-West Territories Act, 1875; and the Territorial Ordinances, 
1884-1901, passed by the North-West authorities. These enactcents will 
be examined in their essentials. 

By Section 93 of the British North America Act, each province 
is given the exclusive power to legislate in the field of education. 
Four subsections however limit the exercise of that exclusive power, 
one subsection providing for federal legislation of a remedial character 
in strictly defined circumstances. 

Subsection I states that nothing in any provincial law 

shall prejudicially affect any Right or Privilege with respect 
to Denominational Schools which any class of persons have by 
law in the Province at the Union, 

In a number of judicial decisions it became established that 
the "Right or Privilege* referred to in Subsection I applied, not to 
the education system in general, but only and specifically to Denomina- 
tional Schools. These in turn were defined as Catholic or Protestant 

schools. Furthermore, as the decision in a New Brunswick case in 1874 

Fuller discussions may be found in C. C. Lingard, Territorial C-ovornnont 
in Canada, (Toronto, 1946); G. U, Heir, The Separate School Q^.iestion in 
Canada , "(Toronto, 19 34); and in the House of Commons Debates fr om 
February to July, 1905, These sources have been extensively used in the 
discussion above, Miss Pamela Smith's Henri Bourassa and Sir iRlfrid 
Laurier , an unpublished I.!, A. Thesis presented to the History Department 
of the University of Toronto, and covering the period to 1907, has an 
able summary of the school question, Rumilly, Vol, XII, will also be 
found useful, as will be the Canadian Annual Review, 1905. 


made clear Denominational Schools, to be protected under the British 

North America Act, must be established by law; that is, not be based 

simply on an existing practice sanctioned less formally than in positive 

law. Moreover, such schools must have existed by law at the time a 

province entered the federation. In the three Maritime provinces, 
various kinds of separate schools existed at the time of Confederation, 
but not by law, and thus they did not fall within the meaning of the 
British North America Act as interpreted in the courts. Separate 
schools were abolished by legal process in the Maritime provinces during 
the 1870' s; but in New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia particularly, arrange- 
ments were subsequently made giving Roman Catholics a degree of separa- 
tion, in fact, in the school system. 

In this matter, it was to be argued by the leader of the 
North-West Assembly, Mr, Haultain, that "at the Union" meant the year 
1871 when the North-West Territories were first acquired by the Dominion, 
rather than the year 1905 when they first became provinces of the Confede- 
ration, Since there were no schools existing by law in 1871, no Right 
or I*rivilege could be claimed for separate schools under this section of 
the British North America Act, This point, however, was never decided 
by legal process, and was not a determining factor in the final settle- 

The legal position of the French language in provincial schools 
was more certain. In a decision on the issue of bilingualism in the 

schools of Ontario, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled in 


Woir, op, cit,, p, 23, See Lefroy, Leading Cases in Canadian Consti- 
tiitional Law , (Toronto, 1914), p, 80, for the case L.'aher vs Town of 
Portland, decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 

1917 that "any class of persons'" mentioned in Subsection I of Section 
93 meant a class of persons determined by religious belief, and not by 
language or race. This interpretation, though it followed the North- 
West dispute by a full decade, only made explicit what had generally 
been .understood; that the French language was not guaranteed in the 
school systems of the provinces by Section 93 of the British North 
America Act, In the 1905 debates on the new constitutions, the lan- 
guage question was given some prominence, principally by Messrs. Monk, 
Bourassa, and Lavergne, not directly in relation to the school clauses, 
but on its own merits. Unsuccessful attempts were made to secure amend- 
ments to Section 2 of the new legislation in the hope that by providing 

for an official status for French in the legislature and the courts, its 

status in the schools would thereby be enhanced. 

Subsection 2 of Section 93 related to dissentient schools 

in Quebec, and does not bear upon the North-West issue. 

Subsection 3 provided that 

Where in any Province a systan of Separate or Dissentient 
Schools exists by law at the Union, or is thereafter estab- 
lished by the Legislature of the Province, an appeal shall 
lie to the Governor-General in Council from any Act or deci- 
sion of any Provincial authority affecting any Right or 
Privilege of the Protestant or Roman Catholic Llinority of 
the Queen's subjects in relation to Education. 

By this it was intended to protect by appeal to federal authority any 
educational rights or privileges acquired by law after Union, as well 
as before. The subsection would indicate that after creating a sepa- 
rate school system, a provincial legislature could not diminish the 


Trustees of the Roman Catholic Separate Schools for the City of Ottawa 

vs. ;:ackell and others , 1917 , A. C. 62. 

See House of Commons Debates, June 30, 1905, pp. 8530, 8594. 


rlehts so acquired, without being subject to interference by the 
federal Cabinet, Under this subsection, moreover, a ainority could 
appeal to the federal authorities on matters "in relation to Educa- 
tion", which is a broader field than "with respect to Denominational 
Schools", as mentioned in Subsection I, It would appear also that 
appeals might lie against loss of rights or privileges outside the 

question of their mere legality, according to a view expressed by 

Viscount Haldane in 1927, 

Subsection 4 provides for the procedures to be followed in 
the event of an appeal under Subsection 3 being upheld, A remedial 
order may first be issued by the Governor- General in Council to the 
provincial government concerned, and in case of non-compliance, may be 
followed by remedial legislation passed by the Parliament of Canada, 
In the case of the Manitoba school question, it will be recalled, a 
remedial order was issued. The Manitoba government, however, refused 
to comply v/ith its terms, and the federal government was subsequently 
unable to secure the passage of the remedial legislation to which it 
had committed itself. 

In the new constitutions given Saskatchewan and Alberta, 
Section 93 of the British North America Act was not made to apply in 
its original form. This fact alone gave rise to much controversy; 
many of the advocates of a unified schools systan preferring Section 
93 as the sole and sufficient reference to education. However, the 
British North America Act, 1871, Section 2, conferred on the federal 
authorities the power of granting constitutions to provinces organized 

out of Dominion territory, and thus it would appear that parliament 

See Heir, op. cit ., p. 33 in reference to the Tiny Township Case, 


was competent to modify Section 93 when dealing with education in 

the North-lVest, 

The third item of legislation affecting the school question 

was the North-West Territories (Act passed by the Dominion parliament 

in 1875, and providing for a system of separate schools. This Act, in 

tho nature of a constitution, naturally became an important centre of 

appeal for the supporters of separate schools. The separate school 

provisions had been incorporated in the Act largely upon the recomnen- 

dations of Edward Blake, and with the apparent intent of sparing the 

Territories from future sectarian school agitations. The Commons in 

1875 passed by unanimous vote a clause granting a system similar to 

the separate school plan in Ontario, and though objections were voiced 

in the Senate, principally by George Brown, a large majority was therein 

secured. At that time, the population of the North-West was small; 

Roman Catholics were in a majority, and French-speaking Canadians a 

large minority. There was then some expectation also on the part of 

leaders of the Quebec church that fjanitoba and the North-West might 

receive a considerable French immigration, and become a second French 

province. Section II of the Act empowered the governing Council of the 

Territories to pass Ordinances in relation to education, and gave the 

religious minority the right to establish separate schools within the 

school districts erected by the majority, and to tar themselves for 

their support without the obligation of paying taxes in support of the 

The British North America Act, 1871, Section 2, reads: "The Parliament 
of Canada may from time to time establish new Provinces in any terri- 
tories forming for the time being part of the Dominion of Canada, but 
not included in any Province thereof, and may, at the time of such es- 
tablishment, make provision for the constitution and administration of 
any such Province, and for the passing of laws for the peace, order, 
and good government of such Province, and for its representation in 
the said Parliament." 


See Lingard. op, cit., p. 155 ff, and Laurier's speech introducing the 
Autonomy Bills m Hou se of Comrions Debates , February 21, 1905, pp. 

1453-54. ""^ 


schools of the majority, Thus was the principle of separate schools 
in the Morth-Kest recognized by the parliament of Canada, leaving a 
legacy of historical, legal, and moral claims on the legislators of 

No school system, however, had been established by law in 
the North-West until 1884 and 1885, when by Ordinances of the North- 
Hest Council a dual system was begun. Subsequent Ordinances were to 
modify this dual structure drastically, so that by 1901 the effective 
element of separation was negligible. Two classes of schools — public 
and separate — were established by the Ordinances of 1884 and 1885, 
either class being Protestant or Catholic, There was established a 
Board of Education composed of two sections. Catholic and Protestant, 
each controlling its class of schools with respect to curriculum, 
teacher training, and inspection. Two sources of finance were pro- 
vided: one, a legislative grant based on such objective tests as the 
nunber of pupils in each school; and the other, the local rates levied 
by school trustees of the respective districts. 

The process of curtailing the rights of the Roman Catholic 
minority began in 1892 after increased powers had been granted the 
local assembly, and following the example given by Manitoba in abolish- 
ing her separate school system two years previously. An important step 
in this direction was taken by substituting for the Board of Education 
a Council of Education coL-nosed of the members of the Territorial Govern- 
ment together with four non-voting members (two Catholic and two Protes- 
tant) appointed by the Lieiatenant-C-ovemor in Council, Control of the 
schools was thus centralized in the government, responsible to the local 

Uniformity in texts, teacher certification, inspection, and school 
examinations vms instituted. Denominational control, in effect, dis- 
appeared. Petitions during 1893 from Catholic loaders in the llorth- 

ffest to the Governor-General in Council for disallowance of the 

Ordinances were of no avail. 

In 1901 further legislation established a Department of 
Education presided over by a member of the government as Commissioner, 
and exercising the powers earlier conferred upon the Council of 
Education. There was established also an Educational Council composed 
of two Roman Catholics and three Protestants with advisory functions 
only. Religious minorities continued to have the right to establish 
separate schools once a public school district had first been erected, 
and to assess themselves for the support of such schools. Such minority 
schools were subject to the same privileges and under the same government 
as all other schools. Ore half hour of religious instruction was per- 
mitted at the discretion of each School Board and limited to the close 
of the school day. The English language was made the language of instruc- 
tion, provided that any School Board might cause the primary course to be 

taught in French. 

In sum, the local assembly, after beginning a dual system of 
schools in 1884, had transformed it over the next seventeen years into 

a unified administration with an absolute minimum of separation, and by 


Sir John Thompson, Minister of Justice, finding the evidence contra- 
dictory, doubted that separate schools had been swept away under the 
Ordinances, and pointed out that disallowance, taking effect only 
from the date of its promulgation would not nullify the regulations 
complained of. He found it inexpedient to recommend disallowance. 
See House of Commons Debates , April 26, 1894, p. 2042, 

See Lingard, op, cit., pp, 156-58; Weir, op. cit., pp. 64-66. 


moans of Ordinances of doubtful validity, considering the terms of 

the North-West Territories Act of 1875, 

The status of the French language in the North-West entered 

the education controversy and should be referred to briefly here. By 

Dominion legislation of 1877, the Territorial Ordinances and records 

of Council proceedings were to bo printed in both French and English, 

Both languages could be used in tho legislative council and in pleadings 

before the courts. After an unsuccessful attempt by Mr, Dalton McCarthy 

in 1890 to secure legislation making English the sole official language 
in the North-tVost, a Bill was passed in the Dominion parliament empower- 
ing the Legislative Assembly in the North-3ast to determine the issue 
itself. Thereupon, on Ur. Fiaultain's motion, the Assembly in 1892 

declared English to be the sole language for the recording and publish- 

ing of its proceedings. Thus French lost its official status in the 

legislature, and in other legislation it was reduced to a radically 
inferior position in tho schools as the language of instruction in cer- 
tain instances, and not beyond the first grade. 

Throughout the whole period from 1884 until 1905 there were 

never more than sixteen separate schools in the Territories, and at the 

latter date eleven only were in operation. It has been argued by 


The Act of 1877 read: "Either the English or the French language may 
be used by any person in the debates of the said council and in the 
proceedings before the said courts, and both these languages shall be 
used in the records and journals of the said council, and tho ordinances 
of the said council shall be printed in both these languages". House 
of Commons Debates , June 30, 1905, p, 8530, 

JJeir, op, cit ., pp. 110-11, 

Lingard, op, cit., p. 159, Also House of Conmons Debates , June 29, 
1905, p, 8442, Speech of :Jr, Iv'onFI Nine separate schools were Roman 


Lingard that the Catholic laity in the North-ffest were generally 

satisfied with the centralized, secular, and uniform administration 

of the schools brought about by successive administrative acts of 

the Haultain governaent. The clergy, however, did not acquiesce in 

the school regime as it existed when the new constitutions were being 


The Autonomy Bills, when introduced by Sir Wilfrid Laurier on 

February 21, contained in Section 15 provisions for education which in 

the opinion of many would permit a ret^arn to the sectarian schools 

sanctioned by the North-»7est Territories Act of 1875 but progressively 

eliminated by subsequent Territorial Ordinances (1884-1901), It was 

this that produced the political crisis. Section 16, subsection 2, of 

the new legislation read: 

Subject to the provisions of the said section 93, British North 
America Act, 1867, and in continuance of the principles hereto- 
for sanctioned under the North-'.7est Territories Act, it is enacted 
that the Legislature of the said Province shall pass all necessary 
laws in respect of education and that it shall therein always be 
provided (a) that a majority of the ratepayers of any district or 
portion of the said Province or of any less portion or subdivision 
thereof by whatever name it is known, may establish such schools 
therein as they think fit, and make the necessary assessment and 
collection of rates therefor, and (b) that the minority of the 
ratepayers therein, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, may 
establish separate schools therein, and make the necessary assess- 
ment and collection for rates therefor, and (c) that in such case 
the ratepayers establishing such Protestant or Roman Catholic 
separate schools shall be liable only to assessment of such rates 
as they impose upon themselves with respect thereto. 

Subsection 3 provided that there should be no discrimination between 

public and separate schools in the aopropriation of moneys by the 

I ' 

Lingard, l oc, cit . , p. 159, 

Discussion took place on Bill No. 59, providing for the constitution 

of the province of Alberta, 

The clause may be read in Lingard, Territorial Governnont in Canada , 

p, 160. 

Legislature, or in the distribution of moneys paid to the Governnient 
of the Province from the School ^'und maintained by the Dominion govern- 
ment in the administration of the lands of the North-West, 

There appeared little doubt that the words "subject to the 
provisions of the said section 93" of the British North America Act 
and "in continuance of the principles sanctioned under the North- 
West Territories Act, as woll as ■Hurler's explanatory statements, 
and the support given the clause by separate school advocates, all 
spelled out the possibility of returning to a dual system of schools. 

One month of severe political crisis followed, L!r. Sifton, 

Minister of the Interior, who was absent froa Ottawa at the tine, 

hastened back to the capital, and on i'^ebruary 27 resigned from the 

Cabinet. Ur, Fielding, Llinister of Finance, who had been absent during 

the preceding Autonomy Conference, appeared ready to resign also. 

Sectarian animosities reached a peak in the resolutions and petitions 
of social, religious, and fraternal societies. The cry of Dominion 
infringement of provincial ri^ts was raised. Leading Liberal news- 
papers, like the Winnipeg Free Press and the Toronto Globe , condemned 
the school clause. It was variously argued that no clauses dealing 
with education were necessary in the new constituticnsj that Section 93 
should automatically apply; or that, as Ilr, Sifton agreed, the educatioial 
section should perpetuate the school system existing in the year 1905, 

Even this reoresented in his opinion a concession to separatism and a 

limitation upon the future freedom of action of the new provinces. 


See Lingard, op. cit., pp. 161-62. 

Ibid ., pp. 161-80; Weir, op. cit ., pp. 69-73; Canadian Annual Review , 

1905, pp. 59-66, 


Laurier's exj^lanationa of the purport of Section 15 of 

tho Autonomy Bills appeared to evolve first from the intention of 

affording guarantees for separate schools similar to those in Ontario 

and Quebec, to a later insistence that no attempt was being made to 

return to denominational schools, and that the clause gave effect only 

to the condition existing at the time in the North-West, Finally, 

under heavy pressure within the Liberal party and in the country at 

large, he presented an amended version of Section 16 when moving for 

the second reading of the Bill on March 22, The important features of 

the amendment were contained in subsection 1 of the new clause which 

was to replace subsection 1 of Section 93 of the British JJorth America Act, 


House of Comnons Debates , February 21, 1905, pp. 1441-47; Warch 15, p. 
2507; L5arch 22, pp. 2925-26, For different versions of the school 
dispute and for evaluations of Laurier's purpose and tactics, see 
Skelton's Laurier , II, pp, 230-239, in which it is suggested that 
Laurier was unaware of the scope and implications of Section 16, a 
view accepted by many; for example, L. 0, David, in Laurier et son 
temps , (L'ontreal, 1905), p. 114 ff.; see also, J. H, Dafoe, Clifford 
Sifton in Relatio n to His Times , (Toronto, 1913), pp. 277-302; and 
J, Hi, Dafoe, ieuTier, a study in Canadian Politics , (Toronto, 1922), 
pp, 118-24, in which it is argued that J-curier knew well the meaning 
of the education clauses as first introduced, that he had adopted a 
careful strategy of avoiding consultation with Sifton, of conciliating 
the French Canadians, and of forestalling a Bourassa movement of 
nationalism, but that the strategy had misfired. See Bourassa 's state- 
ment in the House of Commons Debates , April 29, 1930, p, 1535, in which 
he again revealed that he had contested the general elections of 1904 
at the insistence of Laurier and Fitzpatrick in order to help put 
through the education provisions in the Ilorth-West Autonomy Bills, 
The weight of evidence suggests that Laurier had intended to give 
greater guarantees to the religious minority in the North-West than 
were eventually granted in the legislation of 1905, Rather than fore- 
stalling a Nationalist reaction, his politics helped to provoke one, 
but of a particular character; that is, a movement which would see 
itself as strengthening Laurier's hand in the bargaining process by 
stiffening the opposition of important sections of the population to 
the kind of concession he had just made. This, the Nationalists were 
to try to do ovor the next few years. 

The new subsection read: 

Nothing in any such law shall pre judicailly affect any 
right or privilege with respect to separate schools, which 
any class of persons have at the date of the passing of 
this Act, under the terms of Chapters 29 and 30 of the 
Ordinances of the i:orth-7/est Territories, passed in the 
year 1901, 

Criticism continued, but the amendment reunited the Liberal 
party, and substantially met the demands of the English-speaking and 
Protestant section of the population, LIr, Sifton, though not fully 
satisfied, announced his intention of voting for the amendment which 
he believed would leave the IIorth-V7est education system free from the 
taint of "ecclesiasticism" in any form. Reviewing the hi8toi*y of sepa- 
rate schools in the Ilorth-West, he noted that a "complete dual system* 
had been established under the !.'orth-West Territories Act of 1875, but 
that "clerically controlled schools" were increasingly curtailed in 
their privileges until 1892, when the dual features were finally swept 
away. Clerical control, he said, was "absolutely abolished" at that 
date, and by means of Ordinances which, however justified, were never- 
theless in his opinion and that of Sir John Thompson, the federal 
Minister of Justice at the time, beyond the powers of the Territorial 
Legislature as defined in the Act of 1875, The existing system, which 
the amended sections of the new constitution would perpetuate, permitted 
separate schools for the Protestant or Roman Catholic minority, under 
certain conditions, but they would be public schools in every respect 

excent for the fact of senaration and the character of the religious 


instruction given in the last half hour of the day. 

On June 3rd the a'::ended clause passed with a large majority 


See Lingard, od . cit., d, 184, 
2 ~ 

House of Commons Debates, !larch 24, pp, 3098, 3110, 


on second reading of the Bill, Third reading was given on July 5, 

On this latter occasion Bourassa and Lavergne abstained from voting, 

the former explaining that he favoured the principle of the Bill in 

granting autonomy to the North-West, but that he did not believe suffi- 

cient guarantees were given the minority, 

Bourassa 's position was stated before the House in speeches 

and in various motions of amendment on March 28, April 5, June 28, 29, 

and 30, and July 5, and before the Montreal public on Apj-il 17 in an 

address, "Les Ecoles du Nord-Ouest", described by some in attendance as 

his greatest oratorical triumph. He had "approved heartily", he said, 

of the legislation in its original fonn, and it v/as only after the govern- 
ment brought down the amended version of the education clauses on March 

22nd that he was driven into opposition. His arguments rested less upon 

the legal construction which courts of law might place upon the relevant 
statutes, thpugh he did not neglect appeal to the law. But he thought 
judicial interpretation narrowing in its effects, thus denying the minority 
the full measure of justice to vsiiich they were entitled. His main case 
rested on the broader grounds of the constitution, on past events and under- 
standings, and was developed from a religious, moral, and national point 
of view. The claims he put forward therefore sprang from principles and 
interpretations on which opinion widely diverged, and on some six amend- 
ments offered by himself and by the Quebec Conservative leaders, Mr. Monk 

and r.!r. Bergeron, between June 28 and July 5, on the question of separate 


Ibid ,, p, 8866, 

See Los Ecoles du Kord-Ouest, (Montreal, 1905). For comments see Oner 

Heroux's article in Le Devoir , November 27, 1943; and rlumilly, XII, pp, 


House of Commons Debates, June 28, 1905, p. 8300. 



schools and the French language in the Territories, no more than 

seven supporters could be found on each occasion. But though this 

fate overtook his efforts, his position was not unreasonable, and 

was to become a major rally point for the Nationalist movement. 

On March 1, 1904, almost one year before the Autonomy Bills 

were introduced, Bourassa prepared a memorandum entitled, !!erroire pour 

servir au regler.ont do la question scolaire au Manitoba et dans les 

Territoires du Nord-Ouest, which he sent soon after to Sir Hilfrid 


I«.urier. In this Uemoire the school question was treated not as an 
isolated issue, but within the context of an over-all plan to settle 
western issues through a complex bargaining pattern in which western 
demands for control of natural resources and boundary extensions would 
be exchanged for a guaranteed separate school system. The Bourassa 
plan was wholly unrealistic from the viewpoint of practical politics, 
not only because of the difficulties of the approach, but because the 
western provinces would be asked to reverse their stand on language 
and school questions in return for concessions which, it was recog- 
nized, they would receive anyway. Bourassa s proposals were for a 
return of natural resources to the three prairie provinces, the north- 
ward extension of the Manitoba boundary, the re-ostablishment of sepa- 
rate schools in Manitoba, the establishment of a separate school system 
in the entire North-iVest, the re-affirmation of the French language as 
as official tongue throughout the North-r.'est, and suitable financial 

guarantees for separate schools based on the turning over to the 

I ' — — — — 

Amendments offered, and the votes recorded may be read in Ibid. , 
June 28, pp. 8342, 8345, (126-7); June 29, p. 8491, (125-6); June 30, 
p. 8627, (60-5); July 5, pp. 8816-66, (138-7), (140-7). 
This memorandum and Laurier's reply of April 5 may be read in the 
Laurier Papers, No, 1366, P. A. C, and in Smith, op. cit.. Appendix III, 


Western provinces of lands and school funds held by the Doninion 
government. He emphasized that because the natural resources of the 
area belonged to the whole Canadian people, of whom sa;ie 2/5 were 
Catholic, and almost 1/3 French Canadians, it was only just that in 
giving up jurisdiction ovor these resources, Catholics and French 
Canadians should be placed in as advantageous a position as possible. 

In commenting on and rejecting this ambitious programne, 
Laurier made it clear that he was detennined to protect minority rights, 
but that the various questions of interest to the North-'.Vest and 
IJanitoba raised by Bourassa would have to be treated on their individual 
merits rather than within a single composite plan. 

For almost two months after llr» Sifton's resignation, while 

the political crisis was at its height, Bourassa played a role of 

liaison between the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, and the 

Apostolic delegate to Canada, I-^sgr. Sbaretti, On his own declaration, 

he constantly sought conciliation between different viewpoints and 

"refrained from uttering a single word to embarrass the government". 

He thought he had offered to condede too much. Msgr, Sbaretti sent for 

him "daily" during the critical period, and urged the necessity of 

organizing French Canadian resistance to the concessions proposed by 

the government. This, Bourassa said, was precisely the same task Laurier 

had expected him to perform in the event of difficulty, ^ving accepted 

it from his political chief, he said, he could not refuse it to his 

religious leader. After sounding out the members of parliament, he 

believed that the original clause could be put through successfully, 

the government gaining Conservative support to compensate for the loss 


See Le Devoir, June 27, 1911, Llay 19, 1913. 


of Liberal votes. To Laurier and I-^sgr, Sbaretti ho pave "proof" 

that Section 16 could be passed as at first intended. 

The government and the Apostolic delegate however began to 
waver. Finally, I.:ss:r. Sbaretti sent the Prime Minister a letter in 
which he underlined the necessity of adhering to the principles in- 
volved, but to which he added a postscript recognizing the possibility 

of a compromise. Bourassa, who saw the letter before it was dispatched, 

warned that Laurier would base himself on the postscript only. The 

whole proceedings made him ever after "circumspect in dealings with 


diplomats, lay or clerical*. After the amended clause had been intro- 
duced, he found himself and Lavergne isolated from the Liberals and in 
sympathy with a small group of Quebec Conservatives; namely, L'essrs, 
Monk, Bergeron, Leonard, L'orin, and Faquet, who were separating from 
their party on this issue. 

In his speech of Ilarch 28 he explained his view of the con- 
stitutional safeguards for religious minorities. The intent of Section 
93 of the British North America Act, he believed, was to grant "the 
same measure of guarantee which was asked by the Protestant minority in 

the province of Quebec ... to the Catholic minority in the province 

of Ontario and the other provinces". In this field, he insisted, one 


Ibid, ,laay 19, 1913. Sonie nine or ten Consei-vatives pledged support 

for the original clause, 

See Rumilly, XII, pp, 21-22. 

Le Devoir , i-lay 19, 1913, "These proceedings have made me circumspect 

in my dealings with diplomats, lay or clerical . . . Our only sin was 

refusal to lower the flag, when both had decided to surrender to a 

political freebooter", (i.e. JJr, Sifton] 

House of CoEEons Debates, Uarch 28, 1905, p, 3254. 


one should not concentrate only on provincial boundaries and on 
provincial minorities; there was also a national viewjioint to bo taken 
for which parliament was at the moment responsible. The "pledges" 
given Catholic settlers in the legislation of 1875, and five years 
earlier in the "Bill of Rijjhts* agreed to with the delegates from the 
Red River, even though neglected in the interval, should now be redeemed 
by constitutional guarantees for suitable separate schools. 

There followed appeals to appreciate the role of rVench 
Canadian priests, settlers, and traders in bringing civilization and 
Christianity to the West. It was not a free ezercise of their religion, 
he stressed, for Roman Catholics to be taught in non-sectarian public 
schools, even with the privilege of religious instruction at certain 
times of the day, IVhat they wanted v/as a Catholic viewpoint permeating 
all knowledge. They had a deeply rooted conscientious objection to 
purely secular education. To those who saw the main question to be 
defence against "the influence of the hierarchy and the alle5ed sinista- 
motives animating the Roman Catholics in this House", he replied by 
citing the patriotic role of the Catholic Church in Quebec in 1775 and 
1812 when American forces invaded the country; in 1837 when "some of 
our people rebelled, wrongly I think"; in 1849 when an English Conser- 
vative faction had burned the parliament buildings in Llontreal and 
drawn up an Annexation manifesto; and finally in 1867 in urging the 
hesitant French Canadians to enter fully into the Confederation scheme. 

The hierarchy had been for 100 years "the bulwark of British government 

in Canada". 

I ~~~ 

Ibid,, pp. 3262-67, 

French Canadians, he said, were asked to trust the aajority 
in the North-West to deal fairly with them. But what were the lessons 
of history? In both i.!anitoba and the North-West, separate school aye- 
tens had been drastically transformed and the French language had lost 
its official position in the legislatures, and was being driven from 
the schools, Moreover, the Territories were being filled with new- 
comers unfamiliar with Canadian history and the idea and spirit of 
Confederation, especially the concept of a dual nation. Ithat he wanted, 
he declared, was that the law be so framed that if assaults were made 
in the future on separate schools, statesmen could say "separate schools 
have been established in this province under lav/, and therefore it is 
useless to agitate against the law of the land*. The argument that the 
laity in the North-West were satisfied and that only the clergy com- 
plained, he found the "most cynical argument used so far , and he quoted 
in support of his view statements of leading lay representatives. What 
of the charge that where the Catholic Church was strong the social and 
economic condition of the people stagnated? In refutation he cited 
periods in which the civilization and enlightenment of Spain, Italy, 
and France were foremost in the Western world. He was ready to admit 
that "the Anglo-Saxon is now ahead among the nations , But nations 
grow and decline. In the modern age, Belgium was one of the most pros- 
perous of industrial nations with a Catholic system of education from 
primary grades through the universities, Germany, he noted, was turning 
to all conservative elements including the Roman Catholics to save it 
from socialism. Prominent Americans, he observed finally, recognized 

that : 

What must save the United States from the social plague which 
is going to involve all nations between the crushing burden of 
capitalism and the equally crushing burden of standing armies 
is the influence of the Catholic Church on the working classes. 

Finally, he repudiated the claim that separate schools in- 
hibited the emergence of a national spirit. In fact, he was prepared 
to state that a national spirit largely depended on granting separ«.te 
schools and in encouraging the movement of French Canadians to the 
Territories. "We should in duty to Canada and to the integrity of 

the Empire, establish separate schools in the North-West in the fullest 

sense of the word". To make the North-West safely Canadian, it should 

be opened to the French Canadian with full liberty for the institutions 
basic to his nationality. It was, he thought, a crucial time in the 
laying of foundations of the future Canada. He concluded by warning 
that there was a growing provincialism evident in Quebec related to the 
feeling that Canada was something different for French and English- 
speaking Canadians, and akin to be belief that "Quebec is our only 
country because we have no liberty elsewhere". 

The reply next day of a leading Conservative, the Honourable 
George E. Foster, was typical. He could not agree that the compact 
resulting in specific guarantees of separate schools for Ontario and 
Quebec laid any obligation on the federal parliament to extend such 
schools to new provinces. He pointed out that in Manitoba no separate 
school system had existed at the union by law, and that the subsequent 
establishment and abolition of si.ich a system by the provincial govern- 
ment was a valid exercise of its powers, subject only to the appeal of 

Ibid ., p, 3276. 

Ibid., p. 3283. 

an aggrieved minority to the federal parliament. French Canadians, he 
observed, migrated in large numbers to the United States where secular 
and ""Godless* education was said to be the rule, and where minority 
rights and language privileges were not recognized. He could not 
believe that the proposed legislation for the North-Best would prevent 
their movement to that territory. The argument advanced on the grounds 
of the wide tolerance granted the Protestant minority in Quebec should 
be examined. There, he declared, the majority schools were frankly 
Catholic; they were not non-sectarian in any way, so that non-Catholics 
could not attend without exposure to the influence of the Catholic 
religion. Once the principle of the majority was accepted, as it was 
in Quebec, it was essential to provide a completely separate system 
for the minority. In the Ontario schools, however, the principle of 
the public school was that the instruction be absolutely non- sectarian, 
so that children of any faith might attend classes without danger to 
their religious faith. In these schools they would receive a general 
moral training but without denominational teaching. Where this was 
not satisfactory to the religious minority, it might organize a sepa- 
rate school. The Protestant view, he stated, was that schools should 

be *free, non-sectarian and consequently national". The system in the 

North-West should meet these criteria. 

About this time Goldwin Smith, who had recently announced 

himself an admiring reader of Le I'ationaliste, was writing Bourassa his 

regrets at having to differ so absolutely from him on the Uorth-iVest 


House of Commons Debates, "larch 25, 19C5, pp. 3363-93. 

schools question. He expounded the point of view of doctrinaire 

liberalism. The complete separation of Church and State was for him 

a cardinal tenet of the liberal creod. Denominational schools must 

receive no state support or privileges of any kind. After explaining 

his full sympathy with the aspirations of French Canadians so long as 

they were confined to the province of Quebec, and after underlining 

his new-found respect for the conservatism of French Canada acting as 

a useful check to Imperialism and Jingoism, he wrote: 

But we cannot help fearing the connection of your national 
aspirations with those of an ambitious and ag^jressive priest- 
hood whose manifesto is the Syllabus declaring war against 
freedom of opinion and the fundamental principles of modern 

Bourassa's April 17 speech in Montreal at a meeting organized 
by the Nationalist League, and the reaction of the audience to it, 
revealed a new intensity in the resistance, particularly among the 
clergy, the youth, and certain dissident Conservative elements, to the 
proposed settlement in the North-West. The issue had become one not of 
education alone nor of religion, but more clearly of nationality also. 

His address opened with the questions: *iVhat will be the 
national character of these new provinces which sooner or later will 
dominate the Confederation?" •Vill they be "cosmopolitan or Canadian ? 
Will this territory be given over to the Galileans, Doukhobors, 
Mennonites, Americans, French, and English, without safeguarding the 

acquired rights, liberty, and very existence of those who were the 


Smith to Bourassa, April 13, 1905, Cornell University Manuscripts, 
from notes shown the author by Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, University of 
Toronto, See also Arnold Haultain, ed. Goldwin Smith's Correspondence , 
(Toronto, 1913), op, 436-7; and Rumilly XII, pp. 34-4. 

Smith to Bourassa, August 30, 1905; Haultain, or. cit. , pp. 445-6. 

"pioneers of Christian civilization and of Canadian nationality?* 

It was a frank appeal to racial sentiment, to fear, and to 
animosities. The new American settlers were seen to be *so different 
by race, customs and aspirations*. The supreme patriotic task v/as to 
give them another ideal than that of material success which they brought 
with them; it was to give them a spirit (ame) of such a character that 
they be united to the "two fundamental i^aces" living in the Canadian 
East, This task underlay the existence of French Canadians as a people^ 
and was essential to preserving Canada to England. The wisdom of re- 
maining under the tutelage of England, he said, should be clear to all 

who observed what was happening to tho constitution at the hands of 

the Canadian parliament. The Americans, v/ho seemed likely to predominate 

in the West, though they brought valuable qualities of intelligence and 
skill, were seen to constitute the most serious threat from the political 
and social point of view. Penetrated with mercantilism and imbued with 
jingoism, they might in a period of economic crisis attack not only 
Canadian and British institutions but the colonial bond itself and lead 
Canada into union with tho United States, French Canadians, on tho 
other hand, had "planted the seeds of everything that constitutes a 
nation in Canada sinco the days of New France, But blinded by a "singu- 
lar spirit of exclusiveness", some would counteract the establishment of 

French Canadians in the West, and take from those already settled there 


*their character, their faith, their religious and social traditions", 


.'(eli-ion, country, and nationality are in dan^or*, 

Les Ecoles du Uord-Ouest, p, 1, 

Log, cit, 


Ibid . , p. 2. 

Ibid,, p. 3, The purpose was *to close the Sest to French and Catholic 
colonists and assimilate as quickly as possible tliose who live there 
today", p. 7. 

Recourse to siich exasperation, jingoism, and the imputing 
of sinister motives was evidence of the growing strain felt by sep^nents 
of French Canadian opinion. It was clear that Bour^ssa hi-mself had not 
escaped the singular spirit of exclusivoness which he attributed to 

The assertions made here were evidently intended to establish 
a special place, role, and duty for French-speaking Canadians compatible 
with ethnic survival and expansion as a distinct nationality within the 
larger dual-structured nationality which would develop with time. A new 
reason for retaining the colonial bond was underlined, and this operated 
within Nationalism as a deterrent to a movement for independence which 
might be expected to grow out of Bourassa's anti-imperialism. The 
American "bogey", which he was to think so over-played by the Conserva- 
tives in the anti-reciprocity campaign of 1911, but which he believed 
nevertheless to point to real dangers, was here made a basis of his plea 
for an Anglo-French nation as the distinguishing characteristic of the 
entire Canadian people. 

The assertion of an unique, patriotic role for the French- 

speaking community in Canada nourished a nationalist sentiment: 

If it is wished that the West become homogeneous and remain 
Canadian, that it participate in our national life, that it 
have a sister spirit to our own, or rather that the same 
spirit will animate, penetrate, and unite these two large 
Eastern and ilestem groups, separated by so many natural 
obstacles and such diverse traditions, it will not suffice 
to build cities there, to construct factories and create a 
system of commercial exchange by building railways. The 
most effective, and perhaps the only means of effecting 
that national unification, is to plant in the West a branch 
of the old French Canadian trunk and to surround it with an 
atmosphere preservative of its native vigour and original 
qualities. Then let the Americans, Doukhobors, and Gallicans 
come , . . the new tree will survive the prairie tempests; 
and the future and unity of Canada will be assured, 

1 ~~ 

Ibid., p. 2. 


To be "homogeneous" meant to be Anglo-French, and this was 

the essence of the Nationalist view of Canadian nationality. In the 

concrete, it meant a Catholic and French education either by law or 

in fact, and as of historic, moral, and constitutional right wherever 

French Canadians lived as a group in Canada. In the West, it was 

clear that departure from this ideal had been continuous. From 

Bourassa's point of view, this could be seen as a breaji of the consti- 

tution, a thrust against the integrity of Canada and of the security 

of the Enpire, and as a failure of the federal parliament to fulfil its 


Situations such as these led him to repudiate all party 

allegiance and later to develop a more radical critique of the whole 

"electoral and parliamentary regime". His more specific objections to 

the education clauses of the new constitutions came to centre on the 
undoubted fact that Catholics, where a majority in a school district 
(roughly in 150 cases) could not establish separate schools, but only 
where they were in a minority (that is in 9 cases). In all but these 
nine instances, ho correctly observed, separate schools would be impos- 
sible accorxling to the law, IJoreover, the legislation guaranteed the 
protection of rights only in the separate schools, that is in schools 
where Catholics were in a minority in the school district, and not 

with respect to the public schools in which the majority of Catholics 

would be educated. In this view the Minister of Justice concurred. 

