The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation

Movie clip on the birth of the Canadian federation and the challenges and problems that had to be overcome. (Time: 3 min 41 s)

Creating the country called Canada was a great achievement. Many cartoonists of the era personified the difficulties faced by the new country in the characters Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or Young Canada. Among the challenges were uniting in one nation people from many different worlds and traditions, linking a huge and virtually unsettled land mass, and affirming Canada’s sovereignty in the face of an already powerful neighbour to the south.

Once Canada became a reality (1867), the country encountered other major challenges. The first was expanding its borders from coast to coast and integrating the vast territories of northern Quebec and Ontario as well as those stretching west to the Rockies. Intent on maintaining its presence in North America through its colony, Great Britain assisted Canada in acquiring Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory. And British Columbia’s elite had to be convinced to join Confederation. By promising to build a transcontinental railway, government officials, led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), overcame the reluctance of both westerners and easterners who feared being swallowed up by Canada .

The fear of American expansionism, heightened by the U.S.’s purchase of Alaska (1867), was another reason for the urgent need to link and develop the immense land over which Canada dreamt of claiming dominion. Yet another was the need for business to get access to raw materials and establish national markets where Canadian products could circulate and find buyers.

While the need for these projects was great, so was the reluctance of Canadians to undertake them, particularly French Canadians. Confederation had created two levels of government, federal and provincial. Quebec therefore had institutions to deal with local issues, based on its customs and traditions, but French Canadians feared losing their influence in the big, new country where anglophones were the majority. For their part, the Maritime provinces, which were dependent on international trade and fishing, remained unconvinced that federal government policies intended to boost manufacturing and settle the West would help them. And what of those living in the North-Western Territory, the Métis and Aboriginals, who had been swept into the nation without even being consulted?

In a few more years Canada would stretch from sea to sea; by 1873, however, it already had seven provinces. While geographic expansion would mean the fulfillment of the nation-builders’ dreams, political unity would prove more elusive.

19th Century
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Creating the country called Canada was a great achievement. Many cartoonists of the era personified the difficulties faced by the new country in the characters Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or Young Canada. Among the challenges were uniting in one nation people from many different worlds and traditions, linking a huge and virtually unsettled land mass, and affirming Canada’s sovereignty in the face of an already powerful neighbour to the south.

Once Canada became a reality (1867), the country encountered other major challenges. The first was expanding its borders from coast to coast and integrating the vast territories of northern Quebec and Ontario as well as those stretching west to the Rockies. Intent on maintaining its presence in North America through its colony, Great Britain assisted Canada in acquiring Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory. And British Columbia’s elite had to be convinced to join Confederation. By promising to build a transcontinental railway, government officials, led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), overcame the reluctance of both westerners and easterners who feared being swallowed up by Canada .

Th Read More

Creating the country called Canada was a great achievement. Many cartoonists of the era personified the difficulties faced by the new country in the characters Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or Young Canada. Among the challenges were uniting in one nation people from many different worlds and traditions, linking a huge and virtually unsettled land mass, and affirming Canada’s sovereignty in the face of an already powerful neighbour to the south.

Once Canada became a reality (1867), the country encountered other major challenges. The first was expanding its borders from coast to coast and integrating the vast territories of northern Quebec and Ontario as well as those stretching west to the Rockies. Intent on maintaining its presence in North America through its colony, Great Britain assisted Canada in acquiring Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory. And British Columbia’s elite had to be convinced to join Confederation. By promising to build a transcontinental railway, government officials, led by John A. Macdonald (1815-1891), overcame the reluctance of both westerners and easterners who feared being swallowed up by Canada .

The fear of American expansionism, heightened by the U.S.’s purchase of Alaska (1867), was another reason for the urgent need to link and develop the immense land over which Canada dreamt of claiming dominion. Yet another was the need for business to get access to raw materials and establish national markets where Canadian products could circulate and find buyers.

