Canadians in the Making: A Social History of Canada

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

21: A sturdy yeomanry: Canada in the 'horse and buggy' age

'THE HORSE AND BUGGY AGE' is a belittling phrase. To the smart modern city dweller, it conjures up a picture of old men with beards poking along country roads and using queer words, which they enunciate (over the radio) in still queerer voices. It is especially hard for the modern city dweller, with his ant-like ways, to imagine another mode of life, different from his own and with different values. It always has been hard for the city dweller to appreciate rural values (especially when so many city dwellers are escapees from the country). During most of history the countryman's fortunes have answered to the derisive terms the city dweller applies to him, for he usually gets the worst of it, and sooner or later is depressed to the level of either a peasant, a serf, or a slave. More rarely, he is elevated to that of gentleman or feudal nobleman--in which case he earns the citizens' equally hearty contempt for different reasons.

There have been, however, rare periods when the country has provided a way of life that was good and neither depressed nor elevated, whereby large numbers of men attained to substantial heights of well-being. These have been the 'yeoman' periods, when sturdy, independent men owned their own land and lived their own lives, with no consciousness of inferiority to others. The 'franklin' of the English Danelagh appears to have been such a man, as was the English yeoman of the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century--the man who took the measure of Charles I and his cavaliers. We read of the same type in more distant times, in both Greece and Rome, and we also read sad poetry about their decline.--

"But a bold peasantry, their country's pride
When once destroyed, can never be supplied. . . ."

It has been North America's boast that her soils could provide the foundation for such a yeomanry as no other land

-327-

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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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