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The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation

The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation

L.D. McCANN Cartographer
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 640
  • Book Info
    The Atlantic Provinces in Confederation
    Book Description:

    Thirteen leading historians explore Atlantic Canada?s history from Confederation to the 1980s. Their work sheds light on the complex political dynamic between the region and Ottawa and on the roots of current social and economic realities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5700-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Prologue: The Atlantic Colonies before Confederation
    (pp. 3-10)
    D.A. Muise

    Diversity and fragmentation characterized the geography of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Their best farming lands were concentrated in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, New Brunswick’s Saint John River Valley, and most of Prince Edward Island. Except for margins bordering rivers and lakes, the rest of the region held mostly poor soil, at least in terms of its capacity to support the wheat-based agriculture that Europeans hoped to establish in North America. The region’s quite variable climate featured shorter growing seasons than the more continental areas of North America, a factor that reduced agricultural possibilities still further....


    • CHAPTER ONE The 1860s: Forging the Bonds of Union
      (pp. 13-47)
      D.A. Muise

      Analyses of Atlantic Canada’s experience of Confederation often emphasize dislocations within the regional community after 1867. These visions of Confederation’s consequences in terms of underdevelopment and regional disparity also inform discussions of events surrounding the achievement of union in the 1860s. On the surface, a reluctant group of disparate and fragmented Atlantic colonies were hustled into an unequal union with Canada for which they were not prepared. By some accounts, they were pushed into it by anxious colonial administrators, ambitious Canadian politicians searching for solutions to their internal problems, and concern about the increasing bellicosity of the United States, which...

    • CHAPTER TWO The 1870s: Political Integration
      (pp. 48-81)
      Phillip A. Buckner

      Maritimers entered the 1870s resentful at the way in which Confederation had been imposed upon the region. Most historians have simply attributed Maritime discontent to continuing hostility to Confederation and dismissed the malaise expressed during the 1870s as mere nostalgia for a golden age that had never existed. But the majority of Maritimers had never opposed the idea of Confederation, only the unpalatable terms imposed upon the region at the Quebec Conference, and what they sought was not separation but accommodation within the union.¹ At the federal level the desire for better terms led to gradual integration into the federal...

    • CHAPTER THREE The 1880s: Paradoxes of Progress
      (pp. 82-116)
      Judith Fingard

      Paradox is the stuff of history and of no decade is this truer than the 1880s in the Maritimes. These were the years when the Maritimes enjoyed the highest rate of industrial expansion in Canada but suffered the highest rate of out-migration. As some communities experienced population growth rates of over 50 per cent, so others declined in population. Throughout the Maritimes land transportation continued to be subsidized by the state, whereas oceanic transportation, the long-time speciality of the region, was allowed to languish. The value of deposits added by Maritimers to their savings accounts in local chartered banks exceeded...


    • CHAPTER FOUR The 1890s: Fragmentation and the New Social Order
      (pp. 119-154)
      Larry McCann

      The Maritimes, like Canada itself, experienced a continuing sense of disunity and fragmentation through the 1890s. The forces of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, along with ethno-religious tensions, shaped a Canada of strong regional differences. They added complexity to the country: an urban-industrial core in Ontario and Quebec split along cultural lines; and western and eastern hinterlands each depending on different staples and peopled by old and new immigrants. In the Maritimes, the new industrial order reinforced social and economic disparities between Halifax and Saint John and rural communities; between thriving, industrial Cape Breton and stagnating areas of longstanding farming, fishing,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The 1900s: Industry, Urbanization, and Reform
      (pp. 155-191)
      Colin Howell

      As the new century opened, the Maritime region was abuzz with talk of war. In Halifax preparations were already underway for the embarkation of a second contingent of some 1,200 men and horses for the South African war. Even the discovery of typhoid fever among the crew of the troop shipMontezumafailed to dampen the patriotic spirits of a community that regarded the war as a modern religious crusade to ‘ring the death knell of political inequality, of race or creed, or nationality’ The nineteenth century, the HalifaxHeraldnoted, began with the French Revolution, that ‘sanguinary struggle for...

    • CHAPTER SIX: The 1910s: The Stillborn Triumph of Progressive Reform
      (pp. 192-230)
      Ian McKay

      In the summer of 1914, Saint John belonged to the social reformers, rioters, and patriots. It was difficult to miss the social reformers that summer, for they were everywhere, reforming everything. In June, the Community Council of Saint John was coming together to promote measures ‘on broad lines for the advancement of the welfare of the entire community’ The city’s Equal Suffrage Association was planning an educational booth at the Saint John Exhibition to promote the enfranchisement of women. The Anti-Tuberculosis Association was sternly warning Saint Johners that they faced a higher death rate from the disease than citizens of...