It was an injustice and an appeal to false conciliation to ask support 

for legislation granting separate school privileges only to a small 


See Chapter IX below, 
House of Commons Debates , June 29, p, 8426, speech of Hon, Charles 


fraction of the Catholics of the North-Weat, Bourassa charged, and 

he urged that separation be extended to the majority as well. If this 

were done he would accept the 1901 Ordinances as the basis of the 

school system. In his speech of June 20 in tho Commons he stated: 

Give these people their separate schools, their Catholic 
schools, controlled by the government, where they are a 
majority as well as where they are a minority, and I will 
abandon the rest. I will evon agree to the keeping of the 
uniform system . . , I am willing to trust to the generosity 
of the people of the North-West if you give us separation, 

And on June 29 he told the House that: 

I never asked the covernment or parliament to introduce 
church schools, either public or separate, in the North- 
west Territories. I never made such a statement either 
in the House or outside it. All I asked, and all I still 
ask, is that what is given to Catholics where thoy are a 
minority in a district should be given to them in a dis- 
trict where they are a majority. Of course I know they are 
entitled to more , , , to my mind the least that could be 
given , , . would be the right to form separate schools of 
the character defined in the Ordinance of 1901 in every dis- 
trict whether they be a majority or a minority. This is the 
position I have taken. 

What Bourassa was asking for here, namely separate schools 
for the majority when they were Roman Catholic in religion, was a 
condition which, as ■'-aurier demonstrated, had never been the law in 
the North- West even under the legislation of 1875, To Bourassa s 
claim that parliament had the right and duty to stamp certain prin- 
ciples upon the education system in the iVest, Laurier replied, "Re 
think it our duty to perpetuate the system of schools which exists 
today in the North-West Territories", 

The Lament amendment, designed to ensure tho right to one 


Ibid ., June 28, p, 8335, 
Ibid., June 29, p, 8522, 


half hotir of reli{p.ous instruction, provided under the Ordinance of 

1901, to both the separate and public schools, had been accepted by 

the government and concurred in by the House on June 29, Bourassa's 

amendment of the previous day, similar in substance to the original 

of Section 16, was negatived 126-7; and his amendment of June 30, 

designed to re-establish the French language as one of the official 

languages of the North-West, was negatived 60-5. Upon this latter 

occasion he had stated: 

I have alv/ays known that there was no guarantee given us 
by law with regard to the teaching of French, but there 
are other guarantees than are to be found in the actual 
text of the law. If we make the French language one of 
the official languages of the provinces of Alberta and 
Saskatchewan it will be a further reason why French- 
speaking fathers of families will, especially in separate 
schools, teach French to their children. 

He thought it the *duty of every provincial government", considering 

the dual character of the country, to provide for the teaching of both 

languages in the schools and to give French Canadians the right to 

"impart the most important part of our teaching in French", 

There was nothing in the British North America Act, he agreed 

on July 5, to oblige parliament to make the French language official in 

the new provinces. It would be, however, no imposition on provincial 

sovereignty to do so, for these provinces, like Uanitoba earlier, were 

being created by the federal parliament in the name of the whole people, 

Moreover, "beside and above the written law* there was a constitutional 

doctrine growing out of the reasoned carrying out of the principles 

embodied in the constitution. In giving substance to one of these 

principles, parliament had provided in 1S67, he believed, that "the 


Ibid ,, June 28, p, 859 3. 
Ibid., June 28, p, 8321, 


French and English tongues would be, on equal terras, the official 
language of Canada", This fundamental principle had been honoured 
in the 'Manitoba Act of 1870, Section 23, and in an anendnent to the 
North-West Territories Act in 1877, Circumstances, for example the 
relative decline in numerical strength of French Canadians in the 
Territories, might since have changed, but the principle remained 
unimpaired. French Canadian members who refused to co-operate with 
the efforts of Mr, I^onk and himself to pass amendments guaranteeing 
the language in the constitution of the western provinces were "making 
for the downfall of our nationality", 

laurier replied that the question of language in the provinces 
was one of "civil rights", falling under Section 92 of the British North 
America Act which set forth matters of provincial jurisdiction. Nothing 
obliged parliament in his opinion to enact a language guarantee in 
Alberta and Saskatchewan, The hopes entertained by Bourassa, as earlier 
by Cartier and others, regarding the development of the French tongue 
in the North-West "will not materialize*, he said, French Canadians 
had not migrated to the Territories; they now represented there only 
some 4% of the population; and they had failed to fight for their 
language when its official status in the legislature and courts of 
Mtinitoba was destroyed in 1890, The legislation abolishing the official 
status of French, Laurier said, had been judged "entirely ultra vires* 
by the Minister of Justice, Sir John Thompson, but no steps wero taken 
to have it repealed. The French did not care to undertake the fight, 
"being too weak", and probably realizing "that there was no need for 

the use of that language in the legislature". He did not think 
therefore that there was a case for granting a right limiting the 
power of the provincial legislature on this point. What gains the 
French Canadians could make in the future must be by their own efforts 
within a provincial framework as part of the process of conciliation 
between majority and minority. 

The North-V/est school debate had brooight into clearer relief 
once again the divisive forces of language and religion as they operated 
within the political process in Canada. Provincial boundaries were 
emphasized by the English-speaking element to define areas in which 
their numerical strength ensured that their viev/s on education, on a 
common nationality, and on a single language would prevail. Provincial 
rights, from their point of view in this situation, safeguarded their 
cultural ideals. On the other hand the Bourassa Nationalists were pre- 
pared to use the constitution-making power of the central government 
to extend a different set of ideas and institutions to the North-West, 

A new impulse to Nationalism was given in French Canada, and 
there emerged a more precise meaning to the Nationalist concepts of 
equality and of the Canadian nation, Laurier's prestige had suffered a 
decline notwithstanding the apparent healing over of wounds in the Liberal 
party. The prestige of Bourassa had risen. The latter came more into 
the public's view as the leading political defender of the national and 
religious interests and outlook of French Canadians, New vitality 
among the clergy related to their growing interests and activities in 
the social sphere, and the new militant spirit among the youth in 
various organizations sponsored by the Church, and in the colleges and 


professions, began to flow into the Nationalist movement. The 

interest of Conservative party leaders in the movement mounted. In 

La Verite appeared again advocacy of a Catholic Centre party, but 

for this there v/as no widespread response. Kor was there any evidence 

of mass support for a popular agitation against the school settlement, 

Bourassa seems to have taken the view that the "capitulation* of 

Laurier could be attributed to the weak support given him by the 

French Canadian members of parliament and their constituents. Before 

an assembly of some 2,000 persons at Monlamagny on September 17, attended 

by a relatively large number of prominent Conservative party members, he 


I was in close touch with Sir Wilfrid in this matter. I am 
prepared to state that if Llr, Laurier has not given the Western 
Catholics all the rights he wished to give them, it is because 
the French Canadian members from the province of Quebec were 
not firm and maganimous enough to risk the loss of power. It 
is the same with a party leader as with a general, .'sliatever 
his abilities, if his soldiers abandon him at the decisive 

moment he cannot win the victory ... ....... 

Le Soleil and Le Canada describe I.Ir, Lavergne and myself as 
demagogues and agitators. But we are the continuators of Ur. 
Laurier since we have maintained the demand for liberties sought 
by himself in the original Article 16 ... I affirm that the 
majority of the English members were ready to give us justice. 
It was the French members who hurried to cede way 

Out of beliefs such as indicated here were to come Bourassa 's 

theory of betrayal on the part of French Canadians to explain political 

decisions. More was to be heard of this between 1910 and 1920, with 

I ~ 

See Rumilly, XII, pp. 83-4, where it is suggested that the "patriotic" 
movement was somewhat weakened by clashes of personality, as between 
Olivar Asselin of Le Nationaliste and Omer Keroux of La Verite , both 
founders of the Ligue nationaliTte , and by the conviction of the latter 
that some in the movement would scarcely defend their religion except 
from the viewpoint of patriotism. Rumilly observes also that the 
youth in the Association ca tholique de la jeunosse canadienne-franceise , 
under the guidance of the Jesuit Order "held aloof from their friends 
in the Nationalist League , 

See Rumilly, XII, p. 80 ff. 

Bourassa on ono occasion suggesting that the weakest point in the 
defensive system of French Canada was the group of French-speaking 
Cabinet ministers at Ottawa. The betrayal theory was an attractive, 
if shallow and unwarranted support for a political movement like 
that led by the Nationalists, But its effects would evidently be to 
subvert confidence of the people in their leaders, without offering 
them alternatives, thus destroying the unity, and weakening the flow 
of energies which the Nationalists believed so important. 

About this time Bourassa began to think more of a purely 
provincial campaifpi calculated to unify French Canadians above party 
lines, at least for certain purposes and occasions. Thus the 
Nationalist movement over the next few years was to. seek a stronger 
provincial foundation and to encourage the election of Independents 

to parliament. But he still viewed the movement as a means of 
strengthening the hand of Sir Wilfrid Laurier so far as the French 
Canadian wing of the Liberal party was concerned. That is,. Nationalism 
would turn towards provincial agitation, but mainly to wield greater 
influence in the federal sphere, and chiefly among Liberals. He was 
later to come to the belief that Laurier had no goals apart from 
success and power, and with this idee, confirmed in the naval issue 
of 1909-1911, he effected the final rupture with the Liberal party. 



During the period from 1906 to 1909, Bourassa's personal 
prestige rose rapidly in the province of Quebec, and with it the activitj 
and strength of the Nationalist movement, ^he movement both gained from, 
and contributed to, a new competitive spirit in Quebec politics, and 
benefited no doubt from a more general critical attitude to the Laurier 
regime, noticeable for instance in Western rr.patience with Liberal 
tariff policy and in the exposure of the "fiine. Women and Graft" scan- 
dals of 1906-07. Nationalism developed its political significance in 
attacks upon government policy, particularly in the field of immigra- 
tion, and upon government legislation, notably the Lord's Day Act of 
1506, Independent candidates were supported in by-elections, in some 
instances with success, and a provincial programme designed to secure 
the election of Nationalists to the Quebec legislature was elaborated. 
One effect of the movement wfts to encourage a revival of the provincial 
Conservative party, A Nationalist campaign to "break the hold of 
Laurier" on the province was begun. 

Themes which in the past had received most emphasis — 
anti-imperialism, dual nationality, the rights of religious and ethnic 
minorities — were supplemented now by greater concern for provincial 
autonomy and various economic and social arrangements calculated to 
serve the long-run interests of the nationality; par&cularly, conserva- 
tion measures, a certain degree of public ownership and control of basic 
economic resources, and a more extensive syndicalist organization in 
labour and other fields. The increase in political activity of the 


Nationalist movement, more and more under its own banners, was thus 
paralleled by a pronounced emphasis upon doctrine which in turn 
became more systematic and comprehensive. Political reverses that 
followed in a later period brought even more reliance upon ideology 
and opened the door wider to the irrationalism always present in the 
movement. Although in Bourassa's case, irrational elements were kept 
under some control, the role of such factors as the sense of racial 
community, the belief in a peculiar mission for the French Canadian 
people, and the belief in the reality and significance of such pheno- 
mena as "Pan-Anglo-Saxonism* and "International High Finance* assumed 
more importance, 

Bourassa's decision to create a movement rather than a 
party contributed also to a growing concern with ideological factors. 
Not only did he refrain from giving any continuing bureaucratic struc- 
ture to the movement; he also refused to accept administrative respon- 
sibilities, either at Quebec or at Ottawa, when they were apparently 
offered to him. This too implied greater reliance upon the doctrinal 
bases of Nationalism. Shunning office and political power through 
party activity, this radical movement did not undergo the experience 
common to similar movements as they grew in strength, notably a ten- 
dency to relegate doctrine to the background, or to find compromises 
enabling the movement to expand still further. 

The decision against party organization was no doubt dictated 
partly by temperaaental factors, but it was even more a matter of 
deliberate choice, since Bourassa had come to believe that parties 
developed special interests of their own and quickly lost their 

capacity to serve the ideas that gave them birth. He did not want 
the ideas of Nationalism associated with the routine struggles of 
parties for power or advantage, and thus perhaps discredited, or at 
least judged on a false basis. Even the sporadic excursions of the 
Nationalists into electoral contests, although they should be treated 
partly upon their own merits in terms of the specific issues involved, 
may be viewed as among the more drsmatic means of serving ideological 
ends. In the period reviewed in the present chapter, however, the 
political movement and the development of doctrine went side by side. 
It was only later when the political force of Nationalism was spent 
that the ideological interest became paramount. 

The chief source of friction between Bourassa and the 
Liberfl.1 government during 1906 was the Lord's Day Act, Sponsored by 
the Lord's Day Alliance of Canada, this legislation prohibited working 
for gain on Sunday except in certain specified occupations. The measure 
had general support except in the province of Quebec where its opponents 
charged that it violated individual liberties, and interfered with esta- 
blished business and recreational practices which in no way offended 

against conscience or the proper keeping of the Sabbath, ftith these 

objections Bourassa agreed, and in the House of Commons he took a promi- 
nent part in fighting the Bill, He declared the Bill began by assuming 
in its general prohibitory clauses the false principle that there was 
no liberty of the citizen in such matters as work on Sunday, Bvon 

though exceptions were provided for, the basic principle was ■dangerous' 


See the Canadian Annual Review , 1906, pp. 560-62 for an account of 
reactions to the Bill, and Skelton's Wirier, II, pp. 314-16, 


and "antiquated", doing away altogether with the liberty of the 

citizen. People could not be made virtuous by law; such matters 

that the Bill sought to regulate ought to be left to individual con- 
science and the teaching of the churches, I'ftiile various Protestant 
groups protested against granting any exemptions under the Bill to 
such religious bodies as the Seventh Day Adventists, and to the Jews, 
Bourassa introduced an amendment designed to extend exemption to all 
who conscientiously and regularly observed as their day of rest and 
worship any other day in the week than Sunday. His motion was defeated 

on June 27 (94-43). Upon other occasions during the same debate he 

spoke and voted against the government's position. Some concession 

was made to his objections by having the Bill amended in the Senate 

to the effect that prosecutions were made to depend on the initiative 

of the provincial Attorneys-General, 

Bourassa s stand against the Act was undoubtedly popular 

in Quebec, The Montreal Board of Trade denounced the measure, as did 

the Liontreal City Council, and the organized labour movement. The 

Archbishop of Montreal was sympathetic to the principle of the Act 

but suggested changes. By defenders of provincial rights, the Lord's 

Day Act could be repudiated as an attempt to impose on the province 

the moral code and customs of another province, or of the Protestant 

community. But the immediate significance of Bourassa 's opposition 

was that he was brought into temporary alliance with labour unions of 

See House of Commons Debates , June 20, 1906, pp. 5628-38, 

See ibid ., June 27, 1906, p, 6359, pp, 6281-83; July 6, p, 7287. See 

also Canadian Annual Review , 1906, po, 560-62. 

Quebec and British Columbia later "contracted out" of the Act's 

jurisdiction. See Skelton, op, cit,, pp, 249, 314-16. 


Montreal, and it seems apparent that he was exploring the possibilitj 

of raising up Independent candidates among them. 

In two by-elections in the autumn of 1906, he and his 

Nationalist lieutenants gave crucial aid to candidates opposing the 

official nominees of the Liberal party. The first of these contests 

was held in Quebec County, made vacant by the appointment of Sir 

Charles Fitzpatrick to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Liberal party 

supported a wealthy industrialist, G. E. Amyot, while the Nationalists 

sponsored an Independent with Liberal and Nationalist affiliations, 

Lorenzo Robitaille, a young man of 22 years of age. The campaign, 

waged around such issues as the attempts of the Liberal party to "impose" 

a candidate upon the people, and on the alleged excessive discipline 

within the party, became a test of Bourassa's personal power in the pro- 

vince. Students played a conspicuous role in the campaign on the side 

of the Bourassa-Lavergne school of politics, and Israel Tarte in La 

Patrie lent aid by suggesting that Bourassa's Liberalism was simply 

more orthodox than that of his adversaries, and by emphasizing the 

personal superiority of the Nationalist leader. On October 23 the 

Nationalist-Liberal candidate, Robitaille, won the constituency by a 

majority of 368 votes. 

Flushed with this victory, seen by some as the beginning of 
the end of laurier's personal dominance, the Nationalists threw them- 
selves into the final starves of another by-olection contest being waged 


This aspect of the contest was played up by the Quebec press; Le 
Nationaliste going so far as to predict that "victory would make Bourassa 
the future leader of his province and his race". See press coinments in 
Rumilly, XII, pp. 174-80. 

See Rumilly, loc, cit.; Armand Lavergne, Trente ans de vie nationale , 

pp. 130-35; La Patrie , October 23, 1906. 


See the Canadian Annual Review, 1906, pp. 548, 560-62, 

in Uoirtreal Sainte-Uarie division, ^is constituency had been held by 
a trade union official, Camille Piche, recently appointed to the Bench, 
and it, along with Montreal Uaisonneuve, won earlier in the year by 
Alphonse Verville, President of the Tirades and labour Congress of Canada, 
were commonly thought of as I«,bour seats. The Liberal party nominated 
Ll^ddric Martin, a union official and a city aldeman, while the inter- 
national unions led by Verville sponsored an Independent candidate, 
Joseph Ainey, a labour leader of radical views, Bourassa, Lavergne, 
and others in the Nationalist troupe offered to support the candidate 
of the international unions, and this was accepted with some reluctance, 

CajnpaiPTi oratory was adjusted to a working class audience, and students 

were again prominent in the public meetings. 

It was an unusual alliance of advanced elements among workers, 
students, and Nationalists, The professed religious neutrality of in- 
ternational unionism conflicted with Bourassa's expressed object of 
seeing religious influences penetrate all spheres of life. Its inter- 
national character alone was later to come under severe criticism from 
him, and its leanings towards neasures considered at the time socialistic 
seemed inconsistent with his social conservatism. Mr, Ainey's programme, 
furthermore, stressed a need for a more "practical" and modern" educa- 
tion, governed less by the Church and more by: the State, objectives 
against which Bourtissa had frequently warned. In addition he advocated 
old age and sickness insurance under a state scheme, state banks to re- 
place private banks, and such radical political reforms as the abolition 


Humilly, op, cit,, pp. 184-86, In one of Bourassa's speeches (I.ovecber 
19) he was pictured "spending all his physical and intellectual powers 
. , . bathed in perspiration ... his collar limp ... undone ... 
twisted around his neck . , ," 

of the Senate and the election of judges, 

Bourassa's aajor interest in forming this tempoi-ary alliance 
with labour circles undoubtedly was to advance his plan of increasing 
the non-party meabership of the House, Although he emphasized his sym- 
pathy for organized labour, pointing to the support given by Pope Leo 
XIII to labour organization, and declaring that international associa- 
tions of capitalists justified like action on the part of workers, the 
main point to which he constantly returned was the need to break down 
party bureaucracy, dominance of the leader, the rigidity of party dis- 
cipline, and the tendency to turn House members into voting machines 
without a will of their own, or ideas, or care for larger interests. 
The counter-measure he proposed was the election of Independents, and 
for this purpose the trade union movement offered advantages. 

The Liberal party candidate won the constituency by a large 
majority (1272 votes) on November 21. '°ut the dramatic and somewhat 
surprising intervention of Bourassa stirred interest in his programme, 
and served to build up his personal following. 

During the year his criticism of the government's immigration 

policy sharpened, and he voted with the opposition on May 1 to protest 

the policy of paying bonuses to the North Atlantic Trading Company for 

its services in procuring immigrants. His views on immigration, and 

the movement of native Canadian population to the '.Vest, underwent con- 
siderable change, becoming increasingly hostile to the character and 
size of the inflow of diverse European peoples after 1900, As early as 
1899 he asserted that efforts of the central government to encourage the 


See Ftumilly, op , c i t . , pp. 161, 184, 

House of Commons Debates, May 1, 1906, pp. 2440-42, 

surplus population of Quebec to novo to the Ilorth-Wost would not be 

welcomed. It would be better to foster a more intensive agriculture 

in Quebec, and to colonize the vast northern areas of the province. 

The policy should be to "keop our people where they naturally belong, 

to keep the sons v/here the fatliers have settled". Hhere feasible, 

emigrants to the United States should be encouraged to return. So 

far as the North-Wost was concerned, the government ought to induce 

"as many honest people from Europe, whatever their origin" to settle 


This early- attitude, indifferent or hostile to the westward 

migration of French Canadians, was in line with the known views of 

leaders of the Catholic Church in Quebec, But it was in sharp contrast 

with the position taken by Bourassa during and since the North-West 

school crisis of 1905, when he urged an increasing settlement of the 

Best by French Canadians, and generally by persons who had roots in 

Eastern Canada. At that time he developed the thesis of the danger 

to national unity of the influx of foreigners, and to the social fabric 

because of their alleged ill-health and destitution, 


Ibid . , July 26, 1899, p. 8539, "l protest strongly against the idea of 
sending agents of the Federal Government to induce our fanners to settle 
in the North-West. I say that the policy of the Government should be to 
keep our people where they naturally belong, to keep the sons where the 
fathers have settled, to try to induce them to remain in the same province 
where they were born and brought up, with their own people, under usages 
with which they are familiar*, 

Ibid ., p, 8542, 

See above, Chanter IV. 

See House of Commons Debates , ;.:ay 1, 1906, pp, 2440-41 for a typical 
statement: "There would be far loss danger to the unity of Canada if 
there were a few more French Canadians and Catholics in the North-West, 
and even separate schools in the North-West, than there is in bringing 
into the country hundreds of thousands of foreign people*. 


Towards the end of 1906 he asserted that he complained less 

of the quantity than of the quality of the newconers, but subsequent 

statements pointed to a reduced rate of flow. Early in the next year 

he supported a motion by Lavergne seeking the discontinuance of bonuses 

to immigration companies because they tended to bring in a 'less rather 

than a more desirable class of people", making for what Lavergne called 

a "mongrel population". In two decades the "intruders" would be masters 

of the country, and the two races forming the Canadian people would be 

swamped. Their arguments were not unlike those of the 'lativist groups 

opposing immigration in the United States, i'ithin three decades, he 

protested, the House of Commons would be 

controlled by members elected in those constituencies west cf 
Lake Superior ... by a majority, of whom certainly the four- 
fifths, if not the whole, will be foreign — neither French 
nor British nor Little Canadians, nor broad imperialists, but 
simply foreigners ... 

Parliament would then be used to further the object of the newcomers, 
irtiich he suggested was simply to make money. Successive generations 
would become gradually rooted in a new patriotism, but in the meantime 
British institutions, and ideals of Confederation and dual nationality 
might disappear. Parallels with the success of the United States in 
absorbing large numbers of immigrants were not valid, he contested. In 
that country the Western states wero being settled by "American-born 
people" who left the Eastern areas, taking American institutions and 
ideas with them, while the great bulk of the immigrant population set- 
tled in the East where they underwent powerful assimilation influences. 

Ibid., Ilovembor 26, 1906, pp. 94-107, What he wanted was a policy -- 
~I will not say checking the ijumigration into Canada, but of controlling 
it, so that the elements that are brought into this country will help in 
the moral development and progress of the country rather than a mere 
material increase". 


House of Commons Debates, April 9, 1907, p, 6183. 



In Canada, on the other hand, neglecting the important moveraent of 

settlers from Ontario, Eastern population was given little inducement 

to move Westward, while immigrants were hurried directly into the new 

West which they would soon make their own. 

His own answer, as indicated above, was that "the equilibrivun 
between the two races should be maintained, and that it is in the inte- 
rests of all British citizens in Canada that a French-speaking popula- 
tion should be developed." This spelled restricted and controlled 

immigration with a favourable emphasis upon persons from the British 


Isles, and from France and Belgium, 

For Bourassa, economic factors were secondary. Political, 
moral, and social implications were discussed within a framework stressing 
the racial composition of the population, and appealing to racial sensi- 
bilities, to a certain degree of exclusiveness and nativism, and designed 
to arouse patriotic fears concerning British and Canadian institutions, 
There was a tendency to draw unfavourable attention to the place of 
relatively small and more easily identified groups in the immigration 
current, like the Galileans, Mennonites, Jews, and Doukhobors, and to 

their social laws and outlook. Some of the new-comers, said lavergne, 

would be "almost impossible of assimilation in Canada", Whereas diffe- 
rences in customs and habits of thought of these new Canadians were 
thought to be of danger to the unity of the country, and to its indepen- 
dence from American influence, the same was not true of what I«.vergne 

1 " — — — 

Ibid ,, pp, 6183-86. 
Soe the Canadian Annual Review, 1907, for a report of a speech by 
Bourassa on April 25, to the students of Laval University Branch in 
Montreal, urging a "more desirable class of immigrants, and that 
young farmers should be encouraged to move westward when they thought 
of leaving their homos in Quebec, 

House of Commons debates, April 9, 1906, p, 6153, 


called the "entirely different civilization" of the French Canadians, 
setting them off as a people apart in North America, '^heir differences 
of aspiration, race, and language were extolled as positive contributions 
to national unity. 

The logic of the Nationalist opinions was not apparent, and 
there were many who challenged the substance of their argument. It was 
easy, in ansv/or to the Nationalists, to point to the small triclle of 
immigrants from France and Belgium regardless of inducements offered 
by the Canadian government, and to deny the charge that railv;ay rates 
discriminated against the movement of native Canadians westward. Critics 
were quick to demonstrate that French Canadians preferred to emigrate to 
American industrial centres in New England rather than to the North-7iest, 
and that they were caught up in a process of urbanization in their own 
province. It could also be asked, "Had not French Cajiadian leaders, and 
especially their clergy, long since been averse to sending them into the 
Western provinces?" Bourassa's policies, it was said, meant retarded 
development; his statements cast disloyal slurs upon the Western popula- 
tion; and they rested on an ideal of nationality which Laurier himself 

had stated only the year before would not be realized in the West. 

Immigration thus proved another significant area in which 

the Nationalists began to sever their bonds with the Liberal party and 

government. Around this subject they created an atmosphere of fear and 

pessimism. In this field, as in the field of imperial relations, the 

recoil or reactionary character of the movement was prominent. Once 

again an attempt was made to treat the issue at the level of broad 

national interest, but within that framework the special interests, 


Loc, cit. 


problems, and prejudices, of French Canadians came to predominate. 

The year 1906 ended with Bourassa defending his Liberalism, 

and further alienating himself from the party system. In the two 

recent by-elections in which he opposed government candidates, he had 

upheld two Liberal principles: the right of the people to choose their 

own candidate outside party lines, and the right of the elected member 

to "vote for the people" before voting for his party or government. 

There followed a review of his attitudes and votes beginning with the 
South African iiar and continuing through the North-West schools issue 
and his critique of immigration policy, V«as he as radical, he asked, 
as leading British Liberals like Lloyd George and Mr, John Burns «ho 
were advisers of the Crown? Was he not merely holding fast to the 
colonial nationalism of Macdonald, lUpper, and others? Did he not have 
the support of the "younger element in the province of Quebec for his 
views? iVas he not fighting for the rights of the people against large 
corporations dealing in immigration and land speculation? And was it 
not a false Tory legend, now repeated by the Liberal party, that he 
appealed to a narrow French Canadian viewpoint? Denying that a Nationa- 
list party existed, he protested that, "Liberals we have been and Liberals 

we are*. It is "not my intention to wage war against the government", 

he declared. But it was evident that his orthodoxy had worn thin and 

that he was on the verge of excommunication. 

Interest in the Quebec Nationalists spread, and the Canadian 

Club of Toronto invited Bourassa to explain his ideas before its 

I ^ 

Ibid ,, November 26, 1906, p. 97, 

Ibid., pp, 94-107, 


membership. Tliis he did on January 22, 1907, sugfjesting at the outset 
that they would probably find less divergence of principles than they 

expected, and that they would come to see that inaccurate press reports 

and the language barrier had given rise to false impressions. Nationa- 
lism, he described, as a "strong and deeply rooted" movement, but he 
did not want it compared in any way with the Irish Nationalist movement 
plaguing English politics. The Nationalists had no complaint, he assured 
his audience, against the national status of Canada, and no hatred or 
distrust of Great Britain, They had no party organization, But if the 
two main parties did not "listen", he would not deny that Quebec's 

younger generation might choose a proper occasion to give a "concrete 

form to the movement". Their primary object v/as to develop something 

intangible, a "truly Canadian patriotic spirit" so that the two main 
ethnic groups could develop their material and moral resources in co- 
operation, Canadian patriotism, he suggested, did not yet exist, being 
submerged in provincial and regional sentiments, but Nationalism provided 
the basic formulas for the future, "The Nationalist movement in Quebec", 
he concluded after a review of its programme, "is the greatest guarantee 
of the permanency of Canada". 

In this address he made more explicit his concept of Canadian 
nationality. ' We have , he stated, "growing up side by side an Anglo- 
Saxon civilization and a French Canadian civilization", and it was plain 
that however much he urged a common national spirit, he was not thinking 
of "Canadian" in any unhyphenated sense, but always as a dual- structured 

^Canadian Club of Toronto, Proceedings , IV, 1906-1907, (Toronto, 1907), 

pp, 56-64, "Nationalist Llovenent in ijuebec", 

Ibid,, p, 57, 

unity. Political reforms he thought were much needed. He re-iterated 
his objections to party practices, declaring himself favourable to 
more frequent changes of government, and advancing a curious hope for 
a time when strong public opinion would replace party conventions. 
Appointments and promotions in the civil service should be divorced 
from politics; judges should be appointed by the government but nominated 
by the bar; the Senate should be reformed since it had become the refuge 
of political wrecks and a committee of permanent intrigue for financiers 
and speculators. It should be more like the judicial bench of the coun- 
try and might well be filled by some scheme of proportional representa- 
tion based on such bodies as the universities, chambers of commerce, 

agriculture organizations, and so forth. Provincial governments^ too, 

might well make nominations to the Senate, 

Even more emphasis was placed on the fiscal and economic 

views of the Nationalists, which he described as designed to avoid the 

twin calamities of communism and of corporate domination, or of socialism 

and private monopoly. He supported a "reasonable and proper division of 

the land , objecting to the new landed aristocracy in the form of large 

corporate holdings for speculative purposes. The beginnings of public 

ownership of basic resources should be extended, with the expectation 

that in the distant future when wiser and more efficient governments 

were developed, a more complete public control might be possible and 

desirable, i'"or the present he contended "public utilities should not be 

left entirely in the hands of private corporations". The state should 

retain ownership of such enterprises but permit private operation and 

development. Particular fields that should be withheld from private 


Ibid., pp. 60-62, 

control wero the national railroads and certain water power and 
electricity resources. A new electricity age with "gigantic possibi- 
lities* was opening before the people, and their interests and rights 
ought to be protected in ownership and regulatory legislation, American 

penetration through capital investment in mines, forests, water powers, 

railways, and industries should be carefully watched and regulated. 

The experience of Europe, especially of France and of Switzerland, in 

industrial organization and governmental controls should be studied. 

Tariff policy should be framed to encourage Canadian industry, avoiding 

entanglements in the Imperial fiscal structure. 

On other occasions, Bourassa explained the I.'ationalist view- 
point on various proposals for social legislation before the House of 
Commons, Old Age Pensions he believed sound in principle. But they 
should be placed on a contributory basis with care taken not to destroy 
"family spirit* by engendering a habit of dependence on the state. Upon 
labour legislation he held definite and radical views, presenting them 
within the context of his belief in the opening of a new economic era 
affecting social organization, particularly in Quebec, The emergence 
of new social classes associated with urban and industrial society, of 
class conflict, of changing family structure and ideals, and of a more 
materialist secular outlook were objects of Nationalist concern. Early 

in 1907, he declared himself in favour of compulsory arbitration of 


labour disputes "as soon as public opinion will warrant it". Tqo much 


Ibid ,, pp. 58-60. 

Log, cit ., also House of Cocinons Debates , Llarch 26, 1906, pp. 598-600, 

House of Conmons Debates , January 9, 1907, pp, 1178-82. On Old A^e 

Pensions, see his speech in ibid,, February 20, Seo Chapter IX below. 


social legislation he thought unwise, but in this matter at least, he 

declared, there would eventually have to be a "complete and radical 

compulsory arbitration law* enforced by tribunals in a fashion analagous 

to the procedure in civil and criminal cases. 

During 1907 an opportunity was given Bourassa to strike 

aggressively in favour of purity in politics. The recent report of a 

Royal Commission on Insurance had given rise to press coranents and 

public nunours reflecting on the honesty of certain members of Parliament, 

Insinuations as to immoral conduct on the part of other members were rife; 

and electoral scandals involving a Cabinet minister had been the subject 

of court enquiry. In the circumstances, resignations were tendered by 

the Minister of Railways and the Minister of Public Works, A long and 
sensational debate in the House was provoked by Bourassa on March 26 on 
his motion for a special committee of enquiry into the rumours, insinua- 
tions, and charges. In his speech he remarked that he felt in a good 
position to raise the matter since "the future and fate of either politi- 
cal party, as at present constituted, are utterly indifferent to ne". 
His motion was defeated on a party vote (1C9-56), with Laurier delivering 

a pointed attack on the Nationalist loader who "gropes in the gutter" to 

bring rumours without specific charges before the House for investigation. 

All these developments — opposition to government legislation 

and policies, criticism of political parties in general, participation 

in by-elections on the side of non-party candidates, attacks on political 

corruption, and a more elaborate structure of nationalist doctrines — 

contributed to the growing strength of the Nationalist movement, without 


Ibid ., rebruary 21, 1507, pp, 3429-30; March 26, pp. 5398-5433; the 
Canadian Annual Revio?? , 1907, pp. 429-35; Ibid ., 1906, pp. 568-72. 

House of Commons Debates, Inarch 26, pp. 5398-5433. 

at tho same time inclining it towards the bureaucratic organization 
necessary to develop it as a political party. The movement embodied 
diverse currents favourable to its spread. It was "loyal* but anti- 
imperialist; it was nationalist but attached to elements of colonialism; 
it both favoured and feared economic development; it linked social con- 
servatism with the newer currents of social Catholicism emphasizing a 
form of liberal collectivism; it stressed the sense of racial separation 
but was committed to a bi-racial unity; it developed the only effective 
opposition in Quebec to the Laurier regime while its leaders insisttd 
on their Liberal orthodoxy. Charismatic leadership and patriotic fer- 
vour compensated for the lack of extensive formal organization. The 
Castor-Rouge complex was to be worked out within O'Connell's formula 
"I take my theology at Rome and my politics at home*. 

A new and dramatic turn was given the Nationalist movement by 
Bourassa's plunge into provincial politics in tho simmer of 1907, and 
his rebuff and defeat in a bv-election on November 4 of the same year. 

His object in entering the provincial arena was indicated in a letter 

to Go Id win Smith a few years after the event; 

I have thought and still think that it is useless to expect any 
strong, well-reasoned, and fruitful effort on the part of the 
Fj-ench Canadians as a material factor until they are imbued, 
through their whole public life, with a strong sense of their 
rights and duties as a correspondent part of Canada and the Einpire, 
As our public life stands at present — with the curse of party 
slavery, and patronage, and the predominance of selfish interests, 
allied to the natural disposition of the race towards hero worship 
— the whole race is at the mercy of a clever and charming oppor- 
tunist - Laurier - aided by a few office seekers and public money 
distributors . . . The whole of our provincial system . . . has 
become a network of political corruption in the hands of laurier 
and his party. 

Bourassa to Smith, November 18, 1909. Cornell Manuscripts. Also ibid., 
February 1, 1907, "My first object is to develop a keener, a broader and 
a more effective public spirit among my own compatriots. The second is 
to bring a more sincere and honourable understanding between both races, 
the base of which would be a truer, less bombastic and more dignified 
Canadian oatriotism. 

His provincial campaign became a crusade not without its 
own elements of hero worship and opportunism. It began in the inte- 
rests of better administration, but degenerated into personal attacks 
and invective. In Le liationaliste , Asselin long pursued the Minister 
of Colonization, Uines, and Fisheries, J, B, B. Prevost, with charges 
that became the subject of libel action during the year. The Minister 
of Crown Lands, Adelard Turgeon, was likewise attacked with charges in- 
volving the speculations of a Belgian capitalist in lands of the Abitibi 

region. These charges need not be detailed here. They were hotly denied 

and both Ministers were exonerated in legal actions, iir. Prevost, ho7/ever, 

resigned his portfolio at the end of September and later joined the 
Nationalists in attacks upon the Gouin government. 

