samedi 4 juillet 2009


This week, commenting on my post about Canada Day, Rosaria asked wether Canada had an Independance Day. I answered that we did not have one. That question has been bugging me ever since. Why does canada have no Independance Day?
After much thinking and mulling over recollection of various sources, I guess I have worked out a suitable explanation. F
For most former colonies, Canada began as a French colony and morphed, in 1763, into a British colony, independance came through a violent process called war. The American Independance War is a prime example. The end of that war marked the beginning of independance, thus Independance Day.
In Canada, independance came bit by bit over some 400 odd years. The first native born French governor of New France was the initial step. The 1791 Act of the British parliament that recognized the right of Catholics, in Canada, to hold public office without renouncing their faith was another one. Then gradually we evolved toward representative government that process culminating in the 1867 British North America Act creating the Confederation of Canada. But that newborn coutry still relied on the British parliament for it's foreign policy and it's laws could be annuled by the Lords.
Another stepping stone was the 1931 Statute of Westminster that recognized Canada's jurisdiction over it's foreign policy and created the Dominion of Canada, a sovereign country within the British Commnwealth of Nations, but the constitution remained under British authority. In 1982, Under Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada got it's very own Constitution adopted by our parliament and 9 out of 10 provinces, Québec holding out it's signature. Nevertheless, Queen Elizabeth II signed it in Ottawa on Canada Day 1982. Why Québec held back from signing ? Well that will be another post.
Now, 86 % of Quebecers and 66% of other Canadians seem to be in favor of severing ties with the British monarchy when Queen Elizabeth abdicates or die. That would eradicate of the last colonial vestige or reminder.
As I believe to have demonstrated Canadian independance was not a brutal event that can be tied to one date or treaty. It has been a slow process and it is still ongoing in some ways. As I previously wrote, despite real obstacles, Canada is a work in progress and well worth keeping workint at.

10 commentaires:

  1. Now, this explains a lot for those of us in the dark about Canada's history. I'm not sure that I know of any other British territory that slowly evolved into nationhood without bloodshed and revolution.

    It might be your national character to reach compromises in a peaceful way. I'm looking forward to more history, please.

  2. Canada was and is stil a compromise. We call it reasonable accomodation.
    As for your request for more history, I will do my best but I am not an historian,

  3. Bon mots, potsoc.

    As a history major in University, and a journalist "writing the rough draft of history," I appreciate what you have written, especially about Canada being a "work in progress." I'm surprised, though, that you left out more details of The Quebec Act of 1774.

    As a Québèquois, you would have a somewhat different perspective on our history from nos angleis (nous angleis?) (Excusez, svp; je parle et lit français comme une vache espagnole.) It's when we share our perceptions of ourselves and each other that we get past the "two solitudes." You can explain that to Rosaria.

    A la prochain.

  4. That Canadian independence was not a brutal event but a process of accommodation could have been a blessing, I'm wondering. When things happen through wars they leave behind painful scars. The American war of independence or, maybe even more, the American civil war. Or the war of independence (unification) of Italy, which occurred via the brutal colonization of the South by the North, with consequences we still feel today.
    There were minor wars though, like the French and Indian war, if I'm not wrong. Saying this since last night I watched on TV the outstanding 'The Last of the Mohicans' (1992) movie. I reminded me of what you had told me about the First Nations. I really loved the movie, and you Canadians bloggers made it more real and vibrant.

  5. @Rob-bear: welcome, Rob-bear. Glad to have an historian around. As I said, I'n not one, just an amateur who tries to understand what makes my country and my province tick. Our history courses, in both systems are a catastrophe and much work is needed to make them worthy of being listened to.
    @MoR: There were wars between the French and the First Nations, between the English and the First Nations and between the First Nations themselves and they were about territory. One, ran from 1655 for a few years between the Onondagas and the Hurons was called the Beaver War: beavers had ben depleted in what is now Northern New York and the Onondagas came hunting on Huron lands, they fought back...and were almost wiped out by the more numerous and better organized Mohawks.
    As for the American Civil War, some years back I was talking with a North Carolinian student. I told him "Donald hearing you, I'm under the impression that the Civil War is not over" he shot back "You're damn right it ain't.

  6. Interesting. Lichanos had also told me that the civil war was not ended yet in some way. Amazing.

    Yes, a real historian is good news! We are all dilettanti, though passionate.

  7. I agree a real historian could be a blessing here. When I was in school history was a list of names, dates and treaties with little or no links being made. However without linkage history is nothing.
    For instance, Québec takes great pride in it's motto "Je me souviens". Yet most people do not know, and the others conveniently forget, it comes from a poem that starts thus: "Je me souviens que né sous le lys, je grandis sous la rose". A clear reminder of the French then English regimes.
    Our national anthem O Canada wss written by sir Basile Routhier at the request of the St-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal for the very first St-Jean-Baptiste day in 1837. The English words came later by Earl Stanley Weir. Our present day St-Jean-Baptiste Society never mention this.
    The British conquest of Canada is another tenacious myth. We were bartered at the treaty of Paris in 1763, not conquered. France exchanged us with Britain for some sugar producung islands in the Antilles and a few rocks called St-Pierre-et-Miquelon so as to keep it's fishing access to Newfoundland's Grand Banks. How unromantic.

  8. Well, maybe it is unromantic, but it didn't occurred via a bloody war of conquest, as you said yourself. No big scars, I mean.
    I also believe lists (and philology) of single facts and dates is important in history. But the ability of linking them is equally important, if not more.

    This English-French antithesis in Canada is fascinating and, allow me, so European.

  9. PS
    And the fact that many of you have some 'First Nation' blood is the most fascinating thing of all. Pls watch that movie ('L'ultimo dei moicani), if you can, and tell me if it is realistic. No obligation though lol.

  10. MoR: I have not seen the movie but, long ago I have read the book by Fenimore Cooper. It does portray what Rousseau would have called "le bon sauvage". It also portrays an Indian in a role, though heroic, as more or less at the service of the white man who uses his talents to achieve his aims. I remember reading that the First nations do not feel adequetely described by neither the book nor the film.
    But it was fine reading as, I,m sure, the film is good entertainment. There was also a television serie some years ago featuring the Mohican and his Kemosabe.
    Sorry for the delay in answering, I was not much home since Monday morning.