Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Waning of the Green: Catholics, the Irish, and Identity in Toronto, 1887-1922

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Waning of the Green: Catholics, the Irish, and Identity in Toronto, 1887-1922

Article excerpt

The Waning of the Green: Catholics, the Irish, and Identity in Toronto, 1887-- 1922. By Mark G. McGowan. [McGill-Queen's University Studies in the History of Religion, Series Two.] (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press. 1999. Pp. xiv, 414. $49.95.)

In this, his first book, Mark McGowan demonstrates how the Irish and other English-speaking immigrants let go of ties to their homelands and embraced Canadian values and identity. It was this gradual waning of "old country" values and identity that helped to shape the identity of Canada as it is today. McGowan argues that this integration occurred at many levels with many peoples, but he gives attention in this work mainly to the Irish. He narrows his study to a thirtyfive-year period from 1887 to 1922. He sees two pivotal events, which form the "bookends" of the period, as promoting the desire among the Irish immigrants for a greater identification with Canada: the visit to Canada in 1887 of the Irish radical William O'Brien, promoting the cause for Home Rule in Ireland, and the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, bringing Home Rule into effect. O'Brien's visit stirred up nationalist feelings among the Irish in Canada; the establishment of the Irish Free State helped to quell the concerns Irish-Canadians had for their compatriots back home. As the backdrop and the location for this integration, McGowan chooses to study Toronto, the largest English-speaking city and diocese in Canada.

From beginning to end, McGowan is faithful to his thesis, drawing out the implications for his reader in chronological fashion while highlighting various aspects of society. He portrays the activities and influence of bishops and priests, lay associations, and the Catholic press. He outlines the demographics of the principal parishes of the city and the infusion of other ethnic groups throughout the period. He presents developments in the Catholic school system. …

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