While the need for these projects was great, so was the reluctance of Canadians to undertake them, particularly French Canadians. Confederation had created two levels of government, federal and provincial. Quebec therefore had institutions to deal with local issues, based on its customs and traditions, but French Canadians feared losing their influence in the big, new country where anglophones were the majority. For their part, the Maritime provinces, which were dependent on international trade and fishing, remained unconvinced that federal government policies intended to boost manufacturing and settle the West would help them. And what of those living in the North-Western Territory, the Métis and Aboriginals, who had been swept into the nation without even being consulted?

In a few more years Canada would stretch from sea to sea; by 1873, however, it already had seven provinces. While geographic expansion would mean the fulfillment of the nation-builders’ dreams, political unity would prove more elusive.

REFERENCES

Baldwin, Douglas. Confederation and the West. Calgary: Weigl Educational Publishers, 2003.

Bonenfant, Jean-Charles. "The French-Canadians and the Birth of Confederation." Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 21, 1966 [online].
[ http://www.collectionscanada.ca/cha-shc/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-21&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=i035hgdbgvanp6h8ccmaneqti3] (page consulted June 2, 2007).

Forbes, Ernest R. "Aspects of Maritime Regionalism, 1867-1927." Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 36, 1983 [online].
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/cha-shc/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-36&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=571930188a594571fa7e33589108eaa4] (page consulted June 2, 2007).

Morton, W. L. "The West and Confederation."  Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 9, 1967 [online].
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/cha-shc/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-9&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=d19318cf2627e62ecbd139436bd59695] (page consulted June 2, 2007).

 Miller, James R. “Unity/ Diversity: The Canadian Experience; From Confederation to the First World War. In R. Douglas Francis and Donald B. Smith (eds.), Readings in Canadian History. Post-Confederation. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston of Canada Ltd, 3rd edition, 1990, p. 156-166.

Miller, James R. Canada and the Aboriginal Peoples, 1867-1927. Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No. 57, 1997 [online].
[http://www.collectionscanada.ca/cha-shc/002013-119.01-e.php?&booklet_id=H-57&page_sequence_nbr=1&browse=yes&&PHPSESSID=278af918e1bf38d6cecbd1e866b8a263] (page consulted June 2, 2007).

Moore, Christopher. 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1997.

Silver, Arthur. “La Confédération. In John Meisel et. al. (eds.), Si je me souviens/ As I Recall. Regards sur l’histoire. Montreal: Institut de recherche en politiques publiques, 1999, p. 61-70.

Young, Brian. “Politics in Quebec after Confederation.” In J. M. Bumsted (ed.), Interpreting Canada’s Past. Volume Two. Post-Confederation. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 30-42.

Waite, P. B. “Confederation. ” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]. [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001842] (page consulted June 2, 2007).


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.150: Confederation ! The Much-Fathered Youngster

Cartoon illustrating a difference of opinion between some of Canada’s “Founding Fathers,” who are trying to determine who should get credit for the new Canadian Confederation. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

John Wilson Bengough
1876-09-30
M994X.5.273.150
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, September 30th, 1876: "Although the historical facts as to the origin of the idea of Confederation were familiar to most intelligent Canadians, (and they by no means the oldest inhabitants,) there was a standing dispute as to the party to whom the honor of its paternity belonged. Claims were put forth (amongst others,) on behalf of Messrs. George Brown, Sir F. Hincks, Wm. Macdougall and Sir John A. Macdonald."1

Artist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) first published this cartoon in 1876 in his satirical weekly, Grip. The cartoon depicts some of the politicians known as the "founding fathers" of Canada arguing over who deserves credit for giving "birth" to the fledgling "Confederation". In fact, over thirty-three men participated in the political conferences that led to the forming of the nation in 1867. This group was guided by the vision of the Great Coalition, an alliance of politicians from Canada East (Quebec) and Canada West (Ontario) that took its framework for a British North Ame Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Grip, September 30th, 1876:

  • "Although the historical facts as to the origin of the idea of Confederation were familiar to most intelligent Canadians, (and they by no means the oldest inhabitants,) there was a standing dispute as to the party to whom the honor of its paternity belonged. Claims were put forth (amongst others,) on behalf of Messrs. George Brown, Sir F. Hincks, Wm. Macdougall and Sir John A. Macdonald."1

