Download Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation, 1837-67 by Ged Martin PDF

By Ged Martin

Martin (director, the guts of Canadian reviews, U. of Edinburgh) bargains a skeptical evaluate of claims that the Canadian Confederation responded the entire difficulties dealing with the provinces, analyzing British perceptions of Canada and ideas approximately its destiny. He appears on the origins of British help for Ca

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This page intentionally left blank 2 Canadian Confederation and Historical Explanation The doubts expressed in this study about the explanation of Canadian Confederation have a great deal to do with the way in which history is written. Broadly, historians have two tasks, one of description, and the other of explanation. The first is obviously basic to the second: unless we know what happened, we cannot hope to understand the reasons for it. Yet description is not always a straightforward process, for it involves both reconstruction and selection.

68 It ran parallel to 24 Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation one of the finest waterways in the world: in summer, it could hardly compete with the St Lawrence route on freight costs, and even for speed, let alone comfort, it had little to offer. Riviere-duLoup was its eastern terminus mainly because the money had finally run out there. The Intercolonial fits into the explanatory package twice over: first, as a defence project, and secondly through the argument that such an eastward extension of the Canadian railway system could only be achieved if balanced by westward expansion to the prairies.

8 Since mid-nineteenth century British North America can only be fully understood within the context of the overshadowing influences of the United States and Britain, it is easy enough to identify external forces which will 'explain' Confederation — if, that is, we are content to use Waite's hypothesis as the basis for its own proof. What cannot be 'proved1 is that those forces and only those forces drove the provinces into union, since it is impossible to put past, time into a bell-jar and repeat the events of the 1860s with a series of control experiments.

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