SELDOM in the history
of a nation has there been such rapid economic development as Canada has
enjoyed during the last two decades. Within that time the Dominion has
felt the throb of a new industrial life from ocean to ocean. Railroads
have opened up to the settler vast stretches of fertile soil.
Immigration has proceeded vigorously, and the country has received a
large influx of population from both Europe and the United States. Wide
tracts of prairie land, which twenty years ago were uninhabited and
which appalled the traveller by their unbroken solitude, are now dotted
with the buildings of the settler. Cities and towns have sprung up, as
in a night, equipped with the conveniences of modem civilization. The
increase in the production of gold and silver has been no less
phenomenal—the fame of the Yukon and of the Cobalt region has gone all
over the world. From Sydney on the Atlantic to Prince Rupert on the
Pacific the signs of rapid advancement are everywhere visible. Vacant
lands are being settled, mineral resources exploited, great rivers
bridged and mountains scaled or tunnelled. The shifting of population
from the older and historic settlements to the new sections and from
rural districts to urban centres is also a feature of the present
situation. While European nations have been devoting much of their
energy to navies and armies, Canada has been concentrating all her
forces on the conquest of nature for the use of man.
But, in the enthusiasm of commercial and industrial activity, of
increasing wealth and population, it is not to be forgotten that the
national character is not moulded exclusively by economic causes. Flung
over an enormous geographic range, the Canadian communities are not yet
bound together by continuity of settlement. There remain differences of
environment, of local interest, of language and race. Under such
conditions the danger of sectionalism, in spite of material success, is
greatly to be feared, unless this destructive tendency is met by the
positive and constructive idea of the Nation.
To the end that a broad national spirit should prevail in all parts of
the Dominion, it is desirable that a sound knowledge of Canada as a
whole, of its history, traditions and standards of life, should be
diffused among its citizens, and especially among the immigrants who are
peopling the new lands. Commercial and industrial ambition, so strong a
motive in every new country, will naturally lead men to inform
themselves concerning its business advantages, but mere wealth-making is
not the chief essential of citizenship. Good citizenship grows out of a
patriotic interest in the institutions of one’s country and a sympathy
with the people who dwell there. Such interest and sympathy are possible
in large measure only to those who are familiar with their country’s
past. Now, Canada’s past, though brief compared with that of the
Motherland or other European countries, is full of interest,
instruction, and even romance. The story of the early centuries is
fascinating and dramatic. It has its conspicuous examples of high
endeavour and brave accomplishment—such as the heart of youth always
delights in—in defence, in business enterprise, in education, in
religion and in statecraft. Without exaggerating its favourable features
or minimizing or ignoring those that are less attractive, the record of
the stages through which Canada’s various provinces have passed, from
the state of nature in which they were found by the first European
explorers and settlers to their present condition of civilization, may
be so presented as to awaken not only the interest but the patriotic
pride of every intelligent citizen. With this story every Canadian
should be acquainted, both for his own enlightenment and for the good of
The work which is here presented to the public has been planned and
undertaken on a comprehensive scale, both in the sense that it covers
the entire history of Canada and its provinces, and in the sense that
those who write represent all parts of the Dominion and their more or
less diverse points of view. The range of facts is so wide and the
topics so various and complex that no one author could possibly compass
them. The work, therefore, has been apportioned among many writers, each
of whom has some special sympathy and aptitude for the topic with which
he deals. In adopting this co-operative plan the Editors have followed
not merely the logic of their theme, but the practice of modern
historians in other and older countries.
The co-operative method, while involving the Editors in some
difficulties, has obvious advantages to the reader. Although two or more
writers may deal with the same event or personality, they do so from
different angles, and what sometimes appears to be duplication serves to
clarify a complex situation by presenting it from more than one point of
view. A financial measure, for instance, having as a direct object the
raising of revenue, is dealt with in that aspect by the writer on public
finance. But the same measure in its course through parliament may have
proved the occasion of a political crisis; in that phase it is treated
by one of the writers dealing with political history. The measure may
also have affected domestic trade or foreign trade relations, raising
questions for the consideration of a third writer whose subject is
economic history. From each of the three standpoints new light is given,
and a comprehensive view of the whole matter is thus afforded.
