The Penguin History of Canada

The Penguin History of Canada

Robert Bothwell

Language: English

Pages: 548


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Canada's history, eminent historian Robert Bothwell argues, is more than simply regional or national. In some respects, Canada makes most sense when viewed from the outside in, and in "The Penguin History of Canada" we are invited to do just that. The world has always seen Canada as a terrain for experiment and a land of opportunity. At first Canada's survival and, later, its prosperity depended on links with the world outside - the technologies that drove steamships and trains across oceans and continents; the armies that battled for North America; the furs, wheat, and gold that bought Canada a place in the world's trading system.An uneasy and difficult country, most of Canada's space is uninhabited, and much uninhabitable. It is a country with a huge North but with most of its population in the South, hugging the American border. Canada has nevertheless defied the odds: it remains, in the twenty-first century, a haven of peace and a beacon of prosperity. Erudite yet accessible and marked by narrative flair, "The Penguin History of Canada" paints an expansive portrait of a dynamic and complex country.












2 million inhabitants, almost 300,000 lived across the Appalachians in the new territories south of the Great Lakes. There was a continent-wide flow of immigration to the west, past and through the Appalachians, up the St. Lawrence, and on to the western end of the Great Lakes. The population of rocky, swampy, icy British North America was much smaller, and the figures are less reliable. As best we can tell, there were roughly 166,000 white inhabitants in the land covered by the provinces of Nova Scotia and Quebec in 1784, and 392,000 in 1806.

Some of the early nineteenth-century streetscapes have survived along streets close to the harbour. ) Silliman wrote too early to describe the impressive Notre Dame church, built between 1824 and 1829, and at the time the largest building, apart from fortresses, in British North America. The merchants’ city became the largest in British North America, and as a sign of its new status acquired a mayor and city council in 1832. 25 It was a turbulent city, divided by language, religion, economic interest, and ethnicity.

It was clearly the case that the Patriotes were expected to serve Papineau’s ends, whatever these might be; but like the man himself these were often confused and uncertain, rhetorically bold yet often timid in practice. As so often with bold orators, Papineau understood that words were weapons and exploited their impact; yet he didn’t understand that words once spoken couldn’t easily be withdrawn, nor replaced with other, more temporizing sentiments. What would turn out to be a defining event in Lower Canadian politics occurred in 1822.

True, the Rouges replied, but the main powers of government, over railways, telegraphs, the post office, trade, and taxation belonged to the new federal government. To work as intended, “Canada” must include at least the mainland colonies, and there the key was New Brunswick. Fortunately the anti-confederate government of that province disintegrated in 1866, to be replaced by a pro-confederate administration under the durable Tilley. It helped that the Fenians were making fierce noises on the border, which encouraged feelings of solidarity with the empire and with other colonies that might contribute to New Brunswick’s defence.

What the settlers and their government were thinking about was wheat, and the settlement and development that accompanied it. Ontario had flourished because of wheat, but since 1860 there had been no new viable arable land in the province. The acquisition of the West gave Ontarians reason to hope: it meant land for their children and markets for their manufactures—“the promise of Eden. ” Government pamphlets extolled the richness of the West—its fertile soil, its mild climate, and its assured agricultural bounty.

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