Artist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) first published this cartoon in 1876 in his satirical weekly, Grip. The cartoon depicts some of the politicians known as the "founding fathers" of Canada arguing over who deserves credit for giving "birth" to the fledgling "Confederation". In fact, over thirty-three men participated in the political conferences that led to the forming of the nation in 1867. This group was guided by the vision of the Great Coalition, an alliance of politicians from Canada East (Quebec) and Canada West (Ontario) that took its framework for a British North American federation to the maritime colonies and made the concessions needed to strike a deal. Interestingly, the political cartoonist does not depict a single representative from Canada East, overlooking the vital contribution of Sir George-Étienne Cartier who made the Great Coalition possible by including Quebec in the process.

What
The caricatures represent (from left to right) George Brown, Sir Francis Hincks, William McDougall and Sir John A. Macdonald. The four surround a young child named "Confederation" who holds the "Union Act" in his hand. The captions read:

Brown: Come to your genewine poppy!

Hincks: I'm the Father of Confederation.

McDougall: Gracious! Me own cheiled don't know me!

Macdonald: Don't it recognize its real daddy?


Where
Representatives of the various governments, as well as opposition members, met in 1864 at the Charlottetown Conference and then at the Quebec Conference. Finally, in 1866 when the deal had been approved by four of the colonies, several of the leaders met in London where Confederation was realized through the British North America (BNA) Act which took effect on July 1, 1867.

When
In 1876, when this cartoon was first published, the new Dominion of Canada was rapidly expanding. The vast territory of Rupert's Land had been purchased, and Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island had entered Confederation in 1870, 1871 and 1873 respectively.

Who
Artist John Wilson Bengough (1851-1923) edited and published the Grip in Toronto from 1873 to 1892. Bengough's cartoons about 19th century politics were prominently featured in the Grip alongside puns, jokes and satire.




1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.

© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.42 : A pertinent quetsion

Cartoon on the fear of Canada being annexed by the United States, a fear that was shared by some Canadians and by the British government after Canadian Confederation in 1867. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Anonymous
1869-06-18
M994X.5.273.42
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Diogenes, June 18th, 1869: "This cartoon faithfully reflected the sentiments of the Canadian people on the subject of annexation. While it is still true that there is no general feeling in favor of the change indicated, there is an appreciable absence of the unfriendly feeling toward the United States which was generally cherished at this time. "1

The American Civil War raged from 1861 to 1865. When it ended, the United States of America had a very strong army and many people feared that it planned to conquer Britain’s remaining colonies in North America.

Although support for the project of Canadian Confederation wasn’t unanimous, the threat of American expansionism constituted a strong argument in its favour. So in the negotiations leading up to Confederation in 1867, those involved made sure that the new country would be a stronger and more centralized federation than the United States.

At the outset Canada comprised four provinces that were planning to build a railway to l Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Diogenes, June 18th, 1869:

  • "This cartoon faithfully reflected the sentiments of the Canadian people on the subject of annexation. While it is still true that there is no general feeling in favor of the change indicated, there is an appreciable absence of the unfriendly feeling toward the United States which was generally cherished at this time. "1

The American Civil War raged from 1861 to 1865. When it ended, the United States of America had a very strong army and many people feared that it planned to conquer Britain’s remaining colonies in North America.

Although support for the project of Canadian Confederation wasn’t unanimous, the threat of American expansionism constituted a strong argument in its favour. So in the negotiations leading up to Confederation in 1867, those involved made sure that the new country would be a stronger and more centralized federation than the United States.

At the outset Canada comprised four provinces that were planning to build a railway to link them. Canada also wanted to extend its borders westward and northward, and, in 1869, it negotiated the purchase from the Hudson’s Bay Company of a large territory around Hudson Bay known as Rupert’s Land. This cartoon, published two years after Confederation, shows that the annexation by the United States was still a major issue in Canada.

What
The annexation of Canada to the United States was a very popular topic among cartoonists in the post-Confederation period. Both the Dominion of Canada and Great Britain were very concerned about it.

Where
This scene, which takes place in a fictional setting, brings together characters representing three countries: Great Britain, Canada and the United States.

