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Building Canada, Why Confederation?

In the 1860s, the British colonies were facing various issues. One resolution for each one of these was that the colonies come together to form one country. These are the problems that brought about Confederation:

The Province of Canada was made of a lot of people and was later made into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The government of the Province of Canada did not run smoothly because the English-speaking and French-speaking halves each had different ideas about how things should be run. Leaders from both areas of the province decided that joining other colonies might help solve their own political problems.

In order for their economies to do well, the colonies needed to be able to sell their goods to other markets. One solution was to bring all the colonies together.

Since America had fought Britain to gain its independence, the relationship between British North America and the United States had never been stable. Many Americans wanted to take over all of what is now Canada.

Britain didn’t want to have to pay for the cost of defending its colonies. Hence, it decided to encourage the colonies to amalgamate, because the United States would be less likely to attack Canada if it were a self-governing country in lieu of separate colonies of Britain. This fear of the U.S. helped to strengthen the decision for Confederation.

Leaders from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had actually already begun discussing the idea of signing up for a Marine union and had also planned for a meeting.  The political leaders from the Province of Canada asked if they could come to their conference to recommend a bigger union of all the British North American colonies.  The Maritime colonies were given invitations and so started the quest of Confederation.

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Imagine Getting Paid and Not Showing Up at Work!

Louis-Joseph Papineau

Louis-Joseph Papineau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: British General Guy Carleton

English: British General Guy Carleton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Repost and updated post I published on November 29, 2012

One of the problems that hindered the development of Canada for many years was the absence of people appointed to do important jobs. On November 29, 1808, for instance, N. Francis Burton was appointed by the British Government to be Lieutenant-Governor of Lower Canada. He remained in Britain until 1822, but drew his salary. When he finally did come to Canada, he stayed for ten years.

Many important positions in Canada were regarded as sinecures (a position of little work, but given stature or financial support). General James Murray, who became Governor of Canada, after the fall of Quebec, until 1766, continued to draw his pay as governor for eight years after he returned to Britain.

When Sir Guy Carleton was Governor of Canada, his brother Thomas was made Lieutenant-Governor of the newly-created province of New Brunswick. He held the position for thirty-three years, but was absent during the last fourteen of them. Yet, it was not that he lacked fortitude: on one occasion he travelled from Fredericton to Quebec on snowshoes to see his brother who was ill.

Many absentees were ministers of the church. The Rector of Sorel, an important military post, had a salary of £200 a year, but spent ten years of his term in England. Lord Plymouth said he was too charming a neighbour to be allowed to live in remote Canada.

The situation eventually came to a head in 1823 when it was discovered that the Receiver-General of Lower Canada had stolen £96,000 of the provincial funds. French-speaking citizens of Lower Canada said this would not have happened if some of them had been given the responsible positions held by absentee British officials. Louis Joseph Papineau, who became one of the leaders of the 1837 rebellion, and John Nielson, editor of the Quebec Gazette, felt so strongly about this that they travelled to London to protest against a proposal to unite Upper and Lower Canada. They felt it would give English-speaking Canadians more power than ever. The union was delayed until 1840 and this possibly delayed Confederation.

 

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in On This Day

 

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From 72 to 27,000 Employees

Vancouver International Airport (YVR/CYVR), Ri...

Vancouver International Airport (YVR/CYVR), Richmond, British Columbia, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Occasionally a politician emerges who likes to get things done and is ready to bulldoze his measures through the House of Commons, if necessary.  The Right Honourable C. D. Howe, Member of Parliament for Port Arthur, Ontario, was such a man.

One of Howe’s greatest achievements was the creation of Air Canada, originally called Trans-Canada Airlines.  Parliament passed the act establishing it in April 1937.  When the airline was organized it was designed to serve major communities spread across more than 4,000 miles of mountain, forest, and prairie.  The more appropriate name Air Canada was adopted in 1964.

