CANADA HAS GROWN TO ITS PRESENT SIZE in a series of spurts. Its course has been like that of one of its own Laurentian rivers: a long quiet lake, then a quickening of the stream and a hurried tumbling over the rapids, then again a quiet, if larger, stream. After Jacques Cartier, nearly a century of almost nothing, then the first pulsation of growth with the coming of the French population. Then the quiet consolidation of the eighteenth century, followed by the second major migration, that of the Loyalists and their successors. Once more a stretch of 'slack water' until after the wars, and then, beginning about 1820, a rush over the rapids from 1820 to 1850, a generation whose end sees a completely altered picture. Again, the pace slackens and it is not until the very close of the nineteenth century that it begins again. This time, from 1900 to 1930, it widens out into a flood, filling up the West and vastly stimulating the East. Again, a period of rest, followed by the frantic expansion of the post-war period from 1946 on, which has once more created a new country and a new society. Thus from the refounding of Quebec in 1632 to our own day, we have had five cycles of growth and expansion, each one accompanied by an inpouring of new people who altered the shape of things in some fundamental fashion. The period of the present chapter, 1820-1850, is the middle one and like the others, it is in high colours.
After more or less peaceful relations with the United States had been assured by the Treaty of Ghent and the Rush-Bagot Agreement,1 the British North American colonies could settle down to what most of their people would have regarded as their real business, and that was not war, but growth. Few English colonists there were who did not look forward to growth in population, in productivity, in urban life, industry, education, even in self-government. Few would have wished a