When
This cartoon was published in Montreal in June 1869 in the satirical, English-language weekly Diogenes, which was published from 1868 to 1870.

Who
In this cartoon Mother Britannia (representing Great Britain) asks Miss Canada (personifying Canada) if she gave her cousin Brother Jonathan (the United States) reason to believe she’d marry him. Miss Canada assures her she did not.

REFERENCES

Brown, Craig (Ed.). The Illustrated History of Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2002.

Winks, Robin W. “American Civil War.” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online].
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000174] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Influence of the American Civil War. Fear of Annexation by the United States,” “Canadian Confederation,” Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2005-e.html] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 18, 2007).




1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M994X.5.273.53 : From Halifax to Vancouver

Cartoon on Canada’s ambition to expand its territory westwards, in 1869, and to build a railway line that would link all of Canada’s provinces together. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Anonymous
1869-11-05
M994X.5.273.53
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Diogenes, November 5th, 1869 : "The project of an all rail route from the Atlantic to the Pacific on Canadian territory had begun to be agitated. The incredulity attributed to Uncle Sam in the cartoon was fully shared by many more immediately interested. The year 1886, however, saw the feat accomplished." 1

In 1869 Canada was planning to extend its territories westward. At the time the country’s leaders, and the industrialists they had links to, were eager to build an efficient transportation system. The construction of railways was in fact central to the success of Confederation. But Canada’s southern neighbour, the United States, seemed poised to block Canadian expansion by taking possession of the West. In 1869 it had just finished building one transcontinental railway and was planning to build another closer to the Canadian border. In addition, two years earlier, it had purchased Alaska, on the northwest edge of the continent.

On the West Coast, some Europeans living in the colony of British Col Read More

Comment by artist John Wilson Bengough on this cartoon originally published in Diogenes, November 5th, 1869 :

  • "The project of an all rail route from the Atlantic to the Pacific on Canadian territory had begun to be agitated. The incredulity attributed to Uncle Sam in the cartoon was fully shared by many more immediately interested. The year 1886, however, saw the feat accomplished." 1

In 1869 Canada was planning to extend its territories westward. At the time the country’s leaders, and the industrialists they had links to, were eager to build an efficient transportation system. The construction of railways was in fact central to the success of Confederation. But Canada’s southern neighbour, the United States, seemed poised to block Canadian expansion by taking possession of the West. In 1869 it had just finished building one transcontinental railway and was planning to build another closer to the Canadian border. In addition, two years earlier, it had purchased Alaska, on the northwest edge of the continent.

On the West Coast, some Europeans living in the colony of British Columbia saw the annexion of their territory to the United States as a logical next step. Others who wanted to join Canada realized that Canada’s acquisition in 1869 of Rupert’s Land (comprising part of present-day northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and all of Manitoba) constituted a powerful argument in their favour. The Dominion of Canada was right at their doorstep!

In this cartoon, Miss Canada tells her southern cousin, Brother Jonathan, about her plan to extend her territory west to British Columbia in order to unite the colony with the rest of the country by a railway.

What
Canada dreamt of occupying the whole continent, from sea to sea, and linking all the provinces with a railway. Canada would thus forestall its powerful southern neighbour, which already had a transcontinental railway.

Where
In this cartoon the mountains behind Miss Canada suggest that the fictional scene takes place in the West, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

When
In 1869 Canada’s transcontinental railway was no more than a plan. It was not until the summer of 1870 that the leaders of the colony of British Columbia agreed to join Confederation on the condition that a railway would be built to serve their province.

Who
Miss Canada personifies Canadian Confederation, made up of four provinces in 1869. Brother Jonathan represents the United States, which had a much larger population than Canada.

REFERENCES

Brown, Craig (Ed.). The Illustrated History of Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2002

Ireland, Willard E. “The Annexation Petition of 1869,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly 4 (4) (October 1940), p. 268, Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2185.800.2-e.html] (page consulted May 24, 2007).

Marsh, James. “Railway History,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]. [http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006655] (page consulted May 24, 2007).

Robinson, J. Lewis. “History,” “British Columbia,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000995] (page consulted May 24, 2007).

