The emergence in the nineteenth century of a new political and territorial entity - Canada - is dramatically portrayed in this book. Through breathtaking cartography it vividly captures the great economic and social events that made possible the successful birth of a huge new country.
The Land Transformed reveals how a thinly populated and economically limited group of colonies in 1800 came together to become the Canada of the 1890s. The profound revolution was the transformation of the land: forest and grassland gave way to farmland, native populations were moved onto reservations, railways and telegraph tied together widely separated communities; urban commercial centres grew. At the end of the century Canada was recognizable as one of the world's major countries, stretching across a continent, comfortably at home in the world of railways, factories, and well-developed agriculture.
The first part of the volume, 'Extending the Frontier: Settlement to Mid-Century,' describes the growth of the population and the economy in the first half of the century. Maps, graphs, charts, and paintings are used with imagination and clarity to portray the spread of settlement, based on immigration and an accelerated use of resources, the most important of which was land. By the 1850s a dominant agriculture was joined to a productive timber trade as the country's engine of growth.
Part II, 'Building a Nation,' covers the country's 'coming of age.' Between the 1850s and the 1890s political union was achieved, conomic growth continued, and a recognizable Canadian society emerged. These same developments left in their wake a declining and dispersed indigenous population. A series of treaties moved Indian populations to reserves of land in a massive rearrangement of native territory that set the stage for continuing cultural conflict.
The nineteenth century witnessed the culmination of four centuries of European engagement in North America. Momentous events of the time are captured in this volume, which provides a splendid visual record of the drama of nation building and the roots of the diverse nation we know today.
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