THE STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL UNITY
IN 1873, when Prince Edward Island entered Confederation, the physical structure of the Dominion was complete. A mari usque ad mare - the heraldic device of the new federal union had been justified within six years of its foundation. It was a not unimpressive beginning; but, at the same time, most people were conscious of the enormous task which lay ahead. The half-continent which had fallen to the new nation was occupied by a population of four million people, separated into larger or smaller groups by vast distances of unsettled territory, and divided in religion, cultural heritage, and economic interests. The elements of nationhood were there, the urge towards nationality existed, the demand for a new position in the world could not be denied; but in 1873, the national objectives were still a little vague and the national policies were as yet undetermined. 'We are engaged in a very difficult task,' said Edward Blake, the rising hope of the Reform party, in his speech at Aurora, Ontario, in 1874 - 'the task of welding together seven Provinces which have been accustomed to regard themselves as isolated from each other, which are full of petty jealousies, their Provincial questions, their local interests. How are we to accomplish our work? How are we to effect a real union between these Provinces?'