The plan of the work embraces twelve main divisions or sections as
I. New France, 1534-1760.
II. British Dominion, 1760-1840.
III. United Canada, 1840-1867.
IV. The Dominion: Political Evolution
V. The Dominion: Industrial Expansion
VI. The Dominion: Missions, Arts and Letters
VII. The Atlantic Provinces.
VIII. The Province of Quebec
IX. The Province of Ontario
X. The Prairie Provinces
XI. The Pacific Province
XII. Documentary Notes, General Index
It will be observed
that these titles indicate two distinct classes of history—one general
or national, and the other local or provincial. A recital here of all
the considerations which led the Editors to adopt this system would be
of little service to the reader. It is enough to say that the Editors
arrived at this method after much study and experiment, and that in
their judgment it appears to be the only way in which a complete
historical survey can be made of the Canadian people and their
institutions. Broadly, the first six sections cover New France, the two
Canadas, United Canada, and the Dominion. The topics treated in the five
provincial sections may be generalized as (1) Pioneer Settlement, (2)
Provincial Political History since Confederation, (3) Provincial and
Municipal Government, (4) Education, and (5) Resources. In general it
may be said that all matters of Canadian history not covered by one of
these heads are to be looked for in the first six sections, although
there are necessarily deviations from this rule. The pre-Confederation
history of the Atlantic Provinces, for instance, has little connection
with that of the Canadas, and it is therefore given in the provincial
section. The same is true of British Columbia.
Although the normal historical order is followed as closely as possible,
the work is arranged on topical rather than on chronological lines. This
makes it possible and convenient to institute comparisons, if desired,
between one province and another in the same matter. Thus it will be
seen that the work may serve the reader in a variety of ways: (1) as a
general history of Canada, (2) as a special history of any one of the
provinces, (3) as a comparative history of similar institutions in the
different provinces, or (4) as an independent study of any leading
historical topic relating to Canada. For specific events or facts the
General Index will supply a full and ready guide. The Documentary Notes
in the final volume will traverse the text of the narratives and cite
The average citizen cannot be expected to know the story of his country
in every detail, but- he should know its outstanding events,
personalities and tendencies, while those who are creating and guiding
public opinion should have at their command at all times the fullest
possible information for use as each new occasion may demand. With
knowledge, the prejudice and narrowness of sectionalism give way to an
enlightened patriotism which vibrates to the sentiment of nationality
and holds high above all else the welfare of the whole commonwealth. For
these and other reasons the preparation of a comprehensive history of
Canada at the present time may be regarded as a contribution to the
development of the Dominion.
Volume I. New France, 1534-1760
Volume II. New France, 1534-1760 Part II.
Volume III. British Dominion 1760 -1840 Part I.
Volume IV. British Dominion 1760 -1840 Part II.
Volume V. United Canada 1840-1867
Volume VI. The Dominion: Political Evolution Part I.
Volume VII. The Dominion: Political Evolution Part II.
Volume VIII. The Dominion: Political Evolution Part III.
Volume IX. The Dominion: Industrial Expansion Part I.
Volume X. The Dominion: Industrial Expansion Part II.
Volume XI. The Dominion: Missions; Arts and Letters Part I.
Volume XII. The Dominion: Missions; Arts and Letters Part II.
Volume XIII. The Atlantic Provinces Part I.
Volume XIV. The Atlantic Provinces Part II.
Volume XV. The Province of Quebec Part I.
Volume XVI. The Province of Quebec Part II.
Volume XVII. The Province of Ontario Part I.
Volume XVIII. The Province of Ontario Part II.
Volume XIX. The Prairie Provinces Part I.
Volume XX. The Prairie Provinces Part II.
Volume XXI. The Pacific Province Part I.
Volume XXII. The Pacific Province Part II.
Volume XXIII. General Index, Manuscript Sources, Bibliography