Peasants find freedom in Canada but anarchy and doomed democracy forecast

A settlers’ homestead, cleared from the bush in Upper Canada, ca. 1800. Pen Pictures of Pioneer Life in Upper Canada, ElectricCanadian.com/pioneer/pen/Chapter 21.htm. Liberty, democracy, and freedom from want, hunger and an oppressive aristocracy were said to prevail among peasants from Europe in the Upper Canada of 1821, but anarchy and doomed democracy were widely predicted. […]

Toronto in great uproar as U.S. seeks fugitive slave

John Anderson, a proclaimed fugitive slave in Toronto who escaped from Missouri to Canada on the Underground Railway, was wanted by the Americans in 1860. English engraving, from “The Story of the Life of John Anderson,” 1863.  “It was an anxious moment, as the Chief Justice produced his papers and began to read. The life […]

First World War conscription triggers riots and attempted murder

First World War As First World War military conscription became law on August 29, 1917, protesting rioters in Montreal smashed store windows. Arrests soon followed, including a group charged with attempting to murder Montreal Star publisher Hugh Graham, a strong conscription advocate, and his family, by dynamiting their summer home. The dynamiters also allegedly planned […]

Bank robbers try to rope Canada in U.S. War

  During the U.S. civil war (1861-1865), Canadians were divided about which side their sympathies—and sometimes covert support—lay. Those who supported the Confederate south thought that breaking up the United States would lessen the danger of a bigger, stronger neighbour responding to the American cry of “Manifest Destiny,” the doctrine that called for absorption of […]

Gold miners pine for preacher

The Hollywood image of the old west gold mining camps as lawless, lustful and licentious did not apply to peaceful, law-abiding Canada, judging by a report on September 19, 1864 in the Vancouver Times (Victoria, Vancouver Island). The biggest complaint of Vancouver Island miners appeared to be a lack of clergymen on Sundays. The editor […]

Gun-toting gold rush miners

Vancouver Island was the scene of a gold rush in the 1860s, although the colony’s mountain streams never panned out as well as the richer and more spectacular diggings on the Fraser River and in the Caribou country. Many of the prospectors who swarmed north were Americans. Carrying revolvers was illegal but such gun toting […]