    • CHAPTER SEVEN The 1920s: Class and Region, Resistance and Accommodation
      (pp. 233-271)
      David Frank

      The decade began with a sad, lonely voice of protest. In the summer of 1920 a young Welshman left his wife and child in Swansea and sailed across the Atlantic to the New World. A miner by trade, William Ambrose John had answered advertisements placed by the Dominion Coal Company and borrowed money for the passage. On 27 July, Will John and his friend Robert Johnston landed in Sydney. They went to work at No. 16 colliery, New Waterford, on 2 August. Then came the awakening’ John later wrote. ‘We found the promises of the company were like all promises...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The 1930s: Depression and Retrenchment
      (pp. 272-305)
      E.R. Forbes

      The decade of the 1930s was coloured throughout by the Great Depression. Dependent upon primary production and international trade, the Maritime economy was hit harder than that of any region east of the Prairies. No stranger to economic recession, the Maritimes found this one particularly severe because their primary source of relief in the past – emigration – was closed to them. The Americans sealed their borders, and other provinces hedged their social programs with long-residency requirements. With the Depression’s threat to personal economic security so widespread, people and governments often appeared at their worst. Anomalies in Canada’s constitution made it convenient...

    • CHAPTER NINE The 1940s: War and Rehabilitation
      (pp. 306-346)
      Carman Miller

      ‘You never meet a man who thinks of himself as a Maritimer,’ a contemporary central-Canadian commentator complained after a tour of the region in 1948.¹ This absence of a strong sense of regional identity proved a serious liability during the 1940s when war and insecurity bred a highly directive federalism that banished the Depression, contributed to the military victory in Europe, recast Canada’s social-security system, and reshaped the political economy of Atlantic Canada. Although Canadian business mounted the most concerted opposition to the growth of federal powers, their own industrial strategy was no less centralist. Most Maritimers, caught between their...


    • CHAPTER TEN Newfoundland Confronts Canada, 1867–1949
      (pp. 349-381)
      James K. Hiller

      April can be a cruel month in eastern Newfoundland, characterized by heavy, dense fogs, the ice pack pressing against the coast, bitter winds, and damp snow. The first of April 1949, the day on which Newfoundland passed from rule by a British-appointed Commission of Government to the status of a Canadian province, was typically cold and gloomy. It fitted the mood of the predominantly anti-Confederate town of St John’s. Some houses flew black flags, others the Union Jack at half mast, yet others the old, unofficial flag, the pink, white, and green. There were drawn blinds and black ties. In...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The 1950s: The Decade of Development
      (pp. 382-420)
      Margaret Conrad

      In 1950 there were two Atlantic Canadas, one largely rural and isolated, like Henry and his wife, the other essentially urban and fully integrated into mainstream North American culture, like the politician who sought their votes. Within ten years, the forces of change would sweep away most of the remnants of the traditional way of life and replace it with highly bureaucratized and centralized structures from which few could escape.²

      This transformation had been working its wonders in Atlantic Canada since Confederation. Only the pace of change in the 1950s, like the 'muscle' cars that sped down the beckoning highways,...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE The 1960s: The Illusions and Realities of Progress
      (pp. 421-459)
      Della Stanley

      The 1960s was a pivotal decade. The growing importance of new technologies stimulated change throughout the western world. As part of a long period of economic growth, the decade saw substantial improvements in Canadian living standards. Faith in material progress was accompanied by an optimistic and egalitarian idealism that encouraged concern for the plight of minorities and the poor, the questioning of traditional values, and new attempts to define national goals and aspirations.

      For the Atlantic provinces, perhaps the most significant developments of the decade were the profound changes in the financing and delivery of government services. Canada seemed finally...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN The 1970s: Sharpening the Sceptical Edge
      (pp. 460-504)
      John Reid

      As the Atlantic provinces entered the 1970s, at least one commentator detected. ‘a new feeling of optimism,¹ Whether any such feeling was justified was debatable. During the later years of the previous decade the regional economy had faltered yet again, and in 1969 unemployment in the region stood at 7.5 per cent, compared to 4.7 per cent for Canada as a whole. The census year of 1971 would reveal per-capita personal incomes in Atlantic Canada ranging from $2,176 in Prince Edward Island to $2,661 in Nova Scotia, as compared to $4,019 in Ontario.² Not surprisingly, many Atlantic Canadians were not...

  9. Epilogue: The 1980s
    (pp. 505-516)
    E.R. Forbes

    Although closeness to events tends to undermine historical perspective, one can sketch the broad outlines of the region’s experience in the past decade. In the 1980s the Atlantic provinces faced problems of adjustment as Canada began a fundamental shift in economic and constitutional orientation. The decade opened with a serious recession, confounding traditional economics with a stagnant economy accompanied by double-digit inflation and the highest interest rates ever. The victims of the recession included not only the traditionally vulnerable construction workers and unskilled labour but also the middle class, as corporations trimmed managerial staff in a drive to be more...

  10. Election Data
    (pp. 517-524)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 525-592)
  12. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 593-594)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 595-598)
  14. Index
    (pp. 599-628)