Trans-Canada Airlines inaugurated its first commercial flight on September 1, 1937, between Vancouver and Seattle.  It had only two 10-passenger Lockheed aircraft and a Stearman bi-plane, acquired when it bought out Canadian Airway Company on the Pacific Coast.

Airports and navigational aids were more advanced in Western Canada; so headquarters were established at Winnipeg.  By October 17, 1938, after extensive training of pilots and ground crews, T.C.A. was ready to carry mail and freight between Montreal and Vancouver.  Passenger service was inaugurated on April 1, 1939.  The journey from Montreal to Vancouver took eighteen hours.

The original pilots still with the company include George Lothian, Herbert Seagrim, J. L. Root, W. E. Barnes, J. A. Jones, L. K. Lewis, J. A. Wright and M. B. Barclay.  They used to use a number of tricks to gain enough altitude to fly over the Rockies.  Pilots flying from Lethbridge to Vancouver would turn east rather than west to catch the air current which flowed over the mountains and hit the ground.  The pilots would ride the rising air to gain altitude!  Passengers had to wear oxygen masks when flying over the mountains and occasionally on other routes when it became necessary to fly at an altitude of more than 10,000 feet to escape bad weather.

Since 1937 Air Canada has grown from 72 employees and three aircrafts to an international carrier employing 27,000 men and women, with a fleet of 192 aircrafts (2013).  Air Canada flies to 21 domestic destinations and 81 international destinations in 33 countries.

For more information on Air Canada, I suggest visiting Wikipedia, and the CBC Digital Archives, as well as the Wayback Machine Archives for another good article from CBC.

 

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Official Recognition From Canada

English: John G. Diefenbaker, M.P., speaking i...

English: John G. Diefenbaker, M.P., speaking in the House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada Français : John G. Diefenbaker, député, faisant une intervention à la Chambre des communes, Ottawa, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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At the beginning of the 20th century, Britain was still guiding Canada‘s foreign relations.  Later in the century, Canada was often accused of following U.S.’s lead in foreign affairs, despite Ottawa’s refusal to join the Organization of American States.  But there was consternation in Canada, the U.S.A., and some other parts of the world on October 13, 1970, when Mitchell Sharp, Minister of External Affairs, announced in the House of Commons that Canada was giving official recognition to the Republic of China.

The move should not have come as a surprise.  Negotiations had taken place of twenty-two months.  In fact, the first steps dated back to 1960 when Communist China bought 200,000,000 bushels of wheat from Canada, government led by John Diefenbaker.

Relations became closer when Pierre Elliott Trudeau became Prime Minister in 1968 (see my April 6 post: Trudeau Elected).  Trudeau had paid extensive visits to China in 1949 and 1960.  The second visit was as a member of the first group of white Westerners to be admitted since the revolution and the visit lasted six weeks.  In 1966, Trudeau was a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations and he was in favour of the Communist government’s admission as the official representative of China at the U.N.  He also told his colleagues that Canada should recognize Communist China.

Canada’s delay in recognizing Communist China is believed to have been due to unwillingness to embarrass the U.S.A.   By 1970, the U.S. A. probably welcomed Canada’s move.  The New York Times reported that most Americans approved; only the most better anti-Communists were opposed.

Canada’s move was soon followed by the establishment of an embassy from Peking in Ottawa.  Communist China was admitted to United Nations as the official representative of China, and President Nixon of the U.S.A. announced that he was going to China to visit the Communist leaders.

There is little doubt that Canada’s recognition of China in 1970 helped to break the dangerous log jam in international affairs.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest the Government of Canada, and the Canada Treaty Information, and the University of Alberta China Institute, as well as the Canada-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, and finally the Review of the Bilateral Political Relations.

 

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Three Miles From What?

Charlottetown Harbour, Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown Harbour, Prince Edward Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada‘s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, has three nicknames, which is more than any other province can claim. It is known as “the Garden of the Gulf,” “the Cradle of Confederation,” and “the Cradle in the Waves.”  The cradle has rocked too sharply at times.

