The Critical Years 1857-1873 | Penguin Random House Canada
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The Canadian Centenary Series

The Critical Years 1857-1873

The Union of British North America

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Volume XII of the Canadian Centenary Series

Now available as e-books for the first time, the Canadian Centenary Series is a comprehensive nineteen-volume history of the peoples and lands which form Canada. Although the series is designed as a unified whole so that no part of the story is left untold, each volume is complete in itself.

The Confederation of 1867 was the uncertain climax of more than a decade of ferment in British North America; its immediate consequence was the production by 1873 of the union of all the British colonies but one in the Dominion of Canada. In this fascinating account of those critical years, W.L. Morton shows just how complex were the events which produced that union. He makes clear the important roles played by both founding nations in moulding the new Dominion, demonstrating a perceptive insight into the dual nature of the Canadian identity. Not only great forces but people of genius and insight were at work in the land during that period, bringing the provinces into the great main current of the nineteenth century: unification through commerce, railways, and the growing spirit of nationality. Men like Brown and Dorion, Cartier and Tilley, Mackenzie and John A. Macdonald, holding every shade of political opinion and many of them bitter foes, arrived at the goal of Confederation by very different routes: economic prosperity and political stalemate in the Canadas, depression in the Maritime Provinces, fears of American annexation, the safeguarding of the traditional rights of French Canada, and the desire for improved communications. 

Confederation did not solve permanently all the problems of the time, many of which have remained to trouble Canadians of today. But by 1873, whatever might lie in the future, British North America was now Canada. 

First published in 1964, Professor Morton’s important contribution to the Canadian Centenary Series is available here as an e-book for the first time.