Category Archives: Series

The Robert Harris group portrait

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This is the fourteenth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Ged Martin The founding, in 1880, of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts no doubt represented a landmark in recognition and encouragement of the visual arts in the Dominion. Unfortunately, it was not easy to advance its cultural agenda, especially the central… Read more »

Using history to justify Confederation

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This is the thirteenth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Marlene Shore History was frequently invoked in the Confederation debates by both pro-confederates and anti-confederates to justify their positions. All parties realized that they were at a pivotal juncture, when a new set of constitutional arrangements would alter the destinies of the new country’s… Read more »

Confederation comes at a cost: Indigenous peoples and the ongoing reality of colonialism in Canada

This is the twelfth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Gabrielle Slowey In 2015 Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, declared: “Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships.”[1] Why did he point this out? The reality remains that Canada and Canadians are not respectful of our relations with Indigenous… Read more »

Gender and the Confederation debates

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This is the eleventh post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Kathryn McPherson The participants in the 1865 Confederation debates were divided by ethnicity, region, political opinion, and religion, but they shared class privilege, a racial identity we would now call “white,” and gender. They were all men. This latter shared identity would… Read more »

A workingman watches

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This is the tenth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Craig Heron Tabernacle! Finally they’re gone. Pity the poor caretaker! I’ve had to wait for these windbags to finish their speeches almost every night for six weeks before I could close up the Parliament Building. So, night after night, I’ve sat waiting… Read more »

The nature of Confederation

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This is the ninth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Sean Kheraj Nature mattered to Confederation.[1] In the minds of many of the legislators from the Province of Canada in 1865, the union of the colonies of British North America was providential and evident in the natural environment. The land, minerals, forests,… Read more »

“Canada was … just like a farmer”: Confederation from the perspective of agrarian society

This is the eighth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Colin M Coates “Canada was, in fact, just like a farmer,” stated Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché, premier of the Province of Canada, in opening the debate on the Confederation agreement in the Legislative Council in 1865.(2) His simile underlined how access to ice-free… Read more »

Canadian Confederation and democracy

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This is the seventh post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Dennis Pilon In over a thousand pages of the original Confederation debates very little was said about democracy, and what did appear was almost entirely negative.[1] In 1865 politicians across the spectrum were united in their disdain for anything claiming to be… Read more »

Confederation and taxation

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This is the sixth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Elsbeth Heaman Historian P.B. Waite, the authority on Confederation for a whole generation of Canadians, saw two Confederation debates rather than one. There was the maritime perspective, mentioned only glancingly by him here, which was interested in taxation; and then there was… Read more »

Revisiting the 1865 Canadian debates on Confederation: Rights and the Constitution

This is the fifth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By David R. Cameron, Jacqueline D. Krikorian, and Robert C. Vipond On February 3, 1865, the legislators of the Parliament of Canada began discussing the merits of the proposed union of the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward… Read more »