Thursday, March 10, 2011

Historical incorrectness

In Mark Kurlansky's often surprising book Cod, he mentions an exchange of fire between "American" and "Canadian" fishermen over access and rights, sometime around the French and Indian War in the 1750's. He calls it the last time these two nations battled each other.


Most Americans are unaware --as all Canadians are not-- that both during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, we invaded our neighbor to the north.

In 1775, Benedict Arnold, later of treason fame, led an attack on Quebec, to get the French colonists there to join with the Thirteen Colonies in rising against Britain. He failed. But imagine what American history would have been like if there had been a Fourteenth Colony, French-speaking and Catholic, in the mix! It was tough enough for all those Anglophone Protestant white guys to pull it off (and then only til 1861).

I recall my surprise when I moved to Toronto back in days of old, seeing a marker for the Battle of York, when the Yankees took Toronto (then called York) in 1813 and did a fair amount of burning and looting, capturing ordinance they later used against the Brits on Lake Eire. The Empire forces returned the favor by burning Washington.

Laura Secord is a prominent chocolate candy company in Canada. But it is named in honor of an Upper Canada heroine who warned the British of an impending American invasion at Niagara , leading to a Yankee loss. She was born in Massachusetts, by the way, but her father was a Loyalist, part of the 70,000 or so who chose to remain within the Empire by migrating north, or to the Caribbean or back to England.

As with the Civil War, families were sometimes split over the Revolution. The most famous being Benjamin Franklin's (illegitimate) son William. Had these two lived in our time of constant and intrusive media, they would be rich fodder for gossip programs. 

OBTW. (Warning. A bit of a rant.)

There is an amusing Loyalist entry on a Canadian site, showing the contemporary Canuck PC urge to self-congratulatory revisionism. It stresses the multicultural nature of the Loyalists, fleeing "growing  intolerance against minorities" in America. Their effect on Canada's values is described as promoting  "a certain conservatism, a preference for "evolution" rather than "revolution" in matters of government, and tendencies towards a pluralistic and heterogeneous society." Very funny.

Close to 90% of these folks were as white as I am; even whiter, being of English descent. The blacks who went with them were mostly their slaves. The histories of the adjacent towns, White and Black respectively, of Shelburne and Birchtown, Nova Scotia, is instructive. In 1784, Shelburne gave North America perhaps its first race riot. Trumpeted as "the largest settlement of free Blacks in North America", Birchtown also served as the source for most of the Blacks fleeing Canada not long afterward to Britain's Liberia, Sierra Leone. A few thousand Iroquois, who had bet on the losing side, moved north, too, many by force of law. And the reason that Canada broke up into Lower Canada (French Catholic Quebec) and Upper Canada (British/Scottish Protestant Ontario) and why some Maritime provinces split is that these diversity-loving folks wanted nothing to do with their "multicultural" neighbors. Anyone who knows Canadians, real Canadians prior to 1960's Trudeaupianism*, knows that love of ethnic diversity was hardly their distinguishing virtue. They were more human than that.

*An unfriendly word based on "Trudeau" and "utopia", describing the groovy Prime Ministers' transformation of Canada from a solid British Commonwealth nation (Quebec excepted, as always) to the MultiCulti nanny state is has now become.

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