The famous Canadian sailing ship Marco Polo was wrecked on Cape Cavendish (see my post of April 17).  The S.S. Queen Victoria, which took the Canadian delegates to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, was lost in a hurricane on October 4, two years later.  By coincidence the worst storm of all was also on October 4, but in 1851, when many American fishermen lost their lives off Charlottetown.  Estimates range from 150 to 300 lives.

The storm is known in history as the “Yankee Gale.”  There were more than 100 American fishing vessels off the north shore of Prince Edward Island when a freak storm suddenly blew up.  It lasted from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening, when watches on the shore could see 70 fishing vessels wrecked on the beaches and sand dunes.  Nearly all of them were from the New England states.  The bodies of a great many victims were never recovered, but 70 were buried in various cemeteries along the shore.

The real cause of the disaster was not the storm, but the lack of a clear-cut fishing agreement between the British North American colonies and the United States.  The situation had been confused since the War of 1812.  In 1818, it was agreed that Americans could fish outside the three-mile limit of Newfoundland and the Maritimes, but the problem was “three miles from what?”   The Americans said the treaty meant three miles from the winding of the coast, so that they could fish inside the wider bays.  Newfoundland and the Maritimes claimed that it meant three miles from the headlands, and American fishing vessels entering that boundary were taken into custody.  When the storm struck Charlottetown on October 4, 1851, the American fishing fleet tried to ride it out rather than risk running into the harbour.  The result was the great loss of life.

There was so much anger on both sides that Britain sent a number of Royal Navy ships to patrol the fishing grounds.  There was even a danger of war.  The dispute was settled by the Elgin-Marcy Treaty signed in 1854 which gave Canada a beneficial reciprocity treaty with the States, and the Americans better fishing rights (see my May 16 post).

To read more about this storm, I suggest visiting the Fishermen’s Voice and the Mocavo Blog.

 

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What Are Justifiable Risks?

Sir Robert Borden watching practice with live ...

Sir Robert Borden watching practice with live bombs. [Bramshott, April, 1917] (Photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives)

Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, and Prime Minister Borden had already promised to send a Canadian army.  It was something of a miracle that the first contingent of 33,000 men was ready to sail from Quebec on October 3, 1914.

The incredible Minister of Militia (see my post February 13: And The Lion – See It Cowers) was largely responsible.  He had many critics, but said:  “My critics will stop their yelping as a puppy-dog chasing an express train gives up its job as a useless task.”  He was the express train.  Sir Sam, as he became, personally supervised the embarkation from Quebec of 33,000 men and 7,000 horses.  The horses would not walk the gangplank to get into the ships, so they had to be lifted on board in slings.  Sir Sam was a great man for getting things done in a hurry, but when the first convoy sailed, 800 horses and nearly 5,000 tons of ammunition and supplies had been left behind.

There were thirty troop transport ships escorted by three battleships and six cruisers, most of them twenty years old.  As there was great danger from German submarines and surface raiders, the landing point in Britain was changed several times while the convoy was crossing the Atlantic.  It arrived at Plymouth on October 14 and was met by General Alderson, commander of the Canadian forces, who had preceded them.

The British naval officer in charge of the escort was Admiral Wemyss.  As soon as the troops were landed safely, he went to the Admiralty in London.  Wemyss was boiling mad.  In his opinion, the convoy had been a dreadful risk.  If the first Canadian contingent had suffered heavy casualties at sea, what would have been the effect on troops coming to Britain from other parts of the Commonwealth?  The senior officer replied, “Oh you must take some risks in wartime,” but Wemyss replied, “Only justifiable risks.”

Wemyss felt it would have been safer if the ships had sailed on their own, not bunched together, with the sea lanes protected as much as possible by the warships.   Many ship captains felt the same way in World War II.

 

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For All Our Techie Buds

This is such a funny video — really, “Those Brits” are funny! Enjoy it, everyone! -tk

Funny and Interesting Stuff People Have Sent Me

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