Although he had not yet announced his intention to enter 
provincial politics, Bourassa s campaign appears to have begun on August 
5 at a meeting memorable for violence held in the market square of the 
St. Roch district in Quebec City in the heart of I«.urier's constituency, 
A crowd of 20,000 persons is reported to have gathered to hear the pro- 
gramme of the Nationalist orator. But he was prevented from speaking by 
continuous intermiptions and a hail of eggs and stones. The meeting 
eventually dispersed after unsuccessful attempts on the part of the 

police to break up what appeared to be obstruction organized by prominent 

Quebec City Liberals, 

Violent obstruction at Quebec City was followed by a flood of 

invitations to speak, and a provincial tour of three months duration was 

undertaken. On August 13 a meeting was held at Ste, Llartine; on August 


See the Canadian Annual Reviev/ , 1907, pp, 55C-56. Rumilly, XIII, pp. 
64-67; 77, 88-llC, 

See the report in La patrie , August 6, 1907, and by Mr, G'Heam in the 
Montreal Star of the same date, and Le i'ationaliste, August 11, 

17 at St. Hyacinthe, and next day at St, Rigaud. There followed in 
the same month speeches at L'Assomption, Louiseville and Longueuil, 
During September, Bourassa spoke at Riviere du Loup, Lake Megantic, 
Iberville, Ormstown, Shav/inigan Falls, Three Rivers, Levis, Soulanges, 
and in October at Beauceville, Beauport, Sherbrooke, Thetford Mines, 
Laprairio, St. Jerome, and in other places. The denunciatory tone of 
his criticisms mounted. There was no doubt of the interest aroused in 
his ideas and intentions as illustrated by the size of the crowds turn- 
ing out to hear him; at St, Hyacinthe, an estimated 5,000; at Levis, 
7,000; at St. Jerome, 12,000. Local leaders, and persons with provin- 
cial reputations joined the Nationalist csmpaign; among them N. K. 
Laflamme, J. H, Rainville, and Senator Legris. The sweep around the 
province was climaxed when Bourassa accepted the challenge of the Hon, 
Mr. Turgeon to contest the latter 's constituency of Eellechasse. In 
the ensuing by-election, he had the sympathy and help of a number of 
Conservatives, notably Senator Landry, Hon. Thomas Chapais, L. P. 
Pelletier, and of the Conservative newspaper L'Evonement of Quebec City, 

Prominent components of his programme were demands that 
provincial water powers be classified, and the most important reserved 
for public ownership; that timber limits be granted so as not to retard 
colonization; that a labour Council (Chambre syndicale) similar to the 
Council of Public Instruction and to the Council of Agriculture, be es- 
tablished to regulate the relations of labour and capital under the 

terms of a basic statute; and that labour unions be given legal status, 


See !«. Patrie for August - November, 1907, particularly the issues of 
August 14, and September 3, S3; Le ii'ationaliste for the same period, 
particularly, August 17; the Canadian Annual Review , 1907, pp, 554-59; 
Rumilly, XIII, passim. 


He called for "the appointment of a comnission to watch over private 

legislation, and another to scrutinize federal legislation affecting 

provincial autonomj. A persistent theme in his addresses was the 

beginning of a new industrial era in Quebec and of the related need to 

consider questions of social order. It v/as important, he urged, for 

the French Canadian people as a whole to remain in secure possession 

of the land, underground wealth, forests, and hydraulic resources, and 

to concentrate upon industries based on natural resources. The decisive 

struggle of the twentieth century he warned would be in the economic 

order. Both Cartier and Mercier, he said, had caught this truth, and 

had urged continuing possession of basic natural resources as the 

surest foundation of a French Canadian culture and nationality. 

In this concern with social and economic organization the 
Nationalist movement built its third major foundation, thus expanding 
its doctrines beyond the lines already adopted in imperial relations, 
minority rights in the T/est, and questions of dual nationality. 

The Bellechasse by-election ended in Bourassa's defeat by 
almost 800 votes. There was no doubt however that the provincial Con- 
servative party leaders had begun to view the movement as of potential 
value in recouping their electoral fortunes. It was a matter of uniting 
Bourassa's charismatic leadership with their widespread organization. 
But Bourassa was adamant in his non-party stand. At various times in 
the past few years he had been approached indirectly with a view to 
his entry into Liberal Cabinets, or into an alliance with the Conserva- 
tives, Several times during 1906, he recounted, "an important group 

of Conservatives* headed by Sir Adolphe Caron sought his co-operation 
I ^ 

See the sources cited above; also a review of his ideas in Le I.'ationa- 

liste of April 12, and :.:ay 31, 1908, 

in forming a re-vitalized Conservative party by the infusion of natio- 
nalist and Liberal elements. This kind of organic unity Bourassa re- 
jected as likely to end in the submergence of nationalism in party 

interest and intrigue. About the same time the Liberal party was 

seeking to neutralize the Nationalist movement. According to Bourassa *s 

statements made to a public meeting at Iberville on September 22, 1907; 

two federal Cabinet ministers offered me an arrangement with 
I.Ir. Gouin, (Prirae Minister of Quebec)} it was proposed that '.-'.r, 
Prevost leave the Cabinet and that I take his place, I refused. 

Earlier, he said, in 1903 Laurier had thrice offered him a place in 

the Parent Cabinet with the promise of succession to the Premiership, 

Defeat in Bellechasse was followed by an offer from Laurier of an uncon- 

tested seat in his former constituency of Labelle. This too was declined,. 

There was no doubt, however, that laurier repudiated 

Nationalist attitudes and policies. He took occasion to declare his 

support for the government of L'r. Gouin, and remarked that Mr. Bourassa 

was not one of his best political friends, Bourassa had long since 

ceased to attend Liberal party caucuses. By 1907, if not earlier, 
Lavergne had lost the administration of patronage in his riding, and 
was no longer called to party caucuses. But they both continued to 
draw a distinction between being a Liberal and being a government sup- 
porter, "l was chosen and elected as a Liberal and nothing else", said 

Lavergne, "l was never elected as a government supporter*. 

I ~~ 

See Le Devoir , May 20, 1913, 

La Patrie , September 23, 1907. 

See Le Devoir , IJay 20, 1913. 

The Canadian Annual Review , 1907, p. 559; Rumilly, XIII, p. 82, 

House of Commons Debates, February 5, 1907, p, 2484, 


Urged by Conservatives and Nationalists to contest the 

provincial general elections of June 8, 1908, Bourassa agreed provided 

they guarantee to raise $100,000, to enable him to establish a daily 

newspaper in Montreal under his own direction. Lo Devoir which appeared 

in 1910 had its beginnings in this agreement. 

The most spectacular incident in the 1908 campaign was 

Bourassa 's defeat of the Prime Minister by a majority of 27 votes in 

Montreal St, Janes division which the latter had held without difficulty 

for eleven years. In this victory he undoubtedly received the bulk of 

the Conservative vote. He v/on also the constituency of St, Hyacinths 

and decided to sit in the legislature as its representative. However, 

the provincial Liberal party was in no way seriously threatened, winning 

54 of the 73 seats contested, and winning a further six of the eight 

deferred elections and by-elections which followed in the next six 

months. Conservative party strength rose from seven to thirteen, Armand 

Lavergne, who left the federal arena shortly after Bourassa, was a suc- 

cesful candidate in the 1908 provincial elections. 

Immediately after the elections, Bourassa affirmed his 

independence from the Conservative opposition: 

I want it to be understood that I do not go to Quebec to be chief 
of an Opposition even if the offer were made to me. I am no more 
anxious to be chief of the Opposition that I would have been to 
accept a portfolio from tho Conservatives if they had been returned 
to power, 

"it had been easy", he said later, "to come to an agreement with the 

provincial Conservatives", In his opinion, no doubt unvrarranted, the 

Conservatives accepted the Nationalist programme "in its entirety", 


The Canadian Annual Reviow , 1908, p, 378, 

See Le Devoir, Llay 20, 1913; June 211 ^ 1911 


with the knowledge that the latter exfiected "no share in the spoils 

in the event of victory". The truth seems rather to be that the 

Nationalist programme was of little consequence compared with the 

quality of its leadership. 

During August, Bourassa left for a tour of Europe to study 

labour organization and industrial politics. Ke took no active part 

in the federal general elections of 1908, but others among the Nationa- 

lists were anxious to oppose Laurier. Robitaille was defeated, and the 

Nationalists thus left without federal representation. It was now 
decided to form clubs composed of young men of all political parties 
for study and action throughout Quebec, The object would be to en- 
lighten public opinion as similar associations were said to do in 

Great Britain, Little more however was heard of these clubs. The 

year closed with Bourassa again attempting to demonstrate that Nationa- 
lism was acceptable to Laurier. But few would be deceived that the 
alleged offer of uncontested seats in the federal House to tliree Natio- 
nalist leaders in 1908 was anything more than sound party tactics on 

Laurier' s part, without committing himself in any way to their move- 


Bourassa 's four year tern in the only rVench-sneaking 


See Rumilly, XIII, pp. 176-79 for a record of some minor interventions 
by Bourassa in the elections of 1908; also Le Nationaliste, July 12, 
1908, as reported in the Canadian Annual Revie'.v , 1908, p. 213, "iVe have 
no reason to believe that '.r. Bourassa proposes to take part in the 
Federal contest, but we are also of the opinion that many of his par- 
tisans will find Sir IVilfrid Laurier's conversion too late and too 
interested. iVe would not, in fact, be at all surprised to see many of 
LIr. Bourassa 's partisans make com.'non cause a^iainst Sir Wilfrid's can- 
didates at the coming elections", Lavergne -too "s.s said to be more 
active against Laurier, 

See Canadian Annual Review , 1908, p, 37S. 
As renortad in ioc. cit. 

legislature in North America proved a deep disappointment to him. He 
and Lavergne, with their Conservative allies, made little impress on 
the entrenched Gouin government. Clearly, the most effective appeal 
of the Nationalists was made outside the legislature, to the public 
directly. It could scarcely be otherwise when Bourassa was determined 
to dissociate the movement from such existing formal organizations as 
parties, and give it no continuing formal structure of its own. Speaking 
tours, by-elections, and newspaper articles v/ere an inadequate basis on 
which to seek public confidence on any large scale. The general indict- 
ment of party politics, and refusal to accept administrative responsi- 
bility, set limits to the further political advancement of Nationalism, 
although these factors had not unduly hampered its growth thus far. By 
blocking the development of organization, such factors did, however, 
reinforce dependence on ideological elements and emotive appeals, and 
led to an unstable pattern of political action. 

Instability was illustrated in the next few years when the 
Nationalists resumed their anti-imperialist struggles in relation to the 
"German Peril", and to the decision of the Canadian government to begin 
building a Canadian navy. During this period the newspaper, Le Devoir, 
was launched; an alliance was formed between the Nationalists and the 
Quebec federal Conservatives; a violent Nationalist campaign against 
the Laurier government was waged throughout 1910 and 1911, contributing 
to the defeat of the government in the general elections of 1911; and a 
large Nationalist delegation was elected to the House of Commons. Lack 
of organization, and the failure of Nationalist leaders to take respon- 
sibility, led to the collapse of the Nationalist group and its absoi^jtion 

for tho most part, by the Conservative party. Nationalism hence- 
forth was to have little significance as an electoral force although 
the ideas, convictions, and prejudices which it enbodied were wide- 
spread. An account of this period follows. 


The maxinium streng-th of Nationalism as a political movement 
was developed between 1909 and 1912 in opposition to the sovernment ' s 
policy of providing for Canada's part in the naval defence of the 
Bnpire. This policy was closely related to changes in the European 
balance of power. It was designed to counterbalance, within the frame- 
work of the British Qnpire, the new military and naval power of Germany, 
^ich was rapidly expanded on the basis of modem industrialism and 
under the stimulus of imperial rivalry in politics and conmeree. By 
1910 it was evident that Germany had the will and capacity to compete 
with Great Britain for mastery of the seas; to challenge the supremacy 
upon which the life and security of the whole Qnpire was thought to de- 
pend. The movement to reorganize and expand the military and naval 
power of the Einpire, which had been active during and since the South 
African War, was given new urgency. 

During 1909 evidence of concerted effort on behalf of imperial 
defence was plain. On March 16 of that year, a deep impression was 
created throughout the Qnpire with the announcement by the First Lord of 
the Admiralty of major increases in naval estimates to cover the construc- 
tion of four new dreadnoughts — a number increased to eight within a few 
months. In Australia and New Zealand an agitation arose for a naval 
policy, and the latter colony cabled the offer of a battleship for the 
Imperial Navy, The Canadian Parliament on llarch 29 passed without divi- 
sion a resolution, agreed upon by leaders of both political parties, 
affirming the desire to extend Canada's role in Einpire defence, and 
declaring in favour of a Canadian naval service "in co-operation with 


and in close relation to the Imperial Navy . An Imperial Press Con- 
ference, the first of its kind, was convened in London by mid-summer, 
and newspapenaen from all corners of the Linpire were acquainted with 
questions of defence and other imperial interests. Two Canadian 
Cabinet Ministers attended the Special Conference on Imperial Defence 
in London in July 1909, and received from the Admiralty a L'emoi-andiun 
outlining suitable components for "distinct* Dominion fleet units 
capable of ready integration with the Imperial Navy. Uniform standards 
of Militia training were proposed. The Conference proceeded upon the 
principle of local autonomy in control and development of military 
forces during peace with provision for unified command during war. 
Towards the end of the year it was known that the Canadian Government 
was preparing legislation to create a Canadian navy, and late in 

December the Minister of Finance announced a ten-fold increase in l.'aval 

estimates for the year 1910-11, to a total of |3, 000.000. 

Newspapers in Canada reflected the diverse character of 

public reactions to Imperial problems. The Canadian Annual Review for 

1909 emphasized the division of opinion along three lines: two large 

and vocal groups, one of which favoured an immediate start upon a 

Canadian Navy available for Empire defence, while the other demanded an 

emergency gift of one or more dreadnoughts to the Imperial Navy, pending 

a more permanent Canadian policy. The third and smaller group advocated 

caution, emphasized problems of autonomy, or favoured no action at all. 

Upon the whole, the newspapers of large circulation in Toronto, Montreal, 

and Winnipeg took the lead in supporting an extended naval role for 

Canada, although this was not true of the largest French-speaking daily, 

I ~ 

House of Coimons Debates , L^arch 29, 1909; Canadian Annual Review , 1909, 
pp. 46-48, 90. 


La Fresse , of Montreal, By the end of the year, however, the French- 
speaking Liberal newspapers were favourable to the government's policy. 

Opposition was most prominent among a number of fanners' 
societies, labour unions, peace societies, university professors, and 
religious groups. Mr. E, C. Drury, Master of the Dominion Grange, pro- 
tested against the government's "unwise and unpatriotic" defence policies 
as obstacles to social reform and economic development; the Trades and 
labour Congress through its President, Alphonse Verville, 1.1. P., denounced 
a naval policy that allegedly committed Canada to militarism and warfare 
in Europe, and joined the leaders of the Grange in demands for a ref erei - 
dum; Mr. Goldwin Smith in his paper, the Weekly Sun , objected to the pro- 
posed shift of policy on anti-imperialist grounds, and because of possible 
adverse effects on Canadian-American relations as well as relations be- 
tween French and English-speaking Canadians, and for the burdens a new 
defence policy would impose on farmers and labourers. On November 8, in 
Montreal, Mr. Monk delivered a speech stating his belief that Canadians 
were under no obli -ation to defend other parts of the Qnpire, and expres- 
sing doubts as to the usefulness of a navy for local defence at the pre- 
sent time. He stressed the dangers to self-government which he believed 
lay in a military consolidation of the Ehipire, and demanded a referendum 
before any naval policy be implemented. In December, Olivar Asselin 
published in English a pamphlet dedicated to "the great English race", 
A Quebec View of Canadian Nationalism , setting forth the best statement 
until then of the Nationalist doctrines relating to defence, minorities, 
and social and economic questions. 

On the whole, French Canadian Liberals acquiesced in the 
government's policy, and gave their party loyal support; French Canadian 


Conservatives, however, under U!r, Monk's leadership separated from 
their national party on the naval issue to form the core of opposition 

to any naval policy which implied Canadian participation in the Elnpire's 

wars. With this latter group the Nationalists joined forces. They al- 
ready had established friendly associations, it will be recalled, with 
the provincial Conservative party, and had helped to double its repre- 
sentation in the Legislature at Quebec in 1908. 

On January 12, 1910, Sir »?ilfrid laurier introduced the Naval 
Service Bill, providing for the construction in Canada, if possible, of 
five cruisers and six destroyers, and for the creation of a voluntary 
naval force, and voluntary reserve. The naval service was to be under 
the control of the Canadian government, which was empowered to place the 
force at the disposal of the British government under emergency conditions, 

subject to the summoning of Parliament within fifteen days. To a question 

whether "war" meant war anywhere involving the Empire, Laurier replied: 

War everywhere, lilien Britain is at war, Canada is at war; 
there is no distinction. If Great Britain, to which we are 
subject, is at war with any nation, Canada becomes liable to 
invasion, and so Canada is at war. 

Mr. Borden expressed concern lest the necessity for securing 
parliamentary approval before active intervention in:;plied complete inde- 
pendence, and urged the creation of imperial machinery to give every 

self-governing Dominion "a voice in the control of war* as the necessary 


condition of shared responsibility in defence. 1,'r. fJonk, denyinjr that 

Canada need enter into British wars, clung to the principle that respon- 

sibilities in defence could grow only with increased control oveR, 

I ^*^ 

See the Canadian Annual Review, 1909, pp. 90-111. 

House of Commons Debates , January 12, 1910, p. 1735, 

Ibid., January 12, 1910, p. 1743. 


treaties, alliances, diplomacy, and policies. 

Discussion in the House on the principle of the Bill lasted 
from February 3 to March 10. During this time, Mr. Borden objected to 
the inadequacy of the proposed Naval Service, complained of the possi- 
bility that the Service might not be placed immediately under unified 
command in the event of war, and moved an amendment favouring a finan- 
cial contribution by Canada to meet the cost of two battleships for the 
Imperial Navy, with the proviso that no permanent policy be determined 

until *it has been submitted to the people and has received their appro- 

val", I.!r. L!onk moved an amendment to Ur, Borden's motion to the effect 

that in so far as the Bill changed the relations of Canada to the Snpire, 

its principle should be submitted to the people in the form of a plebi* 

cite. Ke asserted that whether it was said Canada was arming for its 

own protection, or was making a contribution to the British Navy, the 
practical consequence would be the same -- participation in war as a 
matter of course. The Hon. lir. Rodolphe Lemieux defended the govern- 
ment's Lieasure, stressed the importance to Canadians of defending the 
English market, asserted that British supremacy was vital to the liber- 
ties of minorities, and emphasized the stake of French Canadians and 

their clergy in the imperial power of Great Britain. 

In most of these discussions, the basis of Canadian defence 

I ' ~ 

Ibid ., February 3, 1910, p. 2991. 

Ibid., February 3, 1910, p. 3022. Vjt. Monk's motion received 18 sup- 
porters; ivlr. Borden's, 74. The Bill passed second reading on March 
10 (118-78) and third reading on April 20 (111-70). 

Ibid., February 3, 1910, p. 3023. "It is to the interest of the French 
Canadian citizen, whether he be a layman or a priest, and especially a 
priest and bishop of my own church, to fight for the maintenance of 
British supremacy in order to maintain the rights, the privileges and 
the franchises which were obtained from the patriots of the British 
Parliament in 1774". 


policy was made to rest not merely on Imperial security, but on 
British naval supremacy. This was supported by the widest possible 
variety of appeals to interest, loyalties, and sentiments. The ques- 
tion of shared control of imperial policy was frequently raised, prin- 
cipally by leaders of tho Conservative opposition, but at that time was 
clearly of secondary importance. Both Sir Wilfrid Laurier's proposal 
of a Oanadian navy, and Mr, Borden's policy of a financial contribution, 
were consistent with the desire to postpone considering any new plan 
for an explicit role for the Dominions in shaping imperial foreign policy. 
Each would await future events to determine the political and constitu- 
tional issues involved. 

The structure of these party policies influenced the form of 
Bourassa's opposition. He insisted on the fact of an underlying politi- 
cal and constitutional revolution thinly marked by temporizing party 
policies; raised the moral question of going to war without responsibility 
for the preliminaries, or subsequent terms of peace; and generally denied 
any threat to British naval supremacy, or denied that British supremacy 
was vital to Canadian interest in view of the geographic position of 
Canada and of her primary security within the American defensive system, 

Le Devoir published its first issue two days before the 
Naval Bill appeared in Parliament, and embarked immediately on an inces- 
sant campaign against the measure. Through its polemics on the menace 
of militarism and imperialism, its attacks on the alleged influence of 
the Governor-General in shaping Canadian policy and in securing a bi- 
partisan approach to imperial affairs, its steady denunciation of 
Laurier's politics of power through compromise with whatever forces 

pressed most urgently at any time, and its demands for a plebiscite 

before a policy be decided, it soon became the most imr)ortant single 

source of opinion hostile to the government. Its success as a news- 
paper was guaranteed, though the collapse of Netionalism in 1912 

created a severe financial crisis and necessitated re-organization. 

The Nationalists, Bourassa declared on several occasions, 

had no objection in principle to a Canadian fleet, though they did not 

believe it opportune. Their fundamental objection to the present 

scheme was that it enabled the Cabinet to place the fleet at the dis- 
posal of Great Britain. It would be too late for Parliament, meeting 
within fifteen days, to recall the ships. He interpreted the enabling 
word "may" to mean "shall*, which meant the government had no choice 
but to place the naval service at the disposal of His Fiajesty in case 
of emergencies. Naval units, because they moved about on the high 
seas, were likely to become engaged in battle, and be a constant tempta- 
tion to Canadians to intervene in distant Empire wars. After urging 
throughout February and March his demands for a plebiscite on the ground 
that "No national policy can be decided without the agreement of both 
races , and in this instance given by special procedures, he turned in 
April to contend that the Senate should reject the Bill, The Senate, 
he argued, must take account of the fact that a new principle was intro- 
duced in Canadian imperial relations and even though it accepted that 

I ^ ;; 

See Le Devoir, January 13, 1510, "Sur le bord de I'abime"; January 17, 
"Laurier et Chamberlain: la fin d'un legende"; rebruary.9, "li, Laurier 
et I'Histoire i^omaine-Centralisation et Autonomie"; February 10, *1J, 
Laurier se noque de 21, Laurier"; February 12, "Ce que veut dire 1 'article 
18: May-Shall"; April 1, "Pourquoi le Senat devrait rejeter la loi sur 
la marine", 

See Le Devoir, Ses Promesses d'Avenir, Ses Conditions de Survie, 
(Montreal, 1920), po. 20, ff, 

See Le Devoir, February 7, 11, 12, 14, 1910, 


principle, it must suspend the opei-ation of the Bill until the people 

had clearly spoken on it. He seemed also to be exploring opportunities 

for collaboration with Conservatives, as when he charged them with in- 

sensitivity to ""new horizons* in Canadian politics. Conservatives in 

England, he said, kept their party flexible and fresh by taking over 

radical ideas, and by alliances even with former foes went forward with 

the new forces of the nation. 

Nationalist orators, increasingly joined by Quebec federal 

and provincial Conservatives, toured the province of Quebec from the 


beginning of the year to its close. On one occasion, P. E, Blondin, 

who eighteen months later was to enter Mr. Borden's Conservative 

Cabinet, was reported to have urged a French Canadian party which would 

seek a balance of power position in the Houso of Commons, A year later, 

lulr, Heroux in Le Devoir of August 9, 1911, appealed for a bloc of 25 

to 30 Independents to defeat the imperialist designs of both parties, 

A resolution passed at St, Eustache on July 17, 1910, when the Naval 

Bill had already passed through Parliament, summed up the Nationalist 

position: a policy of peace and economic developmont, defence of the 

Crown in Canada, and opposition to any new policy tending to commit 

Canadians to distant wars so long as they did not enjoy sovereign powers. 

Throughout the year, public discussions of a number of questions 

dealing with relations of French and English-speaking Canadians added 


Ibid ., ^ril 1, 1910. 

Ibid ,, April 21, 22, 1910. 

Prominent among them were Liessrs, Lavergne, Asselin, Blondin, Rainville, 
IJarcil, Foumier, Prevost and Coderre. See Le Devoir beginning with the 
issue of Way 30, 1910 and extending through November, for editorial com- 
ments and accounts of public meetings, 

See the Canadian Anmial Review, 191C, p, 187, 


to the tensions arising from the Naval and Imperial issues. In 
January, the first congress of representatives of the quarter million 
French-speaking minority of Ontario met at Ottawa to concert efforts 
in pressing for official recognition and inprovement of bilingual 
schools and classes. An Educational Association v/as established, the 
newspaper ^e Droit was founded at Ottawa, and resolutions embodying 
the educational objectives of the congress were placed before the 
Ontario government in February, Opposition arose immediately; some 
organizations, for example the Toronto Board of Education, asking for 
a total prohibition of French language instruction in Ontario schools, 
Dr, Fallon, newly appointed Koman Catholic Bishop of the diocese of 
London, Ontario, which included large numbers of French Canadians, 
placed himself on record as opposed to bilingual education, and was 
denounced by Nationalists and others as an enemy of the French tongue, 

^he transfer of Archbishop Gautier from the diocese of 
Kingston to Ottawa further exacerbated feelings of a mixed racial and 
religious chai-acter. In Le Devoir of July 19, Bourassa characterized 
the rumoured appointment a "regrettable choice , an irritant to the 
large French Canadian majority of the diocese, and likely to produce 
"profound repercussions* throughout Catholic Canada. Usgr. Gautier, 
it was said, absurdly enough, was French in name but Irish and Scottish 
in descent and English in language and mentality, a background making 
difficult "intimate contact" with the faithful of the diocese, and 
raising the suspicion that the appointment was only another step in the 
direction of Anglif ication. With many, Bourassa said, in words more 
fittingly applied to himself, "the voice of the blood speaks sometimes 
louder than religious sentiments , 


Finally, at the Eucharistic Congress held in Montreal in 
September, the Archbishop of IVestminster, Usgr. Bourne, expressed the 
opinion that the future of the ^oman Catholic Church in Canada depended 
largely on the extent to which Catholicism and the English language 
were allied. Especially did he believe this true of Western Canada. 
Answering the prelate the same evening in Notre Dame Church in one of 
his most eloquent speeches, given extemporaneously, Bourassa defended 
the thesis that the best safeguard of the faith everywhere was the mater- 
nal idiom, A number of English-speaking Catholics, he believed, had 
become apostles of imperialism, hoping to extend the influence of the 
Church throughout the Eoipire by means of a common language. 

These irritating questions of nationality, together with the 
Naval issue, developed in Stuebec a more aggressive Nationalist leadership 
and sentiment in which racial feelings were prominent. 

During the year opinion in Quebec undoubtedly began to turn 
in favour of Bourassa and Nationalism on the one hand, and LIr, Uonk and 
the dissentient Conservatives on the other. Dramatic and unmistakeable 
notice of this weakening of Laurier s position and of the Liberal party 
in the province was given in the results of a by-election held in 
Drummond-Arthabaska on November 3, 1910. This constituency, once held 
by Laurier himself, was considered a Liberal party stronghold. For the 
past twenty- three years it was represented in turn by Armand Lavergne's 
father and uncle, close friends of l«.urier. The appoinlanent of lar, 
Louis Lavergne to the Senate opened the constituency to a test of the 
government's policies and of the strength of the Nationalist challenge 
to them. The Nationalists sponsored a local fanner, Arthur Gilbert, a 
Liberal with Nationalist sympathies. The Liberal party chose as their 


candidate a lav/yer, J. E, Perreault, one of the orators at the 

Nationalist assembly of 1902 at Drummondville. Orators from every 

corner of the province converged on the constituency. Conservatives 

joined the Nationalists to embarrass the government, Gilbert won the 

election by a majority of 207 votes, a victory v/hich demonstrated the 

mounting strength of the Nationalist movement, and heid a profound effect 

upon opinion in Canada. For the Conservative party, Gilbert's victory 
appeared as the first real indication that it was possible to break the 
hold of lAurier in his home province. This could be done by exploiting 
the doctrines and sentiment of Nationalism, and the Conservatives were 
able to do this, not only in Quebec but also in English-speaking Canada, 
after the early months of 1911, when the terms of a reciprocity agree- 
ment with the United States were announced by the Liberal govemraont. 
It was then possible to encourage the Quebec Nationalists in their fears 
of British imperialism with reference to Laurier's Naval Bill, and to 
raise a storm of nationalist sentiment in English-speaking Canada 
against the dangers to British connection and to the Canadian economic 
structure contained in l«.urier's reciprocity arrangements in the United 

Less than a year after the Druimnond-Arthabaska test, the 
government was defeated in general elections on the twin issues of the 
Naval Bill and the Reciprocity agreements. In Quebec a total of twenty- 
seven Nationalists and Conservatives were elected on September 21, 1911, 

after a campaign in which the two groups pooled their resources and 

agreed not to onpose each other s candidates. This victory proved to be 
I ' ^^ 

See Arr.and Lavergne, Trente ans de vie nationale , pp. 153-176 for the 

views of one of the participants in the stru-g.^^le, 

For reports of meetings and for editorial comments, see Le Devoir 

between Way 30 and September 30, 1911, 

a bitter disappoinlment to the leaders of the Nationalist movement, 
when those whom they had helped to elect, for the most part Conserva- 
tives, proved unable or unwilling to naintain the balance of power 
position they were evidently meant to play in the new Parliament, and 
were either absorbed directly into the Consein/^ative carty, or forced 
into obscurity or retirement. The story of this Nationalist-Conservative 
alliance may be told briefly to illustrate Bourassa's views on political 
methods, and to suggest the extent of the Nationalist influence at the 

Conservative party opposition to the Liberal party in the 
province of Quebec in 1911 was organized in two wings; the one known as 
the "true Conservatives, the other as the Autonomists, The former con- 
tested the English-speaking constituencies of the Eastern Townships, 
along with Pontiac and Argenteuil, and three electoral divisions of 
Montreal; that is a total of twelve constituencies. The latter group 
was headed by the federal leader of the French Canadian Conservatives, 
Mr. F. D. Uonk, and composed of French-speaking candidates who contested 
the remaining fifty-one constituencies, allowing two seats to go to the 
Liberals by accianation. This division of effort in Quebec appeared to 
be by agreement at the highest levels of the federal Conservative party, 

and was related to the dissent of ur» l^onk and his followers from the 

naval policy of both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and L!r. Borden, Each wing ope- 
rated in Quebec with its own headquarters, committees, and organization, 


See Le Devoir , i^ay 26, 1913 in which Bour^ssa tells of ^r, Uonk's re- 
quest that he be aided in a public cmsade against the Naval Bill, 
Bourassa finally agreed to campaign in 1910 on condition that ilr. ]Jonk 
cut himself adrift from any attachment to the ultra-imperialist sections 
of the Conservative party. This was agreed upon and a strenuous cam- 
paign was begun which opened at St, Eustache and continued through the 
Drummond-Arthabaska by-election in November. 


and kept the exclusive control of its own field. Electoral funds 

were supplied both wings by the parent organization, and everything 

possible was done to ensure thoir separate successes, ■'■he I^ationalists 

supplied ideas, enthusiasm and popularity; organization and money cane 

from Conservative sources. 

There were no Nationalist candidates as such, but it becane 

common practice to refer to Llr. Monk's Autonomists as Nationalists, 

al-though it should be understood that party organization was entirely 

created and maintained by LIr. '.lonk, and was in effect the continuing 

organization of French Canadians in the Conservative party in Quebec, 

All candidates, however, who appeared under i-i*. lilonk's banner had first 

won the approval of the Nationalist leaders; that is of Mr. Bourassa for 

the Montreal area, and of, lAvergne for the Quebec City area, and to 

this extent they may be considered to have been nationalist candidates, 

t^ny had participated in the Nationalist-Autonomist anti-naval crusade 
of 1910. They were all pledged to solidarity on one course — to work 
for the repeal of the Laurier Naval Bill, and to demand a plebiscite 
before a naval policy be adopted by any future government. On the reci- 
procity issue, which became a major part of the electoral contest 


See Ibid ., ^^y 29, 30, 1913. 

In all the constituencies under Ur. Honk's direction, candidates were 
pledged to Nationalist principles concerning the Naval Bill and future 
naval policies. They styled themselves as Autonomists, Independents, 
and in some cases Nationalists. N'one ran as Conservatives, All demanded 
help from Bourassa and Lavergne. The "most pathetic entreaties and 
professions of faith came from Joseph Rain'vrille and L. P. Pelletier", 
(Le Devoir, May 30, ff. 1913). Lavergne in Trente Ans de vie nationale 
states that he vetoed a namber of candidates! among theo, T, C. Casgrain 
and T. Llarechal (pp. 194-8), *We were the absolute and recognized 
masters of the situation", (p. 194), His views must be discounted but 
are of interest. "Coming towards us we saw the opportunists, the un- 
scrupulous and the humbugs, those urtio sensed which way the wind was 
blowing . . , we will not forget the old Bleus ... who now thre^ off 
all restraint ... showing themselves more Nationalist than ourselves", 
(p. 182). 


elsewhere, the Nationalists were left free to adopt whatever course 

they wished. 

Neither Ur. Bourassa nor Mr, leverpne became candidates 

although each undertook exhaustive platform and press campaifpis in 

the interests of Mr, Monk's group, Bourassa went also into two Ontario 

constituencies (Algoma East and Nipissing) to support the election of 

the Conservative candidates there, both of whom were anti-reciprocity 

in policy and had taken a pledge to demand a plebiscite on the naval 

policy. In the vanguard at these public meetings were Wessrs, IJantel, 

Coderre, Blondin, Sevigny, Paquet, Rainville, Lesperance, and Patenaude, 

They had steadily drifted into an independent position, opposed both to 

Laurier and to Borden, This proved to be a temporary aM untenable 

position and was easily overrun by the Conservatives once victory had 

been won in the 1911 elections, 

Bourassa s account of his negotiations of 1911 with the 

Conservatives was given two years later in the issues of Le Devoir of 

May 29, 30, and June 2, 1913, Two leading Conservatives, he wrote, 

approached him to arrange a coalition of forces against tho Liberals, 

They insisted that it was essential from the Conservative viewpoint 

that both they and the Nationalists should unite vigorously against 

reciprocity, vrfiich they hoped to make the predominant issue. If this 

could be arranged, then some satisfactory solution would be found to 

the naval question, especially since the 'Conservatives were prepared to 

meet the Nationalist demand for a plebiscite before any permanent naval 

policy would be given effect. It was essential to get united opposition 

to reciprocity, however, lest the Conservatives lay themselves open to 

I '■ 

Le Devoir, Liay 27, 30, 1913. 


"the charge of playing a double game in supporting the anti-iJaval Bill 

candidates of Quebec, only some of whom fought reciprocity, while 

others were indifferent to it, or approved it. 

Mine was a decisive answer", Bourassa declared. He would 

support Mr, Monk and his group because of their stand on the naval issue, 

and he would leave open the question of reciprocity. This, he said, was 

the only ground upon which they could meet, and he recorded that the 

elections v/ere contested "according to our terns": 

Not being a party, we will not bring forward any candidates, 
but we will heartily endorse any man, whether Liberal or 
Conservative, Pro-Reciprocity or Anti-Reciprocity provided 
he pledges himself to resist any plan of direct or indirect 
participation in Imperial wars outside Canada, or at least 
oppose such measures until submitted to the popular verdict 
by way of a plebiscite: the welfare of either party is of 
no concern to us , , , 

Bourassa s neutrality to the proposed reciprocity agreement 

was compounded of diverse factors. In itself, reciprocity with the 

United States was welcomed by him. It promised relief from the system 

of imperial preferences, it provided adequate protection for Canadian 

manufacturers, and it was designed to advance the economic development 

of the farming coramxunity, and of Canada in general. There can be no 

doubt that under different circumstances, he would have given positive 

support to the proposals. The necessities of practical politics, however, 


See Lo Devoir, May 29, 1913, "If iir. Laurier and his clique , . , were 
satisfied with saying that Mr, Borden and the Conservative party, in 
order to reach power, made overtures to the Nationalists and were com- 
pelled to stibmit to the conditions Imposed upon thorn by our attitude, 
tliey would stay within the bounds of truth. If they added that once in 
power, the Conservatives had hastened to break loose from their engage- 
ments, and that they have succeeded through the weakness and the treason 
of three of the ministers and of a dozen Conservative members who have 
openly broken their pledges to the Nationalists and to the electors, 
they would still be ri[;ht," 

See articles in Le Devoir, February 3, 21, and March 6, 1911; also La 
Convention DouaniSre entre le Canada et les Etats-Unis; Sa Nature, Si's 
Consequences (Montreal, 1911), 


dictated another course. 

In the first place, he had a lively fear that after the 
Nationalist success in the Drumraond-Arthabaska by-election the Nationa- 
list-Autonomist alliance would be exposed as never before to absorption 
by the Conservative party. He believed that f-Ir, Borden had begun the 
process by an evolution towards the position taken by the I.'ationalist 
leaders, and by Llr, L'onk. The latter was being treated with "indecent 
civility*, and friendliness was being shown to Nationalists. The 
Nationalists and Autonomists, for tactical purposes, needed some issue 
to differentiate themselves from the main Conservative party, and this 

proved in the event to be the reciprocity proposals of the Liberal govem- 

ment. From the point of view of the Liberal party, reciprocity appeared 

as a useful diversion in Quebec and in the West, where the Naval Bill 
had met with the greatest opposition. Consequently, for the Nationa- 
lists, who wished to emphasize the naval policy, it v/as in^jortant to 
prevent reciprocity from assuming undue proportions as an election 
issue. In this, they succeeded only in part, and it was Bourassa's 

opinion that the reciprocity proposals saved the Liberals from losing 

an additional sixteen to twenty seats in the province of Quebec alone, 

^0 support reciprocity would split the Nationalist forces 

and might result in the return of the Liberals to power, enabling them 

to establish their naval policy more firmly; to fight reciprocity 

actively would force the Nationalists and Autonomists even deeper into 

dependence on the Conservatives vrfio had assnomed the lead in opposing 


See Le Devoir , May 28, 1913, 

Loo, cit. 

that measure, neutrality, accordingly, promised to be the most 
profitable course to follow, and this was the plan adopted by the 
Nationalist leaders. Bourassa himself urged postponement of nego- 
tiations until after the American Presidential elections of 1912, 
at which time it was to be hoped a more favourable current of opinion 
would have developed in both countries. In the meantime he expected 
that concentration on the single issue of the naval policy would bring 
about the defeat of the Liberal party, and give the Nationalist- 
Autonomist alliance an adequate control over the Conservative naval 
policies, and indeed over the question of contributions to imperial 
defence in general. Reciprocity, long advocated by both parties and 
long awaited in vain, might safely be allowed a further postponement. 