“British Columbia. Entered Confederation: 1871,” “Canadian Confederation,” Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2185-e.html] (page consulted May 24, 2007).


1 Excerpt from: Bengough, John Wilson. A Caricature History of Canadian Politics: Events from the Union of 1841, as Illustrated by Cartoons from "Grip", and Various Other Sources. Toronto: The Grip Printing and Publishing Co, 1886.
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M984.306.169 : The Situation

Cartoon on Canada’s purchase of Rupert’s Land and on the entry of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories into the Canadian Confederation in 1870. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Anonymous
1870-01-29
M984.306.169
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


In the years following Confederation (1867), Canada planned to expand its territory westward and northward. It became imperative for Canada to establish its borders, to confront the threat of U.S. expansion. In 1870 Canada took possession of a fifth province located in the heart of the country, Manitoba, as well as the North-West Territories. Until then Manitoba and the North-West Territories had been part of Rupert’s Land (comprising part of present-day northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and all of Manitoba).

In 1869 Canada began negotiations to take over Rupert’s Land, managed since 1836 by the Hudson’s Bay Company, without the consent of the people living there. Many Métis (of mixed Aboriginal and European descent) lived in the Red River Colony, more than half of whom spoke French. The other colonists were Anglophones. Fearing for their property and cultural rights, the Métis, led by Louis Riel (1844-1885) rebelled in 1869 in an attempt to force Canada to listen to their demands. Finally, in January 1870, Canada negotiated with Riel’s provisionary government the conditions of Mani Read More
In the years following Confederation (1867), Canada planned to expand its territory westward and northward. It became imperative for Canada to establish its borders, to confront the threat of U.S. expansion. In 1870 Canada took possession of a fifth province located in the heart of the country, Manitoba, as well as the North-West Territories. Until then Manitoba and the North-West Territories had been part of Rupert’s Land (comprising part of present-day northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and all of Manitoba).

In 1869 Canada began negotiations to take over Rupert’s Land, managed since 1836 by the Hudson’s Bay Company, without the consent of the people living there. Many Métis (of mixed Aboriginal and European descent) lived in the Red River Colony, more than half of whom spoke French. The other colonists were Anglophones. Fearing for their property and cultural rights, the Métis, led by Louis Riel (1844-1885) rebelled in 1869 in an attempt to force Canada to listen to their demands. Finally, in January 1870, Canada negotiated with Riel’s provisionary government the conditions of Manitoba’s entry in to Confederation.

This cartoon, published during these negotiations, in January 1870, shows a Miss Winnie Peg hesitating over the annexation of her territory to Canada. Miss Canada holds out her arms in greeting, while Brother Jonathan (the United States) looks on with interest, suggesting that the Americans hoped to acquire the territory in the place of Canada. At the time, people on both sides of the border were hoping to take advantage of the Red River Rebellion to help the United States take over the western territories.

What
The cartoon illustrates the uncertainty surrounding Canada’s acquisition of Rupert’s Land. The fact that the people of the Red River Colony were not consulted sparked the Red River Rebellion.

Where
Winnipeg, which in 1870 was just a small town, was part of the Red River Colony.

When
This cartoon appeared in the weekly the Canadian Illustrated News on January 29, 1870. The governments of Great Britain and Canada had set the previous December 1 as the date for the transfer of Rupert’s Land, but Canada did not take possession until July 1870.

Who
This fictional scene brings together Miss Winnie Peg (centre), a character representing the Red River Colony, Brother Jonathan, personifying the United States, and Miss Canada, symbolizing this country.

REFERENCES

Artibise, Alan F. J. “Winnipeg,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0008644] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

Brown, Craig (Ed.). The Illustrated History of Canada. Rev. ed. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 2002

Bumsted, J. M. “Red River Rebellion,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006727] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

Smith, Shirlee Anne. “ Rupert’s Land,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0007006](page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Canadian Illustrated News,” Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec [online] [http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/cin/] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online][http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Manitoba. Entered Confederation: 1870,” “Canadian Confederation,” Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2170-e.html] (page consulted 18 May 2007).

© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

M988.182.145 : Canada

Cartoon on the threat of Canada being annexed by the United States, as Canada prepared to expand to the northwest with the purchase of Rupert’s Land in 1870. Hyperlink to display the full record on the museum's site in a new window

Anonymous
1870-07-30
M988.182.145
© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Canada was born shortly after the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). At the time, the United States had a very strong army. In Canada and Great Britain many people feared that the Americans were hoping to enlarge their country by annexing Canada. This fear was a central factor in the type of federation and constitution adopted by Canada.

With Confederation (1867) it became imperative for the new country to establish its borders, especially those to the north and west, to confront the threat of U.S. expansion. It was in this context that Canada set out in 1869 to acquire Rupert’s Land (made up of part of present-day northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and all of Manitoba). But in the Red River Colony (present-day Manitoba), the Métis were upset that they had not been consulted and feared losing their rights. Led by Louis Riel (1844-1885), they organized a rebellion that slowed Canada’s expansionist project. Hoping to take advantage of this instability, partisans on both sides of the border lobbied for the United States to instead acquire Rupert’s Land. But the Canadian government managed to Read More
Canada was born shortly after the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865). At the time, the United States had a very strong army. In Canada and Great Britain many people feared that the Americans were hoping to enlarge their country by annexing Canada. This fear was a central factor in the type of federation and constitution adopted by Canada.

With Confederation (1867) it became imperative for the new country to establish its borders, especially those to the north and west, to confront the threat of U.S. expansion. It was in this context that Canada set out in 1869 to acquire Rupert’s Land (made up of part of present-day northern Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and all of Manitoba). But in the Red River Colony (present-day Manitoba), the Métis were upset that they had not been consulted and feared losing their rights. Led by Louis Riel (1844-1885), they organized a rebellion that slowed Canada’s expansionist project. Hoping to take advantage of this instability, partisans on both sides of the border lobbied for the United States to instead acquire Rupert’s Land. But the Canadian government managed to bring an end to the crisis by negotiating with Riel’s provisionary government.

This cartoon was published in July 1870, when Canada finally took possession of Rupert’s Land. As it suggests, these were Canada’s first steps as a nation.

What
This cartoon suggests that the United States wanted to take possession of Canada. It also shows Great Britain, which still had close ties to its former North American colonies, recently united in Confederation.

Where
Canada was then made up of the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and, after 1870, also of Manitoba and the North-West Territories.

When
The cartoon was published in July 1870, when Canada took possession of Rupert’s Land following the Red River Rebellion. This was just three years after the birth of Canada, in 1867.

Who
In this cartoon Canada, just three years old, is depicted as a child. Great Britain is represented as Mother Britannia, holding out her protective arms. Uncle Sam, representing the United States, stands on the other side, ready to “grab” the child if it falls.


REFERENCES

Brown, Craig et al. Histoire générale du Canada. Montreal: Boréal, 1990.

Waite, P. B. “Confederation,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0001842] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

Winks, Robin W. “American Civil War,” The Canadian Encyclopedia [online]
[http://thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0000174] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Influence of the American Civil War. Fear of Annexion by the United States,” “Canadian Confederation,” Library and Archives Canada [online] [http://www.collectionscanada.ca/confederation/023001-2005-e.html] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“Canada and the World. 1867-1896: Forging a Nation,” Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada [online] [http://www.international.gc.ca/department/history/canada2-en.asp] (page consulted May 18, 2007).

“The Riel Rebellions,” Canada in the Making [online]
[http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/rielreb_e.html] (page consulted 24 May 18, 2007).

© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

This activity on the learning object The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 3 (1st year of Cycle Two). It aims to enable students to ask questions about the founding of Canadian federation and to interpret the territorial, political and social challenges faced by the new country. The activity is based largely on old cartoons, created between 1860 and 1870.

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted pedagogical outcomes are:

  • Competency 1: Examines social phenomena from a historical perspective.
  • Competency 2: Interprets social phenomena using the historical method.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social Phenomena: Formation of the Canadian federation.
  • Concept: Confederation.
  • Historical Knowledge: Political organization, relations with Great-Britain.
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:
Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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