Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Strange Demise of British Canada: The Liberals and Canadian Nationalism, 1964-1968

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Strange Demise of British Canada: The Liberals and Canadian Nationalism, 1964-1968

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C.P. Champion, The Strange Demise of British Canada: The Liberals and Canadian Nationalism, 1964-1968 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), 347 pp. Cased. $95. ISBN 978-1-7735-3690-6. Paper. $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-3691-3.

Doubtless many readers will not like The Strange Demise of British Canada. Some might be dubious of the author's links to the Conservative government and its contentious Discover Canada citizenship guide, while others will be alarmed by C.P. Champion's challenge to conventional notions and shibboleths of recent Canadian history. Such a kneejerk reaction would be a shame. Based on a wealth of contemporaneous documents, Champion has crafted a fascinating, rich and worthwhile look at an engineered 'crisis of Britishness' (p. 6). This was a self-inflicted crisis for certain Canadians of British stock who, in an attempt to forge what they hoped would be an inclusive and unique Canadian identity, sought to wash Britain from the country's history and culture and remove symbols viewed as being too British.

Much of Champion's work examines and explains the actions and thinking of this group of Canadians, who 'did not seek to betray or abandon their British heritage so much as to assign to it a new and less dominant role in national life' (p. 13). Foremost amongst, and representative of, these neo-nationalists or 'Eminent Pearsonians' was Lester Pearson, whose boyhood immersion in British culture and Methodism, his education at Oxford and his wartime service to King and Empire engendered a love of Britain that did not preclude a desire to forge a distinct Canadian identity. In eight short chapters, some based heavily on previously published articles, Champion explores the complicated nature of ethnicity and identity for this group of Anglo-Celtic Canadians. …

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