In the event, the "true" Conservatives elected six out of 
twelve candidates, 7/ith results that did not reveal any unusual changes 
of party loyalty since the time of the last federal election of 1908, 

with the exception nerhaps of Brome, a traditional Liberal seat, which 

went to Ur, Baker by a small majority. The Autonomists, for their part, 

won twenty-one seats by electing twenty of their fifty-one candidates. 

Their victories, which are shown in the table below, were widely distri- 
buted throughout the province, although, significantly, they failed in 

the larger cities, Montreal and Quebec, It will be noted that they won 

with decisive majorities fifteen seats which the Liberals had held since 

They were: 
G,H, Perley (Argenteuil) G, H. Brabazon (Pontiac) 

C.J, Doherty (Montreal St. Ann's) H, B. Ames (Montreal St, Antoine) 
?,R, Cromwell (Compton) G, H, Baker (Brome) 


Mr, R, Forget won two constituencies: Charlevoix and Lloninorency, 

Data compiled from the Parliamentary Guide, 1910, 1912. 

the last general election. The other six constituencies gained by 
the Autonomists had been held previously by Conservatives. They were 
retained in the elections of 1911, with substantial increases in voting 




















Chambly & 





Champ lain 





R. Forget 



Chicoutimi & 

















Jacques Cartier 









H, Ac him 
















R, Forget 







Quebec County 









(S,DSs jardinsj;'!'rf^^^' 626 






The Liberal party still held the majority of the Quebec con- 
stituencies, but suffered a net loss over the elections of 1908 of 16 


seats. In 1911 they won three seats by very small margins from the 

Conservatives; held two seats by acclamations; made substantial increases 
in their majorities in four other cases; held a further nine seats with 

relatively minor changes, and suffered large losses in their majorities 

In 1908 the Liberals held fifty-three of the sixty-five constituencies 
in the province; in 1911 they won thirty-seven constituencies. 


in seventeen cases. Their net loss of sixteen seats, and their large 

reductions in electoral support in seventeen additional constituencies, 

constitutes a rough measure of the victory won over them by the 

Nationalist-Autonomist-Conservatives. The popular vote polled for the 

Liberals in the province of Quebec had nevertheless risen in the three 

years between the general elections of 1908 and those of 1911, from 

150,844 to 164,274. In the same period. Conservative party strength 

rose from 126,424 to 159,262. 

Increased interest in the elections of 1911 was shown by a 

change of voting pattern rather than in increased participation. Voter 

participation in Quebec rose slightly ffom 68,2/i in 1908 to 71,1% in 

1911; and remained almost constant in Ontario, being 70/, in 1908 and 

69,3% in 1911, Participation was lower in i-iova Scotia, Uanitoba, and 

British Columbia, and higher in New Brunswick, 

Of the twenty successful Autonomist candidates who had been 
accepted and supported by the Nationalist leaders, three were well- 
known Conservatives of long standing (Monk, Forget, Pelletier); three 
others had been elected in 1904 and/or 1908 as Conservatives (Nantel, 
Blondin, Pfcquet); one had previously run both as an Independent Liberal 
and as an Independent Conservative (Girard); two others were Conservatives 
defeated in provincial elections (Rainville, Sivigny); four had been 
defeated previously as Conservatives in federal elections (Coderre, 

Lesperance, Boulay, Mondou); and the remaining eight were contesting 

seats for the first time, i»othing distinguished these candidates by 

Data compiled from the Parliamentary Guide , 1910, 1912. 
Data compiled from James G, Foley, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery for 
Canada, Resume of General Elections 1896-1911 , (n,p,, n.d.). Comparable 
figures for i^rince Edward island. Alberta and Saskatchewan are not 

Data compiled from Parliamentary Guide, 1900-1912,- 

social class or occupation from other candidates in the Quebec field. 
Eleven were members of the legal profession, two were physicians, one 
a teacher, two farmers, two stock brokers, and two civic officials. 
Among them were directors and presidents of commercial, banking, 
insurance, and industrial enterprises, former members of various civic 
and legislative bodies, officers of the Canadian militia, and journa- 
lists. They were from the professional and business community where 
political leadership had always been recruited. 

These candidates clearly were not Independents; the great 
majority, if not all, had active Conservative party affiliations, and it 
could not be expected that after the elections they would act as an 
Independent bloc. They were, in any case, individually pledged only on 
the one issue of the naval policy of any future sovernmont, and by the 
time they were forced to face this issue their unity as a group had 
been effectively broken, if indeed it had ever existed. Some were com- 
promised by the acceptance of places, others by support of the govern- 
ment in 1912 on the question of schools when the Keewatin area was 
annexed to Manitoba, and others again in accepting the government's 
temporizing device in 1913 of an emergency contribution to the British 
Navy and the postponement of any permanent policy until some indefinite 
date, and lifter some unspecified form of popular consultation, Uany of 
the most prominent Jimong them later denied their affiliation with the 
Nationalists, or put a special construction upon it, Llr, Bruno Nantel, 

for example, who became I-linister of Inland Revenue in the Borden Cabinet, 

wrote to the Prime Minister a few months after the elections: 


Borden Papers, OC-47, Nantel to Borden, November 18, 1911, 


I have never been a Na-tionalist candidate in Terrebonne; not in 
1904 when 1 was defeated, neither in 1908, nor in 1911, There 
was no need for me to run as a nationalist; the electors of 
Terrebonne aro all "bleu" or "rouge"; in no way Nationalist, 

Along with his haste to be dissociated from the Nationalists, 

Mr. Nantel revealed something of the political tactics of the Quebec 

Conservatives when he went on to say that he himself had helped Bourassa 

in the past, particularly in the Bellechasse by-election of 1907 and in 

the founding of Le Devoir, in order to destroy Laurierism since he saw 

no other way to do it, "l^'or that purpose", he said, "Nationalism was a 
good device". It v/as his opinion that even as Hurler had exploited 

Mercior's nationalism at the time of Kiel's death to cripple the Quebec 
Conservatives, so now the Conservatives ought to use Bourassa 's nationa- 
lism to destroy Laurier and the Liberals in the province and at Ottawa, 
To this kind of exploitation the jiationalists had undoubtedly 
exposed themselves by being prepared to work with either party for the 
defeat of the other in order to gain certain limited objectives. They 
had shown that it was possible to contribute significantly to Laurier 's 
defeat, but they could not have guarantees that in the ensuing party 
struggles they would have their views met. It was almost certain, on 
the other hand, considering the nature of Canadian political parties, 
that dissident groups like the Nationalists would quickly be broken up 

into segments, some of which would become absorbed in the party they had 


Lcc, cit. 


helped promote to power, while others would be driven into isolation 

to endure the enmity of both major political parties. This latter 

group must then survive on intransicence and persecution, becoming 

more confirmed than ever in its principles, and heroic in its outlook. 

Bitter recriminations, alleged betrayals, and denials were 

followed by the withdrawal of leading Nationalists from the political 

arena. Bourassa tended to lay blame for failure upon the political 

regime itself, while absolving his ov/n methods of their inadequacies. 

The most prominent of these, in the circumstances, was his failure to 

play a larger role of practical leadership of the Nationalist-Autonomist 

group in the House, For this function Bourassa relied entirely upon the 

abilities of IJr, Monk, even though he apparently recognized at the time 

that Ur. Monk alone of the group could be counted on to remain firm, and 

that even the latter did not possess the energies and character which 

would have enabled him to hold the others together in adversity. In the 

face of this, Bourassa continued to prepare for his own departure from 

the forefront of political strug'^les to devote himself to the demands of 


See for exeimple, Mr, Nantel's conception of how to meet party difficul- 
ties. In a letter to Sir Hobert Borden during the Conscription crisis 
and several months before the elections of 1917, he wrote asking that 
encouragement be given the Quebec Conservative members, and remarking 
that in the circumstances they might have to run as Independents or 
"with certain reserves against the Government" but that later they 
would prove to be "good supporters", (Borden . i^apers OC-161, Nantel to 
Borden, September 14, 1917, P.A.C.). It is interesting to note that 
only five of the twenty Nationalist-Autonoraist-Consorvativos of 1911 
contested the general elections of 1917 as government supporters, and 
all were crushingly defeated, nor did any of them ever succeed in 
future general elections. The five were Rainville, Blondin, Girard, 
Se'vigny, and Gauthier, 

See for example, Le Devoir, June 3, 1913, As for the -ninisters and 
parliamentary representatives of Quebec, who after giving these pledges 
have voted for the grant of thirty-five millions — Nantel, Pelletier, 
Coderre, Blondin, SBvigny, Paquet, Lesperance, Rainville, Lavallee, 
Gauthier — they have no justif icAtion whatever, they are simply traitors 
and perjurers", 
See Le Devoir , LJay 30, 1913; and for the editorial on Mr, Monk's death, 
Le Devoir, May 16, 1914, 


his newspaper. He recorded in 1913 that he had resolved to take no 

part whatever in the negotiations procedinc the formation of the first 

Borden Cabinet, He stated that tv/o or three days after the election 

results were known, Mr, Monk asked ior an interview, and after pledging 

continued solidarity with the Nationalists stated that he would not 

enter the Cabinet unless Ur, Bourassa agreed to do the same, "I put 

him perfectly at ease on this point", Bourassa wrote, *l:r, Borden", 

he said, "cannot properly offer me a portfolio; and I cannot, for any 

consideration, enter a Conservative Cabinet". Bourassa "left for the 

country" to spare himself the sight of the fight over the spoils of 
victory and be "disinfected*, as he said, from the two months' campaign. 
He declared that he did not advise Mr. uJonk on the choice of the French 
Canadian members of the Cabinet. 

l^unberous factors contributed to the decline of IJationalism, 
Einphasis has already been placed on the movement's lack of organization, 
its opportunist alliances, and a weakness in leadership associated with 
these factors and with Bourassa 's erratic advances and withdrawals. 
Cabinet members drawn from the group did not work well in harness with 
their colleagues, and one cannot escape the impression that they were 
not taken too seriously. Mr. Borden has related in his Memoirs that he 
found Mr, Monk "extremely difficult to work with", and the French Canadian 
Conservative members split into factions, embittered by personal animo- 
sities. A relatively rapid turnover of French Canadian personnel in the 
Cabinet followed over the next decade, at times their numbers being 
reduced to one. Failure to develop strong leadership in the Cabinet 

weakened the action of the Rationalist-Conservative members of Parliament, 

I ~~~~~ 

Le Devoir, June 4, 1913. 

who undoubtedly were concerned in any case to contribute to the succeaa 
of the Conservative party as the vehicle of their own political future. 

But apart from these considerations, the most powerful factor 
weakening the Nationalist bloc in the first years of the new administra- 
tion was the Borden naval policy itself. To this should be added the 
disintegrating impact upon the movement of the half-hearted attempts 
of its parliamentary representatives in 1912 to take a stand for educa- 
tional guarantees for the Catholic minority of the Keewatin district 
when it was joined to l.'anitoba and thereby brought under the educational 
system of that province. Less than one in four of the elected nationa- 
lists voted in the end against the legislation, which in effect entailed 
a loss in separate school privileges for the Catholic minority of the 
former district. This was the first real sign of the breakdown of 
unity and of the disposition of the three French-speaking Cabinet Ministers 
to support the Conservative party, iVhen the naval question was raised 
later in the year the group was further divided within itself, 

Mr, Borden's naval policy began to develop during a visit to 

England in the summer of 1912, Accompanying him was :.!r, Pelletier, 

Postmaster General, representing the Nationalist-Conservatives, and 

chosen when Mr. Monk declined to be associated with the purpose of 

arranging for naval co-operation. The Prime Minister appeared determined 

to impress upon the British government the necessity of finding means by 

which Canada would participate in framing Imperial foreign policy in 

accordance with her willingness to share the increased burdens of Imperial 

defence. In England he found the Prime Minister prepared to reverse the 

I ■ 

Robert Laird Borden: His iMomoirs, ed. Henry Borden (London, 1938), I, 
pp, 356-64. 

stand "taken at the Imperial Conference of 1911 that responsibility 
for foreign policy could not be shared with the Dominions, He found 
Ur» Winston Churchill, i'^irst Lord of the Admiralty, much impressed 
with the emergency of the times, and he was apparently influenced by 
the preference of the Admiralty for a single navy, i.'r, Borden, after 
consultation with JJr, Churchill, determined on introducing his own 
naval policy within the context of an emergency, and he has recorded 
with what difficulty he drew from Churchill a written statement of the 
seriousness of the situation. After a preliminary draft of the naval 
emergency statement was declared "entirely inadequate" by the Canadian 
Prime Minister, another was prepared illustrating Mr. Churchill's "won- 
derful ability . This, however, was eventually sent to the Canadian 
Cabinet as a secret document, while the Admiralty memorandum which 
accompanied it, and was available for publication, proved disappointing 

in that it failed to mention "the important statement that capital ships 
were required,* 

LIr, Borden's anxiety to present Canadians with a cogent state- 
ment of emergency from British sources may be viewed from many angles, 
but its effect upon the Nationalists is of interest here. On October I4, 
1912 the Cabinet was shown a draft of Mr, Borden's Naval Aid Bill pro- 
viding for a gift of $35, million to enable the British government to 
build three of the most powerful battleships to cope with the alleged 
emergency. A permanent Canadian naval policy would thereby be postponed 
indefinitely. Except for LIr. Uonk, the Bill received the unanimous con- 
sent of the Minister, Both Mr. Monk and I^, Nantel desired a plebiscite, 

but the rreat majority were opposed to this course. Though implored" 

I ~~~~ 

Ibid., pp. 364-99, 


to remain, Mr. Monk tendered his resicnation on October 18, and was 

replaced by I.Ir, Louis Coderre, who in a subsequent by-election defeated 

a Nationalist opponent. 

An opportunity was taken to brief the press and the Leader 

of the Opposition on the nature of the secret memorandum from Wr, 

Churchill, and the question was discussed in a special meeting with the 

Quebec members on November 27. A majority of the Quebec Conservatives 

agreed to support repeal of the Laurier Naval Bill, to which they were 

in any case pledged as Nationalists, and to support the passage of an 

emergency aid neasure. Among those who agreed to give their support 

were .Messrs, Paquet, Lavallee, Gauthier, Rainville, Blondin, and Sevigny. 

Others agreed that though the measure was wise, they v/ere pledged to 

oppose it. (Boulay, Barrette, Bellemare, Achim, Guilbault), 

The Naval Aid Bill, introduced in the House on December 5, 
was accompanied by the Prime Minister's statement postponing a decision 
as to a pennanent defence policy and a voice in Imperial foreign policy, 
but announcing that a permanent place on the Committee of Imperial 
Defence had been assured a representative of the Canadian Cabinet. A 
detailed account of the ensuing debate is unnecessary here. The Liberal 
party opposed the new policy and defended its legislation providing for 
Canadian fleet units. An amendment proposed by Sir ".Vilfrid leurier was 
defeated on February 13, with French Canadian Conservatives and Nationa- 
lists voting for the government. The Bill was passed finally on May 15 
with a majority of 33, but only after the adoption of the rules of clo- 
sure. Only five French Canadian Conservative-Nationalists stood opposed, 


Ibid ., pp. 399-403. 

As recounted in ibid. , pp. 402-403. 


The Senate, dominated by a Liberal majority, refused to pass the Bill 
until it was submitted to the judgment of the country. This was never 

The net result, then, of three years of strife over naval 
defence policy was that neither I'.r, Borden s emergency contribution 
was enacted, nor was Sir iHlfrid ^eurier's Naval Service Act implenented 
by the new government. But the weaknesses inherent in the Nationalist 
group were now fully exposed. The entrance into the Cabinet of new re- 
presentatives from French Canada further divorced this group from its 

former allegiances with Nationalism, 

The outbreak of ','ar in Europe found the Nationalist movement 
divided and discredited before the general public. It was still able 
hov/ever to count on the loyal support of thousands of adherents, ^he 
most faithful followers undoubtedly were the youth graduating from the 
upper levels of the educational system, and inclined to regard Bourassa 
as more than journalist and political chief; as a leader and near saviour 
of the race. To many like Jules Fournier, who had listeradto the gospel 

of Nationalism for fifteen years, Bourassa was the prophet and founder 

of a sect. No national leader since Tardivel had met with such a sympa- 
thetic response from the instructed classes of society. He had won a 
permanent audience among the upper social classes, ;.umbers of persons 
dissatisfied with the two political parties formed a less dependable 
group around his banner. 

But the movement had reached its peak and was stagnating. It 

was unable to break out of the ranks of the upper social strata where it 

I ~ ~~ 

During 1914 IJessrs. -antel and Pelletier resigned, the fonner being 

appointed to the Board of Railway Commissioners, tho latter to the 

Quebec Bench, 

See Jules Fournier, I.'on Encrier, ("ontreal, 1922), I, p. 134. 

had finally been brought under control, ■'•'here it was held in a state 
of equilibrium, faced by orcanized hostility, indifference, and simple 
lack of comprehension on the part of many. It had not become a mass 
movement. Indeed it had never been designed as such, nor permitted to 
develop the necessary organization. Bourassa's newspaper, Le Devoir, 
was not meant for the masses, priding itself rather on its limited 
circulation (approximately 10,000 daily), its high quality, and its 
concern with ideas and superior interests of the nationality. His own 
speeches and writings, contrary to the general impression among English- 
speaking Canadians, who too often summarily dealt with him as a dema- 
gogue, or tribune, were overburdened with lengthy, careful, and often 
tedious argument, delivered in the manner of a lawyer pleading in court. 

In its conception and bearing the Nationalist movement was 
aristocratic. It was perhaps natii.ral that members of parliament elected 
in 1911 with its support would seek escape from its confining limits and 
austere outlook to drift on the more expansive and loss exacting seas of 
popular opinion. iVhen war did break out, and Canada intervened as a 
member of the Empire, an anti-imperialist and Nationalist reaction was 
slow to materialize. This was in part due to the altogether now charac- 
ter and scope of the war against Germany, but also tho the weakened con- 
dition of Nationalism in Canada, Bourassa him.self , moreover, after a 
few weeks of silence appeared to have acquiesced in Canada's participa- 
tion, and thus to have reversed the position of neutrality on which 
Nationalists had insisted since the war in South Africa, In the chapter 
following an account is given of his changing attitudes and actions 
during World '7ar I, 




Unanimity of opinion in all parts ol' the country and a 

general enthusiasm aarkod Canada's decision to participate actively 

as a member of the British Empire in the war against Goraany. During 

the first months of the war such widespread consent was untroubled by 
opposition that might have been expected from the nationalist group. 
Yet it was precisely with this kind of war in mind that for fifteen 
years Bourassa had been urging upon Canada a policy of virtual neutra- 
lity. Moreover, he believed, at least since 1912, that an Anglo-German 

war 'ffas inevitable in the near future. It is true that throughout this 

period he was mainly concerned to deny the existence of any obligation 
on Canada's part to go to war beyond her own territory, -^t it was plain 
to all that the alleged absence of obligation of a legal or moral charac- 
ter upon which he insisted, implied neutrality. He v/as fundamentally 
opposed to active Canadian participation in any wars in Europe or else- 
where in the world, quite apart from questions of imperial duty. 

Nevertheless in the beginning, ^ourassa joined his voice to the 
general chorus of approval. He immediately made explicit certain limit- 
ing conditions applying to his acceptance of participation and to the 
character and extent of the war effort appropriate to Canada. This he 
proceeded to do in late August and early September, 1914, By the end 
of 1914, it was evident that his support for the war was rapidly being 

undermined. Beginning in 1'-.'15 he moved by swift sta-es to the position 
I ___ 

For extracts from press reports and statements of public leaders of 
Church and State especially in French Canada, see Elizabeth Armstrong, 
The Crisis of Quebec, 1914-18 , (New York, 1937), Ch. 4. 
See for example, Lo Dovoir, August 31, 1912, 

adopted durinc the conscription crisis of 1917 of advocatinc an end 
to further effort on the part of Canada. In the meantime he developed 
a bitter and complex anti-war propaganda in which he seemed compelled 
to brine into consciousness and give full expression to all the doubts, 
foars, resentments, and prejudices of his compatriots. Tho most diverse 
materials went into his protest and formed a distinctive outlook upon 
the war which, although it cannot be said to have been representative 
of French Canadians in general, had nevertheless a profound effect on 
their thinking and attitudes. It provoked, moreover, unfortunate reac- 
tions in English-speaking Canada. The violence of his agitation abated 
after the general elections of Decenber, 1917, when tho Union government 
under Sir Robert Borden won an emphatic endorsation, except in the province 
of Quebec, for conscription and a supreme war effort. In that election, 
62 of the 65 members from Quebec were returned against the government. 
This striking evidence of the depth of French Canadian opposition to 
compulsion encouraged new efforts, now made on all sides, to re-establish 
the relations between the two nationality groups on more fruitful ground. 
Under this impulse to conciliation, the v/ar-time expression of French 
Canadian nationalism was gradually transformed into a more passive phase. 
Some aspects of these developments are discussed below, 

Bourassa was in France when war broke out. He had been deeply 
moved, he later revealed, by the "stirring and grandiose spectacle* of 

the French people putting aside internal rivalries to unite in defence of 

the nation. He had hoped to find in Canada a similar suspension of 

I ■ 

Le Devoir et ia guerre, (alontreal, 191C), pp. 15-17. 


conflict, and particularly that Canadian imperialists would tako no 
advantage of v/ar entliusiasms to advance centralizing measures. Un- 
doubtedly his impressions of France on the eve of war contributed to 
his early reluctance to undertake an anti-war propaganda in Canada, 

Upon his return to Canada towards the end of Aunust, he was 
faced with an accomplished fact. Parliament, meeting; in a special four 
day session, had given unanimous approval of the government's decision 
to despatch a contingent of over 20,000 jien, and had proceeded to pass 
legislation enabling the government to take the political, military, 
and financial measures necessary for the prosecution of the war, The 
statements of all political loaders emphasized belief in the justness 
of the Allied cause, and in the resolve of all Canadians to make a full 
and free contribution to victory. The opinion was general that Canada's 
active intervention v/as the more noble in that it had been dictated by 
no constitutional obligations. Few, however, had any real appreciation 
of the magnitude of the war, or of the great strain it would place on 
the unity of the Canadian people. Some thought of Canada's role as the 
giving of loyal aid to the mother country; others believed that Canada 
defended herself in defending the Onpire; and still others thought of 
France, or of the liberty of small peoples, of respect for treaties, of 
democracy, civilization, and humanity, 

Bourassa's first statement appearing in Le Devoir of August 
29, while in sharp contrast to the prevailing mood of optimism and high 
resolve running through the press of both English and French-speaking 
Canada, agreed that it was "natural and legitimate" to wish for the 
triumph of Anglo-French arms. He went on to endorse with some emphasis 
Britain's entry on the side of the Allies, 


On Septoraber 8 he made his first declaration of policy, 

settinc tho tone of the attitude to bo followed in Le Devoir, His 

editorial, later said to have been written with repupnance, approved 

Canada s part in the war, and agreed that she could not very well have 

remained aloof. Even though there were no oblif^ations or questions of 

immediate interest to be considered, it was nonetheless true that Canada 

"as a nation or as a "nation in embryo', or as an "human community* 

could not remain indifferent, 

Canada, an Anglo-i'Yench nation bound to England and to 
France by a thousand ethnic, social, intellectual and 
economic ties, has a vital interest in the maintenance of 
France and England, of their prestige, their power, and 
world-wide action. It is therefore her national duty to 
contribute in the measure of her resources and by means of 
an appropriate action to the triumph, and above all, to 
the endurance of the combined efforts of France and England, 

Other statements made during the opening months of the war 
underlined Bourassa's acceptance of active participation upon grounds 
of national duty. It was evident, however, that he conceived this 
national duty as related to interests more general than those of the 
Snpire, and that in seeking to look beyond the "imperial" aspects of 
the war, he was attempting to reconcile his present support for partici- 
pation with a long advocacy of practical neutrality. What inconsistency 
there was between his present and past attitudes, he strove to overcome 
by pointing to the special character of the war and of the Canadian 
interest in it. After "ripe reflection", and realizing that charges 

of inconsistency would be laid against him, he decided "not to write a 

single word or line to condemn the sending of Canadian troops to Europe," 

National duty appeared in a new light. In Le Dovoir of January 18, 1915, 

he wrote that he "had in no way disrerrarded motives of a general and 


Le Devoir , September 15, 1914. 


special kind militating in favour of a purely voluntary intervention 

in the interests of the Allies". About the same time he published in 

English a pamphlet entitled The Duty of Canada at the Present Hour 

embodying the text of an address, which because of the violent reaction 

that had already met his views, he had been unable to deliver before an 

Ottawa audience several weeks earlier. In this pamphlet he stated: 

In the present conflict, Canada had to consider a broader duty 
than her "imperial'" obligations. She had to think of her rela- 
tions with the world at large. The government and parliament 
having taken the full responsibility for their action, everyone 
ought, for the time being, to consider only the immediate object 
of our intervention: the free and voluntary help given by Canada 
to Great Britain, France, and Belgium, . . To suggest and promote 
all measures tending to render Canada's efforts more effective, 
and above all to help the country in maintaining its effort is not 
only legitimate, it is an imperious duty. This I have endeavoured 
to do. 

Earlier still, in a number of articles appearing in Le Devoir 
from September 9 to October 31, 1914, he surveyed the diplomatic man- 
oeuvres of the Allied powers immediately preceding the war, in order to 
stress the exclusive concern of each for its own interests. Canadians 
ought to be inspired by the "splendid egoism" of i^nglish foreign policy. 
They ought to out-grow the "childish sentimentality* and "abject colo- 
nialism* which became pronounced in Imperial crises. Tliey ought to 

insist that their foreign policy be in no was subordinated to that of 

England, It v/as clear that he had brought his Nationalism around to 

the point of accepting military burdens in Europe so long as they could 

be justified outside an Imperial context. 

His articles, howeve ■, irritated nany Canadians and had even 

Aixy 01 uanaaa ax xne rTesgnx nour; nn nuuiasa ljoqu i< t,u uo uoj.xvoi 
btawa, in No vember and December, 1914, but twice s'.irpressed in the 
of -"Loyalty and t^atriotism", U-'ontreal, i^ibj, p. 44. 

Tlie Duty of Canada at the Present Hour; An Address meant to be delivered 
at Ot te 


See a collection of these articles with appendices in La Tolitique de 
I'Angleterre avant et anres la giierre , (Montreal, 1914); also an togiish 
edition of the same pamphlet published in February, 1915, entitled The 

Foreign Policy of Great Britain. 

then provoked demands that his newspaper be suppressed and he himselT 
hanged for sedition. He was prompt to ask what would become of the 
new-found double duty of French Canadians to Britain and r'rance, if 
and when these two countries again became enemies as so often in the 
past six centuries. What if British interests required an alliance 
with Germany against France and Russia? 'fo which of her "two mother- 
lands" should French Canadian sympathies and "effective help" be sent? 
Would not the heroic words now hurled against German militarism be then 
applied against Russian barbarism? Would not the somi-religious and 
semi-imperialist press of Quebec be found digging up memories of reli- 
gious oersecutions in France, and of the dangers of Schismatic Russia 

to the Catholic faith? The burden of it all was plain enough: would 

it not be in Canada s interest to keep to the tradition of defending 
Canadian territory alone? 

But having overcome his traditional plea for neutrality by 
recognizing larger aspects of the question, and in conceiving Canada 
as a nation with "vital interests" in iiirope, Bourassa set forth limit- 
ing conditions for prosecuting the war. In the first place, in the 

interests of national solidarity, there must be a temporary truce among 

conflicting opinions on future imperial relations. Several times he 

insisted that whereas he had offered a loyal truce on this question, 

it quickly became apparent that advocates of imperial solidarity and 

imperial federation, as well as both political parties, intended to 

stamp Canada's participation with the narks of inperialism. The 

~I '~ ' 

Ibid., The French edition, pp. 22, 31-33, 
See for example, Lo Devoir et la guerre , pp. 19-20; The Duty of 
Canada at the Present Hour, rp. 9, 43, 


alleged activities of these "Imperialists", aided by party leaders, 

were made to justify Bourassa's increasing hostility to Canada's war 

effort, A letter which he wrote to John 3. Evfart lato in tho w-ar 

illustrates the course of his thinking upon its early phases: 

At the inception of the war, I came forward quite candidly 
with an offer of truce to the Imperialists, with the specific 
object of preserving the solidarity of Canada's national action 
in the war. All that I asked them was to take no advantage of 
the wave of blind enthusiasm to compromise the issue of inter- 
imperial relations , . , It was only after it became evident 
to me that the Government and Parliament, under the sv/ay of the 
imperialistic junta, had decided to turn Canada's participation 
into a decided "Imperialist Revolution" that I thought it my 
duty to denounce their game and open the eyes of the people oO 
the true object of the war policy of both parties. To still 
acquiesce in the "subordination" of all national interests to 
the "solidarity of action* which I had first accepted and sup- 
ported, would have been equivalent in my opinion to complicity 
in the game of deceipt and imposition. 

That there were important developments in imperial relations 
during the war could not be doubted. The Imnerial Kar Cabinet in which 
Sir Robert Borden sat, and the British acknowledgment that in the future 
some scheme for sharing control in foreign policy was imperative, may 
be cited as examples. But to say that all this constituted a "revolu- 
tion" imposed on the Canadian people tjy their own representatives under 
the duress of war, was not only to impute motives that could not be 
justified by the evidence; it was also to mistake or ignore the strength 

of the general attachment to Canadian autonomy. It was unrealistic to 

1 ~~~ 

Bourassa-Ewart correspondence (Private files), Bourassa to Ewart, 
January 10, 18, 1918, Also, Le Devoir April 23, 1917, "The Canadian 
government and parliament, without violatinc any principle or traditicr. , 
and while reserving all future eventualities, could have decreed the 
participation of Canada as a nation for the defence of higher interests 
threatened by the Germanic coalition. Our governors did not see fit 
to do that , , , They have persisted in stamping our intervention with ' 
the marks of British imperialism , , , It is for the defence of the 
Qnpire that we fight; it is for the recognition of the principle of 
imperial solidarity . . ," 

believe, as he did, that while interveninc in a major conflict, 

Canada's imperial relations would remain virtually unchanged, or that 

measures taken to co-ordinate the war effort must prove permanent 

imperial bonds. 

The sanction he had given to active belligerency in the first 
months of the war when national unity was at its height was postulated 
on a very moderate military contribution on Canada's part. This was 
shown, for example, in repeated emphasis on the dangers of an "exag- 
gerated" war effort, of economic disequilibrium, and in his early demand 
that an exact accounting be rendered of Canada's "real situation" so 
that she might avoid making commitments in excess of her capacity. He 
made it clear also that the most appropriate action Canada could take 
would be to develop her agricultural and industrial production in the 
Allied interests rather than follow the less responsible but more spec- 
tacular course of recruiting large armies. He was particularly insis- 
tent on the entirely voluntary character of the enlisianent progranne, 
and the setting of quotas sufficiently low to avoid all dangers of 

But this concern over exaggeration, dislocations, imperialist 
activities, and limited recroiiting, flew in the face of the general 
determination to put forth supreme efforts for victory. Such determina- 
tion was most marked in English-speaking Canada, but there was no dc^ibt 
that it was shared in French Canada throughout the first year of the 
war. Beginning in 1915, however, and continuing through the conscription 
crisis of the summer of 1917, and the general elections of December in 
the same year, a number of issues arose which resulted in the most pro- 
found cleavage along lines of nationality which the country had ever 


known, ^'or the bitterness and depth of the antagonisms accumulating 
in the years between 1915 and 1917, Bourassa shares a real responsibilitj. 
No one more than he during this time conducted a more persistent and 
violent propaganda hostile to the extent and purpose oi' the war effort. 

It is a responsibility, nevertheless, that is widely shared, 
and must be seen in the context of the long-standing, pervasive, and 
deep-seated reluctance of French Canadians to participate in any wars 
outside Canadian territory. There must be considered also the background 
of strife and misunderstanding during the preceding fifteen years as to 
the military role Canada should play as a member of the British Qnpire 
in the event of war. No intelligent preparation for such national 
crises as involvement in major wars had been possible. Nor can there 
be discounted the unfortunate effects upon French Canada of the abuses 
and humiliations which Anglo-Canadians heaped upon her, as they cane to 
believe her contributions inadequate. The mistakes and blunders of the 
government in its dealings with the war effort of French Canadians con-, 
tributed further to a weakening of their interest in additional efforts. 
Failure to deal intelligently with recruiting in French Canada was 
undoubtedly caused in part by the inability of the Prime tiinister to 
draw into his Cabinet as advisers representatives in whom the majority 
had confidence. Those French Canadians ?rtio did hold Cabinet posts from 
time to time; for example, Messrs. Blondin, Nantel, Pelletier, Patenaudo, 
and Sevigny were selected largely from prominent members of the 
Nationalist-Conservative alliance of 1911. Their present advocacy of 
active participation was viewed by many as a very great change in their 
principles, and engendered suspicion and resentments. 

Finally, a significant and immediate cause of less enthusiasm 
and effort in French Canada was tlie defeat suffered by the French 
Canadian minority of Ontario in its stru^f.les between 1913 and 1916 to 
maintain bilingual school privileges in the face of restrictive regula- 
tions issued by the Ontario government. Regulation 17 of the Depar-bnont 
of Education became the centre of the bilingual school controversy. It 
grew out of the Merchant Report of 1912 which suggested an inadequate 
facility in the English language among pupils of certain bilingual 
schools. The regulation restricted the use of French as a language of 
instruction to the first two years of school, in cases where it was to 
be permitted at all, and provided that it might be used in subsequent 
years by special permission only if the children did not yet understand 
English. This manner of dealing with the improvement of English language 
instruction proved highly offensive to French Canadians, and for many it 
became a test case for the security of the French language everywhere in 
Canada. Protest was raised especially against a provision which, it was 
feared, would confine the teaching of French, and use of French as a 
language of instruction for other subjects, to schools already in exis- 
tence, and thus effectively prevent the spread of the bilingual system 
among a rapidly increasing French Canadian population in Ontario. 

Controversy intensified during 1915 and 1916, and became 
deeply involved in war-time tensions and issues. French Canadian oppo- 
sition to the Ontario regulations was carried on at all levels: children 
fled from their classrooms upon the approach of school inspectors; 
trustees refused to comply with the law; the federal government was 
petitioned without success to use tbo powers confeiTed on the Governor- 
in-Council to disallow provincial legislation; a resolution introduced 


into the federal House in the early months of 1916 calling on the 

Ontario Legislature to confirm the rights of French-speaking children 

to be taught in their ov/n tongue, was debated at length and defeated; 

and the regulations were carried through the Canadian courts and to 

the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Strains were felt in the 

Liberal party, and Laurier was moved to suggest, as was his practice 
on such occasions, that he resign his leadership. He called the regu- 
lations "tyrannical* and "ruthless", but opposed demands for federal 
disallowances, insisting that French Canadians, in the absence of 

constitutional protection, must rely on the sense of fair play and 

justice among their English-speaking compatriots. 

Some abatement of ill feeling was possible after publication 
of an Encyclical by Pope Benedict XV in September, 1916, recommending 
conciliatory attitudes, and when the Judicial Committee of the Privy 
Council a month later declared against the main contentions of the 
French Canadian case. That certain religious minorities were protected 
in the school system undor the British North America Act, but that the 
French language was not similarly guaranteed, v/as the essence of the 
findings of the court. 

These complex struggles reached their climax as the strain of 

the war was beginning to be felt in Canada, and greatly complicated the 

relations between the two nationality groups. Against these and other 

issues and difficulties, Bourassa's anti-war attitudes may be traced in 

greater detail. ^ 


See Armstrong, The Crisis of guebec, 1S14-18 , pp. 153-59. 

Skelton's Laurier, II, pp, 472-480. 


His speech in January, 1915, celebrating the fifth 

anniversary of Lo Devoir , could have no other effect than to discourage 

enlistments and arouse resentments. "It is our duty", he protested, 

"to combat English Imperialism as much as German Imperialism", Without 

a share in imperial sovereignty, (which he would reject in any case as 

evidence of the imperialist revolution) Canadians were being reduced to 

the status of the "quality niggers'" of Virginia of the past century. 

The real interests of Canada lay in peace and internal development on 

the land of America "without binding herself body and soul to the fate 

of the nations of Europe and sacrificing the life blood of her children 

to help regulate the world's strife*. The vanguard regiments of French 

Canadians were "the French groups in the other provinces". As the first 

year of war ended, he declared against a total victory for any of the 

great Empires, though he would welcome the weakening of them all on the 

assiimption that "all races and nationalities might then develop in 

freedom . 

Three main themes thus became prominent in Bourassa s 
propaganda as he reversed his earlier stand in favour of aid to European 
and British allies; isolationist sentiment, preoccupation with domestic 
affairs, and an increasing exploitation of the peril of "Anglo-Saxon 

This new and aggressive nationalism appeared as Canadians 
for the first time appreciated the real magnitude of the war and felt 
its strains. The number of soldiers to be enlisted rose from 150,000 

in July, 1915 to 250,000 by October of the same year, and was set at 

I i 

Le 5 Anniversaire du Devoir , ^iiJontreal, Ivl^), pp. 44-5, 

Le Devoir, September 2, 1915, 


500,000 by the beginning of 1916. At that tine some 213,000 men had 

been enlisted and the rate of recruiting had begun to slacken. The 

possibility of recourse to compulsory military service in the face of 

the high manpower goals and the increasing demands of war factories 

for labour added to a growing uneasiness. Recmiting practices and 

military organization led to diffused hostility and indifference in 

French-speaking Canada. Confusions and hesitation were undoubtedly 

caused among r'rench Canadians by the Nationalist attacks on the "ultra- 
loyalty of the bishops, as revealed in their joint pastoral of September 
1914, and on the pro-war views appearing in articles of the daily news- 
paper L'Action Catholique published under the authority of the Cardinal 

' 3 
Archbishop of Quebec, Usgr, Begin. But the most serious cause of dampened 

enthusiasm v/as concern over the treatment of the French Canadian minority 
in Ontario. 

