The Idea of Continental Union: Agitation for the Annexation of Canada to the United States, 1849-1893

By Donald Frederic Warner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Annexation in the Postconfederation
Period

The Dominion of Canada, which came into existence on July 1, 1867, was established in part to save the colonies of British North America from the United States. Nevertheless, it failed for the time to solve the old problems which had suggested annexation, and it raised new difficulties which pointed in the same direction.

Canada was more a name than a nation on that first Dominion Day and for some time thereafter. Between the settled areas of the Maritime Provinces on the east and Ontario and Quebec on the west, nature had thrust a gap of wilderness which man had not bridged. Communication between Montreal and Halifax, always slow and difficult, was almost impossible at times. The Grand Trunk Railway, threading its way parallel to the St. Lawrence, stopped abruptly two hundred and eighty miles east of Montreal at Rivière du Loup. In the Maritimes, Nova Scotia had constructed a railroad covering the sixty-one miles between Halifax and Truro. Some two hundred miles of almost unsettled country lay between these railheads. No private corporation could afford to link them, and some years would pass before the government did so. In 1867 the only means of communication between the Maritimes and the old colony of Canada were the St. Lawrence River and a few wretched post roads. Winter choked these channels, and even in summer, communication between Truro and Rivière du Loup was aggravatingly slow and uncertain. Mail, passengers, and freight going from Montreal or Quebec to the Maritimes usually sought the

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