07 Creating and Defining the New Canada (1860s to 1890s)
Confederation is our national founding. Having confederation as a national founding is a distorted
reality. Misunderstanding of confederation is very profound in Canada. Has to do with our use of
the event as our nationalism
Post Confederation phase
o First generation after confederation – extending the territory from sea to sea. Many of it is
still with us to this day
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o Modernization – underway in the 5 century, 13 century, 19 century, etc.
You are more modern than the older person
Associated with industrialization and industrial society
Railways represent this. The before and after are very different. Hard to
separate cause from effect
New country in 1867, but notice that this is not really new. Canada has already existed one form
or another. Keep in mind that it is not created from scratch.
o The country was based on ‘Western’ traditions that were very well established such as the
rule of law
o The rule of regulation set by the legislative body will prevail. If you break the law, you
have to pay the price
o Property rights have been established, separation from church and state has been
established – University of Toronto has become a non-sectaries institution.
Another tradition has been established
o Many things were given including the British parliamentary tradition
Colonial governments, etc.
o John A. Macdonald is the first prime minister of Canada. Nova Scotia was strongly
opposing to join into Canada
All but one of them opposed confederation
Macdonald found the middle ground and managed to do that
He also had to begin a railway in the east coast in British North America (not
British Columbia yet)
Atlantic colonies and eastern Canada
The biggest was incorporating western territory into Canada
To become a western country as well
Annexation of West
Red River Rebellion
o Future of Rupert’s land was problematic. It had made some sense before, but now
something had to be done with the influx of settlement. In 1869, it was resolved. The
British government bought out the Hudson Bay company and gave it to the government
They paid 300 thousand pounds for Rupert’s Land
The Hudson’s Bay company insisted that it retain a small amount of the land
The Hudson Bay company then became a department store
o The presence of surveyors was interesting
Before you have private property, you needed surveyors
Problem was that the Canadian government did not consult anyone who lived
there. There was 10 to 12 thousand metis living in the Red River Colony
There were never any formal battles, but there were many rebellions and
o The Metis did not accept the authority of the government. They declared their own
provisional government and began to arm themselves.
Louis Riel was the person in charge
Most of these people have French names, while others do not. It was a mixture
and it’s evident in the names
The fact is, scholars maintained that it did have some legitimacy. They can
declare themselves ungoverned. The Canadian government accepted a delegation at first and travelled to Ottawa
in terms of the transfer, but they also armed themselves and occupied the fur
trade forts. Tensions were high, and they executed one of the people they held in
They found him guilty of treason and shot him. This changed all the
Macdonald government dispatched troops in 1870. It took the 6 to 8 weeks to
get there because there was no railway. By the time the Canadian forces arrived,
the leader fled. The whole rebellion never amounted to much.
Like many things, the fundamental principle of taking up arms against the
government was significant.
In the end, the rebellion stopped, and the territory became part of Canada.
Most of the last was not organized, but there was a land (province of
Manitoba) was their capital.
o Manitoba was Canada’s 5 province in 1870
o They wanted some sort of security of land. The metis lived without a government, and
did not have any land registry, but they believed that they owned it from customs. The
Canadian government said they can continue owning the land, and had some sort of
o In a sense, the rebellion has worked. But, the Canadian government retained ownership of
all the natural resources and the land – this was not something they had done with the
Canada government is colonizing the west!
o Shortly after this, British Columbia also entered the confederation
The process was initiated by British Columbia
The only promise was that the Canadian government agreed that they would
build a railway in 15 years from the East to the West
They wanted a sea to sea country by building a railway
o By this time, Prince Edward Island also agreed to join into the Confederation.
Newfoundland however did not. It remained outside confederation until the 1940s.
o The Canadian government was especially interested in the prairies land. It was the focus
of annexation. There was something about this prairie land that Ottawa wanted to control.
We see that one of the first acts was pass the dominion land act of 1872, which empowers
government to survey the land and give it to incoming settlers.
They surveyed them into square lots. It was 6 miles by 6 miles, and each mile
was divided into four, then they were given to settler after settler.
This was not the way that humans worked
The whole prairie west was divided and it was lonely for people. The closest
neighbor was a half a mile away.
The decision was managed by Ottawa which was far away
o They also created the Northwest Mounted Police
Pseudo-military, which controlled the land with the rule of law. Hundreds were
dispatched and trained in 1873. They wanted to establish law before the settlers
came in. This was because Americans did not do this and therefore there was
o They began the process of building a railway – get together business people to raise
money to nowhere
The Canadian government knew they needed to give money away to these
investors to make them build the railway
o These are some examples of what Ottawa is doing in the newfound territory. This was the
obsession of the 1870s and 1880s. This was described as Canada’s empire.
o Numbered treaties The passing of the fur trade to settlers was a momentous event. The Europeans
had arrived centuries before this. This was not a sense of contact, but the fur
trade had a curious symbiosis where natives can live and migrate freely. This
livelihood had been in place for two centuries
The Canadian government controlled all of this land, and therefore made treaties
No one ever made the argument that Native people owned the land like western
law of owning the land. But they had something, some title to the land because
they used it historically. They had travelled, used, hunted, so they had
something. The western legal tradition did not have a name for this
They were all in the 1870s; they went year after year for the agricultural area to
extinguish the claim. It came to be known as ‘aboriginal title’ – they had to
extinguish the farmable territories. They know that above certain points, they
know there was no land for agriculture
8, 9, 10 was when rocks and trees became valuable
Once the mining and pulp industry was established, interests arose
The scale of this was astounding. Within a few years, the titles were
Treaty 4 had a number of reserves; the different bands (tribes) travelled
together would be put of a certain reserve
There was precedence for this, there were a few small treaties made with the
aboriginal people. The scale of the prairie west was unprecedented.
They did not know what they were giving up. However, many of these
people had carried on fur trade contracts for generations; therefore, they
were not THAT naïve.
Even after they settled on the reserve, they believed that they could
hunt. Therefore, the understanding was hazed. What was understood