P/hen the Friends of Le Devoir held their annual gathering in 
January, 1916, it was against a background of mounting tensions that 
found French Canadians generally on the defensive, indifferent to further 
efforts, and disposed to listen to those who would best voice their pro- 
test, Bourassa s speech suggested the changed a-taosphere. IJost striking 


Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 1U2, 120. 

2 ~ 

Animosities were aroused for example by the appointment of an English- 
speaking Protestant clergyman to supervise reci^iting in the L!ontreal 
district; by a policy of refusing requests that French-speaking 
Canadians be transferred to units under their own officers; by such 
charges that French Canadians were assigned inferior posts and were 
retarded in promotions; that French-speaking units were kept too long 
in Canada with the consequence that discipline weakened and desertions 
mounted; and disappointment was felt at the refusal of the government 
to raise a French Canadian brigade, 

See for example, two pamphlets of Olivar Asselin, L'Action Catholique , 
Les Eveques et la guerre (1915), Les Eveques et le. Fropagande de L'Action 
Catholique (121571 Also Armstrong, on. cit., pp. ll^t-llS. 

was his fusion of the question of imperialism with that of the French 
minority in Ontario, and the mingling with it of a religiouE issue. 
The bitter race conflict in Ontario, he said, 'is only an incident of 
five centuries of struggle between the French and English races, be- 
tween the Gallo-Latin and the Anglo-Saxon civilizations, and to a large 

degree between Catholic order and Protestant dissent". Imperialist 

propaganda, inspired by the naling thought of Pan-Anglo-Saxonism, had 

given extreme development among colonials of the English race to an 

"instinct of domination and a spirit of monopolizing and assimilaxion", 

Anglo-Canadians, he charged, were seeking to dominate Canada to their 

own advantage and fashion all Canadians to their own image, "Our first 

line of defence is at Ottawa", he told his aiidience. "•'■he whole French 

civilization in North America is at stake and we alone can save it". 

The struggle for French in Ontario, moreover, was tho "most certain 

guarantee of our own security in French Canada", since if a provincial 

majority had a right to suppress "the French language and civilization" 

within provincial boundaries, then a national majority had a similar 

right with respect to the province of Quebec, 

Assigning this special motivation to the restrictive 

regulations in Ontario, and setting aside constitutional marantees to 

the French language in the British North America Act, Bourassa was able 

to conclude in a summation in which race, religion, nationalism, and 

I \ 

Le Devoir et la 'erre; le conflit des races , (Llontreal, 1916), p. 2 

Ibid. , pp. 11-15. 


iciporialism were all inextricably mixed: 

The peril which threatens us, which threatens the whole French 
culture on this continent, is not German militarism, it is Anclo- 
Saxon mercantilism. The insidious influence which undermines 
Catholic thought and action in America is not Ilietzchean philosophy, 
it is Anglo-Protestant agnosticism. In that way is the race and 
religious conflict related to the struggle between nationalism and 

It was a connection, he said, that he had long overlooked; but he had not 
counted on the change that imperialism would undergo in boing transplanted 
from the generous minds of English imperialists to the narrow minds of 
their colonial counterparts. In the same speech he called for a re- 
orientation of Canada's defence policy to the North American hemisphere, 

through a military alliance with the United States, T© counteract in- 
creased American influence flowing from such a step, he proposed the 
fullest development of French groups throughout Canada, But imperialism 
was leading to attempts to suppress the French nationality, and the 
bankruptcy of Canada for the security of the Hinpire would leave her ex- 
posed to American absorption. Those advocating total war were therefore 
the "worst enemies of the Canadian nationality and of the British Crown," 
The thought of many still was that Canada must be English even at the 

expense of being British, Race passion, he charged, was for then stronger 

than fidelity to the Crown, 

Throughout 1916 and 1917, this complex pattern of beliefs, 
prejudices, charges, and insinuations received such emphasis as to sug- 
gest the exhaustion of reserves of rationality in Boorassa, Yet its 

most characteristic aspect v/as the defensive attitude on v/hich it rested, 


Ibid . , p, 12, 

This question is discussed in Chapter IX, 

Ibid,, pp, 15, 36-39. 

His perspective on the war was clearly distorted. Wut it did not 
create, though it reinforced, hostility to further active participation 
among French Canadians, Insofar as his viev/s wore considered represen- 
tative of the outlook of most of his compatriots, they had the effect 
of drawing upon the lattor the prejudices and attacks of English- 
speaking Canadians, The vicious circle of exaggerations and mutual 

provocations which became established made effective co-operation impos- 

sible, and the year ended in mounting tension. 

The Nationalists themselves were divided by the strain. One 
week after Bourassa's anniversary speech of January, 1916, Asselin ex- 
horted his fellow French Canadians to enlist "as individuals* in the 
Canadian army for service in the cause of justice, civilization, and the 
liberty of the world. Though not approving of the "official" sending of 
troops abroad, he explained to a Montreal audience that he had tried to 
enrol in various capacities since October, 1914, and a year later had 
accepted the task of raising the 163rd Battalion for service in Europe, 
He believed he had risen entirely above imperial and domestic issues, 
and he urged others to join as individuals in a great crusade to save 
France from conquest and her civilization from dying. One could even 
fight for British institutions, for it was through then that the rights 
of French minorities in Canada would eventually be v.on, iie described 

I ; 

See Hier, Aujonrd'hui, Demain , 1916; Que Devons-nous a Angleterre , 1916, 
both lengthy works reviewing the whole imperial and national question in 
the light of history and documentary sources. Also Le Devoir , June 17, 
1916 for a letter to a correspondent in Paris explaining why French 
Canadians were apprehensive of a total English victory in Qarope, "The 
enemy, the permanent enemy is Anglo-Saionism", See Le Devoir , September 
25, 1916, where the British Qnpire was seen to constitute the "most 
formidable coalition of Anti-Catholic forces in existence"; and the 
issue of October 7, 1916, for an attack on the "Vicious electoral and 
parliamentary regime", Seo also Le Devoir , August 5, 1916, for a sharp 
exchange of correspondence between Bourassa and his cousin, Captain 
Talbot Papineau, who was serving in France with the J»rincess Patricia's 
Canadian Li^ht Infantry, 


himself as a Nietzchean, appealing for a more Spartan existence and 

strength through the expenditure of blood in nobln cansos, 

I sorneti^ies think that the greatest neod of our race is to 
learn to scorn life v/hen it must, to be less attached to 
its welfare and purely material comforts, to be hard on 
itself, and on occasion to be lavish with its blood. On 
this point I am more Kietzchean than Christian. Renunciation 
I look upon as a means to power for the race, I would we 
were as the Spartans, not as the Nazarenes who, like slaves, 
turned the other cheek, ^ 

Such views and counsel, and such distinctions as Asselin sought to make 
between enlisting in a crusade as individuals and as soldiers in an 
imperial force could appeal to few, and the speech was not a success, 
Asselin 's Battalion, however, was recruited, but to the general indig- 
nation, it was sent to Bermuda, 

There appeared also a sharper note ^f controversy between 
the champions of different viewpoints in the province of Quebec. This 

was illustrated in the publication of a psunphlet condemning Bourassa 

by the Abbe D 'Amours, one of the editors of L'Action Catholique , The 

Abbe proposed to demonstrate that Canada had been obliged to enter the 

war in virtue of her status as a British colony and in the face of 

dangers imposed by Germany. Her course had been both "oblige et libre 

and her constitutional position had been in no way affected. Bringing 

together Bourassa 's most outspoken statements, he characterized them as 

"rare fantasies giving rise to violent passions. The danger and crime 

of nationalism, he said, \ms 3ts inspiration in "false principles of 

I — — 

Olivar Asselin, Pourquoi je m'enrSle , (Montreal, 1916), pp, 1-12, 21-22, 
32-36, 44, The citation is from a letter to Lavergne, November 6, 1915, 
and read to the audience in the Llonuiaent Ilational on January 21, 1916, 
A few weeks earlier, it may be noted, Lavergne had been offered the 
opportunity to raise a battalion but had refused, 

du Allons-nous? Lo Nationalis me canadien, Lettres de *Un Patriota " 
publiSes d ans le journal "La fresse", augmentftos d'lino introducticg , 
d 'additions et d 'appendices documentaires. (.Llontreal, 1916 J, 


social morality and public law" exhibited in an exaj^gerated pride of 
nationality at the exj^ense of other ethnic groups, and in a false 
theory of national sovereignty. At bottom the I.'ationalist school 
seemed to the Abbe to be un-Christian ana revolutionary, ^t his pam- 
phlet did not escape a forced interpretation of Bourassa's views, 

tending also to exaggerate the governing role of the imperial authorities 

and of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in defining imperial duties. 

The Nationalist campaign against the war effort was to some 

extent submerged in the general outcry against the adoption of compulsory 

military service announced in I.^ay, 1917. Since the early part of the 

war, leading Nationalists had pointed out that conscription was not an 

evil in itself. Conscription solely for the defence of Canada would 

meet with no more objection in iiuebec than in any other part of Canada, 

Bourassa wrote in 1915, A week earlier, Amand Levergne, in declining 

the offer of the Minister of Lilitia, Sir Sam Hughes, that he raise a 

regiment in Montnagny for overseas service, intimated that if he were 

of the opinion that Canada should take part in the present war, conscrip- 

tion might be a tolerable measure. Again, in 1916, Bpurassa protested 

Ibid., pp, 2-4, 55-57, For example, to sug^^est that Bourassa demanded 
""absolute independence* and wished a "Republic of Canada" was to misunder- 
stand and misrepresent his views, 

^The Prime Minister announced the intention of the government to the House 
of Commons on May 18, and introduced the Military Service Bill three weeks 
later on June 11, Two months of debate upon the principle and provisions 
of the Bill followed. It received the royal assent on August 29, i'inal 
reading of the Bill in the House of Commons found the government with a 
majority of 58 votes (102 in favour and 44 against), 
Le Devoir, November 11, 1915, 

*Ibid., November 5, 1915. Text of letter from Lavorgne to Hughes, At the 
time Lavergne held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and commanded the 6l3t 
Regiment of Montmagny. ", . , I have always been opposed to Canada's 
participation in imperial wars. This principle is ... an absolute con- 
viction with me, liierefore I cannot assume the responsibility of asking 
Canadians to go to a war which is not solely for the defence of Canada , 
. , If the number of voluntary enlistments is insufficient, the Uilitia 
Act supplies the means of completing the ranks . , , It is needless to 
say I will obey orders, if they are given me, whether here or abroad . , 
, But such a responsibility must be taken by the Government, , ." 


that conscription would be "better than the ipioble system of spying, 

intimidation, extortion, and more or less disguised threats" practised 

by the "saviours of the Qnpire" in order to enrol 500,000 volunteers in 

Imperial service. And when conscription was finally decided upon, he 

denied that he had ever been an implacable opponent of that measure; 

I am not an irreducible foe of conscription. Upon several 
occasions I have expressed the opinion that a systematic 
measure of conscription would be better in all respects, 
than the absurd, odious, and detestable method of enrol- 
ment so falsely called ""voluntary" . . . Selective conscrip- 
tion is beyond contradiction the only rational mode of assur- 
ing the maximum of military efficiency and of economic activity. 

Not only did he hold conscription to be more just than the 

existing method of recruitment; he thought it also to be "inevitable" 

within the context of the new imperialism, manifested by the commilment 

given by the Canadian Parliament to devote "all the resources of Canada 

to the safety of the Snpire . It would be dishonest and puerile, he 

said, to denounce conscription in itself, or to inveigh against the 

public leaders urging it, v/ithout getting at the root causes rendering 

it inevitable. Conscription, he contended; 

is only the means of attaining the end which the majority 
of the nation's leaders have given us as the supreme objective. 
It is only the inevitable consequence of principles posed and 
accepted since the beginning of the war . . . 

Once the decision to participate had been taken, it was the part of 

I ~ 

Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain , 1916, pp. 105, 107. 

L'Intervention anigricaine . . » , 1917, p. 45. r'or statements of news- 
papers and leaders of opinion, and a brief account of the numerous 
public meetings held throughout the province in late May and early June 
to protest the introduction of conscription, see Armstrong, op. cit., 
pp. 167-82. 

Le Devoir, March 26, 1917; March 27, 1917, 

patriotism and of pood sense to limit the military role and to con- 
centrate on tho economic aspects of aid with a view to minimizing 
occasions of national disunity. 

If Canada had a moral or legal duty to take part in the war, 
or even if her fate were bound up with that of English arms, then tho 
Canadian government, stated Bourassa, had more than tho right; it had 
the duty of furnishing England the number of men required to assure 
victory. Should voluntary recruitment prove to be ineffective, then 
the government had the right, with the consent of parliament, to provide 
men by conscription. It could use the Militia Act, he believed, as it 

stood, even v/ithout consulting parliament, to draft men by the means 

therein provided to fill up the ranks of the armed services. 

But all this was postulated on the condition that Canada did 
in fact have certain binding obligations in connection with the war. 
For twenty years Bourassa had denied that such obligations existed, and 
it was therefore upon the absence of any moral or legal obligation that 
he built his real case against conscription. In tho end, he was only 
drawing a different conclusion from a widely shared viev/ that Canada had 
the right to participate or not to participate, and had the right to 
decide on the extait of her effort. Granted agreement on these principles, 
conscription might still appear as a legitimate exercise of Canadian 
freedom of choice. Bourassa thought it a wrong choice. 

During 1917 Bourassa tried to develop economic arguments that 
would have the "enormous advantage" of avoiding inf lamnatory appeals. 

"Serious and representative groups", he thought, could thus be brought 


Ibid., March 27, 1917. 


to oppose further effort, and in his newspaper and pamphlets he devoted 

much space to prove that "We have reached, if we have not gone beyond, 

the extreme limit of our capacity to pay for destruction." He sought 

to show by statistical means that Canada had expended about three 
times as much money per soldier as had England, about four times more 
than France, and that she of all the allies was perhaps least able to 
afford her war efforts. Similar comparisons followed between Canada 
and the United States. Canadians were urged to concentrate on agricul- 
tural production since it was food, not soldiers, that would eventually 
win the war. But economic questions were continually buried in a num- 
ber of irritating speculations on the political future of Canada, and 
"inflammatory appeals" still accompanied statements of "concrete facts". 
What is the coalition ministry of Sir Robert Borden, he asked in his 
article, "Le Canada vendu" on October 31, "if not the first born in 

bastardy of the monstrous coupling of English imperialism and American 

plutocracy?" WaS not the Prime Linister but the agent of these sinister 

forces and his ministry in effect the "annexationist ministry"? Con- 
scription in Canada was only part of the bargain struck by leading ele- 
ments of the two Anglo-Saxon peoples. No French Canadian could, with 
honour, accept a position in the Union Government, 

In the pamphlet, Conscription , published in 1917 in English 
and French, there appeared a typical mixture of appeals for a reasoned 
and calm opposition to conscripticn, and a reiteration of such charges 
that the war was, at bottom, a vast scheme engineered by the "beasts 

of prey of International High Finance". When he was warning the 

Conscription, p. 17. 

Le Devoir, October 31, 1917. See the issues of October 29, 30, for 

"L'Imperialisme financier". 


populace against demagogues and aass decionstraticns and the rantinsfl 

of the "reptile press", he could not refrain from arousing passions 

by declaring: 

He have too easily forgotten the essential character, the basic 
motive of this frightful war. When distances in tine will per- 
mit a comprehensive judgnent ... then will appear before the 
tribunal of unblinded public opinion the true culprit, hideous 
and bloody, the author of all the evil, the infamous God of Gold, 
the auri sacra fanes of the Pagan world. Racial hatred, thirst 
for conquest, and even the legitiniate claims of the people, are 
only the instruments which the beasts of prey of International 
High Finance have used to pit the nations against each other. 

To these charges, insinuations, and demagogic utterances 
could be added a host of remarks of a similar character, iiq)ugning 
the motivations and aims of the various allied nations and especially 
of Great Britain, Evidence had become irrelevant in the emotionally 
charged ateosphere. But it is unnecessary to follow Bourassa to any 
length in this direction. Ilis recourse to means such as these v/as 
unworthy of his talents and in violation of his public responsibilities. 
There is shown here, however, the character of the prejudices which at 
times possessed him and clouded his judgment. Reliance upon then was a 
measure of last resort, Thoy were an alloy which succeeded only in 
making his influence more brittle. 

Yet even in 1917 he was equivocal on conscription, appearing 
to go back to the opinion held before that step had been considered; 
namely, that conscription would have been legitimate under certain con- 
ditions. But at the present stage of the war it was too late, and 
would be fatal in its consequences. If the enlistment of troops was 

the main problem of the moment, he conceded, then conscription would 

Conscription , (Montreal, 1S17), pp. 7-10, 1j-1d. '^'his pamphlex is 
based on articles appearing in Le Devoir between Uay 26 and June 6, 

be, or rather would have been, justiTied, 

When the normal limits of voluntary enlis-tmont, really 
voluntary, were reached, military service should have 
been made obligatory ,.,■'■ 

He again argued that this would have been better than the prevailing 
recruiting methods, and he once more repeated his charge that had the 
government been "sincere* in its war aims, it should have adopted from 
the very beginning a measure of selective conscription to assure the 
maximum effort and to raise a large army without serious dislocation. 
But in the purely military order, he concluded, the time for conscrip- 
tion was past. The urgent need at the moment was not to send more 
soldiers, but to cease recruiting altogether while trying to maintain 
the present level of effort, "Naturally , he agreed, 

the actual effort must be sustained; obligations incurred must 
be provided for, but all additional effort must have as its 
sole object to stop, not to promote, the movement which is 
driving Canada to ruin. 

The formula of true patriotism thus became: "llo conscription, no enlist- 

ments : Canada has done enough," This policy he advocated in a speech 

in Montreal on June 27, 1917 demanding an end to recruiting in the inte- 

rests of national survival. 

Another portion of the pamphlet analyzed the motives which 

must have prompted the Prime Minister to change his course so abruptly 

and adopt conscription. If grave and sudden changes had taken place 

in the European situation demanding an extraordinary effort on the part 

of Canada, then the government "would certainly be justified in 


Ibid ., pp. 12, 17. 

Ibid,, pp, 12, 13, 17, 

Le Devoir, June 28, 1917. 

reversing its oft-repeated pledge of no conscription. However the 

three recent and major changes in the balance of rival forces -- the 

renev/al of submarine wai-faro, the Itussian revolution, and the entrance 

of the United States upon the conflict — did not in his opinion justify 

recourse to conscription in Canada, On the contrary, Bourassa urged, 

they militated against conscription as well as against sending any 

further contingents. The German blockade of England should be met with 

more food and supplies from Canada, not with an additional 100,000 men; 
the Russian revolution had been acclaimed as a defeat for Germany in 
that it appeared to promise a renewed military effort on the part of 
Russia; and the American intervention should induce Canadians to stop 
enlisiments, having already done proportionately more than the majority 
of the Allies. 

The last few months of 1917 brought the conscription crisis 
to a climax in a general election campaign. On October 12, 1917, Sir 
Robert Borden formed the Union Government, composed of thirteen Conser- 
vatives and ten Liberals. Sir iVilfrid leurier declined to enter the 
ministry even as he had refused the earlier offer of coalition. Since 
his opening speeches in the House on June 17 and 10, Laurier had pro- 
tested against conscription on a number of grounds: that it was a 
revolutionary break with Canadian tradition, and that it was being 
introduced by a government which had already outlived its normal legal 

liig,gj existence by obtaining an amendment to the British 'Jorth America 

I — — 

Parlisinont had met on January IB, 1917 without any mention of conscrijv 
tion in the speech from the throne. The Prime Minister left for 
England on February 12. As late as May 6 a new voluntary recruiting 
campaign was begun. Less than two weeks later, on .':!ay 18th, the Prime 
Minister announced his intention of implementing conscription, 

Conscription, pp. 31-33. 


Act for an extension of one year to the life of parliament. He argued 
that conscription would arouse such bitterness and cause such harm that 
its results would be largely negative. He did not believe that it was 
any longer possible to raise large numbers of recruits in Canada mainly 
because of the exhaustion of the available manpower resources. He 
demanded a popular referendum before conscription be enforced, i-e re- 
fused also the stiggestion of the Prime Minister that another extension 
of the life of parliament be arranged in order to avoid a war-time 

To these views, Laurier rallied the people of Quebec, and in 

early November Bourassa advised all Nationalists to vote for the Laurier 

candidates in the general elections announced for December 17. The sup- 
port which the Nationalists could give the Liberal party was not whole- 
hearted, since the Liberals had been deeply involved in the "exaggerated" 
war effort already undertaken, and if victorious, would undoubtedly con- 
tinue to expand Canada's contribution. But Bourassa had given up all 
idea of a separate campaign and was convinced that to run Independent 
candidates would only work to the advantage of the present government, 
Laurier, whom he had done so much to defeat in 1911, should now be sup- 
ported "in spite of his deplorable concessions to jingoism"*, 

A sweeping electoral victory for the Union Government (153-82) 
was marred by the division of the country along lines of nationality. 

The province of Quobofl returned 62 of its 65 members in opposition to 

I " -^ 

Le Devoir, November 8, 9, 10, 12, 1917: "«e accept the progrsiire of 
I.!r. Laurier to the extent that it meets our principles and our ideas; 
we reject it wherever it coincides with that of the ministry, 3e ask 
nothing more than to help L'r, Laurier overturn the government of 
national betrayal. But we insist that he surround himself and his 
party with adequate safeguards to prevent brigands of the Northcliffe- 
Sifton variety from ever again throwing the fold into disorder, cor- 
rupting the shepherds, muzzlinp the dogs, and dehorning the rams." 
(November 8). 

the government, while the Liberal party which it had supported was 
able to win only 8 seats in Ontario and 2 in the V/estem provinces. 
Reaction in the province of Quebec to the election results was charac- 
terized by sober recognition of new-found unity. There was general 
agreement that the apparent isolation of the province was extremely 
regrettable, but that a dignified determination to stand firm was the 
only course to follow, Bourassa at first denied that Quebtc was iso- 
lated from the rest of Canada, but he recognized a "significant" 
Unionist victory. The elections, he said, revealed the extent of the 

imperialist penetration of Canada, and he warned against false concilia- 

tion manoeuvres v/hich he believed had already begun. The elections were 

followed by a widespread discussion of the position, status, and future 

of French Canada in the Canadian Confederation, and did much to air 

grievances and relieve tension. 

Yet dissatisfaction and friction, highlighted by riots in 
Quebec City between March 29th and April 1st, continued at a high 
level throughout the early part of 1918, Interest now became centered 
on the manner of enforcing the Military Service Act, and particularly 
on the niiraber of exemptions granted by local tribunals. Opposition 
to conscription became more marked in English-speaking Canada, especially 
among farmers, and it soon became apparent that conscription was not 
producing large numbers of soldiers. 

The initial successes of the German offensive in Uarch brought 

an appeal from England for more aid, and resulted in the calling of a 

Le Devoir , December 20, 26, 27, 1917. 


For a record of aspects of this stock-taking, see Armstrcng, op, cit, , 

pp. 207-225. One of the more notable discussions was carried on in the 
Quebec Legislature upon a motion of Mr, Francoeur that Quebec offer to 
secede from the federation if, in the opinion of the rest of Canada, 
she was an obstanle to unity and progress. The debate ended in almost 
universal expressions of loyalty to the idea and fact of a united 
federation of Canada, 


special secret session of the Canadian Parliaaient, and tho cancelling 

by order-in-council of all exemptions of men eligible for military 

service between the ages of twenty and twenty-two. This, in turn, was 

followed by new evidence of a conciliatory attitude towards French 

Canadians on the part of the government, shown especially in the 

speeches of the Minister of Militia, General Mewburn, Enlis-taents 

from the province of Quebec increased, and during the siamner of 1918 

a new degree of co-operation suggested a healing of the breach between 

the two sections of the population. 

During the war there were demands that Le Devoir be suppressed 
and Bourassa interned, A number of letters in Sir Robert Borden's cor- 
respondence indicate the character and source of the appeals, and sug- 

gest that the advantage of the government lay in withholding action, 

See Armstrong, op. cit ., pp. 239-44, Total enlistments under the 
Military Service Act are cited in ibid . , p. 237, as 83,355, of whom 
19,050 came from the province of Quebec, 

See *Souvenir Addresses", Le Devoir , February 17, 1944; and the report 
of the Ottawa correspondent, IJi-nest Bilodeau, in Le Devoir, April 6, 1918, 

The question assumed importance about one month before the general 
elections of 1917, and again at the time of recruiting riots in Q\iebec 
in April, 1918. The president of La Patrie urged the provincial repre- 
sentatives in the federal Cabinet to help silence Bourassa, On November 
13, 1917, the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Justice ('..'r. Doherty) 
to consider the "inflammatory appeals" of an article, "Le Canada Vendu", 
in Le Devoir of October 31, and he suggested that three or four "able 
and active men" be added to the department for that purpose. Nothing 
seemed to come of this. On the same day, however. Sir Robert Borden 
sent a memo to three members of his Cabinet urging that the articles in 
Le Devoir be given greater publicity. He wrote: "It is impossible for 
the government to have any reasonably fair chance in this election if 
the most inflammatory appeals can be made throughout Quebec withoizt the 
English electorate knowing the nature of such appeals and the probable 
results . . ., it is absolutely criminal to pennit these appeals to be 
made in Quebec without exposure thereof in every English-speaking paper 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific." Mr, Foster replied on Noveciber 18 
that about twonty-f ive of the "most pronouncSd utterances* would be 
collected. See File IJos, OC 161; OC 103D; and OC 383, Borden Papers, 
P,A,C,, for letters from persons and organizations requesting the sup- 
pression of the newspaper. 


In siicmary, a few points may be emphasized. The qualified 
approval given by Bourassa to Canada Vt ontry into the war in 1014 had 
soon turned into opposition i'or a number of reasons, 'Jiiiei" aciong these 
was the belief that Canada had not intervened freely or as an indepen- 
dent nation as he had first supposed. He was convinced that tho burden 
Canada was assuming was too great. Particularly did he believe that 
the emphasis upon troops was contrary to the national interest. A 
heavy war burden he was sure would seriously divide tho two nationality 
groups in Canada because of their fundamentally different outlook upon 
the character and needs of the Qnpire. French Canadians could think 
only of Canada first and foremost, and would respond to military appeals 
only for the most direct defence of Canada itself, 'i'hey did not and 
could not be expected to feel the various bonds of sympathy which united 
the British inhabitants to the mother country. The greater the effort 
insisted upon by English-speaking Canada, the more would French Canadians 
feel that they were imposed upon for the sake of imperial sentiments, and 
that their voluntary efforts had been scorned as inadequate. 

The war became for Bourassa an episode in a new stage of 

struggle between Nationalism and Imperialism, He had already cone to 

the conclusion that a new era was opening in imperial affairs at the 

time of the South African War, and the years since had only confirmed his 

opinion. The major elements of his position were summarised in Le Devoir 

of January 3, 1918 in a letter to a correspondent: 

It is not the first time in the history of Canada that English 
and French Canadians have found themselves deeply divided upon 
some great national issue. So long as English Canadians remain 
more British than Canadian, tliese differences are bound to hap- 
pen every time there is a conflict between the demands of British 
In^jerialism and the resistance of Canadian Nationalism, The 


present war v/aa bound to produce antagonism along these lines. 
The only way to have alleviated tho danger would have been to 
maintain the participation of Canada within reasonable bounds, 
and especially to make it exclusively national. Unfortunately, 
under the spell of the intense iropagenda of Imperialism carried 
on for the last twenty years, our rulers have chosen to turn 
Canada's intervention in the war into an Imperial contribution. 
They also lost all sense of national requirements, and, from the 
start decided to bankrupt Canada to help the Mother Country, On 
both grounds, this was bound to raise the instinctive opposition 
of the French Canadians, wJiO, looking upon Canada as their only 
motherland, are not prepared to make heavier sacrifices for other 
countries, British or foreign, than the people of those countries 
would be disposed to make for us; nor were they v/illing to accept 
the Gospel of Imperial solidarity as sufficient justification to 
govern Canada and sap her vitality in a war for which she had no 
responsibility whatever. 

The less creditable aspects of Bourassa's wartime utterances 

reflect his despair at the seeming reversal of direction taken by 

English-speaking Canadians in the field of imperial relations. They 

demonstrate to what extent he magnified unpleasant half-tiruths , 

twisted and coloured motives and events, and underestimated the strength 

of nationalism elsewhere in Canada. Undoubtedly he became too emotionally 

implicated in wartime issues to have remained objective. The violence 

of his reaction militated against the understanding and collaboration 

upon which his own ideal of Canadian nationality, unity, and independence 





1920 - 1952 

Changes in underlyitT' conditions in the period betffoen the 
two world wars brought corresponaing changes in the I'oms and aims of 
nationalism in Quebec, V/hile no detailed survey of the several schools 
of nationalism appearing in this period can be attempted here, certain 
features of the more radical should be indicated since they diverge in 
important respects from the line of development through Bourassa, 
This chapter will conclude the historical account of Bourassa' s politics, 
and will be followed in Chapter IX by an analysis of political and social 

So little did Bourassa s own ideas change in the last thirty 
years of his life that to the more radical leaders of the generation of 
the 19 30's he appeared to have abandoned the forward posts of nationalism 
he had until then commanded. His opposition to party organisMition and to 
authoritarian state systems, the declining importance of his parliamentary 
activity, and a noticeable softening of his attitudes towards issues and 
persons, particularly after visits to Rome in 1922 and 1926, combined to 
render his leadership less attractive to the new movements. The thought 
of many seeking to extol their enthusiasm in such nationalistic circles 
as the Jeune-Canada and the Jeunesse IJationale was expressed by Andr^ 
Laurendeau, who in a decade was to become provincial leader of the Bloc 
Populaire Canadien party, favoured by Bourassa, "Asselin", he said, 
"died at Argonnes in 1916 and Bourassa a few years later at Rome", 
Public addressed given by Bourassa during the 1930 's were described by 
some as *posth\amous". L'Action Natiorale wrote of the "strange evolution" 


through which the former Nationalist leader had been going since 

1922, and suggested that Laurier's greatest victory was to be the 

posthumous vanquishing of Bourassa, Though many of the new movements 

carried their nationalism to extremes unknown to Bourassa and advocated 
fundamental economic and political chan.-es never contemplated by him, 
thoy all could claim some inspiration in his ideas and example. 

The prominent place given to social and economic questions 
throughout the period by all schools of nationalism reflected major 
concern with the industrial revolution taking place in Quebec and with 
the depression of the 1930 's, while the passing of the aggressive poli- 
tical phase of Bourassa nationalism was evidence that imperialist senti- 
ment in Canada had receded. The economic radicalism that emerged was 
developed by minor political parties. It was no longer confined, as it 
had been under Bourassa, mainly to attacks upon "excesses" of capitalist 
economy and on the dangerous influence of "foreign" capital in the pro- 
vince, and tending to subside in appeals to strengthen the agricultural, 
labour, and small enterprise sectors of French Canadian society. With 
such spokesmen of the new nationalism as Francois Hertel, Dostaler 
O'Leary, and Victor Barbeau, it was identified with full acceptance of 
industrial society and with a revolutionary desifTi to win control of 

economic life in the interests of a French Catholic civilization by 

organizing it on corporatist lines. Expressions of the corporatist 

I ~ 

See L'Action Nationale , i'Ry, 1935, pp. 257-55, "Las Conferences do :.[, 

Francois Hertel, Lour Inquietude , (Montreal, 1936); Dostaler O'Leary, 
Soparatisme, doctrine constructive , (Montreal, 1937); Victor Barbeau, 
Pour nous f-randir: Essai d 'explication des miseres de notre temps, 
(Montreal, 19 37). 


ideas ranged from the liberal conceptions of Esdras Uinville, Edmond 

Turcotte, and others, to the authoritarian and outright Fascist school 

patterned on the Italian model as interpreted by intellectuals like 

Dostaler O'Leary, 

Most important among the latter group was Adrien Arcand, who, 

beginning in 1930 published a number of small newspapers (Le Itlroir, Le 

Goglu , Le Patriote , Le Fascists Canadien ), and organized the militant 

though small Fascist Pg.rti National Social Chretien . IVlaereas O'Leary 

and others returned to the Tardivel concept of a separate French state, 

which they called Laurentie, on the banks of the St. Lawrence in order 

to achieve the intense cultural development on which national survival 

was said to rest, and to accomplish the corporatist revolution in the 

economic order and the Fascist state in politics; Arcand, on the other 

hand, believed it possible to establish Fascist corporatism within the 

Canadian Confederation. Though they thus differed on the relation of 

"Anglo-Saxons" to French Canadian Catholic culture, they were delibe- 
rately and violently anti-Semitic, treating the Jews as a "minority 
apart* to be "tolerated" but driven from the dominating heights they 

were alleged to have captured in commerce and industry, usually through 


malpractice and connections with international finance. The political 

Esdras Minville, "Lt)rganisation corporative sur le plan national 
canadien-francais", L'Action 1,'ationale, September, 1936, pp. 24-34, 
Edmond Turcotte, Reflexions sur L'Avenir des Canadiens-Francais, 
(Montreal, 1942); and the several Tracts of the Jeune-Canada. 


Adrien Arcand, Fascisme ou Socialisme, (L'ontreal, 1933); Discours- 
Programme, expose des principes et du programme du Parti National 
Social Chretien , (IJontreal, 1934). 

See also for anti-Jewish sentiment, L'Action N>tionale , Vols, I, II, 

influence of the latter was to be reduced to insignificance and the 
populace alerted to the sinister penetration through their agency 
of materialistic communism, which next to liberalism, it was said, 
most undermined the spiritual life of French Canada, None professed a 
firmer attachment to the Catholic spirit and ideals than did the 
Fascists, They exalted their Christian purposes from the viewpoint of 
their Catholicism, leaving no doubt that adherents of other creeds were 
a grave inconvenience. 

The state sought by Arcand, O'Leary, !.!enard, and others, was 
to rest, not on popular sovereignty, but on divine sanction. It was 
to be ruled in Arcand 's version by a Prime Minister chosen by the 
Sovereign and responsible only to the latter, thus exercising a *per- 
sonal, real, stable, permanent, and effective" authority. In the name 
of order and perfect national unity, political parties and liberal 
parliamentary institutions were to disappear, and a new form of elec- 
tions instituted to link the ruling few with the popular masses. The 
population was to be divided into classes according to economic inte- 
rest and organized into federations of employer, worker, and professional 
syndicates. Qnployers and workers, though grouped separately in the 
several industries and occupations, as for example in agriculture, 
finance and forestry, were to be associated in state institutions called 
corporations where they would negotiate their mutual interests and 
largely control their particular industry. This form of class collabora- 
tion was to be enforced in the last analysis by a Chamber of Corporations 
(replacing the House of Commons), composed of delegates elected by the 
syndicates in muiibers according to the social importance assigned each 


industry. The syndicates based on economic interest became the 
electoral constituencies, accepting or rejecting complete slates of 
candidates, whom they had originally nominated, subject to revision, 
however, by the permanent and appointed Grand National Council, The 
Chamber of Corporations was to give legal effect to agreements nego- 
tiated in the individual corporations, and to control the budget. Its 
functions were thus related to government of the economic order, and 
only indirectly could it influence the political government which was 
not responsible to it. The Grand National Council composed of certain 
ministers, officials, and others chosen by the Prime Minister, was 
charged with the duty of advising the government, nominating a Prime 
Minister should a vacancy occur, and serving as a final court of appeal 
in interpreting law. An upper Chamber of persons eminent in national 
affairs, and appointed for life by the Prime Minister was to serve in a 
consultative capacity. 

It was clearly IJussolini's state and economic system which 
inspired these writers, and which they modified more or less to suit 
Quebec conditions. It \7as usual to profess a more Christian inspira- 
tion than his, and to overlook his blatant imperialism. The individual, 
it was affirmed, was but a transient in the life of the nation. Hie 
status as citizen of the state was that of the child in a family governed 
by the father. In varying degrees the concept of an elite was fostered, 
and principles of social solidarity, national sentiment, obedience, duty, 
and sacrifice were championed. Special concern was shown for small com- 
merce, industry, and the farming class, threatened by international trusts, 
big industry, and unionism. Large sections of industry and natural 


resources, together with the major public utilities, were to be 
brought under state ownership. Liberal democracy spelled decadence 
and anarchy, and led to socialism and communism: Fascism marked the 
way to directed energy, political and cultural supremacy, at least 
in the province of Quebec, and order. The gaze of the masses was 
averted from their rulers to visions of spiritual beauty, moral per- 
fection, cultural efflorescence, and the Jewish peril. 

But the corporative state found other champions, more res- 
pected and influential than the declared -"'ascists. Leaders of the 
Roman Catholic Church in the province, following the lead given in 
the encyclical of Piuz XI, Quadraresimo anno, espoused a Christian 
corporatism on non-totalitarian lines. Others, like iximond Turcotte, 
sought to reconcile liberal democracy with forms of corporatism, while 
virtually all nationalist parties and the Catholic trade unions embraced 
its principles in some form. Among the most important of the political 
parties was the Parti Liberal national, formed in the early 1930 's by 
dissident Liberals led by Paul Gouin, and advocating economic and 
social reforms. Yet more important was another nationalist group rising 
from the ruins of the Conservative party in Quebec, and led by Ur, 
Llaurice Duplessis, which after forming an alliance in 1935 with Llr, 
Gouin's party under the nane of the Union Nationale party, defeated the 
Liberal party in general elections in 1936 and took power in the province. 
Even before the elections Ur, Gouin Lad been displaced from a leading 
position, and the bulk of h|s followers absorbed by the Union National) 
party. Uncompromising claims for provincial autonomy, anti-trust propa- 
ganda, social welfare and labour legislation, anti-communist legislation. 


and economic development on traditional capitalist principles, though 
with professions of loyalty to self-government in industry by means of 
voluntary corporatist institutions, have characterized the Union 
Nationale regime. 

