ALTHOUGH the pattern of a state was drawn, it would be a mistake to say that a nation came into being between 1867 and 1873. There had been no widespread popular demand for union. Up to the time when the British North American Act was introduced into the Imperial parliament, only the legislature of the province of Canada had approved the Quebec Resolutions of 1864. Agreement between the provinces amounted merely to a formal acceptance of the principle of federal union. In other words, the only legislative authority behind the new Canadian Constitution was the authority of the Imperial parliament, and only through the Imperial parliament could it be amended.
Most Canadian statesmen would have preferred a strong unitary state such as that provided for South Africa in 1910, but the opposition in the Mantimes and in Quebec was too vigorous to make anything but a federal government possible. All that could be done was to strengthen the central power at the expense of the provinces, and this was accomplished in part by giving certain defined rights to the provinces and reserving to the federal parliament the residuum of authority. Such a division of powers was in striking contrast to the American system whereby the main powers were originally intended to rest with the individual states. This Canadian emphasis on centralization was largely a product of the Civil War. The loose federation of the United States--home of 'unbridled democracy'--had almost collapsed for lack of strong central authority. The centrifugal pull of 'States rights' had strained the fabric of the Republic to the breaking point, and the Fathers of Confederation were determined to control such forces within their own borders. John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister, would have preferred to call the new nation the Kingdom of Canada, a dignified title which suggested solidarity and strength, and he might have succeeded but for British fears of offending the 'republican susceptibilities of the Yankees'.