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The Sense of Power

The Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism, 1867-1914, Second Edition

Carl Berger
With a New Introduction by Doug Owram
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Sense of Power
    Book Description:

    This second edition brings to life the work's incisive analysis and its important contribution to Canadian intellectual history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6897-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction to the Second Edition
    (pp. xi-2)
    Doug Owram

    It has been more than forty years sinceSense of Powerwas first published. In the interim many, many academic and scholarly works of solid quality have appeared, run their course, and faded into the obscurity of time. It is therefore a signal recognition that University of Toronto Press is reissuing this volume with the original text intact. This republication is an acknowledgment not only of the text’s quality but also of the fact that the work has become a historical document in its own right. Carl Berger’s choice of topic, his methodology, and the impact of the resulting book...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    This book is a study in Canadian nationalist thought. It is an examination of the ideas and beliefs of a group of men in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who called their cause imperial unity, their movement imperial federation, and themselves imperialists. The word imperialism crept into the Canadian political vocabulary only in the later years of the last century and for many Canadians it perhaps still connotes a rather distasteful urge to dominate and exploit the underdeveloped areas of the earth and is associated with the toughminded and domineering behaviour of the great powers in the age...

  7. 1 Men
    (pp. 12-48)

    Imperialism was a sentiment and an outlook before it became a policy. Individuals were disposed to accept the values and perspectives it embodied because these appeared meaningful in terms of their own experiences and convictions. Different men chose to emphasize certain elements of that concept over others with the result that it exhibited a bewildering variety of meanings. “Imperialism,” said an adherent, “may be what any advocate of that idea chooses to define it. It is not fixed. It is in a state of flux.”¹ What imperialism signified can therefore only be understood in relation to the characters who espoused...

  8. 2 Canada First
    (pp. 49-77)

    Canadian imperialism rested upon an intense awareness of Canadian nationality combined with an equally decided desire to unify and transform the British Empire so that this nationality could attain a position of equality within it. These two ideas have customarily been viewed as separate and mutually incompatible; for imperialists the sense of nationality and the ideal of imperial unity were interlocked and identical. The group of young men who founded the Canada First movement in the years after Confederation and attempted to arouse a stronger consciousness of uniqueness among Canadians and to impart meaning to the phrase, “new nationality,” exemplified...

  9. 3 The Loyalist Tradition
    (pp. 78-108)

    In the summer of 1884 the Imperial Federation League was founded in London and in Canada the descendants of the United Empire Loyalists celebrated the centennial of the migration of their ancestors. Though there was no apparent connection between these two events the loyalist tradition was to provide one of the most potent elixirs to Canadian imperial sentiment and the descendants of the loyalists were to constitute the major source of the League’s support. This tradition expressed an indigenous British-Canadian national feeling and it flourished both because it provided a useful device by which the arguments of the advocates of...

  10. 4 Progress and Liberty
    (pp. 109-127)

    Canadian imperialism was dominated by appeals to the past primarily because its exponents regarded history as the repository of enduring and valuable principles and not because they sought to escape into some secure and idealized Heroic Age. Convinced that Canadian development must proceed in harmony with these principles, the imperialists felt they had to define and defend them. This is why so large a portion of the literature that was ostensibly calculated to promote imperial unity dwelt instead upon Canadian history and especially upon the achievements of the United Empire Loyalists. In addition to exalting the loyalist tradition, imperialists contended...

  11. 5 The Canadian Character
    (pp. 128-152)

    Like nationalists everywhere, the Canadian imperialists assumed that the people whose ideals they expressed possessed a distinctive national character which was the product of racial inheritance and social training, environment and historical experience. Running through their critique of republican society and their interpretation of the Canadian past was the belief that Canadians were pre-eminently a loyal and lawabiding people not given over to the erratic and hectic behaviour of their neighbours. Scarcely less dominant in their image of the national character was the impression that the northern climate imparted to it a high degree of energy, vigour, and strenuousness. Urged...

  12. 6 Critique of the Republic
    (pp. 153-176)

    At every turn Canadian imperialists were forced to consider Canada’s relationship to the United States. On this subject as on many others, they differed among themselves, but for various reasons, real or imagined, they were all convinced that the republic represented an undesirable social order. Their view of the United States was neither uniformly hostile nor was it completely uninformed; certainly it was not totally fabricated out of bitterness and traditional animosity. It gained much of its force from what was happening within that country itself during the late nineteenth century as well as from inherited predispositions and nationalist sentiment....

  13. 7 Social Criticism and Reform
    (pp. 177-198)

    In Britain, the United States, and Canada the relationship between imperialism and social reform was intimate and direct. Imperialists in all three countries were at one in their search for values, both personal and political, which would check the spirit of commercialism and the social atomization of their time. The American Theodore Roosevelt and the English imperialist, Alfred Milner, found such standards in a masterful policy abroad and social reform at home. Imperial power, after all, depended upon a strong and stable internal society.¹ For many reasons this social reformist strand of imperialist thought appeared in Canada only in an...

  14. 8 Democracy and Leadership
    (pp. 199-216)

    In their attitude to party government the imperialists remained faithful to the Canada First tradition. Though the collapse of that movement demonstrated that the hoped for dissolution of the colonial parties and the end to bitter partisanship was premature, it did nothing to shake the hostility to “partyism” among the priginal members of that group and among Canadian intellectuals generally. The conventional condemnation of the sordidness and corruption of party politics, the questioning of whether party was an altogether indispensable instrument of government, and even an exasperation with democracy itself, increased in frequency and grew more and more specific in...

  15. 9 Mission
    (pp. 217-232)

    One of the most distinctive features of the imperialist mind was the tendency to infuse religious emotion into secular purposes. The contention that the British Empire was a providential agency, the greatest secular instrument for good in the world, was a widely held conviction among imperialists, but in few places was the conception of Christian responsibility which underlay it more graphically presented than in the writings and experiences of G. M. Grant and G. R. Parkin. They called for a dedication of material things and human effort to spiritual ends and created an imperialist ethic which was so intense, so...

  16. 10 Militarism
    (pp. 233-258)

    Imperialism, military preparedness, and militarism, or the admiration and exaltation of the martial virtues, were inextricably bound together. After the mid-1890s the Canadian imperialists were in the forefront of the movements for the reform of the militia and the establishment of cadet drill in the schools; it was they who pressed most fiercely for Canada’s participation in the Boer War and who were most apprehensive over the naval scare of 1909. They urged the adoption of their defence programmes out of a genuine fear that, as Denison put it, “... our empire has not relatively the strong and predominant position...

  17. 11 Conclusion
    (pp. 259-265)

    Imperialism was one form of Canadian nationalism.

    This sense of nationality was grounded upon a definite conception of Canada’s past, her national character, and her mission in the future, and at its heart was a yearning for significance and a desire to obliterate the stigma of colonialism. “I ... am an imperialist,” said Stephen Leacock, “because I will not be a Colonial.”¹ “There is no antagonism ... between Canadianism and imperialism,” declared the premier of Ontario in 1900. “The one is but the expansion of the other.”² Because they thought that the United Empire Loyalists had planted and protected the...

    (pp. 266-270)
  19. Index
    (pp. 271-277)