The Canadian Party!

Fort Sumter storm flag 1861
Fort Sumter storm flag 1861 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It has to be speculation today, but it could be argued that Canada would not be an independent nation today if the American Civil War had not taken place.  The fight began at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

In 1861, the Americans had a big foothold in western Canada and were looking for more.  The most important trade route was via the railway that had been built to St. Paul, Minnesota. Six thousand Red River carts were employed in transporting Hudson’s Bay Company goods between Fort Garry (Winnipeg) and St. Paul.  They were supplying 152 shops, 3,000 traders and 100,000 Indian trappers.

Fort Garry was growing rapidly and dividing into political factions, “The American Part” and the “Canadian Party.”  Each side had newspapers to express its views, and hotels for headquarters.  With Confederation looming as a possibility in the East, the States had agents working in Fort Garry to try to take over the West before Canada did.  The intention was to establish the Canadian north-south boundary along longitude 90, at the western end of Lake Superior, just past Fort William and Port Arthur.

The United States was interested for several reasons.  Its own good lands were being occupied rapidly, and the prairies provided room for expansion.  Gold had been discovered in British Columbia, and it was thought that the area might offer a route to the gold fields.  In any event, it was the United States’ policy to take over all the Pacific coast up to Alaska.

The Americans might have pursued this policy of they had not become involved in a war with Mexico.  Rather than fight Britain too, they settled for a boundary along the forty-ninth parallel.  The Americans might also have absorbed the Prairie Provinces, if they had not become involved in their own civil war in 1861.  Four years later, Sir John A. Macdonald said about the Prairies:

“The country is of no present value to Canada.”

Sir John’s view changed when Confederation became a reality in 1867.   He and his colleagues then saw the need for quick action to prevent the West from falling into American hands.  The action was so quick that it caused the Riel uprising in 1870.

There are a few places to click on to find out more about this. Again I found a good site with lots of information, the Eyewitness to History. Other sites are is always good, Civil is another good source, as well as the National Review . And of course, there’s also Wikipedia . Another great site I’ve discovered is News in ‘s Dramatic Newspaper Coverage of the Battle of Fort Sumter: The Attack That Began the Civil War.


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gerald. Very nice to hear. And I agree with you – it’s too bad it exists at all, but it seems a Constance for us as humans. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂


Let me know what's on your mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.