Canadians in the Making: A Social History of Canada

By Arthur R. M. Lower | Go to book overview

20: The new nation:
the critical years

AFTER THE NEW DOMINION had been laboriously brought into existence, both men and circumstances seemed to combine in an effort to destroy it. The first scheme for a transcontinental railway failed dismally. Economic depression descended, and clung to the country year after year. As a result, people emigrated in their tens of thousands and the total population grew only at a snail's pace. In the new West, instead of rapid settlement, the curse of racialism descended and its two armed outbreaks disturbed the peace of the entire country. Canada's tragic leit-motiv, which for a few years seemed to have been left behind, once more made itself evident, and rose to new heights.

Twenty years after Confederation, few would have cared to risk a large wager on the continued existence of the Dominion. "The Separatist policy--that is, the policy of trying to form a nationality of the disjointed and scattered provinces of British North America cut off from the rest of the continent--is a palpable failure. . . . I declare for Commercial Union with the United States as a substitute for the National Policy." Thus spoke J. W. Longley, Attorney-General of Nova Scotia.1 The Manitoba Free Press, commenting upon a suggestion that Newfoundland might enter Confederation, put the same point of view with the true western brusqueness: "If the people of Newfoundland know when they are well off, they will give the Dominion a wide berth. There are few provinces, if any, in it to-day that would not rejoice to be out of it, and that would not forever stay out if they were."2

The Week, a journal for the thoughtful, put its finger on several of the spots causing the difficulty. They are all almost equally familiar to us to-day--geographical dispersion at the bottom of it all, with sectionalism and racial division thrown in for good measure. The greatest curse was racial division.

-299-

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Canadians in the Making: A Social History of Canada
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Part I: New France xxv
  • 1: France Comes to America 1
  • 2: the First Impact Of the Wilderness 10
  • 3: the Foundation Stones Of New France 18
  • 4: A Community Formed 27
  • 5: the Community Established 40
  • 6: New France And Roman Catholicism 56
  • 7: New France Reaches The Provincial Stage 71
  • 8: the Lilies Come Down! 81
  • Part II- British North America 93
  • 9: Aftermath of Conquest 95
  • 10: the First Attempt At Living Together 116
  • 11: the Private Quarrel Of the English 135
  • 12: the First Wave Of English Settlement 143
  • 113: the War of 1812, Constructive Conflict 173
  • 14: the Great Days of Settlement, 1820-1850 187
  • Notes to Chapter 15. 212
  • 16: Mid-Century 240
  • 17: the Height of Prosperity 259
  • 18: the Period of Confederation 273
  • Part Iii: Canada 287
  • 19: A Nation Begun 289
  • 20: the New Nation 299
  • 21: A Sturdy Yeomanry 327
  • 22: the Birth of Modern Canada 345
  • 23: the Transcontinental Country 358
  • 24: New Canadians 371
  • 25: the Immigrant Stocks In Canada 384
  • 27: Yesterday and To-Day 408
  • 28: New Gods for Old 423
  • Index *
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