Prominent among the features distinguishing these movements 
from that of Bourassa was the shift from external and imperial rela- 
tions to internal economic and social affairs. The same petit-bourgeoie 
orientation was given to the new nationalism. The prominence of economic 
and class factors led to definite party organization and an interest in 
gaining state power in order to intervene in social life in general. 

The indiciment of liberal democracy, political parties, 
parliamentarism, and general elections pervades also the v/ritings and 
speeches of Bourassa since the first World '»Var, and will be discussed 
in the chapter following. Like others, he attacked the capitalist 
system, isolating the "money power" as its prime evil, condemning 
speculation, watered capital, and foreign control, and calling for a 
limited amount of public ownership of resources and industries with 
increased state regulation of large-scale enterprises. He continued 
polemics on the dangers of "Anglo- Saxori' mentality and institutions, 
and on Protestantism and individualism along the lines already indicated. 

Yet in this period, as earlier, and on questions of social 
order or questions of imperialism, Bourassa was full of unresolved 
tensions. The revolutions he desired were of the heart and intellect. 
It was not the state, but charity and justice, that should expand in 
influence. It was not fundamental structural changes in the economic 
order or a new form of the state that he hoped for, but special measures 

■to guarantee the security and welfare of the intermediate classes 
of society forming the cement between the growinc industrial pro- 
letariat and the managers of large industry, commerce, and finance. 
He never entered in the path of separatism, but established his 
nationalism instead on what others came to regard as an unrealizable 
hope, a Canadian nation. Mixed admiration and distrust of British 
political institutions and liberal traditions held him from proposing 
in a definite manner either the socialist or corporatist and authori- 
tarian solutions to problems that his critique often indicated. Reluc- 
tance to expand the role of the state was reinforced by continually 
stressing the role of the Church. His concern for the French Canadian 
minorities outside Quebec was extended to include the Jewish minority 

in Quebec, and in 1934 he denounced the "wave of anti-Semitism now 

passing in the province of ^ebec*. 

The decade of the 1930' s was in its way as great a crisis 
period for French Canada as was that of the first decade of the century, 
and various forms of nationalist reaction developed. The frequency of 
criticism of the quality of the national life was remarkable, Thuribe 
Belzile's Nos Deficiences, consequences, remedes (1937) was only one of 
the more systematic of these assessments. Pessimism and disillusionment 
were frequent themes. Louis Kemon's thought that the f\iture would judge 
the race in Canada as one that "knew not how to die" was questioned by 
those who, like Liarius Barbeau, complained that the people had lost con- 
fidence in themselves and their "cultural salvation", and cared progressively 

I ' ~~ ' 

House of Commons Debates , IJarch 20, 1934, "An attack on any minority is 
a threat to all minorities , . . Beware of reactions". Yet his own 
references to the Jewish people, though infrequent, suggest to what ex- 
tent he shared the views of those whom he now accused of responsibility 
for "explosions of bigotry". See ibid,, March 15, 1906; June 20, 1906; 
April 29, 1930. 

less for their language, the crucial key to cultural defence and 
progress. The national traditions of the p re-industrial era were 
universally recognized to have lost appeal, Usgr, Camille Roy, 
leading literary critic and exponent of a national literatxure, warned 
ceaselessly of mental indolence. In political economy Esdras L'inville 
and Edouard Uontpetit were as insistent in appeals for the development 
of knowledge, skills, and attitudes essential for s'.iccessful struggles 
in the material order. !.!ost prominent was the nationalist historian. 
Abbe G-roulx, who urged an end to cultural isolation, closer ties with 
the sources of i'Vench inspiration in Europe, and the duty of a cultural 
and national renaissance. Demands to *refranchiser" the province re- 
flected a growing preoccupation with the cultural background and gave 
a new temper to all schools of nationalism. The literature for instance 
was to be "nationalized", expressing the historical experiences of the 
people and inspired by the Christian and social virtues that were 
reckoned peculiarly French Canadian, It was the same in the economic 
and political sphere. The trade union movement was to be "socialized" 
or integrated with other social classes and institutions, and "natio- 
nalized* or founded on the French Canadian group as separate from 
larger associations. Attempts to create an intense consciousness of 
the collectivity were evident in the propaganda of ethnic and religious 
solidarity, attention focussed on selected minorities, agitation against 
the alien character of the parliamentary system and in favour of a pecu- 
liarly French Catholic authoritarian corporatism, and in renewed efforts 
to retain links with the past, Yet, throughout this decade of debate on 
national aims and organization, there was an awareness among some, of 

whom Bourassa and Groulx were examples, that nationalism must be so 
developed as to deepen and expand cultural life, lest it exhaust 
itself in a sterile and shallow provincialism. 

The short period from the end of the war until about 1922, 
when attempts were made to develop the machinery and ar-reeraont for a 
single foreign policy for the Empire, found Bourassa in full cry 
against imperialism. In Le Devoir of November 27, 1919, the familiar 
lines of battle were drawn in an article "Inpfirialisme et nationalisme*. 
This he follov/ed with eleven articles on"La IJission Jellicoe", appear- 
ing between December 17 of the same year and January 3, 1920, discussing 
implications of new attempts to develop a common defence policy for the 
Hnpire. During 1920 he published a pamphlet asking his readers to con- 
sider whether Canada would participate in the next imperial war, ahich 
already had been prepared, he thought, in the peace treaties. This 
pamphlet, La Prochaine guerre imperiale, en serons-nous? was followed 
by five articles in Ls Devoir between September 7 and 11 entitled "La 
Propagande imperialiste" and a year later by a number of articles on 
the subject "imperialisme ou nationalisme* (November 8-12, 1921), In 
November 1923 two editorials appeared under the title "Petriotisme, 
Nationalisme, Imperialisme", The substance of these articles and their 
spirit differed little from that of the two decades preceding, unless 
it was that imperialism was more consciously related to problems of 
social order and less exclusively to the question of independence. 

Discussion after 1922 had to be conducted within the context 
of rapidly increasing Canadian autonomy and control in foreign policy, 
reflected in a number of international affairs like the Chanak incident 


of 1922, the Halibut Fisheries Treaty of 1923, and separate cember- 

ship in the League of Nations, and particularly in the declarations 

of the Imperial Conference of 1926 recocnizing that the older Bnpire 

had evolved into a Conmonwealth of equal states. 

Though welcoming all steps towards greater independence, 
Bourassa continued to insist on the incompleteness of the development 
in certain areas, such as the continuance of appeals to the Judicial 
Committee of the Privy Council in London and the passing of amendments 
to the British IJorth America Act through the British Parliament. IJever 
content with the declaration in 1926 of equality of status but inequality 
in functions between the members of the Conmonwealth, he charged that it 
meant that vital war policy would continue to be made in London and not 
at Ottawa so far as Canada was concerned. Nor did the Statute of 
Westminster of 1931, giving legal expression to tho new Conmonwealth 
concept, dispel his conviction that the unwritten understandings and 
psychological bonds of empire were sufficiently strong to make impossible 
a policy of neutrality in British wars. 

He re-entered the House of Commons in 1925 as member for 
Labelle to promote a "truly national spirit* and a concept of exclusive 
Canadian interest. He wanted to spread the idea of a distinctive 
Canadian nationality based in form and substance on dualism, and thus 
capable of providing cultural security and expansion for the French 
Canadian element. He came forward as a champion of national unity in 
the 1920 's when important realignments of political forces were taking 

place, as shown in the appearance of regional political parties. Such 

I ' ^ 

See R, LlacGregor Dawson, The Development of Dominion Status , (Toronto, 
1937), Chanters 3 and 4. 


were the United Farmers Party of Ontario which won the provincial 

elections of 1921; similar farmer parties in 'iVestern Canada, elements 

of which became the Progressive party represented by some 65 members 

in the Canadian Parliament between 1921 and 1925; and labour parties, 

one of which centered in Winnipeg, was represented in Parliament after 

1921 by Mr. J, S, Woodsworth. The trend towards regionalism in politics 

was accentuated during the depression of the 1930 's and evident in the 

new parties in Quebec, and in the Canadian Co-Operative i'ederation (CCF) 

established in Western Canada in 1932 by an alliance of farmer and 

labour parties, and finally in the Social Credit Party which came to 

power in Alberta in 1935, 

The appearance of new parties and groups was welcomed by 

Bourassa as signs of the end of the two-party system and of a movement 

towards a group plan of representation that would require some changes 

in the parliamentary system. For the most part during his ten year 

stay in the House of Commons he supported the Liberal party somewhat 
on the principle that it was the lesser of two evils, but he hoped to 
see develop a structure of power in which Independents like himself and 
the various minor groups in the House could hold the balance. During 
the now famous "King-Byng" incident of 1926 he gave full support to w'r, 
Mackenzie King, believing that the Governor-General, Lord Byng, in re- 
fusing the dissolution of parliament requested by his Prime Minister, 
had joined Mr. IJeighen, the Opposition party leader who took poxer, in 

a "coup d'etat". He accepted completely L:i-, icing's version of the ais- 


pute, though the question has remained highly controversial, later 

I — 

See the discussion of his political ideas in the chapter following, 
See, for example, E, A, Forsey, The Royal Power of Dissolution of 

Parliacient in the British Commonwealth, (Toronto, 1^.'43J; fT, 'iicC-regor 

Dawson, Constit'jtional Issmos in Canada, 1930-31 , (Oxford, 1933), op, 


giving it as his opinion that lir, Ueiphen had convinced the Governor- 
General that Ur, King was too nationalistic in outloolc and intent on 

breaking up the Eiapire, In the successive Throne debates and Budget 

debates he could be counted on for a review of foreign and in^ierial 
affairs with pleas for social reconstruction. He showed a particular 
interest in the i/estern members, the Progressives, and later in the 
CCF party, 

A friendship for IJr. J, S. Woodsworth, former Methodist 
minister who became labour and socialist leader in the House, rested 
on more than personal grounds. Some similarities and differences in 
their approach to social and economic problems suggest the relation- 
ship. The social philosophy of each sprang from religious convictions: 
that of Bourassa from Roman Catholic social doctrine, and of ISr, 
Woodsworth from the American social gospel movement towards which 
Canadian Methodism turned in the first decades of the century. In a 
broad sense !Jr. Woodsworth became preoccupied with problems of the 
working class and was moved to advocate basic structural changes in 
the economic order along the lines of democratic socialism, Bourassa 
was more basically concerned with the welfare of the lower middle 
classes, looking upon them as a stabilizing factor in social order, 
I'rtiile he joined Mr, Woodsworth in denunciation of modem capitalism, 
he had not reached the point of favouring drastic structural change. 
He publically defended the CCF party and its leader, llr, Woodsworth, 

from charges of communism levied against it in Quebec, statinr that 


Le Devoir, --ay 22, lv44, report of a speech by :;ourassa to a Bloc 
Populaire rally in Quebec City, 

this socialist party would be found a better bulwark against conanunism 
than its detractors. He was not fully satisfied that the CCh'' party 
could give adequate guarantees with respect to private property and 
the interests of the Church, but he took credit for acquainting its 
leaders with the papal encyclicals on social problems, and he believed 
them the only party seriously concerned with social and economic recon- 
struction. His desire to co-operate with this and other minor parties 
in the House was evident, but he urged them to consider that questions 

of nationality were as important to the people of Quebec as economic 

and social reform. 

On many issues they had much in common, notably in resistance 
to imperialism, militarism, unselective immigration, economic exploita- 
tion of the working classes, and the alienation of natural resources to 
private exploitation. They shared a disillusionment with the older 
political parties and favoured the growth of minor party and group repre- 
sentation, IVith Woodsworth, Bourassa agreed that "the principle of co- 
operation* was bound to increase and replace "the old practice of indivi- 
dual enterprise which has been crushed by corporate capitalism", 
"Socialism is sounder . . . than either democracy or liberalism", Bourassa 
declared in 1934; but he was thinking then only of a reaction against 

individualism, and asserted that in oractice socialism bad tended to turn 

into one of two forms of tyranny — communism or fascism. But he did not 

See House of Commons Debates , February 2, 1933, p. 1723; January 30, 

1934, pp. lGG-10; :.:arch 20, 1934, p, 1658, 
Ibid., March 20, 1934, p. 1659. 


think the country needed a "co-operative constitution* and he endod 

in a vaguely phrased appeal I'or "some sort of co-operation betv/een 

parties, classes . . . provinces, and races , and the reco^^nition 

that "no class can save the country". Each soucht an increasing 

Canadian autonomy with respect to foreign policy, anendraent, and 
appeals to the Privy Council, Tliey v/ere radical leaders of minority 
opinion, the one preferring to work mainly in the realm of ideas with 
an emphasis on stability and tradition, the other to develop a politi- 
cal party as an instrument of change, 

Bourassa's deep interest in the iVest, both as an economic 
region with grievances, and as the crucial testing ground of national 
unity, led him to appeal frequently for interest and sympathy on the 
part of Quebec, He argued cogently for a dual nationality in that 
region, and tho promotion of this design, allied with his interest in 
national unity in the face of the economic and political protest from 
the iiest, undoubtedly influenced his friendly attitudes towards L'r. 

IVoodsworth and his politics, 

In 1932 Bourassa resigned his directorship of Le Devoir , 

and after defeat in the elections of 1935, he went into semi-retire- 
ment. He was then 67 years of age. In his last session in the House 

he made peace with the political world he had known: 

If I go out of public life with one feeling, with one conviction, 
it is this: a deep regret for many bitter words that I have used 
in my life, deep and sincere repentance for all my violence of 
language, but I hope thoy will be forgiven me by God and man be- 
cause not once in my life have I attacked anybody unjustly from 
my point of view at least, and without believing it v/as my duty 
to do so. 

■'• Ibid ,, rebruary 2, 1033, pp, 1727 ff. 

See the brief notice in La Devoir , Aufust 3, 1932. 

House of Commons Debates, January 20, 1935, p. 107, 

There followed two trips to Europe in 1936 and 1938, and a number of 
public appearances during the second '.Vorld War. Ten of tiisco, becinn- 
inc in October, 1943 and extending into the spring of 1'j44, constituted 
his liemoires and were reported at length in Le Devoir, I.^ost of the 
remainder were devoted to an analysis of the rolirjious, moral, social, 
and economic effects of the war with special reference to effects on 
French Canadian society. In a number of political rallies during 1943 
and 1944 he spoke against conscription and for candidates of the newly- 
formed party of nationalism and social reform, the Eloc Populaire 
Canadian, Upon all these occasions he presented opinions and impressions 
against the background of a half century of anti-imperialist struggles. 
For Canadian commitments to collective security in Europe, he had no 
sympathy. Like the American isolationist, he thought the responsibilities 
of his country were to remain at peace and look after its ov/n interests 
without entanglements in the affairs of others. 

In a speech at Montreal on May 20, 1941, on "L'aux et remedes", 
he praised the social reconstruction programme of Marshal Fetain in 
Vichy Franco, based on "family, work, and patrie". The important thing, 
he said, was not the form or the activity of the state, but the "vital 
social forces" of the nation. His address included most of the standard 
elements of the nationalism he had made faoiliar: demand for a consti- 
tutional position that mads it "perfectly natural" for England to be at 
war and Canada at peace, a rejection of the separatiste doctrine again 
being heard in the province, a plea for generous treatment of Quebec 
minorities in the interests of French Canadian minorities throughout 
Canada, an attack upon imperialism as a major obstacle to an emerging 


Canadian nationality, and in everythinc * porvadinc sense of social 

■disorganization and demoralization". In subsequent addresses he 

reiterated these views. "I am hero to protest against a policy of 

national suicide", he told an audience in liontreal in 1943, urging 

votes for the Bloc Populaire party and its policy of a reduced war 

effort with social and economic reform. 

In another address, "Que Seront nos enfants?", he assessed 

the consequences of total war upon the family and society, More 

French Canadians, he believed, while remaining Christians, were becom- 
ing "chretien-ti^des" or "demi-chretiens" mainly because of a collapse 
of traditional family structure and discipline in which minds were 
formed. He thought he discerned a notable diminution of confidence on 
the part of the people in the clergy and hierarchy of the Roman Catholic 
Church in Quebec. An important contributing cause of this he ascribed 
to the attitude of the bishops in the two world wars. Consciences were 
"troubled, disturbed and uncertain*. The whole structure of values 
governing behaviour and sanctioninj^ institutions, as he had conceived 
than ideally, was loosening and breaking down. In effect the reign of 
God was being destroyed. To rebuild on old foundations was the supreme 
task. And in this outlooI>; was to be found a prime source of his reac- 
tionary politics, 

r~ ~ 

See Le Devoir, August 2, 6, 1943, Two by-elections in the province of 
Quebec for the House of Commons were contested on August 9; in one, 
Stanstead, the Bloc Populaire candidate was successful; in the other, 
Cartier, a Labour Progressive candidate won the seat, 
Que Seront nos enfants ? (.'.lontreal, 1943), stenographic text of an 
address given on i''ebn.iary 10, 1943, and published under the auspices 
of the Ligue pour la Dpfense du Canada . Seo other addresses listed 
in the bibliography below. 


The last eight years of Bourassa's life were spent in 

retirement and comparative seclusion, and after his public appearancea 

of 1944, he withdrew even more from his closest friends and admirers. 

Several hours of each day were spent in reading favourite authors and 

in religious exercises. He died at his home in Uontreal on August 31, 

1952, on the eve of his 84th year, receiving the last rites of the 

Roman Catholic Church from his son, Francois, a priest of the Jesuit 


See an account of these last years in a special edition of Le L'avcir, 
October 25, 1952, "Homnage a Henri Bourassa", later published in two 
editions under the, same title. 


A necessary key to an understanding o2 Bourassa's 
political behaviour lies in what may be called his social and 
political theory. Although some attention already has been drawn 
to aspects of these theories, it will be convenient here to treat 
them as a whole to show their interrelations. A closer inquiry into 
Bourassa's views on social order is worthwhile, since it indicates to 
what extent his nationalism, in its political and economic elements, 
was rooted in the outlook of the French Canadian middle classes. His 
views on democracy, parliamentary government, property, and economic 
reforms, ass^ime a society composed largely of independent farmers, 
businessmen, and members of professions. They assume a society that 
is relatively stable, whose members are approximately equal in social 
and economic status, and free both from the exploitation and competi- 
tion of large scale enterprise, and from the class strife which he 
associated with industrial capitalism. His was a social ideal approxi- 
mating the state of French Canadian society before Confederation, and 
his concern with religion, patriotism, equilibrium, tradition and re- 
actions, was an attempt to preserve its essential foundations, 3ut 
his views on social order had more relevance than the desire to preserve 
elements of an older society; they stiggested, though without precision, 
lines of organization for the emerging industrial sociexy. That such 
lines of organization entailed changes in political institutions and 
economic order will be shown in later sections of the chapter. In the 


first part of the chapter, certain intellectual influences to which 

Bourassa was subject will be considered. 

The Catholic and conservative cast of his mind was formed 

hj early training, especially under the g^uidance of his aunt, Exilda 

Papineau, who taught him "to love the Bible, Pius IX, and )!sgr. 

Bourget"; Pius IX who had turned the Church ajrainst European liberaliaon 

after 1848; and Usgr. Bourget, Bishop of L'ontreal who had led the 

attacks on the Rouges, on Papineau and others, and on the Institut 

canadien, and v7ho best exemplified the uniting of patriotism with ultra- 

' " 1 

montane Catholicism and hostility to liberal danocracy. 

He read much in the library of his uncle, who was cure at 
Uontebello and an ultra-conservative in politics. He was steeped in 
the traditionalists, the defenders of orthodox positions who •mphasized 
the comnunity and institutions at the expense of the individual, ;.!any 
were minority spokesmen protesting against the prevailing currents of 
their day. The Sunday sermons of Bossuet, theologian and social philo- 
sopher, he read repeatedly, taking up the idea of history as the unfold- 
ing of God's purpose; and from this, the notion of continuity for a 
civilization on the basis of religion. In his library were the writings 
of Bourdaloue, Bishop Ketteler, and St. Francois de Sales, He read 

Rohrbacker on the history of the Church, and several times read Paster's 

The family religious background was not orthodox (see Chapter II); 
"Bom into a Catholic fold, I was reared in a family circle conprising 
Catholics, Protestants and Agnostics , , , I was exposed to those 
diverse currents of thought," ( House of Commons Debates , li^arch 20, 
1934, p, 1661) His own choice lay in a profound Catholicism, Strong 
currents of religious sentiment were awakened by his first confessor: 
". , . you do not know to what degree the words of a good priest pene- 
trate the soul of a child at a time when its first convictions are 
being formed, when the heart begins to dilate ..." ( Le Devoir , 
October 14, 1S43) 

twenty volumes on lives of the Popes. Joer/^enson 's biography of 
Ste. Catherine de Sienne was a constant companion in the later years 
of life. At the age of nine he read Keller's History of r'rance, and 
followed this by Hannotaux, Three years later when he purchased his 
first books they were Lingard's History of England in ton volumes. To 
these were added the works of Klacaulay, Llorley's life of Gladstone was 
given to him by Laurier in October, 1903, as the Nationalist League was 
becoming established. Among novels his special favourites were the 
historical romances of Sir Walter Scott, with their feeling for the 
moods and outlook of a people, and their defence of medieval ways and 
local traditions against the passion for change. Brunetiere's Discoi:rs 
de Combat, and the writings of Donoso Cortes were prominent among pole- 
mical works. His opinions on the relations of church and state and 
emphasis on social stability were taken from the conservative historian 

and political theorist, de Llaistre, foe of the Enlightenment and advocate 

of a politics suffused with religion. 

As a youth his favourite newspapers were Tardivel's La Verite 

of Quebec, and Trudel's L'Etendard of Llontreal, both written in polemical 

vein and devoted to the cause of the Castors and the ultramontane bishops 

of Montreal and Three Rivers. For his model Bourassa chose Louis 

Veuillot, leading Catholic polemicist of nineteenth century i^'rance, 

defender of the temporal power of the Pope, champion of Catholic schools, 

1 ' ~~ ' 

See Le Devoir, February 3, 1930; October 14, 1943, In La Presse 
catholique et nationals, p. 76, Bourassa quoted de Maistre on religion 
and patriotism: "Le patriotisme c'est I'abnogation individuelle. La 
foi et le patriotisme sont les deux grands thaumaturges de ce nonde, 
L'un et 1 'autre sont divins: toutes leurs actions sont des prodiges, 
N'allez pas leur demander d'exanen, de choix, de discussion, ils ne 
savent que deux mots: soumission et croyance . Avec ces leviers ils 
soulevent I'univers . . . s'ils viennent fi se rounir, S. confondre leurs 
forces et a s'emparer ensemble d'une nation, ils I'exaltent, ils la 

and exponent of a supra-party patriotism, With impulsive energy 
Veuillot supported governments according to their trea-bnent of the 
Church, and like de IJaistre before him, who wished "to kill the whole 
spirit of the eighteenth century", he attacked liberals and all those 
seeking to reconcile religion with modern ideas. Before he was twenty 
years of age, Bourassa had read and re-read the voluminous works of 
Veuillot, and was receiving the latter's newspaper, L'Univers. 

From Veuillot and others he absorbed into his own mentality 
that utter conmitnent to the Catholic ideal that distinguishes his 
public life, Thero is a striking statement by Veuillot, quoted by 
Bourassa in La Faix Roraaine , illustrating the quality of the ultramon- 
tane sentiment animating each, and suggesting one source of restraint 
on nationalism: 

J'ai une patrie ... A cette France, qui est belle, qui fut 
glorieuse, et pour laquelle je prie, je ne refuserai ni mon 
travail, ni mon sang ... Mais je ne lui donnerai pas n:a con- 
science et mon ame , , , Je ne I'aime, ni je ne I'aimerai 
jamais de cette has et grossier amour qui serait moins de 
I'affection pour elle que de la haine pour le reste des nations 
... Est-il aujourd'hui une nation plus aimee de I'Eglise que 
la France, a cette nation-la je souhaite 1 'empire du nonde, 
parce qu'avant tout, je suis citoyen de I'ICglise; I'Eglise est 
ma patrie, et plus que ma patrie: elle est ma tendre et 
glorieuse mere ... 

Unlike de L'aistre and Veuillot, however, Bourass* never inclined to a 
political absolutism checked only by the sovereign authority of the 
Pope, In this, his English liberalism and the complex position of the 
French Canadian minority were undoubted factors. 

It is unnecessary to refer here except in the briefest way to 
the many expressions of Bourassa's religious convictions, that is impor- 
tant to note, because of their political effects, was his continual 

emphasis on an ordered system of authority superior to secular 
authority, and on the special benefits accruing to the French 
Canadian nationality from its historical association with the Roman 
Catholic Church. He stressed the traditional Christian concept of a 
world ordered to one unique end -- the salvation of souls. For man's 
guidance to this end he had beon given appropriate instincts, aspira- 
tions, and insights. In addition, God had established a universal and 
perfect society, which is the Church, to which all men, peoples, and 
nations belong in practice or potentially. The first major division 
in the structure of rights and duties is formed by recognizing the pre- 
eminence of religion and the rit:hts of the Church. Of the natural and 
moral laws willed by God in the temporal order, the Church is the in- 
fallible teacher and guardian. There can exist no separation between 
the temporal and spiritual society, but only a distinction between the 

means and ends appropriate to each; a distinction expressed in the sub- 

ordination of the former to the latter. Thus: 

Man belongs to God before belonging to himself; he must serve 
the Church before serving the fatherland; he must defend the 
rights of God and of the Charch before those of the nation or 
of the race; he must obey God rather than man, and the Church 
before the temporal powers including his own Government if the 
latter enjoins him to violate the laws of God and of the Church, 

The desire to make systematic both individual and group life 

under a common hierarchy of values governed by religion was made explicit 

when addressing the French Canadian youth at the end of his career: 


La Langue, gardienne de la foi , (Montreal, 1918), p, 12, 
Le Devoir, December 9, 1943. 


Young people, whatever you aim at, whatever you aspire to do, 
becin by setting; your mind in order; begin by establishing the 
hierarchy of duties in your mind , , , Whatever you are told, 
whatever anyone preaches to you, your first duty, your second 
duty, your third duty, remains always submission to God, to 
the Church, to the visible head of that Church ... Let the 
faith always be your first guide. Let no other question — 
questions of race, of politics, and even less so, material 
questions -- ever take in your minds or actions the place of 
the faith which must govern all your powers, and must discip- 
line all your aspirations. 

And when discussing the role of his newspaper, Le Devoir, he 

stated that its raison d'etre was "to set or reset every question in 

its place in the normal order willed by God", This religious ideal, 

common to many of the associations sponsored by the Church at the turn 
of the century, had the effect of encouraging the non-partisan politics 
on which the Nationalist movement was founded. It had the further 
effect of reinforcing the conservative attitudes to social change ex- 
hibited by the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec, 

Ultramontane Catholicism, while not conflictinp; with the 
expression of Nationalism, operated as a check upon it. This it did 
partly because of the subordination of all things to religion, and 
partly because of the restraints on extreme nationalist sentiment 
imposed by the international character of the Church, The nation and 
ethnic group must not be emphasized to the neglect of other values. 
Particularly after his audiences with the Fops in 1922 and 1926 did 
the restraints of religion on Bourassa s nationalism become apparent. 
It became usual for him to denounce "nationalisme outrancier", such as 
that of the Action francaise movement in France, and he disappointed 


La Presse catholique et nationale, p. 58. 


those in his own Nationalist circle who temporarily embraced aepara- 

tist ideas in the early 1920 's, ITiere was a noticeable difference 

also between his nationalistic reactions to the anpoinlnent of Msgr. 

Gautier to the diocese of Ottawa in 1909, and his discussiorg of the 

"Affaire de Providence" in 1929. 

Yet if ultramontane Catholicism served to restrain nationa- 
lism, it also offered special (3uarantees to French Canadian nationality. 

This, Bourassa made evident in stating that the Church 

because Catholic, must not, and can never be, in America or 
elsewhere, an instrument of assimilation for the advancement 
of one race, or a factor of unification and of political 
hegemony in the service of the British Bnpire, or of the 
American democracy. 

He extolled Roman Catholicism and the Church in Quebec as the unique 

source of ethnic and social unity; and this though the Church "had 

never been nationalist ... had never been the Church of any one people": 

Do not forget that if we have survived as a people . . . with 
our families, traditions, language, memories and hopes, we owe 
it neither to England nor to France but to the Church ... I 
would venture to say to the Church alone ... 

I 1 

Le Devoir , June 11, 1923, November 24, 26, 1923, "Patriotisme, nationa- 
lisme, imperialisme". See ChaT:)ter VIII above, 

L'Affaire de Providence, (Llontreal, 1929): a discussion of a dispute 
between Franco-Americans and other nationality groups at Providence, 
Rhode Island. See La Presse ce.tholique et nationale , p. 29, "Even to 
... Christians and patriots, it is sor.etimes necessary to recall , 
. . 30 overturned today is the hierarchy of duties, that religion pre- 
cedes patriotism, that the preservation of faith and morals is more 
important than the preservation of the language, that the maintenance 
of national traditions and especially of familial virtues take prece- 
dence over the exigencies of higher learning ..." 

^ La Langue, gardienne de la foi , (Montreal, 1918), p. 8, 

Le Devoir, llarch 16, 1944. See Le Canada apostolique , (Montreal, 1919), 
p. 163 for the statement French Canadians owed their safety not to 
statesmen, soldiers, nor political strategists, but "to God alone, to 
the Chi',rch of God, to the works of God, and to the men and women of 
God ... 


finphasis of this kind tended to induce neglect of activity in the 

political and economic order, and to confirm attitudes of passivity 

which he sought to dispel. Similarly, preoccupation with the fact of 

survival reinforced a conservative approach to problems of adaptation 

to new circumstances, "Democratism and extreme nationalism" most 

threatened the Church, he stated in 1919, and by implication the sare 

forces most endangered social order. Remove the influence of the Church, 

and French Canadians would become "dangerous revolutionaries" or at least 

of little social worth, 

Bourassa s emphasis on the international prestige and mediation 

services of the Church was designed to improve the secijrity of French 

Canada affected by imperial tensions and war. It had the effect also of 

fostering detachment from the fate of Europeans, Ke had the notion that 
Europe for three centuries was slowly d estroying itself and lapsing into 
a new barbarism from which it would be redeemed only by a return to the 
Church, which would be left standing in the ruins. Protestantism, 
Jacobinism, and Bolshevism had been three attempts at suicide. The de- 
cline of the West was accelerated by the grinding action on oach other 
of great irrational and evil forces; namely, Pan-Germanism, Pan-Latinism, 

Pan-Slavism, and Pan-Anglo-Saxonism, What the world need t»s "certitude 

in beliefs" and an infallible moral guide. Travels in Europe and observance 

1 ~~~~ 

See L'Affaire de providence , p, 19. 

Femmes-hommes ou Plommes et femmes , (i/.ontreal, 1525), p, 69; Le Devoir , 

December 10, 1019. 

See Le Pape, arbitre de la paix , (Montreal, 1918), p, 8, "Jieither parlia- 
ments nor absolutisms can restore the peace of the world ... The best 
recourse is still to ask the Church to play again in the world , . , the 
unique role which only the papacy can play , 

*See Ibid,; also L'Infaillibilite doctrinale . . . ; Le Devoir , November 24, 
26, 1923, "Patriotisnie, nationalisme, imp«rialisme"I 

of social conditions there l\irther confirmed these attitudes which 
reinforced his advocacy of neutrality for Canada in case of European 
and imperial wars. The papacy, Bourassa believed, was the "last ram- 
part* of collapsing world order. French Canadians, experiencing 

profound changes . , , in their national, political and social state", 

have clung to it as "the most stable institution governing men". After 

his visits with the Pope he became persuaded that "light comes from Rome 

not only in the order of truths, of faiths and morals . . . but even in 

the solution of political and social problems". He resolved "to obey 

the Pope and follow his counsels" even when directives or advice ran 

counter to his own ideas or those of friends, political associates, or 


What this would mean in a precise way was uncertain, but it 
did indicate Bourassa 's trend towards authoritatively given solutions of 
economic and social problems, and in the direction of the corporatism 
expounded in the encyclical Quadragesirao anno (193C). His politics were 
an extension of his Catholicism. 

Religion, finally, introduced a mystic element in Bourassa s 
nationalism, best shown in two pamphlets, La Langiie, gardienne de la foi 
(1918) and Le Canada apostolique (1919). In these writings Catholicism 
and nationalism are united in the concept of a special mission for the 
French Canadian people in North America. The idea of a special mission 
was, of course, not new with Bourassa, It had been given a strong im- 
pulse and religious connotation by Llsgr. Lafleche of Three Rivers half a 


Le Devoir, September 3, 1910. 
Le Devoir, ses origines . . . (Montreal, 1930). 

century earlier and had been a recurrent theme ever since. As Bourassa 

stated it, French Canadians prolonc in North America the Christian and 
civilizing mission claimed by Catholic France in iiirope. They are the 
bearers of superior cultural goods, performing their task under conditions 
of great difficulty in a sea of Anglo-Saxonism. They and the Franco- 
Americans constitute "the only important peoples of French race and lan- 
guage outside Europe*. Added to this concept of uniqueness, which fos- 
tered nationalist sentiment, \ms the religious idea of the race as an 

extension of ecclesiastical order. In this idea also was a feeling for 

permanence or duration over time, A characteristic feature of the con- 
cept, furthermore, was that the mission was fulfilled, not least, for 
the benefit of others, for the Church, the entire race, for the whole of 
America; that is, the national aim was wider than the ethnic group itself. 
And this in turn was inportant for the concept of dual nationality as the 
basis of the Canadian nation. 

Bourassa' s fusion of fervent nationalism and ultramontane 
Catholicism led to rigidities in his thought, and tended to displace the 

liberalism which he contended lay at the basis of his TDolitics, Typical 

was his profession of political faith in the House of Commons in 1900: 

I am a Liberal of the British school. I am a disciple of Burke, 
Fox, Bright, Gladstone and of the other Little Englanders who made 
Great Britain and her possessions what they are. 

I ^ 

See Jean-C. Bonenfant and Jean-C, Falardeau. 'Cultural and Political 
Implications of French Canadian Nationalism', Canadian Historical 
Association, Annual Report , 1946, p. 62. 

See le langue . . . , p. 42, 49; Le Canada apostolique , pp. 17, 164, and 
passim; Hier, aujourd'hiii, demain, (1916), p. 122; Le Devoir , llay 13, 
1919; La Presse ca-tholique . . . , p. 13, The French Canadian race, 
almost entirely Catholic, constitutes by its social organization a pre- 
cious element of ecclesiastical order, and an essential and fundamental 
element of the Canadian fatherland*. 

House of Commons Debates, Llarch 13, 1900, p. 1828. 


The Little Enclanders were the lieart of his liberal England. This 

radical nineteenth century f^roup of political reformers ./OulJ willingly 

have seen the Snpire dissolve, or at least grow in iiurke's phrase "by 

salutary neglect". In their name he appealed for the rights of snail 

nationalities, international arbitration and reace, and arainst Eilitariam 

and imperialism. 

But he did not share the philosophical assumptions of the 

British Liberal School he professed to admire. For those assumptions he 

expressed profound objection related to his basic religious and social 

outlook. For many Catholics, he complained in 1920, liberalism was a 

"morbid state of the mind and obliteration of the sense of truth". There 

ran also throughout his social thought an undercurrent of hostility to 

the British parliamentary system, and this was related to his notion that 

it best operated in a Protestant environment, and was integral with a 

civilization steeped in soul-destroying materialism. Protestantism he 

was close to associating with tendencies to social anarchy. On a note of 


pessimism he asked in 1918: 

I'/hither tends the regime of British 'liberty r.nd denocracy' 
fully imbued with a deliquescent Protestantism already border- 
ing on atheism, if not to the weakening of every principle of 
authority, to laxity of the family tie, negation of social 
duty, individual egoism and class hatred, to tlie unbridled 
cult of physical well-being and thirst for wealth, in a word 
to paganism? Yes, and to a paganism without gods and poetry, 
to the animal paganism of a soulless humanity, 

A fundamental suspicion of and repugnance to the alleged effects 

of liberal democracy wa^ thus apparent whenever Bourassa considered 

I ^ 

L'Infaillibilite dosxrinale au pape , p, 73. 


Le Pape, arbitre de la paix, p, 20. 

questions of religion and social order. "From the monent*, he said, 

that the ideal state of society is found in the electoral and 
parliamentary system, and that the pivot and end of social 
order is found in the human individual ... then one ends 
logically in tho Protostant, ra+ionnlist, and individualist 

Yet he was not consistent in his attitudes and could be cited 
in defence of the "British spirit", the British constitution which he 
much admired, and the civil and political liberties under which it con- 
tinued to unfold. He deprecated the excessive individualism, passion 

for theory, and levelling philosophies of tho French tradition. The 

British Empire, he said, 

is indifferent to me but British traditions are as dear as, and 
from a certain point of view, doarer to me, perhaps, than they 
are to most English-speaking Canadians. With me this is not 
simply an inherited instinct; it is an acquired conviction, 
strengthened by thirty years of trs.vels , . , by a close contact 
with the rulers of different nations . , , 

The "English spirit of progress and stability", he stated in the House of 
Commons in 19 26, was "one of the greatest moral, political and social 
assets of Canada", The English middle classes, especially that politi- 
cally conscious section holding itself free from party ties, he described 

as "the most sane, independent, enlightened, and most truly patriotic in 

the world. 

