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Module 20

What did it mean to be Canadian? Conflicting views on nationalism and identity (1880s-1920s)

Marcel Martel

Canadians have debated the meaning of their identity for years. Between 1880 and 1920, English-speaking citizens strongly believed that they constituted the dominant group and pressed politicians to adopt a policy of assimilation intended to deny the multicultural character emerging in Canada. These nationalists tolerated French Canadians as long as they did not try to impose their nationalist project outside of Quebec. However, French Canadians articulated a nationalism based on the notion of the coexistence between English Canadians and French Canadians treated equally. These conflicts over the meaning of a common identity have shaped Canadian cultural, social and political institutions.

Primary sources:

  1. Cartoon: ‘John A. McDonald and Louis Riel’ Grip (May 1885)
  2. Cartoon: Depiction of French Canadian perceptions the war in South Africa Les Débats (Montréal) (January 1900)
  3. Cartoon: ‘Immigration Policy ‘The Daukt Herald, Calgary (January 1907)
  4. Cartoon: ‘Answering the Call’ The Vancouver Daily Province (August 1914)
  5. Text: Henri Bourassa. ‘French Canadians and Canadian Nationalism’(June 1902)

Secondary sources:

  1. Phyllis Senese. ‘Weeds in the Garden of Civic Nationalism’, in Michael D. Behiels and Marcel Martel (eds.), Nation, ideas, identities: Essays in Honour of Ramsay Cook (2000)
  2. H.V. Nelles. ‘Historical Pageantry and the “Fusion of the Races” at the Tercenternary of Quebec, 1908,’ Histoire sociale/Social History (1996)
  3. Sylvie Lacombe. ‘Henri Bourassa: A Nationalist Leader Against British Imperialism’, Journal of Indo-Canadian Studies (2002)

Introduction

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