Category Archives: Series

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 »

Confederation as an intra-Christian pact

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This is the fourth post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By David Koffman From the vantage point of 2016, the Confederation debates in the Province of Canada show remarkable clarity about and commitment to the ideal of religious accommodation and liberty. At the same time, the debaters’ vision of pluralism and their policy… Read more »

An example for the world? Confederation and French Canadians

This is the third post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Marcel Martel While debating the merits of the new constitutional agreement in 1865, supporters in the Canadian Legislative Assembly focused on the difficult challenges involved in creating the larger federation and the various benefits that the new Dominion of Canada supposedly offered… Read more »

The Atlantic provinces and the Confederation debates of 1865

This is the second post in a two week series in partnership with Canada Watch on the Confederation Debates By Philip Girard The phrase “Atlantic Canada” is of relatively recent vintage, having been coined as a convenient way of referring to the four eastern provinces after Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.[1] Before 1949 no one spoke of Atlantic Canada. In the debates… Read more »