Among Canadians whose political ideas influenced those of 

Bourassa were Jules Paul Tardivel and Goldwin Smith. Of Tardivol's 

influence something has be-^n said in Chapter I, where it was indicated 


Famnes-hommes ou horames et femnes, p, 42, 

House of Coanons Debates, January 12, 1926, p. 78. 

Lo Devoir, August 11, 1910; Great Britain and Canada , p. 44; House of 
Commons Debates, January 12, 1926, pp. 78-9, "l would far rather secede 
from Great Britain and remain British in spirit, than reniain and go on 
as we are, British in name, but Yankeefied in spirit, morals, and 
habits, and becoming more so from day to day." 

that at the beginning of the Nationalist cnovanent, Boiirassa's purpose 
was to carry nationalism beyond the limited and inward-lookinc concep- 
tions of Tardival, They differed in two major respects, Tardivel was 
never reconciled to the Canadian federation, whereas Boiirassa's thinkinp 

began with a complete acceptance of the whole of Canada as the nation 

within which the destiny of the French Canadian nationality lay. To 

Tardivel' s advocacy of a separate French state in North Aaerica was 

added his appeal for a Catholic political party siniilar to those of some 

countries of EJurope, With these objectives Bourassa was never in accord. 

It was Tardivel's emancipation from party politics that most attracted 

the Nationalist leader. On tho tenth anniversary of Tardivel's death, 

Bourassa wrote in Le Devoir of April 26, 1915; 

If I seek the origin of some of my ideas I have no difficulty in 
finding the beginnings of them in the articles of Tardivel, and 
even more perhaps in our too rare conversations , , , In many res- 
pects he was the precursor of Canadian nationalism , . , No one 
more than he, whether bishop, priest or layman, contributed so 
much to destroy the party spirit of the French Canadian clergy, 
, , . to create a sound opinion ready to judge men and parties in 
the light of principles . , , He was the irreducible enemy of 
compromise , , , He judged governments and parties, bills and ad- 
ministrative measures with a complete disinterestedness of mind 
. , . It was this side of his character that attracted ne from 
the first. Nothing more contributed to teach me to judge men and 
political events freely, 

A somewhat similar independence of character and intransigence 

attracted Bourassa to Goldwin Smith. They shared a general pessimism 

concerning the fate of the Western world and a belief in the fraility of 

I ' ' — — 

See Chapter I, p, 4, for a discussion of Tardivel's nationalism. See 
Andre Laurendeau, Notre Nationalisme , (Montreal, 1935), p, 24 for a 
reference to the ascetic character of Tardivel's nationalism. In 
Tardivel's novel, Pour La Patrie, Joseph Lamirande was launched into a 
political career in spite of his wishes to the contrary, Lamirande 
lost his wife and daughter in supernatural circumstances (one of in- 
n\imer«.ble Providential interventions in favour of French Canadians) 
but continued in heroic manner to found a Republic of New France, He 
then reitred to a monastery in France to die unknown. He lived only 
for God. "Such was Tardivel's nationalism", said Laurendeau, 

Canada's economic, ceocraphic, and political unity. Both were "Liberals 
of the Old School", but the term meant something different to each, 
Bourassa thought Smith a "doctrinaire" and a "passione" but never a sec- 
tarian or fanatic. They shared the friendship of intellectuals; Bourassa 
finding in Goldwin Smith an English-sneakinr Canadian to whom he could 

• Ml " 

give his whole mind , receiving in return a frank expression of opinion. 
He desired the esteem of his "old and illustrious friend" at the Grange 
in Toronto and was piqued at the low opinion held bv Smith of the French 
political character, especially when it appeared that this opinion extended 
to doubts that Bourassa would stand finn against all thrusts of imperia- 
lism. He was received at the Grange "as a son" and introduced to men of 
influence in the Anglo-Canadian world. He described evenings spent with 
Smith as introductions to chapters of history illuminated with references 
to the role of individuals: Disraeli, Gladstone, Acton, Louis Blanc, 
Andrew Carnegie and others. They looked upon history as a court in which 
to deliver moral judgnents. Each magnified the significance of the prob- 
lems he formulated; Goldwin Smith believing the problems of existence 
faced by men in his day, since science and historical criticism had shat- 
tered much of the traditional religious faith, were vaster than had ever 
before been contemplated. The Greeks appeared as "mere children engaged 
in intellectual play . Bourassa in turn was possessed with the idea of 
an impending paganism and collapse of Hestern civilization, Goldwin 

Smith still sought the "nature and intentions of the Power in whose hands 

we are." On that question Bourassa had no doubts. 

See two articles written by Bourassa in Le Devoir , June 11, 15, 1910, 
at the time of Goldwin Smith's death. 

The age was one of disintegration and perplexity in which 
crude democratic ideas and popular super^tions concernin(7 the social 
and economic order had broken through established beliefs and controls. 
For Smith, the decay of religion exposed the masses to demagogues. 
Universal suffrage increased the dangers of demagogic despotism through 
panderings to the uninformed. Politics was like any other subject; it 
required knowledge and this could not be found among a million ignorant 
voters. The people were generally intelligent, but the masses a constant 
source of danger. Political parties had assumed an "abnormal" development 
in the parliamentary system, though they were a relatively recent addition, 
and in Canada especially where no "organic question" separated the parties, 

they quickly degenerated into factions controlled by corrupt machines to 

the detriment of the superior interests of the nation, "The general ten- 
dency is towards the dissolution of party and of the government that rests 
upon it", Goldwin Smith wrote in approval in 1893, and fifteen years later 
declared that political parties had "lost their meaning, their unity, 
their justification for existence*. He favoured some form of non-party 
government, one with "real authority , one that was "national" as opposed 
to partisan, one that rose above the "passions and delusions of the hour , 
From time to time Smith suggested reforms of the parliamentary system to 
prevent the House of Commons becoming an organ of revolution: fixed terms 
of office for members to protect them against the power of dissolution in 
the hands of party and government leaders, an end to general elections, 
which had become civil wars without arms and gave a "false and dangerous 

stimulus* to innovation; a franchise based on an education and property 


Goldwin Smith, Essays on Questions of the Day, (New York and London, 
1893), pp. 103-4, lis. 


test; and a more extensive use of plebiscites for the purpose of con- 

stitutional amendments. The close parallel between these views and 

those of Bourassa will bo evident. 

Like Goldwin Smith also, ho showed distrust of the political 
activity of the working class and a related vexation at an alleged decay 
of middle class leadership. Goldwin Smith counselled the "natural leaders 
of society" to be at their posts of duty, and he thought it fortunate that 
*we are practically governed" in part by the "captains of industry", and 
not wholly by the politicians. He noted that loss of faith in Providen- 
tial inequality coincided with the transition of socialism from Utopian 
schemes and dreams of revolution, to the more dangerous nineteenth cen- 
tury assaults upon property through parliaments and class organizations. 
The desire of property, he said, "is our only known motive power" without 

which there would be an end to accumulation of wealth and, in consequence, 

of human progress. There seemed to him an inevitability to the social 

class structure of capitalist econom.y. What had changed was that the 
churches and the state no longer guaranteed the ideal stability and in- 
dividual liberties so highly prized by both Bourassa and Smi'th. 

On certain topics relating to Canadian unity Goldwin Smith 
and Bourassa agreed but drew different conclusions. This was true in 
particular with respect to Bourassa's acceptance of Smith's belief in 
the almost insuperable geographic and economic disunity of Canada, 


Ibid,, pp. 103, 118-122; Goldwin Smith's Correspondence , ed. Arnold 
HauTtain, (Toronto, 1913), pp. 278-9, 5C6, 508, 518. §"ee also Loyalty , 
Aristocracy and Jingoism, (Toronto, 1896), pp. 32, 36; see also Bourassa, 
House of Commons Debates, March 14, 1928, p. 1334, 


Social Problems , an address delivered to the Conference of Combined City 
Charities of Toronto, May 20, 1889, (Toronto, 1899), pp, 17-19; Gpldwin 
Smith's Correspondence , p. 491, Letters to Lord Rosebery, October 21, 
Decumber 20, 1907; Letters to E, J, Atkinson, pp, 496, 501, 512; and to 
the Earl of Rosebery in 1908 and 1909, 

Neither appreciated the strength or character of the economic unity 
already achieved by 1900 and continually strengthened since, nor the 
related degree of success of the national political parties in inte- 
grating the various regional and sectional interests of the country. 
But having agreed on the magnitude and significance of the divisive 
forces in the country, each proposed very different solutions; Cfoldwin 
Smith advocating union with the United States of America, and Bourassa 
arguing that Canadian unity and independence hung upon the extension of 
the principles of dualism everywhere, Goldwin Smith's statement, made 
in a series of lectures in 1896 to the Young Men's Liberal Club of 

Toronto, represents his standard pessimistic viow of Canadian national 


Was there any real hope of blending into a nation these provinces, 
geographically so disjointed, and so destitute of any bond of com- 
mercial union among themselves, v/hile each of them separately is 
so powerfully attracted to the great English-speaking community on 
the South of it? 7;as there any real hope of fusing 1^'rench with 
British Canada, or if they could not be fused, or bringing about a 
national union between them? These questions canrot be settled by 
wishes or settled on horseback. I found myself compelled to answer 
both of them in the negative. From that time it has been my convic- 
tion that the end would be a return of the whole English-speaking 
race upon this continent to the union which the American Revolution 
broke, that to prepare for this was the task of Canadian statesman- 
ship, and that to spend millions upon millions in vainly struggling 
to avert it was to waste the earnings of our people. The difficulty 
of holding the Confederation together and keeping it apart from the 
rest of the continent, otherwise than by corruption, has seemed to 
me half to excuse the system of Sir John IJacdonald, calamatous as 
the consequences of that system have been. 

Goldwin Smith had little care for the fate of French-speaking 

Canadians; indeed he seems to have expected that they would bo forced to 

give in to the assimilating forces of the combined English-speaking 

groups of Canada and the United Sta tes. Although he wrote to Bourassa 

I ~~~ 

Loyalty, Aristocracy, Jingoism, p. 97. 


that he "could fully sympathize" with the aspirations of the French 

Canadians with regard to French Canada, he really confined his sympathy 

to the French in the Quebec "preserve". It is to be doubted that he 
ever gave up the hope of seeing even the "preserve" eliminated and its 
people assimilated. In the meantime the influence of the French through- 
out Canada should be curtailed as nuch as possible. He usually referred 
to the French Canadians as an alien nationality, an obstacle to a really 
united Canada, or as a sinister influence. The French, in Smith's out- 
look, were a simple, kindly, and courteous race, happy on little, clad in 
homespun, illiterate, unp regressive, pious, and priest ridden. After 
1900, however, he came to value them more highly in a utilitarian sense 
as an obstacle to British and American imperialism. He wrote Bourassa 
that "in the chapter of political accidents" French Canadians had become 
the "sheet-anchor of Canadian self-government". On this at least the two 

agreed, and Goldwin Smith sent encouraging letters to the leaders of the 

emerging Nationalist movement, 

Bourassa 's conception of Canada s future status was that of 
an independent nation under the Crovm, But such a-as his sense of imper- 
manence that until well after the first World War he continued to specu- 
late on the alternatives of annexation to the United States and imperial 
federation. Annexation ranked below imperial federation in his scale of 
preferences, but not so far below as to disqualify as a reasonable alter- 
native. Generally, annexation was seen as a possible reaction to an excess 


Smith to Bourassa, August 30, 1905, Cornell i-anuscript Collection. 

Soe le Devoir , June 15, 1910; Le Nationalists , Uarch 20, 1904; "l hope 
to hear at least one brave and honest voice raised on this navy question," 
(Smith to Bourassa, 1909) as reported in Le Devoir, Juno 11, 1910, 

of British imperialism. He so formulated the problem as to make the 

role of French Canada crucial, French Canadians, he asserted in 1900, 
would have been better served "from a purely material point of view" if 
they had become Americans, He wrote in 1912 and 1916 that 'froc the 
point of view of reli|-ious and national interests'", from the viewpoint 
of provincial autonomy and of presei-ving a distinctive legal and educa- 
tional system, many French Canadians would prefer annexation. They would 

find the Yankees "less detestable than the Bochos of Ontario.* As the 

imperialist current mounted before the iVar, and the school controversy in 

Ontario concerning the use and teaching of the French language became 

embittered, the belief was rapidly vanishing among his compatriots that 

their language, traditions, and church organization were safer in Canada 


than in the United States. 

But whatever small progress these opinions had made in French 
Canada, they did not commend themselves to Bourassa personally. They 
existed rather as salve for wounded sensibilities, and indirectly as a 
claim for more just treainent as a minority. They asserted that there 
was an alternative to British imperialism, and that it could be recon- 
ciled with ethnic and cultural suirvival. It was his own way of exploit- 

ing what he called national "^ug-bears*. 

;.!ore important than Political annexation '.vas reaction to the 

I ^ ; 

Great Britain and Canada , (Montreal, 1901), p. 47, "... what I apprehend 
is this, that such a counter-movement may hasten the progress of annexa- 
tion"; ilie French Canadian in the British Qnpire", Monthly Review, 
September and October, 1902, p, 34. 

"The French Canadian in the British iinpire, 1902, p, 34; The Spectre of 
Annexation and the Real Danger of National Disirtogration , Ci-^ontreal, 
1912), p. 18; Ilier, Au jourd' liui , Der.air , (llcr.treal, 1916), p. 149. 

The Spectre of Annexation , . « , pp. 8, 10, 18, 

Ibid., pp. 3-5, 


threat of being silently absorbed into the American system by the 

penetration of American capital, enterprises, businees methods and 

ideals, and American culture in general. Often re-iterated were such 

opinions as tliese: 

Let no one be deceived, Canadians will save themselves from an 
American conquest only by becoming their own creditors ... the 
economic independence of a people is the surest fniarantee of its 
national independence ... Just test yourselves! Americans you 
are already by your language, your nasal accent, your common 
slang, your dress, your daily habits, by the Yankee literature 
flooding your homes and cliibs, your yellow newspapers and their 
rantings, your loud and intolerant patriotism, your worship of 
money, snobbery and titles. In your system of "national" schools, 
a servile copy of the American model, your children's minds pass 
under the same intellectual roller, formed or rather deformed in a 
perfect imitation of little Yankees . . , 

On Bourassa's analysis, the answer to the menace of annexation, 

or of gradual cultural and economic integration leading to political 

union, was to expand the institutions and influence of French Canadians 

throughout Canada. He gave particular weight to this ever since the 

North-West school debates of 1905. Ethnic dualism, everywhere, realized 

for example in provisions for bilingualism, appeared to him the 'sole 
possible obstacle" to American manners and ideals and the sole possible 
foundation of a distinctive nation in Canada, It was for French Canadians 
a supreme patriotic duty to extend their settlement and cult>jre across 
Canada, while they resisted the military imperialism of England and the 
cultural and economic imperialism of America, 

Little need be said of Bourassa's interest in imperial federa- 
tion. He traced the rise of the idea from about 1885, thus coinciding 


Ibid ,, pp, 22-23; Le Devoir , March 10, 12, 1917; November 16, 1918; 

HoiiTe of Commons Debates , February 19, 1901, p. 167; January 12, 1926, 

p. 84; L'Intervention americaine . . , , (1917), pp, 8, 46, 

See Chapter IV above; also Les lixioles du Nord-Ouest ; Le Devoir , April 

17, 1911, 


with -the enormous increase in size in the British and French Qnpires and 
the emergence of Germany as an imperial power. With Ewart, he believed 
it to have been the constant aim of imperial Britain since that time to 
bind the dominions to her military needs. This required a revolution in 
imperial relations since in the British system the colonies were respon- 
sible until then for their local defence only. As has been indicated in 
earlier chapters, he saw the campaign on foot in many f^uises: political 
federation, Canadian ministers participating in an Imperial War Cabinet, 
imperial conferences, imperial trade preferences, speeches of the Governor- 
General, the conferring of titles and honours, display of imperial pomp, 
and in appeals to racial pride and to a noble civilizing mission. Imperial 
federation was only a special form of military centralization, but it at 
least went far to meet the moral objection that Canadians went to war 
against the enemies of Britain without responsibility for creating the 
conditions of that war. 

He ranked an imperial federation, in which Canada shared the 
imperial sovereignty in some form of imperial parliament, as second in 
order of preference after independence. He was not indifferent to the 
idealism of the advocates of a united Qnpire, A federation, in which 
responsibility for external affairs was clearly devolved upon the whole 
Empire, and burdens proportioned to strength, would be better than the 

existing colonialism. B^it it could only be a "transitory state between 

colonial subjection and national liberty". He thought French Canadians 

would accept imperial federation, in default of the true solution of 

independence, if its terns and implications were fully explored, and the 


See Great Britain and Canada, p. 39; Hier , Aujourd'hui, De mair., pp. 5, 
134, 140-2; House of Commons Debates , :.:arch 15, 1904, IJirch 22, 1926, 
March 29, 1927. 


majority of Canadians approved of it in a plebiscite. He told a 

Montreal audience in 1916: 

I would ten times rather have full imperial partnership and real 
imperial federation than the low undignified solutions now offered 
us by the political parties of Canada because those solutions . . . 
scent of tribute. 

Twenty-five years of such an experiment would be an excellent "refonn 
school* for colonials. It would not increase the imperial burdens 
already borne by Canada; it would put imperial sentiment on a business- 
like basis and raise up recruits for independence. 

But like annexation, imperial federation held no basic appeal 
for Bourassa, Independence was his most constant aim. Yet he understood 
it always in association with the Crown. A typical statement was, *the 
most complete autonomy for Canada compatible with fidelity to the British 

Crown* (1910), or "absolute independence under the nominal authority of 

the King of England" (1916). He was less legalistic in his approach than 

was Ewart, and he never joined the latter, nor members of his own Natio- 
nalist group in the Twenties, in exploring the idea of a Canadian repub- 
lic. He was content with a slow evolution towards Llacdonald's ideal of 
a Kingdom of Canada, and although he never shared Liacdonald's attachment 
to the Einpire, he believed in an "alliance" with Great Britain. By this 
he meant "precise understandings", particularly in relation to foreign 
policy and war, as opposed to the ambiguous nature of injperial relations 
then existing, and the habit of seeking solutions to crises in ad hoc 

Before the first World War he spoke of independence as the 

"most normal", the "natural", or the "true" solution of the future, and 


Hier, Aujourd'hui, Domain , p. 134, 
See Le Devoir, January 10, 1910; Hier, Au joutxL'hui , Demain , p, 123, 


he thoughi; that the later Canada embarked on her own course the safer 

would be the journey. But in 1916 he protested that active belligerency 

in the European war precipated the issue, and ho called for a "Declara- 
tion of Independence" coupled with a British alliance based on mutual 
interest. Yet he ended in one of those characteristic refusals to accept 
the simple implications of his own doctrines, "'.Ve have the time to wait", 

he said, and proceeded to outline doctrinal differences between nationa- 

lism and imperialism. By this time he had reversed his position that 

independence would threaten the internal peace of Canada and jeopardize 

the i?"rench Canadian element, believing now that it would bring the two 

nationalities closer together, and make it easier for them to solve their 

differences. And by 1927, at least, he proposed the dropping of appeals 

to the Privy Council and the amendment of the constitution entirely by 


At the end of the third decade he had regained confidence 

that independence was again not only the most normal condition but the 

most probable of being realized. During a foreign policy debate in the 

House in 1928 he affirmed his support of Ewart's advocacy of independence 

and referred to the latter 's illustration of Canada's transitional status 

as analagous to that of a polywog shedding its tail and putting out legs, 


See "The French Canadian in the British Iilnpire" 1902, p, 23. 

Canadian Nationalism and the IVar, (1916), p, 14; Le Devoir , January 11, 



Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain , p, 131» 

House of Coraraons Debates, f^rch 9, 1927, p. 1048, 

but not yet able to leap like a frojs 

Many people are disquieted at that transition period. You have 
the lusty nationalist who would pull off the tail and force the 
poor animal immediately to seek its livinp; on the land. You have 
the typical colonist who often is disquieted as to what kind of 
beast it is. Then you have the ardent imperialist who would cut 
off the lef;s the moment they show themselves. Or apain, you have 
the i'Vench Canadian colonist like Mr. Taschereau Prime Minister of 
Qviebec, for example, who hangs on to the tail and tells us in 
Quebec: this is the bulwark of our national liberty. Well, I do 
not feel that way. All I ask is that we should let the poor thing 
grow according to its ovm nature and temperament. Let those legs 
protrude (gradually, let the tail fall off when the time comes, but 
for heaven's sake, do not drown the poor animal in the quagmire of 
colonialism . . , under the pretense of , . , preserving unity of 
action or because we are afraid of new things. 

Independence he equated with neutrality, and this in turn with 

a belief in the military security of Canada regardless of the fate of 

the Einpire, Not only did he believe that the legal right to neutrality 

already existed — a question on which constitutional authorities were 

divided, though the orevailing opinion held that a British declaration of 

war created a state of belligerency for Canada. He assximed that a declara- 
tion of independence, which emphasized full control over foreign affairs 
on the part of Canada, would make more certain a policy of neutrality. 
It would create a psychological atmosphere in which imperial sentiment 
was minimized. Canadian interest demanded a policy of peace and internal 
development. If independent, he stated in 1914, and frequently thereafter, 

Canada would enjoy perfect security, and would find her chances of becoming 

I ■ 

House of Commons Debates , May 28, 1928, p, 3457; see also his speech of 
March 22, 1926, p, 1805, declaring that he was not longing for secession 
and that "for a long time to come" Canadians would benefit from close 
association with Britain, not for. any military protection but to help 
develop their minds to "British standards of individual and political 

See a discussion of the question of neutrality in F, R, Scott, Canada 
Today, (Toronto, 1938) and in R, A, I-iacKay and E, B. Rogers, Canada 
Looks Abroad, (Toronto, 1938); books published under the ausnicos of the 
Canadian Institute of International Affairs, Toronto, 


involved in v/ar "enormously reduced". 

Reliance on geographic isolation from Europe and on the 
Uonroe Doctrine reinforced a pacifist outlook. Various degrees of 
nationalist and pacifist sentiment had also become current in English- 
speaking Canada during the period after the first 7;orld IVar when imperia- 
list sentiment receded, and the country turned from its exhausting war 
experiences to internal development. Such views were voiced, among others, 
by llr, J, S, Woodsworth of Winnipeg, labour party leader in the House of 
Commons. Mr, Mackenzie King, who dominated most of the period as Prime 
Minister and Minister for External Affairs, in his equivocal formulas gave 
comfort both to the guardians of a dormant imperialism and to the heralds 
of the new nationalism. Yet there was no doubt that he greatly extended 
Canada's independent functions in the whole field of foreign and imperial 
affairs while minimizing at every opportunity her political and military 

commitments, whether at Imperial Conferences, or in meetings of the 

League of Nations, or under international treaties, 

Bourassa was borne well to the fore on the new tide. The 

Balfour Declaration of 1926, though emphasizing equality of status as the 

root principle governing the relations of Great Britain and the Dominions, 

noted a continuing inequality in power, responsibility, and functions. 

In this, Bourassa sa'.7 expressed "in a delicate and careful manner* the 

understanding that Britain would have the full and free co-operation of 

Le Devoir , September 8, 1914; Hier, Aujourd'hui, Domain , p, 127, 

i'or disaussions of the period, seo R, LJacGregor Dawson, The Development 
of Dominion Status, 19CO-1936 , (Toronto, 1937), pp. 54-132; Scott, op, 
cit ., pp. 106, 123 ff; ;.;acKay and Rogers, op. cit .; Escott Reid, "~r7 
IZackenzie King's Foreign Policy", Canadian Journal of Sconcnics and 
Political Science, February, 1937, 


the Doninions should diploaacy terminate in war, 'I'hat, he said, 

borrowing the thought of John S, Ewart, has boon the wholo history of 

the relations between Great Britain and the Dominions ever since the 

South African War, He was prepared for eitrene measures. In 1928, for 

example, he announced that he had reached the "deep-seated conviction* 

that Canada should maximize her guarantees of peace by disarming "totally 

and absolutely against the world"; and in 1935 he stated in the Coamons 

"Let us proclaim to the world that v/e are disaroin/ir as the best means of 

defending Canada*. Canada of all countries, he believed, could do this 

with least danger to herself: 

The geographical position of Canada is such that there is lees 
risk for Canada in standing squarely for a peace and disamanent 
policy than there is, not merely for any other British country, 
but for any other country on earth ... More rractical results 
are to be derived, not by more verbal assertion. . , but by 
proving in fact that what we say we mean; that we disarm, first 
because we do not believe in war, and second, because we do believe- 
that the position which Canada occupies enables us to take that 

Statements recognizing dependency upon an American destiny were 
frequent in Bourassa, and were part of his counter-attack on British im- 
perialism, Ke found "permanent and indestructible ligaments of an 
economic, geographic, cultural, and military order, attaching Canada to 

the flank of the American nation and tending to make her a "satellite of 

the United States*. No nation of Europe would defend her against American 

military expansion, and her own efforts would be una\'ailing should war 
1 — — 

See House of Comaions Debates, i-arch 29, 1927, p, 1665; John S, Ewart, 

Independence Papers , II, pp, 156-72, 254-62, 

House of Commons Debatos , February 7, 1928, p. 239; June 4, 1929, p, 

3237; April 1, 1^35, p, 2289, 

Ibid ., May 23, 1928, 

Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain, p, 162 ff; L' Intervention anericaine , p. 42, 


break out between the two peoples. There v/as, iiowover, plmost no 

danger of American military conquest of Canada. Indeed, ho thought 

the United States to be the least likely of all major powers to go to 

war for motives of concpaest or what the diplomats called "national - , . 

honour*. A military alliance with the United States entailed therefore 

the minimum of risks for Canada and the maximum of advantages, since 

that nation was the only effective support against possible attack from 

Europe or Asia. Foreign policy should be based on hemispheric defensive 


His policy of neutrality in British wars, and his general 

pacifist outlook, when coupled with the dependence which he advised upon 

American military power, could lead only to a new colonialism with respect 

to the United States, Indeed, Bourassa appears to have accepted Anerican 

leadership in foreign policy as inevitable, and the determining influence 

on Canadian policy. "It is a mere delusion , ho stated in the House on 

April 9, 1930, "to imagine that we could stand up against the United 

States on any international issue, either as an isolated nation, or even 

counting upon the theoretical support of the British Qnpire", Again, in 

1935, he suggested that Canada make it clear to the Americans that she 

stood loyally by Great Britain "so long as Britain stands for peace", but 

that she should tell the British that "if England chooses war and the 


United States stands for peace, then we also shall decide for oeace". 

Hier, Au jourd'hui, Demain , p. 165, Canada should "draw up with the 
United States as soon as possible tho terms of a defensive military 
alliance against any European, Asiatic, or Oceanic nation that would 
come to attack her coasts." See House of Commons Debates, r'ebruary 19, 
1929, p. 274; March 29, 1927, pp, 1692-93; Llarch 26, 1928, p, 1720. 

See Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain , pp. 165-68; House of Commons De bates, 

April 9, 1930. 

House of Commons Debates, April 1, 1935, p. 2286, 


\fhat counterbalance to Airerican influence he sou[-ht was not in the 

Coranonwealth, because that inpliod involvenent in F)jronean wars, but 

rather in the Pan-American union, membership in wi-.xci; he sug.^ostad as 

early as 1916. 

It was not that Bourassa had forsaken the ideal of independence, 
but that blinded by one imperialism he seemed ready to shelter under 
another. His principle of peace through neutrality, supported either by 
total disaraanent or an American military alliance, was not based, he 
believed, on an impossible isolationist attitude. It accorded exactly 
with "our responsibility according to our situation, political, geogra- 
phic and economic". At bottom he saw the world in several compartments, 
and collective security a matter of internal arrangements in each part. 
In one world -- that of Britain -- Canada had been placed by the accidents 
of history. Into her natural world — that of Anerica -- she nust inevi- 
tably move. The basis of his concept of Canada's external policy was 

summed up in 1935: 

, , , it was decided by God at the tine of creation that America 
is America, Europe is Europe, and Canada is a nation in America 
and not one in Europe or Asia, Let us first base our policy on 
that permanent fact and then adapt ourselves as much as wo can 
to the passing facts of conquest, domination, alliance, and so 

What was feared from Britain were military burdens; from the 
United States, economic and cultural penetration. Security lay there- 
fore in maintaining cultural ties with Great Britain and military ties 

with the United States, Thus Bourassa, in his own way, continued the 

Hier, ^.uicurd 'hui, Demain , pp, 16c-70; hciiso ox ^ozzzcr.s lobaxos, ..£.rch 
29, lv27, r. I6's2; rebruary"l9, 1929, p, 274; April 1, lv35, p. 2299. 
House of Commons Debates, April 1, 1935, p. 2289, 


Canadian tradition of holdinc the country in tension between the pulls 

exerted from Britain and America. He f^ve special weirht to the role 

of French Canadians in providing* controls a.-^inst extremes in either 

direction. On the whole, he reacted against the prevailing currents of 

the times which disturbed what he considered the ideal conditions of 

peace, internal development, ethnic dualism, and national independence, 

Bourassa's liberalism, as indicated above, was undermined by 

lack of faith in democracy. "We Nationalists", he declared in 1921, 

"are not devotees of democracy", and this expressed a long-standing 

attitude. Charges, made familiar by conservative critics of democracy, 

political parties, elections, and universal franchise, were all repeated. 
Democracy led to a weakening of the principle of authority and to the 
collapse of hierarchy in values and functions. In practice at least, it 
was "synonomous with deception and instability*. At bottom it was "the 
right of majorities to oppress minorities*. Intense party spirit cor- 
rupted public morality and, in the experience of French Canadians, led 
to concessions undermining their national rights and safety. He both 
affirmed and denied that political parties were necessary for the working 

of a parliamentary regime, at one time characterizing the two-party system 

as a "modern excrescence of British parliamentary institutions". During 

the war he protested that everything happening in Canada testified to the 

"failure and illusion of parliamentarism and the cynical dupery of the 

party ref^ime". The parliamentary system he described in 1019 as 


See Le Devoir , April 25, 1917; August 15, 1917; December 4, 1919; 
October 20, 1921; also La lengue . . . , p. 9, 

See House of Commons Debates , Uarch 14, 1928, p, 1334; Le ::ationaliste , 
March 27, 1904; L e 5° Anniversaire du Devoir , (Montreal, 1915), p, 70, 
It was a "profound error" to believe political parties essential to the 
parliamentary regime, 

Conscription, (1917), p. 38, 

"anti-social, dissolvant, and injurious in itself". Liberal democracies 

he thought unlikely to solve the "social problem", particularly the 

antagonism of social classes. Class warfare which he believed in the 

offing, particularly for the Anglo-Saxon nations, would finally put an 

end to the "worm-eaten edifice" of parliamentary democracy. Liberal 

democracy seemed of declininc interest to the middle classes crushed 

between the upper and nether millstones of plutocracy and proletariat in 

a society tending to oscillate between capitalist tyranny and socialist 

despotism. And he repeated the familiar anti-democratic doctrine that 

both fascism and communism grew logically out of liberal democracy. 

Notwithstanding this general critique of parliamentary 

democracy, flowing in part from the irritations of Canadian politics, 

and from the belief that the system too much supported the forces of 

change, Bourassa had few proposals for reform. Although he repeatedly 



refused to consider forming a third party, arguing that the Nationalist 
movement had neither the necessary cadres, organization, nor spirit, he 
admitted there were circumstances which would justify such a step. Third 
parties were jtistified, he suggested in 1910, under conditions of "excep- 
tional and lasting character", and to achieve objects of "capital and 
immediate importance". Thus, in Germany, a third party arose to protect 

religious interests, and in Ireland to safeguard national interests 

Lo Devoir, December 10, 1919: "It has brought us to deify men , , , At 
the same time there operated among us a confusion between authority and 
the men who exercised it . . , The Protestant environment has atrophied 
the Catholic social sense , . . We acquired the habit of neutrality and 


See Impressions d'Surope , (Montreal, 1938), p, 26; La Propriete, ses 
homes, ses abus , (Montreal, 1925), p, 27, 
See Le Devoir, August 11, 1910; September 19, 1911; November 12, 1917; 
January 15, 19 2 . 

against permanent dangers. The implication was that similar conditions 

did not exist in Canada, However, a third party "sworn to the re-conquest 

of the undeniable rights of the race" would perhaps be necessary if the 

"ostracism of the r ranch language following the odious example given by 

Ontario were prolonged and became general , But it should first be 

shown that justice could not be had from the two national parties. 

In 1918, commenting on the ideas of Paul-Snile Lamarche, a 

Quebec Conservative member of Parliament raiich favoured by the Nationalists, 

Bourassa admitted: 

Like many others, like all of us, he too had dreamed of 

independent parliamentary action, of the organization of 

a new party dedicated to the defence of the principles of 

Evidently it was to be a party composed of both English and French- 
speaking Canadians, but Bourassa considered it an Unrealizable dream* 

since there had not yet been created a "national conscience, will, and 

intelligence" fundamental to a nationalist party, IThat Bourassa 's poli- 
tics required, thon, was not party organization, but an ideological 
activity with a view to persuading important numbers of the electorate 
to shift their allegiance from one party to the other in return for 
guarantees and concessions in the name ol" superior interests. He had 
always conceived the Nationalist movement as performing the functions of 
a League; that is a group concerned mainly with propaganda and agitation, 
and for which parliamentary and electoral activity was always secondary. 

Nothing better illustrated the elite character of the movement than its 


Ibid ., August 11, IVlO, 
2 e 

Le 5 Anniverttaire du "Devoir , p, 71, 

Le Devoir, I.'ov ember 12, 1918, 


lack of interest in organizinc a mass political party. 

He showed interest in the theories of group govorament developed 

in '.Vestern Canada in the mid-Twenties, and he appeared ready to see those 

theories applied in the Canadian Parlitusent, 

I say that group representation has come to stay, and wo raist 
desiro it to stay, but we must look to the adaptation of our 
parliamentary system and of our system of government to that 
new, and I think, enduring condition of af fairs, ■'■ 

This contrasted sharply with his advice to tho Quebec branch of the 

Patrons of Industry in 1896 when advising them never to organize as a 

group or party with candidates of their own, but to act only as a pressure 

group to influence the programmes of the national parties. To multiply 

political groups he thought raised the danger of instability in Parliament, 

and induced successive government crises and sterile electioneering. 

Thirty years later, when farmer and labour parties were represented in the 
House, he reversed his stand. But he did not think, as they did, of eco- 
nomic class organization as the basis of the group system, calling rather 
for a 'free" representation of such vaguo categories as provinces, races, 
classes, currents of opinion, and diverse interests. He did not propose 
coalition cabinets, although they would seem to be an integral part of 
any developed group system, Ke did, however, suggest a fixed term to the 
life of Parliament to protect it against dissolution by the executive. 
He favoured also the adoption of the rule that governments not resign 
upon the defeat of their measures in the House, but only upon an explicit 

vote of want of confidence. 

I ~~ 

House of Co.-nmons Debates , January 12, 1^26, p, 83; see also February 2, 

1§26, pp, 646-7; March l4, 1926, pp, 13-35; June 15, 1926, p. 4506; 

February 14, 1927, p, 289; January 22, 1935, pp. 104-6, 
■See Lo Ralliement , Warch 5, 1896; December 12, 1895; L'Interprete , 

November 2, 189 3. 


But none of these constitutional proposals did he advocate 
with any persistence. They reflect only the ^enere.! direction of his 
radicalism towards the break-up of the party systen into an undefined 
group systen. In the meantime his hope was for e bloc of Independents 
and representatives of groups to hold the balance of power between the 
two parties. In particular, it may be noted, he never effected a union 
between the group ideas in govemnent and the general syndicalism he 
was supporting in economic life. Hor did he want an authoritarian state, 
though the seeds of such a state can be found in his criticisms of democ- 
racy and desire to resist social change. In effect, his was a radicalism, 
in this field as in others, which was not prepared to go beyond a certain 
point. It served to discharge irritations and anxieties but it left 
behind a volume of anti-democratic thought upon which others could draw. 

His lack of sympathy with democratic principles was further 
revealed in views upon the franchise, which he would reserve for portions 
of the male population only. Thus, "free* representation of all groups 
and interests was evidently not to bo a principle of wide application. 
Female suffrage he opposed as an "insanity*, and this reflected a general 
attitude towards the changing status of women. Upon one occasion also ho 
suggested a 4-to-l preponderance in favour of rural representation in 
parliament, mainly in the interests of stability. Excluded from the fran- 
chise should be persons dependent upon the state, such as recipients of 
soldiers' pensions and the unemployed on relief. Voting should be the 
function of "useful citizens", those who contributed to the building up 
of the country, who paid taxes in support of its government. Revealing 
the bourgeois character of his views, he said in 1935, "If we want to save 


democracy, '.ve must put the franchise in the hancs oi' the people who 

have democracy at stako*. 

Bourassa's loss of faith in parliamentary p;ovomment was 
further illustrated by advocacy of plebiscites in dotemining the popular 
will on important and specific national policies. He was close to believ- 
ing that, if held within reasonable bounds, plebiscitary consultation was 

"more conformable to the true principles of social order then the elec- 

' 2 
toral and parliamentary rep:ine". This leaning towards a plebiscitary 

democracy was based on a number of supports: on a theory of popular 

sovereignty as opposed to parliamentary sovereignty; on a belief in the 

Tightness of the popular instinct and will, if approached more directly 

than through party and electoral agitation; and apparently also on a 

compact theory of Confederation which would require explicit consent 

either of the provinces or of the "two founding races* (it is not certain 

which) before constitutional change took place. It v;as clear, n'.oreover, 

that by constitutional change Bourassa meant not only fomal aner.dr-,enx 

but also major policy decisions; for example, the decision to participate 

in the South African War, or to build a Canadian navy which would be 

"imperial" in time of war, or to impose conscription for overseas service, 

I ~~~~~ 

See House of Commons Debates , Liarch, 1898, p. 2704; February 19, 1935, p. 
987; Femmes-hommes ou honmes et femnes ?, pp, 24-5; Le Devoir , -'ebruary 
23, November 9, 1923, 

Conscription , p. 41; see also Le Devoir , ::ovember 11, 1911; ibid., 
January 2, 1918: "I do not say that the plebiscite or the referendum is 
an ideal mode of government or even of popular consultation. I limit 
myself to saying it is better, and above all more sincere, than the kin< 
of consultation that can be had on a concrete question, by a parliamen- 
tary election", 

See ibid ,, January 13, 1910; October 23, 1911: "Parliament has net 
received free the people the moral right to engage us in a new policy 
whose ultimate consequences will necessarily affect the autonomy of 
Canada, its world-wide relations, the security of its commerce and indus- 
try, the resources of its people, and the lives of its sons*. 


These, in fact, were the occasions on which the nationalists demanded 

plebiscites, although there was nothing in Bourassa's principle to 

prevent its general extension. That he hoped to achieve a veto on these 

occasions was, of course, evident, and made even more so by the extent 

of the favourable majority required. Upon one occasion (190C) a rrajority 

was demanded in every province, and at other times (1910 and 1917) the 

favourable vote was set at a majority of the total electorate, unpolled 

votes to count in the negative. 

These various proposals of group representation and related 
changes, a restricted franchise, and the use of plebiscites were advanced 
with the professed intention of securing the responsibility of government 
to Parliament and of Parliament to the people. That they wculd achieve 
these objectives is altogether doubtful for reasons that need no elabora- 
tion here; among them, and especially with respect to group representation 
and the plebiscite, a weakening of prestige and sense of responsibility on 
the part of Parliament, and a corresponding increase in power and irres- 
ponsibility on the part of the executive. 

An economic radicalism becejne prominent in Sourassa s Nationa- 
lism after the first decade of the century. It rested on the belief, 

stated in 1908, that the economic strugple would be the critical one for 

French Canadians in the twentieth century. It rested even more on the 

conviction that the relations of production, principles, and practices of 

modern industrialism undermined not only the traditional social system of 


See House of Commons Debates , July 26, 1899, p, 8691; Llarch 13, 1900, 

p, igSl; also Le Devoir , rebruary 18, ISIO; June 1, 8, 9, 1911; 

Conscription, p, 29, 

See Le Kationaliste, October 11, 1909. 

French Canada, but Christian social order in general. His economic 
radicalism influenced his political ideas. This was seen in his 
indictment of parliamentary democracy which stemmed, as was indicated 
above, partly from an aversion to party politics and to the results 
achieved in imperial affairs and questions of nationality, but also 
from the belief that parliamentary democracy enabled the plutocracy to 
dominate the state, thus confirming its exploitation of society. 
Societies under such conditions tended to self-destruction through class 

Bourassa's economic policy pointed towards a liberal collecti- 
vism, although he himself depended more on a return to Christian prin- 
ciples than on increasing the role of the state in economic life. His 
was a radicalism striking out in all directions, against international 
finance, international unionism, "abusive capitalism*, and "detestable 
state socialism". It reflected the viewpoint of the smaller propertied 
classes for whom he made himself spokesman; and whom he referred to as 
the farmers, small traders, small industrialists, small capitalists, 
and rentiers. These classes, he always thought, were the key to social 
solidarity and the basis of security for French Canadians as a people. 
He considered them latent revolutionaries, if thev were not orotected 
from big business and big unionism. Reports of his travels through 
Europe indicated concern for the state of the petit-bourgeoisie and 

references were frequent to their importance in saving nations from 

"unnitirated class vrarfare". 


See La Verite , August 10, 1901; L'Intervsntion americaine , (Montreal, 
1917}, p, 38; Conscription , (Montreal, 1^17), p. 10; Impressions d 'Europe , 
(Montreal, 19 31), p, 10, '^ 


His position was the faniliar one of rejecting both the 

economic liberalism of the "false economists of the Manchester School", 

and the socialist desifm for economic ro-organization. The property 

regime of modern capitalism, he told the meetings of the Semaines Sociales 

at Sherbrooke in 1924, rested on a false theory of absolute Tironerty 

right inspired by a desire for unlimited accunulation, ana unchecked by 

social obligation. It was a property system evolving since the "fatal 

revival" of Roman lav/, the Protestant revolution, and the emergence of 

absolute monarchies. It had become a pagan regime, 'the total reversal 

of natural right and Christian social order*, and no more legitimate 

than Bolshevist communism, with much of the socialist criticism of 

modem capitalism he agreed, and v/ith some socialist proposals for reform. 

This was shown, for example, in his sympathy for the objectives of the 

C.C.F, party in Canada which, he believed, followed a middle course ho- 


tween un-Christian socialism and Catholic social doctrine. But the full 
execution of a socialist programme would entail the "complete socializa- 
tion of all sources of wealth", and this, he stated, went beyond what a 

Catholic could accept, 

Bourassa s concept of capitalism was most clearly defined in 

his speech at Sherbrooke, La Propriete, ses bornes, ses abus, and in a 


letter to Cardinal Villeneuve in 1^'34, In the latter, ho drew a distinction 

La Propriete, ses bornes, ses abus, ^L'ontreal, 1925), pp. 8-10, 20. 

Ibid ., pp. 2, 20. 

Letters to two correspondents, April 19, and June 6, 1934, in private 

files shown to the author by Lille, Anne Bourassa, 

'Tijetter to J. W. — , r'ebruary 20, 19 34. See l<i Propriete . . . , pp. 4-7 
for a discussion of the Catholic concept of property, where the right 
to property is found to reside in the very nature of man, his aspirations 
and needs, in the necessity to work the land to draw a subsistence from 
it, and as a foundation of the family, 

Bourassa to Cardinal Villeneuve, May 25, 1934, in private files, as above. 


between capital and capitalism, and he challenged tao view that the 
capitalist system of production was not intrinsically evil, but had 
only been vitiated by abuses. Capitalism he defined as something more 
than a system in which men ordinarily contributed to economic activity, 
some by their capital, others by their labour. It was not from the 
basic capital-labour relationship that the evil consequences of the 
system flowed. The evil, amounting to a reversal of order, as Pius XI 
had declared, occurred when capital engaged workers only with a view to 
their exploitation and for its own gain, without taking account of their 
human dignity and social responsibilities, and ignoring questions of 
justice and the common good. Yet, on Bourassa s analysis, such a rever- 
sal of social order was not accidental; it v/as the "essential foundation* 

of capitalism. Labour appeared only as an instrument of capital, its 

remuneration subordinate to profit making. The mass of consumers existed 

only to absorb the products of capitalist production. The domination of 

capital was reinforced by the state in its fiscal policies, laws, courts, 

and system of jurisprudence. It v^ra.s not merely the abuses of capitalism, 

thus defined, which were to be condemned, it was the system itself. 

Unless reconstructed, this anti-social and anti-Christian mode of produc- 
tion would develop into either fascism or communism. 

But it was apparent that neither the rirht to pri'vate property 
nor the labour-capital relationship v/ere under attack. Capital, he said, 
should not be confused with capitalism, any more than liberty with libera- 
lism, and he mede it plain that he meant to uphold a society of small 

I ' 

Ibid . 



property owners, and small producers. Modern forms of property, best 
represented by the joint stock companies, "dominate and seek to monopo- 
lize all financial, industrial, p.nd conraercial activity". They tend to 
larger and larger units or organization driven by the competitive struggle 
for gain. Such property is g;enerally 'monstrously swollen* by over- 
capitalization and over-production, conditions which are related to the 
operations of the banks and stock exchanges. Landed property, and other 
"real" property no longer account for the greater part of the wealth of 
a country. Property has come to be represented mainly by "claims", 
pieces of paper, a large proportion of which is oi I'raudulent origin, or 
of no value, and which owes its fecundity to the taxes on landed property, 
and to the excessive prices charged the consuming masses, liot only is 
society exploited as consumers; the workers are paid the lowest possible 
wage and condemned to alternating periods of intense labour and unenploy- 
mont. Masses of men, women and children were drawn into the cities to 

factories and offices where they spent their lives as slaves of the 

machine. The system, he said, 

directly threatens the family and social order. It suppresses 
small commerce and small industry, crafts, and family enterprise 

Thanks to the predominance of the capitalist system, millions of 
heads of families and workers are deprived of the exercise of the 
right (of propertjrj . , . Stolen or fictitious property kills and 
devours legitimate property or prevents its birth ,,...,.. 

The present capitalist system , , . is in the process of destroying 
landed property, patrimonial property, and small property ... as 
surely as would state socialism or conmunism. 


La Proprieto . . . , pp. 20, 26, 28, The moral and social consequences 
7/ere seen to be disastrous: "For individuals: lurury, eitrava^-ar.ce, 
dishonesty . , , For families: overtaxed budgets, loosening of the mar- 
riage tie, dispersal of members , . . voluntary suppression of children. 
Fir public corporations, the state, and civil society: economic disorder, 
, . . excessive taxation, temptation to costlj -Jcrks, and encouragement 
to militarism and war." 


Bourassa 3 analysis and indicoiionx 01 noaern cajixaiisai naa 

its extravagant features, but it was desifjnod basically to protect the 

position of the independent snail producers against the conpetition of 

large scale enterprise. He tended to see capitalism e.3 that economic 

activity outside the normal experience of the petit-bourgeoisie; that 

is, production carried on by masses of wage earners and their employers, 

Hhat he most insisted on was that the respective rJgr.xs oi' these xwo 

classes, workers and c apitalists, be held in reasonable equilibrium, and 

that the economic activity in which they collaborated be subordinated 

to the common good of the society. His support for trade unionism, state 

regulation of large scale enterprise, and compulsory arbitrtition of indus- 
trail disputes, ss well as other specific proposals to be noted below, 
indicate his attempts to achieve class balance, and the subordination of 
labour-capital enterprise to the common good, liach progress, he observed, 
had been made in the tv/entieth century in improving the -^osition of the 
wage earners, and thus in balancing their claims with ti.ose of the owners 
and managers of capital. But the intermediate classes continued to suffer, 
and to be pressed down in the social scale. They formed the great bulk 
of i'Vench Canadian society, and had been its security in the past. It 
was concern for the welfare of these intermediate classes that in the last 
analysis prompted Bourassa's economic radicalism, and linked it with the 
general doctrine of Nationalism, 

In 1907 and 1908 when preparing to enter the provincial legisla- 
ture, Bourassa urged labour legislation patterned on that of Catholic 

Belgium, and with a view to croatinj n Labour Council (Chambre syndicale) 


Bourassa to Cardinal Villeneuve, cited above. 


in which repreaentativos of labour unions and employerG' syndicates 

would meet continuously for collective bargaining. The role of the 

state should bo confined to creating a legal framework for the joint 

labour-capital administration of industries, and to protecting general 

interests. It was important to free industrial relations from the rules 

of English common law and the French civil code, wherein 'vas enshrined 

the "false individualist principle* stemming from the French revolution, 

and the 1/anchester tradition. At the same time, in the House of Commons, 

he declared himself in favour of compulsory arbitration of industrial 

disputes, but he recognized that the public was not yet ready for that 

step. After visits to Belgium in 1910 and 1914 he became a strong advo- 
cate of Catholic and national labour unions, and of a general syndicalist 

organization among employers, craftsmen, and consixmers, as of co-operatives 

in production and credit. 

He thought labour unions particularly important in strengthening 

French Canadian society in the new industrial era. To this end they 

should be insulated from international unions, where their members were 

exposed to "neutralism* in religion and to the values of an egoist and 

materialist civilization. The faith of French Canadian workers should be 

grafted to their economic organizations, giving them a "soul", and a 

See Ia Patrie, August 14, September 3, 1907; Le liationaliste , IJay 31, 


Le Devoir , April 24, 1919, 

House of Cornmons Debates , 1906-07, Vol. I, pp. 1177-81, 

See Le Devoir , August 1, 8, 12, 14, 15, 1914; "Les Syndicats Chretiens 
de Belgiqiie", written while in iXirope and pointing to the "chaotic" 
social scene in England in contrast to the general stability of the 
relatively egalitarian socio-economic structure in Belgium, See also 
Religion, langue, nationality , for an appeal to follow the path laid 
out by Pope Leo XIII, the "Pope of the iVorkers", See also Syndicats, 
nationaux ou intemationaux, (J.!ontreal, 1919), passim. 


principle of unity. Labour unions should be placed entirely "within 

the environment of principles, customs, and beliefs of the population 

of v;hich they , . . are only constitutive cells*. I'he solution of the 

social and economic problem lay in "integral religious and national 

He favoured also an extension of the public sector of the 
economy in such basic utilities as railways and telephones, and in impor- 
tant resources like hydro-electric power. But he doubted the wisdom of 

state operation of such enterprises in a country afflicted, as he nut 

it, with the electoral and parliamentary system. Reluctance to see state 

activity increase in the economic order and in social welfare schemes 

reflected his dependence on the Church and voluntary associations, and 

sprang from an ideal of a society composed of relatively self-sufficient 

families. It was important to avoid undermining the social sense of the 

people by such schemes as non-contributory old age pensions, and to avoid 

taking money from one class to give to another. Eharing the depression of 

the Thirties he called upon the state to bring about a better distribution 
of wealth, to curb the power of finance, to bring fiscal relief to small 
and medium enterprises and heads of families, to reduce relief expendi- 
tures and war veterans' pensions, and to institute a policy of small public 


Le Devoir , April 19, iJay 6, 1919. 

See Syndicats, nationaux ou internationaux , p, 25, 

See House of Commons Debates , Inarch 26, 1926, p, 952; also rebruary 14, 
1935, pp. 850-7, for remarks on the dangers inherent in the Unemployment 
Insurance Bill of that year. See also Une t-Iauvaise Loi, 1 'assistance 
publique, (Montreal, 19 21), pp. 1-2, 22, in which an Act of the Quebec 
Legislature providing for assistance and regulation oT certain charitabk 
works was held to "accelerate family and social disorganization*, and to 
be a certain step towards "detestable state socialism*. 


works scattered throughout the country. Yet he despaired of the parlia- 
mentary state taking effective measures to restore 'individual liberty 
and individual enterprise in trade and industry". Political parties, ho 
often protested, had fallen into the hands of the plutocracy, *fast be- 
coming the dominant class", and thus poisoned they corrupted the state, 

Through a servile press the people were held in bondage. In all these 

proposals and attitudes the basic viewpoint of his social class was 
evident, and not untouched by a class egotism deplored in others. 

Religious and ethnic considerations influenced his economic 
analysis. Thus, in 1921, he warned that the * inordinate passion for 
business" was for French Canadians "the most active agent of Anglo- 
Saxon and Protestant conquest". Hot in *les grandes affaires" should 
French Canadians seek freedom from the economic dictatorship of trusts, 
combines, and high finance, but in a "multiplicity of small patrimonies 
and the social improvement of small capital". Such economic wealth, he 

said, alone merited the blessings of God, and only towards it must an 


"intelligent and noble Catholic people" aspire. 

He would reiDeat the words of Cartier spoken in 1855 when 

railway building opened the industrial era in Canada; 

Do not forget that if you wish to assure our national existence 
you must cling to the land . , , I do not see any possible even- 
tuality that could give the death blow to our nationality so long 
as we keep full possession of the land . . . Remember that our 
nationality cannot sustain itself but on that condition , . , 

•*- Hous9 of Conmons Debates , January 30, 1934, pp. 108-9; March 20, 1934, pp. 

1645-61; l-'ebruary 2, 1533, p, 1724; April 15, 1931, p, 626. 
^ Ibid ,, February 2, 1933, p, 1724, 

^Le Devoir, October 20, 1921, "Vftiat after all are the two old parties, 
both in their leading figures and in the influences ..hich dominate them? 
Two legions of partisans . , . one in the secret service of the financial 
junta which rules at Toronto, the other of the monied caste dominating 


See Le. Presse catholique et nationalo, pp. 35-S, 52-5, 
5 ' 

Joseph Tasse, Discours de Sir Georges Cartier, (Montreal, 1893), p, 65, 

Those who did not possess the land, said Cartier, should save in order 
to acquire a portion, however small. A society of freeholders was ex- 
tolled, not with the Jeffersonian ideal of fosterinc individual virtue, 
capacities, and political liberty, but rather from the viewpoint of 
defence of comnunity values. By emphasizing land and small enterprise, 
attention was focused on activity that was relatively non-competitive 
with English-speaking Canadians and tended to miniaize daily and intimate 
contacts between the two groups. Under conditions of land abundance, an 
agricultural society, in contrast to a commercial and industrial society, 
would appear to diminish the occasions and means of cultural and ethnic 
conflict, and thus contribute to general cultural defence, 

Bourassa's economic radicalism thus tended to be converted 
into a petit-bourgeois nationalism supported by religious sanctions. 
To some extent the force of Nationalism was restrained by his appeal to 
a traditional agrarian order. But one important effect was to divert 
attention from problems of urban industrialism, or to approach them with 
values and institutions appropriate to a system of compact agrarian 

Although Bourassa himself represents the forces of transition, 
as evident, for example, in his advocacy of trade unionism, he was none- 
theless caught in the dilemma of seeking emancipation from the "economic 
dictatorship" of Anglo-American finance and industry while advising for 
French Canadians an economic activity that seemed designed to perpe-tuate 
economic inferiority. He would not admit the necessity of competing at 
all levels on a basis of equality, and he was unable to appreciate the 
part that urbanization and industrial growth in the province of Quebec 
played in strengthening the supports of French Canadian nationality. 

His diagnosis began, not with the acceptance of an industrial order, 
but with an idealized agrarian society rapidly passing away. 

Preoccupation with the security of small property under such 
conditions implied political means to control large scale industrialism. 
Both extensive state regulation of enterprise and state ownership of 
basic resources and utilities might be expected to form an integral part 
of Nationalism, but these measures were, on the whole, rejected mainly 
because of distrust of the domocratic stats, and an aversion to state 
socialism. Escape from difficulties, and efforts to win tL-ne for adjust- 
ment, were evident in reliance on such activities as colonization and 
the fostering of economic associations. Bou.rassa's reaffirmation of a 
long-dormant interest in the Canadian '.Vest as a frontier of settlement 
for French Canadians on a community basis should be viewed in relation 
to his social philosophy, in which an important part was played by land 
ownership and communal organization centered on the Church, 

In this chapter some interrelations between Bourassa's social 
and political ideas have been indicated. His radicalism was overwhelm- 
ingly conservative in intent. He challenged every d eviation from his 
ideal of a relatively egalitarian, faunilial, small-propertied, and 
stable society which, in the case of French Canada, was above all pro- 
foundly Catholic in faith and social outlook. He did not have the 
philosophical basis for the Liberalism of the English school, which he 
nonetheless believed underlay his political actions, and his critique of 
political parties and the parliamentary system. Undemocratic tendencies 
in his thought were most evident in the suggestion that political parties 
were unnecessary to the working of a parliamentary system, and in his 
views on the franchise and the use of plebiscites, Yet his was not a 


criticism iasuinc in proposals for far-reachinp chango. His real con- 
cern not to deviso substitutes for liberal democracy, b'jt to react 
against a widely-basod pattern of change in defence of institutions and 
values considered fundamental to French Canadian culture. It has to be 
asked, however, whether he did not undermine with exai^n^erations and fits 
of intolerance the solidarity between the two main ethnic and linguistic 
groups in Canada, whose unity he believed crucial, not only to national 
welfare and independence, but also to a continuing French Canadian com- 
nunity life. There were many things against which the people of French 
Canada should bo sheltered; for example. Protestantism and liberalism. 
He could not quite decide whether the "British spirit" meant stability 
and progress, or an inovi table, decline into materialism, class warfare, 
and loss of religious convictions. He rejected what he called modem 
or finance capitalism and socialism as economic systems. This, in con- 
junction with his indifference to democracy, his nationalist sentiment, 
and emphasis on the economic interests of the propertied Liiddle classes, 
might have been expected to lead hin in the direction of fascism. But 
Bourassa never went this far. His critique ends rather in ambiguity. 
He valued political liberties highly and repudiated all forms of state 
absolutism. He leaned on the Church rather than the state for the 
solution of economic and social problems, and this introduced indecisive- 
ness into his politics. 



The foregoing account of Dourassa 3 ideas and political 
actions, as related to Nationalism, has emphasized certain characteris- 
tics, and suggested a number of determining influences. Nationalism 
arose within the context of changing circiimstances in imperial affairs, 
in the relations of the two major nationalities in Western Canada, and 
in response to a deep change in the economic foundations of French 
Canadian society, ihe result was a conservative and defensive reaction 
that gave prominence to the constituent elements of nationality — race, 
language, religion, culture, homeland, political autonomy, and traditions. 
Defence of such factors was thought essential to tlia social solidarity 
needed to meet pressures on the society. Of equal importance in the 
defensive armoury of the Nationalists, was a number of proposals or 
policies which they sought to have accepted by both French and English- 
speaking Canadians: independence, neutrality, dualism, confessional 
trade unionism, detachment from habitual allegiance to the political 
parties, and, for French Canadians, at least reliance on small and 
mediiun independent production. 

Although the intellectual and propaganda centre of the 
Nationalist movement v/as in Llontreal, its greatest impact was not made 
there, nor in the cities in general, but in the Quebec countryside. 
This was not unusual, since rural Quebec has traditionally responded 
earlier and more decisively than the large cities to external pressures 

on the society, especially if those nressuros could be construed as a 
threat to the nationalitj or to the social system. It was the Quebec 
countryside, for exanple, that showed the greatest defection from the 
ruling political parties in 1887, 1911, 1930, and 1936, when questions 
of nationality, imperialism, war, and depression were paramount. An 
explanation of this receptivity to political agitation, and capacity 
to vary voting" behaviour in the name of defence of the whole society, 
would require a more extended analysis than can be given here, but the 
pattern itself is clear enough. 

Lack of formal organization of the Nationalist movement 
enhanced the dominance of a few brilliant leaders, and led to reliance 
on spectacular and intermittent agitation. The following that the move- 
ment could command was limited by these factors, and by the general 
awareness that Bourassa, and other leaders, were likely to decline poli- 
tical office if offered it by either of the two major parties. Those 
who remained in the movement were the most zealous, and this tended to 
confirm one of its leading characteristics, an earnestness and single- 
ness of purpose bordering on intransigence, Bourassa was more of a 
prophet around whom follov.-ers flocked, than the directing head of an 
organized political movement, From his reading of history and the 
lives of the saints, he was impressed with the role of heroic indivi- 
duals in shaping events, and this, too, implied noglect of organization. 
The establisiiment of a daily newspaper, however, permitted mere con- 
tinuous and effective agitation, while its limited circulation seemed 


desip;ned to maintain tho intensity of its propaganda, ie-: : 
only when the Nationalist newspaper and platform campaign of 1910- 
1911 was developed within the framework of a political '■•arty — the 
Quebec Conservative party -- that tiie movement acaicvoa any oiTecoive 
large scale support, and hence acquired political power. But it 
became apparent at once that it was the party, and net the nationalist 
leaders, who held control over that power; ana ix 'jm.s ultimately ex- 
pended in ways contrary to Nationalist principles and intentions. The 
Nationalist strategy of attackinj* on a narrow front for lirJtod specific 
objectives, but without elaborate organization, v/crkea 7/e±i enough •.vhen 
the movement was developing its strength, but proved wholly inadequate 
when the problem became one of exploiting a modest success. 

Examples of contradiction, absurdity, and exaggeration would 
not be difficult to find in Eourassa, Such, for example, wse his appro- 
val of sending troops to Europe in 1914 as a "national duty", only to 
denounce the policy a year later, denying even that the Canadian Parlia- 
ment and government had the right to commit the country to war except 

when its own territory was attacked. Yet, in 1917, he declared that the 

Canadian Parliament, without violating any principle or tradition, "could 

have decreed the r>articipation of Canada, as a nation, for the defence 

of higher interests threatened by the Germanic coalition". 

Though most of his convictions restod on simple foundations, 


Hier, Aujourd'hui, Domain , pp. 19-20, 

Le Devoir, April 23, 1917. 


he wove round tliom coaplicated arguraents which led him into futile 

skirraishes at points of little consequence, thus wearying and confus- 

inc his followers. An instance of Bourassa's "detestable dialectic" 

was given by one of the first members of the Nationalist Loagtae, Jules 

Foumier, in an essay, "la faillite (?) du nationalisne*, written in 

1916, Such was the series of articles in Le Devoir during yebruary, 

1910, in v/hich Bourassa sought to prove by copious reference to autho- 
rities (v/ho in fact refuted his case) that *may" in parliamentary sta- 
tutes, as in Article IS. of the Naval Bill, really neant "shall , and 
that the Canadian government therefore was left no alternative but to 

place the Canadian naval units under British command during every 

emergency. Bourassa wrote; 

It is Article 18 that violates the autonomy of Canada , . , 
overturns our relations with the mother country , , , if it 
were a question of a Canadian fleet for the defence of Canada 
under the authority of the Canadian government, I v;ould have 
found nothing wrong with Article 17, or Article 18, or indeed 
the whole Bill , , , It was in reading Article 18 that I rea- 
lized the depth of the abyss into -vhich we Tiere falling . . , 

It was a distracting and empty argument, and it placed the Lationalist 

anti-naval campaign on a false and shaky foundation. 

With his flair for trenchant and at times shallow criticism 

he was inclined to caricature that which he disliked. Thus, the Einpire 

smacked of Caesarism, tribute, and sword rule, founded on force and 

theft, and maintained for the sole purpose of enabling ore people to 


Jules rcurnier, I.:on Encrier , (Montreal, 1922), pp. 156-62, 

Loc. cit., cited from Le Devoir, February 8, 11, 12, 1910. 


dominate one fifth of mankind. By 1915^ the Empire had become "an 
obstacle to human liberty and true moral and intellectual prorresc . . . 
favourable only to brute instincts and materialist objectives", rilled 
with the bitterness of a disillusioned liberal, he wished its dissolu- 
tion, "not becauso it is Enplish, but because it is imperial*, lie did 
not rest with bitter comment, but essayed endless reviews of the bases 
of British foreign policy, the conduct of diplomacy, and the twisted 
history of alliances and wars. The economic forces behind imperial 
expansion -- pressures for profitable capital investment, for provision- 
ing home industries, and for the growth of maritime commerce -- :vere 
recognized, though relegated to a secondary place in a militarist epoch, 
A search for an exclusive Canadian interest, that could be summed up in 
the phrase Little Canada, narrowing as it was, underlay his approach to 
imperial relations. Nationalism and imperialism were defined as mutually 
exclusive doctrines. There could be no peace between the two currents 
until one finally triumphed. Yet there v/as always evidence that he was 
anxious to transcend the limiting confines of nationalism. This was 
most apparent during the 1820 's v/hen the tide of imperialist sentiment 
was receding. Symbols more universal than those of a Canadian nationa- 
list were then adopted. 

He will press our stiniggle against imperialism less exclusively 
in the name of Canadian nationalism , , , and more in the nsune 
of world peace, universal equilibrium, and the principles of 
justice and international charity, ^ 

Le Devoir, June 7, 1924. 


He pursued a basically simple and cloa.r faroi -n rolicy of 
no entanglenients in foreign v/ars because of tue imperial bond, ^e 
believed in an historical, legal, and moral right to neutrality, and lae 
the first important advocate of this as the foundation of Canadian 

foreign policy, though others, like Mr, Lapointe, the Llinistor of Justice, 

doubted the legality of the right as late as 1937, His policy of neutra- 
lity, however valid in law or in the national interest, was rendered 
obsolete at the end of the second World War when firm and prior commit- 
ments were given by Canada in conjunction with other states to engage in 
war under the terms of certain regional security agreements, notably the 
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In effect, the imperial framework 
of Canadian foreign policy had been superseded by larger and international 
arrangements to which the United States also was committed, and Nationa- 
lism had to adjust to these sritered circumstances. 

But foreign policy before 1914, and to a large extent in the 
inter-war period, was of little interest to most Canadians, who were 
content to leave the conduct of foreign affairs and the main decisions 
to Great Britain, Discussion was left to the few. Among these, Bourassa 
was one of the best informed, while his freedom from party ties enabled 
him to speak freely against the unstated premise of many, which les the 


See F, R, Scott, op, cit., p. 123, Mr, Mackenzie King on January 25, 
1937 told the Commons that, "It will be for this parliament to say in 
any given situation whether or not Canada will remain neutral", i-r, 
Scott suggests that the word "remain" implied that Canada possessed a 
right to neutrality, whereas two weeks later in the sene place 
(r'ebruary 4), ].'t. Lapointe declared, "This question as to the right of 
the dominions to be neutral is one of the questions yet to be solved". 


same thought made explicit by the Uinister of Finance, Wr, Fielding, 

in 1910: 

... whenever the British nation shall become involved in a 
war 7/ith a great power, I do not stop to consider whether it 
is a just or an unjust war -- so lon^ as we are part of the 
British Empire, I care not what government is in power in 
Canada, it vdll be its duty instantly to join and help the 

Bourassa was among the first to re-discover the importance 
of the West to French Canadian aspirations. As an economic region he 
thought it too early and too quickly developed. Its political signi- 
ficance he believed crucial to the balance of the federation, and its 
social and ethnic character vital to the hope of a dual nationality. 
The concept of French survival was extended to one of expansion; the 
dual nation was to be established everywhere. This marked a revision 
of the concept of the West in French Canadian thought, where for half 
a century it had appeared mainly as the scene of past exploits of 
French traders and explorers, and as a mission ground. It was an area 
in which the rrench had met a number of reverses since the first North- 
west rebellion of 1870, The small French settlements in that vast area 
were mere outposts to be protected as best could be; they were not seen, 
as they were by Bourassa, as the first wave only of a necessary west- 
ward movement of French-speaking, bilingual, communities. 

Sir George Cartier, for example, who was instrumental in 

arranging the purchase of the i.'orth-Sfest holdings of the Hudson Bay 

Cited in John S. Ewart, Independence Papers, !:o. 1, 1925, p. 4. 


Company at Confederation, thoun;ht of the area mainly in terms of a 

great immicration current from Europe, He was interested in the 

wheat, the railroads, and the customs duties that Western development 

would provide! Of the nationality problem and the westward movement 

of Quebec families, virtually nothing, n'hen he spoke of an empire 

stretching from sea to sea, it was of a "rreat An^lo— '^erican power*, 

not of an Anglo-French nation. Others, like Israel Tarte in 1584, 

thought that the opening of the new century would see a whole people 

established in Western Canada, and the area perhaps no longer a part 

of the Dominion, The hostility to westward migration of French 

Canadians shown by the Tardivel school of nationalism and by Church 

leaders in Quebec in the last quarter of the century has already been 

indicated. Books of travel and comment gave scant attention to the 

place of French Canadians in the Ilfest, Typical was that by Howard A. 

Kennedy, Hew Canada and the Hew Canadians , written in 1907, in which 

he noted the lack of French Canadian reinforcements to their Western 

settlements, as at Vegreville, yet called it a "hopefully significant 

fact" when he found a single French settler in a far northern plain. 

But he concluded by calling for a "rational and patriotic system of 

education* so that the diverse population would, in a generation or 

I ' ~~~~ " ~ 

See his speech in the House on December 6, 1867, cited in Joseph 
Tasse, Discours de Sir Georges Cartier , (Montreal, 1893), p. 558 ff, 

Rumilly, IV, p. 131, 

See Chapter lY above; also Olivar Asselin, Pensee Fyancaise , (Montreal, 
1937), pp. 85-86, 



less, be "intelligent English-speaking citizens". 

To Bourassa, in contrast to the prevailing opinion in French 
Canada, the Best presented a special Canadian problem, young and aggres- 
sive, composed of a heterogeneous people, united in hostility to the 
East, rebellious in politics, exposed to distant and unstable markets, 
and to powerful American influence. It was the last great frontier in 
North America, and the strategic centre in which to fight the American 
melting-pot ideal. The French must take their place there in communities 
of landowners. Doing so they would undertake a new phase of national 
development and improve their environment of security, 

Bourassa s Nationalism was essentially a continuation of the 
defensive reactions of French Canadians in the preceding century, liore 
weight and new meaning, however, v/ere given to the demand for equality, 
and a new concern was shown for a social and economic organization basic 
to a free cultural development. Canadian independence and dual nationality 
were the basic components of his Nationalism, which was thereby extended 
from provincial to national and external affairs. The dangers he stressed 
were already familiar: a tendency to passivity, the acceptance of corrod- 
ing compromises to conciliate the majority, and the pervading threat of 


p, 259, See also F, H, St, -Germain in So'ivenir et Impressions de 
Voyage au I^ord-Ouest Canadien, (Arthabaska, 1903), who tells of a trip 
to Alberta to visit his eldest daughter, a Sister of Charity in an 
Indian Mission hospital, and of his awakening to the possibilities of 
settlement. Treating of this "delicate question* in his final pages, 
he borrows the words of Horace Greely, "Go west, young nan" and applies 
them, not to wealthy fanners, but to the poor and modest fanners of 
Quebec, To avoid the drift to the United States and to machine industry, 
he advised them to "take hold of the soil that belongs to you by right 
of discovery. Do not .vait until it is too late. Go immediately to 
Manitoba and take your choice , . . create there French Canadian com- 
munities, place there the character, customs and habits of your ances- 
tors . . ," (pp. 215-20). 


Anglo-Saxonism, now assuninn new proportions in imperialism and 
industrialism. Safety lay in a firmer stand on crucial issues affect- 
ing the nationality, in emphasis on the spiritual qualities of the 
national life, and in a gradual development of the older order based 
on rural society, familial traditions, small economic enterprise, and 
an intellectual formation suited to a French and Catholic mentality. 
The difficulty of reconciling a desire for collective action and unity 
with the ideal of an individualist petit-bourgeois society, increased 
dependence on religion, the Church, and nationalism, and led to an 
interest in economic collectivism. Loss of faith in parliamentary 
government when operated by the existing party system, combined with 
a conservative respect for property, weakened his advocacy of what 
collectivist measures he did propose. His interest in a modified form 
of parliajnentary government, and in the corporatist economic order 
espoused in papal encyclicals, was evident, but never far developed, 
^^e addressed his appeal mainly to the elite, seeking to unite them above 
party lines. Social solidarity v/as uppermost in his mind and a prime 
impetus to his Nationalism, Concern for continuity in development led 
to emphasis on morality, religion, and traditions. 

Running throughout his radicalism was stress on the need for 
equilibrium or balance over time, and this checked latent tendencies 
to extremes. His concept of equilibrium, however, was static in nature 
and related to a mechanical dialectic of opposing forces; for example, 
in^jerialism and nationalism, rural and urban society, individualism and 


communism, with extensions in religion, nationality, and other fields. 
The function of statesmanship was to achieve a balance between opposing 
forces, and this meant conscious reactions, in one direction or the 
other, against disturbing changes. 

Restraints upon his Nationalism arose from many sources: 
from religion, from a desire to achieve a common life with English- 
speaking Canadians, a willingness to remain under the British Crown, 
and a recognition of necessary and intimate ties with the United States, 
Increasing Canadian autonomy in external affairs, and the mild character 
of British imperialism, meant that a violent nationalist movement would 
find little support anywhere in Canada. A tendency to pacifism in inter- 
national affairs further checked nationalist sentiment. Similarly, 
economic prosperity in Canada during the period of Bourassa's Nationalism 
denied the movement a basis in social distress, 

Bourassa was one of the most controversial figures in Canadian 

politics. L. 0. David's estimate reflected the common judgment: 

Unfortunately he lacked moderation; over-reaching the limits 
of criticism he struck to right and left, wounding legitimate 
convictions and self-respect, without taking sufficient account 
of the political exigencies of a regime which owes its existence 
to a compromise and can live only by compromise . . . Under such 
a regime it will always be easy for a man of talent to excite 
national sentiment and proclaim that the rights of a province or 
nationality have been more or less sacrificed. That is one of 
the dangers threatening Confederation, 

Yet, if Bourassa showed loss wisdom than Laurier and other party leaders, 

L, C. David, Souvonirs et Biographies, 1l7C-1';1C', (Montreal, 1911). 


and if he made govornnient more difficult, it cannot be said that he 
and the Nationalists constituted any threat to Confederation, or that 
they were indifferent to the r.oceosity of comproiiise. Their solf- 
appointed role was to alter the balance of the compromises offered by 
the party system, mainly on the theory that in the circumstances of 
the decades after 1900, these compromises would lead to an exhausting 
experience for French Canadians, and were thus contrary to the general 
interests of Canada, 

Much for vAiich he strove in the way of independence has since 
been realized. He was prone to associate this independence with a 
narrow concept of responsibility in world affairs, Projp:*ess towards 
his ideal of dualism has not been negligible, and he himself recognized 
this in the later Twenties. He was mong the most intellectual of 
Canadians in public life, and did much to lead his compatriots to a 
fresh and enlarged view of their national position. His Nationalism 
was the vehicle for his quest of a Canadian nation. 





^^^^ ■■ 1 1 ^ J , " ..eatre 

h2, with an index of namaa and "FiScea Juatifioativea" , ?p. 1-CJCCi. 

Ls Fatrioti8a.a oanadien-francaia, ce qu'il eat, ce qu'il doit etre , 

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Les Zgolds du A.ord-Oueat , discours prononce la 17 avril 1905 dans la 
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La Gc.iVautior. dou°:.iera antra la Canada at lea ::i;.a3-L'nis ; sa nature, sea 
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la La...7^e frangaiac a^ - - ; drcita, 3a nee 33 a: ' 

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